Andi's Kitchen: New Floors

Renovation Diary

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Before: the difference between the floors in the kitchen and hallway was striking.

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Name: Andi Forker
Type of Project: Kitchen Renovation — full gut remodel
Location: San Francisco, California
Type of building: 1890's Victorian condo

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

Our kitchen renovation reached a tipping point this week, transforming from a construction site into a room that sort of resembles a kitchen. One big change is the floors. 

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After: Beautiful floors stained in Minwax “Gunstock” to match the floors in the living & dining rooms that did not get refinished.

During the first weekend of construction we unearthed the original Douglas Fir floors under 3 layers of vinyl and linoleum. We found them in rough shape, in need of lots of patching and a complete refinish. We did not know if they would be salvageable.

I took to the Internet and found Bay Floor Crafters, a company with experience preserving old floors. Nam, the owner, presented us with lots of options at different price points, including just “buffing and coating” or doing a complete refinish of the entire hallway and kitchen. We decided to go for the gusto and completely refinish the kitchen and contiguous floors. This included sanding the floors down until they were nearly flawless, replacing some floorboards, patching all of the holes and imperfections, staining, then applying two coats of clear varnish. The cost was $1,400.

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The newly refinished floors are the perfect mix of old and new. You can see the historic details in the wood, but they also look clean and flawless.

After Bay Floor Crafters sanded our floors, I came home from work and found they sealed off every door and closet in the house using masking tape and plastic sheeting so the dust would not seep into our living spaces. I was so happy I almost cried. When you live at home while renovating, you deeply appreciate subcontractors who take care to keep the job site contained. Not all of our subcontractors have been as considerate. The floors turned out incredibly beautiful, to boot.

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Dean built a base for the island and started installing the cabinets.

On the weekend Dean assembled our IKEA cabinets. We read in a past AT Renovation Diary that each IKEA cabinet takes about 45 minutes to assemble. We have 10 cabinets, so we estimated it would take about 8 hours for assembly, plus time for installation. Well, somehow this task ate up an entire weekend for two people, though I cannot say how, exactly. 

Some reflections on the time-suck:
• We are customizing some of our IKEA cabinets — cutting down 12” deep cabinets to make them 8” deep for the back of the island, where space is tight. This requires some work at the table saw, using a finishing blade so the fiberboard does not splinter. It is not particularly laborious, but every bit of time adds up. (Pro tip: Use blue painters' tape on the line you are cutting to ensure the fiberboard does not splinter. Also know that the painters' tape may gum up your table saw, as it did ours.)

• We built a base for the island out of 2x4s and screwed it to the floorboards using L brackets. That took some time, mainly to plot the layout and plan for the electrical wires for outlets on the island.

• During cabinet assembly, we realized that we erroneously bought an 18” base cabinet rather than a 15” cabinet, so Dean drove over the Bay Bridge to IKEA to make the exchange. This can set a project back by hours!

• We realized that our “counter depth” refrigerator sticks out four inches further than our counters. This could be okay if the entire refrigerator was made of stainless steel, but I do not like the gray sides of our Samsung fridge. We decided to build the counters out another two inches by screwing 2x4”s to the walls behind them, flush with the top of the cabinet box. This too took time. 

• We had a 45-minute conversation about how we could make our Kohler sink fit into the IKEA sink base cabinet, which was too shallow to accommodate the apron front sink together with the cabinet doors underneath. In the end we decided we would build up the counter tops by another inch to make it work. 

• Because the counters now have to be one inch deeper, we had to call and cancel our order for white Cesaerstone countertops (an order that was placed just 18 hours before! chaos!). We now have to pick new counters and re-order them. This, in the bottom of Week 6 of construction, just a couple weeks before the whole project is supposed to be completed! I luckily have the day off of work tomorrow so I will have the time to deal with this quagmire. 

• To give Dean some space and allow him to truly master the IKEA assembly process, I spent some time painting the vintage buffet and newly constructed hutch. The color is Oval Room Blue by Farrow & Ball. 

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The construction has depressed our dog, Rory. The good news is that the kitchen is taking shape — we moved in the refrigerator and painted the vintage buffet.

After all of this, I am happy to report that the room is now taking shape as a semi-recognizable kitchen. Not all of the cabinets are installed, but they are all assembled. We have our work cut out for us next weekend, when we install all trim and try to finish the cabinetry.

Estimated time for project: 9 weeks
Time remaining: 3 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for #10 of Andi's Diary.

(Images and diary text: Andi Forker)

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Renovation Diary: Andi's Kitchen

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