When in doubt, tear it out

The winter onslaught has begun early here in Southeastern Michigan; from 50 degree sweater-weather fall days straight to icy, snowy, windy winter in a matter of days. I literally finished raking leaves a mere hour before it started snowing yesterday. And since my fall clean-up project was halted by Mother Nature (no big loss there), I found myself with a day off, no money and nothing to do.

Three hours into a "Bar Rescue" marathon, I started thinking about the kitchen again, daydreaming about the open shelving I'd install... scouring my Pinterest feed for more inspiration. I thought about all the project I couldn't do with no funds. But there was one BIG one I could do. I just needed the time (check), the tools (check), the motivation (check) and the energy (check--it is Bacon Thursday in my house. Gotta burn off those cals somehow). So I got started.

Here's the kitchen when I did the walkthrough before closing. 

Not the worse kitchen ever... or so you may be lead to believe by these soft-focus iPhone pics. In truth they were--like the rest of the house--absolutely filthy and incredibly dated. I knew I'd be taking them down before I even put the offer in. I even attempted it the very day I got keys. Seriously. That was the first thing I did. I got my keys, then I grabbed a screwdriver from my car and tried taking them down. Stripped screws cut me off at the pass on my first attempt. 

Latter attempts went pretty much the same. Each cabinet seemed to have one screw that simply defied removal. And yes, I tried everything. See, at first, I was operating under the impression that I could take them down gently so as to donate them to Habitat for Humanity. So unscrewing them seemed the only option. I even got a few quotes from contractors to take them down for donation. But even the best rate ($80.00/hour for professional cabinet removal) was still paid labor. But me? I'll work for nothing. 

So standing there staring at the cabinets today, realized that if I wanted to avoid heavy tools or paid labor, I knew I'd have to demo the old fashioned way: with my bare hands. So I made a decision to just have at them. Which means putting to bed the idea of recycling them. Sorry, Habitat. Not this time around. This sucks, but the decision was made. I put on Rocket to Russia and started ripping. Ramones really are the best choice of music for demo projects.

I started by removing all the moulding strips surround the cabinet bodies, then ripped the fascia boards/doors off this to-cabinet section. I pushed up up from the bottom, put my back into it, and, because these cabinets are cheap pieces of shit, they gave way easily. 

Next I used my battery-powered screwdriver to remove what screws I could. Then, using a combination of hammer power and sheer force, started pulling the cabinets off the wall.

You can see that the soffit is actually hollow--rockin' good news. I guy who sold me the house told me it was, but you never know.

I'd soon discover that the walls behind the cabinetry are in pretty rough shape. I was prepared for this, though, so it wasn't really a surprise.

I continued moving toward the corner cabinet, which I knew would be the worst. In retrospect, I would've cleared off the counters entirely, but overall, this wasn't as messy of a project as it could've been. Though I was tearing things out with my hands, I went slowly, trying not to damage the drywall anymore than it already was. I also tried to keep shards of wood and stray nails and screws contained in a box I moved down the counter as I went. Additionally, I ripped off the thin plywood that served as a wallpapered backsplash as I went.

...and removed the facing boards of the soffit as well. There was an old fluorescent light under the cabinet above the sink. I turned off the power, and cut the wires. You can see where it ran through the soffit down through the drywall. That funky spot above the sink is where a window used to be before the back addition was added many years ago.

The corner cabinet was the biggest pain in the ass. I ended up having to dismantle it completely. Initially, I intended to keep the hood and the cabinet above it, but when I was removing the fascia from the cabinet next to it, I accidentally knocked the range hood from it screws. It fell onto the stove in one of the most dramatic moments of the day. I was going to reattach it, but then changed my mind. It really was filthy and nicotine-stained. Then I decided to go for it and remove the final cabinet. Suddenly... a clean slate.


Now I just need to take down the framing on the ceiling, detach the formica backsplash piece that runs up form the counter and patch the big holes in preparation for tile. Yes, dear readers, I've decided to take to route of many a trendy home-blogging DIY-er and make with the obligatory Wall 'O Subway Tile. And yes it will be epic.

But for the moment, I'm just satisfied at attempting yet another project completely by myself with minimal tools. It's incredibly satisfying. I really earned the dull ache creeping up my back and the stiff fingers and wrists. Nothing a beer, some Advil and a couple slices of pizza can't cure.

But first, the cleanup...

...in the motherfrakkin' snow. Ugh.