A Kitchen Odyssey: From the Beginning

Prior Post A Kitchen Odyssey: Follow Along If You Dare

left-cabinets.jpgI thought it might be helpful to tell you where we’ve been before embarking on where we plan to go on this remodeling journey. A bit of insight and background goes a long way on a project like this.

Our suburban ranch-style home was built in the late sixties, along with several other homes on our street. We purchased it in 1995 from the original owners, who had done very little (good) to it over the years. In fact, when I first toured the home with our agent, I was shocked at what I found (chronicled in an earlier post titled “What’s That Smell?“) The galley-style kitchen had stained and worn linoleum, dirty wood cabinets, the original electric cooktop and double ovens, and cracked countertops. The color scheme was dirty beige, with some hideous wallpaper accent, and the room was very dark.

Prior to moving in we did a mini-remodel on the kitchen. It was very low-budget, as the whole house had to pretty much be gutted. (We had to remove all carpeting, wallpaper and paneling, refinish hardwood floors, re-texture walls, paint every room, replace doors, tear out an illegally enclosed porch, among other things.) So we gave our ten-year-old a sledgehammer and let him go to town on the old tile countertops, we tore out the fan hood, stovetop, dishwasher, fridge, floor, sink, and fixtures. We pulled off all the cabinet doors and steamed off the wallpaper. Then we started repairing, repainting and replacing.

We added a gas line for the new Dacor 5-burner stovetop, had new black-and-white tile counters installed along with sink and fixtures. The cabinets were prepped and painted a light gray, as were all the doors and drawer fronts with new hardware. All new appliances, except the double ovens, were installed. And finally walls were painted and vinyl flooring installed. This makeover lasted until about two years ago.

In 2006, the dishwasher developed a leak in the front seal and we came home one day to find the floor in front of it raised and swollen from water. Time for action…again. We had to tear out the dishwasher and the vinyl to get to the subfloor. Not such an easy task, however, as there were 3 layers of vinyl and linoleum. The original linoleum floor, a second vinyl layer probably from the 1980s, and the layer we had installed. The years and traffic had caused the first two layers to practically fuse together, and the first layer was almost impossible to separate from the subfloor. Shoulda hired a pro. But we made the necessary repairs, installed a new dishwasher and chose to replace the linoleum with a FLOR product, as a temporary fix. A rather unconventional choice, as most homeowners don’t like carpet in a kitchen. But this is not your ordinary carpet. FLOR comes in large squares, that are easy to put down, and should there be a spill, you can literally pick it up and rinse it off in cabinets.jpgthe sink! It’s actually held up well, but I don’t like it near as much as I thought. We also decided to repaint the walls and cabinets during this time, which is where we made our mistake.

Apparently when the cabinets had been repainted in 1995, an oil-based paint had been used. In 2006, we used an acrylic paint, which was fine at first, but has since started to peel away…a little at a time, leaving our cabinets looking, well, tacky (see photo at right). Hence our current call to action.

Next Time: What Needs to Be Done

  • ellem

    What? You said that was a “mini-remodel”?? I’m exhausted just reading about it!! Wow — to me, completely inexperienced in home remodels, your first mini-makeover was a Herculean task — it seems as if you did EVERYthing! Very interesting though, and helpful to see what a normal, DIY-kitchen reno can be like.

    One thing that puzzles me is why so many people have to have dishwashers in the first place. In all the places we’ve lived, we used the dishwasher to store our tupperware and stuff, it just seems faster/easier to wash them by hand. Of course, it’s only me and my husband, and we don’t have that many dishes anyway.

    Here in Korea where we currently live (actually this is true of Japan as well) one can buy a mini-tabletop or countertop dishwasher, but it’s seen more as a luxury item, most homes don’t have one. Our apt. in fact came with a wonderful front-loading combo washing machine/dryer under the cooktop, which is also common in smaller apartments. It’s quite convenient, and since it’s a low-water use washing machine there is never any trouble w/ the huge gushing of draining water as with a regular washing machine. We hope to do this in our house too, when we finally buy.

  • ellem

    PS I just popped over and read your “What’s that Smell?” post and while horrific, it was a fascinatingly hilarious read! When we were in the Air Force (young and poor!) my husband and I toured a house near the base — every room in the house had a vague, acrid smell, but the two smaller bedrooms it was a STENCH — of UNCHANGED diapers!! You that horrible gross public-restroom odour, that just about makes you gag? These bedrooms had it — and each bedroom had a crib left in it, too — I bet the mattresses were completely suffused w/ the urine and the previous owners had just left them . . . such a sorry tale that house told, we quickly escaped from the slightly senile, tottering real estate agent and never returned — we felt guilty though, which says how naive we were!

  • http://sfbay.redfin.com/blog/author/susan.brady susan.brady

    I call it a mini-remodel because I didn;t have to put in new cabinets or windows, but I do suppose we did a lot. As for dishwashers, I cook most everything from scratch and make a lot of dirty dishes, not to mention I had the help of a hubby and 3 kids adding to the load. Never been big on paper plates. So I have loved having a dishwasher, but my brother and one of my best friends do not have dishwashers and they don’t mind one bit. I think it is all in what you are used to.

    Glad you liked the post on What’s that Smell. Sounds like you definitely had a similar experience.