Christine and Pierre's Kitchen: Getting All the Details Sorted

Renovation Diary

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Looking back to the original kitchen. They even started hanging some drywall.

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Name: Christine & Pierre
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Type of building: Ground floor apartment of a triplex, 1,100 square feet

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.

After three days of intense demo, we were so, so happy to hand over the project to the pros this week. All of a sudden, the speed of the renovation increased tenfold. 

The electrician came and did the rough in for the entire kitchen, and the contractors added framing around the support beams, the missing bit of the wall and the lowered part of the ceiling. They also were able to add some rigid foam insulation to two walls which previously had none. Near the end of the week they laid the wires for the radiant heating and started leveling the floor.

This week, all of the theoretical decisions we'd been making about layout and lighting and everything else finally came into play. Normally, the guys would show up around 8am every day and we'd spend 30 minutes to an hour going over details for the day. This was incredibly helpful considering we weren't there during the day — if the contractors had any questions, they could ask them in the morning, and we could get the chance to explain certain details of the project, depending on what they were working on that day. Short of being there all day while they're working, I think this is the next-best option to ensure that everybody understands the details of the project and nothing gets missed. We had printouts of the floorplans and elevations that we taped to the walls to ensure everything was clear.

This also gave our contractor the chance to suggest stuff to us too. For instance, we made a few last-minute tweaks based on his very smart suggestions (moving the position of a lightswitch here and there, and the addition of some rigid foam insulation on the old plaster walls). 

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The area with the dropped ceiling, plus the new exhaust pipe.

A few quick decisions had to be made, like how low to lower the ceiling on the north wall. I was very nervous about lowering the ceiling here – even though logically I knew it would make sense to avoid a sort of cavernous space in between the beams and the wall, my emotional brain kept saying "Lowered ceilings = bad"! But even with the ceiling lowered down to the height of the beam, it would still be 8' high, and would avoid a kind of strange effect with the third beam dropping down below the rest. After seeing the framing I think we made the right call.

The electrician's visit made me realize I hadn't really thought through the LED lighting on the north wall. First of all, LEDs need a transformer. Where were we going to put that? Secondly, my plan called for LED strips under the shelves — but the shelves stopped and started over the sink, and over the stove. How were we going to run the wires between these sections? And how were we going to connect those wires to the switch?

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Our rough instructions for where to run the wires behind the drywall.

Luckily, although my eyes glaze over when it comes to electrical, Pierre knows what he's talking about, and we had the weekend to figure it out. We spent a few hours in Home Depot trying to work this out, and after figuring out exactly what we needed (which HD of course didn't have), we made a trip to our nearby specialty electrical store, just before it closed on Saturday. They had exactly what we were looking for — a transformer and a long length of wire with the correct wattage for the two LED strips we had purchased. We will run the wires behind the drywall and use it to connect different lengths of the LED strips, so they can all be controlled by a single switch. Pierre will connect them all together once the shelves are installed. We managed to get all these details sorted on the weekend so that when the guys came back Monday, we could explain exactly what the plan was.

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How things were looking at the end of the week. Insulation! Framing! Electrical!

Estimated time for project: 13 weeks
Time remaining: 7 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for #9 of Christine and Pierre's Diary.

(Images and diary text: Christine Zoltok)

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Renovation Diary: Christine & Pierre's Kitchen

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