Building A Chicken

Job Begins

The IKEA deliveryman arrives with about 40 flat-packed boxes and asks me “Are you building a chicken?” I catch his meaning and answer yep!


Boxes, Little Boxes Everywhere

About a week later I had assembled them all (4 base cabinets and 7 wall cabinets) and they were taking up most of the living/dining room space. Time to remove the existing cabinets and start installing the new. The kitchen floor (marble) had already been completed.


Brian, Master Carpenter with Bob, Architect at Start of Job

Rules of the Game:

  1. In a small apartment, where two people are living, there can be no wall demolition and no drywall sanding.
  2. It’s a tight space, 8’x9’; live with it. Do the best you can with the space you have. Look for smaller appliances.
  3. The budget is tight.
  4. There is no off-site construction area.
  5. Get the job done fast!

The Goals Are:

  1. To rationalize the prep space so two people can work in it.
  2. Move the appliances to allow more efficient use of the workflow.
  3. Vastly increase the shelf and drawer space.
  4. Dramatically improve the lighting.
  5. Use easily cleanable materials for countertops.


Assembly and Installation


Workspace 1: Baking and Pasta

Planning and Design:

From the floor plan you can see that the first step was to move the refrigerator to the opposite side so as to unblock the main prep area. That freed up a long workspace on one side. The upper cabinet includes baking materials and pasta. There is a wall rail to hang utensils that will be used for this type of work.Image

Long Prep Space and Pass-thru

On the opposite side is the tea and spices workspace, next to the cooking surface. The wall rail will hold utensils for cooking as well as a spice rack.


Workspace 2: Tea and Spices

The clean up and washing area is in the middle, between the two prep surfaces.Image

Sink and Cleanup Space with Utensil Rails


It helps to have a reliable and skilled contractor whom you have worked with for a long period of time. Enter Brian, master carpenter, and his brother-in-law John, the electrician. Then you explain that you can’t be without a sink and stove even for a day so it needs to be efficient. After a number of discussions and pots of tea, the work begins.

Day 1: Remove old cabinets, remove and temporarily re-install old sink, re-route the electrical circuits to allow moving of the refrigerator.

Day 2: Install 4 base cabinets, including sink with temporary plywood countertop all around.

(Appliance delivery and installation dance in during this time). Refrigerator, range, dishwasher.  Old appliances removed.

Day 3: Install new lighting and switches and some of the wall cabinets.


Day 4: Complete installation of wall cabinets and light fixtures.

Day 5: Install cabinet doors, baseboards, trim and dimmer switches.

Construction work and cabinet installation complete in 5 working days! A new record.

Selection and Installation of Granite Countertops:




New Granite Tops Installed

Stone company takes site measurement and returns about 5 days later with the stone cut to size and installs it. The granite is “Kuppan Green”, a neutral grey-green. It comes from an area in the Indian Ocean where the tsunami hit. The grain is swirly, just like a tsunami. It reminds me of the swirling tides just off Ocean Beach in San Francisco. They install the sink and faucet as well and the plumber hooks it up the next day, only one night without a sink.

Job Complete:


Corridor                              View From Entry



Finished Kitchen with Relocated Fixtures, New Lighting and Cabinets

Net results:

Tripled the amount of shelf space, doubled the number of drawers and increased the prep space all within the same footprint; Glass cabinet doors make the room feel larger and reflect the lighting at night, and two independent workspaces created with large prep space between them.

Lapsed time:

6 working days. Kitchen in use the entire time. Nothing left to do but cook a kitchen in our new chicken.


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