Design Around #20 Post Real Estate REmodels.

palimpsestMay 19, 2012

Post your pictures from the Real Estate listings, and your re-conceived kitchens for those houses in this thread.

Post a before of the kitchen, any other pictures that support your choices, and your new kitchens.

I will start with a simple conceptual one:

This building was a rooming house for single business women for many years. It was converted into condominiums during the last bubble. I felt like the conversion was kind of disappointing because the newly conceived apartments had pretty random finishes as if the contractors' wife tried out different ideas in different apartments, none of which had much to do with the building(s), which still retain the shell of their former architecture and all the associated proportions.

The building is a Greek Revival from the 1830s-40s: The kitchen is a 2000s sort of traditional. I won't comment on the layout but a simple change in finishes would do wonders, I think.

Ann Sacks Calacatta mosaic (many of the vestibules in the neighborhood are small marble mosaics)

Soapstone countertops (black marble fireplaces are common)

BW picture of glass doored cabinet (overlapping ellipses are common in sidelights and transoms)

Plain and Fancy cabinetry

Farrow and Ball wallpaper

Emtek French Antique egg knob

Empire stool from Artistic Frame.

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This house is in Oakland, and I drive past it regularly. The picture doesn't really do it justice. You can see one turret in the back left; there's a second one catty-corner from it in the front right, blocked by the porch. There's a bow window in the front left, and a bay window in the front right onto the porch. There are other buildings on the lot, used for commercial purposes, including Oh My Nappy Hair salon.

The house is a bit of a hodge-podge stylistically. Built in 1930, it strikes me as Craftsman with the front dormer and the porch (and the color scheme), but the details evoke a Queen Anne, with the turrets, bays and bows.

Here's the dining room to give a bit more insight into the style.

Here's the existing kitchen, a sea of cathedral-arched golden oak. The kitchen looks to be maybe 10x10, opening to the DR on one end and with a back door on the far end. The built-in hutch in the DR makes the prospect of opening up the kitchen to the DR an architectural travesty, so I'm going to work with the current footprint.

I took my inspiration from the DR for the cabinet color and the leaded glass inserts. The fireplace tile inspired the use of the gold appliances (yes, I was feeling guilty for my tepid participation in the Avocado and Harvest Gold thread) and yellow tile. Marmoleum seemed appropriate for the era of the house. But I wasn't interested in a truly vintage kitchen, and this one is pretty contemporary, although I tried to carry through the feel from the DR.

Range: Viking Golden Mist
Rangehood from
Kraftmaid cabinets
Floor: Marmoleum Rembrandt Palette
Counter: Santa Cecilia Granite
Rag rug from
Hardware: Acorn yellow ceramic sea grass pulls, Acorn square pulls
Backspash: Japanese tiles from Misson Tile West
Sink: Kohler Whitehaven in Ember
Faucet: Kohler Vinnata
Leaded glass image is from (windows), but Diamond cabs makes glass inserts like these
Wall paint is Benjamin Moore Smoldering Red

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 2:13AM
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Are you sure that the date isn't wrong on the building of the house? The outside I could see as some kind of romantic rustic revival, but those interiors look teens at the latest.

The Kohler ember is one of those colors that I wonder what Kohler is getting at. It's an interesting color but I am not sure how it fits in with a lot of what's going on right now. It seems to fit in with the schemes one sees in the whole green-building-contemporary genre, but in the form of a farmhouse sink?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Palimpsest, I wondered the same thing about the date of the house. The interiors remind me a lot of my own house (1911), so I wouldn't be surprised at all if there was an error in the date provided in the listing. If it was built in 1930, the interior is a throwback.

I also wouldn't expect the Ember color for the sink to have wide-ranging appeal. I had already picked the floor and wall color, and Ember happened to fit in well (I was looking at yellow sinks when I found it, and would have probably done stainless if I had found an image I liked). The Whitehaven sink does come in a bunch of colors I really like, including a robin's egg blue I would have used in the Art DAT if I had known it existed.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:08PM
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I have run across this situation a number of times.

This is a large house in a prestigious neighborhood. At the time this house was built (1850-1860) the kitchen would have been in the basement and tended by staff. When these houses were renovated, one had (still has) the choice of keeping the kitchen in the basement or moving it upstairs, which effectively takes away one of the best rooms in the house. These houses tended to have a front and back room on each floor with a small ell in the back, and some didn't have the ell, because the lots are not deep.

This kitchen is in the English basement: the back yard is dug out slightly lower than the front, so there are a few steps out to whatever yard there is.

This ceiling height appears to be about 7'4'' and the eating area in the back has less height since there is a step. This appears to be a kitchen that utilized help but was family friendly. In this location it would never really be a social spot to entertain guests.

My update is more of the same. I kept it simple but used good materials, and made it look a bit less utilitarian. I did not go for a historic style at all since the modern kitchen was unknown in this period and it's not in the main part of the house. The furniture and Ikat pattern in the eating area are historic although they predate the house by several generations. The sage-y green covered everything in Philadelphia at one time, it seems. Plus it's a color that works well in artificial light.

I did not include appliances. For this residential location I would assume the best, but not anything visually flashy.

Nevamar Crisscross laminate
Zodiaq Coriander
Kraftmaid Maple Willow Amerock Westerly
Amtico Vinyl in Applewood

Surprisingly affordable table/chairs from Great Windsor Chairs and Thibaut Ikat wallcovering for the eating area.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:55PM
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Palimpsest Greek Revival: I think the whites would be a welcome relief from the unremitting beige of the existing kitchen.

Pal Family Friendly Service Kitchen: The Nevamar laminate is really pretty (I continue to be baffled as to why laminate doesn't get more respect). The color match between the backsplash, counter, and cabs is good, while the different textures and pattern add interest. Your kitchen would be much warmer and homier than the original.

Where is everybody? I'm working on another, but I'm pretty slow these days due to other commitments.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 1:28PM
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I hope people see this one, not because of the kitchen design but because of the house. This represents a very rare type of house, one done in a deco/moderne/or international style. There aren't too many houses that were built new in that style here, nor many rehabs of older ones.

This house is a 19th century rowhouse that was modernized in the 1930s-40s into a deco-moderne facade without changing much about the essential volumes of the interior. There are a small number of these, and people have undone some of them and returned the house to its original appearance.

This house was RE-renovated recently and there is not much deco moderne left inside. The handrail actually appears to be a waterfall adaptation of the 19th century handrail and original balusters.

There is nothing all that wrong with the finishes in the newly rehabbed kitchen in the non-GW arena (I won't comment on the layout), but it really doesn't have anything to do with the outside of the house or the deco vestiges of the interior.

This house is on a prestigious block and one would not be surprised to see high end fixtures and finishes, although not all the interiors have them by a long shot. I used some.The house appears staged, with a very odd assortment of furnishings

Ann Sacks Spencer mosaic
Silestone Tao
Walzcraft "Palisades", CornuFe, Amerock

F&B Blue Ground, Holkotter fixture
Artistic Frame klismos,
French Deco Table from Bardin Palomo through 1st dibs

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 4:18PM
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Pal, The black/white/blue color scheme for the deco moderne is beautiful and very appropriate. I like how the intersecting ovals of the tile create almost the illusion of a polygon.

You're picking homes that are in your area, yes? It's interesting how different the housing stocks are. I don't know of any rowhouses in Oakland (lots in San Francisco, but they definitely tend toward Victorian and you virtually never see brick, or unreinforced masonry as we call it here in earthquake country). Here I see lots of boxy, 2-story houses in a Foursquare style, Craftsman bungalows, Spanish Colonial Revival bungalows, nondescript bungalows, Tudors, and Victorians of various styles and vintages. We also have what I refer to as "Hills" homes, most built in the mid-century period in the Oakland hills. For hills homes built on the downhill side of a road, exterior design is almost irrelevant since often all you can see from the road is a garage. Most of the living space is typically one floor down, with bedrooms and family room two floors down. I'm working on a kitchen for one such home now, but have been very frustrated figuring out what to do with it. I just went back to the Golden Oak thread for inspiration (the reason for that will be apparent if I ever post it).

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 8:19PM
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One of the reason I had hoped people would participate in this thread was because of the different housing stock. Where I grew up, there were basically farmhouses, factory houses, fours quares, a smattering of mansions from 1890-1920, a development with cape cods, a development of raised ranches, a development of ramblers, and now, a development of McMansionish. Distinct groups of distinct houses built at distinct times.

Where I live now there is, I think, one fully detached 18th century house in the "city" proper.(There are "country" houses which have since been subsumed by the city itself) The vast majority of houses are rows.

When we had the earthquake last year I was shocked that some things didn't just fall down, (including the gable end wall that I can see in my attic storage space)

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 8:40PM
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Just wanted to stop in to say I have only had time to take a quick glance as it's busy here with school ending in a few weeks. I hope to work on something this weekend, but the few times I've glanced at RE listings I haven't had luck finding anything to inspire me. I'm not sure if I know whether a kitchen fits the "style" of a house, though; for me it's more about whether I like it or not - part of which may be that it doesn't match the rest of the house and I simply don't recognize the elements that make me feel that way.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 6:05AM
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We may be a self contained audience of three, but I found some interesting houses for sale, and I don't do these boards one at a time, so I am going to post it.

Designed by I.M. Pei in the early 60s and built as urban renewal. The exterior is brutalist with only a door on the first level. (Actually there is a slit window tucked under the second floor balcony.) The top floor is a poured concrete cap of grid windows. This was a neighborhood in transition so the house shielded itself from the street, but in good brutalist fashion, the light inside these houses is pretty incredible. They were embraced by the architectural community and modernists but not by the the masses at the time, and the next development was cartoony-colonial (and then back to modernism)

Things I like: a surprising portero marble staircase.
All glass door between kitchen and dining room

Unfortunately some of the original finishes were kind of inexpensive for what these houses are worth now. I upped the ante a bit.
The scale is deceiving. That's a huge double height window.

I would replace the recessed cans with an Ingo Maurer Schlitz up recessed fixture (seen to right of current dining room)

Portero backsplash
Cambria Sanford
Walzcraft Modena door/Bertazzoni
AnnSacks Hacienda concrete tile
Thos. Moser Ellipse Table and Chairs

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 9:39PM
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I think you should sell these.

Sorry you're doing all the heavy lifting at the moment, pal. My schedule is crazy and I bet others are having the same problem. But I figure no rush, these threads can just develop as people find time.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 9:50PM
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Marking so I can find this later....

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:34AM
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These are really some cool places, Palimpsest.

The I.M. Pei redo is great. The stairwell is a knockout! I love the new table and chairs for the eating space. I'd keep the wood floor in the kitchen and use that tile you've picked for the dinning area. I might want the dark marble or other dark stone as the counter though. That marble is so pretty. The cabinets are beautiful too. Every thing is so clean.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:36AM
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So I mentioned in an earlier post that I was working on an Oakland Hills home. The Oakland Hills didn't begin to be significantly built up until the post-war period, and it is one of the few areas of Oakland where you find a lot of mid-century homes.

Like many hills homes built on the downhill side of a road, all you can see of this one from the road is a garage, which doesn't give much clue to the home's style. Inside, the home has a bit of a rustic modern feel with wood ceilings throughout. But the tone of the wood is REALLY orange, and it is paired with white walls and off-white wall-to-wall carpet throughout the house. I found the colors to be relentlessly depressing, and it didn't help at all that the home was photogaphed with no furnishings.

The kitchen looks like it is probably one level down from street level, and you can see from the photo that the kitchen overlooks living area on the third level. Here are a couple shots of the kitchen. You can see they went with more orange toned wood, and it actually fits well with the house, if you like unremitting orange and white. The galley layout is okay, although I might rearrange so that the sink and fridge were on the same side of the range.

So even though I don't love the orange tones of the wood, I thought that it defined the character of the house, so it was staying and I had to work with it. I wanted to add color, but still keep the modern rustic thing going, even playing it up a little.

To work with the orange tones, I referenced the Golden Oak DAT, and took inspiration from Marcolo's brown/neutral kitchen and Mudhouse's manly, bullet-proof kitchen. Here's the result. I did the sink wall. I was going to use a chimney rangehood and oven in the same color as the fridge, and a black induction cooktop.

Jenn-Air Bronze range
Gold-green slate floor (
Kraftmaid cabs cherry in sunset
Emtek Bauhaus pull and Emtek Cadet knob from
Silestone Gedatsu counters
Cucina kitchen copper sink from
Kohler evoke faucet
Backspash is Emenee Ardesia Slate Collection Multi-Dimensional "sticks" quarzite
Wall paint is Behr Swiss Chard
Montana Dining Table from
Kartell Liz dining chair from
O'Thentiques Negro Ragno chandelier (

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 10:50AM
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The IM Pei houses are a really good example of a house that is very difficult to "update" through change. The original kitchen (that's probably it, although that could also be early 80s) isn't all that nice, and the bathrooms that I saw were rather spartan.

The kitchen/dining/den floor has ceilings of about 7'6''or so. The kitchen is a galley. There is a double height living room with a giant window. There is a large, slab-like fireplace.

On the master bedroom floor the windows start at the ceiling and come to about chest high, and they cover the entire exterior wall.

So there is very little that a non modernist could embrace about a house like this. I have seen people try to trick out the kitchens, baths -- and sometimes the living spaces -- with traditional detailing, and they just look really strange.

Some houses you can completely change the character of the interior if you are thorough enough and it looks fine. But the windows and volumes of this house are so far from traditional that I think it's impossible here.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 11:03AM
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I have a feeling that your house is one of those houses that someone would come in and tear down, or change completely.

But for my money I would have all that wood stripped and maybe bleached. That would change the character of it completely: I don't think it started out that orange and shiny:)

To put it into some kind of perspective, the wood "core" of Farnsworth House, which is some kind of medium-toned exotic wood in matte finish, was stained a purplish mahogany with a shiny topcoat at the time Edith Farnsworth died, I read somewhere.

Your example is one of those houses though where I think a more contemporary cabinet and appliances as you have shown would look better than the originals did.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 12:39PM
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I doubt that this would be a tear-down, unless it has significant structural defects. At $439,00, it is pretty cheap for a hills home, but not so cheap that I can see someone having enough money to do a tear-down/rebuild (if they had that much money, they could easily buy something nicer with a better view). More likely, this home would be a stretch purchase by someone trying to get into a better school zone.

I took the ceiling as a constraint, since it was really the only bit of character that the house had. I agree, however, that the home would be much improved (pretty cost-effectively) by stripping and bleaching the ceiling (was the shiny orange an 80s "upgrade," do you think?). Replacing the wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood or tile would also do a lot to update. Beyond that, I would look at changing out the windows, which are mostly single-glazed aluminum-frame sliders (as a bonus, this would imrove the energy efficiency of the house).

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 2:56PM
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Cawaps- Maybe not 'era appropriate' but I'd leave the paneling, wood and beams and just paint the ceiling. I like that style, but would want to lighten up the area between the beams.

On a less serious note...wouldn't it be fun to use avocado or harvest gold appliances? :)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 3:26PM
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I am not sure I would put hardwood floors in because I would feel like I was living in a wood sandwich.

I would maybe do large format tile, or do a really monolithic floor like poured epoxy or one of the linoleums that has a completely uniform color. I would have no problem with carpet in the bedrooms, but I would do a supershort velvet cut or something like that.

I think that colored appliances would look great, and stainless would be good too.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 3:35PM
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Lavender, while I understand the sentiment, I don't like the idea of painting over woodwork because it is hard to ever go back. Also, this partcular house has good light and pretty high ceilings (especially for a mid-century home), and the ceilings don't seem terribly claustrophobic to me.

I have a friend who has a hills house with even more woodwork than this one. Ceiling & walls, all in the same wood. Very lodge-like. I couldn't live there, but I wouldn't buy it and paint over it, I'd just look for a home more to my taste. My friend seems happy with it.

I did use Harvest Gold in my first one--the Rustic Romantic Revival one (since Pal kindly gave me an appropriate label for the style). I guess it is more appropriate for mid-century, but I don't think I could have done the whole orange/gold/green package again.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 3:43PM
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Like the earlier DAT threads, I am reading this DAT thread carefully. I find it particularly interesting for the focus on somehow being 'true' to the house while also being 'true' to contemporary tastes.

My thoughts (with the caveat that I have no design sense or background knowledge, except what I've learned from all of you):

- Greek revival, I find your choices lovely and serene
- 1850-1860, I think the choices would not have worked as well if the Ikat wall covering was not there. It was needed to add brightness to the space
- deco-moderne facade, much better than the existing kitchen, the Ann Sacks Spencer mosaic tile is beautiful.
-IMPei - my absolute favorite, beautiful choices that fit the house.

- Oakland, 1930s, major improvement from the current kitchen. I did find myself wishing that the new cabinets were a reflection of the built-in hatch in the adjoining room
- MCM, I thought your tile and slate choices worked well for the house. It did seem to me the browns of the appliances and counters were too dark and the chairs too orange

Thank you both for your contributions and your very interesting discussions. I think these threads provide an incredible insight into how design decisions are made and ultimately, how personal the decisions often are.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 3:54PM
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I've not found a house to re-do...but I'm enjoying reading all the posts. So much wisdom! I suppose I could use MY had a less than fab remodel in the early-to-mid 1990's. I can't afford to move much in the way of plumbing (though we are exploring moving the stove)...

Here's the house: arrrrgh. My web albums aren't loading. Sigh. I'll try again later.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:30PM
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While the two older houses I posted would be pretty amenable to a fair amount of leeway in kitchen design since they have both been remodeled so extensively anyway, the modernist I posted and the one that cawaps posted really wouldn't. These houses have such strong senses of identity that trying to do something too different (or too "traditional) would just not look right. "It's your house, do what you love!" would be a very bad piece of advice in this case. I would tell them to sell the house and buy one that was more compatible with what they wanted.

Several years ago I went on a Realtor's house tour (various houses on sale, different price points and different types)

On the tour,there was an apartment in one of these buildings. (Very Bob Newhart, right? --Bob the therapist and Emily in Chicago, not Bob and Joanna in Vermont). And although the Living Room and Bedroom were heavily decorated they looked like this:

And in the corner, fully open to this brown 1970s modern apartment was a miniature version of this, a full-on Clive Christian butter-yellow, chandeliered, corbeled island, glass door SubZero kitchen. (The cabinetry style shown)

If anything, it was More elaborate because it was packed into a smaller footprint and the granite was this incredibly active swirly stone with double-ogee edges.

The homeowner certainly did what she loved with her kitchen, but that didn't make it right. Not all things are relative.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:30PM
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Hey--what program are y'all using to cut-and-paste the re-dos?


    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:38PM
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mjsee, I'm using a free online application called Olioboard ( There's more information on several of the many ways people do these boards, including Olioboard, in the thread below. It isn't all high-tech graphics--I think Palimpsest just posts individual pictures in the order he wants. Other options using common software include Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

Olioboard is nice in that you can often strip the background from an image (depending on the contrast, black or white backgrounds are easiest), and then layer images one over the other so it looks like the chair is really in front of the table. On the other hand, I haven't figured out how to use it to change the color of a cabinet or to stretch an image, which Word does with ease.

I hope you find time to give it a try!

Here is a link that might be useful: About the Design Around This threads

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:59PM
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Here, for your professional perusal, is a brand new Parade of Homes house I panned on this board at least 2 years ago. It's still unsold. It's in a snitzy area north of St. Paul, Minn. and is priced at $1.6 mil. Yet the kitchen-dining area stinks. Try a food prep walk through (sorry there isn't a photo of the work area) and note the tight areas and yet the hikes. Also note that there are two sinks but only one in the prep area.

Biggest problem is that it has a monster island so large that you can't reach across to wash and the aisle alongside the range is cramped. Additionally, it's got a problem with dual-focus in the eating area--should the view in the t.v. bumpout be the focus or the fireplace? How likely is it that, as-is, people will likely sit in the t.v. area for most meals (which I think is scary)? And where should informal eating take place and how about formal eating?

I have thought that the island should be shrunk down--perhaps sliced in half down the middle to allow access to the back side of the island. This sacrifices the built-in bench, which was more clever than thoughtful and no loss. I would also increase the walkspace in aisle on the back side so that two caterers or a family could move about more comfortably in area by range. There should probably be stool seating at the island(s).

The monster light fixture over the the island echoes the range hood--a virtue, I suppose--but there's no ta-dah in the table area, only three lonely minipendants. Symmetry and lines trumped functionality in this design.

Pantry cabinetry and beverage station are opposite facing the refrigerator wall. The only windows viewing the swamp/wetland outside are in the sink corner and in the "fam room" t.v. bumpout adjacent to the table. The general walkpath is along the wall with the bev. station--keep going past the range wall and you're in the garage. A second one enters on the far side of the fireplace and slices off the t.v. seating area from the rest of the room. Obviously, the fireplace has another hearth on the back side in the (nearly cramped) living room.

The browns and yellow-cream dominate and there is no significant accent color. Not only that but I don't recall that there's much no-nonsense light, only yellowish-cream mood light from these fixtures. The exterior is what, French chateau or something? and the interior is Arts and Crafts, sort of, with some mod items like the pendant lights.

What would you do to make the kitchen functional for more than one cook, make the room serve large and small groups of eaters, bring the outside in, and add some life to the room? Can you do it on a budget or is this gonna need total redesign, some windows, and cost some big money?

Here is a link that might be useful: house for sale

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:44PM
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Price per square foot, it would be a steal around here. It's less than my condo is up for and I am low ppsf. for the neighborhood.

The basic volume of the exterior of the house at least shows consistency, but everything about the windows is wrong. From a technical standpoint of style, it's generally not a good idea to give different roof forms the identical pitch and it looks like they did that here, which makes the outline form very static.

I've seen beautiful kitchens in this style, symmetry and all, but this isn't one of them. This color combination is one of my bad synesthesia combos, but beyond that, it's really an awfully bland and dull kitchen for having so much going on. The lighting for the most part looks like they ran out of money. I can't even really discern the idea behind the layout other than "symmetry + big island". I don't think this could be solved on a budget. As much as I don't care for the house in general it does has some pretty substantial finishes in it, so a kitchen remodel would be really pricey.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 10:04PM
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Around the time the I M Pei houses were being built there was another center of urban renewal some blocks west. The I M Pei houses were built in a cleared warehouse/commercial area between the gentrified parts of Society Hill and the Delaware.

The house below was the first phase of new urban development in a neighborhood where the historic houses were just starting to be renovated. The neighborhood was more dangerous, and more for the next wave of urban pioneers. One of the ideas for this plan was to design these houses for a step down on the socioeconomic ladder from the Society Hill demographic. This plan was studied by Bryn Mawr again in the 1990s.

The perimeter houses were built, and a smattering of others, but the interior of the block was developed (at higher density than planned) using a different architect. The result is some weirdly scaled "colonials" instead of modernist houses. (I bought one of the colonials on a contingency that expired, so I have nothing against them, but they are funny looking).

So are these: I am not quite sure what the architect was thinking with the exteriors. Or maybe it's the execution.
Before you make too much fun, I know the owner of this house and I own a house by the same architect (looks nothing like this):)

I am going to post the house first and the kitchen later.

Street Elevation

Plan and Elevations of this house.

The reality, early 1990s. I don't think painting the exposed cast cement portions bright colors helps. At this point the recessed doors on the red-brick houses are mostly caged for security.

The houses today: I think the current owner painted the racing stripe? I once thought these were the two ugliest houses in the neighborhood, but I keep redefining what ugly is and/or they have been surpassed. Even though the neighborhood is decent now, there is a bus stop at this corner, and it's a convenient corner for tra nsex ual ho okers to hang out. "We're just waitin' for the the bus, officer". That and the area right behind this is a series of residential walkways designed in that utopian period when it was thought that urban dwellers would give up their cars, (snort). The girls can just run down the walkways and get away from the patrol car. So the nearly windowless side of the house is lit like a billboard. My house is not far from here. I think those concrete belltower/chimneys deserve some interesting chimney pots.

The inside:

Living Room and Studio/Terrace. They enclosed the terrace, I would reopen it. That's not an optical illusion, the walls slant.

Stairwell- Front Lightwell

Eat-In Kitchen

Considering these houses are really narrow and only have windows on two sides, the light really penetrates to the interiors because of how the windows are placed. The view out the back is somewhat compromised because it was meant to be the near-windowless sides of other houses, and instead it is the backs of houses, and their patios, so things are all walled off.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 8:34PM
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Pal, on that townhouse above, note the pathetic little flower pots sitting on the sidewalk. This facade needs pizazz. Is there a way to mount some kind of flower boxes on the windows above? And to drill some into the window-less side wall (assuming that there is an exterior water source for watering them). And I'd add another racing stripe or two. Also, consider painting the window trim a real color.

I don't know anything about brick buildings...Is it possible to put windows into that side wall? Otherwise the wall needs something--a supergraphic? An Obama sign? A massive banner? Flagpoles extending laterally with flags and/or banners hanging high over the sidewalk?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 9:48AM
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I've been looking at Cawaps's orangey wood MCM posting. Congrats for making a new thing of it, Cawaps, but I personally believe it's sad and wasteful to tear out a floor and functional cabs. I'm thinking that addressing the cab wood finish, as Palmpsest suggested, would be helpful--perhaps getting a stronger brown or, as we did in my new kitchen, going with an unstained oak that has neither orange nor golden tones (although I don't know if it's possible to return to that once the oak has been stained and aged). Cawaps introduced dark bronze in hardware and in
sink, faucet, appliances, and light fixture--this really improved the am't of contrast in the color scheme.

I'm going to revamp that same kitchen but with a different redo.

Assume the cabs are the originals but somehow stripped and restained to pull that orange down a number of notches and to add more brown. Accents are shiny or matte silvery metal and a color I've chosen for my own kitchen, a "burnt terra cotta" red-brown but without any hint of orange.

I'd redo the doors of many of the uppers so they frame a pane of thick pebbled glass with strong vertical lines, perhaps rounded vertical lines.
This is Bendheim's "Eco Glass Pyramid"

a cabinet glass with a strong messy ice pattern to it--
this is Bendheim's "European Clear River Ice Vertical" (This won't work if the cabinet grain is too similar--I'd choose the vertical lined glass instead)

My goal with the cabinet glass is to add twinkle and texture through a glass component, which I want to pump up even more by adding thick glass in the light fixtures. That existing globe light doesn't serve to light up anything, just shines downward a bit and glows in the angled area above the door for ambiance. Well, heck with that. Let's get some lights that really light something. Electrical connections may require re-doing the wood on the ceiling in this area, or running wires discretely down the channels between ceiling boards.

First, put in undercab lights wherever there are upper cabs.
Next, because I assume those three white short pendant pillars are the lighting for the sink area, let's replace them with some short, chunky glass pieces. If these lights aren't really in the proper place to illuminate the countertop, they will have to be mounted in a new place, farther up the ceiling.

Across the slanted ceiling, let's put in three of these to give the ceiling some twinkle--one over the entranceway hallway where the existing balloon light currently resides, one over the center of the space, and one on the side toward us in the photo. (Cut this down to two if there isn't sufficient space.) Each one should be aligned differently so the swirls are different. Result will be that the ceiling has chrome sparkle in the day when light enters in downstairs room and little powerful lights after dark to give the area its own lumination no matter how many lights are on or off in living room.

They are e2 Lighting's e2-00481 Centre Light

I have surfed the web a bit tonight looking for my ideal little pendant and have struck out for now (the ones I've found can't be shortened or they're in a set), but this will give you an idea of what I'm seeking...

This is by LBLighting from

I assume that's Formica in the original. What about a new laminate countertop that's in a buffed aluminum pattern? It will add another texture and will pick up on the color of the chrome without being shiny.

This is Formica's "Aluminum Crush2." If you don't like the heavy buffing in this sample, you can find many tamer faux aluminum laminates. Run the laminate up the wall for a backsplash too.

Choose stainless steel appliances and get a dramatic range hood in stainless to take the place of the cabinet over the range. Get a chunky stainless sink of your choice, Ikea is fine, and find a shiny chrome mod faucet that suits your taste and usage. If you want a Kohler Stages sink and a Karbon faucet, this kitchen can take them, once the lighting is improved.

Use these cabinet knobs: "Zen" #G-25 (2-3/8 in.) CKP Brand Clear Zen Glass Knob with Aluminum Base (

Now, about the floor. I want it to have personality. If it can be lightened more than the cabs, that would be good--it will cut the heavy sameness of the room. Otherwise, how about a wood inlay border in that burgundy-brown-red accent color? Pricey but good. OR, get out the paints and paint an 8-inch border with silvery paint, the red paint, and a grey paint.

Finally, put a piece of art over that door at the end of the kitchen and another one over that shallow cab or whatever it is. I suspect abstract paintings will click with the owner, or a funky photo. "Ripples, Oceanside, California: is by Hal Robert Myers at

And no orange or gold or avocado items, please.

Here is a link that might be useful: example of a wood inlay border with the red tone

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 12:44AM
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Florantha, based on the hinges on the original orange cabinets, I figure they date back to at least the 70s, and could even be original to the house. While I agree that it is a shame to tear out perfectly good cabinets, in my experience most cabinets that are more than 30 years old don't qualify as "perfectly good." In some ways my century old kitchen cabs are perfectly good, but I get tired of the wooden drawer slides and the sawdust in my cake pans (from the friction of the wood slides). Also, everything sticks.

I guess my point is that I was assuming the cabinets weren't perfectly fine, even though they might look that way in the pic, simply based on vintage. And even if they are perfectly fine, that doesn't mean the owner wouldn't covet concealed hinges, full extension drawer slides, soft close, oh, and all drawers.

Your take on the house is the opposite of my rustic modern take, and as a result, I find the lighting fixture and glass hardware a bit blingy for the rustic vibe I got. (I do agree that the lighting needs changing, and I managed to forget about the pendants when I did mine). But the glass doors would be very pretty, and I like the slightly industrial look of the "aluminum" laminate.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 3:03PM
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Pretty basic, this one. The floor would be a budget buster, but it is hard to find something with a pattern that expresses itself through different materials, which is one of the ideas of brutalism. Linoleum would be a budget option but I couldn't settle on one.

Ann Sacks Clodagh Primitive tile
Zodiaq Bianco Carrara

Andy Fleishman Terrazzo through Ann Sacks. Walzcraft Hurst Door, Bosch Integra Range
Parma Grey, Sonneman Transparence Fixture.
Room and Board Doyle chair, Brody table.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 4:35PM
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First, I think that might be a pink wall oven.

Second, I kind of like the original lighting. I would want to see what that orange ball was made of. I think you could get *cleaner-looking versions of the cylindrical pendants: the component parts of them look a bit heavy, but I would replace them with modern versions in kind.

Florantha, I think your selections would look better in the modernists that I posted, particularly the second brutalist. I don't think the wood clad ceiling can be dressed up quite so much...

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 5:18PM
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Pal, I had taken the range for bisque or something similar, and attributed the pink to bad lighting. Pink is not a color I would have paired with those cabinets. The house is 1957, though, so pink was definitely an option.

Florantha commented that the lighting above the sink might not be properly positioned to illuminate the couter (it's mounted in the opening, past the back edge of the counter). I was thinking that if you are going to keep the lights where they are, something directional might do a better job of lighting the counter. Something like this

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 11:29PM
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It doesn't look to me like the cooktop and oven match, and the counters look pink, but there also looks like there is pink light coming in through the front doors so who knows?

I think something like the above would work well...the black and coppertone.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 8:31PM
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Topan Pendant (Hive Modern)------------Tube Pendant (DWR)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 8:44PM
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    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 9:32PM
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Have the DAT threads died off?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 1:49PM
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I certainly would like to revive them sometime, but this particular thread with the real estate remodels had such dissapointing participation. I'm not sure if people were just busy right then, or if they had lost enthusiasm for the DATs, or if the topic just wasn't engaging (although there had seemed to be interest in past discussions).

Regardless, it was hard to work up any enthusiasm for coming up with a next topic when only Pal and I were doing boards. It seemed like we needed a break so folks could come back fresh.

I was also incredibly busy at the time, trying to wrap up two projects at work so I could go on vacation at the end of June. I'm less busy now, and could probably find time to contribute to a new thread.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:02PM
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I love the threads, but spring was a difficult and busy time for me with work, a bathroom/bedroom renovation and surgery. Good news is that I just started a year off work to focus on my kids, house and health, so I'm sure I can fit more DAT time in. Let's see what other people think - even if there are just 6 or 7 active participants, I think that is sufficient for an engaging discussion. Anyone else ready to play again?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:34PM
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Honestly, this seemed like a lot more work than me your favorite blue kitchen. Or maybe your favorite country kitchen, etc. If the subject is easy...I think we see more participation. Otherwise, I think it starts to feel like a class on design. Interesting, but maybe something to watch and learn from, not really offer up ideas. Just my two cents...

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:58PM
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Actually, I don't find displays of inspiration pics of very much value. I think the DAT format is great--people just got busy. At the moment I have a box full of my own 49898 yellow paint chips to contend with.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:06PM
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Can I post a DAT for my own house? I need ideas!

Actually, I have a lot of ideas, and that's the problem. My 1905 Victorian/Craftsman/shingle-style house could go a lot of directions, and I lack a compass.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:37PM
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Marcolo, the only design board you should be working on is your own. Although we do miss your contributions.

If we want to pick a new topic, here is the idea list again:

Knotty pine
Metal cabinetry
Interesting tile (we can do this one over and over)
Marmoleum graphic series
Back-painted glass
Commercial Kitchens/Restaurant Supply

Defining the Home
Spanish Colonial Revival
Prarie School
Beach House
Mash-up house (what do you do with a house that is already a mash-up of styles, like a Mission-style Queen Anne)

Theme/Decorating Styles
Starting from clothing fashions as your inspiration pic, design a kitchen that suits the era/mood/style

Budget/Supply restrictions
$10K budget
Ikea kitchen (all Ikea?)
Mail order kitchen
Home Depot kitchen
Architectural salvage/upcycle/recycle

Define the People
Mid-life crisis bachelor (or cougar) pad
Rabid sports fan wants to decorate in team colors

Presentation Strategies that Can Be Combined with Other Choices
This/Not That (Good taste/bad taste, works/doesn't work)
High/Low (same look, different budgets)

What is design around this all about?
About the Design Around This threads

What we have done so far:
1) Apple Jasper
2) Colonial Revived
3) 1920's Kitchens and All That Jazz
4) Formica Patterns are Coooool!
5) Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican
6) I'm Dreaming of a White Kitchen, But...
7) Victorian/Queen Anne
8) Animal 'Prints'
9) Keeping the Golden Oak
10) Tarting Up a Tudor (posted as #9)
11) Pink for the Present Day & Part 2
12) 1960s tract house
13) French Country
14) Rustic Modern
15) Hollywood Regency and Background
16) Yellow Kitchens and Background
17) Steampunk and Background
18) Art of Kitchen Design and Background
19) A-a-h-vocado & Gold and Background--Chestertown Buff & Rosemary Sprig
20) Real Estate REmodels and Background--In the Market for a new kitchen

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Circus Peanut

I have always loved these threads and especially the community intent that inspired them. I too am guilty of Life getting in the way of being able to devote much time to them in the past few months.

But would love to throw a few idea boards around again, perhaps when this heat wave is over and we all stop sticking to the keyboard?

Anenemity ('an enmity'? 'anenome-ity'?) --
"My 1905 Victorian/Craftsman/shingle-style house could go a lot of directions, and I lack a compass." I've been very sporadic of late and fear I've missed your posts, but would love to exchange ideas with you as I begin my own shingle-style Vic-craftsman kitchen in the next few weeks. I'll schnuffle around and find yours.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:18PM
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Hi everyone -

I'm sorry I disappeared, had trouble finding a listing to work with, and then work got horribly busy. . .

But I love doing these, as I don't get to be creative elsewhere. I would definitely participate again!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Circus Peanut

Speaking of real estate kitchens, was browsing an otherwise completely inauspicious 1901 house in my area, and found a surprise kitchen: steel turquoise cabinets, square white tile and white porcelain drainboard sink from the 1950's.

This is an example of someone who really really wanted an aesthetic the rest of the house just didn't support -- but now it's 60 years on, and the turquoise era seems "authentic" in its own right. Plus, the rest of the house has not been kept to period. So how would one approach a kitchen like this? What to do about an interesting, inappropriately hip retro kitchen in a blah Victorian?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:45PM
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Aiiieee! I dont object to the metal cabinets or the turquoise, but you can see a toilet from the range, and the layout appears to really awful--lots of doors, not enough long stretches of wall, and no counter on at least one side of the range.

Layout problems are hard to address in a DAT, since all you have is a couple pics and no floorplan. I think that this is a kitchen where an the benefits of an update would be 90% about layout and 10% (at most) about finishes and appliances.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 6:57PM
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Circuspeanut- I love that kitchen! It's a time capsule, within a time capsule. LOL It would be fun to try and redo that kitchen as a DAT (although I don't know if anyone else would like that idea) but to take the house and the kitchen pictures and then come up with a style that works.

Or...take an exterior of an early 1900s home and find a retro kitchen picture and bring it up to date...or not. It could be 1950s retro...or anything from 1900s to 1970s. That might be fun, too :)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 7:28PM
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CP - I've been hanging around but not posting much, especially on my own kitchen, which is kind of in a state of permanent temporary-ness. My handle is a purposeful misspelling of "anonymity." It's a long and stupid story.

That kitchen is adorable aesthetically but probably a functional nightmare.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 8:09PM
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Anenemity- Do you want to volunteer your kitchen for the 'Mash-up house'? The last option, under Defining the Home, in Cawaps list? It's when a house is a (sometimes confusing) combination of styles.

At one point, there was some discussion about doing a GW kitchen...but whoever did it, would have to be pretty thick-skinned and realize that a lot of the designs may not be what they're looking for, in their kitchen. It might be fun, though :)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 9:26PM
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Absolutely, LL! I'm working on it now :)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 9:55PM
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I'm glad to see that interest in the DAT threads hasn't completely died off. I too have been extremely busy and between time constraints and not as much interest in this particular topic just did not get around to contributing.

I'm really interested in the following.
- Spanish Colonial Revival
- Eclectic
- Beach House
- Bold/Patterned Tile - So many people come here with desires to use bold or patterned tile, only to conclude they can't make it work with their other design choices and then switch to a subdued tile. I would love to see some designs with some of the amazing bold or patterned tiles.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:54AM
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I agree about the bold tile suggestion, it could be very helpful to many here I think, certainly to me. Beach house could be fun too.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 11:03AM
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We've always said it's never too late to post to a DAT, and I'm testing that theory.

I've been working on this one since May. The house is another Oakland hills home, but definitely a nicer one than the one I previously posted. This one is on the uphill side of the road and so has an exterior elevation worth looking at.

Here is a shot of the living area with the dining room in the background. The kitchen is through the door at the back of the dining room. The living room is all neutrals, but the kitchen walls are green and the bedrooms were all painted shades of blue, green and aqua.

Here's the kitchen and the room past the peninsula:

It looked to me as if the homeowner spruced up the kitchen for sale by painting the cabinets white and putting in new black counters. But the black and white seem too stark to me compared to the rest of the house, and with the large west-facing window, the kitchen gets a LOT of light, and it just makes the black and white more stark.

Now, if I really bought this house, I would probably live with the kitchen indefinitely. This design is more about what I thought the homeowners should have done if they were staying, and I riffed off their design choices elsewhere in the house.

I wanted the kitchen to be a bit softer, and transitional between the neutrals of the public spaces and the water colors of the rest of the house. The cabs read a bit pinker than I wanted; I was going for a creamy neutral. I took out the uppers on the outside wall and the suspended cabinets over the peninsula. I left the layout the same otherwise, including the cooktop on the peninsula, however questionable that may be, although if it is feasible (couldn't tell) I would look to moving it to the interior wall.

The adjacent space beyond the peninsula looks like it was intended as a breakfast nook but with the dining room and peninsula seating already, more space for eating seemed like overkill. Since the deck is off that room, it seemed like it would be nice to have a space that worked for indoor/outdoor entertaining. So I turned it into living space. What I wanted to do, but didn't have enough energy to do a board for, would be to do a wet bar at the far end of the room, behind where the white loveseat is. The room also has what looked to me like mirrored closet doors, which I replaced with something I liked better.

So below I did board for the window wall, a view of the peninsula, and the living area facing the interior wall.

Kraftmaid cabinets, maple in canvas
Counter: Silestone Unsui
Kohler Iron/Tones sink in Palermo blue
Heath tile robins egg blue
Kohler Purist faucet
Maytag dishwasher
Paint Benjamin Moore Acadia Green
White oak wood floors

Wolf gas cooktop
Rangecraft Landau range hood

angelo:HOME Ennis Shoreline 3 piece sofa collection (, only used 2 pieces
C.R. Laine Pendleton chair in Kyoto Wasabi
Abaca ottoman ( (this is just like the one in the existing LR, although I didn't do that consciously)
Target Andres seagrass barstools (I picked these before the ottoman and now I think it's too much seagrass, but I didn't have the energy to look for replacements)
Closet door pic from
Both paintings are from, Energy, and The Rose and the Nightingale.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 1:08PM
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Cawaps, so pretty! I knew it was you before I saw the "posted by cawaps" entry. I really like the colors -- so soothing yet engaging. What color is that dishwasher?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 6:42PM
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Angie, the DW is bisque.

Now that I've got that last board out of my system, I think I'm finally ready to move on from this topic to something else.

I'm okay with bold/patterned tile. I'm never sure how restrictive to be with these, but I've been enjoying ae2ga's "Only One Clown" thread, and based on that I was thinking of specifying square tile with a pattern in at least two colors. This would capture things like ae2ga's tile, talavera tile, and a lot of the Mission Tile West tiles (among many others), but wouldn't include tile that gets pattern from the shape of the tile (like arabesque or star and cross). I'm not sure if that's too restrictive or not restrictive enough. Do we exclude mosaics? Limit it to repeating patterns rather than stand-alone decorative tiles? What do you think?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 10:19PM
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Cawaps: Did you have a choice in mind for the fridge? I suppose with the stainless rangetop and hood you could default to a SS fridge, too. Is that what you had in mind?

One reason I am so curious is that I wanted to get bisque appliances in my own kitchen. I really couldn't get a bisque fridge in the configuration I wanted (CD French door), and range choices were limited, so I gave up on the idea. It seems that you may have made a bisque DW work, however.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 11:37PM
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I didn't really give the fridge any thought, since I was focused on the window wall and the fridge obviously wasn't going there. I don't know. The listing included a reverse shot that showed a stainless fridge and wall oven, and stainless would be the conventional choice. But Maytag has a French door fridge in bisque (not CD), so that might work. If I wanted to go all-in high end, I'd probably do a paneled fridge and dishwasher.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:54AM
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Bumping this one last time to see if there's any additional discussion as to what should be the next DAT. If not, I'll probably go ahead and post the discussion thread for the next DAT tomorrow, based on what I said in my Sat, Jul 28, 12 at 22:19 post, bold/patterned tile

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 1:35PM
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