The cabinets are in, and it starts feeling like a proper kitchen again.

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After wrapping up the electrical work, we spent a couple days tidying up the house. We sold the sofa which was supposed to be a placeholder but lasted over four years! And the living room was clean and nicely empty for a day – until the cabinets arrived.

It was surprising how much space these boxes took. Our living room was filled to the brim. Fortunately, our contractor immediately started installing them, which took three full days.

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Day 1: Installing the lower cabinets

Our contractor started with the corner cabinets and worked his way out. Right off the bat, this first cabinet threw him a curved ball. It turned out that our cabinet designer did not take the existing sink plumbing into consideration. The corner cabinet covered the existing sink plumbing, which should be inside the adjacent sink cabinet. Our contractor had to move the plumbing and waterlines a few inches to the right.

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After the cornet cabinet went in, the sink cabinet followed, then the two 12″ units went in. A filler was added between the sink cabinet and the smaller units to make sure that the gas stove will be centered on the wall between the windows.

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Despite the walls and floors are all new, the sink/stove wall is still wavy and lots of shims had to be used:

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Day 2: Fridge cabinet and the island

The rest of the lower cabinets went in on the second day of installation. The fridge cabinets were put in not without a fight. It took two strong man to hold the tall panels up while many L-brackets were screwed in. The top cabinets were secured to the side panels with screws inside and L brackets at the bottom.

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I cannot tell you how much planning and measuring it took to decide the final dimension for the fridge alcove. Honestly, up until it was installed, I had been nervous about if the fridge is gonna sit well inside… Slav stayed home and installed it with our contractor. I think they nailed down the details. The side panels were lined up almost perfectly with the two walls and the floor tile line, and the overhead cabinets were nicely centered with half an inch filler on both sides.

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Here is the view I am most excited about – from the front door/living room side! We used to have a hall closet facing the front door, which had no design value to speak of. Improving the look of this wall facing front door has always been one of my motivations to renovate the kitchen. We will extend the baseboard to cover the bottom of the panel as a finishing touch. And as of the wall itself, I think it is a great backdrop for a large vertical art piece. Do you agree?

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Between the fridge and the corner cabinet, two 15″ units were installed. A dishwasher will be located between them. These cabinets will be used for utensils and cutleries for easy unloading of the dishwasher.

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Then the island was installed! It comprises three cabinets: one wide (36″) cabinet facing the stove for cooking utensils, and pots and pans, and two 24″ wide cabinets sit back to back as pantry storage. We lived in houses with island before and always liked them. I am so glad that we could accommodate one in our own kitchen.

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Our contractor grouped the cabinets together, and pinned them down with big bolts through the tiles. Oh my, it looked so brutal.

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Inside the cabinets are the HVAC air returns. The bottom of the cabinets had to be cut open. And  we will install the return cover into the side panels.

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This was what the kitchen looked like by the end of the second day. The upper cabinets were still yet to be installed, but we already got a good feeling of the space. ūüôā

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Honestly, I was a bit surprised how wide the walkways are between the island and other wall cabinets. The distances are actually pretty standard for our time – around 42 inches. But I think our kitchen is small so 42″ feels really wide! We know that countertop will be 1.5 inches passing the cabinet fronts on either side, and the fridge and the stove will come into the room a bit too. Hopefully after everything is installed, we will not feel that the walkways are too wide to work with.

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Day 3: Installing upper cabinets and trims

The last day of the cabinet installation went smoothly and quickly. The uppers were put up in merely a couple hours. These cabinets were designed to fill the wall. At the end, only a narrow filler piece was used on the very right.

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Removing the soffit enabled us to install these 36″ tall uppers, which look much better compared to the old 24″ cabinets. All the five uppers have identical width for a more uniform look. Just to make things appear to be lighter, we ordered a glass door for the middle cabinet. Pretty drinkware will be displayed here, and dishes and cookware will populate the other four.

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As you can see, these uppers are directly above the dishwasher. I think putting away dishes and cups will be a breeze.

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The ceiling trims, toe kicks, and baseboard were also installed on the last day.

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I am glad that I painted the wall behind the fridge and dishwasher dark. I am not sure how much we would be able to see the wall once the appliances are in, but having a darker color back here puts my mind at ease.

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Can you imagine a whole wall of pretty tiles between the windows, with oversized range hood over a stainless steel stove? It is going to be so pretty!

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The cabinets and hardware

We are so happy with the color and door style of our cabinets. The style is called Clarke, which offers a classic trim design but a full overlay. The cabinet color is Maritime, which sounds like a deep blue. But in person, it has a green undertone and I think it is a perfect blend of dark blue, green, and grey.

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It is interesting to watch how the color changes throughout the day with different lighting. In bright morning light, it appears to be an earthy green, and as the natural lighting gets darker in the afternoon, the blue started appear. At night, when all lights were off, the cabinets look almost gun powder black. And with the recessed lighting on, it looks blue/grey again. I love it.

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We have picked the hardware for the cabinets – these bronze knobs will be installed on both drawers and doors. We will have them installed when our contractor come in again to tile backsplash.

Restoring the normality, slowly but steadily

With the cabinets installed and a whole trailer of cardboard out of the way, we did some deep cleaning around the house. Our offices are finally back in order:

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We also moved the temporary kitchen from the basement utility room to the living room, and all the (heavy) boxes of kitchen stuff inside from the garage inside. Finally, all kitchen stuff are together again! We are still not cooking due to the difficulty of washing pots and pans, but not for long!

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Roxie has been locked in the basement during the day when the contractor worked on the kitchen. I think she appreciates having her “neighborhood-watch spot” back.

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Moving forward, countertops!

The day after these cabinets were installed, the countertop company came in and did the template. Our quartz countertop will be installed TODAY! Then, our contractor can tile the backsplash and hook up the appliances. I can finally see the finish line and it is not far.

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The current to-do list:

  1. Demoing the kitchen and the dividing walls between kitchen and living room. All existing tile, drywall, and floor will be removed including soffit.
  2. Demoing the hall closet space for housing the fridge.
  3. Running utilities – installing new gas line for the new gas stove, adding new plumbing and waterline for the fridge and dishwasher, modifying plumbing and waterline for the new sink and garbage disposal, rerouting the hood vent in the attic.
  4. Slav wiring for outlets and switches.
  5. Tiling the floor.
  6. Adding exterior insulation and installing drywall; repairing ceiling drywall and skim-coat the existing walls.
  7. Installing stair railing.
  8. Priming and painting all the new drywall in the kitchen and stairwell.
  9. Installing recessed lighting for the kitchen and the living room.
  10. Cabinets installation.
  11. Countertop template and installation (today!).
  12. Tiling the backsplash and installing window stools.
  13. Appliances installation (Contract work ends here).
  14. Slav installing the HVAC return panels on island cabinets.
  15. Slav installing the under the cabinet lighting (his pet project).
  16. Finishing the kitchen and stairwell with door trims, moulding, and baseboards.