Carlin's Kitchen Project

(click here for last page)

Sea-Foam Green

The original idea was to replace the counter tops. I mean who doesn't love Sea-Foam-Green in Genuine Imitation Formica??? Plus the bar section had to be redesigned so it wouldn't narrow the passage ways as it does now.

 But as soon as I removed that old Formica top (held in place by 5 rusty drywall screws) I discovered that the cabinets were made of the cheapest particle board -- only slightly thicker than a cardboard box. It's interesting that the White finish is just a thin sheet of plastic material glued on. The cabinets are assembled by hot-gluing the plastic together. This is the same as if you stuck 2 pieces of masking tape to sheets of particle board and glued the tape together. Once the tape come undone, the cabinets fall apart.

Also, they were installed directly on the concrete slab and not over tiles. Every time the kitchen floor was mopped, the water ran under the cabinets, soaked the wood and these cabinets were already mildewed and rotten.

If I'm going to replace the cabinets, I have the chance to fix some of the other crappy work the builder did... I'd tile under the cabinets, add under-cabinet lighting, recess the fridge into the wall to gain a few precious inches of wiggle room, widen the sink area as it should be, plus a bunch of other improvements.

Here's one of my favorites: The entire cabinet over the microwave had been closed off except for a 4" wide section on the left. What was that about?

Well, once I removed the artificial wall, I saw that the builder installed the board to cover up his first class workmanship. (NOT!)

The only problem is that the previous homeowner accepted this.


Here, I moved the electrical outlet to the top corner to allow full use of the cabinet (I stowed away the cable after the black paint dried)


The Easy Part

OK, I'll skip ahead. Here's the easy half of the kitchen. (I say "easy" because I had to remove all the drywall to straighten the wall. This was a new house and the wall was more than one inch out of straight. Maybe the original builder was blind?)

New cabinets mostly installed. Solid Cherry doors and frames with 7-ply, plywood backs. All the drawers pull completely out (full extension) and have anti-slam, auto-close mechanisms (if you get new cabinets, get this feature)

Before ...




The Hard Part

Here it is, the week before Christmas and we have no kitchen. But we will soon. 

Fridge: Something had to be done about the new Samsung fridge. The kitchen layout had so little space that the new fridge protruded into the room. More importantly, it was not getting enough ventilation and that could damage the compressor. So Debbie came up with the idea to recess it into the non-load-bearing wall behind it. I removed the front piece of drywall, removed the studs for clearance and then framed the new opening to make it strong. I then glued that piece of drywall I just cut, onto the back wall; this doubled thick, glued wall is really stiff and strong. Again, the builder installed the outlet sticking straight out and that took up another inch of space, so I moved the outlet to the side -- out of the way and added some vents for intake air and exhaust vents. We gained 3 1/2" of kitchen space and the fridge runs a lot cooler.

Debbie's patented Fridge-Recess(tm) gains about 3.5" of space while providing better ventilation than before.

Cut away the old partial tiles.

Remainder of floor will get tiled properly.

I loved the one!

Could never figure out why this wall behind the oven was so crooked?

Turns out a big clump of insulation had fallen on the floor! Why bend down and cut it away when you can drywall right on top of it! American builders at their best.





Some of the previous cabinets were not even screwed to the wall. If there was no stud behind where the cabinet was, that cabinet was held up only by his neighbors.

So..... I cut out the drywall and installed heavy anchor boards to support the weight of the cabinets and all the heavy dishes.

The original wall in the front also came out and was replaced by heavy 2x6s and plywood; all glued together.



Cooking Side Done!

Like most things, once the preparation is done, the rest goes fast.

Depth Problem: I don't know when American cabinets became a "standard" depth but I bet it was before stone counters became popular. If the sink cabinet sits against a backsplash (in our case it's a raised bar-counter) then you run out of space because the granite has to be at least 4" wide at the front edge. Insert the under-mounted sink and there is almost no room for the faucet. Look at most sink installations! You can barely get a finger behind the faucet! Besides being hard to clean, that limits your choice of faucets to those with forward facing handles. Some cabinets makers have introduced a "bug fix" (as I call it) where the sink cabinet juts out 2 inches into the workspace. Not very elegant.

Fortunately, the fix is quite simple. Make the counter top 2" deeper. Except if your house is built on a concrete slab like this one. The plumbing comes up out of the poured concrete so I'm not moving IT back 2 inches. Instead, I designed a "dog leg" by building the wall out of 2x6's instead of the normal 2x4. This way I could offset the top part the amount I needed.

The 15" granite bar counter top sits on top of a 5-1/2" board! So the overhand needs some support. Some 3/8" think steel bars ought to do it. The vertical steel bar supports the horizontal one from underneath; else the weight could compress the wood and cause the counter to lean.

Next Page