Sunday, March 18, 2012

better yourself.

Last year proved it to me: Sometimes, things have to get worse before they get better.

Let's hope that holds true for the kitchen.

So, progress. It's happening, but I have to say, this whole remodel seems to have a life of its own. Like, I had a rough plan for how I wanted things to go, but instead, things seem out of my control. They're dependent on the weather, my mood, and which random family member has the misfortune of stopping by and lending his or her expertise. Today, it was J.J.'s dad. And thank goodness for that; otherwise, it was doomed to be another weekend of aborted missions.

All J.J. asked for for his birthday (besides an iPhone and a Bamboo tablet for his art) was NOT to work on the kitchen. You'd think I regularly enslave him (heh) and force him to renovate against his will, but -- oh. Okay, so maybe I do that, but yesterday I was really good and only solicited him for a few minutes of help. I figured we'd be able to remove this cabinet easily:

The corner cabinet is crazy-making in its wild inefficiency. The right-hand side of it is fine, accessible and all, but the left-hand side has an opening that's only about six inches wide (maybe even less). The cabinet itself extends all the way to the wall on the right, but if you ever were to actually place something back there, well...good luck retrieving it, sister. (Unless you're Inspector Gadget. He could totally go-go his gadget hand back in there.) We used it to store spices, four jars wide, all balanced atop one another. And they fell. All the time. See? Crazy-making.

My trip last weekend to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore was made in part to address this issue. I found a suitable corner cabinet there, and although it did NOT fit in my car, I borrowed my brother's car a few days later, and it made its way home.

Having done extensive research read a couple of DIY blogs, I figured all we would have to do to remove the existing cabinet would be...to unscrew it. Well, following the theme of this house, the cabinet was (a) mysteriously sturdy, and (b) nailed, screwed, and stapled in 10,000 hidden spaces. Seriously, all we could visually locate was two screws, but I think there were probably two dozen nails and staples buried in there. So as not to overburden J.J. on his birthday, we gave up pretty quickly once we took out the screws and saw that the cabinet wasn't even a tiny bit wiggly.

But since I can't be in the general vicinity of my kitchen without working on it these days, I compulsively started trying to remove the cabinet doors. I plan to fill in the sexy routed design that currently adorns the doors and add some half-round molding, but this - plus my plans to paint all the cabinets white - requires that the doors not be on the frames. I set to work unscrewing the ancient copper-brass-whatever hinges.

I think I was successful with about a third of the doors.

Partially hidden behind the stepstool is the telltale cabinet door that has
one remaining screw in its hinge. So it's falling. Like about seven others.
The problem was twofold. First, the hinges are almost 50 years old, and they've accumulated half a century's worth of grime (more on that in a moment, with vomit-inducing photographic proof. Don't say I didn't warn you). Second, the screws on the hinges are strangely tiny, which means my (apparently giant) screwdriver just rips them to shreds. We devised an alternative method (yes, we...sorry for kitchening you on your birthday, honey), by which I was able to remove about three-quarters of the screws, but most of the doors had at least one screw that wouldn't budge. And that I stripped. Wonk-wonk.

But! On to the success. Today, J.J.'s dad stopped by. This is a man who builds anything and everything with his own two hands (and his far superior tools), including a zipline in J.J.'s childhood backyard, a play house that matched their actual house, and bunk beds in a closet. (And, hopefully, a fridge surround and pantry for us! Crossing my fingers.) J.J.'s dad had a variety of smaller screwdrivers that got the job done painlessly.

Which is how I gained the privilege of seeing this.

Look in the actual hinge part - that gooey mass to the bottom-right of the top left screw hole and to the left of the (completely stripped) top right screw hole. (Omg, best descriptive description EVER.) That gooey mass is an indistinguishable clump of...well, goo. Kind of hairy goo. It was gross, but not as gross as what I found in another hinge.

Let's play Highlights Magazine and see if you can find What's Wrong With This Picture. 

SEE? Do you see it?? Truth: You will never un-see it. It's a mummified yellow sac spider. In my effin' kitchen cabinet hinge. <shudder> The thing is, spiders don't creep me out too much - but last summer, we started seeing yellow sac spiders in our house, and THAT is unacceptable. My friend Scott was bitten by one once, and it messed his leg UP. Grody. Grody, grody, grody.

Anyway, 150 tiny, spidery screws later, all the hinges were off, and I hauled the doors to the garage and spent two back-hurty hours filling in the routed design with wood filler. But, hey, at least I got to work in the GARAGE, even though it's mid-March in Michigan. Seriously, going back to highs in the 40s is going to be brutal after these last couple weeks.

Oh, and our non-wiggly-even-after-we-took-the-screws-out cabinet?

J.J. and his dad had to take it down piece by piece - the frame, the outer edge, the right-hand cabinet box, etc. They destroyed it (with my blessing), but it's down, and the ReStore corner cabinet is ready to go up in its place (it's just resting on the counter backsplash in the picture above). 

So, yes...definitely progress.

That stuff on the drawer fronts is wood filler...pre-sanded.
I filled in the design, but was too lazy to move/cover the
contents of the cabinets in order to sand them down.
In the kitchen queue this week?
  • Electrician coming on Wednesday for an estimate
  • Sand the drawer fronts
  • Sand/wood fill the cabinet frames
  • Sand the upper cabinet that I bought for the fridge surround
  • Find a range hood already
  • Order a trash cabinet?
  • Maybe work on cleaning up the insides of the cabinets - they have old contact paper/years of grime caked in them
  • Try to sand down the walls/ceiling where things have been removed so I can paint them in the future
  • Purchase de-glosser and paint for the cabinets!!!
Sometimes I start to think about all of the big (and little) things that still need to happen - countertops, building a spice drawer, building the fridge surround and pantry, finding a desk, installing the floor, cleaning, painting, reorganizing - and I get overwhelmed. But, like I said before, the project has taken off on its own, and I guess I just have to go with it.

That said, I for sure had, like, four different freak-out moments in the last few days where I'd look around the kitchen and realize there's no going back. This is in motion, even though it seems to be happening independently of my plan. I feel like this is what pregnancy is like, too. You have a visual of the end product, but the journey to get there is fraught with mistakes and panic and buyer's remorse. And, you know, good things, too: Excitement and hope and dreaming out loud. Things can get crazy - maybe worse - before they get better. With the kitchen, it helps immensely to keep that inspirational end-visual in mind as motivation. No doubt that's a metaphor for about a billion other things in my life right about now, too.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! It's totally progress! And you're right, once you start the train in motion, there is no going back...so just roll with it (haha) and you will get to the end!



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