Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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Historic Home Kitchen Renovation


Watch this video to see how to remodel the kitchen in a historic 1909 home by reusing the existing cabinets and replacing the doors, drawers, countertops, and hardware. Also, find out about new trends in kitchen design, and see how we install an engineered wood floor. ...More




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Historic Home Kitchen Renovation

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The kitchen in this historic 1909 home was in need of a makeover to bring it into the 21st century. Since the cabinets were in good shape, the homeowners decided to reuse them and replace only the doors and drawers.

Watch this video to see how to:

  • Remove kitchen cabinet doors and drawers.
  • Clean and paint existing kitchen cabinets.
  • Install new kitchen cabinet doors and drawers.
  • Choose and attach kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls.
  • Lay an engineered wood floor.
  • Install granite countertops.
  • Install a kitchen sink and faucet.
  • Upgrade the wiring and lighting in the kitchen.
  • Learn about new kitchen trends from Better Homes and Gardens.
  • See an engineered stone veneer alternative to solid granite.

Read episode article to find out more.



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This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re giving an old, dark kitchen a facelift worthy of the historic home it lives in. While we transform this room into the kitchen the owner always wanted, we’ll also share lots of tips and ideas you can use to do the same at your house.

A kitchen facelift, that’s a project that a lot of homeowners are thinking about taking on at their house, and these homeowners have been thinking about it ever since they moved into this house 18 years ago. Now this house is fairly old, it’s 99 years old, and requires a fair amount of maintenance particularly on the outside and over the years we’ve done a lot of projects for these homeowners that include repairing work on the outside, building a large garage in the side yard, and a number of other things required to keep this place looking as good as it does. Now, but they’re ready to take on this kitchen renovation.

Now, what’s going to be involved here is removing all of the old doors. Even though they’re not 99 years old, they are still very dated. Also, all of the cabinets will be painted, a little bit of cabinet alteration here to accommodate some new appliances. And they tell me they’ve had their fill of this old busy wallpaper, so this will have to go.

Now, another thing we’ll be replacing in this kitchen facelift, all of the countertops. Now, this is a true wood butcher block, it’s an inch and a half thick. And you know you just don’t see this much anymore because it’s fairly expensive, and a lot of homeowners have discovered it’s fairly hard to maintain. And because it’s wood, very porous and that’s a place that can harbor a lot of germs.

Now, you can see we’ve already gotten a good start on this, but take a look at what it looked like before we got here this morning. In general the kitchen was functional and in pretty good shape, but it was hard to love. The wood floors and the appliances were pretty much worse for wear, and the sea of dark colors gave the room a heavy feeling. In short the owner was ready for a change.

I think the thing I like least about the kitchen is the fact that there is very little light, the cabinets are very dark, and I never have light on the butcher block counters. When we moved in the house 18 years ago, the kitchen had recently been remolded and it was very nicely done. But it wasn’t really to my taste, but it was so nicely done, that I have lived with it for 18 years. But as the appliances started to wear out I thought that was the opportunity to make it, like I would like it, which was light but keep it with the historic nature of the house itself. I didn’t want it to be ultra sleek and modern, but I would like light and I wanted different cabinets and I really wanted a china cabinet to display my mother’s china. So those were really my goals as I got started.

So our guys went to work taking the kitchen apart.

I just think the whole look is going to be really different. I’m one of those people that I can see the vision. And a former life, I used to be a realtor, and I could go into a house that people thought was just a dump and I could see potential there. And I just knew this kitchen can really be great. And I know that I’ve been looking at magazines, talking to people, going to other houses and I can see it. We’re going to love it. It’s going to be light, and we’re going to reduce the size of the island. I’m excited about being able to sit at the counter and watch TV, I’m going to put a little TV in the kitchen. Something we’ve never had before. So I’m excited about that and the new appliances, just all of it.

One thing about any kitchen renovation is it can get crowded fairly quickly. And there in the process of taking care of some of the alterations necessary for the new appliances to fit into the existing cabinets. You know one thing you have to think about when you’re doing a kitchen renovation, especially a facelift like this, is making sure the cabinets are good enough quality to justify the time and expense to put all new doors on. Looking at these, they’re in pretty good shape. It’s all wood construction and we have all of the hardware that seems to be in pretty good shape. The drawer guides and everything seem to be holding up well, so just put a little bit of sand and paint and all the new doors and hardware, they should look fantastic.

Now, another thing that we wanted to use that was original to the house, of course these are only about 30 years old and not original, but the hardwood floor has been here all 99 years. And apparently a lot of sanding and refinishing has taken place over the years. And usually we can take any kind of hardwood floor, sand off a little bit of the surface, re-stain it, reseal it, and it looks great. Well, this one we can’t do that, because as you can see on this one we have the tongue showing from the tongue and groove configuration of the wood and if we sanded anymore of the surface off we would see a lot more of this, that won’t work. So we’re going to have to come up with some kind of solution for this problem.

So while the demo work continues, let’s check out Joe’s Simple Solution.

Everyone knows when you’re fastening things to a wall it’s best to screw directly to a wall stud. Unfortunately, this stud never seems to be locating the exactly where you need the screw. So often you’ll see people be using plastic anchors. The anchor gets driven into a hole in the wall and the screw goes in. The problem is there’s nothing really preventing the anchor from just pulling out of the wall. So these are really only good for lightweight items.

Now, a better solution is to use either a toggle bolt or a molly bolt. The way a toggle works is it’s a machine bolt with a toggle, which a spring loaded pair of wings, and when you push it through the hole in the wall the toggle spreads open and then you can tighten the screw against the back of the wall. The way a molly works is you drive it into the wall and there are little spikes underneath side of the head and they grip the wall and as you tighten the screw this collar, this metal collar collapses and grips the back of the wall.

Now the advantage to a molly is that you can remove this screw and replace it several times. With a toggle every time you take the screw out the toggle bolt will fall down inside the wall and you will have to replace it.

Brighter cabinets are just ahead, along with some great trends and ideas for your kitchen.

We are right in the middle of this extensive kitchen facelift, and as you can see Michael our painter is applying a coat of primer over the existing cabinets. Now, he’s using an oil primer and if you could smell the odor in this room you could realize why we’re relying in these respirators to try to minimize that smell. But oil primer is the absolute best way to paint a set of cabinets. You start with the primer, allow it to dry overnight, next morning you’ll sand everything down just a little bit with some white sand paper, and apply one of two top coats using oil enamel to give you the most durable finish you can get when painting this set of cabinets.

Now, this is a fairly extensive kitchen facelift, because in addition to painting all of the cabinets, we’re also replacing all of the cabinet doors, all of the hardware, the drawer fronts, obviously the counter top and we have quite a bit of work to do on the existing hardwood floor, that’s 99 years old, and we’ve found a few problems with it. So we have a fair amount of work to do there.

Also, on any kitchen remodeling project it’s a good idea to upgrade the electrical lighting because you have to have the adequate even light throughout a kitchen, and we have a good bit of work we have to do to the ceiling there to finish it off, but it won’t be long until that is ready for a coat of paint. Now at this point the homeowners have made a lot of decisions and they have a pretty good idea of what this kitchen will look like once we complete all of the work. But if you’re not at that point yet, here’s a few ideas of some of the trends that are real popular these days.

You know what’s hot in remodeling kitchens nowadays is a trend towards mixed cabinetry. I think you can see it in our kitchen here, we’ve used a dark cherry, we’ve used a maple praline and we’ve used a painted white maple. And all together those give a kitchen a very friendly and warm look, they make it feel a little bit unfitted, furniture pieces, they make it feel like it came together over time which has a little bit of grandma’s kitchen in it which is always a friendly thing.

There is no kitchen too small to incorporate those kinds of ideas. If you have a smaller space you have to think a little bit more about the proportions, of the different colors and styles and finishing that use, but you can incorporate it into any size kitchen. If you are using wonderful materials it works anywhere. In countertops we’re seeing a lot of solid surfaces still, which has been a popular surface in the past and what we used in our kitchen.

We’re seeing, of course, a lot of granite. I think a lot of people think that if I have a granite countertop then I have an upscale kitchen. And it does lend that nice earthy feel. The feel of stone is a nice solid, has a lot of heft and good feel to it. But we’re also seeing some very contemporary kitchens using cement and concrete for the countertops. And we have a real mixture of surfaces that we see. It depends on the colors and other surfaces and cabinetry used in the kitchen.

Margaret told us she wanted her kitchen brighter, and it will certainly be that. Once Michael is done painting the cabinet boxes a lighter shade the new cabinet doors arrive already painted the same color. Boy, do they make a difference in the way this room feels. And the new accessories and the custom inserts we’re adding to the cabinets should really make a difference in the way the kitchen functions. What a great way to get a nice little finish on a set of cabinets by having the cabinetmaker spray all of the cabinet doors, which is the predominant surface you see in a kitchen, and then have our painter out on the jobsite paint the rest of the cabinets with a brush. Boy, that looks great.

You know whether you are renovating a kitchen very extensively or just doing a minor facelift it’s important to use every bit of space you have available, and here’s a good example where we’ve done that in this kitchen. Cabinetmaker had a great idea to create this set of cabinets on this wall where there were no cabinets before. And he did something interesting here by recessing the cabinets back to keep from encroaching on the old historic trim and did the same thing on the other side, allowed the middle to project on for more space, and really adds a lot of interest to the kitchen.

Another thing that is taking place right now to keep a lot of that character in this historic house is refinishing this existing back door. Our painter is in the process right now of stripping all of that old finish off of it, so it can be restrained and it’ll look great, be a nice little contrast with that stain and the painted cabinets.

Now, the next logically step in a kitchen like this is to install the countertops, and our granite fabricators have already been out to take all of their templates and use that for their fabrication. And they’ll be installing that in just about a week, but we don’t want to waste any time so we’re going to concentrate on refinishing the floors.

The new floors already been installed and this is an engineered type of wood that is the perfect width and thickness that we needed. It matches almost perfectly the level of the adjacent floor. Now our challenge is to make sure the stain matches with the existing finish. Now we’ll be taking care of that in just a little bit, but right now check out our Best New Product of the week.

No matter what stage of life you happen to be in, having an extra door key to prevent accidental lockouts is a great idea, but leaving the key under the doormat isn’t. So GE has designed a new state of the art, digital key box, that is the perfect solution.

The unique design lets you mount it to your doorframe and since its very low profile it will compliment the door whether than call attention to it. The metal box is weather resistant and comes in beige, grey, or white. It has a simple to use push button combination and the LCD display will show you the last nine access times, so you’ll know exactly when someone has entered your home.

Now, this is perfect for the kids to be able to have a key without you having to worry about them using it. It’s also an idea for trusted trades people. One hand operation means you can quickly gain access and you can change the four-digit code anytime you want for extra security. Now it will cost you about 35 dollars for this key box. But if you’ve ever had to call a locksmith, well, I think you’ll agree that it’s well worth the price for safety and security.

After the break, floors, granite and much more!

Today we’re following the renovation of kitchen in a 99-year-old home. So far we’ve made some great improvements to brighten up the place with a coat of paint, and some new cabinet doors, but the floors needed a bit more help. The old wood floors were so worn out that couldn’t be refinished again, so we’ve installed new planks over the old ones and now the guys are sanding them down one last time before they apply the stain, which should make it match the rest of the house. That’s followed by several coats of polyurethane which will seal the wood and protect the finish.

Well, our hardwood floor turned out great. You may notice that we installed this in a different direction then it originally was, a couple of reasons for that. The original floor was laying in this direction, and we installed this in this direction, because it’s always a good idea if you can install hardwood floor in the direction of the longest dimension in the room, it gives you a more spacious feel and it’s somewhat inviting when you walk into the room.

Also, in this particular situation the original floor in the house is laid in this direction so it helps to blend it all together. Looks great, but no one is allowed on the job today, because we are making sure it dries nice and hard before all of the finish work takes place. And we are even wearing our socks to make sure we aren’t responsible for any of the damage.

Now, the finishing touches will include of course the countertop and the appliances and this project will really be complete at the point. As you can see the hardware has already been installed and Margaret really did a great job in picking out this old world type of hardware. You can see the handles and the look of it is just perfect for this aged house and this style cabinets. Man, I’m seeing a lot of homeowners picking this type of finish for light fixtures and other pieces of hardware around the house.

Now, our next big step here is the installation of the granite countertops. And you might think because of all of the light colors that we have in this kitchen that Margaret would have chosen a nice dark countertop, but surprisingly she chose a real bright one.

This variety of granite is called New Venetian Gold. And although it’s light in color, it still has lots of character and veining so it shouldn’t be too hard to keep clean. The color may be light but this stuff still wears plenty, so the installers take their time dry fitting each piece before securing it down to the cabinets. It’s time consuming but very necessary and it really does transform the look of the kitchen which is why granite is so popular with homeowners.

Now before you rush out and buy your granite, there’s an education process involved. First of all understand that granite is a very porous rock, that means it will stain easily and it must be sealed. In fact you will have to keep sealing it. I always tell people at least every other year plan on sealing the granite.

Now, keep in mind also, it’s rare for granite to have a warranty. Some companies will offer a limited warranty but the limitations list is about as long as my arm, so if granite is still in your heart, you’ve got to have it, I have some good news for you in the form of two words. Granite Transformations. It’s a company that has a fairly novel approach at granite. Darrin, you’re here to tell me how this works.

Absolutely. What we do is we’ll come into your home, we’ll make a custom template of your countertops, we’ll install it in one day, and we back it up with a lifetime warranty.

Now how durable is this? Because I’m looking at this and I’m seeing a very thin veneer it looks like to me.

Absolutely, yeah. What it is I tell people all the time, is don’t let this little guy fool you here. This is more durable than ordinary granite would ever be, and the reason why is permanently sealed in a palmer resin so we can actually take and heat this material up and bend it to a 30 degree radius.

Oh, wow. No speaking of bending and radiuses, you have a couple of different profiles here.

Absolutely. We’ve got your straight edge here, which we call the Euro and we do the beveled edge. And also it’s heat stained and scratch resistant. So no sealing, permanently sealed for life.

Also, not just for kitchen cabinets.

Absolutely. You can do it bathrooms, you can do it on fireplaces, RVs, boats, we can pretty much go anywhere that there’s a solid surface.

Now, Allen tells me that the cost of this material is on par with some of the less expensive varieties of slab granites, so it’s still an investment, but the quick turnaround and warranty will make it a very attractive option for many homeowners.

Meanwhile, back in Margaret’s kitchen, the counters are done and the electricians and plumbers have taken over to trim out all of their respected fixtures and install all of the appliances. While they finish up with their work let’s look into a question from one of our viewers.

Danny, I heard you talk about a home warranty report. What is it, and do I really need it?

A home warranty is a service contract. It usually lasts for a year, and it helps to protect homeowners against the cost of unexpected repairs or replacements on their major systems or appliances that break down due to just normal wear and tear. This annual contract can be a significant savings, especially if you’re not particularly handy with home repairs.

Now, when you have a covered problem, you should simply just call your warranty provider to arrange for a local, prescreened service technician to contact you to take care of the problem. Now, having a home warranty can help you avoid the expense, hassle, and frustration of those unexpected home repairs, and since the technicians are prescreened by the warranty company you can rely on the credibility of the individuals that are handling those repairs for you. Now, when you compare the cost of normal home repairs against the annual cost of a home warranty contract, it’s something worth considering.

You’ve seen the pieces all come together but you’ll have to stay tuned to take the tour.

The kitchen we started with this week was dark and dated and though it wasn’t original to this historic house it had definitely seen better days. With the facelift complete the new kitchen is lighter and brighter, thanks to the repainted cabinets, new lighting overhead, and the beautiful new countertops. The old worn floor is gone, replaced by new wood floor that preserves the home’s historic character and lends warmth to the whole space.

Even though I’ve been in the remodeling business for over 30 years, and have remodeled hundreds of kitchens I still get a kick out of seeing the completed kitchen especially after the homeowners have moved in and started really enjoying this space. You know you can improve your kitchen by simply changing the hardware, repainting the cabinets. Or you can go very extensive in your renovation, and completely remove all of the cabinets and replace them. Or you can go somewhere in between, like we did on this kitchen, and it turned out pretty nice.

Now, a lot more information on our website at todayshomeowner.com. More renovations next week right here on Today’s Homeowner. We’ll see you then.

Next week we head to LA for the Living Green tour to help you achieve a greener lifestyle.