We’ve been quite busy remodelling our kitchen, but now we’re all but done save for a few odds and ends. This was our first major DIY project in our flat after refreshing our main bathroom last year, and it was quite a learning experience.




A long list of learnings & photos follows.

We started on Friday, Dec 22 when the wall base cabinets we ordered through Home Despot (no, that’s not a typo!) arrived. Although we had not planned on installing them ourselves, a call to the dreaded HD confirmed that our price was just for the cabinets, not including installation. Why they didn’t think to tell us this, if for no other reason than to upsell us on their installation service, is beyond me.

We’d already taken out a few feet worth of the linoleum in the kitchen work area, and quickly installed 1/4″ plywood for the cabinets to rest on. A small countertop Ryobi table saw we’d recently purchased for $80 (also at HD) proved to be very useful for cutting down the plywood, and redeemed itself nicely throughout our remodel.

Subfloor in, we proceeded to install the base wall cabinets. This would have been fairly straightforward except that several of the screws we used to attach the cabinet units’ fronts broke off an inch into the wood. Not a problem, you may think, as there’s not normally any reason to rearrange the order of one’s cabinetry. We thought this too until we stepped back and noticed that our stove was no longer centered under our pot rack and between the wood panelling along that same wall – OOPS.

Fortunately we had a 9″ vertical cabinet that we could just switch to the other side of the oven. Unfortunately we split the side of one of the cabinets in the (very long and frustrating) process of trying to separate two of the cabinets whose screws had broken. Note to self: use only Grip-Rite screws in the future!

Wall base cabinets installed, we bought a Skil Sawzall to demolish our nasty center island. It was quite gratifying to take this down cut by cut, and the sawzall was wonderfull – I can’t wait to find other uses for it! Once we were down to just the bare electrical wires and plumbing, we called our plumber who came the next day to cap off the water. Due to a slight language barrier we wound up with valves with their outlets turned 180 degrees from where we wanted them, and it cost $160, which didn’t seem very reasonable.  Next time I think I’ll get a plumbing book and do it myself, since exposed plumbing isn’t rocket science.

With the island out we finished removing the linoleum tile in the kitchen work area and the carpet from the social area and began what I found to be the most difficult part of our remodel – installing our new cork plank flooring.

Having never installed any substantial flooring other than a few dozen square feet of peel ‘n stick linoleum squares in our back bathroom, we were flying a bit blind, despite some semi-helpful (and often contradictory) printouts from the internet.  The first few rows made us want to throw a tantrum – it proved quite difficult to attach the tongue & groove for the in-progress row without separating the already-done ones!  After 3 rows were done, and we got a little more into the groove of things, the rest went in fairly uneventfully.  We were very glad we purchased a flooring installation kit, with shims (mostly unused), a puller bar which was indispensable, and a tapping block, which was useful until it broke from too much use.

It took us about 3 solid days to get the flooring in, and we were once again happy to have our little table saw, as it made short work of the funky end cuts we needed to fit against our bay window.  The jigsaw also got a workout cutting more organic shapes to get around the plumbing and so on.

We found a bonus electrical outlet in the sub-floor that had just been carpeted over previously!  What a strange thing to do, especially as our kitchen is pretty short on outlets.

Once the flooring was installed, we went to our friends Deb & Terry’s place to prime and paint our new island that they custom built for us.  This was my first time seeing the island, and it looked great.  Terry used formaldehide-free, prevarnished plywood, which 1) is more eco-friendly, and 2) is easier to paint.  About a week later after a few coats of paint, and when Terry had time in her schedule, she delivered the island and we set about getting it secured with some help from my dad, Barry.

We chose to attach it by first screwing some 1×1″s into the floor vertically, then attaching the island pieces sideways into the 1×1″ which worked nicely.  I wasn’t sure how secure things needed to be for the countertop templater, so we just put in one screw on each side.

The templater flaked on his first appointment on Jan 2, but fortunately he showed up for the second one on Jan 4.  Turns out I needed to secure the island better, but he was nice and let me do that, as well as level the island (we lacked a sufficiently long level to do this, and our floor is nowhere near level – about 3/4″ off over 10 feet!), while he templated the wall cabinets.

Just a week and a half later the installers came and put in our lovely green Silestone counters.  I didn’t envy them having to carry the huge slab for our island up our front stairs, but I am very glad that everything was done in one piece, as I’ve read horror stories about the poor tolerances they will accept for seams.  Our contract said that seams will be within 1/8″, which is awful – 1/8″ is a pretty huge gap!

Counters in, all that was left was to install & plumb up the sink, disposal & dishwasher, and install the trim molding to cover the edge gap on our floor.  Again thanks to my dad, the sink & plumbing went very smoothly (he’s quite handy and knowledgable!), and our table saw got one final use cutting the angles for the molding.  A compound miter saw would have been much easier, but we don’t have anywhere to store the table saw, let alone another saw!

It’s been about a month since things have finished up, and we’re just loving our new kitchen.  All told, we got a heck of a lot done in 3’ish weeks, and had no major hiccups.

Bon Appetit!

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