Kitchen Makeover Part 1: Before

Setting the Scene

When I bought my house, everything was scratched, dented, and stinky. Let me reiterate: stinky.  All flooring had to be removed while wearing masks to make it possible to do further work in the house. Someone had allowed large dogs to ruin floors, cabinets, and doors, to name a few things. There are still visible scratch marks in the glass of the patio doors.

What Was Wrong?

The first photo actually makes it look much better than it was:

  • The 27-year-old particle-board counter-tops were literally crumbling from underneath (little sawdust snow-storms when you touched it).
  • The base cabinets on the sink side were all severely rotted.
  • A plumbing leak at the garbage disposal had been just let go, and the stench was terrible.
  • The sink had rusty spots.

The large laundry closet in the far right corner took up a great deal of the space, and lent a claustrophobic air. It seemed to block some of the light, and standing at the stove made it feel that you were cooking in a hallway. My mother made the suggestion to tear the laundry closet out, and I've been happy that I listened. The closet in the far left corner had the hot water heater in it, with no drip pan and no drain (it was seeping water; right into the floor). The water was running under the wall and into the master bath on the other side. The mind boggles at the idiocy of putting a big tank of boiling water inside an interior closet with no drains or safeties! One of the first things my father helped me do was install a short, wide, "fat-boy" style water heater in the spacious crawl space. Down there, if it leaks, it will never damage the house. The appliances were dead, and the light fixture was damaged.

Why The Insanity?

At this point, you may be thinking that I'm insane, but this house was a foreclosure, and was cheaper than the local market value for a house of it's size. How much cheaper? By nearly a third! For someone on a tight budget, it was a DIY gem. It was also one of the very few houses out of dozens that I saw, which had no rotten joists, no rotting walls, no flooding basement, and no termite infestation. This is a wet area with a lot of population turnover, and house maintenance is often neglected.

The Flooring Sandwich!

When removing the old base cabinets, I was terrified that the floor underneath would be rotten, but the sub-floor had been saved by the flooring sandwich! That's the term my parents and I invented to describe what we found. On top the sub-floor there was originally vinyl flooring. On top of this, someone had put down sheets of thin plywood, and then another layer of the same exact vinyl flooring! On top of that was a layer of thin chip-board, and a different kind of vinyl flooring, and then on top of that was another sheet of thin plywood and the green stick-down vinyl tiles you see in the photo. Everyone who saw this was incredulous. It had, however, trapped water from the various plumbing leaks in the nice absorbent particle board, between the waterproof layers of vinyl, and saved the sub-floor from damage! The particle board layer was rotted, but the sub-floor underneath was perfect. These photos also do no justice to the hideous nature of this particular shade of green. Imagine rotting moss smeared onto old worn out Army olive drab fabric, with a layer of dirt and grime. Next entry is all improvements! :)  

The laundry closet took up a great deal of space in the small kitchen.
The seeping water heater (with no drain pan) in the left closet.