In the prior demolition post we went over our general goals and highlighted a few unexpected issue that arose. Our updated demolition guideline is currently:

• Remove all carpeting
• Strip any walls that would need to be worked on (electrical, A/V, etc…)
• Remove (and try to save) the kitchen cabinets
• Remove the kitchen’s dropped ceiling
• Remove the kitchen’s 3rd and 4th wall to create an open concept floor plan
• Remove any items that seemed rotten and or decayed/moldy
• Remove Tile

Having already knocked out the first two bullet points, next we concentrated on the kitchen.

When we bought the house the kitchen was, for all intents and purposes, livable. It was one of the few areas in the house that had been somewhat renovated, key word being somewhat. Originally the kitchen was a completely sealed room, with two separate ingress/egress points. In the early 2000’s one of the walls had been partially opened to create a counter and new appliances had been installed. This helped bring some light into the kitchen, but it still felt very claustrophobic. The original dropped ceiling did not help alleviate this at all. With 8-foot ceilings throughout the house, if you couple that with a 12-inch drop ceiling in the kitchen, it ends up feeling really tight.

After looking over the floor plan our design goals were to completely eliminate the interior walls of the kitchen and replace them with a large two-sided L-shaped counter. This would provide us with a number of benefits. First, it would allow some natural light to flow into the kitchen. One of the nice things about our living and dining rooms are their large copious windows. All that natural light though was being cordoned off in those specific rooms. By opening up the kitchen we would allow the light to flow through that entire section of the house. The large countertop would also give us a comfortable place to eat. We estimate that 6-7 stools will be able to fit the counter, giving the kitchen area a nice bar like feel. With only four of us needing to eat, that’s more than enough space, allowing the dining room to be used for more formal gatherings.

The greatest benefit of converting the area to an open concept design though, is line of sight. The majority of daylight hours will be spent within the kitchen, either cooking, eating, baking, helping the kids do homework, etc… By opening up the kitchen this extends that usable area to include the living and dining rooms. Thus, someone can be cooking but still see the kids playing in the living room, or see the kids playing in the backyard through the windows. With a sealed kitchen both of these tasks would be impossible. As such, bringing down the kitchen walls and creating an open concept does not only look good and make the home more inviting, it makes it a safer and more functional space to raise children.

Before liberating the kitchen of its unneeded walls we first wanted to remove and save the original cabinets. There was no intention of using the cabinets in our kitchen, but I felt they would work great in the garage. Granted, they would need to be worked over a bit to fit the design elements of the garage, but it would definitely save some money in the future. With an extra degree of care we were able to remove all the wall mounted cabinets without a hitch. Generally they look okay.

Next we took off the countertops which were a laminated plywood. Nothing extraordinary, but I can probably use these for the base of a custom counter once they are installed in the garage. Finally we got to the floor cabinets. Here we found significant leaking in and around the sink area. Due to this a number of the cabinet bases are rotted. That’s not to say that they are useless. Luckily since we’re going to renovate them later I can easily replace the rotted pieces as the whole thing will need to be refinished anyway. The main issue though is that the walls around the sink will have to be opened up and brought down to the trusses to make sure there is no significant damage.

With the cabinets removed we went ahead and removed the sheetrock from the sink area. Fortunately there was no evidence of the water pipes being damaged. The leak appeared to be coming from the shutoff valves, which look quite old and were incapable of either shutting off the water or functioning in general without leaking. It looks like the previous owners were at least aware that the cabinet wood had been damaged, as they had shielded the wood with a beauty cover to hide the rot. Whether they knew it was actively dripping is anyone’s guess.

In the next post we’ll tackle removing the remaining kitchen walls and removing the dropped ceilings, which resulted in a 2×4 bonanza!