Kitchen Mostly Reassembled

Last kitchen update for some time: I got the ABS plumbing figured out and the dishwasher reassembled, and my brother came by today and finished the heating duct in the crawlspace and fitted a plywood floor. So, it appears I have a fully insulated crawlspace and the kitchen is again a kitchen for cooking.
I still have some cleaning and dusting to do but it is a much more manageable space again. Thanks Bro!

Last Piece of Old Kitchen Flooring Gone

If anyone asks why my DIY renovations take so long, this explains why: I’m a homeowner with no carpentry skills and I get my information from Google. The only thing I have going for me is my fearlessness (which is really just a lack of understanding of the risks) and a willingness to throw more money at my projects.

Earlier this week I took out the dishwasher, so that my brother could work on the kitchen crawlspace. Since it was out, I took the opportunity to pull out the counter and get at the last bit of old flooring underneath. That was on Saturday morning.


There was a different linoleum under the sink, and not as many layers as had been elsewhere in the kitchen.

Different linoleum pattern than discovered elsewhere

Glad to see the original flooring was not in too bad a shape.

But definitely lots of mouse activity.



Old Friends

I plugged what I could see for holes with steel wool and silicone. I think the two circular holes were where the first pump for running water sat.

Then I stuffed steel wool into crevices and around the heating duct.

I think I got this particular area sealed off from mice. But a few hours later a daring mouse on recon spent a few moments in the open watching tv with us, before running off into the kitchen. Maybe it likes Glee or maybe it was giving me stink eye for removing the super-highway. But it plainly did not care that the house is already occupied by humans.

As usual, I’m quite effective at taking things apart. Not so good at putting back together.
Taking out the old flooring means the counter dropped an inch or so, which means that the plumbing no longer meets under the sink.

As happens with homeowners untrained in carpentry, I made several trips to the hardware store to get the parts I thought I needed, but I still don’t have the right stuff (literally and figuratively). Obviously, running water and a working drain are important in a kitchen, so I have to get this figured out before the rush of the new work week on Monday.

I thought this project was small – just undoing the plumbing under the sink to the degree that I could pull the counter away from the wall, cleaning up underneath the sink, taking out the layers of flooring, filling the mouse holes, and then reassembling the plumbing – and I thought I would be done in 5-6 hours, but now it is Sunday and have another couple of hours of work because of my error on having the right plumbing parts. Oh, plus, the copper pipe that goes to the dishwasher will not allow itself to reattach – the nut will not slide down the pipe to where it’s supposed to be. I have no idea why but it appears hung up on burrs or the tube shape is no longer round, that kind of thing. But this pipe at the right length and the right fittings is not on the shelf at the hardware store. It’s custom made by a plumber.


So, I will have to call a plumber when it’s time to reinstall the dishwasher, ’cause I don’t have time to train myself in proper plumbing this week.

My liveable space on the main floor is currently at about 300 square feet. I have about 12″ of counter space to work with and all kitchen surfaces are covered in construction dust. With no running water to rinse off the dust before using the kitchen and the usual weekday rush looming, I have to get this figured out today.

Kitchen Crawlspace Update

I had some help this weekend from my brother. He’s a hard worker. We cleaned out the remaining cellulose from the kitchen crawlspace and the pink insulation that was between the floor joists.

Cleaned up crawlspace. Nice to find it has concrete floor.
A dozen bags of cellulose for the dump.

There were few signs of wildlife in the cellulose, but the pink insulation was riddled with mouseways, poop, and the odd skeleton. Ew.

My brother helped get the super-glued plywood off the kitchen floor, so now just a strip under the sink and dishwasher, and then the whole kitchen floor is down to original fir. Part of the kitchen addition has a different hardwood and the other part has yet to be revealed. I’m suspecting the same fir as the original kitchen floor.

The kitchen addition has a 2″ slope toward the back door. My brother determined that the addition hasn’t shifted since it was jacked and supported in the late 1990s, so We’re going to correct this by removing the flooring, building a level/shimmed subfloor, and putting in fir to match the rest of the kitchen. “We” means my brother, with me helping out when I can.

Kitchen Floor Fiddling

Man, this kitchen floor will not give up the ghost easily. I’ve struggled with removing 8 layers of previous flooring, layer by layer, including the last layer of plywood that often had to be removed splinter by splinter.  Honest to goodness I counted 22 nails along one 24″ edge. See my previous post on this topic for further laughs.

This weekend was a little better. I got the flooring beneath one side of the lower cabinets off without much difficulty, because it only had three layers of flooring, and then the cabinet re-installed easily, albeit an inch and a half lower than before. I also cleaned my extremely dirty stove and put it back into place. Nothing like cooking grease caked with renovation dust. It was satisfying to get it cleaned up.

Base for west wall cabinets.
Bare floor under west cabinet

I didn’t tackle under the other side of the cupboards because that side has the plumbing – sink, water filter, and dishwasher.  Since whenever I touch something I wreck it and the whole cabinet system would be dropped an inch and a half, I decided I didn’t want to be in the position of calling a for-real-plumber on the weekend.

It’s unfortunate, because that side has the major mouse activity – a superhighway. I’d really love to seal that off, but because of the plumbing that will have to wait until I think the situation through and psych myself up to do it. Maybe next weekend.

Exit ramp for mouse superhighway. Carcasses of many accident victims located under cabinet.

Several interesting discoveries in the kitchen! What I thought was a single porch turned into a kitchen ‘bump out’ was something else. Not sure yet what, but the pieces of that puzzle are coming together.

The kitchen ‘bump out’ is made up of two structures. The newly revealed floor shows that a structural wall (long since removed) divided the two spaces north to south. The east space has painted narrow plank hardwood installed perpendicular to the kitchen flooring, which runs north to south.

East side narrow plank hardwood, perpendicular to Doug fir kitchen floor

The west space has original siding on the outside but on the inside the floor has a sheet of plywood overtop an opening to the crawlspace below. I wasn’t able to get that plywood off yet because it glued down with industrial strength adhesive, so don’t know if the crawlspace extends under the east space as well. I haven’t bothered climbing under the space, because it’s filled with cellulose, spiders, and mice. See my next post for more on that topic. Anyway, finding out whether the crawl space extends under both sides of the ‘bump out’ will help solve the puzzle, once I figure out how to get the plywood off without wrecking it.

So, my guess now as to the origins of the space is that the east side was always porch, and the west side was built as an addition to the kitchen in the 1960s. The reason I say the ’60s is because there is a wood threshold that fills in the space where the exterior wall was removed and that piece of wood has a stencil on it that says “Western Cabinet Ltd.”.

Western Cabinet stencil

With a tiny bit of internet research in between prying off layers of floor, I saw that this was a company that was in business in the ’60s.

I wasn’t able to track down when it ceased business, so a trip the library will be required.  Complicating this theory is that the second to last linoleum (yellow-y) was only installed in the east space, while the west space had a sheet of plywood.

Strip of yellowed 1980s linoleum between hardwood and sheet of plywood

Both spaces were not covered with linoleum until the last owner put it in the late 1990s. But for now I’m going with a kitchen remodel in the ’60s that took out the exterior wall of the house and the east wall of the porch and added the east space, resulting in over 60 new square feet in the kitchen, and of course brand new cabinets. The work wasn’t permitted, as I’ve checked on those. Anyway, this scenario explains the different roof configurations between the east and west space. The west space (the former porch) is sloped, while the east space is not.

The 1960s cabinets are gone. What I have now is 1990s oak in Shaker style. Nice enough but the carpenter routered the inner edges, eliminating the clean edge of a simple Shaker, and also the hardware is polished brass. Not my fave, although I’ve seen in a few magazines that polished brass is making a comeback.

Beveled Shaker with brass knobs

The major difficulty for me in the long run will be the sunshine ceiling. The cabinets were built to that 7 foot height, instead of to the 8 foot ceiling, so they won’t be tall enough and will look awkward when I take the sunshine out. Also, the electrician who installed the lovely fluorescent fixtures in the sunshine ceiling simply stapled the wiring to the popcorn ceiling. So, lots of work when it comes time to take the sunshine out.

After I accepted that the plywood floor was not coming off today, I got out my belt sander and had a go at the fir. Quite exciting! It will look very nice when it’s sanded. My plan is to shellac and wax it. The idea of re-waxing my floor once a year makes me feel good. Connects me to my mother and grandmother. A feel-good day.

Sample sanding