In addition to clearing out the kitchen walls down to the studs, he also removed all the cabinets, tile countertops and backsplashes.
Next to go was the kitchen ceiling, which was actually a layer of drywall over a layer of plaster. Removing the kitchen ceiling was necessary because we plan to join the old dining room ceiling to the new kitchen ceiling. Also, Dakota hates shoddy work and sometimes prefers to just re-do it from scratch rather than patch it.
Tearing down the walls and ceiling was a messy, difficult job. In addition to all the plaster dust, there was the added nastiness of the old fiberglass attic insulation. Dakota spent a lot of time wearing his dust mask. But, after many weekends of hard, hard work, the tear down was complete. Now our kitchen has an open ceiling, all the way up to the roof.
It looks kind of cool, but we'll be putting up a new drywall ceiling and filling the attic in with cellulose insulation soon. With our lack of central heat or air, we need all the insulation we can get. In fact, we'll be insulating the kitchen walls, too.
Since our goal has been to do a "green remodel," we really wanted to use recycled denim insulation in the walls, because it's both Earth-friendly and non-toxic. The main manufacturer of denim insulation is Bonded Logic. They sell it under the band name Ultra Touch. This insulation is made from cotton and denim scraps that have been treated with a boron-based fire retardant. It's LEED certified and so safe you can let your baby play on it, or at least that's how the Bonded Logic folks like to advertise it, with lots of photos of babies and small children hugging the insulation.
At first, we had a hard time finding a distributor in Southern California that didn't sell it with a massive mark-up. ("Green home centers" have a tendency to do this with a lot of their materials.) Happily, I managed to track down the insulation at Ganahl Lumber in Los Alamitos. Not only is Ganahl only a 30-min drive away, it also has the lowest price I'd seen for the Ultra Touch. So, I swooped down last weekend and picked up a 106 ft2 package, which is just the right amount to insulate the exterior walls of the kitchen. It just barely fit in my car.
Now that the walls and ceiling are out, Dakota's been ripping up the layers and layers of old floor. At the same time, we're having the wiring put in by our very nice neighbor, who's also an electrician. I'm so excited to have outlets in places where outlets should be, and to have switches that make sense.
In fact, I'm excited about so many things, and we're almost to the part where the old stuff is finally gone and the new stuff starts to arrive. It's been an only mildly inconvenient project so far. We've even been able to cook and access our fridge for most of the time. The only one who's really unhappy about all the loud noises and dirty floors is Nigel. He's had to resort to hiding under the desk in the back room. Poor guy.