Kitchen + Closet = Half Bath + Butler’s Pantry

The first major remodel includes turning a space that was the original kitchen (cabinets and sink were here, oddly the fridge and stove were in an adjoining room) into a much-needed half bath and a butler’s pantry. See original confiuration here: 

Original Kitchen

Obviously, modern standards dictate a bit larger, more functional kitchen. As for the closet, it was a long, awkward storage space that opened into the dining room. Hence, it is better served as a portion of the new half bath. Note: there is only one full bath in the house now, on the second floor, so this first floor half bath is a much needed addition. 

Before demo, here was the view into this space, looking at the wall that divided the original kitchen and the closet: 

Before - original kitchen









Sexy, eh? Above the wood paneling was a dropped ceiling that had a hideous florescent light in it. Behind that was the original wainscoting for the room. After all of that was removed, the lovely plaster beneath: 

plaster under paneling







And under the window: 

under the paneling around the window








It took all of a weekend to strip this room of faux wood paneling, plaster and lathe strips, as well as the interior of the closet as well. The result?

naked space










So, the only thing left is to remove those studs, right? Heh. Not quite. It seems that this itty bitty wall was an itty bitty support wall. Next project: building a header wall against the outside closet wall for added support. That post is next, but in the meantime, here’s what the final configuration will look like: 

Post-remodel plan

Published in: on April 30, 2008 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

And the Lord said, “Let there be water…”

…and there was water. And it was good.

 Much has happened over the past two weeks, but the subject of importance for this post is plumbing. As in removing an old sink that was in a very unfunctional location, and moving it to a new, more functional one.

This is exactly what we did last weekend. Quite successfully, I might add. For some, this may not be a feat to jump up and down about. For us, this is the vindication that we can do just about anything in this old house that we want/need/desire to.

 The original kitchen sink (and cabinets and countertop) in the house was in a long hallway; think of a galley kitchen with only one side and no appliances. (The kitchen and stove were in an adjoining room.) This setup made no sense in terms of modern layouts, and one of the first decisions we made was to move the appliances and sink/cabinets to the room that was formerly used as a dining room. There was a downstairs bedroom that we are converting to the future dining room, and the choice of the future kitchen location made sense as it has a large window overlooking the side yard. It is centrally located in the house, and the shape of that room and the placement of the window just made perfect sense for a modern kitchen.

 So, over the past month, Jeremy has wired new 220 outlets for the stove and refrigerator, which were the first components toward building a kitchen. The second: moving the sink.

Original location, before:

 Cabinets, sink and coutertop in hallway location

Original location, after:

A half bath and butler’s pantry will be built in this location.

Old sink drain - plugged and vile smelling

We then had to move the existing cabinets and sink to their new location. The only problem? No existing plumbing.

Before cabinets installed

So, we planned out the sink location, dead center of the double window on the east wall of the old dining room, and drilled holes in the floor for the new water supply lines and drain pipe.

In the basement, we used a pipe cutter to remove about an inch and a half from the main hot and cold copper supply lines right under the new kitchen.

Jeremy using a wheel cutter to cut the pipes

We then attached Tee Joints (the shiny gold fixture above) that seals where we cut the line and has another valve for the new pex supply line that will run upstairs to the sink.

New hot and cold water supply lines

Next came installing the drain pipes for the sink. This involved about 20 feet of PVC pipe, cut and arranged with joints to create a slope of one inch per foot from the bottom of the sink plumbing:

 Sink drain view from the basement

…to the new PVC pipe that leads to the sewer: (note old, stinky, rusted pipe next to it)

New drain next to old

Finally, the puzzle of pipes for under the sink (S-trap, auto vent and faucet supply) were reconstructed from the practice run in the garage to their new home:

New sink plumbing

This whole process took two days. But there are no leaks, everything is level and plumb, and we have a funtional kitchen.

To sum up in pictures, before:

Before cabinets installed

…and after:

Old sink in its new home

Now, I realize this ain’t pretty – especially the makeshift island in the middle. But we are carefully planning out every detail of the layout before the new lighting, cabinets etc. are chosen for the space. The coolest thing about this area, though?

Running water!!

Published in: on August 5, 2007 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The sky is falling!

When we started the kitchen demo, I was completely unprepared for the apocalyptic fallout that would result. I knew that there would be a mess in the room that we were working on, but I was dumbfounded at what lengths and in what quantities the plaster dust would travel. 

The first thing to go in the new kitchen was the ceiling. The original plaster ceiling was crumbling from old plumbing issues in the bathroom upstairs and rather than fixing or replacing the plaster, this was how the previous owners dealt with the problem:

Let’s just hide it with a dropped ceiling!

So, the first steps were removing the ceiling panels and metal frames. Easy enough. Then came removing the decaying plaster.

(There are no pictures of this process because Jeremy and his dad accomplished it while I was taking a nap upstairs. They had asked for old bed sheets before I dozed off, and I was completely unaware what they were up to. Note to self: no afternoon cocktails resulting in naps when Jeremy’s dad is over, and old bedsheets DO NOT contain the massive amounts of dust that destroying plaster creates.)

Every surrounding room was caked in black dust when they were finished. Here is a plant that was in an adjoining room, supposedly protected from the demo:

Kitty needs a bath

Next came removing the wood lathe strips from the ceiling. I was awake for this process, and a short trip to Home Depot prior ensured we had plastic sheeting in place protecting other rooms from more dust.

Jeremy and Dad contain their mess

And here, the result:

The ceiling is on the floor

After several hours of binding the strips, tossing the smaller peices into a garbage can, and shop-vaccing the remaining plaster bits and dust, viola:

That’s the heating duct to the bathroom

See the old knob and tube electric wiring?

All this happend two weeks ago today, and we’re still tackling the mess that ensued. Volunteers, anyone?

Published in: on August 4, 2007 at 3:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Landscaping Before and After

One of the first, and easiest, improvements we’ve made on the house has been removing the random bushes and sloppy landscaping around the property. As a child and young adult, I hated being outside and getting dirty; today, it is the most satisfying work I’ve done on the house. I love working in the yard.

Katherine getting her hands dirty

While the longest project in the yard included hauling off the old mulch (and rock or wood borders) from the 12 beds in the yard, the most curb-worthy were removing the overgrown shrubs from the front porch…


The bushes that tried to eat the porch


The bushes have been conquered

…and the poorly-placed shrubs next to the driveway that made it impossible to see if anyone was walking/biking/jogging past on the sidewalk as we backed out of the driveway:


Poorly placed, and ugly, too


This dirt will oneday be full of beautiful blooms

I just can’t wait for the spring when we can start growing the English garden we are planning for these spaces.

Published in: on August 3, 2007 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment