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Remodeling with Tracy and Tony: Renovating Realities


The cabinets are torn out, and the remodel is officially underway.

Tracy and Tony are remodeling their 112-year-old Victorian home's kitchen. Tracy filled us in her last entry about her kitchen's past and her family's future. In our second installment of Remodeling with Tracy and Tony, she catches us up on the remodel's progress and the unexpected realities of renovating your kitchen.

As I type this entry, I'm wearing a paper mask to filter out the dust from the drywall that's being torn savagely off the walls downstairs. The music that's blasting in my headphones only partially masks the screech of the cut saw that's tearing through century-old two-by-fours.

Our kitchen has been stripped naked down to its studs, a sad, empty shell of dangling wires and saggy insulation. The only water on the first floor comes from a water cooler in the mudroom. A dorm-sized fridge, an ancient leftover from our college years, holds all our cold food: namely, a few cartons of yogurt and a quart of milk. We eat our carryout dinners hunched over the coffee table in the family room, which we access by unzipping the plastic curtain that's been taped over the opening to the room in an attempt to seal out the dust. (Remember the sterile room they rigged up in the movie E.T. when the government discovered the little alien living among us? Like that!) And I've quickly abandoned any sense of pride when I stumble downstairs bright and early each morning, sporting my old blue bathrobe and bed head, to open the door for the work crew.


The first wall cabinet is hung.


But these are mere inconveniences in a finite process, and it's immensely satisfying to finally see our plans taking shape. Every day something new happens. When the crew knocked down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, connecting the spaces for the first time, the light from the southern windows poured in and the room looked instantly bigger, even though the overall footprint remains unchanged.


 Going, going, gone! The wall now opens between our living and dining rooms.


The plumbing rough in for the new prep sink is in, and I can already imagine how splitting that area away from the main sink is going to eliminate the bottleneck that plagued us when we entertained in the old kitchen. It's also going to be really nice to chop vegetables there while looking out into the back garden.

Of course, no matter how well you plan, surprises are inevitable in a project like this, and we've had our share. Without the old dining room wall, we can finally see how uneven the dining room floor is: one side is over two inches lower than the other! So we've made a "while-we're-at-it" decision to replace the floor. The decision is one that adds to our costs, but one for which we'll be grateful later on.


 Dining room floorboards gone, and a level floor on its way.


Another surprise greeted us as the plumbing stack pipe that runs from the second floor down to the basement turns out to be inconveniently located right where a glass cabinet is drawn on the plans, so that has to be moved. Thankfully, our contractor has plenty of experience with old houses. And crazy as it sounds, I kind of enjoy making those on-the-fly decisions. Keeps things interesting!


The view from our dining room into our kitchen (on the left) and our living room (on the right).


If all goes as planned, the plumbing and electrical will be done soon, the drywall will go up, and the new cabinets will arrive shortly afterwards. We're getting closer every day!








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