My Before, During, and After Story, Part 1

November 14, 2010


Our new kitchen an dining room is, of course, a work in progress. But I can proudly (and with great relief) say that most of the work is completed. WHAT a summer it has been.

In case you’re new here, we renovated the kitchen and dining room of my 1855 house. BY OURSELVES. No professional help. I did spend long hours reading books and manuals, though, so I did self-educate myself on methods and regulations.

But we did it! And I still marvel at our accomplishment. We not only gutted and restored these two rooms, but we redid the entire electrical service, redid the water supply system and added some drains, and are in the process of replacing the central heating system.

It was supposed to be me, my husband, and the kids who did this. But my husband (a substitute postal carrier), who’d been out of work for months before our renovation, was suddenly called into work almost EVERY DAY. The kids and I were on our own. Thank the Lord, some of the guys from our church came over every Sunday to help us out with the really tough stuff, like wiring the baseboard heaters, installing furring strips on the ceiling, and hanging some sheetrock. And later, my husband did get some time to install a totally new water supply system with PEX piping.

I’m exhausted, remembering it all. I just can’t believe we did it.

Here are some BEFORE photos. It pains me to look at them!

Ugliest Kitchen1

After our living room renovation in 2007, when I saw the condition of the old 1920s knob and tube wiring, I disconnected it for fear of fire. We'd lived for three years without electricity in half the house. The kitchen had only a small light and two small outlets. It was a miserable room to be in.

Ugliest Kitchen2

The colorful layers are the remnants of previous owners' handiwork. This room and the bathroom were the only rooms remodeled at some point in the house's 155-year history. The rest of the house was relatively untouched since 1855.

Kitchen Day 1

Day 1 of the Renovation.

Kitchen Before LR Wall

I'd been waiting 13 years for this moment.

These were taken once we started the demolition. Our trusty demolition crew was me and one of my daughters. The other daughter and the older son sometimes joined in on the fun.


This was one of the "clean" renovation days.

Kitchen Gutted

I'd removed two small walls from this kitchen, opening up a space 12 x 23 feet. The only limit to what we could do was my own creativity. And the bulky stairwell that protrudes out from the wall....


We found a portion of the wall (behind the chimney no less, which was added sometime after 1855) plastered with old Art Deco wallpaper. Some of it was singed from the chimney heat.

Removing Window3

I gleefully removed the lousy 1970s aluminum window, and made plans to enlarge the hole-- the new window would be twice as large.

I built this monster of a window frame. This side of the wall was only loosely supported; the support beam had been hacked away by previous owners to make room for that lousy aluminum window. I freaked when I saw second-storey studs just hanging within the wall cavity! So this new frame is a monster– it not only houses the new window, but supports this entire side of the house.

Window Rough Framing

Notice that we moved the old sink to the center of the room. We did this to allow us access to the wall, and to provide us with a kitchen sink throughout the renovation. It was also a great opportunity for my husband to learn plumbing.

Window Open

I spent a lot of energy and time with the new window frame. I wanted it to be PERFECT. If there was ANYTHING that was going to be perfect, it would be this. No one would ever see the frame (except you guys, lol), but I would know it was there, insidethe wall, sitting PERFECTLY.

The new window plopped in the cavity. I didn’t even have to shim it, because the frame was so perfectly level and measured so accurately that no amending was necessary. What a glorious moment for us!

Window Int

Livvy loves her new window.

There’s so much more to tell– come back for Part 2. 🙂

4 Responses to “My Before, During, and After Story, Part 1”

  1. Jean at The Delightful Repast Says:

    Your window framing was a triumph!

  2. Rena Says:

    I know this is an old post but am reading some of your archives…. I just want to say that you did a GREAT job with the current pictures of all the work that you did!!!!

    You definitely are a female version of Bob Vila!

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Gee, thanks, Rena! I spent many years dreaming, hoping, wishing, and definitely praying! I like to build things. Although, I think I’m getting a little too old for all this hard work…


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