Saturday, November 13, 2010



Note, I am posting updates and snark on Facebook and Twitter. So if you follow me there, well, you can follow me there. And if you don’t follow me there, now’s your opportunity.  Click the Facebook badge over there on the right and beg for my friendship.

For all intents and purposes both of those sites, Facebook especially, have become extensions of Stonekettle Station.

More updates at the end of the post. You know, just in case you feel the compelling need to follow along as I renovate my kitchen.

About the lack of posting:

Not to worry, posting will resume here on Stonekettle Station momentarily.

It’s just that I’m a little busy at the moment.

I’m in the middle of a major kitchen remodel and I’m on a fairly tight timeline. Over the next couple of days I have to a) rip out carpeting (yes, the previous owners carpeted the kitchen), b) rip out the old yellow linoleum that is under the carpet, c) rip out the particle board that’s under the linoleum (honestly, who the hell puts particle board in a kitchen?), d) refurbish, rebuild, and paint the cabinets, e) install the new stove vent hood, f) install the new dishwasher, g) hang French doors, and h) install the new hardwood floor.  Pretty much in that order. 

Then, beginning Monday, I have to prep the plumbing and start pulling the old countertops.

I have to have this project done on time, because the new countertops are currently being made and are scheduled for installation next week (And as a matter of fact, as I write this, the contractor just called with the final measurements and schedule).

This remodel is about four years overdue.

We love this house. It’s a great place. We love the location and the view out over the Matanuska Valley is spectacular. But, the core of the house was built in the 70’s, and then later radically expanded in the late 90’s.  The new portions of the house are built to modern construction standards, but the older parts, including the kitchen, were vintage Partridge Family. Back in the 70’s, there wasn’t much in the way of a building code here in the Alaskan MatSu.  Also, as you’ll recall, back in the 70’s everybody was suffering from a debilitating brain disease that rendered them totally colorblind.  After we bought the place, we spent the first year ripping out bathrooms that were filled with Avocado Green and Harvest Gold fixtures (those bathrooms, all three of them, were also carpeted and floored in particle board. Rotten particle board. The walls had molded and there was extensive water damage. Fun, fun, fun).  I pulled miles of vintage orange, brown, and green shag carpeting out  and replaced it with hardwood flooring. We stripped the walls of dingy faded wallpaper that looked as if it had come from some turn of the century whorehouse on the Klondike.  The monstrous pile of concrete, cast iron, and rock in the living room that purported to be a fireplace was demolished with sledgehammers and replaced with Italian tile.  We painted and painted and painted.  I moved walls.  I build walls.  I finished the unfinished basement, turning it into storage rooms and two rec rooms.  We installed a water filtration system, and new wiring, and lights, and I don’t know what all anymore.  The Kitchen is the last, and most expensive, interior remodel.

As I’ve mentioned on Facebook, the new appliances started arriving last week. The new fridge is larger and more spacious than my first apartment. The new stove is awesome, though the instruction manual is thicker and more complicated than the Space Shuttle User’s Guide.  The rest of the appliances are still crated and waiting in the garage for me to complete the aforementioned work.

So, as I said, I’m likely to be a little scarce around the internets for the next couple of days.  It’s okay though, I really don’t have much to blog about now that the Tea Party and the Conservatives have fixed America. Go USA!

Next spring, we start on the outside.

Back soon.


The old floor is now out. 

Old carpet removed. Rotten carpet pad ditto. 

Honestly folks, you start pulling carpet and you see the dirt and filth under it and you really, really start to wonder why anybody would have carpet in their house at all.  Gah. The new floor will be a zero maintenance composite hardwood designed for wet applications, kitchens specifically.

I spent eight hours on my hands and knees yesterday, chipping out the Linoleum and particle board that was installed underneath the carpet.  The particle board was extensively water damaged from multiple dishwasher malfunctions over the years. Why in the hell the previous owners put particle board and carpet, neither of which are designed to get wet, in a kitchen is one of the great mysteries of the universe. It was a huge job, but the good news is that the subfloor is undamaged – smooth and level and solid. I won’t have to do any repairs to it, or, worse, lay a new layer of plywood over it.  I can just install the new floor right over top of it. So, I got that going for me.

I’m unbelievably stiff and sore today, but the heavy work is done.  Today I’ll remove the old vent hood and dishwasher, then build a cabinet extension and paint the existing cabinets.  The cabinets will be painted white, the new countertops are a deep marbled blue (a type of Corian called “Elderberry”), giving the kitchen a Dutch Country look – and drastically lightening things up.  Remember, it’s dark here for a significant fraction of the year, lighter is better, the old kitchen was like cooking in a cave.



Corian Elderberry. It’s like looking at a Hubble Picture, isn’t it?


So far, I’m on schedule and things are looking better already.

Update 2:

Honestly, did I really end the last update with “things are looking better already?”

Did I?

Because about an hour after I typed that my phone rang.

It was my teenaged son.

“Dad! I need you to come get me, I think I broke my arm.”

He was calling from the local park where he and some friends had gone to snowboard.  Long story short, we spent the next couple of hours in the MatSu Regional Emergency Room.  Nice people. Excellent ER doctor and nurse.  They cut his ski glove off, but managed to work the expensive snowboarding jacket off over the injured arm without having to cut the sleeve off.  It took a while to get the X-rays, seems we were number three after a skiing accident and some guy who’d run into something immovable with his snow machine (never a good idea, unless you enjoy your face looking like something Picasso should have signed).  The kid was right, he had broken his arm. Right radius, just above the wrist. Classic fall injury.  He’s got a huge padded temporary cast and a prescription for pain killers.  Sometime this week after the swelling goes down, we’ll see the orthopedic doctor and get a permanent cast, hopefully one a bit smaller than the monstrosity he has on now.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the kitchen done.

Not even close.

I’ve got the floor out. I’ve got the old dishwasher and the vent hood out.  I’ve got the cabinets out that I needed to relocate, and I’ve got the new cabinet built and installed. I’ve got the structural and electrical modifications done to hang the new vent hood, and have the hood up and in place temporarily to check fit (we have to install a new hi-capacity hood because the new stove puts out a whole lot more BTU’s than the old unit. Plus, the old vent hood was an ugly piece of shit. The new hood is dead quite, but moves enough air to inflate the Hindenburg in about ten minutes).  I’ve got the new dishwasher in place, but not yet hooked up.

And that’s about it.

I’m going to have to take a couple days off this week to get the painting and flooring done.

And so it goes.

Update 3:

Cabinet renovation is complete.

New floor is in.

New appliances are installed.

The kitchen is now mostly operational again. Thankfully. I’m not sure how much longer I could have gone without a functional kitchen.

I still have a bunch of stuff to do, but at least I’m ready for the counter installation – which should occur in the next couple of days, hopefully before Thanksgiving.  I still have cabinet doors to refinish, and trim work, and the wine glass racks, and some shelving, and a few odds and ends – but the kitchen is looking pretty damned good.  Workspace has been significantly enlarged, so has storage space, and the cooking area is now a perfect diamond design with fridge, stove, sink, and prep counter making up the points.  Lighting is improved and the halogen spots in the new vent hood provide brilliant white light in what used to be the kitchen’s darkest corner.

We are delighted with the new appliances.  We spent a hell of a lot of money on equipment, but you know, you really do get what you pay for. 

Once the new countertops are in, and the finish work is done, I’ll post a full summary of the project.


  1. Avocado green... that color is the bane of my exist... everything has been eliminated with the exception of the bathroom... that too will someday be DESTROYED!!

    Don't even get me started on the PANELING...!!!!

  2. [sigh] I guess that's okaaaay. But at the conclusion we demand a photo essay on the lovely results, Jim. Think of it as an easy crowd pleaser that won't garner you more hate mail.

    (Unless it's of the "damn you, Jim, for having such a fantastic kitchen!" variety.)

  3. Do the plumbing first. your gonna drop a wrench on that new hardwood floor and then there you go! !@$%#@*&^(^$*&^*^(*) or something similar with out breaks or pausing for air.

  4. I dunno, is the 70's green and gold any worse than the soft pink bathroom tiles of the '60's?

    speratic- Jim's posting until the kitchen is done!

  5. I'm taking pictures along the way, once it's finished I'll do the obligatory before and after all photo essay.

    Beastly, the timeline is fairly rigid. I've got to stuff in a certain order or it won't work. But, your point is taken, I'll be careful.

    Pamela, true.

  6. Sometimes there are movies set in the 70s and they've done their proper research -- it's odd to feel nostalgic for harvest gold and avocado & black... But neither color holds up well when it gets old. And sad. And so-ooo dated. (grin)

    Dr. Phil

    bacib -- the computer language that came before BASIC.

  7. Gee, I didn't realize you'd been living in my parent's house. They certainly would be surprised by that.

    House was renovated in 1973 right before they bought it. Lovely, fully carpeted & wallpapered harvest gold kitchen, the HG stove still works. Even the cabinets & countertops are harvest gold, with avocado & rust accents. Has the whole 70's color trifecta in one room.

    Which goes with the rest of the house full of short-shag pale gold or orange/rust carpet. Good thing they used the high-end stuff, when it's clean it still looks pretty good. It's really a great house.

    Other than adding a workshop & storage building in the yard, it was the only house we ever lived in that Daddy didn't renovate in some way.

  8. We ripped out our carpet a few years ago. It was so disgusting, I will never, ever live in a house with carpet again. You don't realise until you're elbow-deep in it that there's no real way to clean it.

  9. Better the radius than smashing either the wrist or the hand.

    My last fall shattered the 3rd and 4th meta-carpal, 6 or 7 screws in there now - enough to make flying fun, and the hand doesn't work right anymore - and that is with a very good surgeon.

    This is why I specialize in the apres-ski portion of winter sports.

  10. That will certainly curtail activities over the coming holiday breaks...maybe I should rephrase that and say vacations instead!

    Glad he'll be ok and is on the mend.

  11. I see that your neighbour has a new TV show. That must make everything better.

  12. I missed the debut.

    Almost like I did it on purpose.


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