Dan's Kitchen: Straightening Things Out

Renovation Diary

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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.

Old homes are notoriously out-of-level, and my condo is no exception. The floors are uneven, the walls are crooked, even the ceilings aren't flat. In most of the condo, this unevenness is a minor nuisance. But in the kitchen, where the cabinets, countertops, and appliances will need to be installed on-the-level, dealing with uneven floors and walls becomes a major challenge. My contractor, Gregg, continued framing the rear wall of the kitchen this week. Framing a wall is normally a pretty quick process, but framing this wall took Gregg hours of meticulous measuring, leveling, and shimming. For a room that, at first glance, appears rectangular, there are remarkably few right angles in the kitchen.

The ceiling framing is complete after the installation of furring strips.
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Gregg framed the wall using 2x4 studs placed flat against the brick. He shimmed each stud, making sure it was plumb and level before attaching it to the floor and ceiling and securing it to the brick wall with masonry screws. He also added furring strips to the ceiling framing, which will provide additional support for the drywall and recessed lighting. I don’t know if this extra support was absolutely necessary, but hey, better safe than sorry.

The new electrical panel. As you can see, I have some fun drywall repair work in my future.
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Once all of the framing was in place, the electrician got started roughing in the kitchen wiring. First, he rerouted the electrical service for the condo from the old circuit breaker panel located in the cellar to a newly-installed panel. The new panel is situated in the hallway, on the other side of the wall from the refrigerator alcove. Apparently, as he was installing the panel, the electrician discovered an old door frame hidden in the wall between the hallway and the refrigerator alcove. He had to squeeze the panel in alongside this old framing. Clearly this door predates the room’s conversion to a kitchen. But even so, I have no idea why there was ever a door here, considering it would’ve been located two feet away from a giant opening between the kitchen and dining room. The walls in this condo are full of surprises.

Tying all of the circuits in the condo into an electrical panel that’s actually located within the condo makes a lot of sense. It will be much more convenient than having all of the circuit breakers located in the cellar. On the downside, electrical panels are ugly. Luckily, the new panel is in a fairly out-of-the-way corner of the hallway, so it won’t be on display. I’ll probably paint the panel cover or hang a picture over it.

The new wiring runs along the walls in tidy bundles.
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All of the new wiring in the kitchen is clamped to the walls and framing in very tidy little bundles. The old kitchen wiring didn’t seem to be attached to anything – it spilled out in a tangled mess when we opened up the walls during demolition. So the new wiring is a definite improvement. Next week, the electrician will finish roughing in the wiring, and I’ll begin priming and painting the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.

New recessed light fixtures awaiting installation.
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Estimated time for project: 20 weeks
Time remaining: 4 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for installment #20 of Dan's Kitchen Renovation.

(Images and diary text: Dan Bailey)

More posts in this series

Renovation Diary: Dan's Kitchen