Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen

From Demolition to Drywall
PLUS: Survival Recipes, Phase 2
Part 5 of the
FoodWine's Kitchen Remodel

by Kate Heyhoe


When it came to planning my kitchen remodel, I was fortunate. There was nothing in the original kitchen I wanted to keep. Ditto for the adjoining dining room. No need to anguish over what to save and what to lose.

I did know that creeping around the corner—two right angled walls away—was an enclosed porch with two floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows, and views that overlooked a yard full of wild bunnies, baby quail, and the occasional roadrunner or red tailed hawk. I was determined to bring that view into the kitchen—and so the demolition began.

Down to the studs

Down to the studs...

With crowbar in hand and goggles on head, my husband Thomas whacked away. Down came the old cabinets, out came the ancient dishwasher. Together we pulled away the 1960's dark wood paneling to reveal bare studs—no drywall, just 2-by-4's, electrical chases and plumbing pipes.

The passageway from kitchen to living room consisted of two beaten up swinging doors. Not only did we lose the doors, but we removed the entire frame around the doorway—opening the space all the way from floor to ceiling. (See photos 5 A & B.)We also increased the passage width to a full 4 feet. We did the same thing with hallway passages. Today, there are no doors anywhere between the living areas of the house—the space flows from foyer to living room, to butler's pantry, to kitchen, to porch room to the central hallway that loops back around to the living room. Combined with the added windows and the pitched ceiling that peaks in the center of the house, the floor plan now feels like a loft: open, spacious and airy.


Tip: Whack It Yourself or Not?
You can leave the demolition to the contractor, but we chose to do most of it ourselves. First, we saved a bit of money on the bid this way, and we had time to whack away while we waited for the contractor's availability. More importantly, seeing the studs and the load-bearing walls helped us better design the floor plan.

Safety First:
If you do decide to take on the demolition or part of it, use common sense, be very careful, and keep first aid supplies readily available. Wear hard-soled boots rather than sneakers (to avoid those nasty nails), as well as gloves, goggles, and helmets. For protection from fiberglass insulation and dust, wear masks and long sleeves. Know how to use the tools properly. Take care of your back: lift with your legs and arms and don't take on more than your body can handle. If it seems too tough, let the professionals do it. and if you've never had a tetanus vaccination, or a booster shot within the past ten years, get one. Scrapes, nails and cuts happen.


Pre-Drywall Decisions

Before demolition, designing the kitchen was tough—there were too many unknowns. Which walls are load-bearing? Where do the plumbing and electrical lines run? The demolition phase allowed us to see everything. Two load-bearing wall sections were problematic to knock down, so I designed the kitchen around them, and it all worked out great. (See photos 5 C, D & E.)

We also discovered that we could lose an upper section of bracing between the porch room and the new kitchen and replace it with one of my favorite design features: a gently curving arch, which helps offset the hard right angles of the kitchen cabinets. (See photos 5 F, G, and H.)


Planning Tips

After the demolition was complete, Mike the contractor and I spotted the places where electrical plugs, light fixtures and wall switches would go. This being an older house with many additions, it revealed several surprises—and a few changes to bring the wiring or plumbing up to code. We also moved the sink, which required running new pipes, but we kept a cold water line in the original spot, to feed the water and ice dispensers of the ClimateZone refrigerator. The gas line had to be re-routed several feet to accommodate the cooktop on the peninsula, which meant we had to run pipe and valve up through a set of base cabinets. (See photo 5 I.)


Here are some points to consider when redesigning your kitchen:

Electrical plugs - How many countertop appliances do you want to plug in? Personally, I like having all my appliances ready to whir instantly—if they're stored away or hard to get at I won't use them. But leaving all of them on the countertop can get cluttered. Solution? I installed electrical plugs inside the tall cabinets. (See photo 5 J.) I put the toaster, mini-chopper, blender and KitchenAid stand mixer on roll out trays within these cabinets, and plug them in. Then I just pull open the cabinet door, roll out the tray and I'm ready to toast, blend, mix or chop.

Above the countertops, I spaced electrical outlets about every four feet. I added two within the backsplash/riser on the kitchen side of my peninsula; I use these mostly for my spice grinder and handheld immersion blender/chopper. If you install a kitchen island, you'll need to decide where to wire the electrical plugs on it.

In the kitchen and bathrooms, or wherever water is used, make sure to install GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) receptacles. They have built-in circuit breakers to help prevent accidental electrical shocks.

Wall switches—Will lights require more than one switch, positioned at different entryways? In the butler's pantry, which is like a long hallway between the living room and the main kitchen, we installed a light switch at either end. In the main kitchen I have six switches—four in one "gang box" and two in another. In all, they work the overhead recessed lights, the undercabinet lights, the interior glass cabinet lights, and the track lighting over the peninsula. Two more switches turn the power on and off to electrical outlets: One outlet is housed under the sink for a garbage disposal, and the other is high up but hidden by the cabinetry crown molding. (I ordered the upper outlet in case I want to plug in some fancy rope lighting or a fixture for throwing ambiant light across the upper walls and ceiling.) Most of the light switches are on dimmers. The ceiling fan and its four lights can only be operated with a remote control, thus saving the addition of more wall switches for both the fan and its lights. (See photo 5 K.)

Exhaust fan and duct—Do you want an over-the-range exhaust fan that vents to the outside? Some non-vented models re-circulate air through charcoal filters and don't vent outside, so they don't require an exhaust duct. This includes downdraft systems that sit behind an island or peninsula cooktop, or on the cooktop surface itself. Some hood models offer both venting and non-venting options. I prefer venting to the outside, so fish and other strong aromas don't linger in the house. Be sure to consider the CFM—cubic feet per minute, the amount of air the system can pull through. A low CFM (150 to 200) won't be very effective but stand-alone exhaust hoods of 500 to 1000 or more CFM can be quite costly. Looking to make the most of my space, I installed an over-the-range microwave oven that also contains an exhaust fan of 300 CFM. It's not as powerful as the commercial hoods but perfectly fine for home cooking, and it provides an over-the-range light and a solution to a pesky problem: where to put the microwave oven.

Sinks and their vent pipes—Will you have more than one sink, such as a main sink and a smaller prep sink on an island? Where will the vent pipes run? Every plumbing fixture (or group of fixtures) needs a vent pipe running to the outside for the system to drain freely. These pipes typically go up through the walls and out the roof, although in some cases they can go under the floor and out. Your existing sink already has a vent pipe, but if you plan to move the sink, or add a prep or bar sink, you'll need to allow for venting—which may involve running a pipe through a wall or under a floor. Having a second sink can be handy, but it also takes up valuable counter space. In my new kitchen, I opted for a single large double-bowl sink to retain more counterspace, but every cook has different priorities. (See photo 5 C.)

Phone lines—Will you need a modem line or extra phone extension in your kitchen? If you're reading this right now, you obviously use the Internet as a cooking resource. Perhaps you even have a laptop or dedicated kitchen computer. If you're tearing out walls or refinishing the drywall, it's not very expensive to wire in an extra phone jack at the same time.

Cookbook space—Do you refer to a handful of cookbooks regularly? Or are you a cookbook junkie with an appetite for hundreds of cookbooks? Where will you store your cookbooks? You may want to include a built-in or stand-alone bookcase. If you plan an island or peninsula, consider placing cookbooks on a shelf under the countertop. I use baker's racks for hanging pots and pans, but I can also store cookbooks on them. (See photo 5 L.) Cookbooks are important kitchen tools, so plan a space for them that's easily accessible and won't get marred by cooking grease or water. (Fortunately, my office door opens directly onto the kitchen, so my cookbooks and modem are instantly accessible.)

Natural light—Would you love a kitchen with a view? Does natural light appeal to you? Installing a window isn't very expensive or difficult, and it can be one of the most joyous effects in a remodeled kitchen. If you can't add a window, consider adding a skylight. In my kitchen, I added a window directly across from the peninsula and I replaced a solid exterior door with a glass mullioned door, adding even more light. (See photo 5 M.) In fact, with the sliding glass door on the north, the wall of porch room windows on the south and, the new window and mullion glass door on the east, I can now see in three directions whenever I perform most kitchen tasks. Let the sun shine in!


Cabinets Arrive: The Fun Begins!

Kate Heyhoe


Survival Recipes: Phase 2

Picture this: The kitchen sink is gone, the range just barely usable. The last thing you need is a messy meal to make. These recipes can save the day—they're both simple to prepare and easy to clean up. and because they taste good, too, you'll want to make them even if you're not remodeling your kitchen.

Baked Chicken with Onions, Garlic, and Rosemary
Black Bean and Goat Cheese Chalupitas
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
     Baked in Foil with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives
Bread Tomato Garlic Soup
Chicken Breasts Baked in Salsa
Chinese Egg Drop Soup
German Sausage and Sauerkraut
Japanese Pilaf
Lemony Chickpea and Tuna Spread
Ohio Farmhouse Sausage Chili
Portuguese Bread, Garlic and Egg Soup
Rice Salad with Cucumber and Dill
Shrimp Roasted on Rock Salt
Steak in a Brown Paper Bag
Tamale-Style Catfish
Survival Recipes: Phase 1—more easy recipes


FoodWine's Kitchen Remodel Series
(with Survival Recipes)


Copyright © 2001, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.


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This page created March 2001