Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Kitchen Reno Times

We are approaching the finish line (she jinxes herself) on the basement renovation, so what better time than now to take you through our kitchen renovation?  Our new kitchen is nearing the 9 month old mark, and we are starting to take its beauty and organization and blessed, blessed dishwasher for granted.  It feels like we've always had it, and so a Lil' Ugmo kitchen retrospective is in order, lest we forget.


This is what we bought.  Laminate counter in a weird burgundy/blood/black marble patina, faux wood laminate cabinets over solid wood frames (talk about BUILT IN!  Those cabinet frames were basically fashioned from 2x4s), a disgusting, cracked mirror held together with packing tape hiding lord-knows-what.  Outlet covers yellowed with age and cooking, congealed oil taunting us from the oil wells of the ventilation hood that didn't work in the five years we lived pre-kitchen reno.  It was a bit much.

We went in there, and took all the cabinets down, and painted them in the backyard of our old rental.  The Dotytron went to TOWN that summer while he was looking for a gig in the school board and cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom.  He found a rotting mouse carcass in one cabinet and we found cockroaches INSIDE our fridge.  We hired an exterminator, and then in the most cost-effective way imaginable, built a kitchen WITHIN the kitchen, by lining all the shelves with adhesive shelf paper and putting storage containers inside so our stuff wasn't touching anything.  

Even at that, before moving in, I vowed that I would never cook in there.  I tried to think of ways that I could avoid the stove and oven entirely and just fashion meals out of the slow cooker, a toaster oven, the panini press, and the microwave.  Five years of lovingly documented dinners on this blog belie my conviction to the cause.  This is how the kitchen looked a few months after we moved in:

And that's how it remained for five years, and the birth of our first son.  We washed countless baby bottles, so many dinner parties worth of dishes, and so very many pots and pans by hand.  I used to say that when the oil in the hood overflowed, then I would reno the kitchen.  We made do, and it wasn't so bad.  It's never so bad when you're living in it.  It's your home, you know?  You see that aluminum, patio door that's frozen shut and is the colour of dried blood?  That's our patio door, dammit!  I also miss the sight of all my mason jars lined up like little soldiers, out in the open.  It's so orderly and pleasing to my pioneer/faux homesteading soul.

When the time came that a kitchen reno was looking like a possibility, I spent countless hours on the Ikea kitchen planner site.  I'm not kidding you: HOURS.  So, when I tell the Dotytron in no uncertain terms that this is MY house, I mean it.  Technically, yadda yadda, his name is on the title, blah blah blah.  Details!  When it comes down to it, this house is MINE.  My decisions, my thought, my hours and hours of MY precious time went into thinking things through so that it everything has a place.  So that the tone of the backsplash tile goes with the floor tile and the cabinet finish.  So that our edge pulls on the cabinets were NOT placed vertically on cabinet uppers as my then-contractor thought.  Things I never pay a contractor for: telling me how things should look.  I just need you to be my hands, man.  If I had the time, I wouldn't even need you to do that.

This is how our kitchen looks now (or it did, 5 months ago, when there weren't a million fruits and boxes of Cheerios piled on the counter).  Ikea Akurum (now discontinued, thanks Ikea!) kitchen with Applad fronts and Berenson edge pulls.  Wolf 36" range (my precioussss).  KitchenAid fridge and dishwasher.  Vent-a-hood range hood.  

EFF Yeah, pull out pantry times!

Our fridge remained carefully curated for about 1 week.  Now you can barely find the fridge handle through the cover of letters from school and random photos.

I bought some reclaimed barnboard and my contractor made floating shelves out of them.  I love these.  They really warm up all the white.  Faucet is a Grohe, sink is a Blanco, divided sink.

New patio doors!  These have built-in blinds that are sandwiched between the glass - they never get dusty, huzzah!  You control the tilt and bring the blinds up and down with a sliding magnetized pull on the side.

I love my backsplash tile.  It has an off-set raised three dimensional pattern.  I had the tiler alternate the orientation so the pattern is more pronounced and you get some new planes and lines.  

There are some people who advocate the "save your pennies and then do the renovation/trip/whathaveyou when you can pay for it with your savings" approach.  I say, boo to that shiz!  Then you end up like the first 10 minutes of the movie Up.  You keep smashing that jar for all the little stuff and you never get to Paradise Falls.  This kitchen is our Paradise Falls.  It has made SUCH a difference in our lives.  Also, with the way house prices are going in downtown TO, we're never, ever leaving.  Unless we happen to luck out and capitalize on the 3 months of the only downtown in Toronto history, like we did when we bought Lil' Ugmo.  At this rate, semi detached houses our size, in our location, that already have the basement underpinned (full height) and have the second bathroom (check!) are going in the eight hundred thousand range.  EIGHT HUNDRED.  That is the definition of unsustainable, folks, unless our real estate market/transit infrastructure starts to change muy rapido.  

To be honest, I'm up for doing a size upgrade and doing the renos.  The Dotytron very much is not.  He thinks I'm sick in the head for even contemplating it.  I may very well be.  I should have been a general contractor.


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