Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kitchen Destruction.. err.. Demolition

Remember this pic?

You were probably wondering why we had an entire IKEA kitchen in our dining room. One of the good things about renting a house owned by M's family is that we get to do a lot things to make the house "ours" that we wouldn't normally be able to do while renting. We wanted to tackle the kitchen, which is good both for us and for the future value of the property when we move out.

Here's what the kitchen used to look like:

It's a long galley kitchen with not much room to edit the layout. Did you spot the strange part? There are no base cabinets or counter on the entire left side! We're not really sure why this is or how long renters have been living with it like this, but we've been living with it this way for three weeks and it's really annoying. Between the fridge and stove there is about three feet of space, and to the right of the stove there are another two feet! Holy wasted space, Batman!!

We researched affordable kitchen options online and ended up at our favorite Swedish furniture store, IKEA!

Here's the plan I made using IKEA's Kitchens & Appliances workbook. It's a catalog with all of IKEA's kitchen products, and in the back there's grid paper and scaled punch-outs of their cabinets and appliances. It was actually fun! I then used the pricing guide to look up each piece and total up what our whole kitchen should cost. We made a "must list" and a "wish list" and once we saw how things were adding up, we found out we'd be able to afford pretty much all of the items on our wish list while still working within the budget Marc's family gave us.

We worked with an IKEA associate to tweak our plan a little and order all of the pieces we'd need. Several hours later, my car looked like this:

We were able to fit everything in one carload and have our counters, range hood, and dishwasher delivered the following day. It took us a whole week to muster enough confidence to start working on the kitchen. Today we finally got our hands dirty!

Here's Marcus working on the first cabinet. Please note, however, that this is about two hours into "starting" the project. First of all, these cabinets are made of metal. I've never really seen anything like them but they are heavy! We could see that the cabinets had been painted over many, many times and there were probably at least 4 or 5 layers of paint attaching them to the wall, as well as whatever hardware had been used to originally hang them. We used a knife to score around the box and pulled and pried and lifted but the thing didn't budge.

M ran to "The Depot" (as we call it since we go there about every day), and got a crow bar, mallet, and chisel. Eventually we figured out a system and got them all down. And so you don't think I was just taking pictures the whole time, here's a little proof:

The left wall of cabinets was a little tougher to get down because they were all attached.. even though we didn't know it. There were tiny screws attaching them that had been painted over a hundred times, just like everything else. We had to chisel away the paint covering each one and hand screw each one out.

Sticking your head in stinky, dirty, old cabinets isn't that fun. But once they're all down, you've got this!

Dirty walls with water and smoke damage in about a hundred different colors! That dark paper stuck to the walls are the original delivery tickets that we found on several of the cabinets. Unfortunately they don't have a date on them but they are from Sears and Roebuck and addressed to a Mr. Wayne Ward, so these cabinets must have been here since before M's grandparents bought the house in the 60s. That means they had been there for at least fifty years! What a piece of history!

And check out these holes!

Each cabinet was held up by four or five old, rusty screws or nails. Each one left a huge hole in our old plaster walls (check out my finger for scale). Does anyone have ideas for how to repair these? Most of them will be covered by new cabinets, but on the window wall we're installing open shelving so the walls need to be repaired and smoothed really well. After we got them down, we felt quite accomplished, so we rewarded our efforts with some In N Out. Later this week we'll be removing the base cabinets and counter, luckily there's only about half as much of that as there should be!

What's the biggest/best DIY project you've ever taken on?


  1. Good progress for the first day! To fix the holes that are going to show, get some mesh drywall tape and some "mud" and make patches. Oh, and you'll need a sanding sponge.

  2. Happy to see you and M believe in togetherness.
    You've got quite a project there, but I have no doubt you will get it done.
    My hardest DIY project was refinishing all my kitchen cabinets, but the results were well worth all the work...

  3. Good job guys. Unfortunately I think that the demo work is probably the easiest part of the reno. Take your time and think things through from the beginning. I think you want to start with the corner cabinet, making sure it's level AND plumb. And, if I can give you one more very important word of advice....."SHIMS."

  4. Wow, this is impressive! I Can't believe those cabinets were metal (?) and they left all that damage behind...It's a rough project but I know it will turn out awesome :)

    To cover the holes for the open shelves, wallpaper? nothing crazy patterned, but it would be an easy(ish) fix

    Side note: I want In N Out. So badly.

  5. oh yuck,what a hard, dirty job! but we all know the finished product will be great! keep us posted.