Kitchen Renovation Part 1

So, we decided to renovate the kitchen. This, unlike the bathroom renovation, was planned. However, what we didn't plan or anticipate was just how much harder, longer, and more expensive it would be.
It all started with this wall. 
Around the corner on the right is the living room.
Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhh we can't see the living room from the kitchen!
I know, first world problems.

But seriously, see the wall? It's dividing EVERYTHING!

Taking down the wall of course, also meant redoing the floors...
So, we paused here for about 7 days while my handy husband slaved over jackhammers, tiles, saws, glue, wood, and really sore knees.  Meanwhile, I continued to remove drywall, cabinets and um, the countertops?
Sure! Why not!

But why stop there?!
 Well, I'll tell you why.
Because we ran into more rotted wood (remember the bathroom nightmare?)

Well, it seems all the wet areas in this older home are full of lovely leaks. This one was apparently from the dishwasher and had pretty much annihilated the sink cabinet. It turned to sawdust when we tried to move it. So, my handy husband had to stop what he was doing and run to Home Depot and pick up another sink cabinet.

Once he got that installed, he had to build a frame to hold the cast iron sink.
Well, we've never installed under mount farm sinks before. Or built under cabinet mounts for them.
So, we paused here for a few more days to figure it all out.

Once we got the sink supports completed we made an attempt to attach the new sink cabinet to the old cabinet next to it.
And discovered it was rotted as well.
So, the man went BACK to Home Depot and picked up more cabinets.
Multiply this experience a few more times and we were finally ready to do the sink and countertops.

Butcher block counter tops went in fast. This was about the only project at this point that seemed to go as planned or expected. Oh, and note the new sink and faucet my handyman installed! We did a little research and ended up buying both of these online. These projects were a nice diversion from some of the other more, um, tedious, tasks involved in this reno.
Oh, who am I kidding...this was tedious as well, just in a less annoying way.
But hey, at least the floors look nice!
Wait, is that an electrical cord hanging where the wall used to be?

Why yes, it is.
Remember that wall that started it all?
Well, after we removed the drywall and some of the support beams we realized it was a load bearing wall.
So, we built a temporary support wall and paused here for about a week getting estimates and trying to figure out what our next move was.
Boy was THAT fun!

A round of estimates to the tune of around $5000 to put in a support header helped us plan our next move.

And call for help.
My brother just happened to be in town that weekend so late one night we offered him free beer and a roaring good time installing a support beam.

And by golly, those boys got that sucker UP!
Beer is a powerful motivator.
It was a proud moment.
And saved us a ton of money!
My handy man then spent several more nights trying to figure out all the electrical.

But LOOK! We can see into the living room from the kitchen now!

And only 9 hours of drywall later...
 This part of the reno was DONE!
Stay tuned for Part 2!

Shower Renovation

So, we recently remodeled our upstairs shower. We didn't plan to remodel the shower. We didn't even really want to remodel the shower. But when my 10yo daughter had tiles literally falling off the wall while she was showering one day, running out in tears saying she broke the shower...we figured maybe we should look into it.
Actually, it was only about 4 tiles that came off with the soap dish/tray thingy. We figured we would just match them and redo that one section. Unfortunately I don't have a before picture. But the tiles that were currently falling off were original to the house (30 yrs?) and were builder grade square 4x4 off-white blah blah blahs. Well, when we went to clean off the section of backer board, more tiles starting coming off. And more. And more. And then the tub came out. And before we knew it...
this happened...
Dry rot. Mold. Dry-rotted mold. Who knows how long this had been going on. Pretty much explains the mystery stain on the ceiling underneath. Why the inspector didn't catch this is a mystery as well. Where's Holmes when you need him?! This also explains the musty smell we noticed when we bought the house.
Dear Inspectors,
Ceiling stains + musty smell = leaky rotting moldy boards. Let's put those together next time, OK?
And this wasn't just a little bit of rotted wood. This was the entire subfloor. That blue-ish looking floor in the above pic is the plywood subfloor...completely rotted thru and covered in mold. The ledge was rotted and the boards leading all the way up to the window were rotted. You could poke your finger thru the wood. Almost all the way to the exterior siding on the house.
This was a serious leak. And we knew it would be very expensive to fix. Thankfully the floor joists weren't ruined. So, we googled and did our best to learn (quickly) how to rebuild the subfloor and window ledge.

We re-insulated the walls...sealed the window really well! And put up new backer board.
I think my man did a pretty darn good job figuring it all out! And saved us a ton of money. He said the original tile was laid straight onto drywall. I guess they didn't have backer board 30 years ago? Hmmmm...
either way, this shower was never really sealed properly and should have been updated years ago.
Now, we've tiled a shower before, but never to this extent (rebuilding walls, ledges, and subfloors). And we've never really had to put up this much backer board. And pretty much everything that could go wrong with this lack of knowledge, did. Or, better said: Everything we could potentially mess up, we did mess up. We didn't get the right thickness of backer board, we didn't buy enough tile (and had to go to several different stores to find more!), we didn't do the tile all at once. We didn't wipe off the grout in time which meant spending, literally, 3 evenings after our day jobs just chiseling away at the grout left on the tiles. THIS because we didn't realize we had picked un-sealed tiles.
Ya know, we just thought they were pretty.
So, naturally, we didn't think we needed to seal them before grouting.
And who knew those little glass tiles with stones added as accents would be so evil? Each of the stones just soaked up the grout. Chisel chisel chisel - there was no getting that off. Just a little note on the back of the tile pkg to seal the stones before grouting would have been so incredibly helpful. Also, cutting those little 1 inch glass tiles in half? OMG. We had to go out and get a tile saw...but those little devils required a separate $40 diamond blade.
Don't be fooled by those pretty glass tile mosaic sheets!
In fact, RUN!
Don't even consider it. Just get the 12x12's and be done with it. Had we done that all over instead of adding an 'accent wall and trim' we would have finished about 5 weeks sooner. Seriously. Those mesh sheets don't lay straight or completely flat. They allow thin set to squeeze thru, they require a lot of tricky half inch cuts with a special cutter or blade. They are expensive and well, should be left to the pros to install.
Never. Again.  
But hey, the job is done! It looks 100% better than it did. And we never have to do it again. Hopefully. 
Though truth be told, we're pretty sure our master bath will be next.