What I mean when I say "demo" {PART 2}

The kitchen is the heart of the home, or something like that. Ours is the bane of my existence. It was the very first room we started ripping into and it may well be the last thing we finish. A kitchen is a BIG DEAL and I was unaware of its complexity, its many layers (of linoleum. of which there were 4). There is much to consider: walls, floors, electrical, water, gas, counters, cabinets, upper, lower, how tall? how many? is Ikea tragic or perfectly suitable? maybe Home Depot or something custom we likely can't afford? Then of course appliances, fixtures, lighting. Oh, it would be so nice to put wood floors in here. I'd stain them nearly black but that means I would have to refinish ALL the floors to match and that would be lovely, but oh... maybe tile is fine?

This is my brain. at night. when I can't sleep.

All of that insanity, that's the fun part, and yet again, we aren't there yet. Where we are is a state of progress. We can see what we have and we've eliminated all the waste. The kitchen will have its day once we repair all the rot and leaks everywhere else. So it lies in waiting. Here's where we've been:

The kitchen before, well, it was old. Normally I love old and go out of my way to cherish it. But this kitchen was old, haggard, dirty, dingy and expired. The cabinets were solid wood, I'm guessing from the 50s and they'd been painted many times over. Did I mention dirty? This applies here. They weren't functional, the corners impossible to reach. I think our seller would agree because she left food in the way back. Other surprises were spiders and ants. Yum! Note the lowered sink. This coordinates with our wheelchair lift and tall toilet in the bathroom. That tube hanging off it is from the old refrigerator. We bought this house with no appliances which honestly, was a blessing.

See that wall there. I hated it from day one. It sections off what was a laundry room and office. That space was dark and begging to be part of the kitchen. And since the laundry was going downstairs I set my sights on tearing it down.

Here's the original laundry area. At first glance it isn't so bad. Those cabinets are kind of cute, physically slimy but charming in a way. Sadly, they were built in so tightly to the wall, they became casualties of demo. And the floor, well, its rotten. The washing machine must have been quietly leaking for years.

It all started with the floor and a curious little jab in the lino. We just wanted to see if it was going to be hard or easy to remove. One thing led to another and the next thing we knew, demo was underway.

Destroy!!! We got down to the soft wood in some spots but that last layer of lino was proving tough. One contractor said it probably contains asbestos so our best bet is to stop chipping at it. We will lay our new floor, whatever that may be, right on top.

Next Mike surprised me by removing the vent hood. This was the greasiest thing I had ever seen and I couldn't walk by it without gagging. I'd much rather look at this messed up wall. We uncovered the original stove pipe peaking out. This thing is intense and all mortor of some kind, super solid. Luckily it's been sealed in the attic so other than being gigantic, it proves no harm. We'll likely leave it there as homage to 1922.

And now for the nitty gritty, cabinets and soffits. See ya!

I want to note, we did get permission from a contractor to tear out that wall. It wasn't supporting a thing. During demo we discovered that part of this wall was actually original. I thought surely the whole thing had been added when they created the laundry. Using my Sherlock skills I determined that only the pocket door was added and at one point this was a simple wide entrance. To where? A mudroom?

And here we sit. This is our mostly-demoed-exposed-asbestos-floor-but-look-at-how-open kitchen!

Right about now, you may wonder how we survive. Well, we did bring up the basement fridge, gave it a makeover. Then of course there's the microwave. But best of all, the trusty George Foreman.


What I mean when I say "demo" {PART 1}

It has occurred to me that perhaps I haven't been clear concerning the amount of demo which consumes our lives. Maybe you were wondering, why hasn't this girl picked up a paint brush, done a little decorating, finished off a room? I mean, it's been 3 months already! The sad fact is, now is not the time. Dust rules the land, so does dry rot. There is no point in painting or putting anything out, for within moments it is covered in a white film of debris. All of my pretties are in boxes, stacked in a back room, feeling neglected. At least Mike managed to pull out his record player and 7 inches yesterday, just to feel normal.

What's the matter? You still don't get it? Allow me...

I'm going to start with the basement. Here it is when we moved in, all finished off and divided into three rooms, two closets, a hallway, a bathroom, a garage and a scary room under the porch!

Above is the first room when you come down the stairs, this was sort of a living room.

Through the doorway on the right was a bedroom...

home to a contraption right out of Clue: art disguising access to the dryer vent!

Straight back was the kitchen I've mentioned lots before. We're actually using that fridge right now, temporarily. It's upstairs in the real kitchen (which will be PART 2).

Opposite the sink is a second access to the hallway which leads to the bathroom. We aren't going there for a veerrry long time.

But speaking of the hallway, it holds three cubbies of hidden treasure, mostly in the form of animal feces.

What may or not be evident in all of this is the mess of wires and plumbing criss-crossing every possible surface. We know our seller loved her some tv and telephone because it is in EVERY ROOM of the house. It's all very haphazard. I call it "reactionary design."

During our inspections we found out that some of the foundation behind the walls was shedding its parge coat. What the heck's a parge coat? Well, it's smooth concrete on top of rough concrete whose purpose is mostly aesthetic. We were told this was normal and not alarming. There was also some evidence of dry rot and termite damage. As you can imagine, with everything closed up like this, it was hard to read. After treating for termites, next up was demo, which leads me to the point of all this:

After ripping up flooring (laminate and carpet, egads), Mike tackled the walls.

This wall we hope to remove completely but that's a support beam in the middle (which once was round and had since been shaved to fit inside the drywall!) and the header is the main support for the upstairs. We'll get creative here, I see pillars for an open look. Eventually this space will be an amazing art studio.

Here's an example of the parge coat built up behind the wall. I can just imagine the sound of falling sand as it happened over forty plus years. This was pretty much everywhere, on every wall.

We found artifacts. I've never heard of Burgermeister beer but that name is righteous. I also found a newspaper from 1967. Good clue! What we didn't find, insulation. There is also no heating down here. I'm still shocked someone lived in this space.

Now that we (well, Mike) got all the drywall, time for the framing.

A lot of this was rotten. I have since vowed never to drywall a basement, especially one almost 100 years old. Talk about asking for trouble.

Ahh, this really opens up the space and it feels much less mysterious down here. I was in charge of sweeping up all that dust and I scraped the walls as best I could with a wire brush to remove most of the loose particles. Our goal is to put on a new parge coat and seal it up pretty.

Believe it or not, that was all easy compared to the ceilings. They were covered in plywood attached with MANY NAILS. In fact, we are still tackling this with the hallway yet to do.

At this point, I've vacuumed up the dust, dead bugs and cobwebs. We took 4 trips to the dump (more on that later). Now, after this weekend's great reveal in the laundry room, we need to remove the plywood all along the top of the foundation to see what, if any, 2x4s are rotten. The mudsill is questionable in parts and we revealed rot in some support beams. Time to call in the pros...


One Step Forward...

Last week was supposed to be momentous, and it was all about laundry.

The washer and dryer were upstairs in the kitchen. As such, this pair of appliances took up valuable space, not to mention, destroyed the floor below with water damage. Silly really because the house has a full basement just begging to be put to work. So we hatched a plan to move it all downstairs. There's already a dedicated space next to the water heater (an outdated behemoth we've also decided to upgrade) with plumbing and a drain. Genius!

We lined up a plumber to install our new hookups and replace the tank with a tankless. Before he can work, our responsibility was to get some electrical in the space. The tankless needs it's own breaker and the washer/dryer do to. We found a great electrician on Angie's List, an adorable husband and wife power duo. They came, they installed, we're so close!

Next I wanted to paint Drylock on the foundation wall behind where the washer/dryer and newly refinished sink (it's all done and being ever so patient) will be positioned then seal the concrete floor with a high gloss that we ultimately plan to put everywhere. Once this was done and the plumber was done, we'd be up and running. One section of our house would be COMPLETE and I would never set foot in a nasty Berkeley laundromat again.


After the electric super hero team left, Mike and I were doing our usual stand-around-the-basement-think-out-loud contemplating our big plans for the space. And my eyes started focusing on the framing atop the foundation. There was an awful lot of plaster built up where once upon a time, some patching had certainly occurred. You see, this space is directly below the main bathroom (I have BIG plans for a laundry chute!) which means water water everywhere. We already knew that bathroom floor needed repair but had never considered there might be damage along the exterior wall behind the stucco. I took a step toward that plaster and with my bare hand gave it a little tug.

And there you have it, a huge piece came off and what's back there? Oh you know, my best friend, Dry Rot. The next day we headed to the Oakland Tool Library (best invention ever) got ourselves a crow bar and other goodies and made our way down for more demo. It didn't take 15 minutes to remove all that rotten plaster and unearth the rotten 2x4s and the rotten wood board behind that. It looks like this:

Bummer! The plumbing is on hold until we can repair this. At this moment, I could get on a soap box about inspectors but I won't. The house is old, was neglected, and we knew that. But no more surprises okay? Shake on it.

PS - I thought I'd leave you with a shot of said water heater. Sexy right? Nice "earthquake bracing." Is that a flexible gas line I see? Is that up to code? That's right, it's not!