Christine and Pierre's Kitchen: A Few Finishing Touches

Renovation Diary

Mocking up the shelves in plywood. We did this so we could determine the best depth for the shelves.
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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.

We're BACK! Thanks so much for the nice comments about our little muffin. You guys are the best. It might seem like we only took a week off, but that's not really the case. Want to know how long it took us to finish up all the details?

12 weeks. Yep. Having a baby seriously slowed us down!

Our contractors installing the MDF cover panels around the pantry.
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Honestly though, the last details of a renovation have a way of taking forever, baby or no baby, so we can't really use the baby excuse. Especially since we put a lot of visitors to work on our kitchen! ("What can I do to help out?" "Well, if you are handy with a paintbrush…")

Our shelves routered and in position. Still needing stain and varnish.
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Over the last 12 weeks, we've:
- Cut out plywood templates for the shelves to help us determine how deep we wanted them;
- Measured, cut, stained, varnished and installed the floating shelves;
- Had our contractors come out and install MDF paneling around the pantry;
- Installed baseboards and moulding;
- Hooked up the LED under-shelf lighting;
- Purchased lights for over the sink and for the breakfast nook, and installed them;
- Purchased a new breakfast table;
- And painted the hallway, pantry walls and touch-ups.
Stained, varnished, hooked up.
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For everyone's sake, I'm combining all these details into one post. Most these things are pretty self explanatory, with the exception of the LED lights. A lot of people have been asking questions about them in the comments, so I thought I'd spend a little more time explaining how we did this.

First off, credit where credit is due - we totally stole this idea from Claire & Jeffrey's kitchen. We wanted lighting under our open shelving, and this seemed like the perfect solution. However, because we had such a long stretch of wall, and areas where the shelves would stop and start (i.e. behind the stove), our installation was a little more complicated.

First of all, we needed to plan out exactly where the shelves would go and measure how long the LEDs and according cables would need to be, to ensure the correct wattage. We also needed to find electrical cable that would carry the charge from one LED string to another.

A diagram showing where we ran wires behind the drywall, in order to control all the LED lights with one switch.
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Secondly, we needed to plan the wiring before the drywall went up. This allowed us to run connecting cables behind the drywall, joining the multiple strings of LEDs so they could be controlled by a single switch. We ran the cables out of the wall alongside the brackets that would hold the shelves.

An under shot of all the connecting bits under the shelf. All this stuff is hidden from view.
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Finally, Pierre soldered the LEDs to the electrical cables coming out the wall to form a single circuit that would pan along the whole counter length. These LEDs and cables were then tucked into the routed length of wood, with both rows being controlled by a single switch. (Pierre has some previous experience with soldering, so he felt confident taking this on as a DIY. He also knows about voltage and wattage and all these things, which I do NOT.)

Left: Pierre soldered the wires that ran from behind the wall to the LEDs. Right: The LEDs had to be run through a transformer, so that the voltage would be reduced from 110 volts to 12 volts. (The transformer will be closed up and mounted to the inside of the cabinet.)
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We also needed to buy a transformer that would reduce the voltage for the LEDs, from the standard 110 volts to 12 volts, as well as housing to isolate it. This transformer will be mounted to the inside of the cabinet, out of view. The transformer also had an unintended consequence — when we turn off the LEDs, they actually fade out rather than switch off. Fannnncccyyy.

Hello, sexy.
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We are just waiting on one final detail before being able to do the final reveal - I ordered the light for over the sink from an Etsy seller and it will take a little while to arrive. But we are soooooo close! We can't wait to show you guys the final reveal.

A detail I really insisted on - that the upper shelf align with the range hood. These details matter!
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Estimated time for project: 22 weeks
Time remaining: 2 weeks

Check back in the new few weeks for the big reveal of Christine and Pierre's new kitchen! In the meantime, check out the full series for a step-by-step account of the renovation.

(Images and diary text: Christine Zoltok)