Remodeling the Kitchen

Remodeling the Kitchen

For somebody who uses her kitchen like I do, a remodel is both scary and exciting. It’s scary because I am going to be without a kitchen for months, potentially.  It’s exciting because I am getting what I have needed so badly since I started canning and preserving again:  more counter space.

Today, I started the process of packing up the kitchen in preparation for the demo.  I began by taking down, cleaning, sorting, and putting away my rustic treasures that I am saving to display in the new kitchen.  It took all afternoon to do one side of the kitchen!  And I haven’t even begun the process of emptying out the cabinets yet.  Yeah, it’s going to be scary and exciting both.

Because I won’t have a working kitchen for quite some time, I’ve already put some thought into how I’ll be cooking in the next couple of months.  I will probably have Dennis put up the propane camp stove on the dining table I need to refinish, so I can fry and saute.  I’ll have my crock pot for one pot meals.  What I will not have is an oven, unless I use the really crappy one in the travel trailer, and as cold as it is, I probably won’t.  And I will have to wash any utensils or pans in the hall bathroom, in a pan of water on the counter.  Like camping.  Fun.  Not.

So here’s the deal.  I’m going to chronicle the process here, for myself and for friends, of remodeling a kitchen.  We’ll be doing a lot of the work ourselves, so our mistakes (and I’m sure we will make some) might be instructive for somebody else attempting to renovate on a shoestring budget.  I’ll also be posting some recipes I’ve been either hanging on to, for one reason or another, or working on, so even if I can’t bake/cook them myself for the next couple of months, you can try them.

One reason I expect the reno to take so long is that it is going to take us some time to demo.  You know those shows where they take sledgehammers to old cabinets and clear out everything in a day?  Well, that’s not us.  Some of these knotty pine cabinets are still in good shape, and those will go in the pump houses, shed, and barn for storage.  (And maybe some might go in my guest cabin one day if I ever get to build it.) So the cabinets are going to be taken down carefully, not smashed to smithereens.  The counter top will be reused also.  I want to use a section of it in the laundry room to create a folding counter, and some of it might go in the cabin eventually.  We will be putting the sink, stove, and dishwasher back in.  I’d love to be able to replace the stove and dishwasher so they match the fridge and sink, but I don’t have the money to do that all in one whack.  We’ll make them match as they wear out and need to be replaced.  And once all the cabinets and fixtures are out, we have to peel off the green, checkerboard linoleum and put down unstained red oak hardwood, to match what is in the living room.  Yeah, it’s going to be a while before I’m cooking in that kitchen again.

To start the journey, here are some photos of the kitchen as it was today before I started taking down my treasures.

From the living room, looking down the 21′ length of the kitchen.

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From the table in the corner (which will be replaced by banquette benches and my other, expandable table that belonged to my mother-in-law), the only side of the kitchen that currently has counter tops.  Not enough!

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The big pantry cabinets, which are coming out, on the other side of the kitchen.  When these pantries were put in nearly 20 years ago, I needed them.  But now I have pantry storage in my laundry room, and I need counter space/work space more than I need pantries.  The new cabinets, uppers and lowers, will extend to about where the little telephone table is sitting.  Counter space!

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This photo shows the section of wall that is coming out to open the kitchen up a bit more to the living room.  The last time we remodeled, almost 20 years ago, we widened what was originally a door-width opening (the kitchen actually had an interior door on it at one time, before we bought the house).  Now we will widen that opening a bit more, about 3 1/2 feet, and the upper cabinet run will end on the section of wall that’s left.  No more corner cabinet.  The quartz counter top will butt up against a redwood burl slab, so that opening will function as a pass-through with a redwood bar top.  It will be live edge, so it will round the end of where the wall is now, extend out into the living/dining room space, and as my son says, “die back into the wall.”  It’s gonna be cool, people!  I have to pick the slab.  I’ve got several to choose from, so I should be able to find one that will work.

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This is a view of the section of wall that will be coming out.  The knotty cedar paneling in the living room will be carefully cut out (don’t want to lose any of that stuff!) and the opening will be supported and cased.  The burl bar top will come through the space where the wall is now and extend out a little way into the dining space.  That table you can just see, covered with a hand-crocheted lace tablecloth (made by my husband’s grandmother) expands from a console table size (40″ x 24″) to become large enough, with a fold-out and pull-out function and three leaves, to seat 12 people.  That table will go in the kitchen in the corner, for family dinners, and we will use another of Dennis’ burl slabs in the dining area to the right of the wall here to create a live edge dining table.

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So there it is, the old kitchen, and an idea of the new kitchen.  Our friend, Leonard Castro, put this kitchen in for us nearly 20 years ago.  It has served me well, and a lot of food has come out of this room, but it is time to make it easier for me to cook, can, and clean.  I’m excited, and scared because it’s going to be such a big job, but I never let being scared stop me from doing something I really want to do.  So, here we go!

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