New Kitchen Sink

A small story to start: I moved into my previous house, and it had a large white enameled kitchen sink. It was really scratched up and always yellowing. I hated it. It took years, but I finally redid the kitchen and got a nice under-mount stainless sink. It was wonderful. Always looks clean, scratches don’t show, easy to take care of. Fast forward to the new house. The kitchen sink is molded as part of the counter. It is a beige off white, is kind of scratched up and always looks dingy. Plus it is a 3 sink unit and not very efficiently laid out. I hate it.

It will be a lot of years before we get around to completely redoing the kitchen, so time to get cutting and install a new sink. There aren’t many options at this width, but I found a company that makes a big double sink large enough to fit inside the opening the old sink will leave behind. A jigsaw, a circ caw, a grinder, and a pile of dust later I had the old stuff removed. I would have taken a picture, but as I was cleaning my little portable vacuum fell through the hole and hit the hot water supply.

Goosh! It made a crazy geyser! That was unexpected. I drilled big holes in the baseboard and set a massive fan going to try and dry it all out. I always keep extra CPVC fittings around for this kind of thing, but my pvc cement was completely gelled. A trip to the hardware store later I got the supply repaired and had the water back on. The rest of the install was pretty straight forward till I got to the garbage disposal.

Really hard to capture in this photo, but there is water dripping from the bottom of the motor housing. I guess my garbage disposal was on the verge of death, and the move pushed it over the edge. OK, time for a new garbage disposal. This whole project was more than I bargained for.

I left it all open for an extra day or two to make sure no new leaks showed up, but by the end of the weekend I was confident everything was working well.

The top looks great, but the toe kick is trashed from where I ripped it out to get everything dry underneath. Lowes has some plastic trim that is finished in a way that matches my cabinets really well. It is molded base board instead of flat toe kick, but you have to get down really far to tell the difference.

With that repaired I turned my attention to the inside of the cabinet. Our previous organizer didn’t quite fit because of the new drain layout. I picked up some PVC trim wood to make a shelving system out of. I clamped the two uprights together and ran a matched pair of dados to align and support the shelves. The shelves were held in with PVC cement like you use on piping and a few exterior grade screws. Very sturdy, and it will never rot!

To finish it off, I 3D printed a number of little cubby boxes designed to hold stuff like sponges, glasstop cleaning stuff, and other common under sink items. I have plenty of room for more storage and everything is easy to get to. Kitchen happiness!

Half Wall Renovation

I wasn’t taking a lot of pictures while working on the new house.  Too many small fix ups to name, and not enough time to document them all.  One larger project was my kitchen half wall.  There is this segment of wall that separates the kitchen from the living room.  It made both rooms feel smaller and didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, so I decided to take it out.  Only the pantry remains at full height.

I removed all the drywall and found a lot of wiring to do with the intercom system.  It hadn’t worked when the previous owners moved in, so out it comes.

It was tough to cut all the drywall and studs to a really straight line.  An oscillating multi tool helped with the drywall, but standing studs are hard to cut straight.  I did as best I could with a reciprocating saw, and came back later with a belt sander and 4ft level to make everything even.

I have never done a bullnose corner before, but managed to pull this one off pretty well after a few rounds of drywall mud.  The odd dark green wall got a lot of primer and paint so it matches the rest of the house.

To cap off the wall top I ripped down a 1×8 to a nice width, and painted it white.  A little store bought molding also painted white finishes it off.  It feels good to not be renovating a house right now.


Kitchen BackSplash

The kitchen is finally complete!  The last two months have involved a lot of waiting on things to get in, but it is all done.

With the countertops installed I was able to go ahead with a layout scheme.  The tiles are glass, of different heights and widths, and on a floppy mesh.  Figuring out where and how to cut to make it around the outlets was tough.


Everything started and stopped at a metal quarter round boarder strip.  After a few different tactics I figured out that measuring everything from the edges and countertop gave me the best results for cutting around outlets.


T20170225_112227he gaps between each tile varied between 1/8″ and 1/16″.  It made any errors on my part easier to hide, but keeping everything looking right meant I needed a variety of shims.  When installing the tile I did my best to keep the gaps clean, but sometimes the mortar squeezed through.  It is tough to clean without disturbing the wet tile too much.  Instead  I waited till it was cured and used a custom little tool to scrape it out.  It is a thin putty knife ground down to make a small hook/dovetail shape.  I was able to get into the  gaps and clean out any stray mortar that even the smallest grout saw couldn’t get to.

With all the edges and gaps cleared out I could move on to grout.  Backsplash grouting seems to be pretty similar to floor grouting.  The grout is un-sanded on account of the narrow gaps, but otherwise you smear it on, let it sit for a bit, then wipe off.  The high ratio of gaps to tiles means a lot ends up staying in place and getting wasted in the wiping.



Hazing is really noticeable on the glass tiles, so they took a few dozen extra rounds of wiping, but you really knew when you got it all.  After months of work and waiting, and more money than I care to admit it is really good to have a gorgeous working kitchen.  Time for a kitchen warming party!


Kitchen Renovation Part 1

After a lot of early salvos, the kitchen war has finally begun.  First, let’s look in horror and disgust at the kitchen that was.  Painted 1980s particle board cabinets with rotted bottoms, dark blue peeling paint, and no flooring.  Not a pretty set of pictures.

Don’t look too long, you will hurt your eyes.  Granted the next set of images aren’t that much better.  I happily smashed cut and dragged out all the old cabinets, and peeled the various paint layers off.  At least it looks a lot brighter in there.


Most of the kitchen stuff and appliances had to be spirited away to back rooms and the porch.  What was left was the bare essentials.  I call it Kitchen Base Camp Alpha.


Next came the sanding of texture.  When the house was built, some kind of roll on orange peel texture was used.  In decades since installation it has turned to powder and sluffs off in chunks.  Every square inch of wall had to be sanded back to the drywall.  It was messy business.

Next came patching of various issue areas, priming, more patching of missed issues, and then two rounds of the brilliant blue/green color that was in the living room.

At this point I got a lot of plumbing and electrical fixtures changed, and even a bit of routing done to account for changes in cabinet location.  With the walls complete I could scrape the floor of any glues or gunks and get to tiling.  As usual odd walls and squareness issues confounded me, but I was able to stitch it together pretty well with the existing living room tile I did last Christmas break.


dsc_0638I could now work on the small pantry without any fear of getting in the way of cabinet installation.  It would give us a place to put back some of our boxed junk and help out in minor cooking adventures at Kitchen Base Camp.  I went with adjustable wire shelves and wired an under-cabinet light in the top that goes on with the lights over the stove.  Some basic molding happened on the inside, but most will wait till I can do everything after the cabinets are complete.









Until the cabinets get installed we got to move a few essentials back into the new area.  I call it Kitchen Base Camp Beta.



New Appliances

Strike number two in the kitchen renovation!  I ordered a new stove and dishwasher as part of the November black Friday madness.  Instead of waiting for them to arrive after the new cabinets go in I’ll do them early.  To some extent this doubles my work as I will have to uninstall these in a few weeks when the renovations start.  While that isn’t ideal, this lets me work out the process and guarantees I have the right parts on hand.

The two patients to be worked on are a very old chef magic dishwasher and a GE slide in glass top stove.  The dishwasher was rusting out and had a broken soap door when I bought the house 7+ years ago.  I thought it would die soon, but it has held on!  The oven is decent, but the top was scratched badly (not by me).  It worked well aside from a somewhat expensive touch board failure a few years back.


Off with their heads as it were!  Well first I was able to run one final load of dishes before the delivery guys came.  Just in case I spent a long time getting them all installed, I would at least have clean dishes.

First comes the unwrapping and the very careful reading of instructions.  Or rather the unwrapping and the smelling of new appliances.  Instructions would only come when I was really really stuck!


They really do look gorgeous!  The stove was the first one to go.  I had already pulled the old one out a few times for measurements and such.  The cord swap went quickly, and after some cleanup and feet leveling I was able to shove the new one home.  It is a good thing I got these now, the front overhang is slightly different.  My old stove covered the countertop a bit differently and it leaves some edges exposed.  This would be a problem, but we are getting new everything, and the countertops will be fitted to this stove.  Good thing I acted now.


Next came a perplexing game of “figure out how dishwashers are installed”.  The plumbing was pretty straight forward, but the electrical turned out to be an issue.  It is barely long enough to reach the front panel let alone let you pull the unit out past an inch or so.  I eventually worked everything out and got the old girl to the street corner where she belongs.  The new one went in slowly but without major incident.  I barely have enough power cord, so a modification of the permanent electrical system is in order.


For anyone working on this kind of thing, I highly recommend stubby wrenches.  Much better for getting into those tight places under the dishwasher.  Like installing the adapter for the water supply.  Got lest than 6 inches of wrench room?  No problem for a stubby!


The new appliances are wonderful.  The dishwasher is very quiet and cleans a thousand times better than the previous junker.  The stove has a lot more cook top flexibility, and gets hotter faster than the other.  It even managed to get through a 7 dish Thanksgiving baking session without spilling anything!  Now if I could just get the rest of the kitchen to catch up to these two beauties I would be all set.

Kitchen Lighting Upgrade

I have made the first salvo in the kitchen makeover war.  It needs a better name.  How about instead of the war of the roses it could be the war of the spatulas?  Any who, instead of leaving everything for the two weeks or so I will be doing our kitchen renovation, I am tackling small jobs that are easy and won’t involve a lot of backtracking.  For example, some of the lights can be installed now and left in place throughout the renovation.

First, what did I have to start with?  A fluorescent tube set over the sink, a hanging light trifecta over the stove, and on the ceiling, a spot light array.  I did the one on the ceiling a few years back, and the one over the stove when I first moved in.  The stove one looks nice, but doesn’t provide the best lighting.  The ceiling one is bright, but kind of harsh and the color temp isn’t great.

For above the sink I went with an under-cabinet LED light.  I want to put lights under the cabinets to the left and right of the sink.  I figured using the same light over the sink and under the cabinets would tie together well.  I found some with a good color temp and really high CRI.  I installed one as a test.  I love it and bought the rest of what I will need!  There is going to be a second one under the window, and one under each cabinet all connected to the same switch after the cabinets get installed.


I went with a matching set of lights for the ceiling and over the stove.  They are the same style from the same company with 4 lights over the stove and 6 on the ceiling.  Frosted spot lights directed most of the shine downwards over the stove, while regular bulbs were used in the ceiling.  The modern “daylight” LED bulbs are amazing!


The kitchen is already nicer to work in.  Next will be an early appliance delivery.  After that, I am out of things to do before starting a full kitchen destruction in ernest.