You’ll have to put up with a fair amount of time warp-age here. You’re going to see pictures of this dining room renovation, and notice the kitchen isn’t fixed yet in one picture, and then in the next picture it’s immaculada. How did that get done? When? Why? I assure you that there’s a method to the madness, even though the madness is holding a gun to the method’s head at all times. You see, all these projects are related, and rely on parts of other projects to get finished, or even started. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say. Perhaps more to the point, a sinking boat drags everyone down with it.
The sinking boat analogy is a common outcome in renovations where the renovators are living in the house while they’re banging on it. In a better world, a project like ours would have a budget, and a time frame, and plenty of subcontractors, and a place for us to live far away from it while the work was being performed. We’re pretty far removed from regular, sane construction like that, simply over the budget. Come to think of it, I’m not sure what a budget is. Some kind of canary, I think.
So you might remember that the former denizens of our house took out a wall between the kitchen and dining room. One that they shouldn’t have. This caused the floor upstairs to sag quite a bit. Before we fixed the dining room, the wall in the kitchen would have to be repaired. Like this:
Of course, you could think of it as before the kitchen could be fixed, the dining room wall needs to be constructed. That’s basically how it worked out. The refrigerator needs to be relocated to a niche formed on one side by the dining room wall, and it wasn’t there yet. This house is like a giant Mousetrap game. All the pieces have to be in place before you can use the apparatus to catch a mouse.
This interconnectivity is the reason why you see so many old houses for sale that are halfway destroyed inside and ten percent put back together (badly). The owners watched This Incredible Flip This Old House Hunters Wife Swap Fixers, figured how hard could it be, and found out exactly how hard it could be. The building materials stacked in the gutted kitchen convey with the house, usually. You have to have a certain amount of flexibility, married to stick-to-it-ive-ness, to prevail.
So we finished this wall and adjacent corner first. We added about two feet of wall to the existing, and framed an opening. I made the oak trim out of some 3/8″ thick oak boards I bought twenty years ago from a lumberyard that was going out of business. They didn’t know they were going out of business at the time, but who did in 2008? Lumberyards generally don’t stock 3/8″ thick wood of any species for a reason. It’s not much in demand. I bought a big pile of 3/8″ and 1/2″ lumber of all kinds for less than the cost of firewood, and figured I’d do something with it sometime. This is something, and sometime, I guess.
In regular carpentry, the door trim and baseboard would be 3/4″ thick. You’d rabbet out the center of the back of the lumber to keep if from curling, and to make it bridge the join between the wall and the door jamb. If you looked at the end of the boards, it would have an upside-down “U” profile, flat on the face, and hollowed out on the back.
Instead of doing that, I cut 1″- wide strips of the 3/8″ thick oak, and glued them to the left and right sides of the door frames blanks, and the top and bottom edges of the baseboard. Then I ran them through a jointer to get the edges nice and flat and smooth. It worked fine, and since we couldn’t afford to buy oak lumber, it made the project possible.
So this was a little milepost along the renovation way. We finished this nasty corner more or less completely, and made a half-decent spot for my wife to sit at and swear at her computer. It’s important to finish certain areas of ongoing renovations like this, little oases of calm in the maelstrom of demolitions, to keep from being presented as a cautionary tale on This Incredible Flip This Old House Hunters Wife Swap Fixers, followed up by a short stint on Divorce Court.
[To be continued]