Words from the (now) wise--think to the next update in 20 years

needinfo1March 2, 2013

The most critical thing I can recommend to people starting the process of a kitchen plan from scratch is to plan around the possibility that in 15 or 20 years you might want to make some changes or upgrades. Right now we are paying for not thinking about this when we put an addition on and remodeled our kitchen 20 years ago. And, if we weren't still here, the next owners would have faced the same challenges unless they wanted to gut and start over. Some of those custom-designed choices we made then are now starting to come back and bite us in the butt.

The kitchen layout and configuration is still fine (and probably about as well as one could do considering the constraints that lot lines and the design of the house permitted). We have top quality cabinets that are still appropriate for our house, look really good, are timeless and are in good shape. Over the years we have replaced our dishwasher and fridge. Those were easy replacements.

Now, I wanted to get new countertops to replace the old tile ones. This is where the story starts, and it is an illustration of how if you do something trendy at the time an/or do not have everything that is standard size (difficult to do in a 100 year old house like mine) replacement problems can pop up in the future. And, also remember that what is current or cutting edge as far as appliances or fixtures now may not be so in the future and may complicate your future replacement issues.

Downdraft JennAir ranges were top-of-the-line and all the rage 20 years ago. Now they are out and known to be ineffective. Since we did not need a range hood then and didn't plan an installation where it would be easy to put one in the future, we are having a major headache with no easy or optimal solutions. We've got the new range in (that was another huge hassle), but installing the hood is a problem.

Twenty years ago we installed the all-in-one wallmount set up with a microwave on top of a wall oven. We had a cabinet custom built for this. Now we so wish we had done a different installation where we could replace just the microwave or the oven without having to buy a complete unit. I looked at the ajmadison website, and there are only 7 models that will even remotely fit in that size cutout, and we will probably have to do some jerryrigging to even get any of them to work. In other words, rather than being able to pick a replacement based on features, we'll be choosing what will fit in.

Twenty years ago I picked a sink I loved, but it was not one of the standard sizes or configurations. Our plumbing is set up to work with that sink. And, it was an odd size sink that now really limits my choices as far as a new sink. Even though we are putting in new counters, and theoretically could do anything we want, there only a few choices available for me, and none of them are optimal. We can change the plumbing set up under the sink, but trying to figure out what to do with the custom made cabinet the sink is in so we can install a new sink is a headache.

My white subway tile backsplash is lovely and so appropriate for the period of my house. I planned to keep it with the new counters, but it is now going too because taking out the old counters will damage the tiles since the backsplash tiles were cut to fit the quirks and irregularities of our layout and our uneven, out of square house. We finally decided it will be less hassle to just take out the backsplash and retile with new white subway tile. And, speaking of tile, buy a lot more than you think you will ever need in case you need replacement tile. We have some replacement tile (we did think that far ahead then), but not nearly enough to fit in so we would have been able to take care of issues arising from the new countertops.

So, even though you are currently thinking about and installing your current dream kitchen, think ahead. It may not be your dream kitchen a number of years down the road. Things wear out, styles change, and updating will need to be done. Make it easy for yourself, not hard the way ours is turning out to be. Yes, some of these problems (but not all) can be fixed if we just spend the money (often quite a lot). But, if we'd planned ahead originally we wouldn't have to spend (lots of) additional money now to try to change some of these things.

Just a cautionary message to all of you current remodelers.

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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Carpe diem, needinfo! I've often said that I don't want to be around when the next owner remodels my remuddle. ;)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 4:57PM
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needinfo1 .. I saw on the vent a hood website they now have new vent a hood that does not need vented out. It can be but they claim it works very well cases like yours where venting out is impossible. Check it out it might work for you :) They have a video about it on their website explains the way it works and so forth.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 6:59PM
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Last year, we replaced a combo wall oven/microwave unit with a separate wall oven and microwave with a built-in trim kit. The installer needed to add a shelf for the microwave to sit on, but didn't need to modify the cabinet in any other way -- so it was a fairly easy replacement. Just wanted to mention this in case it helps with giving you more options for replacement...

good luck!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 8:40PM
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I agree with you entirely but I think it goes further than that. I read many posts where people have micro optimized their kitchen to their current cooking needs and equipment. I think your can go too far with that.

I say don't customize things too much. Lots can happen to change your cooking habits. The two big ones I can think of are a change in diet and household members moving in/out.

What can that mean? Maybe you won't be baking much any more. Maybe another person will be cooking. Maybe your garbage collection rules will change. Maybe you will buy some new equipment. And so on.

In my own case, I know I cook different kinds of foods than I did five years ago. My husband cooks a lot more than he used to. We feed the birds. One of our cats has dietary restrictions. Those things have meant a change the food and supplies and cookware we use.

The best kitchens can accommodate that kind of change. Designing for flexibility is more important than micro optimizing for your habits today.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Can you explain further? I understand the part about putting in the shelf, but is there some sort ot trim you then put around the appliances to finish them off? Our current all-in-one ser up has trim pieces to cover up the gaps.

donaleen--I too hear what you are talking about. My husband just retired and has taken on a lot of the cooking that he never did in the past, so now we much more frequently have two people actually cooking rather than one cooking and one being elsewhere or just standing around. And, my son and DIL are remodeling their kitchen; even though she wants soapstone counters, she has eliminated that choice because they have a pretty wild two-year-old who does a lot of banging on things. I've tried to tell them that the two-year-old will grow and change, so don't make choices just based on today's situations and needs.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 12:02PM
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I think that when possible you can think ahead, but the realist is that if the kitchen needs re-doing in 20-30 years chances are that finishes will be so worn that replacement is likely, and styles will have changed so much that anything you do now to accommodate the future will probably not work out anyway. So, why not just have the kitchen the way you want now - within reason.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 12:41PM
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Oh, I hear you!

Previous owners had a microwave-oven combo. The MW died first and we had to wait for the oven to die too before we could remove the darn thing.

That is why I would never ever buy double-ovens.

There is one additional thing.

Even if you plan wisely, the appliance sizes change over time. I am sure the manufacturers do it on purpose. It is one way to keep the industry going, LOL.

When the fridge "died", we couldn't find a single fridge to fit the opening height. The fridge had custom panels with the same (very customized) finish as the cabinet, so we either had to pay someone to make a new cabinet above the fridge and match the finish or replace all cabinetry.

I am now planning for future height changes by getting spare panels in case we need new cabinet doors. Unfortunately, it is harder to plan for width changes. I am hoping that the now-standard 30"-wide ovens and 36"-wide fridges will still be available 15-20 years from now but who knows? :-(

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Here's some more details, hope this helps. We replaced a 17 year old kenmore combo microwave & wall oven with a separate Jennair single wall oven & microwave. The wall oven fit exactly the width of the old combo unit. Both have a small amount of trim that fits in front Of the cabinet box. We purchased an extra trim kit for the microwave to give it a built in look. I think many brands of microwaves offer this trim kit. I think I posted a picture of this setup awhile ago, I'll try to find a link to that picture.

Hope this helps,

edited to add oven & microwave picture.

This post was edited by mpg2004 on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 20:12

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 3:29PM
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I agree with tina. The fact that you have used this kitchen for 20 years in to be congratulated!
We often have discussions here about timeless and dated and most agree that in 10 years are kitchens will look dated.
What I see as an issue is not thinking ahead to one story living.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 4:56PM
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We hope to finish our kitchen project this year. It is our eighteenth year of working on the kitchen, doing it ourselves a bit at a time as time and money have allowed.

I don't think people used to gut kitchens like they do these days. I think they made the changes bit by bit, as we are.

If you don't get too trendy, kitchen style can last a long time. Guess what color our walls are? The much talked about Barley.

Here is a link that might be useful: our kitchen

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 5:55PM
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donaleen--Looks very nice.

Perhaps I should have prefaced this entire discussion by indicating that this is more true for people who have older houses rather than the new, need-to-be-trendy type houses. If your goal is to have the latest trend and style, then, yes, your kitchen probably will look outdated in ten years. Perhaps another example of our American planned obsolence, consumerist society.

If, OTOH, you want something that always appears mostly ageless, then you need to take into account how to do those minor upgrades without ripping out and starting from square one again. We went to our local remodelers showcase this past fall and came home and took a good long look at our kitchen in comparison to those we had just seen in our pretty upscale, urban neighborhood of houses that are now nearly 100 years old. We came to the conclusion that a few new appliances, new counters and re-sanding the hardwood floors would make our kitchen basically the same as these just finished kitchens. Here is an interesting article (aimed at owners of older houses) I just read that addresses this issue--trendy or timeless.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:48AM
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