Handyman BlogLine

THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

PT. III – Say Goodbye To Formica!!! Cori and I are, by no means, professional chefs.  However, we do very much appreciate a good meal.  After years of mastering meat and potatoes, I’m actually becoming quite proficient around the kitchen.  Of course, the area in which you operate can either allow the seedlings of culinary creativity to blossom, or snuff out any hope of germination resulting in yet another frozen burger on the grill.  One key ingredient is the right work surface.  The countertop and sink are every bit as vital as the appliances when preparing a meal.  How much room do you have to work?  Can the sink hold enough dirty dishes so you don’t have to stop halfway through prepping the meal to do them?  And when you do get to the dishes, do you have enough room to actually wash them? There are some gorgeous options out there when it comes to countertops.  The natural beauty of stone.  The maintenance-free enjoyment of solid surface.  There are even some nice colors and styles to choose from in the world of formica.  Then there was our countertop.  The cream color is actually a blend of several different colors.  There are swirls of antique white, ocher, and parchment with whisps of bile yellow and the subtle undertones of a very light melanoma brown.  Over the years, the countertop sagged with age.  Thankfully, it sagged in the middle.   So when things (eggs, etc.) rolled away from you, at least it rolled to the middle and not off the edge and onto the floor or our feet.  With the countertop, came a porcelain overlay double sink.  Double the bowls, half the usefulness, as I would say.  A couple of plates and a pot, and the sink is stuffed.  I guess it did force us to stay on top of the dishes.  Like just about everything in this house, the sink and countertop were original.  Sinks of a certain age have their own version of osteoporosis.  The edges become chipped and flakey and can become quite dangerous.  For the life of me, I can’t understand how no one sliced off a finger on those little piranha-like shards when wiping down the counter and sink.  No question that this tired old pair had to go the way of Bevis & Butthead.  Not really sure why anyone liked them in the first place,...

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THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

PT. II – The Lighting… The next step in our fabulous kitchen makeover was to install the under cabinet lighting.  The flooring upgrade was remarkable.  The appliance swap out was exciting, and made the cabinets look much better…not to mention the energy savings!  I even tried to float the idea that we needn’t go any further in our little renovation. “Wow, these appliances actually make the cabinets look good.  Much better!” I said. “Not good enough,” Cori was quick to respond. So, in comes Jim Venuti, our trusted electrician, to install the under cabinet lights.  Originally, this was something I was planning to tackle on my own.  I know my way around the black/white/ground of your basic 12/2 or 14/2 wire.  I figured I’d pull the power from existing outlets in the kitchen for the switches, and I’d be good.  Problem was that we have three separate blocks of upper cabinets.  So that means three different switches.  Sure, you could snake the wires down the wall and into the basement (which I attempt later in the proceedings), but who wants to bother with that?  It couldn’t be that annoying to flip three switches every time you want to turn the lights on and off, could it?  Jim wouldn’t here of that. “What, you wanna buy some of those big chunky lights from Home Depot?  Maybe just get the plug-in type and call it a day?” he asked. Maybe. “You’d see them from every angle.  You’d even see them from the living room for Pete’s sake!” Jim exclaimed Then he did a very smart thing.  He had me bring Cori along when I went over to his house to re-sign him for another advertising contract on The Handyman Hotline.  One look at his under cabinet lighting on one dimmer switch was all it took.  It wasn’t a few days before he was cutting into our walls to snake the wires (which he makes look very easy).  Jim ran the wires into the basement where he connected them to a small transformer (this one looks like a race car!) so the power can be scaled back for these low level lights.  Maybe four hours to run the wiring, and a couple of hours the next day to install and bingo!  We had gorgeous and continuous lighting on a dimmer that made the cabinets look even better!  These tiny lights are about...

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THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

PT.  I – FLOORED One of the areas most people would love to change in their home, yet may not have the money to do properly, is the kitchen.  Who wouldn’t love to gut the place and rebuild with a high end “this”, a top shelf “that”, and Viking appliances as far as the eyes can see!  There are two ways to pull off a kitchen remodel with a limited budget.  1) Scale down  the size and scope of the project…throw out the idea of that six burner Viking stove and go with appliances that are more economical and energy efficient.  Or 2) Tackle your kitchen re-do piece-meal.  No one ever said you had to do things all at once.  Sure, if you’re ripping the place apart down to the studs, things need to happen fast.  The only thing more miserable than living with a non-functional kitchen is living with a non-existent one.  However, if you’re not planning on a layout change and the cabinets are well made and in good shape, then you might be in the market for a minor face-lift (as opposed to major “A monkey just ate my face!” facial reconstruction).  Why not take on parts of the project one at a time?  That’s what the plan was at casa de Egan.  I guess you could say my wife Cori and I are in the middle of a four-year kitchen makeover.  Now don’t give me that, “Ugh, four years!” crap. Here’s how we’ve been doing it: Several years ago I ripped up the old carpeting that ran throughout the first floor and the linoleum in the kitchen.  We wanted to replace it with hardwood throughout.  Cori wanted pre-finished for the ease and cleanliness of installation.  I wanted unfinished installed, but the sanding process and accompanying mess made that idea a non-starter.  My problem is I don’t like the look of the beveled edges on pre-finished. Enter our friend Russ over at Heritage Floor Covering in Sandwich who showed us laminate flooring.  Wow!  Looks just like real wood, has a textured finish like wood and with no beveled edges.  It also stands up to abuse far better.  We’re talking Ziggy type abuse here.  Our Portuguese Water Wonder Dog can run, slide, skid, crash or generally lie about wet and not damage the floor surface.  Only sand under a table or chair leg could put a scratch...

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