Renovation Highlights

I spent many months living in the chaos and filth of an ongoing renovation, done part time from fall 2011 to spring 2012 while I did CAD and electronics assembly work.  It’s all done now, and my partner and I have enjoyed our shiny, new, and more usable surroundings immensely.

The work involved a complete redo of the kitchen, 450 square feet of wide plank engineered bamboo flooring, including the staircase, a new fireplace surround, and lots of painting, moldings, and finishing touches. Here are some of the highlights.

Custom floating kitchen shelves

kitchen sketch: before demolition to be sure we liked the direction we were headed.

Made of 2 layers of 5/8″ baltic birch ply laminated together, these shelves are bombproof. Edges are finished with birch veneer edge tape, and they were sprayed with a combined stain and varnish.

shelves getting sprayed

The shelves are supported by a recessed wood cleat, screwed into the studs, and by screws through the adjacent cabinets. The result is tons of extra storage, a sleek modern look, and easy access to those corners that are horribly unusable with most cabinet systems, especially if you’re limited by your budget to factory built options like the Ikea units I installed here.

corner shelves: copious & accessible storage, with more on the opposite side of the room

Fireplace surround


After installing new flooring, the original orange glazed terracotta tile (replete with some chips and cracks) had to go. I got a good deal on the black slate, and used it to finish our solarium windowsill as well. Patching the drywall was a test of patience, and using a cheap, low power wet saw to cut the slate tile required all the finesse I could muster, but the results are clean and sleek and match the rest of the place nicely.

new fireplace surround: moldings and slate flooring

 Shoe storage stairs

The entry way lacks a closet, and two people, especially with my size 13 feet, need somewhere to put their shoes. Why not reclaim some of that wasted space? Pretty straightforward: a plywood box as big as I could make for the bottom couple of stairs.

finished shoe storage stairs

The finish carpentry on the stairs was a massive project in itself… when a single piece of nosing costs $80 you can’t afford to make mistakes, even with crazy miter cuts and intersections. But after the requisite struggle, it came together nicely.