Dan's Kitchen: Let There Be Lights

Renovation Diary

The kitchen wiring post-makeover.
Pin it button big
Pin it button big

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.

This past weekend, when my electrician was in the middle of running new wiring for the kitchen, he asked me how I wanted him to position the electrical outlets. Centered on the backsplash? Just above the countertop? Somewhere in between? I had no idea. In my rush to have the kitchen rewired and ready for drywall, I hadn't even considered this detail.

I weighed the options and quickly decided to place the outlets low on the backsplash, just above the countertops. I figure they'll be accessible but out of the way and won't make the backsplash look cluttered. I'm currently preoccupied with installing the ceiling, walls, and cabinets, and details like outlet placement seem like the least of my concerns. But I know these details will become really important once the kitchen is finished, so I'm doing my best to make careful, reasoned decisions, and hoping it will all work out in the end.

A close-up of the new wiring. The white wires will connect to under-cabinet LED light strips. The outlets are positioned horizontally, just above counter-height.
Pin it button big

While the electrician finished roughing in the kitchen wiring on Saturday, my girlfriend and I drove up to the North Shore in search of an antique, freestanding cupboard to put along the wall opposite the refrigerator. Our destination was Essex, Mass., the self-proclaimed antique capital of America. True to this title, the town's main street is lined almost exclusively with antique shops. As we went from one shop to the next, we saw lots of fancy, 19th-century furniture, several ornate, 18th-century Chinese export chests, and even some midcentury furniture, but no cupboards.

The type of cupboard I have in mind is sometimes called a jelly cupboard. They vary in shape and size, but they’re generally shallow, counter-height cabinets with double doors. Apparently they were standard pieces of kitchen furniture a century ago. When the kitchen is finished, almost everything in the room will be brand new, while the rest of the condo will remain old and worn. Hopefully, adding a vintage or antique cupboard to the kitchen will counterbalance some of this newness and help the kitchen to blend in with the rest of the apartment. At the same time, a freestanding cupboard will provide additional, much-needed storage and counter space. Now I just need to find one for a reasonable price.

New recessed ceiling lighting.
Pin it button big

By the time we returned from Essex, the electrician had finished roughing in the kitchen wiring. He installed four counter-height outlets and positioned them horizontally to better blend in with the subway tile backsplash. He also wired receptacles for the stove, the hood, the dishwasher, and the disposal. And there are now four recessed light fixtures and wiring for under-cabinet, LED light strips. Given that the old kitchen was illuminated by a single fluorescent ceiling fixture and often felt like a cave, this new lighting setup will be a massive improvement.

The repaired brick wall.
Pin it button big

Later in the week, a masonry crew repaired the gap-filled exterior wall in the kitchen. I assumed that repairing this wall would take days, maybe even a week or more. But when the mason showed up early one morning this week, he assured me that he and his crew would finish the job by the end of the day. And sure enough, they were completely done by early afternoon. They added an extra course of brick to a section of the interior wall and then repointed the exterior. They also bored a 4-inch diameter hole in the wall to vent the exhaust hood duct. The ductwork hasn’t been connected yet, so currently there’s just a hole in the wall, open to the outdoors. My contractor and I will install a vent cap on the exterior next week. And in the meantime, I’ll hope that a bird or squirrel doesn’t decide to take up residence in the open vent hole.

Estimated time for project: 20+ weeks
Time remaining: 3+ weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for installment #21 of Dan's Kitchen Renovation.

(Images and diary text: Dan Bailey)