When we moved into this house, it had a large electric cooktop from the 1970s, the last time anything had been done to the kitchen; the best that could be said of this cooktop was that it worked. One of the burners stopped getting hot a few years ago, then last winter two of the others starting popping sparks out every so often, and last month one of them banged at me with a flash, and that was that, the wires blown out -- unsafe and frightening. Luckily for us, my mom had a Hotpoint range in her garage, which she'd kept when she moved from her house into an apartment about ten years ago -- and she was by now happy to offer it to us.
The problems were, of course, that the gas had been sealed off at least thirty years ago, and that the base cabinet was built for a cooktop, with drawers and cupboards underneath, and not for a full-sized range. David was understandably reluctant to cut a dirty big hole in the cabinet, but necessity, a week's vacation at hand, and the secret thrill of the idea won out -- luckily, he's got not only a natural curiosity about how to fix things, but more than a few years of theater work under his tool belt.
The mess begins. And I will no longer have to look at the burned Formica left by a previous tenant, either, since it will be covered up by the Hotpoint.
I hold the shop vac to catch the dust from the Saws-All; curiously rectangular-headed nails from the early days of nail guns.
David had checked under the house to find the gas line, and was right next to it when he cut through the plaster. (But why if the gas line came through the wall is there a hole in the floor? another mystery.) The girls helped, of course.
Checking for leaks in the new gas line, by covering it with a plastic bag and waiting to see if the bag fills up. He had to rig up a partly-external line as there was a stud about halfway along inside the wall. (We fully expect that future owners of the house will wonder why we did things the way we did; we've certainly done our share of wondering.)
The hole plastered and sanded; a base for a new cabinet, to make up for the lost storage space. Notice the 1929 linoleum revealed. We also discovered that the original cabinets were only 18 in. deep, instead of today's 24; the bare section in this picture is where the original cabinet ended, now filled in with a thin piece of plywood to level the floor. We already knew that the stove was originally in roughly the same place, as the vent in the ceiling is only a foot or so to the left, plastered over when the fluorescent lighting went in in the 70s. (I'm fascinated by the archaeology of the house. The woodwork was apple green first, I know from chips on the door frames, then forest green, then fire-engine red.)
Laying a new piece of vinyl flooring (oh, look the same pattern is still available...), weighted with bricks at the seam. Checking for gas leaks again, this time with bubble mixture painted at the join -- there were no leaks, but David let a bit of gas out to show what would happen if the join was not secure, and bubbles formed immediately.
The new cabinet is still unfinished, but the stove is in and working, after less than a week of dust and chaos! The dinky electric wall oven to the left will eventually be removed for cupboard space, and Mommy is very happy about it all! It's funny, but I can't decide if it looks strange and new, or perfectly natural, as though it's always been there.