Moving Cabinets Around & Removing Granite Counters

When our saga last left off, our heroes were being shuffled around the kitchen. That is, if a refrigerator and a pantry are your kind of hero.

But before our new appliances arrived last week, we had to put the moves on a few more things. First in line? The cabinet that held the wall oven.

You probably recall that we were ditching the wall oven because it was burnt on the front, bisque colored, and cooked things unevenly. We opted not to replace it with another wall oven because (1) wall ovens are expensive – usually 1K more than ranges, (2) our cabinet is unconventionally narrow – most modern wall ovens wouldn’t even fit, and (3) the tall cabinet was big and bulky (we’d like the pantry and the fridge to be the only two tall things in the room). So that whole tall cabinet was getting the axe – but of course we’ll be repurposing parts of it.

Once emptied, we unscrewed it from the back wall, removed any trim, and shimmied it out of its hole in the floor. Oh yeah, this was all after turning the power off.

The darn thing was hardwired, so rather than just unplugging something, I had to do a bit of “unscrew this, rescrew that” to get it disconnected. Don’t worry about the crazy exposed wire. I capped it, put everything into the metal box (which had a lid) and left the electricity turned off to that area of the house until the electrician arrived this morning to take care of it all – and to finally figure out what that mystery wire is above the pantry (details as soon as we know!).

With a few more screws unscrewed and a bit more shimmying (we feel like we do a lot of that lately) we had the oven out of its wall hole and ready to be moved out of the room (we’re donating it to the Habitat For Humanity ReStore).

Once the oven was removed, the cabinet itself was awesomely light, so it joined our stockpile of kitchen scraps in the sunroom (we’ll be reusing things like the doors and drawers and possibly some of the other oak trim). We’re hanging on to everything until we’re done with the kitchen just in case a piece comes in handy (so our sunroom looks crazy – we should snap a photo for you guys). Then once we’re done, we’ll try to donate or craigslist as much of it as we can.

The womp-womp of having just exposed more unpainted paneling wasn’t so bad. Mostly because the next morning our new appliances arrived. Joy. The fridge got installed in place (the old one was hauled away to be donated to a local church) and the new stove temporarily sat by its side (not hooked up, because it will soon live on the wall to the left of the fridge as you face it – more on the future floor plan here). The dishwasher and microwave are sitting in boxes in front of the fireplace. Yes, our kitchen looks pretty insane right now if you couldn’t tell. And although the only new appliance that we’re actually using is the fridge, so far we love it.

With the wall oven gone and the new stove not in place, we’d lost our baking function in the kitchen. No good. So our next mission became getting the new stove installed in its soon-to-be-permanent home. Only problem? This stood in our way:

It was time for the cooktop to join the wall oven in craigslist/donate purgatory (we planned to craigslist it because it’s a pretty nice JennAir model). We started by emptying the cabinet below and I disconnected the electrical in the same turn-off-power-and-cap-it-all-in-a-metal-box-and-leave-off-power-to-that-area-until-the-elecrician-arrives-this-morning fashion.

Based on the installation manual (which I looked up online), I should’ve just been able to lift the cooktop out (it wasn’t screwed in)… but this sucker wasn’t budging. That’s when we discovered this:

It was glued down with some sort of black silicone. Sherry did some quick Internet research on “removing cooktop glue” and came to the conclusion this was baaaad news. Apparently you’re not supposed to glue down your cooktop because it makes it very difficult to remove (uh oh) without completely shattering the glass (double uh oh) and many folks were rambling about how mad they were at their granite installers for gluing theirs in which they only learned was completely wrong after it needed to be removed to be serviced or replaced and was shattered in the process. Even though it wasn’t looking too good for our “craigslist the cooktop” plan, we were determined to at least give it our best try. So we started gently scraping and slicing the caulk to free the cooktop.

Well, the odds won. After about 15 minutes of trying to sloooowly and caaaarefully pry it up, we got our first crack in the glass. Then our second. Then our third. Then… well, we just accepted the fact that our cooktop wasn’t really sellable or donate-able anymore. Sucks. But from what we hear, any drop-ins that are caulked usually suffer a similar fate. So if you’re adding one remind your granite or countertop folks not to glue it down!

With our rescue mission having turned into a recovery, we plugged away at trying to detach the cooktop from the granite. After all, this whole section of granite was next on our remove-list (to make way for the stove) and it was already gonna be heavy enough without a cooktop piggybacking on it. So Sherry kept working on the cooktop while I started with the granite backsplash – which, ironically, came out quite easily. Having the backsplash out gave Sherry enough room to cut along the back edge of the cooktop (even her small hands couldn’t fit back there with the backsplash in place). Perhaps this would do the trick?

NOPE. No luck. So we gave up on trying to remove the cooktop and decided to just carry it out with the granite instead. Sherry was quite excited to turn her attention to something that (based on my backsplash experience) would be much more satisfying.

And it was. After a few slices along the silicone caulk that held the granite in place, Sherry was able to wedge a crowbar and screwdriver in a few places and start to pry it up within minutes.

Once it was fully detached, we called in reinforcements (my dad, whom we had invited over to “help with a little project”). Because granite is HEAVY. He must’ve known our definition of “little project” usually calls for work gloves, so he showed up wearing his.

Moving it actually wasn’t that bad. We were able to get it into the carport no problem, where it now sits awaiting – you guessed it – our craigslist/donate bonanza. Meanwhile, back inside we were left with this: no cooktop or granite, but still a cabinet where our stove needs to go.

So with everything emptied, we pried out some more trim and unscrewed a few more screws…

…and pulled the cabinet right out of its spot…

…and shimmied (darn it, there we go again!) the stove into place.

We left all of the wrapping on the stove as a visual reminder not to try to use it (it won’t be ready until the electrician finishes with things this morning since he’ll be converting the raw wires to a standard plug).

A couple of other things to note about that picture:

  1. See how close the top of the stove is to the bottom of the mircowave? That’s how awkwardly low our microwave is hung. Not normal, right? Can’t wait to upgrade to a properly hung range hood.
  2. The stove is 30″ wide, but the cabinet base had been 36″- so we’ll add some 3″ filler pieces to make it look built in (since the hood is vented/ducted to be centered over the 36″ opening, moving the stove to one side or the other would be major ceiling surgery that we just don’t want to take on). But once we add 3″ filler pieces and paint everything white we think it’ll be pretty darn seamless – and definitely worth having a work triangle instead of some sort of odd work parallelogram.
  3. The stove is counter-depth, so although it looks a bit deeper, we just didn’t push it in all the way (since the electrician is coming and we’ll have to pull it back out).

Oh, and speaking of that 36″ cabinet base. It did not end up in the sell/donate pile. Instead, it’s getting put to use where the giant wall oven cabinet used to live:

Yup, it’s gonna be part of the new workspace that leads from the fridge (which will get built in) all the way around to the peninsula that we’ll be adding. By reusing this cabinet it means we only have to buy 2 new ones to create our peninsula (one corner base cabinet and one 21″ drawer base cabinet). But we’ll talk more about that later (we got planz, yo).

With every item that we check off of our kitchen to-do list it seems like ten things get added, so I won’t even attempt to lay it all out here. But the main things are securing materials (backsplash, cabinets, counters, etc), painting the exposed paneling, and scheduling our wall knock-down-fest (we finally picked a contractor to help us – so it looks like we might accomplish it within the next month). Woo hoo!


  1. says

    It’s like a giant puzzle – except with seriously expensive pieces. Hehe. How do you guys like this renovation compared to completely gutting a kitchen and starting from scratch? At least you’re not washing dishes in a tiny bathroom? Hah!

    • says

      It’s much more of a challenge (like a super hard puzzle) to reuse things instead of starting from scratch- but we actually like the whole “game” of it. We sit in there and debate things and just see what shakes out! And of course it feels good to get to reuse things for the eco reasons and for we’re-cheap reasons. Haha.


  2. says

    Wow, I thought my microwave was hung low over the range, but it looks like you guys probably can’t even make a big pot of soup until after your microwave is gone. I can make a pot of soup, but I have to take the pan off the stove to get any soup out of it.

  3. says

    You guys have insane imaginations. You can visualize things so well. I am loving watching everything come together. It sounds like this is going to be an exciting month. Sherry, do your sunglasses serve as safety goggles, too? Or are they just your fav accessory?? :)

  4. says

    I can really begin to visualize what the kitchen will be like. One of my favorite things about how you guys approach your projects is the nice balance between reusing and repurposing old stuff when it works and knowing when to let go and go for something new.

    Already looking forward to the next update!

  5. Wendy says

    Wow – I am so excited with your changes. Are you able to move the stove over and use the extra 6 inches for a narrow shelf – for wine bottles or cookbooks? Since the top cabinets are going to come down from that wall maybe the stove doesn’t have to be centred. Also just an aside – make sure to put your flooring under your dishwasher or you will have a terrible time trying to remove it if you ever
    need to replace it. You won’t be able to “shimmy” it out with the countertop overtop of it.

    • says

      Since the hood is vented/ducted to be centered over the 36″ gap, moving the stove to one side or the other would be major ceiling surgery that we just don’t want to take on!


  6. Jackie says

    Hi there! Looks great so far…one thing, have you considered moving the fridge to the right and the low cabinet to the left? From the pictures, it looks like it would visually give you more space when you entered the room instead of having the tall fridge right there at the doorway…your eye would not be blocked by the fridge. could be just the picture though…you guys know best. Love your site…have been with you from almost the start!

    • says

      We just thought that folks sitting at the peninsula would rather look at a low cabinet than stare at the side of the fridge – but the fridge will be moving over to the right, so there will be more space between entering the room (plus once it’s built in with wood that’s painted white, it’ll visually feel a lot lighter than those dark black sides). Can’t wait for that!


  7. Rachel says

    Is it just me, or do the knobs look extra eye-bally with the former stove cabinets coming forward in that one picture?

    Everything looks great so far–can’t wait to keep following the progress!! It’s always the highlight of my morning at work :)

  8. says

    We’re doing a kitchen remodel in the next few months. My Uncle gifted us with his cast off appliances, brand new, they just wanted to go stainless as well. And, you’re right! We have a wall oven currently, were gifted the wall oven and it doesn’t fit! UGH! BUt, we’ve been planning on remodeling and are picking cabinets now.

    STressful but fun! Good luck on the rest of your remodel!

    • says

      We’d love to be done by the beginning of January. Since we’re doing a ton of things ourselves (and our last kitchen, which was smaller took 113 days) we figure that’s a good goal!


    • mribaro says

      This goes hand in hand with keeping your tradition of spending Christmas holidays in the middle of a major renovation :) Yay for being consistent!

  9. meganleiann says

    Awesome! I am really excited about this project. I have to say that I love that there was stuff still in your drawers. Totally something I would do. :)

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