June 28, 2011

#171- Flying Solo

The other day I found myself with 5 completely uninterrupted hours alone at my house.  It's true, this rare, lunar eclipse type moment never happens to me, and yet, there I was with 5 hours and a house full of projects.  I wasn't sure what to do, but I headed to the kitchen first to survey the Hub's recent work on the new drywall in the kitchen.  Remember when we torn out the tile counter top and back splash and it looked like this?

He made quick work of some Durrock, and now it looks like this:

Nice huh?  And since he had gotten us a big step forward towards our slightly remodeled kitchen, I thought I would use my gifted time to tackle the next big kitchen project, that off centered, strange hanging cabinet. 

I'm not sure if it's the way this cabinet throws the kitchen off balance, or if it's all its light blocking, sun hating power, but I've had it in for this cabinet since the moment that we first saw the house.  Sure, it's useful.  Having a cabinet that can be accessed from both sides for plates and dinnerware is really nice.  I bet a lot of you are going to tell me how helpful it would be if I left it, and you'd probably be right.  But did I mention how ugly it is?  For me anyway, it just ruins the flow of the space, so it had to go.  I started by taking off all the doors and the shelves inside.  See how much more open things look already?

Next I had to shut off the power and disconnect the under the cabinet lights from this piece.

Then it was time to take the cabinet down.  As I've mentioned before in our tile floor removal post, the problem with demo is that you don't really know what you've got until you get started.  I took a closer look at my cabinet and found good and bad news.  The good news was that my cabinets were definitely two separate pieces that weren't attached at all to each other. That's good considering that I was flying solo and taking down one huge piece by myself would have been tricky.  The bad news was that unlike most cabinets today that get secured to the studs with screws, my cabinets seemed to be attached with some serious, big mama framing nails.  I'm talking 3.5" long, 1/4" diameter, you could kill someone with that, nails.  I did a whole lot of work with a pry bar, chisel and hammer, and got the first little guy down without too much trouble.

Don't worry about that scary looking light fixture hanging out of the wall.  I swear all the power was turned off safely.

The small cabinet, banished forever from the Kitchen.
The big guy was held up with 4 of those monster nails though, and it wasn't going anywhere.  It was at about this point that I started to doubt whether I could actually do this project myself.  I mean, even if by some miracle it did come down, there was a pretty high potential for it to come crashing down on top of me and maybe even the stove below.  But I couldn't give up now, not with 3 hours left of quiet work time, so I kept going.  After trying for about a half and hour to pry the nails from the wall, I started to find success actually removing the nails from the cabinet instead.  The heads of the nails were small enough that they started to come out through the wood of the cabinet, even though the remained firmly planted into the wall studs. After about 20 more minutes of wiggling and prying, it finally started to come loose, and thankfully came down pretty slow and easy.  It was a heavy mother though.

Look at all that natural sun light streaming in!
Now that I had all the pieces down, I set up shop in the Screened In Porch and figured out how I was going to take these 2 partially open cabinets and rebuild them into one solid, flat piece.  I decided that I could cut off the open, corner portion of the big cabinet, and use the side piece from the small cabinet to cap it off. 

You can see the line I drew here for where I cut the cabinet.
I took the Skill Saw, and in no time had this:

All that was left was to take apart the side piece of the smaller cabinet, and attach it to the side of my new one with my finishing nailer.  (Best. Present. Ever.)  I forgot to take a photo of my triumph, probably because I was so excited to get this bad boy on the wall.  I don't recommend trying to hang cabinets by yourself, by the way, but at this point I was so proud of my success so far, that nothing (even logic) could stop me.  I rigged up a little bucket-on-top-of-the-counter type platform to hold up my cabinet high and in place while I secured it into the studs.  (With screws this time.  Sweet, easy to use screws.)

And there you have it.  In just under 4 hours my project was complete and I even had a little time to pick up before my boys came home.  We still have convenient storage for items that get used on our new kitchen table, (it's 50% full of sippy cups), but we don't have the strange asymmetrical arrangement over the peninsula.  Seriously, opening that up so that you can actually see the window behind it not only floods the room with light but makes it look 10 times bigger.  Here's the before again if you forgot:

The Kitchen really feels like one big room now, instead of the Kitchen and Kitchen Eating Area as we had referred to it before.  Now all that's left is to get those new counter tops and back splash up. What do you guys think?  Bad idea to remove the cabinet, or huge improvement?  Seriously, I want to know your opinion.  Let's get a conversation started in these comments already!


  1. Love it. Did you reinstall the dangerous looking light to the bottom of the redesigned cabinet?

  2. Ha! Yes Morgan, I did reinstall the light, and made sure that everything was connected safely and securely before turning the power back on! :)

  3. Wowzers!! The increase in natural light is amazing.....It looks great and I say if you figure out you miss the storage space, just get rid of some stuff!

  4. That is really impressive, well done! It makes a huge difference.