Welcome to our Reno Week 1

Back porch being removed

Back porch being removed

Lath and wallpaper fragment

Lath and wallpaper fragment

Well the time has finally come. Our kitchen reno/ new addition started on Monday and we’ve managed to get through the first week without too many issues. We’re already camped out in the dining room although the sink and stove is still accessible to us. Originally the porch that you see here on the left was to be completely demolished and the addition built while we still had a full kitchen. Then, once the addition was built the walls would be open and demolition would start in the old kitchen. Mother Nature had other plans. For several days this week it rained – so we had a choice. Stick to the original plan or else keep going ahead with the project by starting the interior demolition sooner. We chose the latter.The porch is still attached but you can see how the house looked originally with its back porch. The little shed on the left was my cute little potting shed. You wouldn’t believe how much stuff I could store in it. No matter… as of this afternoon it is gone.One thing that has amazed me so far is the contractor’s demo man. He is unbelievably conscientious and careful. He is pulling things apart with the care you would take if you were planning on reusing all the pieces. As a result we have several good pieces of clapboard siding for doing repairs on the north side of the house. He cleans up the room after he is done and even organizes the trash in such a way that it doesn’t look too bad in the alley.

Destruction begins!

Destruction begins!

We have learned a few things so far about our kitchen – such as the date that the pantry was turned into a mini kitchen. The newspapers that were stuffed in the walls say 1936. This means that the kitchen was this tiny little room for the first 25 years. Amazing really.The walls had wood shavings which is no surprise – but what was surprising is that the wood shavings were all the way to the top of the wall – they had not settled at all! (Boy, removing wood shavings sure is messy work!).We found scraps of wallpaper (shown in the picture at left) on the bottom half of the wall in the pantry. Everywhere else in the kitchen the bottom of the walls had burlap which was painted. The top half of the wall was plain. This surprised me a bit because kitchens were typically service rooms that did not have much in the way of decorative details. We’ve been saving pieces of the existing  woodwork so that we can match it as closely as possible. We had three doors. Now we will only have one and it is wider than the old door so we will have to use new wood. It will be painted so it doesn’t matter so much.

We did have problems with our windows however. They came in without their mullions and the hardware was incorrect but the company was immediately responsive which I feel is the mark of a good organization. We could not keep the old windows unfortunately. I will miss the big window in the kitchen but, like many windows of its time, it was not built to be above counter height. After all – there were no counters in kitchens in 1912!Although it’s inconvenient to cook and clean in separate rooms so far it hasn’t been bad. I know we will feel differently once we no longer have our sink or water and need to do dishes in the bath tub.Our 10 year old dog is feeling the stress. She can’t find her food and water bowls or her day bed – they keep being moved on her!. She has had two accidents this week on an old rug we are using to protect the hardwood floor – something she has never done before.  She was friendly with the tradesman until she saw him wearing a dust mask!So I guess we all have things we have to put up with. Can you please share some of your stories with me? Some survival tips perhaps? Ideas on food and cooking? I’d love to hear from you.

4 responses to “Welcome to our Reno Week 1

  1. HI Johanne
    A couple of things come to mind for kitchen reno survival. …

    The original painted burlap you found, was a period effect usually used in dining rooms or sitting rooms in A and C houses.
    I have never heard of it being used in a kitchen! Looks like the missus of the day was no different that most of us today ie updating the room/home on a shoestring and likely wanted something different.

    For cooking during your reno…we are doing our kitchen next summer so we can bring the holiday trailer home, and use it for food storage and cooking. It has its own dishes, water hookup, sink etc…so no need to do dishes in a bathtub. If you dont own a holiday trailer, perhaps you could borrow one from some friends. Sounds like you have a very good contractor- ours is the same way. There is never any mess left at the end of the day. That seems to be a sign of a good conscientious tradesman.

    Regarding your poor old four legged family member. Pets dont like the noise, change and chaos that renovations bring. Our seven year old fox terrier takes to the basement and stays there whenever she so much as sees a hammer come out. lol…I used to breed , train and show German Shepherds ( and a few other breeds as well) and have found a couple of things will help your dog get through this stressful time…

    Find a place where food, water and bed will not be moved. That will go along way to decreasing her stress levels. This is very very important.

    Go to a health food store which carries Bach’s flower remedies, or thier equivalent. Bach’s brand “Rescue Remedy” or
    or Tromos (for trauma and stress)…give pooch a few drops under the tongue as per directions. Works very well for calming dogs who are stressed. These remedies are often used for nervous show dogs. Be sure to take the dog for a leisurely walk at least once a day esp. when the workmen are working. This removes the dog from the stress for awhile and shifts focus to an enjoyable activity. Its good for both of you! Old dogs often adjust very poorly to the kinds of stress reno’s bring. Another way to soften the stress is to show the dog you are not concerned by the racket. If you are not concerned, then quite often the dog learns to ignore it.You can also desensitize her to face masks…it will just take some time.

    You should have seen the look on our terrier’s face when we had roofers last summer! She looked up, twisting her head this way and that, with the most puzzled look on her face, like she wasnt sure she should bark at the strange noise or not…I took her outside to show her that there were men on the roof. She quickly saw that I wasnt concerned and so she learned to ignore them. She didnt like the loud noises, but we were able to spend alot of time outside where it didnt seem to bother her ears as much. And within a day or two she was very friendly with the workers and actually would wait for them at the gate every morning.

    This week the same contractor will be here doing our doors and windows…when he came with the job quote, Tillie seemed to remember him and gave him an enthusiastic terrier’s greeting…that could change though when the work begins. lol

    I hope you find my suggestions helpful. The drops really work when used as directed and are good for alleviating stress in the short term. They are natural and have no side effects, and are safe for your pet. Good luck with the kitchen reno…and just keep chanting “this too shall pass, this too shall pass.” May the reno go smoothly and finish on time!

    Beverly LaPorte

    • Thanks Bev – those are great tips. No we won’t have a trailer to live in – or even a place to park one but we’ve been through this many years ago – and we survived. We set up a screened room outside on a deck and a big umbrella is now shading our chaise longue – so I’m making sure that we have some comfortable places to go to outside as well.

  2. Hi–We did some work in our kitchen and were without a stove for a few weeks.
    We had some wonderful meals using the barbecue and slow cooker.

    • Thank God it’s summer! Barbeques are great and I’m using the slow cooker as we speak. Did you cook large amounts so that you would have leftovers?

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