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.
The kitchen has finally begun to take shape. Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how the finished kitchen will look. But this week, as my contractor, Gregg, and I installed the upper cabinets one by one, the layout of the kitchen began to come into focus. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s encouraging to see some cabinets in place, and Gregg and I have begun to talk about finishing details like crown moulding, tile, and trim.
The work of attaching the cabinets to the walls was remarkably easy. IKEA has developed an ingenious system that involves attaching a metal rail to the wall and then hanging the cabinets from the rail. The rail supports multiple cabinets, and once it’s level and fixed to the wall, there’s no need to individually align and level each cabinet. We were able to hang each cabinet in a matter of minutes, but because we had to modify several cabinets, it took most of the week to get all of the wall cabinets in place.
The most serious modification involved cutting a cabinet to fit around a section of cast iron waste pipe. The vertical section of the waste pipe is contained in a chase that runs up the rear wall of the kitchen, adjacent to the area occupied by the cabinets. But as the waste pipe approaches the ceiling, it juts out to the left on a diagonal. Early on I decided to conceal this diagonal section of pipe inside a cabinet, rather than building an awkward triangular chase around it. But in order to fit the cabinet around the pipe, we had to remove an entire rear corner of the cabinet. The cabinet looked a little unstable with a missing corner, but once we got it in place and attached it to the wall and the adjacent cabinet, it ended up being pretty sturdy. Later in the week, Gregg built a triangular, wood box to conceal the pipe within the cabinet. The pipe occupies about a quarter of the cabinet, but there’s still plenty of storage space. All in all, it’s a pretty nifty way to hide an awkwardly-located section of pipe.
The other cabinetry modifications were more routine. I decided to install a blind upper cabinet in the corner. IKEA offers a diagonal corner cabinet, but I prefer the more streamlined, right-angle look of the blind corner cabinet. It mirrors the footprint of the lower cabinets and doesn’t seem to take up as much space. Unfortunately, IKEA doesn’t make a blind corner upper cabinet, so we attached a side panel to a 30-inch cabinet to convert it to a blind corner.
At the end of the week, Gregg installed the range hood and the hood cabinet, cutting openings for the exhaust duct and power supply for the hood. Once the hood is attached to the exhaust duct, Gregg will build another wood box to conceal the duct within the cabinet. The only upper cabinet that we haven’t installed yet is the nine-inch cabinet to the left of the range hood. Since IKEA doesn’t make a nine-inch cabinet, we’ll need to cut a 12-inch cabinet down to nine inches.
We spent the rest of the time this week preparing to install the lower cabinets. Gregg shimmed and leveled the cabinet bases and attached them to the walls. He also removed the drywall from the backsplash area and prepared to replace it with cement board to provide a surface for tiling. But before we can install the cement board, the plumber needs to extend the water lines for the sink and the electrician needs to install the under-cabinet lights. I spent most of my spare time this week priming and painting cabinet doors, trim, and filler pieces so that everything will be ready to go once the rest of the cabinets are installed.