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How I Helped My Parents Remodel Their Kitchen — Part 1

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My name is Sean, I’m 34 years old, and I have been helping my parents remodel the kitchen in their Eagle Rock, Calif., home. We started about three months ago, and it’s almost done.

While I knew from the beginning that the end result will be really nice — a larger space with an island, cherry cabinets, sage green granite counters, top-of-the line limestone floors from Walker Zanger — the process of the remodel has been really rough on my parents. It’s been hard for me to see them going through so much stress and knowing that I caused this to happen. I was the instigator of the new kitchen. Actually, I pushed them into this.

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Kitchen before, functional but small

The kitchen my parents had in their 1960s home was perfectly good. But it was narrow and had limited counter space. And it was so white. But it was OK for them. If it was up to my parents, they would have made some minor adjustments and left well enough alone. At their ages — my mom is in her late 60s, and my dad is in his early 70s — they don’t like a lot of drama.

Everything in the house was white as a former owner had painted everything in the house white, including the three-sided fireplace in the adjacent living room. It was that fireplace with the big, random chunks of stone — you’ve seen these all over Southern California — that started this whole project.

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Started with fireplace

Because I have a degree in architecture, my mom asked me to do something with the fireplace, which bugged her for years. I decided to frame it out and cover it with drywall, which you can see at the left in the top picture. While that was in process, we covered all the furniture. Still, dust got everywhere in the living room and kitchen, as drywall dust tends to do. At that point, I suggested to my parents that we just keep going and redo the kitchen. You can see in that top picture that the kitchen is tucked into a very small area.

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New electrical

To make the kitchen larger, we would need to remove the counter between the kitchen and dining room. For the demolition and to build a small wall extension, we got a bid of $6,000 from a carpenter who did some work for the neighbor. Our plan was to then hire a variety of subcontractors for the electrical, plumbing, drywall, flooring, cabinets, etc.

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New drywall

One of the toughest jobs was moving the plumbing for the sink from the counter we would be removing to the wall under the window. As the house is on a concrete slab, it wasn’t a simple matter of moving the plumbing underneath a raised wooden foundation. Rather, the slab had to be cut and the plumbing rerouted in the floor. In the second picture here, you can see the new electrical wires being run for the new outlets and recessed lighting. And in the last picture, you see the new drywall.

In my next post, I’ll show you the new cabinets set in place, and the new limestone floor. And in the third and last post, I’ll show you the finished kitchen and a list of the costs.

See the whole series:

Part 1: Planning, Demolition, Electrical, Drywall

Part 2: Flooring, Cabinets

Part 3: Tile and Granite Choices

Part 4: Done! Lessons Learned

Would you like your before and after remodel featured in Kathy’s Remodeling Blog? Please send a paragraph explaining the project, along with a couple of pictures and a list of costs, to kathy@kathysremodelingblog.com. If your project fits into our editorial needs, we’ll get back with you for the rest of the story! Happy remodeling!


2 Comments on How I Helped My Parents Remodel Their Kitchen — Part 1

  1. Can’t wait for the other two postings!

  2. Mrs. Smith // July 11, 2007 at 12:13 pm // Reply

    What an awesome project. Love it! I’m sure it looks spectacular now.

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