About catherine
Catherine is a CPA-turned-creative entrepreneur. She is the founder of Beginning in the Middle. an interior designer, photographer, writer, and business schemer.  She loves being cozy at home, miniature everything, and has a not-so-secret dream of living on an island one day.
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Before & After

Too Many Pests in the Kitchen


It’s been another eventful week over here at the new duplex.  Last week, we demo’d the majority of the house except for the kitchen and bathroom.  This time around, our target was the kitchen.  What we found in there was even worse than the rest of the house!  I’m hoping there’s going to be an end to these terrible surprises soon, but I’m not holding my breath.

We’ll start here with a quick glance at what our kitchen looked like before we started ripping everything apart.

The first thing we did was take out the old cabinets and counters.  Here’s what we discovered.

You see that dark stuff in the shape of the top cabinets?  Roach poo.  All of it.  I lost my appetite for a few days, along with my excitement about this house.

Once the cabinets were done, we took out the wall that was previously there for a pantry.  Our plan is to use part of that space for a half bath because there’s only one bathroom in the house, and it’s on the second floor.  We needed to get rid of the wall so we could reconfigure the space the way we wanted to.


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Good thing we removed the wall, because we discovered a leaky pipe that had been wreaking havoc for years.  The evidence was in the floors, which we started next. And that, my friends, is when it got REAL.

We expected to remove 1-2 layers of old flooring, but it turned out to be more like 4-5.  And right in the middle of all those layers was a whooole bunch of black mold.  Yeah, the bad kind.


Before doing anything else, we called a pro and explained our situation.  They said that black mold is toxic, but is possible to go the DIY route because it can be killed with bleach on non-porous surfaces.  They said we would need to wear respirator masks and something that covers our whole body, because if the spores get into our system they can cause problems.  Lots of other articles online suggested the same, so that’s what we did.  (Remember, we’re not pro’s!  We aren’t claiming to be right, and you should always do your own research before diving into something serious like black mold!)

We bought spray bottles (the professional kid is worth every penny!), bleach, full body suits, gloves, respirators, and tarps to seal off the openings into the dining room.  We mixed the bleach with water (50/50), and put a box fan in one of the windows to blow the air outside, so any runaway spores would be forced to leave.



We first sprayed the floor while it was still intact, then sprayed each piece as we took it up.  Once they were thoroughly doused, we put all of the moldy floor pieces in a black trash bag and sprayed again just to be safe.


It took us about half a day, but we finally got to the bottom layer.


All of our mold evidence was now gone (phew!). We weren’t sure if we should leave the subfloor intact or take it all up and start fresh.  We decided to just get rid of it, because based on the way things were going, we’d probably find something else that needed to be addressed.

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As it turns out, that kitchen floor was holding the majority of the smell that was spreading through the entire house!  When we came into the house the day after taking the floor out, it was noticeably better.  That made me happy.

Bryan has been working on reconstructing the floor so we can get our kitchen up and running in the next few weeks.  I would say he’s made some progress, right? 🙂  IMG_5636

This past weekend, we finalized our floor plan for the kitchen, started building some walls, and uncovered a surprise that is actually good!  We’ll share more photos and drawings soon.

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  1. OH MY GOSH. This is awful! I can’t believe you keep finding more problems! Happy that the leak didn’t cause damage to the structure of the floor beams.

    What kind of respirators did you get? Did you set aside a separate budget for all the renovation when you purchased, and is this putting you over budget for it? When do you expect it to be totally ready for tenants?

    • Catherine says:

      Ahhh I know! We totally didn’t expect there to be THIS much work to do when we bought the house. The prior owners hid a lot of stuff from us. We made a budget for the renovations based on what we knew needed to be done, but yeah, all of this extra stuff is definitely making us go over. :\ Needless to say, the house does still have a great structure and lots of nice features, so I think we’ll make out okay despite the added expenses of having to demo everything and start over.

      As for the respirators, we got the ones with cartridges on the side. They were the ones our home improvement store recommended when we told them about our mold problem. They were about $40-50 each. Hopefully we’ll get more use out of them (actually, I hope we don’t!)

  2. […] case you missed it, we gutted the whole thing including the floor, because there was black mold and roaches and lots of other nasty stuff in […]

  3. […] of our progress along the way (if you want to know more, check out our prior kitchen posts here and here).  These photos are of just one side of the galley – the other one isn’t […]

  4. […] showed you some photos of the kitchen in our last post, but haven’t shared the full floor plan.  Here’s my unprofessional attempt to make one […]

  5. […] you want to know more about our kitchen progress, click here, here and here.  And, if you want to stay in the loop on our reno in between blog posts, follow us on Instagram […]

  6. […] it or not, this side was in way better shape than the kitchen on side #1.  But it still wasn’t our jam.  We took everything out, including the awkwardly placed […]

  7. vivian says:

    nice post

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Catherine & Bryan Williamson moved from NYC to Columbus, OH in 2013.  Beginning in the Middle is a journal of the couple's design and renovation projects, real estate investment and Airbnb hosting journey, travel, and other life happenings.



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I grew up in New Jersey and always had a dream of living in New York.  There was something about the energy of the city that drew me inOur journey started unexpectedly in 2012, when we decided to make a big move from New York to Columbus. The glamour of climbing the corporate ladder was wearing off, and we knew that renting an expensive small apartment and dealing with crowded subways everyday was not going to work forever. We wanted to start creating something for ourselves, and although we didn’t know exactly what that something was, we knew NYC wasn’t the place for it.

We decided on Columbus because Bryan grew up here, and we were intrigued by all of the development going on in the downtown area at the time. We drove through many of the neighborhoods and admired the boarded up old houses, most of which were built in the early 1900s, and started dreaming about the things we could do here.

I'm Catherine, and I'm the founder of Beginning in the Middle.

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