Mrs. Regueiro's Plate: Our Kitchen Renovation 3.0: Part 1

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our Kitchen Renovation 3.0: Part 1

Happy Labor Day!! Eric and I have been working on our kitchen remodel 3.0 for the past couple of weeks, and it's been hectic trying to finish everything. We first remodeled the kitchen when we first bought the house in September 2008 and already had done major work. We added a kitchen island, refaced and resurfaced the kitchen cabinets, added recess lighting, added hardware to the cabinets, and painted the kitchen. We never fully completed the kitchen remodel to our full liking because it was a temporary fix until we were ready to tackle this major project again. Eric had always told me that he would give me the kitchen of my dreams and I was tickled pink that we would finally complete this project.

Our main goal for the kitchen remodel 3.0:

1) Refinish the cabinet doors and give a new paint of gloss to the existing cabinet doors. (Eric wasn't too happy from the first time we refinished and refaced the cabinet doors, and finally fixed his mistakes.) From the previous remodel, we used the existing kitchen structure and replaced the kitchen doors. We replaced the old kitchen window in front of the sink and replaced the front and back patio doors. We stained the new cabinet doors a beautiful Cayenne Pepper and added a nice paint of gloss to them. We added veneer to the existing cabinets to stain them as well. What a dramatic change from kitchen 1.0 to kitchen 2.0 already.

2) We would take out and demo the old tile countertops and replace it with granite and add subway tile backsplash. The existing tile countertops and backsplash were poorly installed from the previous owner, and he installed the backsplash all the way to the bottom end of the electric outlets. It prevented Eric from replacing them and they had these gawd ugly yellow outlet covers that I ripped out. Sometimes my outlets worked, and sometimes it didn't. It was a pain trying to use the toaster oven or my kitchen aid mixer and the electricity would give out because of the abused outlets.

3) Replace the sink and faucet. I love to cook and sometimes when I try and wash the bigger pots or the large cookie sheet pans...this sink was not the ideal size. Try washing a 16 pound turkey in this was rather difficult. Ideally, I wanted one large sink basin with plenty of room to wash my big dishes.

Overall, it sounded like a small renovation project to handle for the both of us. We planned on 1 week to start and finish our project. It became 2.5 weeks of constant labor for the kitchen. It got a little frustrating because we would work during the day for our normal job, and then come home and work on our kitchen until the wee hours of the night. We worked non-stop during the weekends to power through and complete the renovation. Whenever you decide to tackle a home renovation project, be open to the possibility that your timeline may change and that problems will arise and you'll need to correct it in whatever way seems possible and affordable.

The agony of demo day had scared me because Eric had started taking down the kitchen cabinet doors and realized a problem with our cabinets. They had shifted downwards and were not level. The previous owner had mickey moused the microwave and had poorly installed it overhead the oven. When he did install it, the weight of the microwave caused the supporting wood to break, and slowly bringing down the cabinets at an angle. We didn't notice it the first time we remodeled the kitchen, but there was a significant difference from one side of the cabinet to the other. Eric had a bright idea to use his tire jack to push the weight back up of the cabinets and then reinforce it with new brackets. I was scared that the cabinets would come crashing to the ground. In theory, Eric's idea sounded like a great plan...and it did work. That civil engineering degree is quite handy, and all those episodes of Holmes on homes!

Demo'ing was the easiest task and clean-up was really messy because bits and pieces flew everywhere. Luckily we wore eye protection and quickly filled up our trashbin with lots of tile bits and concrete rocks from our kitchen. Eric would hammer, chisel and break away the layers of tile and concrete. We had to remove the existing layers of plywood and install new sheet of plywood and add a layer of durock before we could lay the granite down. We did not go with a granite slab because we saved ourselves money by purchasing 12x12s tiles and laying it down like tile instead of the gigantic slab. There was no way we could afford the hefty labor tag for granite countertops but this was an affordable option as well. Granite tile countertops were purchased at 12x12s and matching chair rails at a local tile company, State College Distributors.
We came across plumbing problems when the cold water valve was leaking. Eric had to replace the valve and use a mini-blow torch to help alleviate some of the gunk off the pipes. When Eric removed the backsplash, there was multiple holes from a liquid nail gun - it looked like a gun fight across the wall. What an incredible mess of holes and they were all  patched. I painted and primed the underneath countertops to give a nice clean look. Also, Eric reinforced the bottom shelf.
We chose Black Galaxy as our granite color and it has wonderful flecks of sparkling gold. We chose simple white subway tiles for our backsplash with the grout line at 1/8 inch. We added the mortar and tiled the granite and Eric filled the grout at 1/16 inch. We got our granite cut at Home Depot for those tiles that wouldn't fit. Matt was absolutely awesome...and he charged us nothing to get them cut. The chair rails were a little impossible to keep up so we held them with blue tape. Once you are finished grouting the tile, you wipe away the excess with a cheesecloth. You wait 72 hours to let the grout set and then seal it with a tile grout sealer. The sealer also took another 24 to 72 hours to set before you could get the new countertops wet. It gave us ample time to clean, add the final touches of molding and touch up paint where it was needed.  

Finally, I'm saving the final reveal for the next post.  It's been a hectic two weeks, but we are really proud of our work. I can't wait to start cooking again in my kitchen because it feels like ages since I last prepared a home cooked meal. The only cooking I have been able to do is make coffee with my makeshift kitchen table...thank goodness for fresh coffee. Eric is my awesome handyman super-duper-iffic husband for doing this all for me. Love you!
Happy Labor day and I can't wait to show you the finished project. It looks absolutely fantastic!

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