Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Goodbye Tour: The Kitchen

I think I've finally reached the point where I can look at pictures of the old house without crying (although, man, does it feel weird to call it the "old house!")  As I mentioned in our update post, I'm still sentimental about the house, and I miss it most especially in the sense of having things organized and having a routine (although I think my memory has failed me in remembering that the day-to-day wasn't always quite like photo-shoot days!)

Before it's too long gone, I want to finish my "good-bye tour" of the house so that we have a complete documentation of all of the renovations.  Writing these posts is good incentive because I also want to work on printing a photo book, and these posts force me to sort through all of the pictures.

The kitchen was by far our most extensive renovation on all fronts (scope, time, money, type of tasks, etc).  It is also one of the only projects that I actually documented consistently on the blog, so if you want to revisit the full play-by-play, all of the links are below.  Today, I'll give you the cliff-notes version (where, by the magic of the Internet, walls are stripped and rebuilt in a single scroll).

When we bought the house, every remotely absorptive surface had collected years of cigarette smoke.  One of the biggest offenders was the foam panels on the kitchen ceiling.  Less than 8 hours into home ownership, we made the (potentially rash) decision to remove the panels, thinking we'd just live with whatever (theoretically better) surface we found above until we were ready for a full renovation.

Weeeeelllllll, (first lesson of renovation), nothing is ever quite as easy as it sounds.  We discovered that the beadboard ceiling above the drop panels was sagging and leaking insulation, so we made the (potentially even more rash) decision to remove that too.  And then the weekend was over and I needed to go back to Harrisburg and my job, and Justin was left with a house where the ceiling was literally all over the floor.

See the bulging panel that remains?  That's because insulation is sitting on it.

I'll spare you the you-can-see-the-roof-joints pictures and fast-forward to the Fourth of July, when Justin and I spent the hottest possible day doing the hardest possible job (and thus completing the best possible marriage preparation) hanging drywall on the ceiling.

With that project done, we cleaned things up, and when Justin's lease ended at the end of July, he moved into the kitchen (the rest of the house was either too dirty or too actively being renovated to host him).  I rented a basement apartment across town, although I really only slept there, as I'd go directly from work to the house to have dinner and work on projects.

Everything he owned (and, he'll point out, everything he needed) was in the kitchen.  It was around this time that we had a contractor over to look at the roof, and we offered him a seat, at which point we realized that the camp chair on the porch was the only one we had.

We got married in October and I moved in to our newly renovated bedroom in the den.  I was thrilled to be permanently in the same place as Justin and very excited to be making a home.  I set up the kitchen and decorated it the best I could.

I was proud of my little space, and I didn't let the lack of function or the ugly paneling stop me from cooking fancy dinners or even from hosting friends.

Maybe not the most glamorous location for Easter dinner?

We knew that renovations were coming, and we added this conversation-starter we called "the panel list" - a list of the things we wanted to do before the paneling was removed, inspired by the bucket list concept.

Eventually, the other house projects were completed and the (non)charm of the paneling wore off, and we were ready to renovate!

The house lay-out, with the kitchen being the passageway from the upstairs to the rest of the house, made for a more complicated renovation, but we made-do with a plastic sheeted tunnel.  The refrigerator was banished to the back porch, and we would traipse from our temporary dining area in the den, out the front door to the back porch whenever food (or ice cream) was needed.

First round of demolition:

Second round of demolition:

Lots of (photograpically boring but very time intensive) projects related to plumbing and electrical commenced, and finally we could insulate and hang drywall!

The excitement of having walls! (and someday washing dishes somewhere other than the shower) got me through lots of spackling and sanding.

Finally it was time to paint:

When I came home from work to see the cabinet installer's first day of work, I cried at my little dream house coming together:

From there, there were plenty of other little projects (the kitchen sink, the dishwasher, the microwave/range hood, etc, etc, etc) until it was fully a functional kitchen.  Here's a photo tour from just before we started packing:

It came a long way, wouldn't you agree?

 A few last before-and-afters for good measure:

 Lots (more) detail about everything that we did...


  1. What a difference! I love what you did to your kitchen!

  2. Awesome! You guys did such a great job!

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