The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Sixteen square feet of renovation

Ramshackle kitchen

One of Mark's wish-list projects for the winter was remodeling the part of the kitchen shown above. This ramshackle conglomeration of warped counter, old sticks, and bookshelf came about when I proudly decided to tackle home repair on my own while Mark was busy elsewhere. It long ago became a part of the scenery that I didn't even notice, but it drove my poor husband crazy. So I gave him $60 and said, "Let's see what you can do with that!"

Tearing out the old

The first step was tearing apart all of the old kitchen area. I moved supplies elsewhere, then Mark made short work of the screws and brackets.

Rolling island

Before heading to Lowes, we measured the newly opened space, figuring we'd move one of our rolling islands in to fill part of the area. Mark took off the towel rod and hinged counter-extender, then the island fit perfectly as-is.

New kitchen

The real score was the little cabinet Mark's looking at in the photo above. It was slightly chipped and was thus marked down to 50% off. Take away Mark's additional 10% veteran's discount and he was able to also include the quality counter-board he has his hand on within my proposed budget as well.

Measuring a counter

I believe the board was $15 before Mark's discount, and it's a nice, hefty piece of wood well worth the price. Real home remodellers would stain both the counter and the cabinet, I know, but Mark and I are pretty simple. We don't put use this particular counter for cooking --- more for utensil storage and dirty dishes stacking --- so it should be fine as untreated wood. We did, however, cut off a few inches so I wouldn't bang my hip into the corner every time I came in the door.


Finally, Mark attached the board to the cabinet with a few brackets, then it was time to start putting kitchenware and food away. All told, phase one of the project only took us about two hours, and most of that time I was standing around twiddling my thumbs. (By the way, you can see the cosmetic damage to the cabinet that caused the price reduction in the photo above.)

We still need to find spots for a spice rack and a few pots that Mark had to move out of the way to install our new cabinets, but that's a project for another day. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the sight of fresh, clean cabinets...until they fade back into the scenery and I forget about them once again. I'm hoping Mark's hedonistic adaptation goes more slowly so he gets his full sixty dollars worth.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Well done for being so resourceful. As long as it suits the owners, it shouldn't matter what it looks like. It's functional.
Comment by Chris Thu Jan 7 22:02:35 2016
Great idea. Unfortunately my experience with those lower end cabinets is that the pressboard back and sides are very sensitive to moisture, either from a small spill on the floor or just drips from above. If you want the cabinet to survive for more than a few years, I would paint the sides and back just to seal out moisture. I might also caulk around the bottom to prevent spills or wet boots from getting moisture up under the cabinet, that is how ours failed. Even though only the front side was exposed, a little moisture got in under the front and the whole side gradually decomposed.
Comment by rebecca Fri Jan 8 10:16:51 2016

Chris --- Well, I'm easy to please. If it's functional, it suits me. :-)

Rebecca --- Thanks so much for taking the time to say that! I was wondering about that. Sounds like we do need to add a sealant/caulking after all.

Comment by anna Fri Jan 8 12:49:41 2016

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