What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Kitchen Update

We are now on our sixth week of kitchen renovations. I would love to be able to report more progress but I can't. In all honesty we likely should have gutted the kitchen but that would have affected the adjoining family room ceiling. We are now doing the work ourselves but that part you already knew if you have been following this blog.

Appliances Installed

Background: The kitchen is mainly below ground with a large window opening onto the ground and a patio door opening into the backyard facing the water. While this means good energy savings because of the extra thick walls it also means we are somewhat limited for adding on in either direction. Indoors the kitchen joins the family room so there is no room for expansion there either. Essentially that means we are working with what we have in terms of space and layout. Unfortunately the previous owners put the sink in an awkward position with the corner being only a couple of inches where the countertop range was. Some of the cabinets were damaged through neglect or using too harsh of cleaners. I decided to refinish them because they are good heavy doors and recycling what we had was the right thing to do if at all possible. So during this renovation we are reusing the cabinets, cabinet doors, cabinet handles, HVAC vent and portions of the existing countertops. We haven't decided about lighting replacement but may upgrade the existing ceiling fan. The pot light over the window works fine so doesn't need replacement.

Cabinet Doors

Pictured is how the kitchen looks right this minute. Most of the cabinet doors have been rehung. The backsplash has been removed that will give about an extra inch of counter space. We were going to leave the laminate on the walls but after finding one small area where it was lifting decided to remove it. The laminate was covering an electrical receptacle (red arrow) that we didn't know about. It was reconnected by our electrician this morning! Which leads to to make a few comments on DIY.

Any DIY project is likely going to take twice the time and cost twice the amount of money you figured it would. A fundamental mistake some DIYers make is to not ask for help or hire out when they are out of the area of ability. Not only does this end up costing both time and money but so mistakes can put their families at risk. Now both my husband and I are quite comfortable doing electrical repairs however, the wiring in this box wasn't quite familiar and the box had been covered for at least as long as the previous owner did the kitchen. We discovered the box was dead but looked to be inline with other receptacles so could easily be reconnected. In this case it was easier and safer to have our electrician stop by to check it out before we did anything.

For the most part I'm happy with how the cabinet doors and handles came out. They are cleaner and brighter looking and they match the wood ceiling better. We ordered the hinges online from MyKnobs at a cost of $1.93 per set compared to $4.39 per set here. That is quite a savings! Each set came with two hinges, the necessary screws and cabinet pads. The only problem we encountered was having to drill new holes on the door backs for the hinges as the new ones were slightly smaller than the old ones.

Breakfast Island

The breakfast island has been the source of much discussion. It along with the change from carpet to ceramic tile flooring are the only things that mark the change from the family room to the kitchen. We would like to get a bit more light into the family room so the first consideration was to put frosted glass panels on both sides of the two end cupboards. Removing all the doors for refinishing showed up that this wouldn't give the effect we wanted. We knew for sure we wanted to square off the counter on the island (1) and it has now been removed. Then and we are now still discussing removing (2). Both of us agree the overall look with (2) removed would be a plus. However, my husband came up with the idea of narrowing the island by removing (3). The reasoning is the island is not used as an eating surface and in fact no one uses the island for eating even when we are entertaining. My concern is that this would be removing too much counter space something we always can use more of. I'm thinking we shouldn't narrow it because at some point we may want to use it as an eating surface and it does make a lovely serving surface as well. So I think (3) will be staying.


Pictured is a close-up of the breakfast bar to give you a bit better idea of what we are doing. The edge (4) has already been removed. This will allow us to run the wood needed for the tile installation. Instead of doing a wood trim edging as initially planned we are now doing a ceramic tile one to match the counter. The portion in orange (5) is the portion we are debating removing. As you can see that is a substantial amount of countertop in a kitchen with little counter space so we will likely be leaving it that wide (26"). Another thing we will be fixing before tiling the wall is the switches. For some reason there's a space between the switch and plugs so we will put them together properly.

What is really exciting is seeing the tile being laid out. Now that the kitchen is in even more disarray than before and it will get worse before it's over, the tile gives a glimmer of this is going to happen. That's another side to DIY. It goes slow because life does get in the way. We don't have a week of full, non-stop time to dedicate to the project. We work when we can so the house has been in varying degrees of chaos for the past six weeks while we work time in for the kitchen around everything else.

Sink & Taps

We bought the Moen faucet (model 87444) quite some time ago. The hardware store was running a sale on Moen products. The faucet was marked down to $60 from $119.99 so imagine my surprise when I saw it was $206 on the Moen website! What appealed to us was the overall design and that Moen has a good reputation.

We ordered a Moen sink Camelot (model 22231) from HomeCenter. The regular price was $215.75 but the discounted price was $131.61! Shipping brought the total to $161.56 but considering the time and money we saved finding a sink that would exactly fit the spot the shipping costs were worth it. Notice we went with a single bowl sink. We currently have a bowl and a half sink but it won't fit the new location. The new bowl is deeper than the old larger bowl. Not only do we not have room for a double sink, we cannot have a garburator here so we decided to go with a single sink. I'm sure I will adjust.

Online shopping has become the new and environmentally friendly way to shop. You can comparison shop online saving time and money all from the comforts of home. Not only that but most shipping charges are considerably lower than what you would spend driving from store to store so not only are you saving precious gas dollars, you are also reducing your carbon footprint. One down side to online shopping is of course the shipping time. That just means you have to do a little more planning and realize that a DIY project may have to be delayed while waiting for a purchase to arrive.

The next few days should see a lot of changes so please check back for the next update.

Garden Gnome


Jon Griffith said...

Hey GREAT POST. Susan Gruenling at SonoranHouse.com also is running a series of articles on a renovation that she was involved with a few years ago. You might want to check it out and give her a good comment!


Lady Skye Fyre said...

What a terrific project. Is it possible to have a drop leaf idea going on with the island..or maybe some sort of extension that can slide out when you want it? That way it doesn't have to be as wide, but if you want more room all you do is pop up the extra counter.