When we moved into our new-to-us house, the kitchen wasn’t too bad. It had been (mostly) updated at some point by one of the previous homeowners, and while it wasn’t our style, it was totally functional.
Here’s the kitchen during painting (before we moved in).
Sure, it still had its original 1980s double ovens and a non-functioning trash compactor, but we weren’t fussed about the aesthetics. We planned to live in the house for a few years and see how we used the space before doing any major remodels.
If you missed the downstairs tour of our house before moving in, we know you’ll want to check that out to get some perspective.
The Nose Knows
Well, within a few weeks of moving in, I was convinced I smelled something “off.”
Backstory: Matt calls my sensitive sense of smell “The Nose.” Seriously. I smell anything and everything, sometimes from impressive distances. It’s almost a borderline Superpower. (No, I’m not sure it’s a good thing. Believe you me, sometimes I wish I didn’t have such an acute sense of smell. Is it because I’m an HSP? Perhaps!)
So, The Nose was sending all kinds of alarms to my brain each time I was in the kitchen. I brought these alerts up to Matt, who told me he could “kind of” smell “something,” but wasn’t convinced it was of concern.
After enough time being nagged by his NOSEY wife (bahaha!), Matt finally gave her a choice and told her:
“So here’s the deal: I can cut out the bottom of this cabinet [one of the spots where The Nose had narrowed it down as the strongest smell] and see what’s under there. But if it’s nothing [giving his wife a warning look], we will have a cut-up cabinet base. ARE YOU OKAY WITH THAT?”
Yes, she was okay with that. I’m telling you, people,
The Nose knows.
What We Found
So—warily, but as promised—Matt got his jigsaw and cut out the bottom of that cabinet.
What did he find?
You don’t want to see.
Even if you wanted to see that first find, I don’t think I even took pictures of it. I was too busy being horrified.
Oh, and it wasn’t just under that cabinet. It was under several cabinets.
It was also in the drywall.
It was even in the grout of the floor tile.
It’s actually a much longer story than that. We didn’t find it all at once. At first, we just found it under the cabinet and immediately called a mold remediation company.
Who cordoned off our brand-new-to-us-house’s-kitchen and slapped this beauty of a sticker on it:
Did I mention we had a 6-month old baby at the time?
Why the Problem Existed
So how on earth did the mold develop? Here’s what the experts deduced:
When the prior owners moved out, they left a leaking valve. We didn’t move in immediately after they left; we still had a whole lotta work to do on the house before we moved in. The roof leaked, so we needed to re-roof. The HVAC system leaked CO2, so we had to get a whole new HVAC system. We also had someone refinish all the original hardwood floors in the upstairs bedrooms before moving in, not to mention having the entire house painted before moving day. While all the workmen were busy in and around the house itself, Matt and I were busy working on the outdoor areas and available for any workmen’s questions.
It’s amazing how silent a water leak can be, but how “loud” of an issue it can cause.
The Great Kitchen Shutdown
Was I cooking in a kitchen with black mold? No, but even if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t! Because after the mold remediation company ran massive fans at the house (for what, I don’t know…can you BLOW back mold away? I don’t think so)…
…for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…WHILE we were still living there…and they were LOUD…and we had a baby who wouldn’t nap through them…
…am I doing a good job painting this picture yet? Ohmygoodness. We had NO idea what we were in for.
It had JUST begun.
Good thing we had no idea. No idea what else was coming.
For example, we didn’t know we’d be without a kitchen FOR FOUR MONTHS. F-o-u-r!
Let me backup to before I went off on the rabbit trail. The mold remediation company, after determining that their heinously loud fans weren’t fixing the mold problem, called us on a Monday and said,
“Hi! We will be in on Tuesday to rip out your kitchen!”
Um, Tuesday…as in tomorrow?
Yes ma’am, as in tomorrow. Tomorrow we will be coming and ripping out your new house’s kitchen. See ya then! Clickity click.
Goodbye New Kitchen
So, back to my example that we didn’t know we’d be WITHOUT A KITCHEN FOR FOUR MONTHS. We hadn’t even unpacked all our moving boxes yet!
That’s what unplanned kitchen shutdowns can be like.
If we’d planned a kitchen remodel, we would have had all our ducks in a row and gotten a contractor to guarantee it would only take 4-6 weeks (or whatever). We would have had a schedule. We would have had a full kitchen design. We would have planned it all out and had it moving as close to clockwork as possible, with a backup kitchen setup in place somewhere else in the house.
Nope! That was not the way we did this kitchen remodel! We did it the long, hard way. The surprise way. The We-Just-Moved-In-with-a-New-Baby-and-Suddenly-Have-No-Kitchen Way. We didn’t expect that this kitchen remodel would be done so on the fly, but you can click on one of the links below to see how brilliant it turned out and glean tips & tricks from our experience!
➜ Need kitchen help? Download our Kitchen Design Bundle! (3-in-1!)
Click below to see
- What our kitchen looks like after mold removal!
- The 3 cabinet storage ideas every kitchen needs.
- 5 kitchen organization ideas that make life easier!
- Why we did 100% drawers instead of cabinets.
- 3 ways we made our kitchen look bigger.
PS: To see every single one of our house projects, click HERE!