Every place I've ever lived has been designed for that "average American family," with lots of bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room, etc. The problem was that I was a single person, not an average family. I needed space, but for hobbies, not people. And because I'm over 6'2", bending over to use sinks designed for children was a constant frustration. Over the years, I collected a list of things I would change if I could have my dream house. As I approached retirement, I realized time was running out for that house; it was now or never.
Dreams are not always perfect, however. I could never afford my dream house, a spacious Southern California home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I could afford a modest ranch house, with a 20-mile drive to the beach. It was a very long way from perfect, but it had potential.
This blog documents the process of turning that small average house into something that matches my lifestyle. It will be as close to my dream house as I can make it. I'm doing all the work myself to stretch my resources. By not hiring contractors, I can afford high quality materials, and I'll know the job is always done right. The remodeling will be my primary avocation for a few years, even as I try to fit in my writing and other hobbies.
It promises to be an interesting journey, and a challenging one!
Monday, September 1, 2014
The New Kitchen - Part Three
I had been doing conceptual design work for quite some time, but I still needed to decide on some specific dimensions and put them to paper. I prefer to build cabinet bases separately, make them all nice and level, so that after that it is just a matter of plopping the cabinet cases on top of the base. I am making the bases out of 2 x 8s, which makes the bases nominally 7.5" tall, but during leveling on the un-level concrete floor, I removed up to a half-inch of that height.
Stock bases are typically recessed 3" from the cabinet faces, and so are mine. While my bases are about 7" high, stock kitchen cabinets generally have a much lower toe-kick (about 3"), but I've found that my toes tend to kick the bottom edge of stock cabinets, so I wanted more height for my big feet. Stock cabinet bases are also made from 3/4" stock, but I wanted mine to be sturdier. The base was secured to the studs in the wall, and also screwed down to the concrete floor. Overkill? Maybe, but we have earthquakes out here.
I was making two cabinets — one for the wall oven and the other adjacent one would house the microwave. Also lots of drawers beneath the ovens, and above the ovens, slide-out shelves (like sideways drawers). These are big cabinets, 28" deep, and tall. I put the car out of the garage to make space for cutting out the pieces and assembly. The cases are made from 3/4" cabinet-grade plywood, with 1/2" plywood backs. All the pieces are glued together with tongue and groove joints, biscuits, and plywood lugs supporting structural shelves.
White plastic laminate was put on the side that will show; the plastic laminate also went on the microwave oven shelf. When the cases were finished, I placed them on the base and lined everything up, then screwed them together, to the base, and to the studs in the wall and to the overhead soffit. Not going anywhere.
With the cases securely in place, I applied 3/4" solid maple facing to the plywood edges, and applied three coats of satin polyurethane to the maple. I finished connecting the electrical receptacle in the microwave cubby, and drilled a hole for the cable from the oven to the compartment above, where the junction box will go (connects to the cable from the breaker box — 30 amp, 240 volt circuit).
I still have to build all the drawers for the two cabinets (and lots more cabinets for the rest of the kitchen), but once I make the electrical connections, I will finally be able to bake again!