February 22, 2011

Kitchen Remodel: Tearing Into It

Initially we thought that after developing a plan for remodeling the kitchen, we would start by gutting the entire thing. Perhaps we would have, if we'd waited until the weather was milder. Besides tearing out the inner walls and floor, gutting the kitchen means having to move stove, fridge, and cabinets out onto the back porch. Starting like, in February, and it would be too dang cold to do all my kitchening out there. It has no heat! Am I a wimp or what. ;) Rather than wait though, we decided to get started and just take it once section at a time.

While I was trying to figure out the window treatment for the bathroom, Dan started working in the crawlspace under the kitchen. He added additional support for the cookstove, as well as new bridging between the floor joists. The other day though, he came home from work ready to tear in to something. We decided to start with the corner by the back window. Not only do we need to do something about the water damage under that window, but we've also decided to move, as well as replace, the back door.

First though, I had to clear out the cabinets and shelves.

My herb and tincture cabinet.
Also, a better shot of "The Post"

I liked these cabinets for storing my herbs, tinctures, and teas. The shelf spacing was a good height for quart jars, and the selves were shallow enough to be able to find things without too much digging around. Unfortunately, they were right where we plan to put the new back door, so they had to go.

Lots of nails to pull, including some cut
nails, which are difficult to pull out.

Initially we'd hoped to reuse all the wood. Unfortunately it is quite dried out and split easily when the nails were pulled out.

This unit was one piece, built 1st & then nailed to the wall.
Sadly, the wood is too brittle to probably be salvaged.

Once we got the cabinet and shelves down, we made an interesting discovery; evidence that a wall had once been there. You can see where it was on the left side of the photo below, an unpainted clue to the home's original kitchen.

Back door wall without cabinet and shelves.
Can you imagine an entire ceiling painted that color?

The upper, baby poo green was under the upper shelf unit, and must have been the kitchen's original color. You can see that it was repainted after that wall was torn down and the shelves built. The entire house was once the green color on the bottom.

Below is more evidence of the preexisting wall.

The floor under the cabinet

The unfinished strip of floor in the photo shows the original floor. It shows where the wall originally stood. My best guess is that there was once a small room here, probably a pantry. That pantry had the linoleum floor you see above. (Same stuff we took out of the hallway when we did the dining room floor). At some point they tore the wall down and built the cabinet to make up for lost storage space. The ceramic tile floor was installed after the cabinet had been built. You can see that it was mortared down on top of the old floor, both hardwood and linoleum.

Our annoying post in the middle of the kitchen was probably one of the pantry's corners, left because the wall is load-bearing. Likely we'll get more clues when we take out the remaining floor tiles and see what's underneath. I'm guessing the original kitchen was an 11.5 by 11.5 foot square. Can't blame them for wanting more space. In fact, they were probably so happy to have a larger kitchen that they didn't mind that post in the near-middle of the room!

One big question was, what's behind the interior tongue & groove wall? Dan pulled off the trim from around the window so that we could take a peek. Above the window and down the side of the wall, we found the same insulation that had been blown into the attic. Well, at least there was some insulation in the walls.

Inside the wall below the window however...

... there is nothing. Nothing as in no insulation, no sheathing, no vapor barrier. In fact, with a flashlight Dan could see right through to the original wood siding, so badly rotted that he could see the vinyl siding on top of that. If it wasn't for that vinyl siding, we'd be feeling the wind blow through. That explained the water damage to the interior wall. It also explained why they put the vinyl siding up in the first place.

I suppose it's fortunate that this is only a 4 foot section of the outer wall, but still, it's one of those inevitable unexpecteds that comes with renovating an almost 90 year old house. It makes me wonder what we'll find under the rest of the vinyl siding, but that's a whole 'nother project.

So here's what it looks like now...

After tearing out the herb cabinet

Removing that cabinet gave us almost a foot more space. It isn't visually realized however, because the wall is a darker color. Still, it's a first step and the kitchen project has officially begun.

Kitchen Remodel: Tearing Into It © February 2011 by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/


Lynda said...

I am hyperventilating! We did a kitchen remodel about 14 years ago and I still haven't gotten over it! One of the few good things about it was I discovered how strong my marriage was! I'm only going to think good thoughts for you. We hired the work done and I think that was the problem. You are very blessed to have a husband that has carpentry skills...mine is a farmer only...he can tear down a million dollar combine and put it back together, but can't drive a nail to save his life.

Dani said...

Not only are you remodeling your kitchen you're also on a voyage of discovery.

Am so excited for you, and can't wait to see what else you discover.

Is Dan available for more work once he's done your side?

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

I don't envy you, I just went through a kitchen and 2 bath remodel 3 years ago! It's a ton of work, but the end result is so worth it! Have fun!

Anonymous said...

I like the tearing out parts! The hard work is designing and putting in the new.

Theresa said...

Let the fun begin! That's a shame about the rot and the water coming in. I hate those sort of neglect issues.
We lived in a much older house (1835) which started life as the barn to the house next store. Things were dated, but the house structure itself was well maintained. It made reno and remodel, while not easier, less hassle since we didn't have to deal with condition issues. Although, preserving that horsehair plaster while taking off 4 layers of wallpaper did produce a lot of tears and frustration.....I can remember wanting to sledge hammer the whole dang mess at some points. I can hardly wait to see that beauty of a stove installed.

Tami said...

It's so interesting seeing what once "was". It's like striping off wallpaper. Clues remain as to what others lives were like and how they managed to solve their issues. I don't envy all the work but the process is facinating.

Leigh said...

Lynda, yes, I do feel blessed in that area. And yes, this kind of project will test the strongest of relationships! Having only just begun though, it remains to be seen whether or not doing it ourselves was a good choice. :)

Dani, it is a voyage of discovery! And it is interesting. I'm very curious as to what we'll find under the rest of the ceramic tiles on the floor.

Mary, and you lived to tell about it! LOL I'm sure once we finish this project, we wont' want to do it again either.

Evelyn, tearing out certainly seems easier than the rest, doesn't it!

Theresa, those kinds of "surprises" sometimes make us reluctant to really get in to it. We've learned to just expect them. At this point though, I can't even imagine getting anything to the finished stage!

Tami, it's like we're house detectives, LOL. It is a lot of work though.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you got started! I wouldn't want to have my kitchen out on an unheated porch in February either, brrrr! I do like the convenience of HEAT! :) Interesting to see what lies behind everything! I love that you have (had?) an herb/tincture/tea corner! :) Do you make all of your tinctures? Very cool!

DebbieB said...

Hooray for getting started! Every journey begins with a single step. Here's hoping you have an uneventful trip, and a short time 'til journey's end.

Woolly Bits said...

argh, having my head inside the roof all the time just now - means I would have no stomach to remodel our kitchen:(( I hope you'll keep your nerves and not to discover major problems in the process!!

Danni said...

I was completely fascinated with this post. It was like an archaeological dig, wasn't it ...learning so much about your old house with each layer peeled away. Incredible!

Mama Pea said...

Oh my. I think I'm feeling a little better about our remodeling now. :o) Since we've already torn this place down to the studs and started over, we'll just be destroying the first layer of our tiny abode and then finishing the area we added on to make it more comfortable.

Having said that, we've been where you are. Our last house in Illinois was originally a stage coach stop (can you believe it??!) so you can imagine what we found when tearing out walls there!

Julie said...

I think remodeling the kitchen is such a big and hard job. I remember being without a sick and having to do dishes in the bathroom. Its alot of work but so worth it!

Have fun!!!!!

Toni aka irishlas said...

I miss my old house. Even though the old saying "twice as much, twice as long" always rang true, I missed the discoveries that came along with it.

Lots of luck and patience on your new project.

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

I can't wait to see that cookstove making it's way into the new kitchen!

Renee Nefe said...

I think your old house has so many stories to share with you...I'm excited for you to learn more of it's secrets.

Hubby had the counter tops put into MIL's house yesterday...they cut the granite too large and had to shove it into the walls to make it fit. fun times!

m said...

Our house was built in the 1920's with two downstairs rooms, one of which was a kitchen complete with a rainwater cistern for laundry use just outside. The current kitchen, approx 12' by 6'6" was a collection of coalholes etc in the original configuration. When we moved in (Dec '95), this kitchen was painted all over in a dingy shade of mushroom soup brown, as part of the ceiling is the underside of the staircase. Removing the wall cupboards and painting it all white helped a lot before we had it re-done with shiny white cupboards about 10 years ago.

Yours is looking better every time we see it. Thanks for keeping us updated.

luckybunny said...

WOW. I'm so excited for you, the first step is a big one. I don't have a lot of patience for these things, but the kitchen is my favorite room, and having it the way you'll enjoy it most is wonderful and I am so looking forward to following along with you as you do a whole bunch of hard work! hehe...

Leigh said...

Rain, LOL. You do have it colder in February than I do! Yes, we make all our own tinctures. My biggest but slowest garden project is an herb garden so that we can grow all our own herbs too.

Debbie, with an old house, we not taking uneventful and short for granted, LOL.

Bettina, how is your electrical project coming along? That is definitely major. Thanks for the good wishes, we're hoping we don't find any major problems either!

Farmgirl_dk, that is so true. We wish our walls could talk! Or at least that we could find an original blueprint. It would be interesting to know.

Mama Pea, I think about you as we get in to this, because I remember you said your kitchen is an upcoming project. Hopefully the inconvenience will be worth the final comfort in the end, for both of us!

Julie, my DH would much rather do what you and yours did, build from scratch! We've just worked out an intermediate kitchen solution on the back porch. Hopefully it would be too inconvenient while the rest of it is out of commission!

Toni, that old saying is certainly true of an old house! We only wish we could discover someone's buried treasure in the walls instead of rotten studs, LOL.

Jane, that will be a real feather in our cap. Right now it seems forever away, but hopefully it won't be as long to get it in as I think!

Renee, it is pretty fascinating. We know a little bit about who some of the former occupants were, but only for the past 40 or 50 years or so. Would love to know about the original house and the original owners!

Bummer about the granite counter top. At least you could get it in.

Mary, that is fascinating. What an add color for a kitchen. And isn't it great what a little paint can do! Did you salvage the cistern? I remember my grandmother had one just like that.

Luckybunny, I agree about the kitchen. Funny but I had to live with it as is for quite a while to decide what I want in the end. It's exciting now, to be finally at this project!

Benita said...

If I'm feeling daunted by the work, then I can imagine what you are feeling. If that post is necessary to hold things up, how are you going to get around it? Bulkhead?

Nina said...

What a difference that will be when it's done! you'll be more than pleased I'm sure. I wonder how many interesting "surprises" you'll find? Hopefully not many and it will be all clear sailing for the reno.

Penny said...

My Dad and I began remodeling my pre 1900 house almost 11 years ago .. it still isn't finished. Fortunately my nephew, by marriage, is pretty handy if motivated so I still have hope of at least finishing my bathroom.

Good luck to you and yours!! =)

Leigh said...

Benita, sometimes it's absolutely overwhelming. We just have to take it one step at a time.

Dan's not sure that post actually does anything. We (he) are going to put in a new beam and then support it with corbels. Then we should be able to remove the post with no problems. I'm looking forward to that!

Nina, we're wondering about those surprises too! The worst ones are where the structure itself is in bad shape. We know about the window wall, and hope it's the only one that bad!

Penny, I can easily see this taking 11 years, at least! It's nice to have family to help. Good luck with yours too!

Trixi said...

I love your 90 yr. old home and your homestead. I have enjoyed reading about it!

Donna said...

I'm so glad you are getting started on the heart of your home. I can't wait to see that wonderful stove set in place. At least you and your hubby have worked out a system to decide on these remodeling matters. While it may take time to make the final decisions about the details at least you do it harmoniously.

Leigh said...

Mrs. Trixi, thanks! It certainly is a challenge and a lot of work, but really, this is us. We enjoy the entire process.

Donna, so far! The system was vital, but really, I think it's based on a desire to see the other happy. We both have to live here, so we both may as well like it!

Hardy Coufal said...

That's a start! The best thing to do when remodeling is to tear everything apart and start from scratch. It may look like a disaster area now. But when everything is done, it will be neat and pretty. Good luck on your remodeling!