Please Help - Need Advice

melace112June 22, 2014

Ok, getting ready to renovate my kitchen and the balance of the cabinetry is really throwing me off. I don't like the asymmetrical way the cabinets look on either side of the windows. I am looking for some creative advice here because I really don't know how to replace the cabinets if I don't know how to even it out a bit. I am not doing a major renovation (moving windows, plumbing and so on). I would love ideas involving cabinetry. The stove is on the other side that it is hard to see.

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Your best bet to achieve symmetry may be to get rid of the uppers (and soffit?) on that wall, and install a chimney style hood. Can you afford to lose the storage? It would certainly make the area feel spacious and open if you could do that, and use a focal point pretty backsplash.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:09PM
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Take it from me: Unless you want the biggest mess *ever*, do not remove the soffits. I did, thinking I wanted 42" uppers to go all the way to the ceiling. I should have left well enough alone.

If I had my kitchen reno to do over again, I'd take photos of every cabinet, the whole kitchen and measurements (down to 1/4 inches) and take it all to a big box store or Ikea to get some ideas - and prices.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:43PM
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I disagree that removing soffits is a mistake. It all depends if there's stuff in there or not. Mine were purely cosmetic and easily removed. Just look inside them and see what you're in for before deciding you can or cannot completely remove them.

It would help if you post a picture from farther away so we can see the entire kitchen and how all the uppers look.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 11:16PM
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No disrespect to you tomatofreak but I could not disagree with you more about removing the soffits. The 3 things that made the most impact on our kitchen remodel was removing 2 walls to open it up to the lr/dr, removing the soffits and discovering toe kick heaters. We only had 1 small outlet in our soffits so moving the wires for that was no big deal at all. I guess it could certainly be a much bigger project if you have to deal with plumbing or hvac though. Especially in our smallish space, removing the soffits gave much needed breathing room to the space.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 5:49AM
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I am in the remove soffit camp. My kitchen is so much nicer without the soffits. The first GC said no. The second one said no problem. It cost about a thousand to remove the soffits but made other things easier as the whole ceiling was open.
The 3 things that made the most impact
Soffit removal
Lots of lights

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 6:31AM
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20 years ago we did a mini remodel. We removed all the cabinets (temporarily) and removed the soffit. It was empty. DH fixed some drywall and we put the cabinets back. It made a big difference in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 7:34AM
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OK, I will retreat - partially. As TexasPenny said, it all depends on what is in there! If it's just an empty box, by all means, take 'em out. It the soffits are full of wires and insulation, it's another ball of wax - or, in our case, HUGE mess - entirely. It was worth it to take out the soffit and hanging cabinets between kitchen and family room; it opened up the space beautifully. However, I'd have left the soffits on the back walls alone. That was *not* worth it.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 2:11PM
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I am posting a few more pics. I appreciate all of the info you all are so helpful!! I have no idea what is inside of them. I guess the only way to tell would be to talk DH into opening them up. I am not sure if I am adventurous enough to do that, but I am really hating the symmetry problems I am having!!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Another pic. I also forgot to add, I really cannot loose anymore storage. I am in a ranch style home and I actually just pulled the hallway into my kitchen (the island you see in the last pic I posted, basically where I am standing when I took that pic) is updated to the cabs I like and style I want to achieve in the main part of the kitchen. I was so desperate for more storage, I had to do it. Now I am struggling with the rest of the kitchen. BTW, the box you see in the wall is where my microwave pulls out from, lol! Previous owners were very creative.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 2:34PM
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Here is the section I finished. This pic is right before we added the granite in the middle. But, you get the idea. I am trying to pull that hall into the kitchen (the blue counter you see in the pic is the large island that is pictured above).

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Can you post an overhead sketch, showing the dimensions of the space, location of doors and windows, and what the adjacent rooms are? You have a lot going on in a very small space, and there may be a better way to integrate that space, if we could put it in perspective.

What do you have in the new cabinets?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 3:00PM
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In our renovation we removed the soffits and replaced the cabs to the ceiling. Since the kitchen was below the master bath, we were concerned with what we might find in the soffits. It turns out they were completely empty. I was able to drill holes at the end of each run and have compete visibility with the use of a flashlight. I just used a hole saw drill bit like the URL below. I took some clear packing tape and taped the removed piece back on the hole until we were ready for demolition. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Hole Saw Bit

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 3:09PM
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Simplest solution would be to take down the shelves and cornice around the sink as well as the cabinet over the range and install a distinct vent hood instead of the under cabinet job. You can do that without too much worry about the soffit -- you just need to make sure you have the duct clearance for the vent.

If removing the soffits is of interest, there is a lot of detective work you can try to see if you can get an idea of what might be in them. I would start with attic or/or basement and see what lines are visible going up or down in those spaces. Of greatest interest will be water, gas and AC/heating. Electric is both more likely to be in the joists and easier to move if not. Run water or flush toilets and listen. In our case, we also hired a plumber and paid a service call to have them help us verify the location of the main drain line and the direction of the sink drain towards it. They were happy -- it was an easy call and no dirty work. ;)

We also did a small hole in the ceiling where we had a drop down light box and over the location where our cooktop is now (both places we knew we would be doing repair anyway) to verify the location and direction of the joists. We were able to figure out what we needed to verify both water and venting issues.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 4:40PM
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Welcome to the Kitchen's Forum Melace112!

I agree with removing soffits, even if you have move some things or you have to put in a much smaller soffit (like we did).

I also think the idea of a chimney hood should be explored since the the cabinet above the range right now looks out of place and sort of put in just to hide the hood innards! There aren't any other upper cabs around it to make it look part of the whole.

I would also remove the valance b/w the upper cabinets flanking the sink (the diagonal corner cab on the left and the cab above the range).

For the left side of the sink, I would consider replacing the diagonal corner cabinet with one of the following:

(1) An upper cabinet for the left wall that dies into the window wall - no "turning the corner".

- - or - -

(2) An "easy reach" cabinet - it's a corner cabinet that has a 90-degree corner; the depth of the shelves is the same as that of any other upper cabinet - think of an "L"

Both will give you more useful storage. Personally, I would probably do #1, but it would be nice to see the entire floor plan to see how it would look.

Where is the DW (assuming you have one)?

Can you extend the cabinets & counter further into the room to the right of the range?

Regarding the soffit. We removed most of our soffits. The one that ran along the inside wall had major plumbing & electrical in it. The plumbing included the waste pipe from both upstairs bathrooms as well as general plumbing for those bathrooms. We toyed with moving everything but realized it would be too expensive and there really wasn't any other place for them! So, we ended up doing the following:

(1) Built out that wall 6". Yes, we lost 6" of width, but it was much less expensive than moving the plumbing and, in the end, wasn't too traumatic - we just designed to a narrower kitchen.

(2) There was one pipe that still stuck out, so we put in a shallow and short soffit.b/w the upper cabinets (see pics below). We only needed it on one side, but to make make it symmetrical, we ran it all the way across.

(3) There was some electrical also running through the space, so we moved it to either inside the deeper wall or moved it up into the ceiling (it depended where the electrical was going and whether it could run inside the joist space b/w the ceiling and the floor upstairs.)

Before - full soffits on all sides of the kitten:

After, with the shallow/short soffit (the cooktop & hood are approximately where the sink was in the in the "before" picture). Note that the soffit only runs b/w and behind the two cabinets immediately flanking the vent hood. From the outer ends of the cabinet run, it looks like the cabinets and crown are the full depth.

The soffits are not as noticeable in real life (3D!).

This is the best I could find that sort of shows one of the outer ends of the cabinets...

[Edited to put FAQs in separate post]

This post was edited by buehl on Mon, Jun 23, 14 at 19:04

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 6:58PM
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I encourage you to check out the FAQs - they'll help you understand the type of information we need to truly help you.

Here are a sampling (see the full FAQs at the link below).

FAQ: How do I ask for Layout Help and what information should I include?
FAQ: Kitchen work zones, what are they?
FAQ: Aisle widths, walkways, seating overhangs, work and landing space, and others
FAQ: How do I plan for storage? Types of Storage? What to Store Where?

Full set of Kitchens FAQs

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 7:03PM
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You all are so helpful! You kitchen is beautiful buehl!! What a transformation :) I am also thinking exactly the same as you with the corner cab and idea number 1 you had with it.

I will draw a layout (overhead view so you all can get a better feel for the space as a whole).

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:15PM
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OK, I did my best to give you an overview of what the space looks like. You can see my issues in this drawing of the layout feeling "separate." The space where I added the 96" cabs in what used to be the hall just seems a little "spaced" apart from the rest of the kitchen. However, I don't know that I want the entire hall to feel like a kitchen because as you can see, the access to all of the bedrooms and bathrooms are on the other side of that hall (if you were coming in the front door or living room). This is the problem with my ranch house (aside from the symmetry issues of the upper cabs).

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 9:04PM
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Does the window by the garbage have to stay as is? What is the siding on the house? Would you consider taking out the two windows and moving a new larger window to center it either on the wall or centering it across from "3 more cabs"? My neighbors did that and the expense was not too bad since she reused her vinyl siding.

Is the area above the peninsula with the column a load-bearing header or just a bulkhead for the recessed lights?

Would you consider getting rid of the peninsula and creating a broader u-shape by running lowers/uppers along what looks like a solid wall in your drawing where garbage is?

Dimensions on the diagram will help the kitchen layout whizzes.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 11:02PM
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Unfortunately, I have wood siding and it is not reusable. This is also the darkest space in my home because it is in the center of my home. The column is load bearing and the peninsula serves as our kitchen table, so removing that is not an option :( I love the idea of the u shape, I never thought of that. But unless I remove the peninsula, I am afraid it will be too tight. This kitchen is so frustrating.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 3:57PM
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Thank you Melace112! 6 years later and I still love my kitchen! (I tell my DH that if we ever move it's going with us!)

A few more questions....

Is there any reason why you cannot extend the counters to under the window where the "garbage" is?

Would you consider putting in a bigger window in that location - one that's taller - longer so it's counter-height - goes down further (approx 36" off the finished floor). A bigger window will not require new siding.

However, you did say you're not willing to move windows, plumbing, etc. - so that will greatly limit your options.

Do you have a measured layout? One that has measurements for all the windows/walls/doorways and the distances b/w each window/wall/doorway? That will make it easier for us to give you specific suggestions rather than broad-brush possibilities.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 11:56PM
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