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Replacing The Kitchen Sink

I love it when I can wake up on a Saturday morning, not too early, not too late, with my husband beside me in bed and the house is quiet.  I can hear the birds calling to one another outside of the house, knowing spring is finally here.  As I creep downstairs trying not to wake anyone, I realize that the kids are already up, but quietly working on art projects.  These are the kinds of things that make me happy.  And I smile a little more when I see the new counter and sink in the kitchen because it’s not dirty or falling apart, and it feels like we are finally getting our lives together.

That’s right, the mystery project keeping me cooped up in the house the past few weeks is a new kitchen cabinet for the new kitchen sink!  (Well, it’s not a mystery to all of you.)  I think that it’s fair to say that the kitchen is probably the most important part of a home, especially the home of a homesteader or a gardener.  You need space to work, and that whole sink set up can either make your kitchen enjoyable to work in, or miserable.  Ours was the latter.

I’ve gone back and forth on how to write this post, and I think what I need to do is to break it up into more posts.  Today I’ll talk about the why and skim over the how.  The next post (or posts…I’m not sure) will be about the how, and another one will be about why it was such a great homeschooling/learning experience for us.  I’m not very short with my words, so I don’t know how long this will be, but I’ll try to include a lot of pictures 🙂

So why?  Why did we decide to replace the sink and the cabinet?  Well, the counter was literally beginning to rot, with a potential for much more serious water damage.

You can see the crack s in the counter here.  It’s water damaged, but not moldy (despite how the picture may look).  All wood where the finish has worn off is “stained” a darker color from exposure to water.

The cabinet door and drawers were beginning to fall apart.  It was ugly.  And the sink was a larger one basin sink which made it impossible to fill up with a reasonable amount of water for washing the dishes.

The only think I liked about this cabinet were the pulls.

Yes, it was like a thorn in our side.  Scott especially hated the one-basin sink, and as there is next to no counter space, it meant that the sink always had dishes in it, so there was no good way to rinse our dishes or to wash our hands if it filled up with dishes too quickly.  Sure, I’d wash the dishes, but when you are cooking for 6 people or more, on a daily basis, it fills up really quickly, and sometimes there just isn’t time to wash the dishes right now.  I absolutely hated that there was already water damage on the counter when we moved in, which made it impossible to clean properly, which ultimately lead to more water damage.  And there was nothing I could do about it.

You can see the water damage better in this picture.  The kids “accidentally” broke the towel bar off of here right after this.

It was all in rough shape when we moved in, but being used by so many people on a regular basis, just increased the wear and tear it was receiving.  But that counter damage was what really did it in.  If you remember, I complained a bit about it when I wrote about replacing the tile in the island counter top.  It was beginning to become a health and safety concern.  The counter now had a crack in it and water was beginning to drip down into two of the drawers, and on occasion, down into the basement.  If we didn’t take care of it, it could quickly spiral into a really bad situation.  And to top it all off, the cabinet drawers and door were truly beginning to fall apart.

Everything was held together with L-brackets and is starting to come apart.

So as we discussed our plans for using our tax return, we had to add the kitchen sink and cabinet to the list of things that needed to get done.  We set a  budget and took a trip to the home improvement store to see if our budget was reasonable.

This is a good picture of the color difference between the original woodwork (to the left) and the “newer” cabinet that houses the sink.

I have an obsession with projects.  I HAVE to have something to work on on a regular basis.  It’s what I do.  And I was a bit disappointed that an indoor project was going to be pulling at my attention like that again.  It was a complicated project, which lead to a lot of sleepless nights for me, and I really didn’t want that right now.  But I was so excited to have the cabinet be nicer than it was, to get a sink in that I would like, that I was relieved that it was a priority to fix.  My first sleepless night was spent coming up with a sketch of what I wanted the cabinet to look like, and that included the features that Scott and I both were looking for it to have.  Then I spent a few hours scouring the internet, looking for the best prices for materials, and seeing where we would be better ordering online, or buying from one store or the other.  We’re actually within 30 minutes of 4 different home improvement chains, and multiples of some of those stores, so we really have some good selection for a project like this.

We looked at purchasing a pre-made cabinet, but there was nothing that fit our space correctly, and if it did, it required so many changes to make it work for what we wanted, that it wouldn’t really save us much time or money.  We talked about a cabinet maker, but our budget wasn’t going to allow for somebody to do all of that work.  The last option was to build it ourselves.  The original cabinet was not constructed by a professional, and I wanted to make sure we ended up with better than that.  Thankfully, I have a tiny bit of experience from when I built some cabinets for the built-in bookshelf at our old house, so I felt confident that I could do a better job than that of what existed.  A few somebodies speculated that the cabinet was added when plumbing was added to the house, but I really don’t know (so if any of you remember, let me know).

Once the design was drawn up and prices scoped out, I ordered the sink that I wanted that was within budget and made a trip to the home improvement store to get the materials I needed.  I knew that there was no way I was going to be able to do the proper woodworking to get this cabinet to match the existing cabinets, but I also knew there would be ways to get it to blend with the style of the room.  I wanted the style of the cabinets to match the originals, and if I painted the cabinets instead of staining them, I could fake the woodwork to match.  For the hardware, I could clean up and reuse the hardware from the old cabinet which matches the hardware on the original cabinets.  The color of the cabinets would be the color of the lower portion of the kitchen walls so that we’d have some way to tie the colors together, and I would fix up the base of the island as well so that the two additions to the kitchen would at least match each other.  And for the counter top, we could tile it with the same tile from the island project.  It would still stick out as being different from the originals, but it would at least match in terms of style, and all of the features would coordinate with something else from the kitchen.

I mostly liked the functionality of our last faucet, but I wanted something different for a few reasons.  For one things, I wanted a faucet that would match better with the hardware in the room, look a little more antique (since that is what most of the house is), and something that wouldn’t show water spots quite so easily.  I found one that was reasonably priced that fit all of those requirements and had a higher water flow than the last faucet because it took a LONG time to fill.

New faucet with pull-down function.  Switches back and forth between stream and spray and has a “pause” feature.  

Anyway…it took about 2 weeks to construct and paint, and another week to do all of the plumbing tiling and finishing.  We stayed within budget, and acquired a few tools along the way, which we always get excited about!  The construction was done in a few phases.  The first step was to build the frame for the cabinet and add the sides and back.

The second step was to put the sink in place.

One “face” piece on the counter, to the left of the sink.  

The third was to face the cabinet (it’s like a cover for all of the “guts” of the cabinet…it makes it look nice) and make the drawers and doors.

Then everything got painted.

Once the cabinet was finished as much as possible without it being in place, we shut off the water, removed the old cabinet and sink, and waited two more days until we had enough time to do the plumbing.  Scott did the plumbing for me.  He took a day off of work so that it would be in place and I could get to work on finishing it (I may or may not have been getting a bit cranky at this point from the mess, the length of time it was taking, not being able to use the kitchen, a serious lack of sleep…).  Have I mentioned before that I love him?  He pretty much did the plumbing solo, with a little bit of help from me or the kids at times just to hold things in place while he put everything together.

After the cabinet was installed, it was time to tile.  This took a few days, and I’ve got to say, I was getting even crankier at this point.  There was MUCH more tile to cut this time than there was when I did the tile for the island, plus lots of fitting. And then placing the tile was stressful because it needed to be placed correctly and the kids were hovering and asking lots of questions, which normally I encourage, but I really needed to focus, so I was mostly getting irritated.  I felt a huge weight off of my shoulders once the tile was in place.  Grouting was a little stressful for the same kids-hovering-over-my-work-and-asking-too-may-questions thing, but not as bad as laying the tile.  Today the grout is dried and cleaned up and the finishing touches applied.  My kitchen feels like a much happier place to be 🙂

As I said before, I’ll do some more posts about the how and also about why it was a great homeschooling/learning experience for our family.  I didn’t get pictures during the tiling process mostly because I was to focused on the task at hand (and it was messy), but also because I did a few pictures of that process with the island.  I didn’t take pictures during plumbing either because I was working on updating the look of the blog or holding things in place for Scott as he worked.  When I go through the how, I’ll share links for the different tools and materials that we used in the event you like anything that we used or did.

I have two requests to make of you.  1) Let me know if there is a specific part of this project you want to know more about, and 2) let me know what you think about the changes I’ve made to the set up of the blog and if you are having any issues with anything.  I still have some adjustments to make, but I want to make sure that it works for you and is easy to work with!  And I want to know what you think of the before and after 🙂  Don’t forget to leave your comments below or on our Facebook page!




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