Dan's Kitchen: Odds and Ends

Renovation Diary

Left: The plaster walls in the closet were not salvageable. Right: The closet, gutted and ready to be turned into a pantry.
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Name: Dan Bailey
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: East Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Type of building: 2nd Floor Condo in a Greek-Revival Row House

The Renovation Diaries are a 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.

When my plumber walked into the kitchen for the first time and saw the exposed plumbing for the sink, his initial assessment was, “Wow, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.” Needless to say, he wasn’t indicating his admiration for the craftsmanship of a bygone era.

Shiny new plumbing for the sink and dishwasher.
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The original plumbing was oddly laid out and didn’t meet modern plumbing code. Early this week, the plumber finished installing completely new plumbing for the sink and the dishwasher. All of the new pipe is bright and shiny and code-compliant. This kind of plumbing is usually run inside a wall, but because the rear wall of the kitchen is brick, the plumber cut into the lathe and ran the plumbing as close to the wall as possible. This will maximize the space available for cabinets once we close up the wall.

Meanwhile, I finished gutting the closet that I'm planning to convert to a pantry. The interior of the closet was lined with unfinished wallboard haphazardly nailed into the original plaster walls. I pulled down the wallboard only to find that large sections of plaster were missing, and the remaining plaster was crumbling and unstable. So I reluctantly stripped all of the old plaster off the walls. Even with my best efforts to contain the ensuing dust cloud, the dining room and kitchen were once again coated in a fine layer of plaster dust. After some intensive shop-vacing, the closet is now clean and ready for sheetrock and shelving.

My contractor also got started patching the kitchen floor this week. As I mentioned a few weeks back, there’s a large hole cut into the center of the floor. All of the intact floorboards run the full length of the room, and because the hole is in such a central location, I think that merely patching it over with short lengths of new or reclaimed lumber would look out of place. So, after a great deal of discussion, my contractor and I decided that the best approach would be to completely remove the floorboards that have been cut. We’ll then replace this entire length of flooring with four floorboards taken from the rear of the kitchen. Since the floor in the rear of the kitchen will be hidden beneath cabinets, we’ll replace the missing boards there with new pine planks.

The deeply gouged floorboard, pulled up and flipped over. The infamous hole in the floor can be seen on the right.
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The only other problem with the floor is a large floorboard with a very deep gouge. My contractor and I decided to pull up this board and flip it over to expose a clean surface. Before we nail the board back down, we’ll fill in the gouge with Bondo (the same stuff that’s used for autobody repair) to support it from underneath and prevent cracking as weight is put on the board over time.

The gouged floorboard, flipped over and laid back in place.
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All of the floorboards were held in place by long, cut nails. It’s amazing to think that each of these nails was handmade by a blacksmith more than 150 years ago. The nails are in remarkably good condition, with very little corrosion, and I’m hoping to reuse some of them as we reattach the floorboards.

Really old cut nails pulled out of the floorboards.
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I’m hoping to bring in an electrician next week. And once the electrical work is done, we can begin putting up sheetrock, and preparing to have the floors refinished.

The current state of the kitchen.
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Estimated time for project: 12 weeks
Time remaining: 6 weeks

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

(Images and diary text: Dan Bailey)

(Image credits: Dan Bailey; it's a number!)

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