Andi's Kitchen: The End is in Sight

Renovation Diary

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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.

It’s crunch time for our kitchen. We have a lot of work to do so the stove, sink, and counters can be installed on schedule. Most nights we do construction after work, and weekends are jam packed.

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On Monday night around 10 PM we encountered a problem with the kitchen island, which is made of IKEA base cabinets. The drawers closed wonkily. It seemed like everything was haywire by 1/8”. I cursed IKEA and pondered how its owner became one of the richest people on the planet. 

But then, upon further inspection, we realized the problem originated with the wood base that we built for the island. One of the 2x4s from Home Depot was slightly bowed, and that was throwing off the equilibrium of the cabinets. I mentally apologized to IKEA and Ingvar Kamprad: it must be hard when everyone expects you to be a beautiful failure. We went to bed knowing that we would have to deconstruct the island and reconstruct the base on the weekend.

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The countertop edge is one of my favorite elements in the room. Very Paul Revere.

The weekend rolled around and we were able to fix the island by “shimming” the base, essentially using thin pieces of wood to make it level. Then, with much huffing and puffing, we carefully positioned the zinc counter top on top of the island, and screwed it in from the bottom. The counter top was made by Mio Metals in Petaluma, California. I chose a custom 2.5” edge, which adds good visual interest to the room. I will have to adjust to the “patina” process of zinc — there are already a few scratches — but the color is a mercurial blue/silver that I love.

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Dean installing cover panels and outlet boxes on the sides of the island.

I should note that, despite the small setback with the island, overall we are extremely happy with the IKEA cabinets. The hinges, slow-close mechanisms, and solid wood doors are very high quality. The only cause for snobbery is the fiberboard boxes, but that material is standard in many lines of more expensive cabinetry. Most importantly, the IKEA price cannot be beat (about $2,700 for all of our cabinets).

Mid-week I ordered Pure White Cesaerstone counters for the counters along the walls. I placed the order at a stone vendor that we visited weeks ago: Marble City in San Carlos. Our deep sink has special mounting needs, requiring a 1.75-inch front edge on our counters. I found that the big box stores could not deliver that customized edge, so I am happy to pay $85/sf at Marble City. Plus, they graciously agreed to rush the job — they will create a template and install the counters in just eight days. 

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We did not know if we would like the chandelier, but it turns out that it gives off amazing light and is the perfect mix of old and new.

Our subcontractors were busy this week too. The electricians installed the outlets and light fixtures. We love the chandelier, which was a cause for much hemming and hawing when we picked it. It is a beautiful, sparkly, remotely-moon-like focal point for the room. After we laid plywood counter bases, the plumbing contractors were able to install our Blue Star stove. It was a tight fit (we had only 1/8” of extra space to work with) but looks great. 

On the weekend we spent a lot of time painting trim, cutting trim, and installing trim. Trimming out a room always seems to take longer than expected — we devoted 1.5 days to the project and we are still not quite done. I should note that all of our trim was salvaged from the original kitchen or ordered from San Francisco Victoriana, a shop that specializes in trim for old homes.

We are almost there! We have stone counter top and sink installation, backsplash tiling, and hardware and range hood installation remaining. We are worn out in many ways, but it is so good to have the end in sight.

Estimated time for project: 9 weeks
Time remaining: 2 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for #11 of Andi's Diary.

(Images and diary text: Andi Forker)

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Renovation Diary: Andi's Kitchen

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