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The Kitchen

It's been a long time coming. When we bought the house I wasn't thrilled with the kitchen. This goes against conventional wisdom here that the woman vetoes houses with bad kitchens. I just saw potential! Actually I hadn't seen a kitchen here I liked, and figured one that clearly needed to be replaced was better than a modern one that I didn't like. I just didn't realise how much of the rest of the house was in need of work too.

Anyway, we started talking with Noel at Cabinets and Kitchens about the redesign. Noel impressed me in several ways. He is an enthusiastic cyclist (and I do prefer to give the business to someone who shares my passion), but he also has the coolest design system I have ever seen. Many of you know that by profession, I am a designer of user interfaces for computer programs, and am very much into usability design via low tech methods. Most kitchen designers do a high tech CAD drawing and bring it around for you to see. You ask about moving a cupboard - they go away and do another drawing and some time later come back with a new drawing. Noel has a few cupboards of blocks of various shapes and sizes of standard appliances and cupboards and many odd sizes too. He takes a measure of your space, gets some idea of what you want, and using the small scale blocks lays out a little toy house version of your new kitchen. So then when you say, What if we put the fridge over there? he or you simply move the block and you see instantly how it will work. You can rearrange and try whatever you want. Low tech, and so easy to do. You can also get a good feel from the 3-D version rather than looking at elevation drawings from CAD software. This is so cool, and we got to design exactly what we wanted.

Noel got to hear from us and also read on the website our nightmare stories about the heat and roof. Maybe it was the fear of seeing himself flamed on our website, but I honestly think he and his crew always do great work, because the kitchen went in with very few glitches, and it is awesome. I can highly recommend Noel Tait and Bill Tyler, the installer. They did a great job, found solutions to every problem and just were incredibly pleasant to deal with. I've told him several times, but know that Noel will read this page some day and should be happy to see the good report!

We'd done some prep work by excavating to find the lovely rimu floor underneath layers of vinyl, and the lovely rim window under layers of paint. We'd initially had an offer from a fellow to buy the old kitchen and remove it, but that fell through, when his wife designed something completely different. So I got to pull out the old kitchen.


I also had to get Simon, the plumber, up to disconnect the old sink, so I could remove that countertop. Simon had hurt his back, when he, Cara, Aria and I went bike touring the week before, but had recovered enough to crawl around under the cupboards. Simon got the old stuff out and moved the plumbing - since we were moving the sink. While we had gib board off, I grabbed insulation from the renovation down the hall, and got a bit in these exterior walls! (Yes, work was going on at both ends of the house.) So I had all the kitchen stuff piled up in the dining room and living room, all the 3rd bedroom stuff in the second bedroom and deck, and the cats locked away in our bedroom. It was great living like this for two weeks.

Monday, Brad and Dave, the electricians from Crabb Electrical came to do the electrical prep work. These guys did work for us when we put in the new hot water heater, and we liked them enough to invite them back. We were moving lots of outlets in the kitchen, and also doing some work throughout the house. I hadn't quite finished getting one of the cupboards out and Noel came up to help rip it down, so they could get the wires placed! One strong guy with a big crowbar, and the pantry was out. I got the rest of the stuff out and piled up on the deck. Yes, the deck is quite full with old cupboards as well as the workshop, laundry, outdoor furniture, etc. Good thing the deck is almost as big as the house!

I also had Brad and company redo some lights in the rest of the house and get the new room ready for gib. But one of my high priority requests was to hide the honking big transformer. We need it for our coffee station - the espresso machine, frothers and grinder that we brought from the States, as well as the vacuum. It's a 2000 watt unit, and is an industrial piece of equipment. I wanted to get this thing off the countertop. He said no problem to move it and wire up a couple of American outlets. It has proved to be more trouble than we anticipated, and I'm waiting to hear back from tech support (from the place I bought it about some of our issues).

Bill, the installer and Noel came Tuesday, with lots of boxes of cupboards and kitchen parts. Bill got most of the lower cupboards assembled and set up over the next two days. Bob the gas fitter came out and pulled the gas line up through the floor. When he did the gas fire and hot water, we had him put the line for the hob in as well, so it was simple to pull through. Watching the modular cupboards go together was fun. I did start to wonder how it would all fit though!

The one and only glitch in the process was our countertop. It wasn't ready when we were, so we lost a day. This meant I had Thursday free to go play. I ran a few errands, including loading the van with all the rubbish from the wall board removal. Then mid day Friday the counter top showed up. It took three strong guys and lots of twists and turns to get it in. There was a slight problem with one of the angles, but being a resin on pressboard design, they were able to redo it in place, but this did delay things a bit. I had booked Bob and Simon to hook up gas and water that afternoon, but we'd now have to wait til Monday. I had really hoped to have plumbing for the weekend, but I was coping OK and would just have to continue washing dishes in the laundry basin and eating sandwiches and rice. (I could use the breadmaker and rice cooker, and the oven worked.) The countertop actually came in two pieces, and once the angle was repaired, the two pieces were glued together with the same resin so it looks seamless. Darin came out Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to get this all set. This top looks like a fancy corian top, but as a resin, it can be easily cut to an odd size, and repaired. It is also much less expensive. We had delays, but I would do this same Domani top again and recommend it to friends. It looks good!


So on Monday, Simon and Bob hooked up the water and gas and Bill continued with the upper cupboards. Thomas also came to start the skylights, but only could get one in, since the others were placed too low in the roof. It was a busy place that day.


Bill finished up Tuesday night and I arranged for the electricians to come back out and finish off lights. It took two days due to issues with that darn transformer, and hopefully we can get things working with it soon. These guys will need to come back to finish the wiring in the new room, as well as install a ceiling fan, but otherwise, they are mostly done. The wiring in this house is a nightmare, and they've tried to clean things up, but we still have one overloaded circuit that I want to try to fix. We'll see if it is possible.

Anyway, here is the mostly finished product, already in use. I have gas cooking, so I can now control the temperature and stop boiling everything. I have heaps of counter space, a double sink, big enough for the wok and rinsing, a pull out spray tap, and usable drawers and cupboards. We obviously still need to plaster, tile and paint, but look how close we are. And it is so functional. I can't wait for John to come home and start cooking.

So with the new kitchen the work done in the last days before John comes home, the house has truly been transformed. When I give him the new keys to the new house, it will not be such an exaggeration. The electricians referred me to a lad to buy the old kitchen, and he's planning to pick it up Sunday morning. John's flight arrives Sunday afternoon!

The other work