96) Welcome to my kitchen!

We are currently having our kitchen refitted.  J and I spent last Sunday packing all the pots, pans, tins and dry goods into boxes, which are now living in the garage.  (The boxes normally hold yarn.  My yarn is currently living in black bin bags, in my studio.)  Oh, and moving the two fridges, the washer/dryer and the dishwasher out of the kitchen and into temporary homes.

Tear-out started Monday; I didn’t take any ‘before’ pictures, though I think J did, but on Monday evening, it all looked like this:

The ceiling is down because we need a new, non-saggy one installed; we won’t be living with exposed beams in this house!  That yellow colour is the paint we’ve had on our kitchen walls since we moved in; the strange, plaster-brown colour between the yellow areas and the white shadows of the original units is the original wallpaper.  It’s very odd stuff; marbled beige:

Especially when you consider that this was the original colour of the floor:

Baby-poop brown, anyone?  What an appealing kitchen!  Oh – those two buckets?  In this shot, they are supporting/protecting that copper pipe which is running past them.  That is a gas pipe.  Nearly three metres of it, and completely unsupported.  (Hint: not safe).

As of today, Saturday, the new ceiling is in (complete with lights), the re-wiring has been done, the gas pipe is re-routed and safe, and the new floor is in:

Diagonals!!  I’m hoping that this gives the kitchen, which is otherwise small, and quite plain, a bit of zip and zing.  There’s a risk it’s going to be overwhelming, but, like a feature carpet in a small hallway, I’m hoping it’ll work.

Ahh, yes.  The re-wiring.  Building regulations change so often round here that it seems quite normal for the original electrics to be ‘illegal’ when you come to redecorate.  Sometimes, you’re allowed to leave them as they are, sometimes not.   There is now a law that says that electrical sockets can’t be within a certain distance of a sink – fair enough, but this is quite a long distance, and this is not a large kitchen.  So a fair few sockets have had to move, and we are waiting for the plaster to dry so we can paint.  It’s the thick bits of plaster we’re still waiting for; the bits, in fact, that fill in the old sockets.

It seems obvious to me that paint should go on before the new units go in (and, ideally, before the new floor goes down, but hey ho).  Kitchen fitters in general seem to think that this is a bit crazy, and I’m starting to realise that this is because they would have to down tools and wait for the plaster to dry, then the paint, before continuing.  Which, if you’re trying to fit a maximum number of jobs into a minimum amount of time, is clearly not user friendly.  On the other hand: I’m still right.  Paint first is *clearly* better.

J and I are hoping to do most of the painting this weekend.  Wish us luck.

Kitchen! Kitchen! Kitchen!! Wheeee!!!

'tis done! And it looks fantastic! I am so chuffed with it – it's really come together well. And on time. We seem to have oceans of storage space – which is a good thing, it was planned that way – and all the cupboards seem enormous! The wall cupboards are much taller than the old ones (3 shelves instead of 2!), and the base units along the cooker wall are 10cm deeper than the old ones. Plus, of course, there are now base units along the old radiator wall, too!

Of course, there are all kinds of little things left to do – some sealing round the sink, some paint touch-ups, and we need to buy and install the upstands around the edge of the worktop. And the decorative cornice that goes round the base of the cupboards isn't attached yet, or the under-cupboard lighting that it will hide. But, essentially, It Is Done. And It Is *Good*. 🙂

More photos to follow…

Yellow! Yellow walls!

Two coats of paint went on last night, pretty much according to plan. And… the walls are looking good! Especially the wall formerly known as 'radiator wall'. This is the wall that will not be obscured (above worktop height) by units, so This Is Important.

However, I still hate the evil joint tape, and re-iterate my dislike for even slightly glossy paint on walls. Matt! Matt paint is what walls want! Soft, almost powdery looking matt paint that of zero specularity! Gentle, forgiving matt paint that hides all lumps, bumps and imperfections! Sadly, matt paint is a grease sponge and not very washable, thus is a bad choice for kitchens. There is a reason why "Kitchen and Bathroom" paint only comes in semi-gloss – it's non-absorbent and washable. Hmmmph.

The joint tape has sadly left a noticeable indentation in the joint filler that we have failed to Polyfill unto unobtrusiveness 🙁 I *think* and am fervently hoping that the joints will both be hidden by wall units – at least one will be, for certain sure. Both, I think. Hope. It's nothing that will show up on a photograph (which explains why all those 'one day makeover' DIY shows manage to make everything look spangly without 2 weeks of back-breaking prep work for the whole team), but frustrating after all the hard work that was put into it – and not even by me. 🙁

I was surprised by the sheer *yelllowness* of the walls this morning. I thought we'd picked a colour that was pretty white, but yellowish (rather than pinkish or brownish, which describes most 'magnolia' type colours). At any rate, I thought it was much less yellow than the units (which I didn't have time to check before I left for work this morning), in order to provide a contrast. There are two possible explanations:

  • The kitchen is going to be very, very yellow
  • I was wrong about the paint colour

Hmmm. I think I'd rather that the kitchen turned out hyper-yellow. Not, you understand, because I have a pathological objection to being wrong or anything (ahem), but because I'd rather have a contrast between the walls and the units than have it too blendy-inny. And yellow is a bright, happy, sunshiny colour anyway.

The other possibility, I suppose, is that it currently looks far yellower than it is, because it used to be pinkish/brownish/polyfillerish/plasterboardish and I haven't got used to it yet. Mmmmmaybe… 😉

On schedule! Boo-YAHH!!

Got primer on the walls last night. 2 people, 2 brushes, 1 evening. Does this make me worried about tonights goal of 2 coats of paint (with a 5 hour gap between them)? No, not at all, because:

  1. We don't have to sand, hoover or dust anything before we can start tonight
  2. Similarly, the floor is already all protected by plastic dustsheet
  3. Dulux Trade Primer can only be applied by brush cos it's all runny. This is slow. Dulux Kitchen and Bathroom paint, however, is much thicker and so can be applied with a roller (of which we have two, with matching, clean heads). This is much quicker
  4. I got into work at 8 this morning, which means I can go home at 4:30, and therefore actually start painting at 5pm. The observant will notice that this means the earliest I can start the second coat is 10pm
  5. There is always the option of finishing the second coat tomorrow morning before work
  6. I am now so far beyond tired that I have entered the sparkly, jittery world at the other end and have limitless amounts of physical energy and boundless optimism (but can't concentrate to save my life). I'd feel better about this if I didn't have a meeting with some kind of boss-man in a couple of hours.

Hmmm. The optimism may be dying; I just noticed that I have a meeting 4:00 till 5:00… Arse.

Many more photographs have been taken, by the way (but get progressively less interesting as the walls get neater) – I will link some of them to their rightful spots as soon as they have been uploaded.

No longer impossible…

Well, definitely getting there on the kitchen front. The wall is up again, thanks to the (almost) tireless efforts of Martyn. Many, many lesser holes have been filled due to the equal tirelessness of Alex. Much wallpaper, excess filler and wayward paint has been tamed due to the skill and powertools of James. And I've been fussing and puttering and sanding and fine-filling and doing all kinds of less structural or electrical jobs round the edges. The schedule is tight, but does actually look attainable.

I'm very glad I stayed in Cambridge on Thursday night – that was the point at which the whole thing turned around and started going forwards again. Up until that point, it felt as if we were dismantling more than we were creating. All in a good cause, of course, but it all lengthens the project, and the deadline on this one is hard… But on Thursday, the first two sheets of plasterboard went back up, and didn't make too much of a fuss about it, either. (Or at least, Martyn didn't swear too much about it if they did!)

I had a lovely relaxing weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday at my parents' – wow, it's just occurred to me that I only actually spent one full day there. Felt like a much longer break than that!), and got back to the fun that is DIY for Bank Holiday Monday.

The main discovery at this stage was that the jointing tape they sell at Homebase is worse than useless. You're supposed to use this stuff to bridge the gap between two pieces of plasterboard – you skim the gap with joint filler, lay the tape over (soaked and all), then top with more filler. Well, Martyn did a really fantastic job with all this on Monday (aided greatly by his glamorous tape-assistant Alex), but by Tuesday morning, all the tape was curling under along its edges and pulling away from the wall. So we had to pull it off, sand down the filler and add more where necessary – what a waste of time and effort!

So that had to be re-done last night. We also bought the paint (which is a relief to have done!), some roller heads that won't stain the paint red or green, very wide masking tape, more electrical outlets and other assorted goodies. I am now resigned to the fact that the deadline on this is way too short to get the walls as lovely as they are in the living room, and in any case, the only way to do that would probably be to replace *all* the walls. So the rest of the evening was devoted to making the walls as flat as possible (apart from Martyn, who wired up a very swanky setup for the washer and dishwasher to be plugged into – circuit breaker {as spotted by J} above the worktop, plugs below), and actually *tidying* tools away. You wouldn't know it to look at the living room, but there's actually significantly less stuff in there than there was yesterday.

I have been up very early for the last two mornings, sanding and filling, sanding and filling. 6am yesterday, 7am today. And the nights have been getting later, too. All of which presumably explains why I have been rambling on for several paragraphs now about the same thing. Well, the end is definitely in sight, anyway. The proposed schedule is as follows:

  • Tonight: lightly sand all walls, hoover them, remove excess dust with damp cloth and prime (primer/sealer for plaster and plasterboard). This takes 18 hours to dry, so needs to be done on its very own evening.
  • Tomorrow: If we can manage it, *two* coats of paint. There's supposed to be 5 hours between coats, so this might not happen. We'll see.
  • Friday before work: Another coat of wall-paint, if not acheived the night before
  • Friday evening: Ceiling paint. We need to have washed the ceiling at some point before this, which is always fun. We're only expecting the ceiling to need one coat, though… Ruth and Roly are arriving on Friday, I think. I'm pretty sure they are, anyway… 😉
  • Saturday: The kitchen starts getting fitted. And I'm off dancing for the day, assuming I can still stand.
  • Sunday: More dancing. Kitchen finished apart from small details like painting woodwork, re-attaching the door, skirting boards and upstands (which I haven't ordered yet…). Curry. Sleep. Mmmmm… Sleeeeeeep….

So, think we'll make it? Heeee. Exciting again, now 🙂

It just goes on and on…

Well, we gave up on the most damaged wall and pulled it off entirely on Tuesday night. I think that was definitely the right decision to make; it needed some rewiring, it was cursed with lumpy wallpaper apparently applied using HugTight Sticky Glue (name that book…), and it had the worst tile holes of the lot. We were somewhat surprised to find no battens between the plasterboard and the breezeblock; just blobs of cementey-gluey stuff. This house is full of surprises, and I'm seriously reconsidering the plan to change the bathroom around.

The other walls are getting there, though. Most of the wallpaper is off, or at least subdued, and after comedy radiator pipe-ends not fitting on Tuesday, we got it removed last night. The pipes are still hanging down the walls; they will eventually be capped off near the ceiling, but that will require draining the system and making darn sure the end caps fit – without the help of any threaded parts. I decided that it would be far too much of a disaster if we got it wrong, and so it would be left for the fitter to do. But at least we can prep behind the radiator now – some of which will be visible in the new scheme of things…

Oh, and just to make things more interesting, J cut his hand quite nastily yesterday (actually looks far worse in real life than in the photo). DIY hero?? Nah, shopping casualty – packaging breakage on a 4-pack of 2 litre cola bottles. D'oh!

I was originally intending to go up to Middlesbrough tonight for Easter, straight after work. In the circumstances, however, I think I'll postpone till tomorrow morning. It'd be nice if I could go up knowing that there are at least 4 intact walls in my kitchen. When the fitter said there would be a 2 week gap between de-installing and installing the kitchens, I was quite disappointed; I thought that was way more time than I needed (even accounting for Easter weekend). I wasn't expecting the thing to put up quite this level of resistance, though.

Next step, once the walls are up: fill all large and medium 'dings', seal and undercoat. Further ding-filling requirements to be assessed once undercoat is on; experience suggests that once the wall is all one colour, it will be much easier to identify the bits that need more work.

Floor is down, walls are a mess…

Well, the floor went down on Saturday; despite this room being much, much smaller than the dining room and us having lots more experience than last time we tackled this job, it didn't take much less time. It does look great, though. No 'during' photographs were taken, so you can only imagine the yuckiness that ensued when we had to remove not one but two layers of lino tiles, which had apparently been stuck down with tar. I mean, I know the last occupants of this place were heavy smokers, but really… 😉 The only serious comedy moment was in B&Q, when we went to buy the rest of the laminate we needed. We needed two packs – and there were two packs (both opened!) left. In the whole store. I don't like to think what I would have done if anyone else had been after them.

Having sacrificed a whole Saturday to laying laminate in a house belonging to someone else, the always superb Alex and Martyn showed up again on Sunday (with Jez, here visiting from windy NZ!) to help us get started on prepping the walls. They are lovely. (Alex and Martyn; not the walls!)

Aaaaargh!! The walls!! Quite apart from the aforementioned tile disaster, several walls feature a heavily-textured wallpaper that has formed some sort of perfect bond with the underlying plasterboard. Now, you can't steam wallpaper off the walls in this place, because the plasterboard just disintegrates. This isn't usually a problem, because all you have to do is remove the top layer of the paper, dampen the underneath and it just washes off. Not this stuff. I think water makes it stick better to the wall. So we were reduced to scraping and sanding the darn stuff off (or at least flat). Yeesh.

On the up side, we've decided that the kitchen fitter chap is not responsible for the removing-the-tiles mess. We think that it was due to a previous f*ckw!t inhabitant who removed tiles in the manner previously described, and who then stuck up new tiles over the old yuckiness.

Ugh. Someone else can have this kitchen.

Ugh… Today was mostly taken up with opening and checking the contents of each kitchen item for damage… They are heavy, take up an incredible amount of space and are very difficult to lift when they are lying flat on the floor (because you can't get your fingers under them). It was very tedious, uncomfortable work and I didn't like it. On the upside, only 4 items show any damage, which according to others' anecdotal accounts, is not too bad at all.

The floor goes in tomorrow; Alex and Martyn are coming round to help. Since we've already done the dining room in the same stuff, it shouldn't be too bad…

April Fool’s Day – perfect for kitchen deliveries

Yesterday, before pootling off to dancing, I took a bunch of photos (here) showing the parlous state of the kitchen. It looks like something off a 'tenants from hell' documentary. In our defence, the scabbier walls have already had the paper partly removed (and have been in that state for several months. Ahem. Thanks Alex) 😉

Also, the kitchen seems to be in danger of being overtaken by plastic bags which have hitherto resided down the side of the fridge. I don't know how they all fitted. I think we have too many plastic bags. The photos start with a shot of J enjoying the life of luxury we knew before all this started (though the packing boxes are starting to make their presence felt). There is then something that approximates a panorama of the kitchen as it was, including the wall we started working on on Sunday. Incidentally, the fridge we moved is taller than me, and occupied roughly 2/3 of that wall. It can be seen, just, through the door in this shot.

So, having taken a night off to go dancing yesterday, I spent 6 hours cooking tonight. I think I've cooked enough food for about 11 meals for 2 people, all to be frozen. The freezer is unaffected by all this work (it lives in the cupboard under the stairs), and the microwave will be kept to hand, so we will be able to eat in the two weeks we have no kitchen. The new kitchen is being delivered (as flat-pack) sometime on Thursday. The old kitchen will be removed on Thursday evening. I've got Thursday and Friday off work, and the floor is being laid on Saturday. We then have two weeks to fix the walls (and ceiling, which just needs a re-paint) until the bloke comes back to fit the new kitchen on the 17th/18th April. When, incidentally, Ruth and Roly are visiting, and I'm going on a dance workshop all weekend (because I like making life interesting). It should all, fingers crossed, be do-able.

Enough to feed an army

Yesterday, before pootling off to dancing, I took a bunch of photos (here) showing the parlous state of the kitchen. It looks like something off a 'tenants from hell' documentary. In our defence, the scabbier walls have already had the paper partly removed (and have been in that state for several months. Ahem. Thanks Alex) 😉

Also, the kitchen seems to be in danger of being overtaken by plastic bags which have hitherto resided down the side of the fridge. I don't know how they all fitted. I think we have too many plastic bags. The photos start with a shot of J enjoying the life of luxury we knew before all this started (though the packing boxes are starting to make their presence felt). There is then something that approximates a panorama of the kitchen as it was, including the wall we started working on on Sunday. Incidentally, the fridge we moved is taller than me, and occupied roughly 2/3 of that wall. It can be seen, just, through the door in this shot.

So, having taken a night off to go dancing yesterday, I spent 6 hours cooking tonight. I think I've cooked enough food for about 11 meals for 2 people, all to be frozen. The freezer is unaffected by all this work (it lives in the cupboard under the stairs), and the microwave will be kept to hand, so we will be able to eat in the two weeks we have no kitchen. The new kitchen is being delivered (as flat-pack) sometime on Thursday. The old kitchen will be removed on Thursday evening. I've got Thursday and Friday off work, and the floor is being laid on Saturday. We then have two weeks to fix the walls (and ceiling, which just needs a re-paint) until the bloke comes back to fit the new kitchen on the 17th/18th April. When, incidentally, Ruth and Roly are visiting, and I'm going on a dance workshop all weekend (because I like making life interesting). It should all, fingers crossed, be do-able.

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