Temporary Kitchen - does it sound crazy?

evie4May 12, 2013

I had to come to GW to talk to hopefully some like minded folks--I dare not share this with my husband for fear he may think I have finally lost it! Yesterday we went to our friends home that we will be purchasing in the coming months once they find a new house and move. There is all this stuff to contend with. Fortunately we are in the position that we won't have to pay them until we sell our home and we can do whatever improvements necessary before moving in. But I need to pay cash for those improvements. (Both of us have paid homes and I want to pay them in full once we sell.) Yesterday we went and REALLY looked at the house. It's a 1965 ranch with a terrible 80s bathroom that must be totally remodeled. I won't even describe it, but it's bad. The kitchen is the original and again, we are looking at a total renovation. My husband who rarely says anything about these kinds of things was very vocal about the kitchen on the way home. It is bad. The built in cabinets are just well, disgusting. There is no rehabing here. As much as I would like to work with what is there, I know it is just time for a redo.

So after sleeping on it and thinking about it this morning, I had this idea. I want to have the kitchen ripped out before we move in and set up a temporary kitchen. Get the walls patched and painted and install a laundry (temporary) sink for water. I've got several wire shelving units for storage and tables that can be used to prep and cook on. Also, lots of previously used Flor tile that I can throw over the floors just to make it temporarily look decent. This arrangement to me, as ridiculous as it may sound, is more appealing to the current cruddy kitchen. It would be light, open and clean. This would give me time to live in the space and really think about what I want to do. My priority is getting the bathroom done before we move in, we just can't live through that once we are in the house. I've lived through both bath and kitchen demos that's why I'm really wanting to have these done prior to moving in.

Does this sound like a crazy idea?

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1.) Set up a temporary kitchen, but don't put it in the existing kitchen. You'll be in your own way when you want to work. put plastic airlock sheets between the construction and your field kitchen. You'll eat more than enough dust just doing the work.

2.) Don't start both projects at the same time. Finish one then do the other.

3.) Before you start tearing up someone else's house (It's not yours until you pay for it) make darn sure you have enough time/money/energy to finish an area before you demolish that area. Protecting a good friendship is more important than any one project.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 1:21PM
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I second the above, but want to add something about what you want to do with the house: an exterior picture would help us gauge what might be a clue to style, if any. You could play up some elements of the 'atomic' and 'futuristic' styles that were popular in mid-century homes and do a kitchen in that style--it would be appropriate, and a good selling point for any future buyers.

I would not go with a big box store setup unless you like cheaply made cabinets just like everyone else has. Growing up in a one storey 1958 ranch, I did like the brick wall between the kitchen and livingroom with its large fireplace of long brown/tan brick with red caps on the hearth-surround's narrow platform. The entire front of the house had the same brick which added to the long, low impression the house gave out. A space-age kitchen would have looked great, but the builder didn't go to that extent.

Consider a style which fits the house and you will only add to the value of the house--but doing a magazine kitchen like every other one will not make the house 'shine' for future owners.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 1:42PM
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Ken, very good points! Yes, for sure the bathroom will be completed and paid for before we touch the kitchen. And regarding the friendship-- very very valued and we are very sensitive to each others feelings. We both agree this is not something we could go into with anyone else.

Columbusguy, I am totally into mid century. Here's a picture from one end of my current kitchen in my 1958 ranch. This was renovated in 2000, I designed every aspect of it and hired all the subs. Custom cabinetry quotes came in lower than the prefabricated ones. As you can see, the kitchen in the new place is far from what I have now. I had the double fireplace but, had the peninsula built on the kitchen side. Still love my kitchen but, the house is too big for the two of us. The new house has some great mid century features as well!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 2:16PM
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I have a piece of post formed counter (10 feet IIRC, though it might have been trimmed for a few jobs) with a sink and GD that has been used multiple times on remodel jobs.

If their are no cabinets it gets a 2x4 ledger on the wall and a simple square frame to hold up the front.

If the cabinets are available it rests on them.

It goes right in the kitchen at the final location of the sink.

A couple long screws through the back into studs holds it in place.

Putting a sink in another location would be a PITA.

It still needs a drain and a vent.

It does not have to be pretty, just not in danger of falling or collapsing.

It has an old Delta faucet and flex lines to hook up the water.
Hooking up a drain is just a few minutes.
I usually just purchase a new p-trap every time.

With a stove you have at least a 'working' kitchen.
It just takes a few minutes to remove when needed.

Then it goes back in my basement standing in a corner.
I usually take the GD off the locking collar and put it under the tilted counter.
With the sink facing the wall it does not use up a lot of floor space (and the GD sits under it out of the way.

More than one client has freaked out after a day of demo to realize they still can cook dinner.

It is not a lot of counter space, but it works.
I try to leave the DW hooked up for them also.

Several AHJs have been stunned when they came for an inspection on part of the job to see a working kitchen.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 5:13PM
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To each his own, but what you are planning to live with sounds far worse than the kitchen pictured above.

Right now the kitchen has a usable laminate countertop, sinks, cabinets, and an oven. Heck, even the flooring doesn't look bad - I don't see any holes. You are going to rip out functional but unattractive stuff and replace it with a laundry sink, wire shelving units and tables, none of which are the right height for working in a kitchen. And you don't even have a date-certain for starting the remodel.

That kitchen will look better when the current owner's stuff is gone and the cabinets are clean. If the remodel is, say, 18 months or more down the road, I might do a quick and dirty paint job on the existing cabinets and buy some new, cheap hardware.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 6:45PM
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graywings, I hear you! :0) Getting the old cabinetry out and fixing any electrical (and finding any problems) and the walls is a chunk that would be a relief to get behind me before we move in. As far as the inconvenience of having a makeshift kitchen for a while, since I'm primarily the one who is doing all the work in there, it wouldn't bother me. I'm quite creative when it comes to that, it helps being severely petite ha-ha! If I didn't have a sink, that would be more than I could handle. You are right, it is functional, but I just don't even want to spend time trying to make it livable when I have to paint every room in the house as it is. But I may find myself not doing anything at all and just waiting or maybe just bite the bullet and do it all right away. I'm a person who has to run every option through before I make a decision. I appreciate your comment.

brickeyee, sounds like you have a system! I'm impressed!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 7:15PM
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Evie, since you have no children at home to deal with, then I think the idea of a temporary kitchen is a good one...and the point is, that it IS temporary and not your end vision.

May I add that I LOVE your current kitchen--my home now is a 1908 Greek Revival influenced foursquare with almost all it's original features. I guess you could say that I am decoratively bipolar or something, because my desire for an appropriate kitchen in my house is not what I grew up with--I swore that I would never live in a ranch house again, and someone here said that we tend to like what our grandparents liked; in my case that was true when I bought my own house: turn of the century woodwork, stained glass and lighting. The opposite 'atomic era' design is my other love because I love sci-fi and steampunk designs. My mind lives in the future of spaceships and Jetsons apartments, but my body prefers victorian ambiance and richness. :)

My belief is that every aspect of the home should reflect it's stylistic elements for the best harmony and value at the time of resale. You obviously have the boomerang era down pat, which I am so glad to see! Too many owners let themselves be herded by 'consultants' who have no more imagination than the next article they read in their trendy magazines. I much prefer a house with personality than something glitzy which could be taken bodily from the nearest hotel.

A truly good cook and kitchen does not need every appliance under the sun which can do one task alone...and is most likely fiendishly difficult to clean without disassembling it, thus eliminating the 'saved time' it promised. I guarantee that my early 60s pressure cooker will long outlast any fancy modern plastic or cheap steel pans, as will my square lidded electric frying pan my mom used so often!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 1:45AM
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columbusguy, Thanks for the vote of confidence! Yes, there are some really cool things in mid century design that I am attracted to as well. I am also influenced by clean modern European styles I grew up with. My mom settled into the old traditional style (of Bavaria) later in life, quite different from the mod style she liked during my youth. I do hope the kitchen is appreciated by potential buyers, everyone that sees it really likes it, but there are those who like the magazine look so we'll see when it's time to sell.

I'm really excited about the new place, it feels more 60s than 50s--adjoining family room with slanted ceiling with exposed (decorative) beams, built in cabinet/shelving next to the fireplace and a great view to the backyard. I've always liked the layout of this house, never thought it would actually become ours. Like you, I listen to what the body feels comfortable with! I couldn't agree more with keeping life simple (and not cluttering up my kitchen with appliances and gadgets). I will whip out the 50s manual hand mixer to make whipped cream before I plug in the electric mixer!

Here is the vintage barkcloth I purchased to make window treatments for the new family room. Totally atomic wouldn't you say!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:20AM
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You've got a temporary kitchen--the one that's there now. Any new temporary kitchen will be even worse.

Great retro kitchen in your current home!

You have seen Retro Renovation, I presume?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 4:21PM
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worthy, I do visit RetroRenovation, I'm a research maniac. Houzz is really neat too! Back when I designed my retro kitchen, there weren't all these online resources and communities--it's the coolest thing!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 4:35PM
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I understand completely. I am thinking of doing the same thing. Sometimes a clean demolished space with simple shelving and table and some kind of sink is much more appealing than old grunge that is depressing and demoralizing to look at.

I also will be between phases of remodeling but I may be luckier than you in that my temporary kitchen may only be necessary for 6 or 8 months if I'm lucky.

It will be nice to have the demolition phase over and done. I will need to sort out all my stuff into boxes and label so this will help me fine tune my kitchen layout - what stuff should go where. Living in the depths of darkness and grunge is not inspiring. Plywood floor and clean painted walls (that aren't coated in oil because of a range that had no vent) is going to be such an improvement!
I was looking at induction burners just the other day. Reviews aren't too good on Amazon so think I will stay with one of those little cheap electric burners. Along with a microwave that is all I need for cooking. One main concession is that I think we will buy our new refrigerator now rather than later. Contractor said it is sometimes helpful to know exactly where the plumbing should go for water. Also, aisle space may be a premium so having the new fridge will help confirm limits on size of island.
I am so excited to think about "clearing things out".
Having just completed a bathroom and having designed our kitchen (for the most part), I think the bathroom is a much harder project. Good luck to you on your future renovations.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Evie....did this same thing. Mostly because of smoke damage from the POs. I have a portable induction burner, portable dishwasher, microwave, medium portable convection oven, utility sink, wire shelving, a Hoosier (enclosed freestanding) cabinet and a worktable.

I thought I wouldn't mind it (and that the renovation would be started by now). And I'm still at least 3 to 6 months away from starting. I will admit, it is depressing every time I go into my 'kitchen' and I don't cook nearly as much as I used to. You don't realize how much you miss cabinet space, a full stove and an oven until they are gone...not to mention 'buttoned up' walls. I did not finish my kitchen ceiling in drywall, and every time I look up, it drives me mad. I end up eating microwaved stuff, things you can boil/cook in one pan, or frozen stuff 98% of the time).

If you can do it, gut back to the drywall or plaster, but don't take it down. Or if you do, put some new drywall up and paint it (I did this in my LR, and it feels less depressing) and it's relatively cheap.

And if you can, suggest either keeping the stove or replacing it with a very cheap new one (try scratch & dent stores or CL). Hoosier or some other real cabinet with walls and doors for the critical stuff is preferable so that your key cookware, silverware and dishes don't get dusty (you'd be amazed). I hate dishwashing, and used portable dishwashers are pretty easy to find. Utility sinks are ugly, but they are cheap. Just be aware the you may need to replumb your sink trap for the utility sink (they are often much deeper than traditional) and the cheap faucets that come with utility sinks may fail pretty quickly with daily use (mine did).

Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:11PM
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elphaba and navi_jen, thank you both for your insight and sharing your experiences!

I would definitely have the electrical and drywall done as well as paint. I was without my kitchen for about 3 months last time, and the shallow vanity bowl sink was the hardest part for me. I've lived in a couple of non-conventional kitchens in Europe and did fine. A couple burners, fridge and a sink and I'm good to go. We lived in a hotel for 6 weeks in Europe with a mini fridge, my husband was amazed at how I still fed us! I am extremely flexible and crafty.

Thanks for the info about plumbing on the laundry sink. I will also talk to my contractor about that. I do have a walk in pantry off of the kitchen. I can store food and dishes, pot and pans in there. Too bad the laundry there off of the kitchen and panty doesn't have a laundry sink, that would have worked quite nicely. I can configure a counter high shelf on wheels with what I have on hand, I can just push it out of the room as needed--thanks for stirring that thought!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:46PM
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Because the laundry sinks are so deep, I actually find it hard on my back to use it much. Another option is to keep the existing sink/plumbing/cabinet. Or, if you hate the cabinet and the sink is drop in, you might be able to keep the sink and just add legs or stair rails (from HD or Lowes). Then, you can also keep the existing dishwasher as I'm 99% sure it will run without a cabinet (it might tip when you open the door, but who cares). Just a thought.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 1:25AM
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navi_jen, yes, I did read from other folks about of the depth of the laundry sink being a problem. I'll see what the contractor says about rigging up the existing sink. No existing dishwasher, the space is so narrow it's going to be tricky to fit one in, but I will prevail! :0)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 10:08AM
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" No existing dishwasher, the space is so narrow it's going to be tricky to fit one in, but I will prevail!"

Look at the 'apartment size' units.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 1:07PM
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brickeyee, thanks! I have been checking those 18" out. I have to compromise on a sink (size) as well.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 1:13PM
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A little thought of mine on dishwashers:

When I was 3, we moved into our 1958 ranch, it had a regular kitchen, with a pink Magic Chef stove, fridge, and a dishwasher--it seems, the first time my parents used it, it leaded all over the place, so my dad replaced it with a storage cabinet--we never misssed it in our family with four children between the ages of 3 and 13.

I have never had a dishwasher; after moving into the big city at age 29, it was into the upper floor of a brick victorian with a friend until I found my current house...neither of them had a dishwasher.

From all I've seen about them, I don't think it is really a saving at all in either time or water. You often have to 'pre-rinse' dishes before running the cycle, and often wind up with spots left on them. Add a little soap to the pre-rinsing, and you may as well just wash the dishes and dry them in a rack or by hand and put them away. There is one less appliance to suck up electricity, the need for special soaps and spot removers and one less thing to have repaired or replaced. It took about fifteen minutes to wash dishes for our family of six growing up...so are you really saving any time? You could use that as bonding time with your s.o. or children rather than have them gorge on television.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 6:34PM
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We have gone off topic here, but I think a dishwasher is a marvelous appliance. A dishwasher give you a place to store dirty dishes out of sight and not stacked up in the sink. Modern day dishwashers clean well and sanitize the dishes, which is important to me since I have dogs and include those bowls in the wash. You should not pre-rinse dishes, as the enzymes in the newer dish detergents are said to need some food particles to activate. Unless you have something wrong with your water, you don't need a spot remover.

I grew up as the dish washer in a family of five. There wasn't any bonding going on - I was alone doing the dishes.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 9:04AM
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I just have to say to the OP that we did EXACTLY what you are asking about. The bath for us was the priority. (Can't live somewhere without somewhere to go to the bathroom.) And we gutted the kitchen to bare walls and put in a utility sink, stove, wire shelves and I used an old kitchen table as my counter. The kitchen lasted me that way for the year it has taken us to finish some other areas that were another priority to me before the kitchen. (We are redoing the entire house). I do a lot of cooking (and canning in the summer) and haven't regretted it one bit.

We are just now starting to piece the kitchen together and do the work in there. One huge benefit that I never thought about before is that working in the actual space with move-able temporary made up units for my workspace, made me really understand how I was going to utilize the space. I made several design changes to my original plans after my canning season last year. I am very glad we didn't go full speed ahead and there is no way I could have dealt with the dark dingy space with sagging floor that was there to deal with demo later.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 11:02PM
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Kali16, thank you so much for your post. I've been having some of those thoughts myself regarding being in the space and feeling it before making steadfast decisions. I had the good fortune to live in my existing kitchen a long time before I remodeled it and I think that contributed to it being a great success. It is a major investment and once it's done, it's done--I won't be making any cabinetry changes.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 11:14PM
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We are in a similar boat - although in our case we're moving things around in a legal three family house (used as a 2) that we have lived in for 7 years. We don't have to rip out an existing kitchen on the relevant floor - because there isn't one there!

In our case we're in an old Brooklyn, NY brownstone with a parlor floor (ex) kitchen that hasn't been renovated probably since WWII (or earlier) - the original metal high cabinets just got pulled off the walls this week. And 1920's/40's type paint design got uncovered when the wall was pulled partly down.

But since we're in an 1890 house, the walls aren't ready and pipes need to be moved and walls built out, so we don't have dimensions for the kitchen in order to order cabinets. And I'm struggling with appliance placement.

So what we want to do is put in a temporary kitchen. In the next few days I want to buy a fridge, range, dishwasher and possibly sink that will be the "final" appliances, and take a microwave and possibly some cabinets from the tenant's former kitchen on the third floor (since we don't need a kitchen on the third floor, it's moving to the second floor) and mock things up until we can finish a kitchen design and order countertops, backsplash and cabinets.

My big fear with our temporary kitchen is, what if we ultimately want to change placement of appliances based on the experience in the temp kitchen?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:35PM
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IKEA has pretty nice and affordable stuff that is meant for free-standing kitchens:


You don't need to work with awkward-height wire shelves etc. or cobble stuff together. These could then be reused in your basement or shed for storage.

I totally hear you on ripping it out. So freeing to just get rid of it instead of feeling bad every day.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 1:38PM
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