Finally getting to update my 1942 kitchen - WWYD?

minnesotamamaApril 24, 2014

Hi, I've been a lurker around GW for the last couple years but this is my first time posting.

I'm so excited, because my husband and I are embarking on our biggest project to-date since buying our home 3 years ago - we are finally updating our 1942 kitchen (photos and links below)! The appeal for us was that the house was spacious (for a city house - we're in Minneapolis) but not updated so that we could buy it at a very affordable price and then update it to our liking over the years.

After living with minimal cabinet space, a portable dishwasher, and linoleum so old that it's peeling and cracking, I am so ready for a beautiful new(ish) kitchen!

We have hired a design/build firm that we've worked with before on smaller projects and have the plans drawn up but we are still in early stages so I'd love any suggestions or words of wisdom. Our hope is to make our small, old kitchen more functional for a modern family (we have an 8 month old and hope to have another child in the next couple years).

Here's what we've got planned, so far:
-Open up wall between dining room and kitchen (will recreate archway to match those in entryway and between LR and DR)
-Add peninsula where broom closet is currently, with room for two stools
-New granite (likely black honed) countertops
-Paint or refurbish and stain existing cabinetry, and have custom cabinets built on the opposite wall, including a pull-out pantry (I'm doing a ton of research on white vs. wood grain, so hard to decide...)
-Lay hardwood floor to match the flooring in the rest of the house
-New appliances, install dishwasher and pull-out trash/recycling to right of sink and use the displaced lower cabinetry to build out a custom cabinet in the bay window where portable dishwasher currently sits.
-Sand, repair and paint windows white (we will get new windows in the future when we can afford it)
-Lots and lots of work to bring electrical and plumbing to code (check out that outlet right by the sink!!)

We're still young, so I'm not sure if this is our forever home...but we do plan to be here for the foreseeable future and will probably raise our kids here.

So....what would you do? I would love some suggestions!

Here is a link that might be useful: Photos and floorplans

This post was edited by minnesotamama on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 22:19

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PS please excuse my primed kitchen door. I started a trim and door painting project before my daughter was born and when I realized the door would be torn out, I just left it as-is!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:14PM
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OH YAY!!! These are the kind of posts I love. So far your ideas sound good. Please put up more pics and a rough floor plan with measurements (make sure you point out where the cabs you're keeping are on the floor plan). You'll get the best responses with all of that.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:16PM
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PS: Please read this about old windows

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardenweb window post

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:22PM
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Oh, and this guys my favorite...... they're called replacement windows b/c you'll have to replace them every 15-20 years. If you're lucky enough to have old windows, they were build to be repaired for the lifetimes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bob Yapp

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:28PM
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Thanks, magsnj. Working on getting the plans put on Photobucket and will link them soon. Regarding the old windows, we did a lot of research on old vs. new (I'm an old house person - didn't want to tear them out if refurbishing was a good option) and even got bids. The issue is not cost/energy efficiency (I agree, better to keep the originals if they are in good shape), but sound. We have airplanes flying over our house day and night, and my understanding is that new windows with triple panes offer better sound insulation than old. Because of the expense we will be living with them for awhile, I will have plenty of time to continue researching. Of course, one can find many opinions for and against - it's overwhelming! Thanks for the links.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:41PM
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Here's yet another one. He does push his books/services, but if you hunt around the links are very valuable. Just ignore the sales pitch.

Here is a link that might be useful: Old House Guy

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:00PM
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i love those cabinets! you are so lucky to have found a house that hasn't had all the character destroyed. i actually like the color but i am sure they will be lovely painted as well. good luck on your journey:)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:04PM
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My neighbor has triple pane windows and she says they are super heavy when trying to open them. Of course with airplanes flying overhead, I could learn to deal with that. I hate my double panes ... every year when I do my spring cleaning I find at least one that needs replacing because moisture has gotten through the seal and fogged the interior of the glass. I got lifetime guarantee windows for my kitchen remodel, but didn't know it was necessary when I did the rest of the house.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:13PM
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Here's the new floorplan, and below is a link to better quality photos, floorplans and an elevation for the west wall (the one without cabinets). The measurements aren't on these scale drawings, so will have to add later.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photos and floorplans

This post was edited by minnesotamama on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 22:25

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:22PM
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What are your thoughts on the bay window? Can we do something like this, or is plumbing staying where it is? I've also seen a window seat with storage there that's pretty.

Traditional Kitchen by Doylestown Kitchen & Bath Remodelers Superior Woodcraft, Inc.

Honestly, not sure after seeing the floor plan, and knowing that the large expanse of cabinets is staying where it is (love the cabinets by the way) if you need any floor plan advice. Are you really just looking for aesthetic thoughts?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:40PM
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The current plan is to keep plumbing where it is, although we will be running lines for an icemaker. Where the lower cabs are to the right of the sink will be a dishwasher and pull-out trash/recycling bins. The current plan is for those displaced lower cabs will be refurbished and installed under the bay window with custom cabinetry built around them and a counter on top. The builder we're working with is also a fantastic craftsman and can custom build just about anything. A quick Google search isn't pulling up any good examples...but essentially that bay will have a built-in under it which will serve as additional storage and counterspace...and potentially a home for the microwave.

I am looking for input on the floorplan (that it makes sense given the space), and yes, general aesthetics as well. I'm debating now about whether to have the cabinets enameled (would be white to match trim in rest of house, only kitchen has wood - and it's all got a terrible yellow glaze) or to have them sanded down to bare wood and stained. There are lots of great threads here on this very topic that I'm reading and re-reading. :)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:02PM
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I have a similarly shaped but narrower kitchen - minus all the charm of yours. I think your general plan is great. But the range side is a big problem - you can't / don't want a tall pull-out pantry right next to your range. In many places that would be a code violation. And it's just plain limiting and potentially dangerous. My range is currently wedged against a wall so I know first hand!

If you ditch the pantry there, the question would be where to eke out some pantry space... Could you include some cabinetry in your dining area?

Second it looks like you have a total of about 33" for your fridge- are you getting a built-in? Otherwise you may need to include some filler space to allow the door to open and acces everything, even for a smaller than average fridge. It would also stick out more than your diagrams show unless it's built-in.

Where will your microwave go? Can you fit an undercounter mw drawer on the peninsula?

If you keep the peninsula shape, you might consider moving the trash to the other side of the sink as the dishwasher. Mine will be exactly the way you show yours, but that was a compromise since I have the range where your peninsula is and wanted to preserve a big drawer for pots. But it seems efficient to me in a small space to be able to stand at the sink and access the trash and the dishwasher without taking a step!

Finally I hope you figure out a good way to highlight that window - its so lovely, and your kitchen will be just gorgeous!


    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 7:20AM
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I think if you add cabinetry above the fridge and stove you won't miss what you are losing by installing the dishwasher next to the sink and then putting a round table in the window area for eat-in.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:23AM
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small old house - thank you for the awesome feedback! I too had immediate reservations about the pull-out pantry being between the stove and fridge, both from a use and safety standpoint. I thought maybe I was overthinking it, because I do trust the it's good to have someone echo that concern. While I would love to have that storage, maybe we can find another way.

We can't do cabinetry in the dining room as it has just enough space to fit a table and six chairs now. We considered adding a built in, but it's not a priority now due to cost, and that it would make the bedroom on the other side smaller (not by much, but it's already a small room) which is now a nursery but eventually will be a den/office for my husband and I as our bedroom is in the same wing. So that could be added later.

The fridge will be counter-depth (is that same or different from built-in?) so shallower than what I have now. My inexperience is showing here; I've just begun researching appliances.

We are still trying to figure out microwave. It can't go above stove because we want an exhaust hood (small house = cooking smells abound).

The windows will be sanded, caulked/repaired, primed and painted by me (Ben Moore Dove White). I did this with the others in our LL. I'm very meticulous; they will be beautiful when I'm through! I'd love to do just valances on them, but our this window faces our neighbors' kitchen window, and while I love them, I also want the ability to have some privacy...we have top down/bottom up shades in the rest of the LL which I love from a functionality standpoint but if we had the budget I would do shutters instead. So, still thinking about window treatments. They need to be inexpensive, for now at least.

Scrappygal - I would love eat-in dining, but the bay window isn't as big as it looks. We tried putting a two-seater table there and it made the room feel much smaller. Plus, with two steps down to a side door/basement landing, it just gets in the way. I wish this was a better option for us, as I love the cozy look of an eat-in kitchen space, especially one surrounded by windows!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:43AM
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I should add that we have a 1,000 sq ft unfinished basement so we do have ample storage down there (for now). I keep all my larger, less-frequently used appliances, serving pieces and bulk dry goods in storage down there. We probably will not finish the space off for several years.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:53AM
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We have an okay sized kitchen, but a very small pantry. It holds just canisters of dry goods, cereal, brownie mix, and the like. Everything else, soup, cans, more dry goods, rice mixes, and the freezer, are in the basement. It isn't that bad. Although DH wishes we could store the big pack of paper towels up here, 'cause when we need a new roll we need it in a hurry! Perhaps you could do between-the-studs shelving along the stairs going down, unless that is where you hang your coats?

I love your window nook, looks like the ideal spot for a high chair while you're cooking. But what a nice spot, too, for a sunny countertop, you could have some fresh herbs there. Could you put a microwave drawer below it? Store the instant oatmeal and cocoa alongside?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:26PM
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Maybe something like this?

From [Kitchen plans](
    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:46PM
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Nice, lavender! And, with the stairs coming down there, perhaps a semicircle for the breakfast bar, to avoid bumped noggins and hips, and to make it easier to skootch a kiddo and a couple of pals around it.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:25PM
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I love those cabinets! The proposed floor plan as you currently have it looks quite similar to what I am planning (see post on Critique of 1925 Bungalow Kitchen Design). I assume that you placed the stove opposite this bank of cabinets so that you could keep them? Would you be able to exhaust if you moved your stove on to the same run as the sink?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 3:05PM
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What is on the other side of the stairs? Is that the living room?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 3:59PM
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Wow at least in the pictures, those 1948 cabinets look pretty good....

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Lavender, love your layout.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 7:25PM
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I really love Lavender's layout as well!! Great flow and function. I didn't realize that the cabinets could be moved. Well done!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:10PM
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lavendar, thank you for the awesome alternative layout! This is exactly what I needed - but lack the creativity for - to really think through what will work best for us. This is why I love GW! I think the possible reasons that our designer did not suggest something like this are 1) it breaks up the run of cabinetry that we are keeping and 2) cost is a factor for us, we are also making a 2-season porch a 4-season living space and rear entry in conjunction with this kitchen project. But, I don't actually know if that's the case or what the additional cost would be.

bpathome, yep, the other side of the stairs is the living room. I can't tell you how many times I've wished the stairs weren't smack dab in the middle of the house, it's limiting...although I am not a fan of totally open floor plans in older homes either.

lee676, we were very fortunate to buy the house from its second owner, a woman in her nineties who had lived here over 60 years. We have kept in touch with one of her sons who comes to visit every year and take pictures to share with his mom who is in a nursing home; it's the house he grew up in. (Which is such a cool story and connection to the past!) They did not update the house much (save for the 1960s aluminum siding and storm windows, ugh, a sign of the times I know but it's just ug-ly) however they did maintain it very well!

Thanks again, all! Appreciate the time you took to respond and I'm sure I'll be back with more specific questions soon.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:38PM
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So, would it be totally out of the question to move the door to the side entry to the living room? Yeah, I guess it would be.

It's very sweet that you all work together to make the PO happy. I'm sure it brings lovely memories back to her, seeing a young family living in the house again :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:37PM
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bpathome, funny you mention that! We actually considered it, and came to the same conclusion. Once our porch/sunroom is converted to four season, we will be coming in the house there (closer to garage, safer, door will be bigger) but I still felt like we should keep the kitchen door. When it's open to just the storm door, we get great southern light there, I can keep herbs just outside of it, go directly from kitchen to backyard for dining outdoors, etc. If we closed it up, I would get a killer pantry, just didn't feel true to the house and felt strange to have a kitchen so closed in.
Yes, it does make the previous owner very happy that newlyweds moved in and promptly got a dog and then had a baby. :) It warms my heart to think of how it must make her feel, in the midst of a big (and final) life transition. I know how much it would mean to me!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:51PM
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do consider the change LL posted. with a dog and little one running around it'll be much safer.

there will be no need to cross over the walkway area with a pot of boiling pasta (or anything else) to drain.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 2:36AM
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I love your story of acquiring the home! We had a similar thing happen when we bought our home in town. It had been in one family, basically, since it was built in 1947. Add to that it is in a very small town and we got all kinds of stories. A not-small part of me was sorry to leave when we moved back to the country, but we still own it and a family is keeping it with a life.

As for you layout, I am not good at this...but I do think LL's suggestion looks great and solves a couple key issues.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 7:22AM
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I like the Lavendar layout as well, but I wonder if it would be better to swap the fridge with the range, and place the fridge at the end of the cabinet run on the other side? That would enable you to keep the full run of uppers that you currently have. With the fridge on the peninsula side, anyone sitting on the stools is staring at the side of the fridge and their view out the window would be partially blocked. Put the range there and that problem would be solved.

It's a toss-up functionally - I prefer to have the range and sink on the same side, but putting the fridge on the sink side would be more consistent with the sequence of prepping meals, and would enable guests/kids/others to grab something from the fridge without stepping into the cooking zone.

The best thing might be to post a layout with the measurements of the room and the existing cabinets, as well as your appliance dimensions (30" vs. 36" range? what size fridge?) The typical fridge is 36" wide, but you can find plenty of other options if you want to go smaller. Either way you'll need a couple of extra inches on the sides for air, access etc. Counter-depth fridges are a few inches less deep than regular fridges, but they still stick out a good couple of inches beyond the cabinets. If you post all the details, you'll get a lot of feedback on refining the layout.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 9:07AM
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Sorry I was so abrupt yesterday...I was at work :)

I'm a bit confused about the stairs. Are the basement stairs by the back door, on the far side of the kitchen? Then are those stairs going up off the dining room? Or is one side a closet?

With the traffic through your kitchen (and if it continues to be a major traffic pattern) I would hesitate to put the range opposite the sink. If you could move the range, I think it would be much safer.

I do like Bpathome's idea about rounding off the corners of the peninsula. I always prefer rounded corners to sharp ones. Again, just safer. I don't think there's a sharp-pointed corner on any of my furniture! And it's not for the nieces/nephews when they visit...I seem to bang into them too often (LOL)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 3:12PM
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Thank you, desertsteph, greenhaven and smalloldhouse for commenting! I will work on adding measurements this evening. I know those will be really helpful to understand size/scale.

After reading through everyone's excellent advice and comparing Lavender's layout to our existing space and the current floorplan, we immediately decided to nix the pull-out pantry. Given the flow of our house we much prefer to keep the peninsula at the end of the current cabinet run (I know the plan I posted doesn't show the rest of the first floor for context, so that's my fault). I think in the end we are going to end up with a combination of the two. I totally get the recommendation to move range to the same side as sink and rounding edges of peninsula, that's something to consider for sure, with little ones and puppy underfoot. (Although now I'm thinking about the sharp edges of my Room & Board farmhouse table...).

Here's the deal with the stairs. The basement and upstairs flights are stacked. So, you come in the side kitchen door and you either go down a flight of stairs to the basement, or up two stairs into the kitchen. You go up the stairs to the second level from the dining room. We have four doorways in the dining room (kitchen, porch, stairwell, and hall). Since our basement is not finished and we will be entering the house from the back porch/sunroom, traffic through the kitchen is going to decrease least until kids are older and basement is finished.

I'll be back later with measurements!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 3:39PM
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I really like LL's layout. If you are on a basement, moving plumbing should be easy (inexpensive).

I love your cabinets and are so glad to hear that you are going to keep them.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 9:12PM
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