Demolition Diaries: KaZoo Kitchen Reno

Newsflash: We are back in demo mode! The KaZoo Kitchen is no more. Well, the old one anyway. When we bought the ‘Zoo in December 2013, our kitchen looked like this:

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It was a typical builder kitchen with basic white appliances, stock thermofoil cabinets, beige laminate countertops, beige vinyl tile, and a micro pantry. All the essentials, and all functional (mostly). Once we brought our old (but newer than theirs) fridge and a new gas range, things were looking up:

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After installing our hood vent in summer 2014, which necessitated the removal of some of our wall cabinets, the kitchen took a turn for the worse functionally and aesthetically. We added some hardware to facilitate drawer and door opening, but the loss of so many upper cabinets was rough. We painted to help the kitchen feel happier until we could do a real renovation.

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In the interim, we began discussing ideas for our future kitchen. Almost immediately, we began dreaming of relocating the refrigerator: Its position in the southeast corner meant we could never open the refrigerator door fully. Stuffing pizza boxes, jugs of milk, watermelons, holiday turkeys, etc. in the refrigerator was next to impossible, but even regular things like heads of lettuce, bagged carrots, and leftovers saved in Pyrex containers proved difficult. While buying a French door fridge might help matters somewhat, we were also frustrated with the inefficient pantry on the opposite end of the kitchen (deep but not wide = digging out 10 things to get 1 item at the back). While having a pantry is nice, we decided we’d rather have more cabinets and counterspace…and was it remotely possible that the fridge would fit in the pantry’s spot if we tore down the pantry?! We couldn’t shake the idea, and after measuring, there was joyous celebration in the KaZoo Kitchen for the kitchen-to-come.

Of course, we were concerned the pantry might be structural, but other homes with our same floorplan in the neighborhood didn’t have a floor-to-ceiling wall at the pantry (the boxy area above our pantry was completely open to the living room in the other homes), which gave us hope. We took everything out of the pantry (feel free to play “Where’s Hermes?”)

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and tore into the drywall above the pantry to check things out.

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Our basic understanding of structures was telling us we were looking good, and after getting a licensed professional to confirm our suspicions, Mission Fridge Move was a go! That’s when the fun of Demo Day began. Kicking down drywall is so…satisfying!

Once the pantry was torn out, it was amazing how open the kitchen felt! While we had attic access above the old pantry/new fridge location, my dad and I installed a new electrical circuit and outlet so that the refrigerator would have its own independent circuit. My dad is a professionally licensed electrical engineer, and while I could do the wiring myself now after years of helping him, I’d rather have a professional on the site.

There’s a lot of shoddy DIY structural, electrical, and plumbing work out there that might get missed in a regular home inspection that can be the ultimate nightmare, so be skeptical of any home that’s obviously been renovated (especially if you see signs of bad workmanship, like the worst painted-over, patched drywall you’ve ever seen). Chances are, those homeowners may not have gotten the licensed professionals, permits, or inspections necessary to ensure a quality job. Installing or moving electrical, structural, and plumbing is a huge deal. Just because a friend or family member ‘taught’ you how to do something back in the day doesn’t mean it’s up to current code or would meet the code for the state in which you now live (Florida and California have specialized requirements, for example). Calling a professional is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of intelligence. 

We then took out the island, scraped and cleaned the remaining vinyl tiles up, lay the underlayment, and tiled the first part of the kitchen. We also patched, taped, mudded, and sanded the drywall in the new-fridge area.

 

After allowing those tiles to set, we took out the rest of the cabinets, only to discover damaged drywall behind the sink, where the previous residents clearly had experienced a leak at some point. We expected some damage because of the water damage we had seen in the cabinets, but it was more extensive than we had hoped.

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We had a mold inspection when we purchased the house that came back good to go (otherwise we would not have purchased the home), but we definitely wanted to get rid of the water damaged drywall (and the insulation behind it) ASAP, now that it was exposed and accessible.  At this point, our fridge got to move to its new, happier home. Behold the wonder and glory of being able to open the doors completely!

Can’t you hear angels singing? Hallelujah! We can. Every time I open the fridge now I can’t help but smile. You’ll note that we left the wall to the left of the fridge (a) because it had the kitchen switches on it) and (b) because we wanted the wall to hide the fridge from the view in the rest of the main living and dining area, which it does rather well.

Anyway, out went the damaged drywall, followed by the insulation, as carefully as possible to minimize possible mold spore diaspora. We took out everything in all areas evidencing any water damage plus a bit beyond the damage, both vertically and horizontally, just in case. The studs were fine, though. Whew. We installed new insulation and mold resistant purple-board (the new green-board), which was made easier with a compass-like drywall cutter than enabled us to cut clean circles for the pipe fittings and wiring.

We taped and mudded the new drywall, then lay more underlayment. The floors would already have been finished, but we wanted to keep our range connected to the gas, which has meant flooring in phases.

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Hermes is ready for things to be finished. So are we. Next time we’ll be sharing the finished flooring, painting, and all about the cabinets. I can’t wait to put ALL THE THINGS in the cabinets. And now back to work. 😉

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Hood Part I

Once we removed the old recirculating range hood and upper kitchen cabinets, we began the installation of our new hood. Based on the title, you can probably surmise that things didn’t go as smoothly as we hoped.  Everyone loves a tragic comedy, right?

Eckeltricity (For all you Arthur Weasley fans out there)
You may recall from our post about the old hood that we discovered someone mutilated our wall with a drywall saw and covered it up it was hardwired, rather than having an outlet.  Our new hood required an outlet, so a new outlet was in order.  IMG_3109

Since our range itself did not have a dedicated outlet either (not sure who did the electrical work for this home originally, but wow), my dad graciously offered to help us install two new outlets.  We purchased the necessary materials from Lowe’s (2 old work boxes with wings and 2 white outlets–we already had some white face plates on hand) and set to work.

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First, my dad did the outlet for the range.  Because a stud was between the existing outlet we had been using and where we would want to put an outlet (hidden from view behind the range), we elected to just mount the new outlet just to the left of the range, which actually doesn’t look bad and allows for easy disconnection, something that came in handy when we were doing the rest of the hood installation (and will again once we reno the kitchen later).  You can see the new and improved outlet location in the picture of the range hood install further down (no spoiling the surprise yet!).  Plus by making it readily accessible, we can use the other socket for another kitchen appliance, and who doesn’t want more useable outlets in the kitchen?

The outlet for the hood was a bit more tricky.  We had planned to put an outlet above and to the right of the great white shark attack existing hole along a stud, but the wire they had originally used to hardwire the old hood wasn’t long enough.  Upon exploration of the wall interior, we discovered that what had appeared to be a wire running from the ceiling down to the right of a stud was actually pulled through a stud from the left bottom. So after adding another unnecessary hole in the wall, we pulled the wire back through to its origin on the left bottom and ran it up into a newly cut hole on the upper left of the hood.  It helps to have wire coat hangers and people with small arms (me) to pull the wire through outlet-sized holes in the wall.  To make sure the outlet would be hidden by the chimney, we drew its exterior sides on the wall to make sure we stayed within the chimney’s perimeter.

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Patchwork Wall
We then applied some serious joint compound and patching tape to the wall where all the cuts in the drywall were. Not the prettiest, but a lot better than the holes.  After waiting for this to dry and sanding it down, we were ready to install the hood itself. There may have been painting, too.  You know I can’t resist a sterile wall when there’s cans of beautiful paint waiting to be used.

Hardware Hiccups
You may also remember that when we bought our range hood off Craigslist, we had to buy a separate mounting installation set.  When you buy the hood brand new, a template for drilling holes at the right locations is included for easy install.  Not so when you buy the replacement installation set. We used kraft paper to make our own template by laying the range hood down on its back on top of the kraft paper and tracing the holes with pencil.  We then taped the template to the wall over the stove at the right height and marked where the traced holes were.  So far, so good.

The directions said to hit a stud with just one of the screws for stability, but none of the hole locations lined up with a stud.  What?! To remedy this, my dad measured and drilled two additional holes in the back of the hood so that we could hit two different studs.  If you already have to drill new holes, why hit just one stud when you can hit two?  This meant we needed more hardware than the mounting set provided, but this turned out to be the least of our troubles.  Chris rounded up a few sturdy wood screws left over from a different project, and we were back in business.

Until we weren’t.  The mounting set of screws and anchors that Bosch provides are incompatible with each other.  Seriously.  We now needed either new screws to fit the anchors Bosch gave us, or new anchors to fit the screws they gave us.  Basically, the screws weren’t the right length to pop the teeth of the anchors at the right place for them to grab into the wall correctly. And for you skeptics, my dad actually convinced us to “sacrifice” one of their anchors just to prove he was right.  Yup, it didn’t work.  The screws stuck a mile out of the wall and wouldn’t go any further in.

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Chris ran to Lowe’s (we live five minutes from a Lowe’s, so it is our usual go-to store for last minute home improvement needs) for the right sized screws and grabbed some washers to go with the wood screws for the new holes my dad drilled, but the screws he bought didn’t fit the Bosch anchors either.  In fact, he couldn’t find a compatible size of screw for these miserable anchors at all–everything was either too short or too long.  No just-right Goldilocks solutions to be found.  Chris and my dad ended up sawing off the end of the stupid Bosch screws to be the right size.

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Now we were back on track.  Once we had engineered a solution to the hardware hiccup, we were able to mount the range with as much ease as you can mount a ginormous range hood.  In the next post, we’ll give all the ugly details about the ductwork.  In the meanwhile, we’ll leave you hanging with the hood and the new outlets.  IMG_3094