Monday, October 1, 2012

Kitchen Impossible

Yes, when we bought our beach cottage, our kitchen looked impossible.

When we tore everything out and discovered rotting wood behind the walls and under the linoleum floor, our kitchen looked impossible.

When the plumbing kept defying Doug, our kitchen looked impossible.

The only good thing in the entire room was a brand-new gas stove. But even that caused us trouble--Doug discovered that the gas line leading to the stove was kinked, and having the gas company install a new, flexible one cost us $300.

But the impossible became the possible this weekend, and we now have a real kitchen. With bead board up and the plumbing problems solved last week, we got our vintage sink installed on Thursday night, the floor laid down on Saturday, and the countertop and shelving set up on Sunday.

Before I show off the new kitchen, let's look back at what the room looked like two months ago. There are many nice touches in this shot, including the box of mothballs (on top of the fridge) being used as an air freshener and the bare compact fluorescent bulb that provided task lighting over the sink, although I'm not sure it mattered because I don't think too  many tasks were actually carried out in this kitchen. Further proof is that the "towel" hanging on the front of the stove was actually a cafe curtain panel. I also love the attractive formica panel above the lovely brown range hood in the upper left of the picture.

Note the box of disposable dust masks sitting on the stove in this picture--they were a crucial part of our uniform for emptying this disgusting mess into a dumpster:

The sink was the trigger for the complete demo we ended up doing, and now we can't believe we ever thought we could salvage the room:

This is what it looked like after the upper-level demo. We kept the sink as long as we could so we could use it to wash out paint brushes, as that was about all it was good for. Note all of the cleaning supplies in this photo--they were left behind by the previous owners, who apparently never cleaned anything:

After we got the bead board up and the sink installed, Doug used an ice scraper (it looks like a flat hoe on a long handle) to pull up the old peel-and-stick tiles.  This was one of the few jobs that went much faster and easier than we expected (about 10 minutes from start to finish):

This picture shows the great vintage sink we found at a salvage yard.  Doug was thrilled to find out that I planned to finish it off with a curtain--no doors to build!  Now, the only thing left to complete is a cabinet that Doug plans to build to fit in the open space next to the hallway entrance:

In addition to solving plumbing and electrical problems, my brilliant husband salvaged an old lab bench that was being discarded at the University where we work, and he made a countertop out of it. 
He built the shelf underneath the counter and the one above it from an old door that was left over from our shed project. We originally intended to preserve its old "chippiness," but the year it spent outdoors (albeit wrapped in a tarp) took its toll and the paint just blistered off.  So Doug sanded it down and cut it to fit, and I painted both shelves with the pale blue (Sherwin Williams "sea salt") that we've used as an accent color throughout the cottage.  This is the view from the living room via the pass-through opening:

 And this is from the dining room:

We still have some things to do--hardwire the under-counter lights, install a magnetic board for knives, buy and hang a pot rack, and add some hooks to maximize the space available on the counter/shelf unit, but Doug is considering it "done" for now.  I just about drove him crazy yesterday, putting things on the shelves before the last screws had cooled off from being drilled in....

Our renovation approach is to salvage where we can and then splurge on things that really matter to us. We bought this light fixture to go over the sink for just $15 at a hospital thrift store:

But then we spent $270 on three strips of LED lights to go under the top shelf and provide task lighting for the countertop.

Overall, we spent about $1500 to completely remodel the kitchen: 
Refrigerator: $250
Microwave: $60
Sink: $110
Range hood: $55
Flooring: $60
Beadboard: $140
Lumber for countertop and sink support: $110
Plumbing and electrical supplies: $200
Trim: $50
LED lights: $270
Thrift store light fixture: $15
Miscellaneous supplies: $100
Having a husband who can do all this work and still be smiling on Monday morning: Priceless


  1. looks freaking awesome!!! way to go guys!

  2. Congratulations! What an accomplishment. It looks incredible.

  3. Thanks for the compliments--we're pretty happy with the results so far!