Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Introducing the Kitchen Project

As a couple of people who both really like to cook and entertain, our kitchen has been a disappointment from the moment we moved in. We made a number of significant changes to the room already, but weren't able to do a full renovation. Now that the skylights are installed upstairs, we have to do the master suite project, which will involve tearing up the kitchen for plumbing and electrical, so we're going to do the kitchen at the same time. We're about to start another major renovation.

Work Done So Far
First - a quick look back on what's already happened and how we got to where we are:
  • So, when we first moved in, the kitchen was a small room with cabinets all on one side, a huge pantry, and a wall separating it from the dining room. It was immediately clear that there was not enough counterspace or cabinet space, and only one drawer. We put a small table against the wall to help, but it was clear the room needed a lot more work.
yikes. I forgot how yellow the trim used to be.

view towards the dining room- pantry on the left.
  • During the Great Renovation of 2014, our contractors took out the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, which was great because it opened up the rooms and made them both feel bigger, but not great because now you had to look at the kitchen while you sat in the dining room. They removed the massive walk-in pantry to make the space into a halfbath, which left all of our things with nowhere to go. We brought in two massive shelves for temporary storage, which were really unattractive.
wall comes down

view from the dining room - pantry shelves on the right
  • Then, in 2015 before starting the nannyshare and worrying about the shelves crushing our newborn - (actually, I was much more worried about the other kid getting injured) - we got rid of the wire rack and brought in two huge cheapo cabinets to hold all the small appliances and add extra counterspace. The other wire rack acting as our pantry was moved out onto the unfinished mudroom space.
new cheapo cabinets for storage and lots of counterspace

pantry lives out on in the mudroom
  • Then, last summer we finally finished the mudroom, which meant the pantry had to move again, so we bought two more cabinets to go on the back of the island for the pantry. We also finally closed up the open holes that the contractors had left 2 years earlier and hung some shelves. So this is where we are now.
new shallow cabinets on the island become our pantry

view from the dining room

Problems with the Current Kitchen
There are a bunch of problems with this room that prevent it from being anywhere close to my dream kitchen. Let's start with the layout.

the current layout - crowded and lopsided

  • The cabinets and outlets are all squeezed in the corner, right between the stove and fridge - so as soon as anyone wants a cup of coffee, a plate, or to use the microwave, they are in the way of anyone else trying to use the fridge or stove. Generally, I want to stretch out and spread out the main work areas, so that it's possible to have two people in there at the same time.  I want to create a small wall for the coffee maker, microwave, and glasses and dishes - so that it's possible to pop into the kitchen for those basic things, without getting in the way of the main work areas.  
  • The counter space is not near the appliances or sink, so we are constantly carrying things back and forth from the fridge, to the counter, to the stove- making it even harder to have multiple people in there at the same time. More counterspace on either side of the stove and sink would really help, as would having things stored in the cabinet where they will actually be used (like knives and cutting boards by the sink). 
crowded corner is our big problem area

As for appearance: 
  • The upper cabinets don't go all the way across the room, so it always looks lopsided to me. I want some balance. 
  • I really hate the granite and the orangey-wood cabinets that our predecessor put in - they are super dated and make the room darker. The cheapo white cabinets that we bought of course look cheap, and clash against the older ones. 
  • The floor is a plasticky laminate that is super slippery when wet (which is why we have that hideous rug on the floor). It was also installed over the previous floor, so the whole kitchen is about an inch higher than the rest of the first floor, which makes everyone trip.
  • The walls are a painted, textured wallpaper, which is constantly filthy. The walls are also like three different levels, which makes the cabinets bump in and out. 
  • There aren't enough lighting options - so it's either way too bright or too dark. I would like some pendants, more recessed lights, and under cabinet options too.
trying to take a pic of the floor height issue - can't take a camera out without the boy running over (total ham).

New Layout
The new plan moves the sink and dishwasher to the island, which be the primary prep area, with items like cutting boards and knives. The stove moves down the wall, with cabinets and counterspace on either side, creating a second prep area between it and the fridge. Beside the fridge will be a real pantry cabinet. My favorite part though is the small wall on the left. This will be shallow base cabinets that create just enough of a counter for a dedicated coffee station, with a microwave below, out of the way of the rest of the kitchen. We will add outlets to the island, which will store all the small appliances.  Generally, the cabinets will store the stuff based on how the counter above will be used - with really obvious changes like storing pots and pans by the stove to minimize travel time.  With two major prep areas, and other stuff out of the way, we should easily be able to get at least 2 cooks in the kitchen without stepping on each other.

the new layout - fridge and stove on top, sink in island

view from the mudroom

view from the dining room

The Design Plan
We've been eyeing a lot of kitchen pictures lately, and come up with a white marble on white cabinets plan because we need as much light as possible. Yes, it's pretty trendy and will someday look very 2010s, but aren't kitchens always that way? I've yet to find a kitchen design that is truly timeless - hopefully this one will stay around long enough for us to sell our house in a couple years. We are debating having dark blue bottom cabinets, maybe just on the island.

  1. Wood shelves (already there)
  2. Marble counters and subway backsplash
  3. Same offwhite color as the mudroom for the walls, maybe the dark blue one bottom cabinets
  4. Same pendent as the mudroom, bronze faucet
  5. White cabinets, shaker door, thinking Ikea
  6. Navy accents for towels and a rug
  7. Wood floors (replaced if needed)
The Work Plan
I've spent the last month tweaking the design and layout, so now I think we're really ready to get started. We're working on getting permits now, and then will start to reach out for quotes. The plan is to not use a general contractor, but to hire the trades individually instead to save costs. We will do some of the work ourselves, like installing the cabinets and tile, but hire out major stuff like plumbing and electrical, and maybe the demo and sheetrock too. 

Living in a construction site is never easy, but living without a kitchen is particularly hard. We're going to do what we can to move this along as quickly as possible, while relying on things like the grill and outdoor table, and probably lots of takeout. 

As I mentioned, the plan is to do the kitchen at the same time as the master suite because we will have to tear up floors and walls to install plumbing and electrical.  More on the master suite plan next. 

No comments:

Post a Comment