I love renovations. I love the planning, the demolition, the new finishes, and of course the finished product. But I also have to endure some really ugly phrases before anything gets better: I am talking about the invisible work behind the walls, electrical, plumbing, insulation, framing, and the most dusty of all, drywall work. But today, I am happy to report that all these work is behind us, and we have this brand new room!
Where we left off
When I showed you the kitchen three weeks ago, we just finished demolition, which exposed old electrical.
When I said old, I meant oooooold. The existing electrical work was done 60 years ago and looked very messy.
The exterior wall has very little electrical to speak of. We will be adding quite a few more outlets and switches for task lighting.
Upgrading the electrical
Slav decided to tackle the electrical himself. He learned a lot from wiring for the hall bath. Wiring for the kitchen is certainly a lot more work than the small bathroom: not only we decided to add four more outlets, we also wanted more lighting, which means many more switches and new circuits.
It took Slav almost a day of planning and a couple days of work. And here is the result:
Isn’t it neat? Slav added four new outlets lower to the ground, which are for the fridge, the dishwasher, the garbage disposal, and the stove. He also added five outlets above the counter.
In addition, he wired new circuits for cabinet lighting, task lighting above the windows, recessed lighting, and moved the range hood power supply to the new location between the windows.
Since we removed the dividing wall between the living room and the kitchen, we needed to relocate the door bell and the thermostat, and terminate a couple outlets that were inside the wall. All these work had to be done in the attic from the above. Slav worked in the attic filled with loose insulation for days, which was certainly not pleasant. But getting these things right is crucial, and I think he has done a fabulous job.
There were some wires running inside this wall to supply the basement, which we had to keep. Slav moved them as close to the side of the new opening as possible, so we could drywall around to hide them.
The thermostat was relocated to one side of the opening, facing the living room, whereas the doorbell was relocated to near the front door.
Slav also added a new wire for the future outlet in the island. We estimated the location of the island and will add the outlet after the island cabinets are installed.
Tiling the floor and finishing plumbing
After the electrical work, out contractor came in and installed the floor tiles. We decided to tile the entire room, along with the landing area for the back entry. It is more common in the States to just tile up to the cabinets. But to us, tiling from wall to wall makes a lot more sense. Not only it makes leveling the cabinets a breeze, but also the whole kitchen floor is now waterproof from potential leaks.
The tile went around the air return on the floor. The island cabinets will go over it and we will cut into the cabinets to create a new return air opening.
After installing the floor tiles, our contractor installed the water supplies for the fridge and dishwasher.
For the fridge, we added a new line to bring cold water to the icemaker, installed inside an ice maker outlet:
For the dishwater, we added a hot water line which was split from the bathroom sink supply. Some newer models of dishwasher can heat up water quickly and therefore only require cold water supply. But supplying hot water is always better.
The waterlines and sewer pipe for the sink were replaced two years ago. We are switching from a double sink to a single one, so the plumbing will be modified when we install the sink. For now, our contractor tiled around the pipes and capped the vent.
The last utility installed was the new gas line to the future stove location. When Slav did the electrical work in the attic, he installed the range hood vent pipes from the above.
Here is the room after all the utilities were finished. It felt good to finally bring everything up to code!
Closing up the walls
We worked on the utilities for a week straight on the utilities. Once we have finished, it was almost hard to believe that we are finally ready for drywall. The night before the drywall got installed, we double checked everything and added insulation. The exterior wall was insulated with R15 batt, and sound insulation went into the interior wall in between the bathroom and the kitchen. We always install sound insulation in interior walls especially surrounding bathrooms and utilities. They are very helpful in reducing noise level inside the house.
New framing were also added to make the drywall installation easier.
A new 2″x4″ was installed over the electrical at the opening, so drywall can be installed around the wires.
It took another week before the drywall was up. The contractor not only needed to install new drywall and close off the ceiling opening from the old soffit, but also needed to skim coated the existing walls and ceiling, including the entire stairwell so everything can be in the same smooth finish. It was very exciting to watch the room come together, and drywall certainly played a big part of it.
Finishing the drywall means that we are almost ready for the cabinets! Unfortunately, our cabinet delivery has been postponed over and over again. It seems to take a few weeks from shipping and delivering. I cannot help but worrying about potential damages during transportation, and all these complaint about diamond cabinet did not help… But there is nothing we could do right now except to wait. The delayed cabinet delivery means we could not get the kitchen wrapped on time for Slav’s mom visit, which is a huge disappointment and a major inconvenience. But didn’t we all learned our lessons from the pandemic already? Nothing goes as planned and we just have to work through problems…
Our contractor had to take a forced vacation because he had nothing left to do till the cabinets get here…LOL. Before he went out of the town he installed the stair railing. Apprently he was concerned that Roxie would fall off the “cliff”. Awwww.
The work ahead
With the unexpected delay, we decided to use this time to prime the kitchen walls. It was not necessary to prime or paint all the walls that will go behind the cabinets or and tiles, but a good layer of primer will never hurt anybody. I have been using the Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer in bathrooms and it is a fantastic primer that seals the pores on the drywall very well. We will apply two coats on the ceiling and all the walls to protect them from water and grease. And I also plan to paint the ceiling before the cabinets goes in so our contractor can install ceiling trims all at once. At the mean time, Slav is working on installing the recessed lighting for the kitchen and the living room. We are still busy!
That was lots of progress during the last three weeks, don’t you think? Now we can cross lots of things off the long renovation to-do list:
The current to-do list:
Demoing the kitchen and the dividing walls between kitchen and living room. All existing tile, drywall, and floor will be removed including soffit. Demoing the hall closet space for housing the fridge. 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. Slav wiring for outlets and switchesand installing the recessed lighting for the living room and the kitchen (we are in planning phrase for this task). Tiling the floor. Adding exterior insulation; repairing ceiling drywall, installing new drywall. Taping and mudding all the new drywall and skim coating old ones. Installing stair railing.
- Installing recessed lighting for the kitchen and the living room (in progress).
- Prime and paint the kitchen (in progress).
- Cabinets installation.
- Countertop template, installation, and sink/garbage disposal hookup.
- With the sink we will be able to start using the kitchen again. So….unpacking the kitchen!
- Tiling the backsplash and finish window trims.
- Appliances installation including the range hood.
- Slav finishing the electrical: installing light fixes, wall plates, and cabinet lighting.
- Upgrade/paint the two back doors. Installing door trims and finish the baseboard.
- Installing island task lighting, or a ceiling fan?