In Design: A Kitchen Renovation V
Physical work on our new kitchen began about two and a half weeks ago and has been moving along. Our new tile floor is down and looking lovely, demolition is done, our stove hood ductwork is in place, most of the plumbing is completed, and electrical work is in progress.
Leveling the Ceiling and Floor
There have, however, been a few minor snags. These have mainly resulted from the fact that none of the surfaces in our kitchen or its adjoining hallway are level, square or even smooth. When measured from a level line struck around the perimeter of the room, the height of our ceiling varied by about two inches—a significant variation in a 10 x 10-foot space. Because our cabinetry had been designed to come very close to the ceiling, it was imperative that the ceiling be leveled as much as possible. Our contractor set about doing so, using furring strips that were individually shimmed—relative to the hills and valleys of the ceiling—to provide level points of attachment for new sheetrock.
Then the tile guys, faced with a floor of similar irregularity, did the best they could to level the floor without floating it (essentially, pouring a thin, level layer of concrete), which would have resulted in an undesirable step up into the kitchen and the loss of a precious inch or so of overall room height. And these same intrepid tile guys are probably still cursing us for specifying a one-tile-wide contrasting border about 5-inches in from the walls all the way around the undulating perimeters of the space.
Keep Organized—Really Organized
More minor problems, coupled with the questions and misunderstandings that crop up on a daily basis, have gradually opened my eyes to the necessity of intense organization when one wishes to manage their own renovation project (we had a registered architect friend do our drawings and filing, but we—I, more like—have taken on the day-to-day management). As a result I recently sat down with our drawings and all of our appliance specifications and made a detailed spreadsheet. It includes all of the work that needs to be done and all of the materials and fixtures that we need to have on site, arranged according to a rough timeline (e.g. the kitchen needs to be painted before cabinets can be installed) and by the party responsible for the work or installation (e.g. me, my general contractor, electrician, cabinet installer, etc.). I check this every day to keep an eye on progress and make sure that we’re not missing any details as we move forward.
I also keep a daily list close at hand for keeping track of phone calls that need to be made, orders that need to be tracked and questions that need to be asked or answered.
I have also made an organized booklet of copies of all of our appliance specifications and keep them in a safe, but accessible place on site with our certified drawings so that dimensions and plumbing and electrical details can be easily referenced by anyone.
Though my phone continues to ring throughout the day and the door buzzer gets little rest, this reformed approach has definitely helped to make the process a bit more manageable. And, provided that things run smoothly with finishing work and inspections, we should be able to schedule our cabinetry and appliance installation for the end of the month, leaving little—aside from countertop fabrication and installation—between us and our new kitchen!
About the author: Amanda Clarke is a recovering restaurant pastry chef with a background in architecture. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes, tests, and develops recipes and works on freelance food-styling gigs between walkings and feedings of her two dogs and husband.