That’s Just The DIY’er in Me: The Kitchen

Motivation is enigmatic within us.

When will it hit us?

Will it hit us?

How close to the edge before we get that burst of adrenaline and decide now is the time?

For me, it was in my first home. The year was 2016, I wanted to do something special for my wife, and we had just purchased an older home that needed work done. I felt like it’d be a great way to kick off our adventure in marriage.

With excitement in my voice, I proudly said, “you pick the project, and I’ll make it happen!”

I was young and eager to prove to her that I was the right choice for a husband.

She thought about it for, oh, I don’t know, two seconds and blurted out, “the kitchen!”

So I said confidently, “done!”

So from there, I made a few calls with contractors and different businesses to get quotes on renovating the kitchen.

One by one, they filed in, offering different perspectives on what they’d do to the kitchen. They were all very lovely people (of course they were they want your business).

But then something happened! It was horrible! Harsh reality comes crashing down on us when the estimates came in.

One by one, we cycled through them in disbelief.

I read them off to my wife $38k, $42k, $35k,$47k, and I heard her get emotional briefly because we had nowhere near that amount of money.

As I continued reading over the estimates, I quickly realized that our little pipedream of having this magazine-worthy kitchen was going up in smoke. I stood over the estimates, looking over the details, and out of nowhere said, “I’ll do it myself!”

She looked up at me, surprised but intrigued that I didn’t give up on the project.

I doubled down, “Yeah, I’ll clear out all of this, and it’ll be an empty template of a room, and we’ll get the best cabinets you can find, I’ll do the floor, and I’ll do the tiling, and the drywall. We don’t need those guys!”

The look on my wife’s face when I said that I knew there was no turning back on it now.

So off I went starting with the demo:
This was really the point of no return, knocking out 70 year old plastered walls.

Let’s leave the bulkhead! Well I better bust it open just to make sure we are thorough. Oh found a spiderweb, a spiderweb of wires that is! No ground on those 1950’s wires, ran all new electrical, problem solved.

Well, since we knocked the bulkhead out and found some fun surprises, I better gut the wall where the sink is going to be again thorough and safe.

GOOD CALL! The wall was rotted to the point where you can see the outside!

Well now that I found those fun little surprises I better scrutinize everything going forward. The perfectionist and my overly ambitious side took over.

Let me check the other walls. No insulation! Oh and the floor is off by 1/2″, surprise!

I remained steadfast in my faith. I knew God wouldn’t have put me in a situation like this just to fail. It was all part of God’s plan. I was meant to gut these walls and find the rot and other things that would hinder my efforts of keeping my family safe.

I ended up reinsulating the entire area just to be safe. So a total gut job for both rooms. This corner I am standing in, I remember the below picture very well. I stood there thinking I am in over my head with this project. It was such anxiety. I kept my eye on the end result saying it will pay off!

No use standing around pontificating!
No use complaining about it just do it! New subfloor done and both rooms now level.

Slowly but surely, the project started coming together. People say “grab the bull by the horns” but the advice stops there. What do you do after you grab it by the horns?

I continued my project, a lot of work, but worth it!

Everything up to code and off I go with putting it all back together.

My confidence began to grow, and we were sick of doing dishes in the bathroom so I picked up my pace working on things around the clock.

Spackle and sand, spackle and sand!

Spackle and sand, spackle and sand!

It finally got to the point of the project where I went into the bedroom to say to my wife, “it is time for paint!”

Never did I expect to be so happy to hear those words. I was finally on the home stretch.

The painting was finished. I finished it just in time, the cabinets were set to arrive.

It took a few hours to get the cabinets in place but it did go pretty smoothly. The next day our new countertop arrived. It was granite, this part of the project I deferred to the professionals. They set it all in place and left no trace of their visit. They were amazing at their craft.

After that was done, it was time for me to put the finishing touches. I broke out my trusty tiling materials and my saw and got to work. After that was done, I hung all of the rustic kitchen lights.

And walloh….DONE!

Did I mention it is done! Ahhhhh.

Definitely a different type of feeling standing in this corner. No anxiety at all. As a bonus, and because I saved so much doing it myself, I renovated the room(far right) just off the kitchen as well.

I started this project with minimal experience and exposure to this type of work. Here and there, I’d help the family out with small little projects, but nothing to this magnitude. I attacked it with a feverish desire to prove to my wife and myself that with a bit of elbow grease, grit, determination, and passion, we can accomplish anything!

We stood back, looking over the work I had done. The inspector came out, looked over everything, and signed off on the job.

I was happy with the work I had done, but he said something that kind of fluff my ego even more, “I’ve been doing this for years, and for you to do this job, this well just amazing. A lot of contractors don’t even do things this thorough, unbelievable job. You should be proud!”

The waves of emotion that hit me throughout the project were something else. One day I’d feel like I was at the top of the world, but the next day, I’d surveyed the work yet to be done, and then sink into depression and feel overwhelmed. There is no doubt in my mind that I was put into this situation for a reason. God had a plan for me and wanted me to go through all of this.

Thanks for reading!

Travis

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