additional kitchen cabinets - need your opinions

mommabirdMay 1, 2012

My very small kitchen has cabinets on 3 walls - then the back door on one side, and door into the dining room on the wall across. The 4th wall is open and 111" long. There is about 16" between the door and that wall. It's an akward space. I used to have a little cafe table & 2 chairs there, but it stuck out too far and was in the way. Then I had my sons' cubbies, but moved those to the breezeway because they look so messy.

My mom had the idea that I could get UPPER cabinets, which are only about 12" deep, and mount them as lower cabinets, with a counter on top. That would give me additional cabinet space and counter space, and use this awkward space. I love the idea.

I found someone on Craigslist who is selling tons of used cabinets for $25 each. I could get enough to do the whole space for $100.

My concerns - please share your thoughts:

1. The SNOWBALL effect. Will this $100 turn into a total kitchen remodel that I can't afford?

2. The "new" cabinets won't match the old ones. My current cabinets are solid natural cherry. The "new" ones are oak. Mom thought I should paint the new ones white and not even try to make them match. I think this could work.

3. My cabinets have the arched "cathedral" at the top of the doors. The ones on Craigslist have flat door tops.

4. The upper cabinets wouldn't have drawers at the top. Would this look weird to have lower cabinets without drawers on the top?

5. My counter top is 16 years old. It would be difficult - if not impossible - to get a counter for the new cabinets to match. Even if I found the same Formica, I'm sure mine has faded from use. I don't really want to spend the $ to replace the counter right now. It still looks fine and is neutral color, so it doesn't look dated.

5. What I REALLY want for that space is a Hoosier cabinet! My grandma had two - one in her kitchen, one on her enclosed back porch. She left her house to my uncle. When he passed away, I asked my dad if I could claim one of the Hoosier cabinets. He called his sister, but she had already had them hauled to the dump!!!!! I was astounded. Her thought was "no one wants those old things." That's exactly why I wanted them. They were from the 1930's and had been in the house since before my dad was born in 1933. It makes me sick to think that those went to the dump!

So, do I wait for a Hoosier cabinet, trusing that the Universe will allow one to cross my path? Or do I go with Mom's idea?

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Personally, I wouldn't mix two different kinds of wood-oak and cherry. Perhaps paint them all to match or paint set one a very neutral color (white or black?) to blend in. My Mom was frugal (translation-CHEAP). She had a fairly large kitchen with three different styles of cabinets-those that came with the house when they bought it plus two free sets they got from relatives when they moved or remodeled.Dad somehow found room to hang the various cabinets and shelves. He was good with tools and his hands. To add to that. Mom had an old bed headboard with shelves she propped along one wall near the table and chairs. What a hodge-podge, UGLY! My sister said it wss "The worst decorating mistake ever". Don't fall into THAT trap-thinking a melange will work. My brother is now trying to sell our old house since Mom died in 2011. Realtors have told him he MUST gut the kitchen and put in a new one. Then again, it might be better to stick to your dream of a Hoosier cabinet. Whateve happens, good luck to you!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:22AM
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How about mounting the cabinets to make it look AS IF it could be a free-standing piece, fake the legs, etc.

With a white (painted wood or laminate) countertop and Hoosier-type hardware you could have the effect you want, and make it blend or not.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:38AM
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And you could rip it out if you find a real hoosier :)

But they are usually deeper than 12"

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:41AM
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A friend of mine did something similar, installing 3 upper cabinets in a stack to make a pantry in a kitchen without much storage. It looks okay, but there is really not that much storage room in the ones she got- they seem shallow from front to back to me, not room to store as much foodstuff as she probably wanted. So I guess some of it depends on what you plan to store in it.

I don't notice much that the cabinets don't match the existing ones; that is mainly because they are separated somewhat from the other cabinets.

Forgive me for asking, but do you really need the storage? Or do you need to pare down what you have? I use to be of the mindset that I needed more room, or better storage/organization, but as I get older, I realize that I really just need less stuff. You know, like realizing after hauling candy molds around for 20 years that I have no real desire to make candy...

I'm sorry about the Hoosier cabinets (I love furniture). If that is what you really want, and you could fit one in that area, why not search one out- even if you have to save for it for a while?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:22PM
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You should hold out for what you really want, but the Hoosiers I have seen are deeper than the 12-16 inches that you have to work with.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 7:52PM
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I think if those cabinets are definitely set off in the room, you should treat them like a piece of *furniture*, and not cabinetry.

So I love the feet idea. And you could add molding on the bottom between the legs to make the cabinet look like a single, stand-alone piece of furniture. (Set the cabinet on a piece of plywood, and attach feet and molding to that.) And paint is a nice idea, because it will help make the molding and the feet blend in.

I also think it will look better than having the two woods in the kitchen.

And use something other than your countertop material. Maybe a scrap of marble? Or just wood, and paint it the same as the body. (to me, the different material for the top surface is what makes kitchen cabinets look like "kitchen cabinets" and not "a piece of furniture."

It would be extra neat if you could find someone to make you an enameled tin top, wouldn't it?

(And yes, Hoosiers are deep--they were intended to be serious workspace in a kitchen.)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:18PM
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I guess I'll be the dissenting voice here, and say I love that idea. First of all, a 12 inch deep cabinet is ideal IMHO, for either pantry storage, small appliances, dishes, or anything, because you won't lose anything behind anything else. It sounds like they will be separate from the rest of your cabinets, so I don't think the fact that they don't ''match'' is much of a consideration. (Not to me anyway.) Of course, I'm one who mixed natural cherry, stained cherry, oak, pine and walnut in my kitchen, so I don't care much about other people's rules! I have an Arts&Crafts style kitchen, where cherry and oak look perfectly natural together, so I don't think this is a problem. I also believe the door styles being different is a good thing, since you will be using the 12 inch deep cabinets in a different way than your "kitchen" cabinets, thereby designating them a different zone. I personally like the idea of using this as pantry space, whether it's for food, or seldom used appliances/dishes, and think the narrow counter space will be a huge boon to your small kitchen.

As a former antique dealer, I know that Hoosier Cabinets were meant to be utilized as kitchen cabinets in their entirety, during a time of unfitted kitchens where the range, sink and cabinets were freestanding. That's why there is storage for food, jars, utensils, flour, sugar and a counter that pulls out, and why they are big/deep. I'm sorry to hear the story of your family heirloom, but think you would be happier with the space you currently have if you let that determine how you need to use it. Sometimes letting go of an old idea will allow you to find a better solution, which I think you have. I hope you instantly love it if you try this, because I'm sure I would!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 2:18PM
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My 12 inch cabinets in my island do not have drawers at the top, and I think they look fine. I don't need drawer space there.

It's only $100, which could have a huge impact on your kitchen. If you don't like it, you won't invest much to try it on for size.

You don't have to match the counter. I have a honed counter around the perimeter of my kitchen; the island is maple butcherblock, and is the place where I do most my work. Think about complementing the counter instead of trying to match it.

Sometimes our Moms are brilliant thinkers. (It was my Mom's idea to put a window seat in my old kitchen.) What better way to celebrate her, by using her great idea for your kitchen on Mother's Day!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 3:06PM
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Hi - sorry I'm late coming to this thread. When we moved into our house a few years ago, we removed one funky wall/really narrow unfinished closet/island. We replaced it with an L-shaped island. Since we didn't want to redo the whole kitchen, I decided we'd go for something totally different than the rest of the existing old white Home Depot type cabinets. I went with wood (much nicer) cabinets and a different laminate counter and beadboard on the outer part that can now that it's open to the dining room & living room. I love it. I figure if someone else moves in here and doesn't like it, they can remodel how they want and I won't have spent extra unnecessary money. Right now it's my kitchen, and I like it.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 8:09AM
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Inertia won out. I couldn't decide about the cabinets, and by the time I decided I wanted them & called the # on Craigslist, the owner had already sold them.

I am going to put my energy into attracting a Hoosier cabinent. I'm confident one exactly like my grandma's will cross my path when the time is right. And I know they are deeper than 16", but I think it would still work in my kitchen because we could just walk around.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:05PM
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