2021 Kitchen Remodel

A few things came together to make this decision. One, we decided that despite the rising value of our home, the rising costs of upgrade homes and the limited selection in our acceptable region were going to prevent us from improving our living situation by buying and moving into a new house. Two, we never liked the granite tile counters much, and the grout was starting to come apart, so why repair it? Three, it was summer time, and we figured we could grill a lot if the kitchen was unavailable. Four, we could afford it. Also, KrisDi just really wanted a double oven.

Before

Dissatisfactions with the old kitchen included:

  • Only one oven
  • Limited counter space
  • Limited cabinet space
  • Granite tile (as mentioned); prefer slab

We talked to two different contractors. One of them was pretty straightforward, asked questions, listened to what we wanted, and frequently said, “Yeah, we can do that.” The other was more sales-y, didn’t seem to listen to our reasoning for what we wanted, kept trying to tell us we wanted something else, and he was going to charge us money to make a plan and estimate. So we went with the first guy, Russell.

Lead times were pretty long. Something like 3 months for cabinets and similar for the range/oven we wanted. They delayed ripping stuff out until it was likely that the cabinets (first step) would arrive shortly after. Demolition was surprisingly quick, like 4-5 hours for two guys while KrisDi and I worked from home on 11 Aug.

After demolition and before new cabinets started going in, we let the kids draw and paint on the walls that would be covered up with new cabinetry. It was about 6 days before enough cabinets were put in for our old sink to be put back in a temporary installation, so that we could actually hand-wash real dishes. The old nuker/oven combo also got reinstalled the same day, so we had some heating options, too. We ordered food and ate with disposable stuff until then. We were also out camping for part of the time that the kitchen was completely out of commission.

The bulk of the cabinetry install took only a couple more days (19 Aug). Electrical came in and replaced the light fixtures (unexpectedly, including all the can lights) and the outlets for the island four days later (23 Aug). We just lived on the cabinet tops for a while.

Granite slabs finally showed up on 7 September. Only two guys were sent for this job. We estimate the slab on the island, which is huge, weighs about 800 pounds. Kudos to these strong men. They came with the counter tops, but not the backsplash (which needed to be measured out after the countertops were in place).

Unfortunately, this is where the excitement starts. The island slab is essentially a giant rectangle with a 36″ wide slot cut out for the stove. The slot was cut too wide (by maybe 3/16″ at max), and with the sides not parallel. We decided it wasn’t acceptable. They left the slab on the island (just sitting) while we figured out what to do.

I thought that maybe the depth of the counter would make the gap not so noticeable if the edges were straight, so when they came back with the backsplash on 19 Sep, they brought everything to try grind the sides parallel. They improved the parallelism, but the gap was clearly noticeable. We could see the unfinished tops of the cabinets. We decided it wasn’t acceptable.

At this stage, the kitchen was basically fully functional, except that we didn’t have a stove or a second oven. Lots of things were unfinished (most notably the giant gap in the island). But, the new sink and faucet (now touchless!) and the old dishwasher could all be installed and used.

Second piece arrived 1 Oct. Two different guys came and had to take the old one out and put the new one in. But, the new one had the exact same problem as the first. Maybe not as pronounced, but still exactly the same problem. We decided not to accept it, and had Russell call and bitch at them. They actually told him, “We don’t know what went wrong, we did exactly the same thing!” You mean…exactly the same thing that produced an unacceptable result once already…?

Third piece arrived on Friday, 15 Oct, while KrisDi and I were in New York. Les & D were watching the kids, and received the countertop for us. Russell had very explicitly told them to cut the slot too small and then grind it to size on site, which is exactly what they did.

Paul (the guy that actually did most of the work) came back to install the downdraft, move the gas line, move the ventilation duct (which was challenging due to a support joist in just the wrong spot), and install the oven, starting 25 Oct. But it didn’t fit. Also, we learned later, he didn’t tighten the gas line enough, and we kept smelling gas until we sprayed soapy water on the joints and realized what was going on. Les came and fixed that for us.

Anyway, we got to live with the kitchen fully assembled and functioning, but the oven occupying space in front of the sink for a little while. We could finally boil water again and make mac & cheese, but the layout was pretty weird.

When the counter people came back out to grind the slot slightly wider on 29 Oct, it was very…exciting. They were there until like 9:30 on a Friday night. And they manhandled that 400 pound oven so much I was afraid they were going to break it. They got it in place, though (but it may never come out again). They had to make some modifications to the way Paul had mounted the downdraft to make room for the oven to slide into the slot (he had left some screws/brackets protruding into space that needed to be occupied by the back of the oven.

Paul came back at least one more time to finish more stuff up, and in fact there is one or two more things that need to happen, such as replacing the panel that has a weird green paint streak on it.

After

As a wrap up, we’re mostly very happy with everything. Not everything is perfect. The pop up downdraft does not actually work very well, and the smoke alarm goes off a lot more (and it already went off a lot). There’s a bit of a gap between the oven and the downdraft (apparently that bothers me but not KrisDi). With the new island size and the new configuration of my coffee mess, the little bottleneck on the fridge side of the island seems to generate more traffic jams.

Also, going through everything again to write this post, I realized we still have a problem with the fridge that we discovered during the remodel. It has been building up a big patch of frost/ice on the back. I bought a kit to try to fix it, but haven’t done it yet (because I forgot entirely about it). So, I guess that’ll be a project for another upcoming weekend.

Here’s the album of all the photos.

Other noticeable changes / acquisitions:

  • Blue themed everything. New placemats, new bench, new barstools, butter dish, spoon rests, curtain, floormats in front of sink and stove, towels.
  • Got rid of the toaster and the air fryer and bought a toaster oven / air fryer combo to free up a little counter space.
  • Got a cool knife holder thing that is made of cork and goes in a drawer to free up some more counter space.
  • New drawer organizers and re-organized a bunch of stuff (and got rid of some unnecessary stuff).
  • We now have a cabinet for the trash and recycling cans, so we only have a little compost bin (on a blue mat) that is visible (this also gave us a bit more counter space).
  • All the cabinets and drawers are “soft close,” which is pretty cool, although one of the drawers wasn’t working correctly. In theory, the contractor should have fixed it, but I did, out of impatience. The problem was one of the drawer slide mounts was not mounted firmly because the wood had split.
  • New dishrack that fits in the smaller right-hand-sink, but is two-level.

Posted by snaotheus

1 comment

What an odyssey that was! It turned out so beautifully.

Once you fix your fridge, you can come pull the water filter out of mine. I’ve put my entire body weight into it and can’t budge it, and the destructions show it coming straight out, no quarter turn or magic button to push. I fear the former owner never changed it and it’s petrified.

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