We’re moving right along now. If you ever have to install kitchen cabinets, take it from me, install the uppers first. It’s tough on your back to reach over the lowers to work on the uppers. Make your life still easier by screwing a cleat on the wall at 54″ above the floor, then resting the upper cabinet on it while you affix it to the wall. The 54″ measurement is 36″ high cabinets and counter plus 18″ of clearance between the counter and the upper cabs. Puts lots of very big screws directly into studs and/or blocking you put in the wall, because cabinets get full of dishware and they’re very heavy when loaded. The real problem with cabinets coming unfastened from the wall and turning all your dishes into china gravel and sending you to the hospital is generally not just the weight. People stand on things to reach high up, and grab the cabinet if (when) they slip, and they pull the cabinet away from the wall. Add that pulling motion to the downward weight of the dishware, and you get earthquake-level destruction.
To keep the kitchen humming, we made a place for dishes and glasses right away. The drawer cabinet on the left has a piece of leftover plywood covered with shellac overspray for a (temporary) countertop, but it’s full of everything to set a table and so forth:
I don’t know why kitchens have acres of cabinet doors in them. I have found that pretty much everything below waist level should be in drawers, not shelves inside cabinets inside doors. With a few exceptions that we’ll get to, all the upper cabinets should either be open, or plain shelves. Kitchens would be better with a lot fewer cabinets, with a spacious pantry right next to it to gather all the clutter in one place. Pantries show everything to you all at once when you’re looking for something, but keep your kitchen proper from being messy. The rule of thumb I use is: Can a stranger find what they’re looking for in your kitchen? If not, you have too many cabinets.
Alrighty, then. With the bad sink demolished and the wall patched up, we can move the stove to its final location. You may have noticed an unexplained elevator shaft or laundry chute or something standing in the corner all of a sudden. It’s empty, except up high as a place where the HVAC ducts make their turn to feed the bathroom. What gives?
I’ll tell you what gives. I. Hate. Corner Cabinets. Hate’m. I despise lazy susans and detest every form of pull-out folderol that kitchen manufacturers use to try to convince you that corner cabinets aren’t a colossal waste of time and money. They never, ever work. Like most problems, I solve it by ignoring it. No corner cabinet is best corner cabinet. The walls will have cabinet runs that die into them, and that’s that.
We’ve installed more subfloor as we go, but we can’t put it off any longer. The big back wall with the windows has got to be stripped down to… I don’t know what, exactly. It was a Home Depot baklava of layers. I started pulling things off and wondered if I ever get to something solid I could trust to start finishing the walls.
I’ve seen all sorts of renovations over the years, and I have a library card and all, but I had to search my mind pretty hard to figure out what I was pulling off the wall.
Way in the cobwebbed back pages of my mind, where I keep terrifying memories of homasote horrors and abitibi atrocities I have known, I ran out of bogeymen. Eventually there was this black, fuzzy membrane glued on like the devil that completely baffled me. It didn’t taste like asbestos, so I wasn’t worried exactly, just stumped. After a while, I just looked at the kid and said: Come on down to Crazy Sippican’s Kitchen! Everything must go! We nuked it from orbit, like we should have right away. We took all the horsehair plaster off the lath, and all the layers over it, and were done with wondering.
I learned to work neat many years ago. We vacuumed the lath to keep plaster dust haboobs to a minimum when you opened a door or window. This is how you stay married, people. Diamond jewelry and six-pack abdomens can only get you so far, and eventually you’re going to be required to keep horsehair out of the potato salad to keep the magic alive.
We fixed the electricity while the wall was somewhat open, and then drywalled. We minimized horizontal seams that would need to be taped, and saved some waste in the sheets of drywall, by laying a strip at the top first, and then filling in the slightly less than eight feet below it. Or we’re just strange, and did it that way for no sensible reason. I can’t remember.
The inspector signed off on it, so I assume it turned out OK either way.
[To be continued. Thanks for reading and commenting.]