Before and After, DIY

DIY Home Renovation Project in a Weekend: What NOT to Do

I never took any before photos of the kitchen in the 1930’s house we have now, except for this one corner  It’s a small, dark kitchen that, according to my mom, feels like a dead end.  It’s 1960’s pine cabinetry with one small window.  It’s a tile floor that reminds me of an auto parts store and don’t get me started on the tile countertop.

I’m going to tell you a home renovating, DIY tale that has a lesson at the end.

The title:  This is the Loose Thread on the Sweater.

Here we go.

I’ve been planning a small renovation of our main floor bathroom this summer.  “Planning” is what smart people do.  I had no plans for tackling our kitchen…until I started thinking and daydreaming about taking this one wall down to get some light in.

Here’s the timeline of the sweater unraveling:

Thursday:  We rented a dumpster for yard debris.  Filled it halfway up with no problem.  Still have half a dumpster sitting there!

Thursday Night: Dave and I thought that we might as well take that pesky wall out now while we have the dumpster.  Why not?  We can live with it torn up a little for a while and it would be nice to have the light in the summer time.

Before kitchen photo 1960
I didn’t clean up for you and you can tell that my design tactic was to cover every square inch with stuff to take your mind off the ugliness of the kitchen. The above photo shows how the kitchen looked this Friday morning.  The door on the right leads to stairs to the outside and the basement.  As you can see – no upper cabinets here – just taking the wall out at half height.


wall knocked down kitchen
A few hours later on Friday and the wall is gone!

Already better, right?  There was nothing in the soffit at the back wall.  Even though no more space was added – the kitchen felt bigger immediately.  We congratulated ourselves on the project.  Not bad!   Of course, once we saw the nice light coming in, we didn’t want to put the refrigerator back in its spot.  This leads to another thought – we’ll put the refrigerator where the microwave is (you can see it in the above photo at the right)!  No problem!

during renovation
Better…but why not add some windows?

Saturday:  We also took a look at the tiny window here and decided to spend a little bit on the project now and add more windows.  Why not!?  We’re going to enlarge this little window (if you crane your head, and I tell you where to look, you can see the mountains!) and add two windows to the right that will look out on the backyard and the deck.  While I was purchasing the windows, Dave cut down lower cabinets, took off the upper cabinets and moved the refrigerator.  Until this point, we hadn’t lost any counter or storage space.  Now, we lost a good chunk of both.  But, hey, that refrigerator isn’t blocking our tiny view anymore!

during renovation wall out
I took this photo Saturday night after the dust had settled.

I picked up this little steel industrial cart at the Littleton Antique Mart (which is way too close to where I live) to help with the loss of the counter and storage.

Sunday: We have an Easter brunch to attend and an early Nuggets game.  So, of course we have time to take out the rest of the soffit, right?  And we really should – I mean, the dumpster is there.

during kitchen renovation
Sunday morning.

The remaining cabinets that we had, the stove hood and the cabinet over the stove accidentally came out in the process of the other soffit removal.  Whoops.  The other soffit had metal in it and was an absolute nightmare to take out and an hour before we had to leave for the game we were googling “Asbestos boards around stove”.  That’s right.

Monday morning:  I have a slightly brighter kitchen but half the storage is gone.  The kitchen is still an absolute mess.  Dishes are being kept in our bedroom and everything is coated in dust.

Do not touch the loose thread on the sweater – it will affect the fabric of your universe.



21 thoughts on “DIY Home Renovation Project in a Weekend: What NOT to Do”

  1. Oh my god! You damned near had me in tears I was laughing so hard! I am absolutely sure that we must be related somehow. I have “pulled the loose thread on the sweater” more times than I care to admit. Usually, once I commence with the thread pulling, the hubs will decide that pulling the thread was a good idea after all and throw himself into the unraveling with me. Between the two of us, we always stitch up someday better than what was there before. Looking forward to seeing what y’all knit up!

    1. Ha! Probably some distant cousin in there. My husband was all on board with this with me too. Now we feel really sheepish. Had to tape plastic to the ceiling last night to keep the bits of plaster from falling into food. Good times.

  2. I will not laugh!!!! But, Yeah. This is what I have nightmares about. Our house has a small box of a kitchen from the early 1970s, and though I have grand “plans” so far all I have done is replace refrigerator and dishwasher. Still trying to figure the how and how not of upgrading… I really do understand exactly where you’re coming from on this one. Can’t wait to see where it goes.
    All the Best,

    1. Early 1970’s might not be as bad as mid to late 1970’s! Our kitchen was built for Armegeddon it seems. Underneath it all is the old plaster and lathe ceiling and walls from the 30’s….we are NOT touching those….

      1. Our kitchen is pretty bad. Don’t think it had been touched for at least the past 2 and a half decades except for cheap and unattractive fixes for what was falling apart.

        My first husband and I renovated a 1920s bungalow years ago, so I know exactly what you mean about yours. Home building has certainly changed over the years.

        We will get through these renovations and laugh later…

      2. No choice but to laugh – mostly at ourselves. Especially me – I should know better! It’s just so hard to not want to mess with it when it’s so darn ugly! Your 1920’s bungalow sounds like an adventure. The 1970’s kitchen sounds like it just needs to be ripped out!

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