Our little apartment is looking more each week as if it could be our home. This week, the big change was that we installed the kitchen cabinets.
Originally, this was one of those tasks Amanda and I thought we would be doing by ourselves. Having installed them now with the help of our framer and guy-we-ask-to-do-whatever-we’re-not-smart-enough-to-do-alone Scott Ruppert, I can say with confidence that this would have been a mistake.
One of the first problems we encountered was that the north wall of the apartment isn’t plumb. You may think this reflects sloppy workmanship, but I don’t think so. Instead, I think it reflects the fact that Bill Morgan, our pole barn guy, set 6 x 6 treated posts and that they stood in the sun for about two months while we completed the other tasks that needed finishing. Given the sun exposure and the inevitable twisting of a 20-foot 6 x 6, I’m actually pleased the walls are as straight and plumb as they are.
Scott knew just what to do. We inserted a shim at the bottom of the cabinets on the north wall, cocking them away from the wall a little more at the bottom than at the top. The result is that all the cabinets are level or virtually so.
Amanda and I are fairly smart, and we would have been able to get those cabinets in eventually, as in over two weekends or so. Scott and I finished it up in about three hours, and I think I slowed him down more than I helped him. There’s just no substitute for knowing what you’re doing.
You can see Scott here cutting out the openings in the back of the sink base cabinet for the dishwasher drain, the sink drain, and the hot and cold water intake. I had to hurry to get this shot, because the process took about 4 minutes. When we slid the base cabinet into place, it fit like a glove.
Here’s how the cabinets looked after we got them up. Where the level is sitting on top of the base cabinets is where the sink will be; above it and to the left is the cutout for the microwave oven, and on the line of cabinets to your left is the place where the dishwasher will fit.
If you click on the high-res image and look to the right of the cabinets, you can just barely see into the darkness of the walk-in closet where we installed cedar panels. And to the left of the cabinets is the bathroom where that much celebrated dual flush toilet will go. As you can see, our kitchen is going to be quite small, with perhaps half the cabinet space we have now and maybe 1/5 the drawer space. And I can already tell that I miscalculated on where to stop painting, leaving some exposed sheetrock behind where the refrigerator will be. Time for touch-up next week.
But as pole barns go, it’s not too bad, is it? For those of you who have heard that Lee and Amanda will be living in the barn and have been imagining biblical scenarios with donkeys joining us in the hay manger, are you a tad less worried now?
And here’s another happy observation. After the apartment has breathed overnight and been closed up during the day (as it will be on hot summer days while we’re working outside), it feels almost like it’s air conditioned when you step inside. It’s remarkable how the combination of no incoming sun, absurdly tight insulation, and the open ceiling stack work together to keep it cool during a hot summer day. I should confess that the “no incoming sun” part is ending now. We’ve been watching the midday sun creep up the south wall of the apartment, and here in the first week of August, the sun has begun streaming in at the very bottom of the south windows. This effect will get more pronounced, of course, as the late summer wears on. If it gets too bad, we may have to deploy some kind of awning, but we hope that won’t be necessary. We’ll be grateful for that sun as summer gives way to fall, and by winter the sun will be roaring in to keep us warm.
Next up, granite countertops and the wood stove, and then the chance to take a hot shower!