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Editor's note: This is the third in a series of stories about Alma and David Gaul's kitchen remodeling project.

As I drove to work Monday, I thought about the color of stain I had chosen for the cabinets and whether I had made a mistake.

When I looked at the "three finalist" samples some months ago, I thought they all looked pretty much the same. Brown, brown and brown with a hint of red. I picked the one with a hint of red because it seemed warm and a little different.

But when Jeff Christenson, our cabinet maker and general contractor,  brought over a finished piece and held it up in the full glare of the rising sun, it looked positively red! Oh, no!

And how would this red blend with the rest of our house? We have a lot of wood of all different shades. The cabinets and bamboo floor would add two more.

I consulted our son, Matt, an architect. He said not to worry. “Yes, you might notice the contrast with the door frames to the foyer and living room, but that won’t be a big deal,” he texted. “Your home has separate rooms, not an open plan, so each room can take on a unique design and palette of materials and colors.

"You can think of each room as having its own outfit. Just keep everything in one room working together and other rooms can do their own thing!”

Thank you, Matt.

Jeff offered to tint the lacquer brown to tone down the red, but, after stewing, we decided to stick with what we chose.

Other stories from the week:

Plumbing: Kitchen sinks (all sinks, really) are attached to pipes. One end, called a vent pipe, goes up and out through the roof and the other goes down through the basement floor to the sewer pipe.

Our vent to the roof angled through our soffit. Because we were removing the soffits, the vent pipe would be exposed. Hence, it needed to be realigned, or buried, into the wall so it wouldn’t show.

The plumber also did some work to bring our kitchen up to current code. Our kitchen sink drained into two pipes, and our dishwasher piggybacked into one of those. Nowadays, each drain needs its own pipe.

All this work is called the “rough in” and needs to be inspected by the city before someone puts drywall over everything and it can no longer be seen. All the new pipes are PVC, replacing the original cast iron.

Electrical: The electrician returned, installing new 220 wiring for our new stove, and new, 110 wiring for the above-stove microwave, the refrigerator, the dishwasher and the light above the sink.

In addition, he converted two standard duplex outlets to “fourplexes” and added GFCIs, or ground-fault circuit interrupters. These are gizmos that constantly monitor electricity flowing in a circuit and will shut off electrical power in the event of a problem, thereby protecting a house from an electrical fire. These are a new (since our house was built) requirement for kitchen countertops.

Soffits: Dave and Jeff worked together sawing away the soffits. Interesting how styles change. When our house was built, soffits were the way to go. Builders constructed boxes under the ceiling and hung the cabinets on them so there was no gap. Nowadays, people don’t care for that look. They either get taller cabinets and run them up to the ceiling, or they use the tops of the cabinets as display space.

Our soffits were sturdily built, with thick lumber and long nails, and did not remove easily. Dave and Jeff won out, however.


• Now that our walls are partially exposed, Jeff installed extra fiberglass insulation in between the wall studs.

• He also installed a two-foot by four-foot piece of OS (oriented strand) board on our floor, replacing a piece that was water-damaged (unbeknownst to us), apparently by an occasional drip from the dishwasher.

• Two employees of the company from which we are buying our appliances moved our refrigerator to the garage ($100).

• Volunteers from Habitat ReStore, the nonprofit that sells donated or gently used building materials at a discount, picked up our cabinets. They have already been sold for $550.

• Because our refrigerator is now in the garage, we have to walk out the front door, past the kitchen, and into the garage to to get to it.

Thursday morning I retrieved a hard-boiled egg for breakfast, and as I cracked it open on the cutting board in our "downstairs kitchen," it proved to be a raw egg.

Dave had unloaded the refrigerator for its move into the garage and, in so doing, had consolidated the raw eggs with the cooked.

No, kitchen remodeling is not stressful.