Well, helloooooo, week two! Time flies when you’re having fun, don’t it?! If you caught my Instagram stories this week, you’ll know I’ve been hauling arse over here at the Brigham Craftsman green kitchen glamazon for about a month and half prior to kick-off. I’m so excited to get you fine interior lovers caught up to the progress this coming week.
Let’s have a look at all the no frills, albeit necessary steps needed to taken before getting down to all the gorgeous, glammy decor and down-and-dirty DIY fun this broad has in store for you.
It was time to line up a solid crew of tradesmen to get this kitchen back to her former glory. I called in my super-talented general contractor, Phil of PCG Home Improvements, who helped me line up our electrician, Mike of Muratti Electric, and plumber, Kevin of Siedlarz Plumbing. Phil gave me the skinny on permits, and after a few trips to City Hall we got the A-OK to begin construction.
With our purple dumpster ready to go, my husband and I began swinging hammers and crowbars. Prior to demolition, I sold my existing cabinets (which blew up the internet) to recoup funds toward the renovation. Carefully, yet with an iron fist, we began breaking down this kitchen’s shortchanged remodels of the past.
This included the removal of heavy af tile countertops; a layer of sheetrock over lath and plaster; the (thankfully) non load-bearing “partition” awkwardly dividing the space; an abandoned vent pipe (covered with aluminum foil?); a partially-chiseled original backsplash and mesh (so sad 😩); and three and a half layers of flooring (plus all of the nails that go along with it). Did you know a screw nail is a thing? I didn’t. Real bastards, I tell ya.
Behind the walls were a couple of time capsules, including a cosmetology book belonging to someone local I met back in my photojournalism days and “Happiness—How to Find It.” Who knew happiness was hidden beneath all these layers of debris?
THE BIG SURPRISE
For years, I convinced myself the original hardwoods were hiding, waiting to shine again. Cool fact: the 1930s developer lived in our home. He built five craftsman houses on this block, saving his for last. Having awesome neighbors, when visiting their homes I’ve pieced together the original layout. My framily neighbor possesses hardwoods in her kitchen, so I KNEW—in my bones—something majorly good would come from all the blood, sweat and tears.
Once we pried those three and a half layers off—that is two layers of peel-and-stick tiles, a couple layers of plywood, a layer of sheet linoleum, and a partly chiseled layer of ceramic only found under the former cabinetry—THERE THEY WERE. A beautiful bounty of red oak that was a sight for sore eyes.
My buddy, and equally-enthused hardwood floor preservationist, Steve of Gunneson Flooring Company, took on the job. We determined these red oak boards hadn’t seen the light of day since the 50s or 60s—that’s roughly 60 years!!! They were covered in gosh-knows-what and, once unveiled, in damn good condition.
FRONDS: This is the most satisfying thing I’ve seen in my entire life …
P.S. – You’re welcome.
Restoring the hardwood floors returns a crucial, foundational feature to this craftsman home. Well-deserved, old girl (my home’s affectionate sobriquet). I will never understand why anyone would cover up something so beautiful. I sincerely hope hardwood never goes out of style again.
Getting to the floor prior to construction was of utmost importance—the entire space was fully restored. There were pine boards where the space was formerly divided into three. Steve was able to “weave” in new and existing red oak boards to make it look like it never happened. AH-MAZING.
THE “NO FRILLS” FEATURES
Aside from cheap renovations of the past, the electric in our house is somewhat … unique. 😬 Our electrician spent two to three weeks completely (and quite neatly) updating the wiring and installing a brand new circuit box. Aside from up-to-code outlets, I incorporated four new sconces above the sink section as well as two new outdoor fixtures. I mean, when in Rome … or a gutted kitchen perhaps.
This small change has brought this renovation slightly outside. Because why not? This girl’s got gusto. Stay tuned summer, I’m coming for ya.
Plumbing-wise, the sink was relocated dead-center to the windows with cost-effective pex piping and the gas hook-up was brought up to code. The windows were replaced with the correct size for the layout. Now they can actually be opened. Huzzah!!
During demo, we promptly found out why we sometimes live in an igloo. No insulation. Na-Da. 🥶 Where the windows were raised once stood radiators. Radiant heat is highly effective in an old home, especially one without insulation. This home’s got an HVAC system. Central air is great, but warmed-forced air in an old home isn’t. Installing insulation and fire blocking has already made a significant impact. Thank you house cheezus.
LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL
When drywall went up, the entire energy of the space changed. After living ‘round exposed studs for so long, you forget what light looks like! 😂 The old door was replaced with an affordable 15-lite door (discovered in the depths of Home Depot’s website). Just wait ‘til you see Emtek’s gorgeous Zeus entry set on this beaut.
DOOR FYI: I scoured high-and-low for an exterior french door with external grilles. Between the not-so-exciting, in stock, full-lite doors and $2k custom orders, I was over-the-freaking-moon when I stumbled across the perfect, custom-colored door for $530 smackaroos. The product page leads you to believe the grilles remain white—they come painted!! I died a thousand happy deaths when I picked her pretty ass up.
The new cabinets arrived uncannily early, installed soon after drywall. We, of course, left our own time capsule just in case anyone in the future grows tired of this glamazon (they won’t).
LESSONS LEARNED + BEING KITCHENLESS
DUST: In an old home with plaster walls, it’s inevitable. I’ve strived to enjoy every part of this process, dust included. The Brigham Craftsman is a balloon frame structure. When the walls are exposed, the dust just seeps everywhere. HVAC didn’t help. Be ready for it.
CABINETRY: Green kitchen cabinets aren’t mainstream. I struggled to find cabinets that suited my vision. When life gives you lemons, eff it and paint them!! Yep, I’m the crazy broad who’s painting brand new cabinetry. Paint where? Don’t care.
ALTERNATE KITCHEN: Being without a kitchen messes up the home vibe. Fortunately, my basement was formerly an in-law apartment with a kitchenette (gas hook-up, too). It ain’t pretty, but it does the job. I never thought when buying this home I’d be as grateful as I am for this interim kitchen.
I’ve been waiting for-ev-ah to get here!! Here’s a rundown of what to look forward to in the Brigham Craftsman kitchen over the next four weeks:
- Repair the original ceiling detail where the partition was removed
- Interior and exterior trim work
- Sanding, priming, and painting of cabinetry
- Install penny round tile backsplash
- Install four floating shelves
- Install properly-vented hood
- Install Bianco Calacatta countertops
- Repair exterior stucco (raised windows)
- Exterior stucco scraping, priming and painting
- Install cabinet hardware
- Install light fixtures, wall plates and outlet covers
- Install appliances
- Third and final poly coat on hardwoods
- Finishing Touches—artwork, kitchen organization, outside seating area
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