xpost:: Help me create a kitchen I love..

tansunnyApril 3, 2010

I posted this on the kitchen forums, but as I also live in a small home (about 1100sq ft) I figured I would also post here. I am working on getting the floor plan drawn so I can scan it.

Let me start by saying I hate my kitchen. There are lots of things in the house that could use some updating, but this kitchen is the worse. I don't really have much $$ or time to put into it right now, but I think that if I often think about researching my options and getting a binder put together and socking a little $$ away at a time. Then in a couple of years, I can take a sledgehammer and get the party started! (I don't actually want to do any painting, etc right now).

A little about myself. Right now its just me and my husband and the dog. This doesn't sound like much, but I loove to cook, especially from scratch. With cooking comes a lot of ingredients and a lot of gadgets/cookware/bowls, etc, etc. I feel that my kitchen could be much better organized, more functional, and more stylish. I want it to flow with the house better too.

Soo..I'm going to upload some photos. I can post measurements although I don't have a floor-plan made (I see lots of floorplans here...anyone want to give me a hint on what you use to draw yours? Or should I just put it on some graph paper and scan?

I have lots of questions. And yes, I know about the "read me if you're new" post. But what I really want to know, is if you were me, in this kitchen, what would you do with it?

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Hi Tansunny! You must be super excited about your kitchen project. All of us here understand the problems associated with getting a kitchen that functions for you in a small space.
Currently, there are several posters who are in the midst of kitchen projects - from 'tweaking' to a full blown gut.
Prarie-girl has a nice floor plan (not sure what program it is). Since I just needed a visual of my plan I used Lowes' program.
Good luck and post pics.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 12:10PM
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You can download kitchen planning software from IKEA -- even if you don't want their cabinets you can get a good feel for layout w/their software. It allows you to view the room from different perspectives and doesn't take too much time to learn.

It would be good if you could throw out some of your own ideas first, rather than asking everyone else what they would do. Do you want more cabinet space, more counter space, different windows? What is your budget? Are you hiring contractors or DIY (or a little of both)?

We remodeled our kitchen about 2 1/2 years ago; our house is also small, 1200 sq ft. Our house was built in 1978 and it had a teeny dining room w/teeny kitchen (5'x6') and teeny eat-in area (about the same size as the kitchen). We changed the layout to make the whole room a large kitchen/dining room and not two separate areas. One day I'd like a house w/a separate dining room or family room, but for now what I really wanted was a kitchen where I could actually cook and store everything.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 2:28PM
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Here is a link to the photos of my kitchen. I don't know if I want more cabinetry, etc, b/c I don't know what is possible yet.

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen photos

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 10:37AM
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I looked at your pictures and it is hard to tell what the doorway goes to on the side of your round table. Does it go to a hall or is that a corner pantry?

If it were me I would try to switch your kitchen table over to where the fold up table is. Get a nice tall cabinet for the wall where your round table is sitting for the needed storage of the things you have on the long fold up table. Or if you could do a base kitchen cabinet with upper to give your self a little more storage space.Or even a buffet to go on that wall. It appears you need/use more counter space than you have now.

You really have a pretty kitchen. Almost anything is possible. Just ask us. Heheheh


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 12:13PM
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Ok, Tansunny, I looked at your photos, hope I can remember the details long enough to make appropriate comments.

First, you do have a lot of cabs, but those uppers could stand somme thinning out. Like removing a few to increase the impression of space in the room.

Then, that base cab, the skinny one to the left of your DW. Since that seems to be the corner where your trash can stays, buy yourself a rollout cab insert which attaches to the door (hinges come off the door), there are several brands available to fit your particular width space, and I recommend the Rev-A-Shelf brand as being super strong and good quality. I have three of their products installed in my kitchen now. That insert can be reused if you redo your kitchen later, so it won't be wasted money. But it will get that tall can away from view.

Now the folding table and the skinny spindles over the pony wall. Truly, those spindles are show stoppers. I highly recommend taking them out, and at the point where the pony wall curves, like there might be steps going down to a lower level--am I right?--put yourself a substantial round or square beautiful one or two posts. BUT, instead of having that top of the wall be just narrow, that is where I'd put in a counter top space to eat or have a shelf at the top of that wall, and then a few inches down, hidden from view outside the kitchen, would be a bar for all the things presently on your folding table. And I'd take out that tiny table which is sitting next to the table too.
I cannot tell how much room you have on the wall where that tiny breakfast table is now, but even a set of narrow shelves going up the wall, just about 10" deep or so, would be a dramatic statement and a place to store your prettier items. If there is power plugs along that part, set your toaster and your bread box over there. Presuming you have kids, keep the coffee pot in a safe spot in a corner not near the traffic. Maybe at the left end of that new bar where you can easily reach it to fill it with water or coffee. Leave room for sugar, creamer, and coffee mugs if that is what you use.

You indicate you do not want to do any painting now. But there is no reason you cannot get a couple of nice plant stands of the right height and attach the proper width and thickness and length pine board from Lowes to make yourself a counter top where that folding table is right now. I've used such a set up for years as a desktop, even ordered a fitting thick glass slab to go on top of it. You can put all kinds of kids photos under the glass if you like. I have this setup in my back bedroom right now, covered with plastic totes, since I tore out all the closets and have no place else to put anything. I am using a similar "desk" in this back bedroom, but it is a thick glass top from a table, no wood under it, and it is held up by two 2-drawer file cabinets. It works for me!

By taking out that folding table and the little breakfast table, you'd be surprised by the way your kitchen looks bigger.

Have you thought far enough ahead to determine if you plan to keep the sink and the stove where it is presently? Will your floors have to be torn out, or can you just cover them? Are you going to upgrade your fridge, or is the same style what you plan to go with? We got a French door fridge, so had to make sure both doors could open back. The same is true for those side-by-side fridges.

Tan, very pleased to see your question on the Small Homes forum. Small spaces present big challenges, but also allow for a very big sense of satisfaction when you get the design you like.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 12:46PM
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tansunny, do you have another dining area in the house, or is that it?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 12:57PM
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Is it possible to remove the wall beside the dining table? What's on the other side? What is down those steps?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 1:47PM
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Okay first and foremost I have to agree that the spindles need to die. If you like them, okay, but for me they would make me feel imprisoned and as such would die a quick and merciless sledge death.

Second, do you want hints for what to do short-term? Or is this only ideas to plan for long term what to do with this kitchen?

If you are going short-term, what kind of budget do you want to spend now, versus later? If you are going long-term what kind of budget do you think you could reasonably have when you start?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:57PM
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I just went to look at your other post. Jeesh, those posts sure go fast on the other forums.

I agree with getting rid of the turned posts. That wall is similar to my next door neighbors and has stairs going down to a basement. New owners this year remodeled and now sorry I haven't seen what they did.

You really have a darling kitchen to work with. I also am interested if you have a dining room next to the kitchen. An island counter could easily be added for extra cooking space and eating. Then you could also put whatever is needed against the far wall for working like the folding table.

As much as I liked my appliance "box" in a once larger kitchen, they take up a great deal of space in our smaller ones. If you consider removing yours, they are easy.

It sounds like you have time to work on design and ideas. You didn't mention what sytle of interest. There are a lot of smaller kitchens shown on the net now. Wasn't the case not so long ago. With the cost of mags, I'd use the net for photos and ideas as much as possible. Either print out for your folder or one on your PC. And don't forget the library, they have a lot of books, mags to take advantage of.

Below is a link to the Kitchen Forum specifically with small kitchen photos.

Here is a link that might be useful: Small kitchens

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 6:16AM
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I'll try to answer your questions...

The doorway by the fridge/round table leads to the hallway/livong room (the living room is bordered by a half-wall, which also wouldn't break my heart to see go although my husband loves it for some unknown reason).

Anyhow...on the opposite side of the wall with the stove is the dining area.

On the opposite side of the wall with the round table is a small bedroom.

The stairs lead down into the basement.

As for the spindles...if I removed those, would I make that wall a little bit higher?

I'm still working on getting you guys a drawing. I measured everything, now I just have to draw it. I am looking into both short and long term solutions, so I will print off everything that has been said so far.

Don't let those cabinets fool you. Especially on the bottom. Two of them are under the sink, one of them is a lazy susan, and the other is in the corner by the garbage.

I'll be back in a couple of days...I promise.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 7:32AM
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Come on back soon, Tan, you've stirred up a lot of interest among us! :)

Question: I do not understand something. If the half wall with the spindles has steps going down to basement, then what is behind that half wall with the spindles? Is the photo an optical illusion?

And no, I do not think you need to raise the height of that wall if you remove the spindles. You do need to take out that folding table, and perhaps that is where you can put a long run of cabinets--either full depth base cabs, or shallow depth wall cabs. I'd put enough overhang on the counter to make it serve as a breakfast bar or sitdown eating surface. Which could also serve as your extra work surface. If there is no room to the left of your dishwasher for a roll out trash container, then put the rollout in this new cab space, right next to the steps to the basement.

If there is no view along the spindle wall, you might be able to move the fridge into the space....Even next to the steps going down to the basement. That would pretty much free up the wall shared with the small bedroom, and really give you more options on the flow in your kitchen. Of course, beside the fridge in your new location, you could go all the way up as high as possible, and make that really tall storage cabs. The fridge would look built in. Even French door fridges can open all the way back with full depth cabs on both sides. By moving the fridge along the spindle wall, you'd have much more room for kitchen island or maybe an eating area that does not look like an after thought.

I cannot wait to see how your house floor plan looks so we can make realistic recommendations or float good ideas for consideration. Hope you are enjoying the design process as much as we all are. :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 11:15AM
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A couple more comments...

A couple of people have asked if I can move walls. I do not want to move the wall where the round table is at b/c the bedroom on the other side is only 10x11 as it is.

As for the wall with the stove...that is a load bearing wall. The dining room table is on the other side and then there is a half wall and the front door (I'll take pictures). There is not any room to bump out that wall any further...it would have to either be completely removed or modified so that is only half as high to create a more open feel (if that can even be done with a load bearing wall). I fear that removing it completely would make the kitchen seem to large for the rest of the home.

I am not picky about location of sink/dishwasher/stove/fridge, etc. I am all about making this place more efficient. :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 11:15AM
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tansummy, I think you've the got same problem as most of us here, you don't have enough room to back off and take a picture of the whole thing.

So let me see if I have this right.

The oven faces the big window behind the spindles? To the right of the table in picture 3 are a few steps down to the back door and something else, and then the stairs take a left turn and go down to the basement, so there are stairs between the spindles & the window?

Is your garage close to your kitchen? If so, could you put a shelf out there to store some seldom used appliances and pans?

It looks to me that your main problem is lack of counter space as well as not enough storage for equipment.

I understand that the spindles are there to allow sunlight into the space while keeping someone from falling over onto the stairs, but when you have kids, something probably has to change. You'll want a baby gate blocking the stairs and either a higher wall with spindles, more spindles, or something else that a child can't climb on and fall through.

And if that is your only dining area, you're going to need it all when you have kids. It looks like there is just enough room for 2 people as it is.

One idea would be to put banquette type benches on the wall under the spindles and under the phone. You could use the cabinet base as storage for your big stuff, and you could still have your table in the corner.

If the lack of counter space bothers you, you could take out the appliance garage and open up that whole corner. I've always wanted an appliance garage but not if I still have to lift the mixer to get it to the appliance garage.

I like your cabinets. From the pictures, they look like they are in good shape and solid wood. I'm too frugal to change out perfectly good cabinets. What is above the cabinets? Is there any usable space up there?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 12:18PM
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Marti8a has nailed the description to a "T". The staircase is behind the spindle wall and goes down. There is a window up above it which lets light in from the backyard.

And you have definately got the part about not being able to take pictures of the whole thing correct! I had a tough time getting the ones I did!

And yes, yes, yes to lack of counter space/storage space for appliances.

As for the appliance garage, I am certainly fine with removing it, however, the way it is set up, the bottom of the cabinets above the appliance garage need to be re-finished. The appliance garage becomes a jumbled mess. And the cabinets above it are where we store many canned goods, flour, pasta, etc, but things EASILY get lost up there.

As for those spindles..there is enough room between them that I don't know if they actually do anything for safety purposes. I was thinking that if I was going to put some sort of cabinets/counter combo, that would be why I would want the wall slightly higher, but not blocking light.

As promised, I will get those measurements to you. I am interested in getting some sort of shelving/moving the round table, etc to make some changes now and getting a plan together for the future.

Anyone live in the metro-Detroit area that wants to come over?? :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 12:30PM
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I just wanted to add that so far I think you guys are wonderful! The kitchen boards are also waiting for me to get a layout, but I think that in general, most of the kitchens over there are bigger and grander than would be approriate for me at this time. I can tell you guys have a lot of creativity and I am loving it.

Someone suggested a shelf on the wall with the phone...do you have a link with a picture? Currently the toaster oven and coffee maker reside in the basement on the small bar (very small bar..that's about all that fits up there).

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 1:36PM
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That kitchen space has so much potential! I'm a fan of small kitchens - probably because ours is 36 square feet. I'm impressed you could snap the photos that you should of your space.

And while I can't give you specific ideas on what you can do in your space, I can show you what we did to remodel ours. We reworked the space to include a dishwasher and oven/microwave combo unit. Then we really started thinking about the details of what we really wanted and needed versus what we didn't. I'll stick a link on the bottom of these comments so you can take a look at what we did.
It's my favorite kitchen now... and it's about 60% smaller than anything we had. So good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: our 36 square foot kitchen

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 2:51PM
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Oh I forget that basements are also useful! (We don't have them here in Texas) Do you have a pantry down there? My knees would revolt at the thought of having to go down there to get something every day, but then you're young and still have good knees. lol

There are probably a lot of creative people on the kitchens forum, but it looks like most of them have a lot of space and money for a teardown and complete overhaul. Most of the people on this board live in small houses because they like it. (Notice I didn't say we, because I have a love/hate relationship with my house.) A lot of us also have tight budgets and you know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. I like looking through the Ikea catalog for ideas on storage and how to live better smaller.

Also, here is a link to a very simple floor plan designer that you don't have to download to use, but you do have to use screen print save to save your design to your computer. I use it because it doesn't need a tutorial, just start using it.
Ashley Room Planner

Others here have suggested the Ikea planner which gives more detail and is 3D which is a good thing too. I haven't used it yet but one day I will download it and read the how to.
Ikea room planner

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 3:03PM
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Oh yes, Katie's design is awesome! She should be able to give you lots of ideas.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 3:05PM
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Marti8a-Yes basements are useful and yes we do have a makeshift pantry, plus the coffee maker/toaster oven. However, this is very frustrating and I don't like storing half my stuff in the kitchen and then storing half in the basement.

I have toyed with the idea of making the little bathroom to the right of the backdoor into either a pantry or desk/storage area (could put cookbooks, rarely used items like vases, a chair for doing bills) or just making it into an entry area (hooks for coats, etc).

DH loves that tiny bathroom though. It is indeed tiny. Just has a toilet and a corner sink and not much wiggle room. If it stays, I need to redecorate that too and I'd need to get a new sink and toilet b/c they are the original from 1957. We do have 2 full baths in the home, so I don't really see the point of keeping it a bathroom. He just likes having the sink there if he is doing yard work. :)

You'll see the bathroom when I make my floorplan but it is not a huge space. Its like 3 ft wide by 5 ft deep or something crazy like that.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 4:18PM
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I am impressed by Katie's kitchen, however her solutions are impratical for me. The problem with my kitchen is its not tiny, but the way the traffic flow is designed and the way it connects to the rest of the house make it hard to accomplish much. A half dishwasher, a microwave that is also an oven, etc...those types of things just wouldn't work for me. But its very neat to look at. :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 4:21PM
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I was thinking something like this only much wider. As wide as you can get on that wall. I can see you have a plug on the wall so might need to cut a hole through the back of the cabinet for that or drop a cord around to the front. Or find a backless cabinet.

My thought of a wider, side to side, cabinet would give you more counter space and room for the microwave. Storage in the bottom and top for food or whatever you need to go there.

If you do have a dinning room space some where else then I fully go with making storage along the short wall maybe adding height to it to make it work.If you go to thrift stores look for a buffet for that wall. It would also work but would not give you the eating counter you need.

think out of the box for storage pieces. I have an old jelly cabinet I married a glass front cabinet to to make a tall storage cabinet that was in my sewing room now moved to my studio.

Agree on the spindles. If they are not needed get them gone. If they can not go away paint them to match the walls.

Wish I was closer to you to come over and play. I love to look at what I have and make it work rather then having to spend big $$$ to buy something. And the link is only a quick picture to get the idea. You probably can find something less expensive to use.


Here is a link that might be useful: Microwave cabinet

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 5:32PM
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Great follow-up! I agree w/removing the spindles ;-) I think open shelving would be really cool there, but I'm not sure how practical it would be since things might fall off the back and down the stairs LOL. But...if you ended up liking open shelving there you could always put a little safety rail across the shelves on the stair side.

This would allow you to have storage in that area but still let in light. I'd suggest storing things that are pretty (serving bowls, wine glasses, decorative bins) and maybe not used often. Building a bench seat below them is a good idea, if you want seating in the kitchen. Then you could stand on it to reach the higher shelves, too LOL!

If you could move your fridge to the wall where the phone hangs, then you'd have more counter space to the left of your stove. Additionally, people coming into the kitchen to get something out of the fridge wouldn't be in the main cooking triangle (if that's an issue for you). For the remaining wall space on the phone wall, a cabinet pantry unit would afford you lots of storage and free up space in your main kitchen area.

If you still want an eating spot, maybe a small table could "float" in front of the space where you currently have the folding table...if you built the bench under the spindle area then folks could sit at the bench and you could provide just one or two additional small chairs. This, again, depends on how large your space is.

If you take out the appliance garage, what will you put in that corner? I have an open corner like that and I keep a plant and knife block on it. My DH is planning to put a shelf across that corner so we can move the plant up and put our dish drainer in the corner.

Okay, just out of curiosity, do you use the stand mixer? I have a hand-held mixer that I use a lot, and an old Bosch food processor that lives under the counter and rarely sees daylight. In a small space you do need to consider if you actually use/need everything you have.

Don't completely disregard the kitchen forum, the folks there are great w/layouts and making efficient use of space.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 6:09PM
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Ok. I see what you mean with the microwave/type cabinet. It has occured to me to put the fridge there, but the doorway is on an angle and I fear that the fridge would be right in the way.

And this is why I need to get that blasted layout drawn. I'll probably be back Thursday as I have class on Wednesdays and I have homework to do tonight and likely tomorrow. :)

And don't worry, I'm not discounting the kitchen forum at all. They are full of knowledge. :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 7:29PM
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OK We will wait for you to return. Study hard. Hope your schooling goes well.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 8:45PM
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Tansunny- You really do have a small kitchen. I actually think the layout isn't too bad and I don't know how you could change the appliances and have much more room. Eventually you might want to add new hardware or replace a few appliances so they match, but there's not a lot of room for anything else in the L-shaped work area.

One thing I would recommend is measuring to see if you could do a built-in L-shaped banquette seating for your table. (I didn't see this mentioned before, but I might have missed it.) You could use just the banquette, or bring up the two chairs and have seating for four. This would allow you to have some storage built in under the banquettes, either with lift up lids under the cushions, or have open storage underneath (which can work well for some things). You can also use slide out baskets for smaller items. I've seen this done on many decorating shows and it's good storage, provides more seating and gives the kitchen some character and charm, depending on fabrics used, type of table and chairs, etc.

If you try something like this, you might find your kitchen works a little bit better, maybe paint the walls or replace a light fixture, countertop or just some hardware. I think it would be an easy fix for now, compared to taking down walls or major remodeling.

I hope you find a way to love your kitchen, because food tastes better when the cook is happy...or so I tell my husband :)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 4:04PM
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even an outline of the walls with measurements would help. mark doors, window, st*airs...

not much can be figured w/o that.

mark doorway to DR, doorway to BDRM etc.

there are professionals on the k*itchen forum - they help for free - so be sure to use them when you do a full r*emodel at least.

besides the spindles, I'd change the pulls/knobs out for something more updated like ORB.

is there more window behind the valances? if so, I'd raise the valances so more window shows.

I also like the idea of putting the trash bin behind a door.

you have 2 full baths in the house? is it single or double story?

maybe dh could put a utility sink in the garage...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 4:39AM
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I haven't forgotten about you guys, but school is getting really hectic as well as its tax time. I'll probably post again around the last week in April/early May.

I am thinking about all of the suggestions.

And to answer some of your questions-it is a one story house:

Currently we have 2 1/2 baths (one with a tub on the main floor, one with a shower in the basement and then the little one that I want to nix).

Our garage is pretty far from the house and would not be feasible for storing kitchen items. I also don't think putting a sink there would be easy/practical.

I like the idea of putting the trash can behind a door, but at the same time, that is also storage space I'd be using. Perhaps under the kitchen sink...I'm not sure how much room I have though.

I don't really like the idea of banquet seating. I really need more counter space, not more eating space. We have an dining area attached the living room (although I wouldn't mind a small two-seater table if someone could point me that way). I can't picture how a banquest would provide good storage (doesn't seem easy to get to stuff?).

Thanks again for all of your replies!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 9:03PM
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