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More demolition and preparation for cabinets

This blog chronicles my entire kitchen renovation from start to finish. Greentea Design has provided me with their solid wood kitchen cabinets, and I'm taking care of the rest.

If you'd like to be brought up to date, check out the archive in the sidebar for previous posts. I posted recently about the removal of the old kitchen, and now for more demolition and work begun by my contractor.

Once my boyfriend and I removed the old cabinets and tile floor, the contractor started his work. And of course as it always goes with an old house, there was more work than originally anticipated. And it probably didn't help that I added a little project (ummm, not that little) onto the ever growing list of things that needed to be completed before the cabinets arrive.

I've got to start by talking about the amazing discoveries on the walls behind the drywall and wood panelling. I have never seen so many layers of wallpaper and newspaper in one space. We all got a really good laugh out of that. My boyfriend counted 15 different wallpapers on one chunk he removed.

When we discovered newspaper on the walls behind the wallpaper, I was excited to see how old it was and if there were any dates visible. When I bought this house the age was not disclosed and all I got was the inspector's guess that it was about 90 years old. I did find one date, and although the builders may have used old newspapers they had stashed away, it is amazing to think that this house was built so long ago.

So once the kitchen was stripped bare of all the drywall and the plywood removed from the floor, the contractor got to work on levelling the floor. This was a crucial step as the cabinets would have been on a really obvious slant. The contractor nailed down new thinner plywood over the floorboards (the floorboards were in too much of a rough shape to have skipped this layer), then added strips of wood which he used to level another thin layer of plywood. This will mean that the kitchen floor will be higher than the living room floor but there's nothing I can do about it, and with the floors painted the same colour throughout it won't be that noticeable that there is a little step up into the kitchen.

During the process of removing all the drywall, conversations were had about the wall covering the staircase. I was concerned that it would be a tight fit having a table down the center of the space and trying to get around it with people seated there. Before the demo I took my desk out of my office (which would be a similar width) and we tried it in the kitchen. In the photo below you can see a bit of the wall in question on the left side. On the right there is a little brown rug that shows the depth of the cabinets.

At the last minute I decided to ask for the bottom part of the wall to be removed to allow more room to move around the table. When the wall came down I was SO HAPPY with the decision. It opens up the space so much more and will be a bit of architectural interest to this house (which it is really lacking). I contemplated...ok agonized, over whether I should take out the upper part of the wall as well to expose the staircase going to the second floor, but in the end I decided to leave it in case it's holding up the upper floor. :) I don't really want to mess with anything providing support. Plus, this leaves me with a little bit of a wall to get the electrician to place light switches for the kitchen. The thermostat is already there so it can be my electrical wall.

The wall before being torn down

The wall after being torn down

View when coming up basement stairs

There's going to be a door in the floor built to cover the opening to the basement stairs that will open upwards. It will be clad in strips of wood to resemble the hardwood that will be the rest of the flooring (but will be lighter). We're trying to find a latch system that allows you to press the door and it pops up to eliminate the need for a handle. My boyfriend went to see our mechanic friend yesterday and got a hinge from the hood of a BMW and that will hopefully allow the door to open and close easily (with some shocks used too). At this moment it's all a theory that has yet to be tested. There will also be a hole cut out in the door to allow the cats to climb in and out of the basement at their leisure to get to the litter boxes.

There are a couple of things the contractor had to frame around, like the plumbing that is located in the corner of the ceiling. There was wood panelling that was bent around the pipes and drywalled over and I'm guessing there was a hump in the ceiling as a result. Also, the heating duct that was located behind the stove that was built on the outside of the wall needed to be recessed into the wall to allow the fridge to be placed as far back as possible. At the top is the vent going into the floor of the bathroom which needed to remain where it was so a frame is going to be built around it to hide it with drywall.

The contractor also removed the window in the kitchen (to be replaced with a smaller one that is 24"x32") and the door leading to the side porch that I had used as my main entrance into the house. When the window was taken out, it was a very VERY odd feeling to see a huge hole in the side of my house.

This is just about where things are at in my kitchen this week. The walls should hopefully be ready for painting by the end of Monday and the floors installed on Tuesday morning. A couple days for painting the walls and floors, and I've asked for the cabinets to be delivered Friday. Fingers crossed once again that all this can happen on schedule.

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Good grief! You're right into it now, and its really coming along.

The light in the room is really something. Didn't you say you are replacing the door with another window over the counters...good call.

Looks like loads of fun!
Right into it is right kite. My house is coated in so much dirt and dust it's unreal. Loads of fun?, not really. LOL! The room will definitively not be as bright as in the last photo. The door is sealed up and there isn't a window replacing it because there's one right next to it - you can see the frame of it in the last photo. You can also see where the new window will be - the old window has framing in it and the top right section will be the new window.
Wow Kim,
Now that just looks exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. But what a great decision to open the staircase wall. Amazing what difference a foot or two can make isn't it. Will it all be finished by Christmas? Or is that a big LOL?
Lisa & Alfie
Loved seeing the newspaper. Amazing what you find back there. Back when I was in elementary school my parents' were renting a house that was atleast as old that served as a rectory for the church across from UTS in Toronto (Huron and Bloor for you Toronto folks).

It also had anamazing range of wallpaper going back years and years in the main hall, the most recent being an intense paisley that I can recall so well still even though I was only 12 or something when we eventually moved out.

Anyway, great to see how its all coming. I finished modeling your fridge yesterday evening. I think all I have left for the final sketchup is the lights pretty much.
Lisa & Alfie, this kitchen will be completed by the end of the month if I crack the whip hard and often enough. :) I can't take much more of the mess, dirty cat prints all over my bed, eating out and living in my bedroom. But I did just get approval for taking next week off work so there will for sure be some whip cracking, and on my own arse too to get the painting done.

Mike, I cannot wait to see the final sketchup!! And hey - who knew intense paisley wallpaper would be back in style? I think I'm fortunate to be able to live in a house that has history, because I hardly know anyone that isn't living in an almost newly constructed home. Although I am looking forward to the day when I can buy one that has more character - and is more than 12 feet wide. :)
OMG! You guys are all in now. I love the space under the stairs!
Are you going to use the hole for hte cat door as a handle too? But I can't see how that wouldn't be an ankle twister? I've never even seen a basement in person, so I'm sure I'm picturing it wrong.

Boat hardware seems like it'd be great for this situation, flush latches like these
maybe take a trip to a boatyard one afternoon, boats are full of clever door-in-floor set ups. You'd do it for research of course, not to escape the cats, dust, noise... ;)
Brandy, I was hoping I wouldn't need a handle if I got something that you could push down on the door and it rise up (like sometimes you get with kitchen cabinets - not sure what you call that). But if not that flush latch is exactly what I need. Oh, and the hole for the cats will be close to the wall so a person won't accidentally stick their foot in it.
Wow- the newspaper and the layers of wallpaper are such amazing sights! And you really are in the heart of the reno now! Fingers crossed that things stay on schedule!
Removing that bit of wall was genius. The space has opened right up. Chin up Kim the worst is almost over.
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