Well, the kitchen demolition has begun! In a week we went from this:


to this:


then this!


The first week: cabinets, countertops, and floors

All the cabinets and countertops were moved out on the first day. As we could tell from the moldy cabinets, the drywall near the water source – including the wet wall (kitchen/bathroom) and the sink was in pretty bad shape. Our contractor came in prepared so the removal went pretty smoothly.




Just like many old houses, we found multiple layers of flooring in the kitchen. From the top to bottom, we had a thick layer of tiles, mortar, a thin layer of plywood subfloor, a linoleum flooring, another thick MDF board, and then the original subfloor.


Due to the noise and dust we had to keep Roxie downstairs all day long. She was like “dude I hope this is the last renovation you guys do in this house! ” Yes it is. Roxie, I surely hope so too!


On the second day our contractor started removing the floor. All these flooring boosted the kitchen floor up to meet the original carpet in the living room. Since we have removed the carpet and restored the original wood floor, we need to remove all these layers to level the new kitchen floor tile with the living room.


You can see from the picture below the thick MDF was at the bottom, then the white linoleum layer, and last the subflooring supporting the tiles.


It took three days just to remove the flooring – they were all glued and nailed together and also nailed to the framing below. Our contractor busted out the circular saw to cut away the layers of flooring, a couple square foot a time.


The second week: walls and subfloors

After the floor demo, the walls followed. First, the dividing wall between the living room and the kitchen was removed. Only a 3-ft section was kept at the corner to block off the stairs:


The old metal stair railing was taken out too. We will be replacing it with transparent glass trailing.


Then the soffit…This might be the worse look of the kitchen so far…


And the rest of the drywall!


All of our windows had concrete underneath the window stools. Our contractor said it was for gluing the window stool onto. Nowadays there are better adhesives to glue stones to wood, so people stopped using concrete under the stools. It is interesting to learn these little things about old construction.


The hall closet was also removed to accommodate the future fridge. It is a rather narrow space, only 31″ wide. But I really could not find a better spot for the fridge in our small kitchen:


Here is how the hall closet looked from the front door. It opened to the living room side. In our new kitchen, a solid end panel in the same cabinet color will be here. I think it will be nice to do an art wall here:


Installing new subfloors and preparing for tiles

As layers of the flooring were peeling away, we started seeing the damage on the subfloor. The original subfloor is only 1/2 inch thick. Not only it was rotten near the plumbing due to water damage, it also felt soft under feet in other parts of the kitchen too.


Our contractor did not think it could support the future tiles. So we happily replaced it with 3/4″ thick new subflooring.


Lifting the subfloor also revealed the air return on the kitchen floor. It turned out the original air return vent was undersized. We did some research about HVAC and really learned a lot about how to size/place return air vents. We will be relocating the air return – more on that later. For now, a hole was cut directly above the return vent on the new subfloor.


Here is the new subfloor! Our contractor put the waterproofing layer on top on the same day. It is only 1/8″ thick and allows the new tile to be leveled with the living room wood floor.


The work ahead of us…

I forgot how dusty a gut job gets. Fortunately the plastic drapes kept most of the dust out of the dining area and our offices. We still had to vacuum everyday, but it was not that bad.


Honestly, when dust is the worst we had to deal with, we should consider ourselves lucky. Whenever one demolishes a house especially an older home, there could be many surprises. In our case, since we have worked around this room from the above, below, and in the adjacent bathroom, we already knew what to expect behind the walls.


We knew about the lack of insulation, the messy framing, the old electrical, and the abandoned old pipes. We will be upgrading the electrical and setting up the new plumbing/venting next. It will be a messy job especially crawling through the loose insulation in the attic. But so is life, messy and unwanted tasks come at us everyday, and being an adult means that we can no longer push the tasks down the road, or load them onto other people. We are the ones to bare the resposibility and move things forward.


The updated renovation to-do list:

Now, allow me to share the pleasure of crossing things off the 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 (in progress).
  4. Slav wiring for outlets and switches; installing the recessed lighting for the living room and the kitchen (in progress).
  5. Tiling the floor (in Progress!).
  6. Adding exterior insulation; repairing ceiling drywall, installing new drywall and waterproofing around the sink.
  7. Taping and mudding all the new drywall and skim coating old ones to get them paint-ready.
  8. Cabinets installation and countertop measurement.
  9. Countertop and sink installation.
  10. Tiling the backsplash and finish window trims.
  11. Appliances installation.
  12. Installing stair railing.
  13. Unpacking the kitchen and restoring orders in other rooms on the first floor (Before May 1st).
  14. Painting the ceiling and walls.
  15. Installing door trims and baseboard.
  16. Finishing the electrical by installing all the light fixes, wall plates, and the under-cabinet lighting.