You’ve likely seen pictures of our kitchen renovation on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I thought I’d share some of our progress and experiences along the way. To follow along with us, just check out the hashtag #diylikeachampion on Instagram. This is Part 1 of our renovation series, and I’ll try to keep the rest of them shorter than this one.
The reason for our renovation started a couple months ago, when we discovered a leak in our kitchen. I noticed water damage on one of our base cabinets, and a few hours later, a plumber was here repairing a leak behind our washing machine (which is in a closet just off our kitchen). A small area of the kitchen floor had water damage, too, and we had an insurance adjuster come take a look. He recommended we rip up the entire floor in our kitchen/eat-in area, dry that area of subfloor and put in new flooring once the subfloor dried. Being the DIY people we are, we decided to tackle this ourselves.
Our house is a foreclosure, and, let’s just say that it wasn’t taken very good care of by the prior owners. Worse than that, the contractors that handled the repairs before the house was sold did a really crappy job. Imagine me, more than seven months pregnant, sitting on the floor cleaning up a house that had been vacant for some time (and was really, really filthy). And just so you get an accurate picture, you should also imagine me cussing. A lot. It was not a happy time. Sure, there was new paint and carpet, but the house was pretty disgusting overall.
The kitchen was the worst, and the amount of stains and gunk on and inside the cabinets was awful. I cleaned them and promptly lined the insides with cork because they still didn’t feel or look clean. We decided that, sometime after Clara’s birth, we would paint the cabinets. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that last year wasn’t the easiest year for us, so it didn’t happen. Honestly, after everything we went through, thinking about painting the kitchen cabinets was far from our minds.
Once we found out we needed to replace the kitchen floor, we knew that it would be the perfect time to paint the cabinets. Eric took a week off work, and we figured out a timeline. This is a simplified version, but it gives you an idea of what we had planned.
Friday night, Saturday & Sunday: Remove cabinet doors. Clean, sand and prime cabinet boxes and doors.
Monday: Remove old floor.
Tuesday: Use rented fan to dry subfloor. Put first coat of paint on cabinet boxes and backs of cabinet doors. Flip doors and paint the fronts.
Wednesday & Thursday: Put second coat of paint on cabinet boxes backs of doors, then put second coat of paint on door fronts and start laying floor.
Friday: Finish laying floor.
Saturday: Clean door hinges. Add quarter-round and thresholds.
With cold brew in hand, we got so much accomplished over the weekend. Everything was going fine until Monday when we started pulling up the floor. (I’ll go into detail about the cabinets in a later post.) We’ve already ripped up the carpet in the rest of the downstairs, and we kept talking about how taking out the vinyl would be so much easier (not as many floor staples, or so we thought). We knew there were several layers to pull up because we’d seen them when replacing the floor in the adjacent rooms. The layers were: vinyl, thin plywood, vinyl, thin plywood, subfloor.
Much to our dismay, each layer of plywood was stapled like crazy into the layer beneath it. This meant we had to pull up the floor one layer at a time. It was hard work, especially considering the size of each sheet of plywood. The thing that worked best for us was using a crowbar to get under the wood and then prying it up enough to lift it with our gloved hands the rest of the way. There were so.many.staples.
By Tuesday, we got to the area we knew had water damage and discovered there was still a leak. Apparently, the plumber we hired back in August fixed a leak, just not the leak. We moved the damaged cabinet and found that the drywall behind it was also wet. I remember saying to Eric, “Oh look, it’s a mildew rainbow.” We were both pretty shocked, and I may have even laughed because it was either that or cry. We halted, called a plumber, and kept working on the areas that weren’t affected. While upset, we were trying to stay positive and decided to end the day on a good note at one of our favorite restaurants. A cheese and hummus plate + wine is one of the best ways to cheer me up.
This obviously wasn’t what we were hoping to see when we moved the cabinet.
The plumbers were at our house for more than four hours on Wednesday, and when they left, we had a hole in our kitchen ceiling (where they went in to fix the leak) and a giant hole in our wall where the drywall was removed. (Side note: RVA people, Robinson’s Pluming was awesome and so, so helpful.) We had also seen a good amount of the day go by where we couldn’t accomplish anything. This is where I started to feel pretty defeated.
After cleaning and drying the water damage, it looked a lot better. Sadly, we were way behind schedule and still had more floor to pull up. We also had to replace the insulation where the leak was because it was totally soaked through. We discovered that the leak in our laundry room had also caused damage to the subfloor that needed to be cleaned and dried AND there was water damage from a leak in our kitchen sink (which we knew about and repaired when we moved in). It may have even been there when the contractors covered the floor up with new vinyl. I spent most of the day Thursday thinking “You’ve got to be effing kidding me.”
So, to sum it up – four layers of flooring, three leaks/areas of water damage, two deflated home cooks/DIYers and one kitchen that looked like this most of last week:
We spent the rest of the week pulling up the floor and then pulling out, by hand, each and every one of the staples from the subfloor. By Sunday, Eric had laid enough flooring for us to move our washer, dryer and stove back into place. So that’s where we are now – a partially floored kitchen, primed cabinets with no doors on them and a hole in our ceiling. Things are looking better, though, and I know that we’re going to love our new kitchen once we finish it.
Lessons learned for next time – wine and ice cream should totally be included in the renovation budget. Also, even the happiest of people can get frustrated and annoyed with each other in situations like this.
Stay tuned to read about the cabinet prep and painting and to see pictures of the final before and after shots!