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Restoring My Kitchen After a Fire!!


This is more a fixing f *d up s*t back up blog post, rather than materializing inspiration, though admittedly there was a smidgen of creativity involved..

Let's cut to the chase, I had a senior moment, forgot some heating oil on the stove, and burnt my kitchen (the stove area) back in March.. I had completely designed and overseen the construction of this whole kitchen, from scratch, myself, before we moved in, so this was a lil more than a punch in the stomach. However after some 6 months of working on it about an hour, sometimes a few, a day, it is now finally restored.. :)

 I won't be going into much detail but hopefully the pictures will give you a basic idea of how it all went down. Please don't hesitate to drop me a message if you have any questions on the details though..

The night (left) and morning (right) after the fire.

As you can see the kitchen was quite a state after the fire and the soot from the fire had permeated every nook and cranny, inside and outside cabinets.. basically all surfaces within a 7 metre radius of the fire, had a thin layer of soot over it.. So first things first was a good scrub and clean (thankfully my bf was there to help battle my smoke ridden kitchen). I had heard the longer soot is left to set, the deeper it will embed itself  so it was important to clean it off all surfaces as soon as possible (besides the health effects). Despite our best efforts though, the soot would still leave a hint of its unwelcome visit..

After a good scrub and clean, the middle cabinet doors were removed so I could work on them.

Inside view of the cabinets roof. There was a piece of plywood across the top here that was just too badly damaged and was removed, but would be replaced later.

The middle cabinet doors were removed first to be scrubbed clean and the burnt plywood backing removed to be replaced with new, cut to fit, plywood.. There were 1 x 1 cm length sticks (which had also been burnt quite badly) that held in place the plywood in the backing, which were removed and kept aside. (though I didn't know it at the time I would use these again later)

Front of middle cabinet doors before cleaning or removing the burnt plywood backing 

Back of the mid cabinet doors - which shows how damaged the old plywood was after the fire.

Front of the mid cabinet doors after cleaning and giving it a really good sand down.
Though not yet attached properly, the new plywood backing can be seen here


Back - the burnt part was scraped & sanded down till the wood was tolerably hard enough.
Here I've placed the plywood in but will only truly attach it later (With PVA Glue) at the end with the help of the same old burnt 1 x 1 cm sticks that held the old piece in place.

The initial plan was to scrape down all the really burnt areas, plaster it up and then cover with paint so that one would not know any damage had occurred.. However I just fell in love with how beautiful the burnt wood looked!!.. 
It was gorgeous, and after some research, discovered many who deliberately went about burning wood on purpose, not only for its esthetic appeal but to preserve it!! In fact, there was a traditional Japanese method called Shou sugi ban (焼杉板) which is the art of preserving and finishing wood using fire!! It was evidently used to weatherproof and waterproof wood.

Look how gorgeous this is... how could I just scrape it off!!

Thus a design was devised to incorporate the charred parts harmoniously with the rest of the kitchen... I couldn't help myself, a fiery composition slowly started to solidify in my minds eye.. A forever reminder to.. Not Forget Things On The Stove!!! hehehe.. ehrmmm..

The first step in my design included plaster (this would be the only place I used it)

Masking tape was used for the stencil

The charred wood was removed from the area that I would be applying plaster

Some plastic netting was cut to roughly emulate the design

Then the netting was stapled on ready to give some grip for the plaster.

Applied a thick layer of plaster and removed the masking tape. After this the black of the burnt wood was perfected (where it was not as black etc..) with some charcoal powder mixed into a paste with linseed+liquin.

Next was the side of the left side cabinets above the stove.

Before I had decided on the more organic fiery design, I had initially settled on a tooth design for this side. (you can see the remnants of this below).

You can see the remnants of the old tooth design and the wood just after it was burnt with a hot spoon.

Now however, I wanted the charred wood to extend down much lower than the wood had actually been naturally burnt from the fire. So using a hot metal spoon (heated by a convenient stove nearby) the wood was burnt to accommodate the design. A charcoal paste (made with charcoal powder+linseed+liquin) would be painted on in this area later, and touches here and there, after the white distressed paint job, and then sealed to recreate the deep black of the original burn.


Masking tape was used to stencil the design and the rest of the wood was sanded down to prepare it for the white paint.

Now somewhere in between all this, the ceiling was cleaned as best as can be and given a few fresh coats of paint.

The kitchen was covered with newsprint ready for the ceiling paint job.

Ahhhh... It was nice to have a pristine white ceiling again after so long...!!

Now back to stencilling the cabinet doors!

The right cabinet door before being sanded down.

Right Cabinet door, sanded and stencilled with masking tape.

Back of middle cabinet doors stencilled with masking tape.

It was time to paint!!
The pricy Nippon PU Recoatable Finish colour that old emails seemed to indicate to be the paint used in the original paint job, turned out not to be quite the right hue though!!..

Luckily I had already thought up some ideas of what I could do if the paint didn't turn out to be just right and might actually be more appealing in the end..
The rest of the sanded down wood for all the cabinets would be given a layer of undercoat that was then sanded down to give a distressed look ( I had to do this several times, sometimes, when I sanded too much undercoat off). Then a thin layer of the extremely good Nippon PU Recoatable Finish was applied thinly to protect the undercoat.

This combo of white undercoat+ thin glaze of creamy hued paint, resulted in just the right hue to match the rest of the kitchen. I would still rub in thin glazes of earth toned oil paint here and there as a finishing touch at the end to unify with all the areas that still had stains from the fire though.

One of the most satisfying parts of this whole restoration was removing the masking tape stencil after the paint job, to reveal the fiery design so beautifully enhanced by the contrast with the burnt wood !!



As mentioned earlier, to ensure all the burnt areas had the same deep saturated sooty black of the really burnt parts, a charcoal paste (mixture of charcoal powder+ linseed oil + liquin (to accelerate drying) was applied in targeted areas. Then all the burnt areas were given a couple of layers of linseed oil + liquin+turp of protection. What really made it come to it's full loveliness though, was when I gave the charred wood a layer of the same Behandla beeswax protection I used for the counter top.

How it looks now completed after applying several layers of the charcoal paste (smudging the edges) and finishing off with linseed oil + liquin+turp of protection for more protection, drying between layers.


Applying the linseed oil + liquin+turp for protection.

After the burnt wood had had a few layers of the linseed oil mixture protection, I started on the counter top that had been damaged in the fire and gotten really rougned and dirty (sorry forgot to take a pic!).. Some deep sanding was done to remove the more shallow burns, but some parts were burnt too deeply (see below for a pic). However I didn't mind as these burnt areas gave a nice aesthetic look I felt, once the rest of the counter top was nicely finished.


Applying the beeswax finish.. This was left to soak in a bit, then rubbed in with a slightly dampened scourer till it had absorbed deeply and evenly into the wood.


Two layer of beeswax was applied with about 2 days of drying time between each layer.

Deep burn still there after sanding, but is quite a nice unique feature after the beeswax finish!


How it looks now with two layers of Behandla beeswax finish all dry...


And here it is Complete!!!!!!!!
After some 6 months you can imagine I was truly glad to be done with it, but I was really happy with the result and was glad I had decided on the distressed look for the paint job.. It all blended in well with the rest of the kitchen ( especially after giving some fake coffee'ish stains with some earth hued oil paints.. ). We decided not to buy a new hood since we haven't really missed it much.



Can you spy the white board I installed in the roof, inside of the middle cabinet?.. I felt this was a good finishing touch, contrasting well with the burnt supporting beam and surrounding burnt wood.


Restoration Complete!!

It's been a few months now since completion, and all seems to be holding up well.
Thanks for dropping by for a peek and as mentioned before, please don't hesitate to leave a message if you're interested in more details..

Ta guys!! :)


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