Project : Kitchen

We’ve been living in this house for 7.5 years, and I’ve dreamed of a new kitchen since the day we moved in. It’s not terrible. It was somewhat updated by the previous owner (new flooring, countertops, and cabinets painted white), but there is still the ancient (tiny) oven, and the Jenn-Air range which is great in theory, but in practice leaves me with only 2 stove burners.

This house is not ideal for living with 2 teenage boys, so we’ve been pondering how long we want to stay. But the fact is, we’ve worked on EVERY SINGLE other room in this house, and we’re not anxious to do that again. And to find a new house in the location we want that is already updated to our specifications is financially unrealistic at this time.

And so, we’ve decided to do a total kitchen remodel. We’re both a little gun shy, because we’ve done this before – on our previous house – and it was a TON of work. And we didn’t have kids then. Thankfully, our boys are old enough now that they’re pretty independent, and I’m home full-time so I can put a lot of energy into the project.

You can see the ancient stove on the left of this photo. It doesn’t hold a full-size cookie sheet, and the door doesn’t quite close right. It’s functional, but obviously not ideal. A little beyond that is the range, which has 1 large and one small burner on the right side, and a flat griddle/grill on the left side which (again) is cool in theory but almost never gets used.

Here’s where we’ve got some wackiness happening. See the opening where the red (pantry) cabinet is? That was the original spot for the fridge. But our fridge is so large that when it sits there, it feels really strange and claustrophobic. So we moved it down the wall, and you’ll notice it’s in front of a door to the backyard. This is the original back door. But you’ll also notice that just on the other side of the doorway out of the kitchen is a sliding door to the backyard, rendering the original backdoor entirely useless.

Part of our plan is to take out that original door behind the fridge and close off the wall. It’s also obviously not ideal having the fridge doors open into the entry to the dining room, so we’ll be getting a counter-depth fridge and moving it slightly to the left.

See that metal prep table? It totally changed and completely improved the functionality of the kitchen.

This is the other side of the kitchen. There are no built-in cabinets here, so we added this shelving and the prep table. The prep table is where the boys sit to eat breakfast and lunch, play with play-doh and messy stuff, and works great as an extra work area when two of us are cooking at the same time.

I actually really like the way the kitchen is laid out right now. It’s taken a long time, but I’ve finally tweaked the layout enough that it’s really functional for us. But it’s not pretty. It works, and if I had to live with it this way, I could. But I don’t, so yay! When I sat down to work on a design on the Ikea kitchen planner yesterday, I came out with a layout that is very similar to what we have now, while also solving a couple of problems.

I added a tall pantry cabinet to the right of the fridge to avoid the problem of having the fridge doors open into the doorway to the dining room. It does leave a wonky space aboove due to the soffit, but I’m thinking it wouldn’t take much to just build out the soffit to the pantry and put a small wine rack above the fridge to make use of that extra space.

I intend to put open shelving to the right of the window for dishes. The open wall space to the right of the stove and left of the window is up for grabs. Because the room is small, I like the idea of lots of open shelving, but I’m not sure yet.  We’ll put in a built-in microwave above the stove.

This is obviously just a first shot at coming up with a new layout. We did consider taking out part of or all of the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. We’re trying to keep our budget as low as possible, and although I’d like to open things up a bit more, I don’t think it’s really necessary.  The only other fantasy I have is putting in a larger window that would take up most of the open space on that back wall. I’ll probably look into it, because I think it would brighten up the room a lot.

We will probably be doing an Ikea kitchen. Our friend Joe is a master carpenter and has also installed a number of Ikea kitchens. We’re hoping to have him do a lot of the work, so we’ll definitely take his input into consideration.

I am leaning toward lots of white, because I think with such a small closed-in space, we need as much brightness as we can get. I hate how dirty white cabinets can get, but I think they’d be much easier to clean than the painted wood I have now. But all of that is up in the air.

I’m not really looking forward to having a torn up kitchen for months, but that’s how it goes. I’m not sure when we’ll get started. It’ll likely be another month or two of planning before we really start in earnest.

Oh, and thanks to Am-Fam who has done a lot of kitchen research and is pointing me toward some very helpful information!


    • _thatpatti_

      we're using our equity to do it, which i don't LOVE, but I think it will raise the value of our house enough to make it worth it, especially if we stick to a reasonable budget.

      • Josh

        BTW, white kitchens appear to be the current trends, so you are on the right track in terms of style. However I would suggest you make your kitchen decisions for how you live and cook, not re-sale value which so many people seam to be so focused on. I never understand why so many do renovations with future people in mind, not what you need.

        • _thatpatti_

          we're definitely making this kitchen for US. i am drawn to a lot of different styles, but definitely lean toward clean lines of modern/mid-century styles (our LR/DR are pretty mid-century influenced). browsing pinterest lots, of course. :)

        • Hamoodi

          Ah, there are many books available on the topic of food. Depending on your pactirular interest, there are several I recommend everyone read: two by Michael Pollan: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. They’re well-written and informative, well worth the read. One of my favorite food writers is Marion Nestle, whose Food Politics is an excellent reference on how the food industry influences nutrition and health. For the pure joy of reading about food, check out Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History by Mark Kurlansky.

      • Luciana

        My partner and I have nrostcucted and installed several IKEA units (base units, wall cabinets and worktops). It really isn’t that difficult. Take your time. Read the instructions thoroughly. Measure twice, cut once!

      • Sandrita

        You are commenting using your Facebook acuncot. ( / )Connecting to %s Notify me of follow-up comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email.Search for:Quick Connect Request We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your project, please call us at 412-243-4200 or fill out the form below. A member of our team will contact you within 24 hours. Name(required) Email(required) Best Phone# How can we help? Customers are Saying .”This is the third project that I have used Commonwealth and will use them again in the future.” “I am most impressed with your employees work and professionalism…they are a credit to Commonwealth.” “We cannot say enough good things about Commonwealth and our experience with them. Leslie Dukehart the owner was professional, courteous, and accommodating. The 3 man crew was fantastic. The foreman went out of his way… All 3 worked together quietly,quickly, were neat and mannerly.”

    • Kadira

      You have a problem busaece I have hooked them up all the time and they should bleed water out even though you may not use it.Make sure it was hooked up properly./

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  1. argentina

    I think putting in a bigger window would make a huge difference. We have a big kitchen window in our house (4 1/2 feet wide), and while there's no kitchen in the room yet, you can already tell that it's going to be nice and bright in there.

    Ikea has tons of options for kitchens…I'm not crazy about white either (we have a white kitchen now and I don't like how old and dirty it looks, even when it's freshly cleaned). Have you looked at their kitchen options in the store? I agree that a small room shouldn't have dark colors, but they have light wood too. And some really nice colors, too.
    We didn't go with Ikea because we're both very tall and want to have the counter on a higher than standard level, and Ikea doesn't really have good option for that, other than putting your kitchen on very long legs (the kitchen store we ended up ordering from offered cabinets that were taller to begin with, so we're actually going to have an extra drawer in every single cabinet).

    • _thatpatti_

      it's been fun watching your house come together!! our closest ikea is about 1.5 hours away. i'm thinking we'll take a trip down next month to see our options in person, and talk to a designer there. light wood is definitely an option.

      really cool that you're able to customize for height! wish i could come see it in person! :)

    • _thatpatti_

      Haven't gotten that far yet. Honestly, I'm not that picky. We have just basic formica countertops right now and they don't bother me at all. It will all depend on budget and what seems reasonable for our house/neighborhood, KWIM? i mean, i'd love granite or concrete or soapstone or whatever, but we're not building our dream kitchen here. :)

      • AmFam

        I have been researching some non-super fancy options for countertops. If I can find the link, I will send it to you. There are some interesting ones with recycled glass, etc. There are lots of options. Also, if you are buying the idea island, you actually don't need that much countertop material. Using something a little nicer won't end up costing you too much more than just using formica but it would have a lot better resale value.

        • _thatpatti_

          we will very likely go with solid surface. i've never had a heat-tolerant counter top before, so that's not really much of an issue for me. but we'll probably compare with granite, too.

  2. priscilla

    love! we put in an ikea kitchen with white cabinets and i couldnt be happier. much easier to clean than painted wood.

  3. Barb

    You dont want to but the dishwasher next to the fridge because it makes the fridge work harder to stay cold. Have you thought about knocking out hte wall going into dining room and putting taking the counters down past the ex back door? and then you could make a penesala(sp?) wrap to make it nice for entertaining and put the fridge on wall straight across from the sink. Also you can get rid of sofits so cabinets go all the way to ceiling. Just saying. I can come over and tell u more what i am thinking.

    • _thatpatti_

      there is a cabinet between the dishwasher and the refrigerator. also, yes we are thinking of removing the soffit, it will just be an issue of budget.

      and, like i said in the post, we've considered taking out the wall, but for multiple reasons we *probably* won't go that route. the setup we have now works really well for us, so i'm not inclined to make huge (expensive) changes to the layout just because we CAN. we're trying to make this as budget-friendly as possible.

      but i'd like to maybe bring scott down to see your kitchen and leigh & julie's a few doors down since you both have similar floorplans.

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