Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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Kitchen with a View


We totally remodeled and enlarged this kitchen by taking in an adjoining bathroom. Dark wood kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, and hardwood floors provide a big change from the white painted cabinets and tile floors which were here before. Watch this video to find out more. ...More




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Kitchen with a View

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We totally remodeled and enlarged this kitchen, taking in an adjoining bathroom and adding 8’ in length. New dark wood cabinets, granite countertops, and warm hardwood floors provide a big change from the white painted cabinets and cold tile floors which were here before.

Read episode article to find out more.



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Danny Lipford: The family that owns this kitchen is tired of it being so isolated from the rest of the house. We’re about to tear some walls down to really open it up.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford – the voice of home improvement, with projects, tips and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: You know it’s really not a bad looking older kitchen – a lot of cabinetry, plenty of countertop space – but we’re about to double the size of this kitchen by removing a number of walls, so you can look out onto a very large playroom. Now you can see the guys are just now putting up the dust curtain that will enable us to have the family use their kitchen right up to the last minute while all the demolition is being done out here.

Now once these walls are completely removed you’ll be able to see out into this large playroom that we’ve already put a dust curtain up on half of the playroom so that the kids can continue to enjoy the playroom itself. And pretty good view there, actually looks right out onto the swimming pool. But one of the challenges we have in really handling the transition between the new expanded kitchen and the playroom is, what do we do about this big step down. Now we have a lot challenges on this job, this is just one, and we’ll show you how we’re handling all of them in this week’s show.

I love this type of kitchen expansion project and the homeowners are really happy the work is finally getting started. Now, it’s really going to look great to have most of this wall removed, there will be a section that will stay in place here, and we’ll be closing off this doorway to create a nice little half bath here, to replace the half bath that is being eliminated in this space where we are expanding the kitchen. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, one of the challenges we have on this particular kitchen expansion is the difference in the floor levels, and how can we create a very nice graceful transition from the new kitchen to this beautiful big playroom. I think we have a plan that addresses that.

The new plan adds about 8 feet to the length of the kitchen, instead of widening it to increase the total square footage. The old bathroom we are sacrificing to gain that space will be relocated to a corner of the playroom.

To eliminate that confined feeling of that old narrow kitchen, we won’t be putting an island in this one. But instead, we’ll leave plenty of floor space in the middle of the room to open it up and add well placed peninsulas on each end to add interest and function to the kitchen. At the very back, where we have the level change down to the playroom, we’ll create a bar which is slightly lower than the kitchen counter. The far wall gets pantry cabinets, so there’s no shortage of storage. And by adding cased openings to the den and playroom everything begins to flow together, something that was very important to the owners.

Melissa Costello: The original house is a very 60’s/70’s layout kitchen with a very narrow work space. It’s designed to be a one person kitchen, which most of the houses that were built in this area originally were built as a one person kitchen. My husband and I do a lot of cooking together, we share our kitchen becomes the very central part of what the activity in the house. We’re looking for a much bigger workspace, a much better sort of work triangle in the kitchen, and being able to be able to work together at the same time without feeling like we’re working right on top of each other.

With our small children, we were really uncomfortable with the idea of having a kitchen that is sort of the core of what our family does, that we were unable to see both the Florida room or the pool when we were working in the primary area of the kitchen. The kitchen desperately needed updating anyway, but our biggest issue was the safety factor and being able to see our kids in and around the pool area as they get older. They’re still too young to be out here by themselves; but as they get older, I still want to be able to see what’s going on.

Danny Lipford: Well, Melissa should certainly be able to see how open it’ll be very soon, because the bathroom walls are among the first to go when demo begins. The walls that aren’t supporting any load overhead are completely removed, studs and all. While others simply have their skin removed for the time being. In some case that skin includes drywall, plywood, and paneling, because it appears that over the years this house has seen a renovation or two.

One of those must have included the addition of the playroom itself, because the brick wall was likely the back wall of the house, and the brick step probably once led down to an outdoor patio. Now since we are moving these doorways, the old brick steps will have to go. In the corner where we are located, the new bathroom the slab has to be jack hammered out for the plumbing, and the bricks have to come down off the wall.

To give the Costello’s a few more precious days in their kitchen, the guys go ahead and begin framing for the bath before completing the demo. It’s important to a contractor in a project like this that his crew stays busy all the time; but at the same time, homeowners want to minimize the time they have to be without this very important part of their home. In this case a little creative scheduling meets the needs of both parties.

Eventually though the demolition has to make it’s way into the heart of the kitchen and when it does, everything comes out – appliances, cabinets, walls, and eventually even the ceiling. To contain the chaos we keep the paneling in the adjacent den in place while we frame the new cased openings. When it’s thoroughly gutted, it really starts to look like the open kitchen that Melissa wanted.

With all the demolition complete you can really get an idea of how large of a space we’re working with here. We’ll be able to accomplish everything the homeowners wanted with this much space. You can also get an idea of what a great view they’ll have once the dust curtain is down, through the playroom and looking out into the pool. Now we’ve had a good bit of work take place here with all the framing and our plumber’s been out to provide all the rough-in plumbing we need for our bathroom. They have their toilet over there, and then we have our lavatory plumbing here, but he still has a good bit of work yet to do.

Now, this is where the original kitchen sink was, you can see all of the plumbing, all of that is being relocated here, and we’re going to pull it away from the window a little bit, to provide some room for house plants behind it. That should be kind of a cool look to that. Also, a prep sink will be positioned somewhere right in here, so all of the plumbing for that has to be taken care of as well. And we’ll need a water line for our refrigerator.

Now at this point we need that plumber to complete his work, and also we’ve got a lot of electrical work to do. While our subs take care of getting water and electricity ready to flow in this kitchen again, why don’t you take a look at this week’s Simple Solution.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: With more and more people tackling their own home improvement chores, it’s not unusual to see them using their car to transfer materials back and forth from the lumber yard. Now the problem with that is, is that you can easily damage your car. So to prevent that from happening, next time you’re at the home center store, pick up a piece of foam rubber pipe insulation.

Now, this is the kind that you can see has a slit down the middle, which is designed for clipping right onto the pipe, but it also makes it really easy to put it onto the lip of your trunk. So clip it right on there, and you see I put the other half on the bottom here just to protect this rubber gasket. Then you just pull the trunk closed, and hold it with a bungee cord. We’ll just clip it under the bumper, bring it up and hook it on.

Now, the other thing you have to remember is, whenever you are carrying materials sticking out of the back of your car, you always have to alert the driver behind you with a red flag. So just put the flag on – either tape, or tie it on there – and make sure it doesn’t fall off on the way home.

Danny Lipford: This has been one busy kitchen renovation. You know when we were here last, all of the walls were open; but since then our electrician, plumber, and heating and cooling contractor have completed all of their work. And right behind them came our drywall hangers to hang all of the drywall on the walls as well as the ceiling. Then Mark’s been here, our finisher, for the last couple of days, putting the last finishing touches on the drywall. Now, if you’ve ever tried to finish drywall yourself you can really appreciate how easy Mark makes it look. And it won’t be long, this will be completely finished and ready to move on to the next step.

Now, one of the things that we realized in this renovation is that when this large playroom area was enclosed by the previous homeowners several years ago, they didn’t upgrade their heating and cooling system. So the existing system really had to work overtime to even try to make the existing homeowners comfortable. Well, they decided to change that up a little bit and completely replace the existing equipment. Now to do this they put a new system up in the attic space here to supply the entire house with the needed heating and cooling. Now, not only will this make the homeowners more comfortable, it will also be a lot more energy efficient.

Now, you can see the trim carpenters have already started with some of their work, enclosing this little column here, that will kind of incorporate in all of the cabinetry that we have here. And really we can turn the trim carpenters loose at this point to run some of the trim, but all of the trim has to tie into the cabinets, so they wouldn’t be able to really complete all of the trim work. Now, we could also turn the job over to the cabinet man to install all of the cabinetry, or we could turn it over to the painter to get a kind of jump start on this project. Let’s see who gets here first.

It looks like the cabinet man is the winner, he shows up with a complete set of dark stained custom cabinets created just for the Costello’s kitchen. The large anchor pieces, like this corner unit, they go in first so that the other wall cabinets can go in around them. The big one is self supporting, but the smaller wall units around it are propped up with what the cabinet crew calls dead man sticks. Once they’re positioned the sticks hold the cabinets in place so the installers can attach them to the walls with screws.

Because there are a variety of outlets, appliances, and light fixtures being incorporated into these cabinets; they’re more than just a few wires to accommodate. This stuff is done on site as the cabinets are going in, because that’s the best way to assure that everything is in the exact right spot. It’s really amazing how all this warm wood begins to transform the cold blank walls, and before long we’re ready for the base cabinets which really start filling up the space.

Even with most of the cabinets in place, this is still a very large kitchen. Now, the installers are working on the sink cabinet. That should prove to be a fairly interesting look, because it’s not butting against the wall. Actually, it’ll be away from the wall a little bit for a little plant shelf. That should kind of be the focal point for this kitchen.

Now, after they complete the installation of the base cabinets on this side, they’ll move on to this area, which will be one of the larger cabinets in the kitchen that makes up the little peninsula at this end of the kitchen. Now, this could kind of serve as the center point of the family, because you have the wide open space that the homeowners wanted, looking out into their den.

You will also have four bar stools on this end of the peninsula, and a little prep sink here. Plenty of countertop, and plenty of storage space underneath. Now, when you have a large kitchen like this, you may think about a freestanding island in the middle of the kitchen. But, and it may look like there’s plenty of room here; but according to the guidelines of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, you need a little more than what we have. We have 7 feet, and a traditional island cabinet will be about 2 feet, and it’s recommended that you have a clearance of at least 3 feet on either side of the island. So three, three and two, that’s 8 feet that’s needed – we only have 7.

But I think you’ll agree, there’s plenty of cabinets in this kitchen. And so they’ll all be level, the guys are establishing a level line around the room that each unit must match up to. Apparently the existing subfloor has a low spot along one wall, so the crew is adding spacers along the bottom edges of those cabinets to make up the difference. The peninsula we talked about earlier has a separate base, which can be set in place first and leveled completely before the rest of the cabinet is added.

The base cabinets get a lot of care during installation, because they will later support the countertops. In this case the tops will be granite, so it’s absolutely essential that the bases be sturdy and level. We’ll take a look at those countertops right after Best New Product.

Danny Lipford: Stepping stones are a great solution for paths in your yard that may get a lot of foot traffic, but maybe your space is really where you don’t want a concrete sidewalk. The problem is they can be a little dangerous to navigate after the sun goes down if the area is not well lit.

Well, these new stepping stones from Home Bright solve that problem, because each stone contains a solar powered light. They’re very do-it-yourself friendly, because there’s no wiring at all to worry about. You just basically set them in the ground, like you would an ordinary stepping stone, and then they soak up the sun’s rays all day long, and then light the ground by night.

They’re made from a tough plastic resin, so they can take a lot of abuse, and each one has four amber LED lights to light your way for up to 10 hours. Plus they also add a cool decorative touch to your landscaping. For 24 dollars each, you can a little extra light underfoot, add some personality to your outdoor space; and who knows, maybe even save a little money since they’re solar powered.

Danny Lipford: We’re back out on the renovation of this large kitchen, and there’s a lot of activity today with our countertops being installed. We have our flooring contractor checking their measurements just before the installation starts, and we have several carpenters tying together a lot of the loose ends.

Now, most of the cabinets have been installed, there’s just a few that are being held until the countertops are complete, because the cabinets actually sit on top of the countertops. So once the guys get finished with that, the cabinet man will drop back by.

Now, most of the fabrication for the granite was done at the shop, so it won’t take long for the guys to complete the installation of the large heavy slabs of granite. All the seam work that’s involved and all of the backsplashes, that will go all the way around the kitchen to give it that finishing touch.

Now, after all that’s complete, the next person that is so important to the success of this job is our hardwood flooring contractor. Now, what they’ll be attempting to do is actually match the hardwood floor that’s in the dining room here. Now, this is several years old, and to match a pre-finished piece of wood right up against it that is all nice and new, is a very hard thing to do. So a little cleaning, maybe even resealing, that will be necessary to really get a good look. Well, it’s real busy now, and it won’t be long this kitchen will look great, with the new granite countertops and the hardwood floors.

Much of the granite work goes very quickly, but the guys take extra time sealing around the under mount sink. The weight of these sinks is supported by wood framework constructed within the cabinet, so when the granite goes on over them, it is sealed to the sink just as it is to the cabinets. All of the seams are coated with custom tinted epoxy before they are pulled together with a vacuum powered clamp to seal the deal.

When the tops are done and the granite crew clears out, the flooring guys take over the kitchen and start putting in the new pre-finished hardwood floors. Pre-finished floors are a great choice if you want the look of wood in a kitchen, because they are ready to walk on as soon as the crew is finished with the installation. And the factory finish is incredibly tough, so it’s going to stand up to a lot of abuse.

This view from our renovated kitchen really looks a lot different now that we’ve removed our dust curtain that has been in place since we started this project. With the dust curtain down, you can really get an idea of how much space the homeowners will have when you combine the existing playroom with the renovated space.

Now, to provide a nice transition from one area to the next, we’ve extended the size of our steps out to 17 inches instead of just 12 inches, and then extended the hardwood floor out over the steps to really tie everything together. To protect that hardwood we’ve put down all of the boxes left over from the installation of our appliances just to protect the surface of the hardwood, because you hate to have it get damaged at this point in the project.

Now, here’s something that just recently completed, a ceramic backsplash to protect the wall from any splatters when you’re cooking; and really it kind of turned out to be a focal point for the entire kitchen. Now, one last detail, our cabinet man needs to take care of for us, is to install our support corbels. Now these will be positioned right behind the cabinet itself to support our overhang.

Hey, when we come back, we’ll show you where we started on this project, and how it all ends up.

Tricia Craven Worley: Standing water in a garden is not only an eyesore, it’s also a health hazard. You know mosquitoes breed in it – not a good idea. If you find that you have this problem, I have a really simple solution for you and that is you can put in a French drain.

Now, that’s a really fancy term for something very easy that you can do yourself. Basically, what it is, is a plastic pipe that has perforated holes in it; and then it’s wrapped with landscape cloth. Sometimes you can buy this ready made, and if you can’t find it ready made, it’s something you can make yourself. Now this is sandwiched between a bed of pea gravel, and then a blanket of pea gravel.

Now, there’s one here that’s been here a long time, as you can see, and the cloth is beginning to wear away, and of course there’s a gaping hole. So it’s time to replace it.

So dig a trench, put that bed of pea gravel in the pipe and then the blanket, and then cover it with your dirt. Something else I like to do with a French drain is put it around my house, because foundation shouldn’t get wet. And this way the water will come into that and be funneled away from your foundation and make it a lot safer.

Danny Lipford: Very often renovation projects are motivated by little problems that owners have with their homes, and in the case of the Costello’s, they had a very small kitchen that was isolated from the rest of the house and made cooking kind of a solitary task. And it made it difficult to keep an eye on the children while they were playing here in the playroom.

But we came up with a kitchen renovation plan that addressed those problems. Besides being isolated, the old kitchen was small and dated, so it was ready for a change. There was a small bathroom next to the kitchen that also functioned as the pantry, so that was the first thing to go when the demolition started, and it allowed us to really open up the kitchen. Now Melissa will have a great view of the playroom and the pool from the new kitchen.

The bathroom was relocated to the lower level while the cabinets took over the pantry chores. These new custom cabinets have some great features, like the offset sink cabinet. The raised bar on the lower level and the peninsulas on either end of the room, which really does add interest to this long narrow space. I also like the way the warm wood floors and the rich tile backsplash created a contrast for the cool granite counters and the stainless steel appliances. Not only do the Costello’s have a very family friendly kitchen, but one that is set up for entertainment. With seating on the lower level on that end of the kitchen, seating around the bar, two sinks, two ovens, and I think enough countertop.

Hey, I hope you enjoyed seeing this large kitchen renovation come together, and I hope you’ll join us next week. I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you soon.