Sunday, January 5, 2014

Last Updated Kitchen

If you have landed on this page from somewhere else, be sure to check out our other posts, both earlier and later, for more projects from our archives. This is only our first project post on this new blog. Before we present any new projects or ideas, it seems best to begin our series of posts with the most recent projects. That way, if we run out of time to present them all, at least the oldest projects will be the last ones to review, and if we don't have time, it won't matter so much. Some of our documented projects go back to the mid-70's and aren't all that relevant anymore

So let's start with the very last kitchen project that we completed, in 2010. To keep in somewhat of a chronological order, we need to show what was needed, then what we did in the progression of that work, to the finished product at the end, starting with the "peninsular" (not a true island) cabinets.

This was a huge kitchen and dining area combined, but one in which the cabinets over the peninsular cabinets blocked the beautiful view of the lake from the kitchen. They had already removed the doors to open it up, but that still wasn't enough. They wanted it gone.

In order to take the upper cabinet down and do away with the soffit, and still make it look right, we had to build a new cabinet on the wall to the right of the one shown below, and extend the soffit on the wall out over it.

We then hung the remaining cabinets out in the garage after refitting them with the original doors that the owner had stored, after removing them to open up the "china" cabinet so they could see through it.

Once the cabinets and soffit were out of the way, this is what we had, with the wall soffit extended and all sheetrock taped. While we finished the texturing and painting, we started building all of the new cabinets, including the one that eventually went on the wall below the new soffit.

Below the peninsular overhead cabinets were the base cabinets. Other than a few minor tweaks and oiling the drawer guide rollers, these were still in great shape for being roughly 30 years old.

On around the base cabinets to the left, was the dishwasher, sink, and a work counter that wrapped around the corner and dead ended at the pantry...which the owner wanted removed, and to extend the cabinets into that area.

Below, you can see the pantry, and the upper cabinets in the corner, which included an appliance garage which had to be removed, shortened and reinstalled over the new quartz countertops. They were nearly the last thing to be installed before a ceramic tile backsplash was added.

Removing the pantry involved a lot of things, including adding a new soffit... 

...and piecing the floor back in, since the pantry stuck out farther than the cabinet fronts. Fortunately, we had enough flooring removed from the inside of the pantry to bring the floor back to the front of the cabinets.

To the left, and on the other side of a walkway, was the range section. Here, the owner wanted the old vent hood removed and a new under-cabinet microwave installed in it's place.

The biggest problem here was that there was already a microwave cabinet to the left of the range, which had to have the bottom raised to match the one on the right side of the range hood, and then have it rebuilt as a standard cabinet with matching doors on it. We discovered that all this "retro-fitting" had to be done on the wall because the original cabinet builders had made all these upper cabinets in one piece...from the right of the range hood, across the range, down to the microwave cabinet and then across the top of the refrigerator...nearly ten feet long in all!

The bottom section was in decent shape except for some minor maintenance and adding new quartz countertops, which were one of the last things to be done in the kitchen.

The first thing to do was get all the dimensions of everything needed, so that new cabinets could be made to fit. The thirty-year-old cabinets had a name "branded" into them with a hot iron, but try as we might, we couldn't locate the company...probably out of business. So the new cabinets had to match the exact same design as the old ones, right down to the door profiles and stain. The picture below shows the new upper pantry cabinet in front and the lower drawer cabinet behind it.

Cabinet doors are the hardest thing to make, let alone match, so unless a shop is set up to make doors on a daily basis, it's better to let a professional door maker have that job. We ordered doors online from a great company that walks you through the whole process a step at a time. You choose the wood, the style, arch top or square top, the inner panel profile, the outer edge profile, and everything, and them give them the dimensions. As long as you know what you need, you don't even have to talk to anyone. When you're done, their program gives you the price of the finished product, you add it to your shopping cart and continue with the process until you have all your doors ordered.

Then when you receive them, they are packed in individual (or no more than two) doors in each carton, well padded and protected in professional wrapping, and sent to you by UPS. Even if I had the equipment, I couldn't build them as inexpensively as they can, because that's all they after day...and they are very efficient at it. 

The owner wanted adjustable shelves in all the overhead cabinets, so we even dadoed in the recesses for those tracks, as shown below, and then installed the tracks.

The lower cabinet that was to go where the pantry was, required three huge storage drawers, and for those we used full-extension slides rated at 100 pounds each. Below is that cabinet before the doors were fitted to it. Everything was preassembled, and then disassembled for finishing, before being reassembled again.

Shown below is one of the original cabinet doors, with our cabinets color-matched to it. We had another correction to make, because the owner didn't like her old cabinet color, which had a lot of yellow in it, and wanted it darkened slightly with more of a brownish tint. Again, we located a perfect product online, and went over all the cabinets again to blend them all to the darker tint.

And now for the finished project...

Starting at the left is the stove wall, with the new microwave installed, the left cabinet raised and with new doors and shelves added, the new quartz countertops installed, and the new diamond pattern ceramic tile with medallions installed.

To the right of that is the new countertop area where the pantry used to be. If you can tell where the old cabinets end and the new ones begin...then we haven't done our job right! One thing that irks me to no end is a job that has been cobbled together with whatever is convenient to use...rather than doing the proper research to match what is there. On ANY project, if it looks like it was added on after the fact, then it was not done by us!

Under the countertop is the new base cabinet with three heavy-duty drawers. Not shown is a brand new under-mounted kitchen sink and new pewter faucets that were installed as the countertop was installed.

The peninsular countertop was widened to accommodate a larger knee area under the edge, and to strengthen that edge, the owner came up with some old braces, which we refinished and installed to protect that long overhang.

The picture below shows the old countertop nearly flush with the cabinets, but the new one comes this direction about another foot, to provide that knee space.

In extending the countertop, the chair rail also had to be cut back and then refitted around the new ogee edge of the quartz countertop. Once the new backsplashes were attached, we finished off all the wall area above the countertops with diamond pattern ceramic tile, as shown in the stove picture above.

One thing that was not shown here is the four new recessed spotlights which were added in the kitchen ceiling as well as over the sink, plus two over the new peninsular island.

That brings to a close one of the last projects we did before retiring. I say we, because my wife served as my "go-fer" on a lot of these projects, and I couldn't have been as efficient without her. She got tools out, set up drop-clothes and cords, helped me carry things, and helped with the clean up when the days were done. We never walked away from a job leaving a mess. Tools were put away, floors and surfaces were swept and wiped down, dangerous areas were roped off or protected, and the owner didn't have to do anything to resume their day after we were gone.

These are the kinds of projects we specialized our former web site stated, we preferred projects on "well-maintained, owner-occupied homes". Why? Because that's where we did our best work and got paid a fair price for doing it.

Before we would make any recommendations of other contractors or handymen to take our place after we retired, we had to see first hand what kind of work they did, first. We aren't going to just put any ad on this site because someone pays us for column space. If you see an ad on here that recommends someone, it's because we have seen their work, and know that they can do the same quality work that we used to do.

We will be adding more projects to the site as we have time, so if you landed on this page from somewhere else, be sure to read backward and forward through our posts to see more projects like this, whether it be kitchens, bathrooms, decks, or even oddball little projects that you wouldn't have even thought of, but which might spur some ideas for future projects of your own.

And as always, if you have any questions on how to do any of these things yourself, I'll be glad to offer advice by email. Eventually, I will have a contact page set up, but until then, just leave me a comment, and I will reply from that.

Thanks for visiting and taking the time to appreciate quality work. 

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