Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When the Bad Gets Worse...

The last two days, The Builder has been priming the cabinets for paint. I was willing to wait until the weekend, but we've got tickets to the football game on Sunday and we'll loose a solid day of work. So he didn't want to waste any time this week.

The worst cabinet in our kitchen by far was the sink cabinet:
Under the Sink
That board in the bottom was replaced when we bought the home in 2013. The prior bottom was rotted out and we couldn't really use the cabinet for storage. 

So you can imagine our surprise when we pulled out the bottom to repaint it and found this:

Umh.  Yuck!!









And let's not forget the other side:

Those pieces on the floor?  That's the rotted right side of the cabinet. It pulled right out when The Builder took the bottom out. And the smell. It's terrible. The kids even noticed. Gross is an understatement.

So we had a decision to make. 

Replacing all of the cabinets is still completely out of the budget.

But replacing one cabinet maybe wasn't such a bad idea.


Umh, two may not be a bad idea either! Thankfully they're on sale at the orange home improvement store so we headed out to pick them up. They'll get a coat of primer and then paint. You may have noticed that we're ditching the drawers on the smaller of the cabinets in favor of a door. When we bought our new stove, we lost the bottom drawer that we used to store our baking pans. We planned to find a place to store them once the kitchen reno was done - maybe in the new pantry we plan to build this spring. But now I'll use this cabinet space and it will be much more efficient for us. We never used all four drawers. We have drawers on the other side of the kitchen that were filled with junk. So we'll do some reorganizing and this cabinet will work much better for us. 

As to "The Plan" all but the new cabinets are primed and have the first coat of paint on. So all in all, not bad for the first two days of work!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Plan

The Builder worked all Sunday afternoon on the kitchen. We have quite a hefty to do list on this "soft reno". The humidity is a huge issue because everything was so wet when we tore it out, that's adding to our time line as we have to allow for things to dry out.  The original four day estimate is out, but while the to do list looks extensive, most of it is all cosmetic and will go faster than many of our other projects.  So here is our basic timeline:
  • Prime all the bottom cabinets
  • Paint all the lower cabinets
    • humidity allowing, this could be done during the week when we get home from work.  But we need the humidity to go way down to allow things to dry out properly
  • level the counters properly and install the new counter tops - huge issue, we have sections that are as much as 3/8 out of level.
  • turn the water off and install the new sink and faucet
  • install all the new hinges - a total of 30 - and put the doors back on.
  • empty and prep the upper cabinets
  • prime and paint the upper cabinets
  • turn off the water and install the new sink and faucet
  • install the new base boards
  • repaint the kitchen
  • rehang the curtain rod in the bay window
Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Bad, The Uh Oh, and The OMG!

Merry Christmas!  Most people are still enjoying the remnants of Christmas - the lights, leftover food, the last of the decorations. Me? I'm moving on to the next project.

So my master bath is on hold while we get ready to build a new vanity. Not ideal, but I need to order a new granite top and sinks for it and my budget is always tight this time of year. Our only sink and vanity is now not functioning (bad clog that we managed to work out of the  shower drain, but is now firmly logged in the pipe for the sink...sigh) so we're getting by using the sink in the powder room. Super fun, these renos!

Move In Day August 2011
This is a photo of my kitchen when we first moved in. The kitchen space was a selling point for me. It was BIG. Much bigger than the kitchen we'd had in the previous rental (I probably could fit three of that kitchen into this one). Lots of counter space, decent storage, and that bay window - lovely natural light!

This photo doesn't reveal what is hidden behind the doors and the counter top. The reality is, my kitchen is a soggy, bug attracting mess. What looks presentable in photos is actually a crumbling pile of particle board. With The Teen graduating this coming June, there is no way I am going to have all our family over with the sorry thing I call a kitchen. For the past two years, we slowly been replacing things as they give out. The garbage disposal. The fridge. The dishwasher. Just this past Black Friday, the stove. The only appliance we haven't replaced was the microwave - because the previous owner replaced it right before we bought it. It's just a hot mess, as they say here in the south.

So I've been gearing up for this soft reno. When I told my dad he said "what on earth is a soft reno?". Good question, right? Essentially, we're not replacing any cupboards or flooring, nor are we changing any of the footprint. It's just supposed to be a cosmetic update.

See, I desperately need to gut my entire kitchen - starting with the cabinets. They're half of the soggy mess. I've priced them and I'm fairly certain I know what I want. RTA cabinets - Ready To Assemble. Real wood, dove tailed, solid cabinets. They come unassembled which is a big portion of the savings. The Builder is more than capable of assembling and installing them. It's about $3000 for the entire kitchen. A huge saving if you've ever priced new cabinets.

But they're not in my budget this year.  Or next year.  I have this silly thing called an HVAC system that has to be replaced. No one can live in Texas without a good a/c system (we're not actually sure our heater will turn on this winter, yikes!!) and mine is on life support. So that's my budget buster this year (again, before the family arrives!).

Since new cabinets are out, I'm repainting mine. Paint is cheap and it will allow us to fix some drawers and doors that have seen better days, as well as refresh them.  Along with that, the vanilla, 1987 Formica counter tops are being swapped out for the granite looking, bull nosed laminate counter tops we found at the Blue home improvement store. We also discovered all the hinges have rusted out on the cabinet doors, so those are being replaced too. Sounds simple, right?

The Builder informed me my projects are never simple.

When we started taking off the doors to clean, sand, prime, and paint them, we discovered that everything is saturated. I have no idea how long my kitchen has been absorbing the humidity that is Houston, but saying it's a soggy mess is an understatement. We've added new base boards to the list of things that need to be replaced.

So how bad is this project?

Under the Kitchen Sink
The sink has had many water problems over year, even before we moved in. The bottom was completely rotted out, so we put a board in it about two  years ago. You can see, it's already warping again. It's just gross. We're going to pull that bottom out and replace it. Again. There's not much I can do about the warping cabinet wall, so we'll sand it, prime it, and hope the paint will hold up.

What are those marks in the cabinet? Is that were someone left food?  Nope. It's rust. The hinges are completely rusted through on the doors. Did I mention Houston is humid?! We bought all new hinges. Thankfully we had to take the old ones off to paint the doors anyway, so it was more the expense than a time factor. And yes, every single door has this rust when we took the doors and hinges off.


Yes, that shelf is bowing. We're going to shore it up with a brace since it's built into the cabinet. It's not the best shelf, and I'm looking at better storage solutions, but it's what I have to work with for now. This is the cabinet that stores my mixing bowls and baking supplies, so that shelf allows me to store without stacking everything on top of each other.

And when we pulled off the counter, this is what we found hiding in the corner:
Dead Corner
Dead space. Literally a big empty cavity. I don't know who did the space planning for this kitchen when the house was built, but this makes no sense to me at all. When we replace the cabinets eventually, this will be a cabinet with a lazy susan.

What are the other problem areas lurking in this kitchen?

Multi Colors
This is the area under the sink. The area isn't important. Take a look at the various colors of paint this kitchen has had over the years. There's a bit of Marigold peaking through. That appears to have been covered up by a minty pastel green, which then has a dull grey over that. I had no idea when I viewed it in it's vanilla splendor when we moved in that the vanilla color was probably the best paint color this kitchen has ever had.


To the Left of the Sink
The burnt breakfast counter? Yeah that was The Builder. We were deep frying some wings before a football game and apparently the fryer was a bit too close. Oops. The plan for the bar is to replace it with a wood top, since we don't have the option to replace it with laminate to match the new counters. Eventually, we plan to tear it out and drop it down to counter height. We'll be ordering quartz counter tops when the time comes, so it will be seamless. But that's several years off.

Finally, some photo's of the demo itself:
Removing a counter
The Builder is tearing out the counter. We left the small counter to the right of the stove (have to have a place to plug in the coffee pot!!!) but tore out the other two. The Builder also left the counter in place holding the sink. We weren't going to replace the sink with this soft reno because sinks are expensive and I would really like a farm house sink eventually. However, we had a change of heart on this and wound up at the orange home improvement store looking at sinks. And somehow one found its way into our cart, along with a new faucet (which we had actually planned to buy because the one we bought to replace the other broken one is now broken as well, sigh...)

Delta Lakeview Single-Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Kitchen Faucet in Stainless with Soap Dispenser
Delta Lakeview Single Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Faucet
So we went with a sink from Delta because of the Magna Tite docking. The sink we have right now doesn't have a magnet to hold in the faucet head and hose. It clicked in securely when we first bought it...for all of three months. Now it just sort of hangs loosely. Also, the neck was never tall enough. You couldn't get a pot under it comfortably. Probably because the sink is so shallows - more on that in a minute. But also because the neck wasn't tall enough. That will no longer be an issue with this faucet. Super excited about this faucet!

And then the sink that found it's way into our cart:

KOHLER Verse Top Mount Stainless Steel 33 in. 4-Hole Double Bowl Kitchen Sink
KOHLER Verse Stainless Steel Sink
We had quite the debate about our current sink. I was positive it was no deeper than seven inches, which appears to be a standard size carried at the orange box store. The Builder was convinced it was eight inches. I promptly told him he was crazy. I've washed my hair in that sink. There was no way it was eight inches deep. After some friendly banter back and forth about the depth of the sink, we took a serious look at this Kohler sink, that's nine inches deep. It's the same width as the current sink, 36", but we new the deeper sink would be better.

When we got home, The Builder was quick to break out the tape measure to show me he was right.  At which we saw that our sink is only six inches deep.  Not even the standard seven!! Up until that point, I was feeling slight guilty spending the money on a new sink, since ours mostly likely needed to be re-sealed properly so it wouldn't leak anymore, and then would work fine. I don't feel guilty anymore. Even if I end up keeping this sink when we do our full kitchen reno in a few years, I can live with that.

The Builder put our kids to good work as well.
The boys scrubbed down all the cabinets with TSP so that they'd be ready to prime. The Teen cleared and scrubbed all the counter before we removed them (I don't know why, but I can't put dirty counters out on the curb for trash day).  All of them helped box up all the cookware stored in the cabinets as well. It only took a couple of hours with them all helping - we had anticipated this being a full day to clean and clear it all out.

The Builder and Oldest DS1
Did I mention it's hot and HUMID here in TX right now? We've been in shorts all week and finally turned the barely working a/c on Christmas day. But the boys were looking forward to the demo portion. The Builder showed them how to use the hammer to knock a solid hole into the counter. The Teen and I don't quite get it, but if it helped the boys work better, then by all means, knock a hole in the counter! Of course, it might slightly be my fault as well.  I watch a lot of Property Brothers on HGTV. The homeowners always take great delight in punching holes in walls that are coming out. Since we're not taking out any walls at this point, this is the closest they could get.

Our original goal was to have this done in 4 days. That was before we realized the sink was a bigger mess than we thought, that the cabinets have been absorbing the humidity for a few years, and that some of the doors now need to be rebuilt. Thankfully we have another 3 day weekend next weekend, and that might allow us to get finished up.

Fingers crossed!