Timing Is Everything: The 12-Year Kitchen

We had started our kitchen renovation project in early March, so the early stages were hampered by the predictable weather that comes with any northeastern spring. I was glad we could make any progress, of course, but it wasn’t terribly efficient to be trying to do exterior demolition and construction during the rainy, muddy days of March and April. By May, as we neared enclosure, we finally had some decent weather.

Photo: RHenry

Naturally, we had our first hot spell the week Keith was scheduled to lay the roof – that’s hot, sticky work in any weather, and even more so with an early summer sun beating down on you. (Work days started and ended early that week, to beat the mid-day heat.)

In June came the exterior shingling portion of the work – we love our old-style cedar shingles and have long resisted everyone’s advice to replace them with maintenance-free vinyl siding, but it’s painstaking work to lay those perfectly aligned, overlapping rows. Finally, by the Fourth of July, the exterior work was done and the project moved inside.

Remember July? Temperatures over 100 degrees for what seemed like weeks at a time, oppressive heat and humidity like a thick, wet blanket over the whole country? Yes, indeed – it was time for our insulation to go in.

Just looking at these photos make me break out in a sweat again. There simply could not have been a hotter week for that step, and I guess I wouldn’t have blamed any contractor who decided to take some time off and wait for the heat to break before tackling it. But Keith forged ahead – we were already in the fourth month of what had been planned as a five-month project, and there was lots of work ahead that couldn’t be done until the walls were up. So taking a week off was out of the question – the insulation was going in.

Wall insulation

Photo: RHenry

Back in 1920, when the house was built, the only insulation was the air space between the wall studs. (Lay a hand on the room side of one of our exterior walls on a frigid winter’s day and you can feel the results: it’s cold!) Today, of course, you wouldn’t dream of putting up an exterior wall that’s not tightly insulated against the weather – and our little extension is as tight as a drum. Thick fiberglass batting fills the walls and ceiling, and there are three layers under the floor in the crawl space (two overlapping layers of rigid foam over the batting).

insulation - bay window

Photo: RHenry

Hot and miserable as it was, this step was a big milestone that suddenly brought the end into view. With the insulation in, the drywall could go up – suddenly we could feel a finished room taking shape around us. We still have a few miles to go on this, but all at once we saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

sheet rock in the bay window

Photo: RHenry

In future winters, when the cold winds go howling past our snug little kitchen, we’ll be remembering just what it took to seal it all up. We’ll have to remember to invite Keith over for some hot cocoa!

Next time: Stepping out (onto the patio, that is)

Have you remodeled your kitchen?  If so, we would like to see before and afters for a Gallery of Kitchen Makeovers that we are planning to create on BobVila.com.  Go to Facebook and upload your photos now.

For more on kitchen design and remodeling, consider:

Planning Your Dream Kitchen
Kitchen Cabinet Styling and Installation
Kitchen Trends 2011