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A Woodworker Builds A Kitchen
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Tilt Out Drawer Front Glass doors to help open up the look Hidden trash compartment Whirlpool microwave Rotating pie shelf Raised  panel door on dishwasher Maple window sill Plate, bowl, and cup cabinet to break up the bottom line on the wall cabinets Pull out spice drawer Drop in range Full extention drawer slides with dovetailed drawers Henckel knife set Neptune sink by Elkay Wilsonart "Navy Legacy" Laminate Tumbled marble tile work 1000 linear feet of custom wainescoting Solid maple doors Hardware by Amerock Ceramic tile floor Recessed 12 volt lighting Topcoated with Krystal water white conversion varnish

In the spring of 2002, my wife and I decided it was time to renovate our kitchen. In terms of layout and materials, the kitchen was essentially original (circa 1977). The previous owners of the house had "undated" (not necessarily updated) the kitchen with a coat of paint over the oak cabinets and new wallpaper and flooring.

It took a year before I would find time to actually begin work on the kitchen. In late April 2002, we started looking at books and magazine for design "clues" and in May, the demolition work began.

While the original kitchen was certainly usable, it was by no means the highlight of our home. The layout was rather basic with a typically shallow work triangle. There were two aspects of the kitchen that we especially disliked. Two of the four walls in the kitchen contained unsightly and space wasting bulkheads. From the very start of the project, we knew these bulkheads were something that would completely affect the design of the new kitchen. I cut strategically located holes about 4"x4" in the bulkheads, placed my digital camera into through the hole, and snapped a few pictures to get an idea of the contents of the bulkhead. I figured that the bulkhead was there to conceal plumbing, ductwork, or electrical lines. I was in luck! There was nothing inside the bulkhead. What a waste of space! This was the first (of just a few) joyful moments throughout the project.

The second aspect of the kitchen that disappointed us was the lack of counter space. The existing kitchen's countertop was severely shortened by a wall oven. As much as we could appreciate the eye level view inside the oven, the countertop space it consumed was far too undesirable.

Backups are a Good Thing
I knew that this project would take months to complete and that it might require the assistance or flat-out physical help from a few people of the "trade" (especially cabinetry). I am acquainted with several people who I knew could back me up in the event of problems. These areas included general construction, electrical, and flooring. I figured that the rest of the problems could be solved with the help of Internet forums and magazine articles. Notice, there is no mention of assistance from Home Depot and that's the way it would and should be.

I have to extend my sincerest thanks to Raymond C. Cole Jr. for making the impossible, possible and the hopeless, hopeful. His inventory of cabinetry supplies is only outshined by his endless array of good advice. Ray never hesitated to drop almost everything he was doing to look at one of my drawings or to solve one of my problems. Even the most outrageous problems were wistfully dispelled by his impeccable advice. This is what a lifetime of woodworking has bestowed upon him. Ray operates a full time, one-man cabinetry and fine furniture shop in Forest Hill, MD.

Designing Designs
As a woodworker, it's not uncommon for me to appreciate organic designs and material. It is typical of me to incorporate tree, leaf, or other nature related themes in my projects. However, I knew that this kitchen would also need to be "sellable" in the event we should ever decide to move. So from this point, I knew that exotic woods and "artsy" designs were not going to work.

We started off by jotting down ideas and photocopying pictures from magazines. Next, we made rough drawings and started to develop color combinations to get a feel for the kitchen. Eventually, we got around to building a scaled down version of the kitchen with a cardboard box, which didn't help as much as I had hoped. We heavily considered the possibility of using an island or peninsula in the kitchen. In fact, we tried for weeks to develop a layout that would allow us to incorporate one. But since our kitchen is only 14' x 14' , an island of usable size just seemed to dominate the design too heavily. We ended up keeping the antique maple table and chairs that were given to us several years ago by a kind neighbor.

Hardware:

  • Drawer knobs and pulls by Amerock
  • Blum "Tandem" drawer slides for the drawers
  • Accu-ride slides for the pull out trash compartment and spice drawer
  • Blum self-closing hinges

Lumber and sheet goods:

  • 330 Board feet of maple lumber (from Groff & Groff Lumber, Frank Thomas Sawmill)
  • 170 Board feet of poplar lumber (from Groff & Groff Lumber)
  • 20 Full sheets of ¾" melamine (in "Hard Rock Maple") from Ray Cole
  • 2 Full sheets of ¼" maple plywood
  • 1 Full sheet of paper backed maple veneer
  • 2 Sheets of "Navy Legacy" laminate from Wilsonart

Kitchen Features:

  • Poplar wainscoting ceiling (1000+ linear feet !)
  • Built-in range
  • Full extension, dovetailed maple drawers
  • Marble backsplash and listello molding
  • Ceramic tile floor
  • Maple wainscoting
  • Hidden trash compartment
  • Slide out spice drawer
  • Recessed low voltage light fixtures by WAC Lighting and Progressive Lighting
  • Solid maple countertop edging
  • Rope light on top of cabinets
  • All cabinets topcoated with Krystal Conversion Varnish

New Appliances, etc:

  • GE Drop-In range
  • Whirlpool Microwave
  • In-Sink-Erator Disposal
  • Whirlpool Dishwasher
  • GE Toaster Oven
  • JA Henckel Knives
  • Neptune Sink by Elkay

The Cost Factor
We initially figured upon spending $6000 to $7000 on the kitchen including the appliances. Though there were receipts stacked a mile high, we did manage to keep within our budget boundaries. The final total comes in at around $6100, which we feel very comfortable with. I had hoped that the renovation would increased our homes value by at least $15,000 and I am confident that we succeed in doing so. Ultimately, I have to ask myself if it was worth the 4 months and 40+ bags of sawdust that it took to complete the kitchen. For the sake of knowing that we did it ourselves from design to demolition to construction and installation, it was indeed worth it. Would we ever do it again? Now that may be a different story.

Follow Up:

In October of 2003 (only a year after the project was complete) we decided to sell the home and find a new place to live. We sold the house in 3 days and for 10% more than we were expecting. Our agent said the kitchen was the highlight of the home.

Ye' Olde Kitchen
April '02


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Demolish This!
May '02


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The Good Stuff

September '02


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