The kitchen, part 1

There’s something to be said for an original 1965 kitchen. And that thing is, it’s charming and retro and utterly inefficient (hello, blind corners). The kitchen in our new house did have a few recent “improvements”: a huge, repurposed slab of 1980s wood grain laminate with a massive and unstable overhang (an attempt at bar seating), a filthy and broken acrylic sink, and a single can light wildly off-center of the sink.

In our last house, we’d lived with 1920s cabinetry — heavy slab drawers that scraped wood-on-wood with every pull, sending sawdust into our silverware. Lower cabinets that were a full 10 inches shallower than standard, so nothing really fit. Uppers that came so close to the countertops, they rendered our work surfaces useless. (These useless countertops were also “upgraded” with terrifically ugly, giant granite tiles that hid every splash of goo — which is not a benefit, when you’re constantly setting your hand down into sticky, disgusting spots of unknown age and origin. If you can’t see a spill, you can’t guarantee it will be cleaned up. That granite also broke dishes like you wouldn’t believe.) The layers upon layers of shelf paint were eternally soft, easily dinged, and stuck to the bottom of dishes. For seven years, I did all of our cooking–slicing, chopping, mixing, blending, spooning, lunch-packing, dinner party prep, everything–on a 26×26-inch butcher block. I worked in my own shadow, since the only light was behind and above me.

Presented with the opportunity to demolish a crappy kitchen, we couldn’t get those hammers into our hands fast enough. We could exact our revenge on years worth of privileged, middle-class problems, blow by blow.

Here’s the before (note the gorgeous light fixture and popcorn ceilings! And that, uh, sweet little arched cutaway so the cook can see into the dining room — yeah. It was basically hacked out with a jigsaw.):

ranch renovation, kitchen before

Uppers = down! Carpet = gone! Annnnd, that’s asbestos tile and a huge patch in the floor.Kitchen mid-demo

All clear. Rawwrrr, victory! We ripped out the soffits to create a clean ceiling line and maximize the space for open shelving. At this point, I am dying to take down that gorgeous light fixture and send it to its peaceful grave at the rebuilding center, but it’s the only light left in the room. Baby steps.kitchen demo complete

Up next: how do you design an efficient cabinet plan, and The Great White vs. Stainless Debate.

3 thoughts on “The kitchen, part 1

  1. Wow! Did you two do the demolition yourselves? My parents do this – have done it in 4 of their homes so far – my dad even does the electrical and plumbing. My mom’s the drywall expert. I don’t think they’ve done much ceiling work, but maybe it’s a newer development in their remodeling endeavors – they have more time for it now that they’re retired. They may have some advice for do-it-yourself home repairs if you run out of options!

    • Yes, we did most of the demo ourselves — that’s the easy part! Our contractor did the plumbing, framing, drywall, taping and mudding. Scott did half of the electrical. Plenty of DIY to come. Oh yes. Plennnnnty. Your parents are brave!

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