destruction!

Since I started the account of the kitchen renovation a little late, I’m behind on posting what the kitchen looks like now.  It is vastly different from where it started, and even more so than when it was demolished.

Our kitchen had a few surprises for us during demolition.  Largely, we found out that the wiring, which we had thought was all up to code (as it was a condition of our purchase on the house), had to be completely replaced.  Apparently the terms of our purchase agreement had stated that all knob and tube wiring in the house needed to be brought up to code.  Since the kitchen wiring was no longer knob and tube, it did not fall under this provision.  Even with the update, it still needed about $1,000 more to be brought fully up to code.

A second surprise was a hidden built-in on the North Wall, which came to light after the large cabinet was ripped out.  John and I always thought it was just poor planning that left the large space between the kitchen and the back landing shelves unused- but as it turns out, this space was occupied by this lovely wallpapered shelf:

builtin2

The shelf contained cinnamon sticks, toothpicks, and old glass pill bottle, and the ubituitous paper-towel holder.  My house, at one point, contained at least ten of these paper-towel holders- hung in the basement, the shop, the carriage house, and on the backs of kitchen cabinets.  It was a bit of a joke to us that we would uncover another one here.

As this wall is slated to hold our custom-made Hoosier cabinet, we are thankful that the built-in is not worth keeping.

Another surprise was the floor.  We had been hoping that the underlying floor would be a continuation of those on the rest of the first floor- maple with stair-stepped corners and center inlays.  We were optimistic that it would be, since the room was likely not used as a kitchen originally.  In tearing up the top layer and its subfloor, we found we actually had several layers of linoleum to contend with:

Linoleum layers #1 and #2.

Linoleum layers #1 and #2.

We believe the third layer dates back to the late 1800s or early 1900s as it differed very much in texture from the later versions above it, and was likely put down when the room came to be used as a kitchen:

Floor layer #3, century-old linoleum.

Floor layer #3, century-old linoleum.

We remained guardedly optimistic when the wood floors were exposed, as there were no large holes or major damages visible. They were covered, however, in very sticky, dusty, old adhesive.  Our contractors, however, were still not sure the floors could be saved :

Exposed wood floor, with adhesive.

Exposed wood floor, with adhesive.

The walls also held a few surprises- mainly, gaping holes that went all the way to the exterior brick- which explained a lot about why the kitchen was so cold last winter!  These huge holes were covered only by the cabinets that were installed in front of them:

Gaping hole, East and South walls.

Gaping hole, East and South walls.

East wall, near ceiling.

East wall, near ceiling.

My favorite thing regarding the holes, is that someone, at some point, did try to insulate the wall.  By stuffing it with tinfoil. By the electrical outlet. Genius:

Tinfoil patch.

Tinfoil patch.

To fight the cold (we live in Wisconsin, where it can get as cold as -30 degrees in winter), we had these holes patched up and will have a kicktoe heater installed below the cabinets.  The entire house is warmed through steam heat in radiators, although we believe it was originally heated by woodstoves (as evidenced by large circular patches on the plaster walls, and visible pipes going throughout the house to attach the radiators to the main unit in the basement after the house was plumbed).  We are moving the kitchen radiator from the South Wall to the West Wall, where it will no longer be right next to the door (and paving the way for my double ovens), and installing a radiator in the first room in the basement- directly under the kitchen, so that the heat will rise.

Another surprise- they just kept on coming at this point- was the old pipe that was hidden behind one of the upper cabinets.  This pipe was installed after the house was plumbed, we think to serve as a drainage pipe for a sink that was in one of the upstairs bedrooms (the room that we believe once was the master bedroom, before it was split into a small bedroom and bath).  We can’t really think of anything else that this pipe could have been connected to- although there is no way to really know if something used to be upstairs that is no longer there that would have required such a large pipe.

Upon encountering the pipe, our kitchen designer suggested that we built a soffit that would extend all the way around the room in order to hide it.  John and I didn’t like that idea, so we decided to just embrace the pipe.  We have pipes in nearly every other room of the house, going from radiator to radiator- so we might as well let this one stay in the open as well.  It is visible in this picture of the East Wall:

Massive rusty old pipe!

Massive rusty old pipe!

That picture does a fair job of depicting just how awful a state our kitchen was in during the demo stage.  This is when the kitchen became totally useless to us, and necessitated us moving the old fridge into the parlor and the microwave into the dining room.  We have been living on microwave cookery and chinese takeout for nearly two months now. Luckily, the only way to go from here is up!

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