2010: A Kitchen Odyssey

My kitchen was a total grandma kitchen.  Off-white cabinets, a single fluorescent light fixture down the middle of the ceiling, tiny little oven not located under the stove, white laminate countertops...not really what I want.  Katie and I decided that we'd tackle a remodeling job, and the kitchen seemed like the best candidate.  New countertops, new fridge, painted cabinets, new could happen.  First up was cabinets, because that seemed easy enough.  Some new paint, new hardware, and they'd be good to go.  I numbered the doors with masking tape, drew up a little map to remind myself of which doors went where, and began to tear everything down.

Disassembly went well.  We emptied all the cabinets quickly enough.  The hinges and knobs came off in less than an hour, and since we were going to try for the nice European-style concealed hinges and some fancy new IKEA LANSA handles, clearly all of the holes had to be filled and sanded.  Massive quantities of wood filler were utilized.  Katie and I knocked out the painting of the frames in a weekend.  We even painted the door into the garage and the one kitchen window.  It looked great.  I bought a Bosch random orbital sander that was a ton of fun to play with, and I filled my eating area with cabinet doors.  For some reason, the amount of sheer area that the doors would take up never crossed my mind, but I now know that you could probably roof a house with the wood necessary to build 23 cabinet doors.

Cabinet doorsMany a night was spent putting coats of Bistro White paint on these boards.  The frustrating thing about painting white over pale yellow is that it never really looks any different, so it's difficult to see what the final product might look like.  After the paint dried, it was time to try the 5/8" overlay, face frame hinges that I had bought from Home Depot.  I had done my homework on concealed hinges, so I was pretty sure that I could handle it.

Cabinets pre-hanging

Ready for hanging.

Nope.  My cabinets had a 3/8" overlay.  I trucked the hinges back to Home Depot, looked around, and realized that they didn't sell the 3/8" variety.  Rockler to the rescue!  I bought 22 packs of these bad boys and waited a week with baited breath.  The night they came, I raced home from work and drilled out a sample cabinet.  After hanging it on the frame, I quickly realized that these were completely wrong.  Apparently, I needed these - and for $25 a pair, that wasn't happening.

Option #2 was semi-concealed hinges.  "Use on doors with 3/8 lip," it says.  What it doesn't say is that these hinges will move the door over 1/8" and shift the door out of the frame an equal amount, so it won't close all the way.  Box #2 was heading back to Rockler.  Home Depot had a few boxes of self-closing hinges that looked identical to the shiny gold numbers I removed, so I drove over in a huff, bought all that I could find, and came back to the house to discover that they too shifted the door out of the frame.

Cabinet gap

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Clearly, this wouldn't work.  The hinges went back in the bag and back to Home Depot where I was laughed at by the girl working the Returns counter.  "Next time, you should only buy one or two to see if they work."  Sage advice, to be sure.  I ended up buying the exact same hinges that were on the cabinets in the first place, but in a satin nickel finish this time.  All of the hole-puttying and sanding was for naught, at least in the hinge area.

Cabinets hung

Finally, it was time for hardware.  I made a delightful little template out of cardboard and a ruler that I taped to the store-bought template, which proved to be too small to accommodate the gigantic handles we had picked out.  After trying it out on some scrap wood, I nervously drilled through the first door, set up the handle, actually fit.  It was straight, the holes were in the right place, and the planets aligned.  It couldn't have taken more than two hours to mark and drill the holes and attach the handles to the entire kitchen.A finished cabinetI'm currently working on screwing in all the little magnetic plates that hold the cabinet doors shut, since some moron didn't take the time to level them all when he hung them on the frames.

Cabinets with hardwareThe observant reader will note that two doors are not hung.  The cabinet door on the bottom is the one that I had experimented with concealed hinges on, and as a result had two enormous holes in the back that had to be reputtied.  The door on the top, for some reason, won't go back into its spot.  It's like the microwave has swollen on top, and so I'm not really sure what to do there.  I might fix it one day.

Cabinets with hardware, part deuxNext up: countertops.  Luckily for my sanity, I'm not even going to entertain the idea of installing those myself.  Hopefully, I'll be able to provide an update sooner rather than later.