WWYD with this country golden oak 1989 kitchen?

AlyBJanuary 13, 2014

We bought this house about 18 months ago with a 1989 golden oak kitchen complete with double arched cabinets, original 1989 Sub Zero fridge and KitchenAid dishwasher and original commercial Garland range that I am told is now a code violation and a fire hazard. The time has come to do something about it, but major issues with fixing the rest of this 1920s European villa style house have left little room for more than cosmetic changes and hopefully new appliances/countertops/backsplash. We had hoped to completely gut the kitchen and change the cabinets and layout but that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Would appreciate any and all suggestions for bringing this kitchen into THIS century! (Notes: the fireplace is faux (covers a radiator) and the door leads to a bathroom that some prior owner created out of a food pantry according to the original plans). Bathroom needs to stay for now -- we have met with architects and there is literally nowhere affordable to put it on the first floor.

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Sophie Wheeler

Do you have an overhead layout to make sense of the photos?

Paint is the cheapest possible transformation, if you DIY. Are you willing to do the months of part time work for that to happen? Paint and a new floor like a floatinv vinyl plank would go a long way to giving new life to the space.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 11:40PM
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We redid a similar kitchen a few years ago. You will be amazed at what taking the wallpaper down, changing the hardware, and putting in a new counter will do. If you can put in some can lights and over and under lights, the atmosphere will change too. Plus, perhaps the paneling can come off the frig and dishwasher and put on stainless fronts? About the stove -- codes change all the time, but it doesn't necessarily mean the stove can't be fixed. I don't know how much just door fronts cost. Our kitchen had 40 (yes 60) cabinet doors, so it just wasn't worth it and I didn't want to paint them and deal with peeling later.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 12:01AM
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They put that paper up in 1989? It looks more 1975. Whatever it is, it's time to say goodbye. You'll be amazed how different things will look with the paper gone.

How do you feel about the stained glass inserts in those uppers? It's kind of hard to tell how they really look from these photos. If you don't love them, they are easy to replace with something else from your local glass place. Take down a door, let them measure it, and have new inserts cut. They're easy to put in yourself.

The light over the table can also go and be replaced by something from this century.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:27AM
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How DIY are you? How much do you want to spend?

Some relatively inexpensive ways to spruce the kitchen up that are very DIY friendly:

- Start with ditching the wallpaper and apply a fresh coat of paint. It will go a long way.
- Replace the light over the table.
- Go to a glass place to see about getting clear or frosted glass for where the stained glass is.
- If you want undercabinet lighting for tasks, look into the IKEA LED strips - I think that they are around $15 a set and come as (I believe) 3 10" strips - they plug into an outlet and while it's not ideal in terms of what I would put in a new kitchen - light output is "moderate", they seem to do a pretty good job overall. Super easy to DIY and I installed these in my mom's kitchen in just a little over an hour or so (once we got everything together) to help her with lighting issues since they had no UC lighting and she's been thrilled with them.

If you're a little more adventuresome of a DIYer:
- Investigate gel staining or painting the cabinets. This takes a good bit more work on your part, but can be successful based on some others who have done it here.

I wouldn't look to change the countertop or the floor until you are ready to do a complete remodel, particularly since you mentioned that you hope to change the layout when you ultimately redo the kitchen.

Be happy - your kitchen looks a lot more capable of being a "working" kitchen than many I've seen. You appear to have a nice amount of counterspace

Here is a link that might be useful: Inexpensive IKEA LED lights

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 7:31AM
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Get rid of the wallpaper and paint the walls. Replace stained glass with frosted or other clear glass. If you are very ambitious, paint the cabinets white. Replace counters, and add a backsplash. Even if you choose to leave the cabinets in the honey oak finish, removing the wallpaper, painting walls and replacing counters/backsplash in a color that will work with them will make a huge difference, for minimal cost.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 8:55AM
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So, is the more extensive remodel somewhere in the future still, but just postponed indefinitely? That will impact how much $$ you really want to take away from that to put into this kitchen. Paint is cheap. New laminate counters are cheap. Cheap pulls are cheap. A new faucet, sure, you can reuse that down the road. New floors are getting away from something inexpensive to hold you until something else happens. Rugs though, that can add color and cover the tile until the gut happens.

KInda need more input from you as to what you're willing to do and spend and for how long.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 10:00AM
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It's 25 years old so I wouldn't try to bring it into today with cabinet paint and counters. Counter looks as good as the cabinets, so I don't see a reason to go to that expense for a temporary fix. I would just embrace the wood for now since all your trim and doors are wood.

I think the biggest offender is the oppressive peninsula and the stained glass. Remove it if the tile goes under it. If not, I'd remove the cabinets over the peninsula and replace the remaining stained glass with clear.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 10:00AM
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Yes, until you are ready for a gut, I would just remove wallpaper, repaint walls, replace stained glass in the cabinets, get a new chandelier, and maybe update the cabinet hardware--check Ikea, Lowes, HD for inexpensive options. All this will go a long way in refreshing the space probably for as little as $400-500 if you DIY. That looks like a pretty big kitchen with lots of cabinets, I would not go to the time or trouble to paint them. I would also not put in new counters or floor---that $ is better put towards the eventual total renovation.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 10:02AM
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It looks like you have plenty of cabinet space, so I would remove the cabinets over the peninsula. That and getting rid of the wallpaper and painting will go a long way to updating your kitchen until you can do a more thorough remodel.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 10:18AM
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We are living in the same house! I have the exact same cabinets except yours appear to be in better shape. I removed wallpaper, changed light fixtures and added hardware. It helps but it is till the proverbial liptstick on a pig situation. Hoping to get to do my kitchen soon.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Some further background: we had hired an architect right after we moved in, and had planned to fully gut the kitchen and move the powder room out to the attached garage, creating a mudroom at the same time, but we had to abandon those plans due to costs associated with fixing other major issues in the house. I've taken a snapshot of what was supposed to the demo plan for the kitchen which gives you an overhead idea of the current layout and you can see the ridiculous placement of the bathroom. Door in the lower left of the photo is an exterior door to the driveway. Fridge is right next to it. Window and sink are at the bottom, oven on the right hand wall.

Before we had put the kitchen plans on ice, we had found granite slabs we love and we have a deposit on them. I have to decide whether to pay the other 50% or eat the 50% I have already spent. They are holding the granite for me until next summer so I can decide what to do. I am leaning towards paying the balance and using the granite on my existing cabinets if I can't afford to replace them by them, at which point it probably makes sense to stain the cabinets dark unless I change out the floor tile too. If we do new countertops we will replace at least the fridge and the dishwasher at the same time with stainless and do something with the backsplash.

(My current countertops are ivory Corian so I would not want to replace them with laminate. We live in a fairly upscale town on Long Island where I haven't seen anyone put in new laminate recently -- everyone does granite, quartz or marble).

Your suggestions so far are dovetailing with what I was thinking -- remove the upper cabinet over the peninsula, swap out the other piece of stained glass with clear glass, take down the wallpaper and paint the room some color, and replace the light fixture. I can't remove the whole peninsula without changing the tile floor because there is a vent cut for the heat/AC right in front of the peninsula. I am also inclined to remove the faux fireplace as the radiator is no longer needed since we replaced the heating system.

Can anyone tell me the pros and cons of gel staining vs. having the cabinets professionally sanded and stained? I've gotten an estimate for regular staining and could afford to do it if we were for sure keeping the cabinets but gel staining sounds like something we could do ourselves, which would be easier to justify if I might replace the cabinets down the line.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:06AM
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Is there something the matter with the Sub-Zero? I don't see any reason to get a new fridge, expecially if you can't replace it with another built in. (It looks like a conventional fridge might be too deep in that locaton). A new S-Z of that size is probably $7000 in the best case.

The Garland is too close to the cabinets for an uninsulated commercial range. However, if in 25 years of use the current counters and tops aren't scorched, I don't know that it would start happening now --but maybe they didn't really fire it up like it would be in a commercial kitchen. I don't know that I would want to use the Salamander, though--does it look like they used it?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:13AM
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Sophie Wheeler

With that added bit of info, I'd definitely lean towards gel staining the cabinets and keeping the cream Corian and white tile floors. That's a very very current look. Do a frosted glass or reeded glass for the uppers and new pulls. Then DIY use an epoxy grout colorant on the floors to freshen up the grout. Viola! A whole new modern kitchen.

The expense in granite isn't the slab. It's the fabrication. I'd let those slabs go, or try to use them elsewhere in the house, like a fireplace surround or exterior kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:19AM
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I gel stained bathroom oak cabinets with General Finishes in Java, and after a freak-out when the first coat was all blotchy, after the second coat, things looked up. DS thought he had a new vanity in his bathroom :)
Also, slapped it over old cabinets someone had painted brown, and it added more depth.
However, I'd also look into Antique Walnut now rather than head straight to the Java.

Antique Walnut, before, one coat, two coats

More pics below at the link.

I found it extremely easy to achieve very professional-looking results; however, others here on GW have reported running into problems.

I personally would leave the panels on the fridge and DW. In my part of the country, that's replacing the SS.

Another caveat is that the arches haven't made a come-back yet, so not sure if there's anything that can be done about that. Here's a link where they attached MDF board to cover up the arches??? Not sure how big a project that would be.

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY gels staining Antique Walnut

This post was edited by nosoccermom on Tue, Jan 14, 14 at 11:48

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:25AM
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The SubZero has some issues, which is why we were thinking of replacing it. The ice maker doesn't work, and isn't fixable according to the repair man. Each side has needed work over the last couple of years and the repair person told me on the last visit that he's not sure how long he can keep bringing it back to life.

Another question -- because it ties into whether I stain the cabinets or paint them -- is it even possible to replace a ceramic tile floor like this with new tile without removing all the lower cabinets? I would think I would have to remove all the lowers which would be a lot of work/expense, right? The tile definitely runs under the cabinets right now. I really do hate this floor so I struggle with keeping it, but I don't want to do a floating floor over tile even if that were possible.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:43AM
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If you're willing to go to the expense of having it professionally refinished, I'd look into getting new doors instead and having them stained to match the rest of the cabinets. That takes care of the stained glass problem too. You don't have to replace the slab drawer fronts--hooray! Use the granite or sell it on Craigslist.The floor plan looks pretty good. Then the kitchen would be done and you could move on to other projects.

I don't think the Java gel stain works with the old, traditional door style. But if you keep the doors, the Antique Walnut is a nice color.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:52AM
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I bought a condo where they replaced the tiled floor without going under the cabinets. Nooooo!
So, yes, I suppose that if you want to replace the floor, you'd want to remove the lower cabinets, which means you need to remove the counter, etc........
Throw down a nice rug or runner.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:58AM
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What is your actual intended budget for the update?
Because of the location of the refrigerator and the size of the Garland, you are faced with either replacing the fridge with a built-in, or having one that inpinges on the adjacent doorway and maybe doesn't open fully. And with respect to the Garland, replacing it with another large range or having a range with a fair about of space around it. So just those two items are potentially high ticket.

If you are spending close to $20K on appliances to fit into an existing space you don't like so much, you have maybe $15,000 toward changing everything if you do a modern layout where you spend only $5000 on more conventional appliances. Does that make sense? Of course if you were planning on a SubZero on the new design it makes no difference.

The cabinets would really have to be removed to remove the floor --at least it's white. What is it that bothers you the most about the floor? White you may also be able to patch fairly unobtrusively.

From an aesthetic standpoint I think it would be a big relief just to get rid of the wallpaper, the stained glass and the fireplace, which is kind of hokey. With the wallpaper removed and walls just primed, you may be able reevaluate the appearance of everything else.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 12:04PM
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If all you did was remove the wallpaper and paint, it would be a totally different room.

In order of impact:
Remove wallpaper and paint the walls
Stain cabinets a warmer brown
Remove cabinets over the peninsula

Maybe a couple hundred $ in supplies

Live with it a while and see if it's still bugging you.

Here is a link that might be useful: GF Gel Stain

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 2:28PM
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I don't think the powder room is in the worst location although I would have tried to orient it toward the hallway. It could eventually be placed in it's own hallway or vestibule, especially if you don't get such a large range and can move that leg of the kitchen away from it.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 3:18PM
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