Things here at String Central are about to be totally up-ended.  We’ve now lived in the New House for about 10 years, which makes it not so new any more.  In truth it hasn’t been new for quite a while, having been built in 1911 or so.

When we bought it we looked around and fell in love with the place. Some parts more than others:  the large, open layout, the abundance of surviving original woodwork and detail, the high coffered ceilings in the living and dining rooms, having a tiny library(!) plus sufficient space for all of the bedrooms, office areas, and workrooms a family with a wide variety of solitary pursuit interests needs.

On the problem areas, we’ve gone through a long list of improvements over the years, most having to do with systems: heat, insulation, wiring; or structure. New plumbing, a full-house rewire to get rid of (barely) functioning knob-and-tube, secure/weather-tight basement windows, a new heating system with a separate upstairs heat zone, insulation, a new roof, and a new driveway are just a few.  Other than rehabbing the poorly functional upstairs bath, we haven’t done much in the way of aesthetics or livability, beyond addressing basic needs.

But no longer.

After 10 years we are about to begin a major kitchen rehab, and FINALLY be rid of the sagging mint Formica countertops, the droopy cabinets, the dismally scratched (and hideously pink) floor tile, plastic sheet backsplashes; and the outdated, poor functionality of our layout.  I can hardly wait!

Here’s the official set of Before Pictures:

KitBefore-2 KitBefore-1

In the shots above you can see the partial wall between the prep and dinette areas, that breaks up the space without adding value. They are remnants of what had originally been a full wall, separating a back day-room for maid’s work from the kitchen proper.  This is now our eat-in area and will remain so, but the partial wall is going.


In this one you can see the patched- in wasted space above the cabinets in between them and the equally useless dropped soffits above the cabinets themselves.  That overhead space will be put to far better use.


And here are the mint green counters and plastic backsplash of the inconveniently far from everything Other Counter.  It’s the clutter-magnet area where we stash recycling, and although absent in this shot, where pantry overflow usually sits.  This space will also no longer sit idle.


Although we do have an pantry, it is of very little use, with narrow shelves too shallow to accommodate most cans, boxes, or jars.  The front part is a hinged armature that is very difficult to move if you want to access similarly shallow dead shelf space behind. We are in sore need of effective pantry space.  The new design will address this, too.


The rusted, creaky round-abouts (lazy susans) are an invitation for stuff to fall behind and jam the mechanism, with center poles that preclude larger items.  The gadget garage isn’t bad, but tends to be another clutter-magnet area, and uses up more useful space than it provides in return.  Technology for corner cabinetry has vastly improved since the ‘80s.  I’m looking forward to the new solution.

On overall design, the current kitchen/dinette area, although it looks large, is not wide enough to add an island or peninsula without serious bottleneck or access issues, so we are not going to radically change the footprint.  However, the current arrangement of appliances and countertops isn’t very efficient.  We end up doing 90% of our prep work in the two foot space between the sink and the stove.  The stove itself  does not have a vent to the outside, which doesn’t add to ease of keeping the room clean. And the kitchen is dark, with too many lights that don’t manage to provide illumination of the actual work areas.

So it’s time for all of it to go.

In the mean time, we’ve moved out of the kitchen, so the crew can come in tomorrow to start demolition.  We’ve crammed everything into the living and dining rooms, and will live without stove, oven or microwave, dishwasher or useful kitchen sink for the time being:

Kit-rehab-4  KitRehab-5

We plan to address all of these issues.  Stay tuned to see how!


For my knitting and stitching pals – don’t worry.  This isn’t going to turn into a home-improvement blog.  I continue to plug away on the wavy infinity scarf/cowl, plus progress on a pair of socks.  I always have a pair going, as “briefcase knitting” to do while waiting for appointments, on line, or in other away-from-home-base moments of idleness.



It’s slow going.  As I’ve said before, I spend as much time untangling as I do knitting.  And I still need to pay attention to the pattern.  I haven’t memorized the thing yet.  So it’s difficult to do when I’m watching TV in the evenings – my favorite time to do handwork.  Especially so because we’re re-watching our set of Lone Wolf and Cub TV series DVDs, which are in Japanese with subtitles, and on Netflix, the Norwegian series, Occupied, similarly subtitled from Norwegian.

So there you have it.  Chaos is about to descend.  But at least I can knit my way through it, while nibbling sandwiches in the dining room.

15 responses

  1. Well sometimes chaos can be useful as in your project. Good luck If you are doing all the work yourself great but if you have to wait on the service people have a glass of wine with your sandwiches.

  2. Yeah, totally understand why you’re redoing this.

    My own kitchen has similar problems. The previous owners not only bought cheap cabinetry, they hired someone who’d never built out a kitchen and did all the work without permits. The “builder” had no concept of water control, and the house is from 1918 and had floors that were not quite level. So, because we’ve been careless, water from the counters has wrecked the crappy cabinetry.

    Some photos of the kitchen and the utility room beyond it are here:


    Not to scale layout:

    My big layout problem is that there are three doors into the kitchen: from the dining room, from the hallway connecting the bedrooms and bathroom, and from the utility room.

    My current thought is to put cabinets and counters in the corner where the kitchen table now sits and move the table to the center of the room. We’d put coffee & tea stuff (grinder, etc) and toaster oven there. I think one length of the counters would be standard width, the other narrow.

    Other plans: some kind of continuous counter surface, install a dishwasher, use drawers for pots & pans. We don’t have any specifics about cabinet style. We love marble and understand that it’s a pain to live with.

    I have thought about joining the utility room and kitchen, but ARGH the back bedroom’s closet is between the utility room closet and the kitchen. I suppose they could be switched but it would be added expense. We’re also getting that room redone. The flooring is damaged, the washer and dryer are ancient, and the utility closet can be made into a useful pantry.

    1. Yup. I see what you are facing. Your place is one rehab behind ours – ours having been last done circa 1982 (on the cheap). We also have the water behind the cabinets problem, with ugly yellow epoxy having been applied at one time to stem the seepage. Marble is pretty, but it doesn’t handle acid food spills well, and can discolor. We’re going with soapstone, which I’ll elaborate on more as the project gets underway. Think Lab Bench, for our goal look. 🙂

      1. This rehab was done c. 1989-93, on the cheap. Soapstone is beautiful, which I know because I have been compulsively collecting remodel ideas for several years. 🙂

        1. Wow. They were really going for a historical look with the open undercabinets!

          Now that I can get to the under-and-behind again, I can really see how many corners were cut and home-brewed solutions to framing problems were concocted on the last “do.” Scuttlebut is that the Mr. of the previous owner’s family committed some sort of transgression, and re-did the kitchen for his wife as a peace offering. Apparently it was never accepted, because he never lived in the place again. If his apology was as insincere as his carpentry was poor, I can see why.

          1. Cannot quite tell if “going for the historical look” is tongue in cheek or not. The “open undercabinets” are where doors have come off. The shelving in the utility closet is better quality than what’s in the kitchen.

          2. Ouch. Open undercabinets were a thing in the 30s and 40s. Deliberate or not, my sympathies on doors falling off are with you. I’ve kept a screwdriver in my silverware drawer for years, so I could remount mine when they sagged off.

          3. They’re a thing again in industrial style kitchens, which are fine for restaurant kitchens but not my house.

            I’m thinking of either fairly plain wooden cabinets with a light stain or painted cabinets, which might be all one color, or colored base cabinets with white upper cabinets.

          4. Nice! I’ll be posting about the project on and off, so you’ll see what mistakes to avoid when you do up yours. 🙂

      2. Hahaha, we have friends who renovated kitchens at both the houses they’ve owned, and we consulted them about a year ago about mistakes to avoid. The only one I remember is “make sure all of the materials and appliances are purchased and on site before construction starts.”

        In the first house, they used the same layout as the original kitchen. The second is an Eichler and they made some changes but retained a galley layout. They hired a kitchen designer to review their ideas and make suggestions for the Eichler renovation.

  3. At least 2 friends whose kitchens were remodeled with a ‘pantry’ and ‘turntables’ were VERY unhappy with how much space was lost with those configurations.

    My kitchen in the condo (new to me since DH died) needs to be redone but it’s ok for now. But the bottom cabinets have lots of lost pace in the corners – who would put anything back there – only stuff never used or not needed. I prefer to put a box in there so what I can see when I open those cabinets is up front and not hidden.

    As much of a clutterer/messy that I am, my silverware drawers and glassware and dishes and spice areas are *always* neat. When things have proper homes they eliminate the clutter and have an ease of usage. For me.

    Make sure the designer used for kitchen remodels is a female with sense of how a kitchen is used. First, of course, one must know exactly what they know they need.

    Have fun!!

    1. Men cook too these days!

      1. Yup. The resident male is an excellent cook, and we have collaborated on every detail of our kitchen.

  4. Anne C. in Bethesda, MD | Reply

    We went through the kitchen remodel adventure last year (April to late Sept), and I’m thrilled with the results. The first 3 months were spent on designing the new layout; we knew we wanted the stove in the corner, and wanted an island, or “islet,” as I call it. We just had to come up with a way to fit things into the available space (and I had to keep telling the kitchen designer that I didn’t want to select a cabinet style or color until the “bones” were done). It’s like any other project: if you put a lot of effort into the planning phase, the execution phase goes much more smoothly. Our 1986 kitchen went from nonfunctional and cramped to completely functional and much more open-feeling, even though it’s in the same space. Paper plates are your friend! I found that doing minimal washing up in the powder room sink was manageable most of the time. We did hook up the microwave and toaster oven in our dining room, and used the gas grill outside for cooking.

    Good luck, and do post progress pictures!

  5. I really feel for you. In 2014 we had a new kitchen. We ripped the old kitchen out then discovered the house was falling down. Subsequent issues with insurance and the fitter meant we lived without a kitchen for 6 months. Not fun.

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