Saturday, November 6, 2010


Installing a dishwasher was our first large home renovation project... I say large project because we never had a dishwasher in our flat and it took 8 full days from start to finish!!!. If I have never mentioned this before, you need to know this now for you to understand...our house is 109 years old and was divided into two flats likely in the 1940's or perhaps even earlier. Our kitchen was likely the master bedroom since it is the largest room on the second floor and our sink and counter space is located in what was probably a dressing room and is quite small (as you will see in the series of photos).
Being an old house and having been converted into flats means that there are many oddities that adds the character that we absolutely love...but can also cause some headaches with home renos because what is standard in new not in our house!

The first thing we needed to do was determine where we could put a dishwasher. We figured out that the only place we could put it and be able to open the door fully was about 4 feet from the sink. We also found out that the depth of our counters was definitely NOT accommodate the back door (exit is right across from the sink in the above photo) they had to make the counters narrower (19" rather than the typical 25" in North America). So herein lies two problems:
  1. We could not put in a North American made full size dishwasher (they are 24" wide and deep)
  2. To accommodate a 19" wide (20" deep) dishwasher, we would have to not only cut out the cupboard...but also the lathe and plaster wall behind it!
Pilot holes to see what is behind the wall. The cupboard you see to the right (with the tupperware) is the one under the drawer in the first photo and that is the back door immediately to the left. This is avery small kitchen!
Diego had a good time using a reciprocating saw to cut out the wall and cupboard that we lovingly referred to as the "Schwarzenegger" because he had to hold it like a big gun and made a lot of noise!
Cupboard and the wall taken out...notice no insulation on the outside wall...not even paper!
We decided that since the dishwasher was going to be on the outside wall that we would insulate behind it using some pink insulation that we bought and some foam board we had in the basement. We then closed it in with wood that we had in the garage, basement and from the cupboard we removed and plastered the cracks to seal it.

Our first try.
Sadly when we tried the dishwasher, it was sticking out too far to be able to fully open the cupboard beside we decided to carve out 1/2" of the studs you see in the we had to undo everything we had just done, setting us back one day. Time spent on this part so far...3 days. However, when we were done it was all painted and the dishwasher slid in nicely, we were glad we did it.

The eletrical and the plumbing took another whole day on their own! The plumbing under the sink was installed before dishwashers even existed, so we had to redo the whole thing!
Cast iron and copper plumbing under the kitchen sink.
Diego cutting the cast iron pipe with the "Schwarzenegger".
Our beautiful new plumbing!!!
We had a minor set back with the electrical when Diego wired the dishwasher to the light switch...which of course induced panic when we tested the connection by turning on the dishwasher and it didn't turn on!
When we flicked on the switch to see what the problem was the dishwasher came to life and we had a good laugh!!! It took 1/2 a day to re-wire it and get it right! Time spent so far...4.5 days. The next part is what took us the longest...rebuilding the cupboard in the small space beside the dishwasher. Since our kitchen is so small we had to do something to make this space useable and we of course couldn't make it we decided to make a small larder (aka: a drawer with shelves). We also wanted to reclaim as much wood as we possible could, not just to save $$ but to save TREES!!! This of course made it more difficult because the pieces were sometime bowed but also because this old house is a little crooked!!
This was such a technical job. So much finicky cutting and adjustments to get it "straight" in a crooked opening!
It took 3.5 days just to get this built, stained and layer of clear coat!
But now I have space for our cooking utensils and my teas (yes they take up 3 shelves) and we have a DISHWASHER!! This will save on water and headaches figuring out who will do the dishes!!! :)
Even though it feels like we should have lost space, we actually gained some in the main part of the kitchen! With a little re-arranging and purging of items not used in years, we now also have a potato and onion drawer!!!

It was well worth the 8 days! Now we just need to sand and stain all the cupboards the same colour...


  1. holy CRAP guys! THE WORK. I knew it, but I loved reading about it. And I laughed out loud that you wired the dishwasher to the lightswitch. awesome.

    Also, I am SO JEALOUS that you have a dishwasher- we're going today to the sears outlet for a gently used dishwasher for cheap. And you are so right- when most of the counters are taken up by drying clean or dirty dishes, having a dishwasher actually adds in space. And is environmentally friendlier than washing by hand :)

    PS- WOW on the drawer dealy. I am so glad you guys decided to go with that- it's BEAUTIFUL.

  2. That's fantastic! Good for you guys. Getting a dishwasher a few years ago seriously improved our quality of life! Enjoy yours!

  3. YAY and congrats on the dishwasher. And I love those mugs hanging under the counter.

  4. Oh my gosh, I would NEVER have tackled this myself. Dh and I are not talented that way. Kudos to you on doing a great job! And congrats on having a dishwasher. :)