Kitchen Remodelling, or, Somebody Shoot Me Now

When we bought this house in '98, fella bilong missus flodnak and I agreed that The Kitchen Had To Go. It’s vintage 1970, which means it gives no meaning to the term Ugly. It was also, in its own small way, falling apart already then; it was cheaply made to begin with and has not been treated kindly these thirty years. So we knew a kitchen remodel was in our future, but it seemed a small price to pay for a nice house in a great neighborhood at a very good price.

Fast forward three years, and the kitchen is still staring us in the face, and is threatening to fall apart in ways that are no longer so small. The money has been saved up. The frustrations have mounted beyond the breaking point. But flodjunior has been joined by flod2k; next month they will turn 7 and 1, respectively. Flod2k is not yet walking but is tearin’ up the floor on all fours. Flodjunior has a steady stream of friends coming home from school. Sanity says we should put this off for a few years; reality says it had better be done before summer, because it won’t get done over the summer and we’re pushing our luck to wait until fall.

It’s a tiny kitchen, about 2.5 by 3 meters. I know what I want, I think; fella bilong missus flodnak trusts me with this, which makes it all the more nerve-wracking; but the reality is that space is limited and moving a wall is structurally impossible.


What exactly needs to be done?

I and my sibs just remodeled my parents kitchen, which is also tiny…with a 9 month old lurking about (though she mostly stayed with mommy, away from the gaping hole in the floor). We had to rip out the subflooring before we laid the new vinyl, since it was pretty rotted in places. There’s some great how-to places on the web…step-by-step, with lists of what you’ll need…just be prepared for a long job. It took a week, though all the info said it should take 2-3 days. About 1000$ in materials, if that helps, too…their kitchen is roughly 150 sq ft. This includes base cabinets.
Good luch! It’ll be worth it to have a room you like :wink:

(Erm. That should of course be “gives new meaning to…” But y’all knew that, right?)

As far as we can tell right now, the walls and the subflooring are sound. Thank goodness. But other than that, the only things that are going to make the cut and re-appear in the new kitchen are the fridge and the ceiling light… and I’m having my doubts about the ceiling light. Truth to tell I’m having my doubts about the fridge, too. Anyway.

New flooring. (Anyone who installs white flooring in a kitchen either has no kids or owns a large dog.) All new cabinets and countertops. New sink. New built-in dishwasher. New built-in microwave. New built-in stovetop and oven, possibly separated. Tiles between the counter and the upper cabinets. Possibly a new window, might as well do that while everything else is ripped apart.

We’ve already decided that we are not doing this ourselves; this is the kind of problem that we believe is better solved with money than muscle, as we are both lazy and uneducated when it comes to anything more than basic household maintenance. The only thing we’re even considering doing ourselves is the painting. And, of course, clearing out the old kitchen and moving into the new.

But it’s not the work that scares me… I just picture myself trying to cook supper on a hotplate, yelling at the seven-year-old to get out of the workmen’s way, while a toddler tries to tackle me at the knees. The disruption of an already perilous household routine… shudder

any chance on parent and kids could ‘visit’ gramma or someboday for a few days?

Give up the idea of ‘cooking’ in your torn up kitchen. If ever the word ‘picnic’ was needed, this is the time.

grilling out doors, paper plates, dining out, and my all time favorite meal “snackers” (which means you dive into the frig and grab up all of the itty bitty bits of left over this/that, half finished this that, etc and put a dollop or two of each onto each plate.

Okay, former homebuilder employee and daughter of contractor checking in here.

Here’s my advice:

  1. Do it now. Waiting until the kids are older doesn’t mean it will be any easier.
  2. Higher someone competent. Check with your version of the Better Business Bureau (the one that keeps track of complaints against businesses), ask your friends for references, and do not be afraid to ask the contractors you do call for references (and follow up on them!).
  3. Start planning now. This means: (a) get a contractor lined up, (b) start talking with s/he about what you want to do and © get them lined up with a start date in the spring.
  4. Doing it the spring/summer is better because when they start ripping out the walls and/or windows, you don’t have to worry as much about heating the outside if they don’t get stuff re-installed the same day. Plus, you can eat outside, grill, picnic etc.
  5. Plan on putting your microwave in another room so you can use it.
  6. Start looking at cabinets, flooring, new appliances now and figuring out which ones you like so you know what you want when you sit down with your contractor.
  7. Set yourselves a budget. You will go over this budget, but at least give yourself a goal of what you’d like to stick to.

Good luck!

My aunt and uncle had their kitchen remodeled by a specialist who had all of the trades under his control. This meant that he could do the kitchen in two days while they camped out in the next room. The main cause of delays is in waiting for the next guy to show up.

However, we had a similar situation to yours when we got our house. 1950’s (small) house that had been a student rental for 20 years. Bad shape doesn’t begin to describe it. We ripped out the entire kitchen and replaced everything (except appliances and sink). Our advantage was that we weren’t living in the house yet. And my Dad helped with the plumbing. So it can be done, but if time is an issue (and when isn’t it) get professionals.

ARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!! Somebody stop the painful memories!

Actually, we love our kitchen now. Getting here was a bit of an experience…at one time I was going to start a Pit thread “Where The @#$%&* is My Contractor?”. Somehow, a conversation with my wife last spring about new linoleum led to a complete over haul, except for the refrigerator, microwave (new) and dishwasher (new enough). We bought our kitchen from Ikea…and used the contractor they recommended for our area. When they were there, they did great work (except for the owner who did two minor details that sucked and I ended up just doing myself). Trying to get a return phone call, or an idea of when they were going to come next, etc., however, was an exercise in futility.

I think the overwhelmingness of the project sunk in the day I came home from work after they did the demolition…the kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off. I put down my own wood floors, but they had pulled up the old subfloors and I had to install a new one as well. Of course it had to be done that night since they were coming the next day and I had to have half the floor done by then. As I stood outside Home Depot at 10 PM in a driving rain, cramming 10 sheets of plywood into my truck, a vision of my next two months passed before my eyes.

But we survived, like everyone else. The keys are a working microwave, a freezer full of meals, and plenty of paper plates. Most importantly…don’t worry about how the rest of the house looks…our kitchen just seemed to sprawl all about. And like I said earlier…at the end you have a great kitchen that (hopefully!) was worth the effort.

Now, if I could just get around to staining the new trim…

ooh, something I know about!! As a kitchen designer, I deal with these probs every day.
I agree with the previous comments and offer the following.

  1. can you make a temp kitchen in the house? In the bsmt, a spare Bath etc. with MW, running water, hotplate maybe? It will make life much easier.

  2. get refs!!! I like to get refences that are atl least a couple years old. you don’t want to be on the bottom end of the learning curve for a new builder/contractor.

  3. make sure that he has liability insurance for himself and Workers Comp for any subs. check with your agent to make sure if you need to be listed as an additional insured on his policy. its easy- I do it all the time it just takes a call to our agent with the info and he sends out a certificate.

  4. It will take longer than they say. Guaranteed.

  5. Spend the time with a designer to get the most out of your kitchen. It sounds self serving but we do have some good things to offer.

  6. make sure the necessary permits are acquired. you dont need the hassle, and if the builder is trying to sneak around the inspectors, worry.

If you want to send me a drawing or design, I’d be happy to go over it and give you my opinion. I have lots of opinions and am not shy to share them!!

Good luck, remodelling a kitchen or master bath are the two things where you are pretty much guaranteed to make your money back when you sell so it is worth it.

BunnyGirl and MikeG have some excellent suggestions. Combine their lists and use the results for a guideline.

I would also add:

  1. Talk to several designers. One will think of things that the other has not. You can pick and choose from their ideas . When you pick your designer, buy your cabinetry through them. I don’t know about your region, but here in Michigan, USA, that’s how they get paid. Plus, if something arrives damaged or is not shipped, you have someone with clout to intercede between you and the supplier.

  2. Figure out where your temporary kitchen will be located ahead of time. A dining room or spare bedroom will do. It must have work surfaces, outlets for the microwave and fridge, and some storage for all those paper plates and cups. It should have running water nearby.

  3. Remember that you can have the project done on time, or under budget, or finished exactly as desired. You might even get two of these. Don’t ever count on all three.

  4. Keep the kitchen area very clean, even if this means cleaning up after the workmen when they leave each day. Stepping on a dropped nail or screw is painful. Having to retrieve that same screw from Flod2K’s digestive tract is frightening.

  5. Finally, keep a sense of humor, be flexible, and know that this too shall pass.

A belated thanks to everyone for the advice and moral support!

Some replies:

  1. We’re lucky enough to have the perfect place for a temporary kitchen. The people who owned the house before us were working on converting the basement to a separate apartment to rent out. They didn’t finish, which is good because we want the extra space more than we want the rental income. But they did begin to install a kitchen, which has a working sink, as well as a countertop and storage space. “Visiting” would only be an option if we could get this lined up during a school vacation… not real likely.

  2. We’re in Norway, so things are done a little differently. We’ve chosen our cabinets and will most likely be hiring the contractor recommended by the cabinet shop, a company they’ve been working with for several years now. This contractor has folks from all the relevant trades working under him. They’ve given us an estimate of a week to finish the kitchen. We’re figuring two.

  3. We’re gating off the kitchen and the adjoining section of the living room. No Kids Allowed while the job is going on. Flodjunior would be underfoot asking questions; flod2k would be trying to eat everything the workers dropped <shudder>

When I close my eyes, I see sheets of graph paper floating in front of me… but we’re getting an idea of what we’re going to do, at least. Now, to track down someone who can entertain the kids while we big people go to the cabinet shop and ask our list of 38 questions…

flodnak, i design a lot of European kitchens, email a layout and I’ll be happy to give you some ideas. are the cabs on the 20cm toe/66cm carcass standard?