When planning a kitchen - words of wisdom

loves2cook4sixJanuary 8, 2010

I know they've been said before but just to re-iterate:

Plan in zones rather than work triangles: Baking, prepping, cooking, cleanup

Think about how you cook your favorite most often used recipes. What pots, how much prep, what utensils, any pantry goods? Now think where you will store that stuff. Will it be easily accessible or will you need to walk across the kitchen and around the island to get to the pantry, potatoes, etc? Will you need to walk with a heavy pot from your prep area to your oven to braise a stew?

Think about cleanup: Is the DW easily accessible to the eating area(s). What about storage containers for left overs? How far is the fridge to put away the leftovers. How accessible is the storage for every day dishes and flatware both to the table and to the DW's. Where will the trash be?

You shouldn't finish your kitchen and then start deciding where you will put things away. That should be part of the design process.

I want to stress this because lately I have been seeing so many GORGEOUS kitchens that don't function at all well (you may recall my friends kitchen :( ).

You can have BOTH so why settle for less. Yes, it's true that sometimes you will need to compromise and decide what is more important, form or function but that still makes you think about where things will be.

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Thanks for the wisdom. didn't think about that. I tend to be all over the place...maybe things aren't ordered properly now and that is why I hate the kitchen so much. I guess I'll have to really sit down and look at my new design and see what works.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 1:16PM
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Someone here, many years back now, called it "Kitchen Tai Chi" and it was brilliant. She literally sat (and I did too after taking her advice) and imagined herself in her new kitchen cooking a favorite dish, step by step. Then tweeked her planned layout accordingly as needed. Or thought "yeah, that's good."

I was once in a friend's beautiful new kitchen the day it was finished and she was bringing stuff out from storage. She had NO idea where to put anything and she literally just through piles of stuff into her drawers, and didn't have enough room for everything. I made a mental note to myself to not live that.

The absolute best thing anyone can do is to take their time, do the research and really consider what they NEED as well as what they want, very carefully, before removing the first nail.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 1:36PM
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YES! We're doing this for a "still in the scribbles on napkins stage" new house. It will be a long galley kitchen, for non-negotiable reasons.

Start with bringing in a large load of groceries from the monthly Costco run ... how convenient is it to put them away? Oh yeah, the bulk storage pantry is now between the garage entry path and the kitchen, with a beer frig and the bulk freezer. That's 6 feet taken out of the kitchen area, but so what.

Can one person set/clear the table while another is cooking or cleaning up the cook area? DUH! The tableware storage is now at the end of the galley closest to the dining area, and the dishwasher swapped sides of the sink so 2 people can easily load it.

Amazing what a mental walkthrough can do to your planning.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 11:06AM
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Great wisdom.
Add this for us newbies.
If you are remodelling an existing space: Confirm/Explore the limitations.
If you are thinking of modifying/moving walls-Cut a few holes in the drywall in a non-obvious spot.
Look at the plumbing stack. Check if there are services going "upstairs".
Do not rely on the plans that were registered at the city. My space does not match those.
I do not know how many designs I went through before I actually stopped and did this.
Because I thought I "Knew" what could be moved- only to find it could not (with my budget).
I know, I know, it should have been an obvious step but when you get all excited about the new space, you are hopeful for many possibilities!
You don't know what you don't know!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 11:34AM
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Great wisdom so far. Let me add a bit more.

One: Go through what you have now and give away or throw out the stuff you never use. How many coffee mugs do you have that you never use? How many cheapo spatulas that you'd only use if pigs flew? How many freebie koozies in the back of the drawer? How many mismatched plastic cups and plates you'd never use? How much lidless Tupperware? How many grody pots & pans leftover from your college days or Hubby's bachelor pad? Get that junk out of your soon-to-be-beautiful space! Use the 'Would I buy it at a garage sale?" test if you're not sure.

Two: Once you've thrown out the junk, inventory the stuff you have, and classify it by function and frequency of use. For example:
- One 36" drawer of daily use pots & pans,
- One 36" drawer of weekly/monthly use cookware,
- Two 24" shelves of every day china dishes,
- One 24" shelf of every day glassware,
- Two 36" shelves of fancy (Holiday) china and glassware.

Having this inventory is invaluable for planning your new space. Without it, you just won't know how much of what type of space you need, and you could end up with too little storage, or else sacrificing something you'd really like for storage space you didn't need. The security of knowing that 40% of your storage could actually go into a back room pantry (turkey roaster, lobster pot, espresso maker...) with hardly any loss of functionality gives you a huge amount of design flexibility.

Three: Prioritize lifestyle choices and preferences. Things like:
- One seat near the prep area so I can help Sonny with his homework while I cook dinner,
- Buffet zone for casual entertaining,
- Cozy seating area for two for morning coffee with Hubby,
- Open sight lines to the TV-watching area or PC so I can supervise the kids,
- Closed sight lines to the dining area so I don't have to see the mess while I eat!

This may sound crazy, but make a list of how your ideal kitchen will function, then rate the items on that list for how important they are to you. Which are deal-killers and which are 'nice to haves'? Also include what activities are daily and what are annual. There's an old adage in real estate: "Don't build the church for Easter Sunday." Apply that to your kitchen plan; plan for your maximum regular use, not for your maximum ever use.

You may not be able to get everything on your list (who can?), but at least you'll be able to choose wisely. By having my inventory and lifestyle choices, I was able to confidently choose the design that met 95% of my lifestyle wants and all of my storage needs over a design that offered much more storage and counter-top space but only 80% of my lifestyle list. Knowing that I didn't need more storage space got me a much better kitchen!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 12:21PM
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Always get a second set of eyes in the design phase, preferably someone with remodeling or KD experience. A friend of mine who knows I do this for a living, but who has a much more upscale budget than I usually deal with let me see her new design for her new kitchen. I spotted a couple of potential conflicts/improvements that her KD had not--thankfully in time before the order was placed. When I asked her why she hadn't come to me first for some basic information, she said that she didn't want to "bother" me because I didn't carry the bucks up cabinet line she wanted. So, even KD's for expensive lines who do this every day can stand for some "improvement" some times! :)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 12:40PM
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Sweeby - you are my kitchen idol. You put it so much better than me.

We need a thread like this to be like Buehl's - always on page one!!!

Down the road it would save so much angst once the new kitchen is ready to go "live".

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 3:33PM
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This is a great thread and I would like to add another one that has been said before and I am experiencing right now. If you move to a new house live with the kitchen a while before making changes. I had this thing completely bull dozed in my mind. Now that I am living with it for a month, and really paying attention to how I do things, my ideas are changing.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 3:44PM
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loves2cook, thank you for this great thread! I agree with everything. Most renovations are not emergency but planned and the time can be afforded to take stock.

A couple of months ago, I started taking things bit by bit out of the kitchen that I thought I was not using. Last month, I boxed up 2/3 of the utensils in my main utensil (not silverware) drawer and put them in the attic. Since that time, I have crawled up there one time to get one thing. I think one other time I pawed through my drawer to find something else that must be up there. Other than that, I haven't missed any of it, and have been able to find everything else more easily with all the remaining space. Now I know how many utensils I need to plan for as we start in the next week or two.

Inventory is great, and not a tremendous effort. I googled something like "kitchen inventory", maybe a couple of other searches, and found a few comprehensive lists. I copied them into a document and deleted everything I didn't have except for things I'd like to have (not many of those). There's not much that I have that wasn't on the list I ended up with. I've discovered that I can live with much less storage in the kitchen itself than I originally thought.

Can we at least link this thread in the Read me if new thread? I will try to remember to do that next time I bump that one up, unless someone else gets to it first.

Also, it would be great to have a separate thread of people's kitchen inventories. Anyone care to start one? I have a different question I'm working on with my layout and don't want to start too many new ones. Or maybe there's already one. I haven't searched yet but I will.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 4:31PM
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A lot of this information is already in the "Read Me" thread...and in some cases even greater detail.

However, we could add this to the "Useful Links" post/section.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 4:41PM
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My best piece of advice, which probably isn't even in the Read Me, is this:

Get the very best contractor you can. Not the cheapest. Not the most famous. Just the best. Even if his bid is a lot higher than some of your others. If he's the best don't stint. It'll save you so much money, aggravation, time, aggravation, aggravation, worry, money, aggravation. You may think that this is something to balance with other things you want. It's NOT.

Get a contractor who pays his subs by the day. So that when they find something awful in the plumbing or electric that the previous owner did, they just fix it, instead of charging you more.

Get a contractor whose bid includes every little thing you mentioned, plus the things you didn't, like how many junction boxes will be needed, and if your electrical panel needs to be upgraded. That attention to detail will save you time, money, aggravation, money, aggravation, aggravation, stress, tears, liens, aggravation and money. My contractor had a job book on my remodel with all the details organized in page protectors before we even signed a contract. He said that was the only way he could keep track of the details of the scope of work and make sure his bid covered everything. He's foreign born and typed his bid. The (well recommended) American born English speakers scribbled and jotted and didn't bother with presentation. Again, attention to detail and pride in a job done right.

Get a contractor you can communicate well with. One who listens to, and is interested in, your ideas, and answers all your questions.

Get a contractor who is a good boss, whose crews want to work for him (her) and are trained to listen to and accommodate the homeowner. When there was a problem during the heavy construction and I ran out yelling, "Stop!" the contractor's guys stopped the subs. The subs listen only to their bosses. The contractor's crew listens to the homeowner. They're also quiet, polite, clean, tidy, and highly skilled.

Hire a contractor who is accustomed to command but who isn't bossy. That is, he can make vendors and subs listen to him, and do what he needs done, but doesn't push people around.

Hire the very best you can. If you live near me (SoCal) I can recommend mine, but he's not the only jewel in the sea. There are plenty. And I think it's worth trimming some of the wild notions and extravagant finishes to get this quality of workmanship, and the amazing lack of overruns and aggravation.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 6:17PM
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I knew as soon as I hit submit that there were likely several there already. Didn't mean for you to do my research for me. I haven't had time at all to do a search, but sometimes unless I know the exact wording of what I'm looking for, I find it frustrating to do a search on here, so I appreciate you providing those links. Is it just me or does anyone else find it difficult to find what you're looking for?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 6:24PM
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Jeri - your comment made me laugh because we've been living with our kitchen for 25 years - I think we're almost ready - we want a kitchen with a counter! Not quite sure what it will be made of yet :) Our kitchen is smaller than some of the islands shown on this site, but I am confident that we will eventually make it into a little jewel of a kitchen, just like our wonderful 5' x 5' bathroom (took us 17 years to figure out that one, but we got it right). One of our main points of dissent is Old Mother Hubbard's Cupboard. I adore it, but husband/cook wants a REAL kitchen with a countertop, because our kitchen has 0' of countertop space. I love vintage retro cottage stuff (and our house is an old 1.5 story cottage), and our original built-in cupboard/hutch thing could be magnificent if I stripped it and got new hardware. But space-wise, I cannot incorporate it into a "normal" fully functional kitchen. I keep thinking I've figured it out, but then I realize I've omitted something crucial like the fridge. I'm also grieving at the thought of giving up our 20" deep sink with the integral splashback (especially when I see everyone agonizing over backsplash treatments). I'll also add that my husband can turn out some of the finest meals and from-scratch pastries you can imagine in our 1940's nightmare kitchen. Has anyone else dealt with similar issues? When I read the posts on this site, I feel like I get lots of good info, but I also feel like I'm from another planet.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 8:43PM
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Rosa, we had some issues with whether or not to tear out our 1930 cabinets which were still straight and totally clear of knots...perfect wood. But, like you, we knew they wouldn't fit into the designs we were getting, and two different cabinet guys told us that to retro-fit them with slides would be very expensive. Besides, they were relatively shallow, and the top cabinets came way down, close to the lower ones. Awkward! Our kitchen is posted on the "Coming soon" kitchens on the FKB, and you'll recognize that terrific side cupboard that sounds like yours. We tore them all out.
I cooked until the cows came home in that old kitchen! We make do with what we have, right?? But now that our new kitchen is done, it's so much easier to spread out and really prepare great meals. And company fits much better, too. Keep checking out the FKB. You'll get some "aha!" moments, and you'll be on your way.
Plllog is so right--a great contractor is the first priority. Those are the best words of wisdom we followed. HTH

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 9:37PM
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Beuhl, if you could add it to the Useful Links post, that would be great.

It is so disappointing to watch people struggle to make their kitchens simply functional, especially when they have put so much money into remodeling, when a little bit of for thought could have made such a difference.

I wish I could automatically post a question on every layout post asking if any thought had been given to what goes where when all is said and done.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 10:43PM
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I'll do so...but remember, there's the "Planning for Storage" section in the current as well...I beginning to wonder if people are actually reading the thread...what with layouts coming lacking basic info and usually no info on how the kitchen will be used, as well as other questions that seem to be covered in the thread.

I'm concerned that the thread is becoming too long and so no one reads it at all.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 12:12AM
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Go visit all your friends, grill them about their kitchens. My friends have all been subjected to this. The ones with cool ranges have even kindly allowed me to do some cooking. (I liked the commercial Wolf the best . . . the Bluestar was pretty close.)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 12:50AM
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"Plan in zones rather than work triangles: Baking, prepping, cooking, cleanup "

Fantastic advise. When I first started designing my kitchen, I really stressed over the triangle thing. And no matter how I re-drew the plans, I could not get the triangle to work. But what I discovered along the way is you don't NEED a work triangle as long as you have work zones. To some, the placement of my refrig and ovens at the end of my fairly large galley seem out of the way. They are at the end. But I did this on purpose. I wanted the heat from the ovens to be away from where I am working. And since I am not constantly going in the refrig while I am cooking, I saw no need for it to be close at hand either, so it's at the end across from the oven. My clean-up area is on one side of the kitchen and my cooking/prep area is on the other. My prep area is my favorite. It's in a 45° angle corner with my cooktop to my left and my prep sink to my right. The trash pull out is right in front of me. and I can see the living room and TV from that spot. My granite guy did a great job creating a gorgeous work space with no seams. The seams are at the prep sink and cook top, allowing me to have a huge chunk of irridenscent and translucent quartz for me to work on. If I had gotten hung up on trying to create the perfect work triangle, this perfect prep area might have never happened. I think it's one of my favorite spots in the whole house.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 7:15AM
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Circus Peanut

jsweenc, it's not just you. The search function on this site is pretty bad. Most folks choose to use google instead (type in your search term, then site:ths.gardenweb.com/* after it).

--> Plan for who you ARE, not who you WANT to be.
Too many folks fall prey to the fantasy that their new kitchen will utterly reorganize them or their family's habits. But if you know that your family uses your countertop microwave 12 hours a day, don't plan a design that puts it high and behind doors (just because that seems 'classier', perhaps) -- plan a design that puts it in its own special countertop nook. If you feel like you're forever closing the glasses cupboard door that's left open, consider an open shelf for that glassware. Etc. Your family will thank you when the new kitchen just "feels right" in daily use.

--> Don't be afraid to think outside the box.
Kitchen designers are very well meaning, but sometimes don't take into account (or shy away from) the quirky custom or homemade items that can be created in addition to commercial cabinetry. They will emphasize (and rightly so for them) liability, conformity and resale.
So: resale is often a consideration, but it shouldn't lead you into creating a bland beige box of a kitchen. And you might be surprised: the professionals counseled me not to use my 40" 1949 gas range in the remodel, but I did - and have had offers on the house based on it.

-->Read the forums with a grain of salt.
The Kitchen forum here is incomparable & endlessly helpful -- but don't let yourself get seduced into the latest design or more expensive appliances just because everyone here praises them. There are plenty of folks who live happy fulfilled lives without dishwashers, despite the gasps this may provoke in discussion threads. Ditto just about any other item, design, style or color. (Although do listen to the forum experts regarding the functionality of your layout -- the collective minds here are the best I've ever seen.)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 11:22AM
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I agree. We planned our space for years (because so much else in our old house restoration took priority over the kitchen). DH is a born ocd organizer. I got SOOO sick of him asking me "where is this going to live?" (in the new kitchen)... now, I am so happy he did! Our new kitchen functions like a dream for us, and the "where is this going to live?" planning is one of the reasons why!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 11:39AM
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Know what you want to achieve with the remodel. It can be functional, social or decorative or all of the above. When you are playing around with plans, you can judge them by how well they fulfill your goals. As sweeby said, be aware of the difference between needs and wants.

Figure out how much and what kind of storage you need. Purge your stuff before taking inventory of how many square feet of shelving and drawers you need. Add on a little for comfort. Consider the point-of-first-use theory that says store stuff near the place it first gets used - like cereal with cereal bowls or pots near water - when doing the cabinet layout.

Take your time in making decisions the first time. No one will die because you order the cabinets a week later or the painter has to wait to have the colors. It's much cheaper than paying to have stuff redone. Not regretting that you didn't choose something else later is priceless.

If you do make a mistake, evaluate how much the remedy costs before deciding to fix it.

Don't jackpot yourself by planning a major event using your kitchen two days after the original finish date. There is enough stress in remodeling without adding to it.

Some things are unique about the way you cook and some isn't. Be open to thinking through ideas that are offered. Even if you can't use them directly, sometimes they will cause you to think through a design issue that you didn't know you had.

If you know your quirks and you like them - do that!

All plans are a trade off between what you want, the money you have and the physical space.

All of the forum members have bias towards form or function. We quote the parts of the nkba kitchen design guidelines that support the way we think the world operates and completely ignore other parts. We have our quirks and theories and varying levels of experience.

We all want to help you to have the best kitchen possible.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 12:26PM
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I just wanted to add

After you make a decision on something that you feel is important, stick to your guns even if you get flack from friends or family.

Instead of the typical 18" off the counter, I wanted our upper cabinets to be 14" off of the counter. My SIL tried her best to sway me on this decision because she thought I'd truly be sorry having them extend down the extra 4". But for me it was clear that this was my preference, and I didn't cave. I'm so glad I didn't because now I can more easily reach the 3 bottom shelves (still need a stool for the fourth top shelf) and having them lower doesn't get in the way because of how the rest of the kitchen is designed.

So in a nutshell, once you make a solid decision, stick to your guns. However, if new information is presented and YOU change your mind, that's different. Just don't change your mind because someone else tells you too.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 12:38PM
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Circuspeanut wrote: --> Plan for who you ARE, not who you WANT to be.

Amen. I'm still in the planning stages and it's sooo easy to be seduced by forums, kitchen magazines, TV and articles about the latest/greatest. It's hard to believe that every kitchen out there does not have eight burners, two wall ovens, a warming drawer, a microwave drawer, separate beverage centers, two dishwashers, etc. And that everyone doesn't use their pro range to keep the bernaise warm but not curdled, stir-fry perfectly on the 22K btu burner, and make perfect pastry in the convection oven. I read about that stuff - heck, I drool over it - and the 'gimme gimme' part of me thinks, I want that life.

But seriously: it's only me and DH in the house. I cook fast, simple meals - lots of fish, couscous, pasta, salads. I'll make a pot of soup and eat off it for the next three days, so the only 'cooking' done during that period is reheating on the stovetop. If I bake, it's a pie or a cake and I crow about it for the next two weeks.

So while I'm sighing over the gourmet-equipped kitchens for gourmet cooks, I keep reminding myself that that's NOT me and those needs aren't mine. As unhappy as a true gourmet might be in my eventual kitchen, I'd be equally lost and frustrated in theirs (not to mention I'd be scorching my instant couscous on that super-high burner).

Plan for you. It's not a competition to see who has the best, shiniest or most; it's about coming up with the perfect space for you.

(*tears herself away from the kitchen porn at the Wolf/Subzero website as she finishes this post*)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 1:15PM
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I beseech thee, don't put your pullout garbage above your toekick vent.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 2:52PM
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Sounds like you speak from experi-smell-ence

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 2:57PM
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I hear ya...I sent a friend to this site who is looking to reno her kitchen, sent her the Read Me thread and all that good stuff and urged her to draw up and post a layout. 2 months later I asked her if she had done anything about it yet and she said, "Nope. It looks like a LOT of work and I couldn't read it all. I might just hire a designer." Not that that is really any true indication, but I'd be inclined not to add much more to the thread either as it's a lot of info to absorb already.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 6:42PM
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yep, judydel, you get my drift. In winter time I am held captive in stinkypoo garbage land. Oh my, how I long for summer when I can turn on the air conditioner.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 7:44PM
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Pupwhipped...our GC wanted to put our HVAC register under our trash pullout when he screwed up...I immediately vetoed it with "heat + trash...not a good combination." He tried to argue about it but I stood firm and made him redo the screw up so it was right (under the left side of the sink as per the design!)

Read Me thread...I wish I could get iVillage to let us pin a couple of threads at the top...then I could split the thread into several pieces & post them with appropriate titles so people could find just what they're looking for.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 11:34PM
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Begin drinking in the planning stage and work up to heavier consumption as construction begins. If you aren't a stone cold drunk by the time the countertops go in, you aren't trying hard enough.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 11:43PM
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People do get into the Read Me when they're ready. I think it just takes a little time for them to develop their TKOness before they tackle it all. Maybe that's why it makes sense to have several of these kinds of threads so that if one way of presenting the info doesn't work for them, maybe another will.

Some people also need to be led along and do the preliminary stuff more interactively. So we feed them the questions, and refer them to the Sweeby test, and they get there eventually.

Having the Read Me, and the great diligence you've shown keeping it going and updated since you first started it, has been a huge service to this forum. Sometimes you don't get the recognition you deserve, but even with the constant bumping, the linking, etc., that thread is the foundation of many many kitchens that would be the poorer without it.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 12:01AM
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Judydel, if I ever change out my cabinets after reading your post and just measuring mine (come up 20" above the counter and I can barely reach the bottom shelf), I will know I have a choice and I want lower cabinets. Thanks for sharing this. I am barely 5 feet.

For now, I just used a mini-wax stain in honey to make all worn areas look not so worn and to shine up the kitchen. It took me a night to do this after trying it out a little bit each night for 20 minutes. Then I finally caved in for 3 hours and a few coats on each cabinet outside and many of the cabinets inside the worn doors. The color is nicer than the golden oak since now it has more of a tint of a reddish/orange but I still wish it was a little bit darker due to being ready for a change. I am pleased with the temporary fix but disappointed in not being able to do anything about the picture of oak wood on the sides of my cabinets that have some paint on them from prior painters.

After my busy season, I will decide if I will try your polish out to see if I can make the cabinets darker with added ORB knobs or if the budget allows me to get cabinets that are lower and better quality and then I will decide if I want dark cherry or creamy white.

I still have to budget in needing a new floor. Reading all these posts help relax me at night and give me motivation to work hard to save to make changes that create a more productive kitchen and one more updated.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 12:18AM
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Sweeby, I did just this when I got my last stainless steel appliance wanting my kitchen to be a neat place and I love having only what I need and use. Now when one day I am ready to change the cabinets out, I will know exactly what I need. Thanks for your post that also reminds me to Prioritize lifestyle choices and preferences.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 12:22AM
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--> Don't be afraid to think INSIDE the box.

Sometimes the ordinary stuff just works better than the cutting edge designs.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 12:33AM
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Wrt donka's anecdote: A person who who finds addressing the basic questions of how s/he cooks and works in the kitchen and what s/he wants out of a remodel "too much work" isn't going to get their money's worth out of a kitchen designer -- who will want and need to know the answers to all those questions in any case, but is going to have to charge the client for much of the time it takes to get them.

This is a great thread that should definitely be linked in the Read Me post (not least because of the links it contains to other related threads, some of which are hard to find with google, much less the limited internal search).

For all of us who can't afford to start any serious remodeling anytime soon, and those of us who can but are in the early stages, it can be very useful to go through the "kitchen cure" that the Apartment Therapy site runs every spring and fall (see link below).

The weeding-out, reorganization, and cleaning can have several good effects: makes it easier to live with and work in your current kitchen, makes you more aware of its strengths as well as weaknesses, and clarifies what you might want out of a remodel. The process makes it much easier to supply the information that any kitchen designer needs to know -- whether that kd is a professional, the cook/homeowner, or the Collective KD Hive Mind of the forum. ;>

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 1:58AM
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Thanks to the person who suggested how to search on google. I didn't know about entering the specific site name along with it.

Also thanks to the person who pointed out that some people do better being led through the process one step at a time. I did read everything on that thread before joining, and parts of it multiple times before posting. I did answer all those questions, but only to myself in a separate file. Not knowing how thing worked on here, I didn't want to make my first post so long that it took too long to read. I figured at least that if anyone had a question, I had the answer ready.

And as donka said, there is so much, and things move so fast it is hard to keep up at first. It's a learning curve, so thanks for bearing with us newbies and guiding us through. We'll be able to give back before too long.

ellabee, I agree totally with you, but I can see it from that person's perspective. Maybe just sitting down face to face with a KD to get multiple questions answered at once would be a lot of work but less to that person than searching archives and reading relevant posts, trying to keep all the info straight, asking one question at a time, waiting for an answer, etc.

As we know, KDs don't know everything and some may get lost in their own viewpoints, but some people just want someone to tell them what to do. I don't know, we're not using one. I so appreciate the willingness of all of you to put in your wisdom, time and effort to benefit others.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 10:30AM
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jsweenc: I can see it from that person's perspective. Maybe just sitting down face to face with a KD to get multiple questions answered at once would be a lot of work but less to that person than searching archives and reading relevant posts, trying to keep all the info straight, asking one question at a time, waiting for an answer, etc.

Absolutely; I was being a bit harsh. Being guided through the process by a pro would be much easier for most people, and if the kitchen owner can afford the pro's time to do it, lucky them.

Even for those who can, though, more real progress toward design proposals for the time and money spent can be had if you come prepared. (Also, I can't help feeling, you'd start out the relationship on a much more equal basis).

And that's why buehl's 'Read Me' post and posts like the one that started this thread are such a big part of what makes this forum valuable. Cool, refreshing water for horses willing to drink when led to it... ;>

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 3:17PM
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Wow! Lots of great suggestions here!

We took so long to plan our kitchen, we happily ended up with a lot of function and efficiency as a result. Here's my $0.02:

1. The "Triangle."

The "zone" idea is certainly a good idea, but I still believe the triangle idea is still hugely relevant. We planned for a very small triangle, and it definitely works!

2. Decide where you're going to put the trash bin!

One of the first things I defined in the design is . . . where the trash can goes! I much prefer stand-alone bins, not ones that go inside cabinets (for when your hands are dripping with chicken blood, etc.). We actually found and purchased THE trashcan before the remodel even started. It's stainless steel in a modern form, with a foot-actuated lid. We specifically designed a void in the base cabinets for it (with some added few inches of clearance). Because of the already semi-open design of the particular corner it's in, it still works aesthetically.

3. Room for beverages?

I noticed that our refrigerator was always like 80% full of fluids, with little room for . . . FOOD! So, I designed another void in the base cabinets for a 24" under-counter, glass-door beverage refrigerator (the door opens from the left, since all the glassware is set on shelves to its left).

4. The "Zone" thing:

My favorite part of the kitchen is what I call my "sandwich workstation." It's the 24" of counterspace between the sink and the refrigerator (e.g., easy to get the mayonaisse--easy to wash it off of your hands). We also have a smaller, "toast workstation." If you Google something like "standard kitchen dimensions," you'll find a gaggle of recommended minimum dimensions (e.g., 18" minimum to either side of the sink) for establishing separate work areas and clearances. We now have a "luxuriously large" (compared what we had before), 36"-wide "cooktop prep" counterspace area, and a small, but adequate 24"-wide, "put stuff you just took out of the oven" counterspace area. We now have four, distinct prep areas, mostly gotten by deleting a kitchen door, and re-designing the pantry to accomodate an additional four-foot extension of the coutertop.

5. Yes, "outside the box" is good!

To avoid the whole "appliance garage" issue, we re-imagined the pantry, and flush-mounted onto the wall, two stacked microwave ovens (both, identical, again purchased way before the remodel). A Breville toaster oven and modern KitchenAid toaster live beneath on the counter. To the right, an Apple-designed, iPod boombox. All of the small electrics have a similar design aesthetic, because, for months, we were looking for that. All of the small electrics are also within easy reach, yet the counter still doesn't look cluttered.

6. A place for everything, and everything in its . . .

We tried desparately to design a place for everything--and we DO NOT have a huge kitchen! But, happily, everything works, and we have virtually nothing on the kitchen counters. The only thing we have on the "cooktop/oven" side
is a cylindrical flatware holder (dishes are on a wall-mounted rack, just above). On the "wet side" are only the small electrics I mentioned, and a Braun coffee maker (which I'm dying to swap out for an under-shelf espresso machine to clean things up even more).

We defined virtually every item's eventual location beforehand, and many, as we continued to modify the design, and a few, actually as we were building (it was an 80% DIY kitchen). Flatware is right next to plates. Cooking utensils, in drawers directly under the cooktop (where normally two blanks would go, we were able to modify and squeeze in two drawers).

7. Mock it up!

Often during the design process (we were our own designers), we would build a piece, and actually temporarily mount it in-place in various locations to see how it fit into the context of the actual space. You can have all the 3D renderings you want, but you don't get a real sense of any element's "rightness" (or "wrongness!") until you put the actual piece into the space. We've even made cardboard mock-ups of certain elements that weren't yet purchased or delivered. Of course, we're still not quite finished! (Pictures soon!)

No real pearls of wisdom here, but my point is (as nearly everyone else has also stated), that the more you can pre-think where every item in the kitchen would go, and how the workflows for how you typically use those items will happen, the more you'll be ahead of the game.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 9:42PM
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PS raise your hand if that helpful bit of advice followed you into your post-reno life...!

PPS yes, my hand is raised! LOL

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 9:44PM
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i-chic and cat-mom you are both so funny. Are you saying being TKO encourages you to join AA.

Studio460 I WANT TO SEE YOUR KITCHEN!!!! NOW!!!! Please post some unfinished pics if needs be. Especially of the area you describe in #5. And I'd love to see before and after shots of the whole thing

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 10:34PM
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Hmmmm...if you have to ask 2-4-6.....! :-)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 11:08PM
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just about the exact wording in my brain while I was reading it... who wants to wait????

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 1:32AM
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Raising my hand--I've had more than enough angst to float a navy even though it hasn't been "bad". Tears and frustration not ruin and lawsuits.--but everything with alcohol in it, from Tequila to Vanilla Extract, got packed way back in April before demolition. Raising my hand and averring that it really can be done T-total, if you have the kindness and support of this forum. (Well, there have been some dinners elsewhere with rather nice wines, so make that T-partial, but I haven't done the drown your sorrows thing...unless chocolate counts.)

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 3:56AM
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Dear loves2cook4six and desertsteph:

Thank you for your interest in both my post and in my kitchen! I apologize for rambling on about a kitchen that's STILL not yet finished! The unfinished areas are woefully painful to look at, and of course ruin everything! Be warned, my style is very industrial-modern with a lot of metals and grays. Since so many here seem to prefer traditional styles, this aesthetic won't appeal to everyone.

More excuses . . . the picture I'm going to show you of area '5' is going to be re-done with glass shelves, and an in-wall aluminum support, instead of the ugly surface-mounted one you'll soon see. It's now past 4:00AM and I'm still dealing with a bathroom caulking nightmare! Bear with me . . .

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 7:24AM
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5. (fig. 1)

Redefined pantry (unfinished--will be redone with in-wall bracketry, glass shelving, LED under-lighting, etc.).

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 7:40AM
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2. (fig. 1)

"Open" trash bin void.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 7:48AM
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Studio460 that is quite a neat setup and looks great. May I ask why you have two microwaves?

And does the trashcan lid open fully while under the counter?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 4:16PM
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To each his or her own...we had a standalone trash can pre-remodel and hated it. We have a trash pullout now & love it...well I'd love it more if I had planned correctly and put it in the Prep & Cooking Zones (where it's used the most) and not in the Cleanup Zone (or one in both areas). Despite that, I would still rather have the current setup than a standalone trash can.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 10:41PM
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One piece of wisdom I would like to add for those who are building a house, completely gutting a first floor, or adding an addition...

Design the entire area together as one piece. Don't wait too long to plan the Kitchen...including the layout. (Door styles, etc. can wait 'til later, layout cannot.) You really should be planning the entire first floor (or addition) at once along with the Kitchen layout so you won't end up w/a Kitchen area that's difficult to make work properly.

I've seen so many people who are building, etc. who just draw in a quick area and say, "that'll be the kitchen...details later." Then, when later comes, it's difficult to fit the kitchen they want in the space they've allocated for it.

We've seen many posts where people say...our kitchen will be here w/these dimensions...but what I want won't fit, so how do I make it work??? (Or they go into denial and say, "It will be OK with these narrow aisles or dysfunctional layout.") They usually tell us they've either finalized all windows/doors/walls or that they've already installed/built those windows/doors/walls so nothing can be changed...and then want us to come up with some "miracle" layout that will still allow them to have what they want. The placement of those windows/doors/walls is important to all rooms, but especially the Kitchen, so do it all together.

People forget that in many respects, the Kitchen is the most important room in the house. So don't treat it like it's the least important by putting it off until later & "making do" with what you're stuck with! Plan it up-front! (If we ever build again, the Kitchen layout will be one of the first things planned...not the last!)

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 10:55PM
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Buehl, did you get my email?

Also want to add that one of the best things we did in our kitchen was add a trash pullout that opens from both sides of the peninsula on three-way glides, at least I think that is what they are called. We have access to one trash area but from both the clean up and prep areas.

In our house the stand alone trashcan was a huge black ugly thing that couldn't keep a lid on so it was just one of many little things that pushed us over the edge into doing the remodel and we just KNEW it had to be hidden.

OTOH, BIL and SIL have a fancy Euro trashcan against the wall in their kitchen and love the easy footpedal access.

As you say, to each his own and TG for options.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 12:44AM
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Found the email, Loves2Cook4Six...I replied.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 3:21AM
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"the Kitchen is the most important room in the house. So don't treat it like it's the least important by putting it off until later & "making do" with what you're stuck with!"

I think so also. I've noticed that here and wondered about it. seemed strange to me.

studio460 - that's one sleek looking area for cooking - the mws look like twins. can't wait to see more of your kitchen!

I like the trash can in a cut out like that - but one of my dogs would have it over and stuff everywhere all the time. She's got a thing about paper too. I think she's really a termite.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 4:40AM
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Thought of one more that I haven't seen yet. I'll speak from my own perspective and you can fill in the blanks...

Keep the lines of communication open, keep DH on board, share all ideas with him before calling them done, make sure he's as happy and comfortable with the space as you are, don't try to fly under his radar... and do what you need to keep him happy! Then when the real dust has settled you won't have dust flying on another level.

My willingness to do the research and present to him and to be open to hearing him say he doesn't like something about a layout and ready to change it has us both liking the direction we're going better than anything I started with. Not to mention, if I can once in a while put aside my TKO and focus on him, with conversation that is not about counters, windows, where the refrigerator should go, etc., I know it will go a long way now and later.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 8:20AM
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