Part 2 of Meg’s ugly house tour (read part 1). Today’s includes what’s probably the most disgusting house story I’ve ever heard. Even worse than Jessica’s kitchen cockroaches.
Meet My Ugly… KITCHEN!
Functional? Practical? Beautiful? Choose one, or go cry in a corner because you got none of these, ever? Sounds about right!
This kitchen was like those wooden Russian doll toys, except instead of more little wooden dolls inside, it was just full of layer upon layer of UGLY. Upon its purchase, it had promise: a full complement of 18 cabinets plus a breakfast bar boasting another eight cabinets!
Flammable cabinets? You couldn’t use them, though, because they were filled with HUGE metal boxes housing under-cabinet lighting to illuminate the breakfast bar. They gave off a lot of heat, and I was afraid I would set something on fire if I stored it in there with those things. Furthermore, the breakfast bar was installed backwards allowing you to sit at it facing the patio. Downside? You couldn’t open the adjacent cabinet because the door got stuck against the backwards breakfast bar. It wasn’t an effective workspace – being higher than a normal counter, you’re working at an awkward position AND you’re likely to hit your head on the upper cabinets that are just that much closer to the elevated countertop.
Rotting kitchen sub-floor. Because the floor was so uneven, the entire kitchen was sitting on top of a big sheet of rotten plywood board. Over top of this plywood board was the linoleum that had been utilized over the years.
The plywood was cut back to the base cabinets and the floor was levelled. It’s still not perfect, but it’s within the 1/4″ variance required to not split the floor boards. I installed the bamboo all throughout, even in the kitchen. It looks amazing, but it only took the dishwasher 3 days to give the floor its final “F*ck you!”, and flood the floor, damaging some of it in the kitchen. As much as it looks amazing, and really creates the illusion of more space, and as much as the designers tell us that the days of “defining a space by flooring” are over, I do wish I installed some tiles in there, even if it was only a 16″ wide path along the fronts of the base cabinets. The damage to the floor will come out in refinishing, but still…… Sigh.
Kill the breakfast bar. With the help of a friend, that thing was removed in a matter of a couple hours. Freshly opened space. Notice the remnants of the large cabinet lights. What to do with that bulkhead?
Is that ugly wallpaper under there? Yes. Very ugly wallpaper once covered this bulkhead. This wallpaper was what was in the backs of the cabinets, behind the appliances, with vestiges on the underside of the bulkhead (which was removed with new drywall hung on the ceiling and a new light fixture wired into the ceiling in its place).
Bad bulkhead. A noticably off-square bulkhead and a full frontal view of some ugly, yet familiar, cabinets. The countertop is circling the drain as well. It suffered a chronically steam-leaking dishwasher and a faucet that was rusted out and leaking into the particle board. It is delaminating everywhere.
Kitchen nightmares & faucet installation. The first thing I did was replace the faulty faucet. I found a decent Peerless pullout faucet on Craigslist for $20 which I figured would tide me over until when/if ever I install a fancy expensive one. It took me 4 hours to get the old rusted faucet out because of course there is that one last bolt that just won’t go. Eventually I got it apart and broke the drain to the dishwasher in the process where it connects to the trap, and the faucet disintegrated into rust powder, only to discover the holes in the countertop are too small. Of course! Whyever would indoor plumbing be standardized in any way? That would just be silly!
What do you do at 11:45 on a Sunday night when you have no working kitchen sink anymore? Do you get worried? Do you clean the bathtub in preparation for doing your dishes in there? I do.
Thankfully, with the aid of a ruler, I determined it was only the countertop holes that were offensively small, the holes in the (steel) sink were fine (thank God!!!). But how to widen the countertop hole when the particle board is all puffy and rotten and useless? If I put a drill in there, it would cause an explosion of former counter material.
I ended up having to go to Home Hardware first thing in the morning and buying a small, round bastard file (that’s what they’re called! I couldn’t make that up!) and bored the damn holes out by hand. Of course, this was to no avail and a large piece of the back of my counter in between the wall and the back of the faucet breaks off and falls into the base cabinet below. Great. I ended up managing to install the faucet without the counter underneath it by cantilevering it over the abyss with an extremely large flat washer. That’s how we roll here in the ghetto. I was very pleased with how clever I was to think of that, but please, no one bump my kitchen faucet too hard — it might fall over. It’s been serving like that for a year now, waiting for a new counter, and it works like a hot damn!
Ugly drywall. Getting the kitchen looking nice was like peeling an onion. Everywhere I looked there was some weird moulding that hid more wallpaper that hid more drywall damage, and more poorly taped drywall joints, etc. It went on and on and on. This thing is a corner between two walls, with a white door frame on the right. That thing in the corner? Benign tumour or drywall joint taping before the days of Youtube? Either way, these wall-tumours are everywhere in this place, and I don’t think you can caulk that….
Painting cupboard doors and hinges. I found spider nests inside the old hinges which spurred me to kill them with acid (boiling them in vinegar and water). Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I was not able to get a good adhesion with new paint (it kept scraping off), so I bought new hinges and knobs for an excellent deal online, after sourcing out the ones I wanted at Home Depot. Then I figured “Since the doors are off, why not paint them? How hard could it be? How long could it take?” Huh. It’s been slow going, as the doors had their original finish on them, and it was in rough shape, requiring a lot of prep. but I am nearly finished.
A better reason to order pizza. I learned that it is helpful to put a dropsheet of some kind (I am using shower curtain liners from the dollar store) on your table, and then set the doors up on a pizza box for painting. This allows good access all the way around the door to guard against drips and prevents transfer of the paint off the doors, or anything transfering onto the doors when you flip them over. I had a problem with this a lot in the early stages of this project until I discovered the pizza box trick, and now things are going much smoother.
I am using a semi-gloss latex, but I plan to top-coat them with Minwax Polycrylic, a polyurethane replacement for water-based finishes. I’ve noticed the paint is still quite gummy so I’ve let some of the doors cure for two weeks now to make sure I have good results with the protective topcoat. I do NOT want to do this again. I have never used this product before, so we will see how it goes. Ultimately, I would still like to replace these cabinets, but this will allow me to hate them a little less in the meantime.
The kitchen is still a work in progress. Since this last photo, it has received a new stainless range, scored from the Ikea As-Is for $599.
Meet My Ugly….. BATHROOM!
I will admit it, I’m afraid to start the bathroom. So far, the bathroom’s only struck back three times:
1. The shower turned on while I was filling the tub (and was out on the deck fetching the dog), showering into the hallway when I wasn’t there and damaging (more) bamboo flooring (again). I got to spend the weekend ripping out my beautiful floor. Apparently I wasn’t covered for flood damage – that’s separate.
2. The bathroom sink started gurgling in the night and then spewing black solids and warm toothpaste. I bailed out the sink by hand before finally dismanteling the trap to put a bucket underneath the pipe it was coming from (and breaking the drain flange to my sink in the process). Every time someone would brush their teeth upstairs, their warm grey water came my way from their tooth-brushing/face-washing routines.
People need to learn to turn the water off while they’re brushing their teeth, 11L per incident was what went into my bucket. After a couple hours, I got smart and put a milk cap in the pipe and locked it in place with the trap’s locknut to plug it, so I could sleep. Turns out the common drain in the parkade had clogged. Strata dealt with it (phew!), but I now had a drain to replace. Apparently drain flanges come in different sizes, too, so a couple of trips to Home Depot later, I was in business with a drain again.
3. Sometimes the toilet starts running on its own. Usually at night. I pretend not to hear it. I am particularly dreading removing the toilet, but it’s lying in wait for me, I am sure.
“Whenever you’re ready, I’ll be here….with stripes on.”
New Years Resolutions? I will finally tackle the bathroom. I will deal with the popcorn ceiling. I will sleep regular hours and stop spending all my time thinking about my renovations. I will stop feeling guilty if I spend money on something that is NOT for the condo. I will sleep regular hours instead of looking at toilets on the Home Depot website.
Thanks so much to Lauren for inviting me to write in about my foray into home ownership, and happy holidays to all you Ugly Baby readers! Hope you enjoyed my little nightmare. ~Meg