So, every Friday I plan to post an update to our kitchen remodel saga!
How It Was:
Our sweet 1340-square foot bungalow in Berkeley, CA was built in 1914. We bought it in January 2004. Because it had not been cared for, we were able to afford it--California real estate prices were a big shock! John grew up in very modest circumstances in Butte, Montana--about our house he said: "I never dreamed I'd be able to buy a house that cost more than half a million dollars. And I NEVER dreamed that the house would be a fixer upper!!!"
The poor old thing had been divided into two to make it a duplex rental and lots of concrete had been poured to make it wheelchair accessible. Someone made a false stairwell to allow the attic stairs to be kept down permanently, removing a good 22 square feet from the middle bedroom. The wheelchair ramp caused water to run into the house, rotting the floor in back, and the extra door added for the duplex meant Gingko's little room had four doors in it: entry from the kitchen, attic stairs access, closet, and outdoor entry. They added a second bathroom that had to be the most crackerjack piece of work I've ever seen--unsurprisingly, it was not built with permits.
We've done a lot to it over the last 8 years: floors uncovered and polished, lots and lots of new paint, old metal siding removed, concrete torn up and used for landscaping, bathroom updated, weather-proof windows, one door removed from Gingko's room, and earthquake retrofitting.
Here's how it looked two weeks ago:
The Current Plan
The kitchen, mudroom/laundry, and unpermitted second bathroom are being demolished to create one large room. The attic stairs are being retracted and the false wall removed to make the middle bedroom/office its original size. A little powder room is going into some found space where the attic stairs were. The windows are being enlarged to bring more light into the formerly dark space.
Most importantly, there will be room for John and Gingko to chat with me while I cook--we can stop the Excuse Me Excuse Me dance.
We worked with an architect (Jason Kaldis--he is great!) to figure out how to fit all the functions into the space we had available. Like many homes of this era there is no laundry room, for example--many homes have their washer/dryer in a shed outside. Jason found a way to incorporate a broom closet (yay for having a place to put the vacuum cleaner) and a washer/dryer in the kitchen.
End of Week 1+
The attic stairs are gone the the area opened to make a temporary hallway so Gingko can get to her room. My office is on the right--you can see how much room we will gain!
The rooms have been brought down to the studs and the walls have been removed.
The contractor has set up a temporary laundry area for me outside, for which I bless him. (Yes, this is why so many people want to live in California! But see those little yellow flowers? The downside to living in this climate is that these oxalis attempt to take over the yarn every spring. Do not turn your back or you, too, will be lost to view...)
Some "issues" have arisen (of course). Whoever said money doesn't solve everything has clearly never done a major remodel. In fact, before construction began we had to have a new sewer lateral installed (like, what the hell is that? I didn't even know we had one.) and a new furnace and ductwork. But I'm impressed with how sound these old walls are. 1" thick redwood sheathing, from the days when the woods went on forever.
This project will last for many weeks--I'm excited and just a little scared at the scope and expense of it all. And all those decisions: which color countertop, for example? how dark to stain the island? My head is spinning....
But over it all is a deep sense of gratitude--I feel a little guilty that we can afford to do this when so many people have so little. Still, we are providing work for many local people who are doing the designing, the plumbing, the framing, the electrical, the permitting, the cabinets--and that makes me feel good!
I'll be updating you on this project once a week....