Woodworker Builds A Kitchen
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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
knobs and pulls by Amerock
"Tandem" drawer slides for the drawers
slides for the pull out trash compartment and spice drawer
and sheet goods:
Board feet of maple lumber (from Groff & Groff Lumber, Frank
Board feet of poplar lumber (from Groff & Groff Lumber)
Full sheets of ¾" melamine (in "Hard Rock Maple")
from Ray Cole
Full sheets of ¼" maple plywood
Full sheet of paper backed maple veneer
Sheets of "Navy Legacy" laminate from Wilsonart
wainscoting ceiling (1000+ linear feet !)
extension, dovetailed maple drawers
backsplash and listello molding
out spice drawer
low voltage light fixtures by WAC Lighting and Progressive Lighting
maple countertop edging
light on top of cabinets
cabinets topcoated with Krystal Conversion Varnish
JA Henckel Knives
Sink by Elkay
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.
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
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