Need honest feedback re: converting WD area to built-in hutch

texasgal47December 11, 2012

I posted this question on kitchens forum, but they want photos which I can't provide at this time. The reno of my small kitchen is 95% completed. An enclosed W/D are part of the breakfast area. The front of a side by side W/D face the breakfast table when the 4 louvered doors are opened. The door opening is 5 ft. wide and standard door height surrounded by a regular door frame. The W/D enclosure is 5'7" wide x 3' deep x 8' high. This means that the ceiling inside the enclosure is 14" above the door frame which gives an enclosed look with the doors open. Height of the W/D on the surface top is the same as my kitchen counter. I'm considering removal of the louvered doors and disguising the W/D to look like lower cabinets, then install 15" deep wall cabinets to go above. (A location is needed for a microwave so the added depth would be perfect.) Either regular or louvered doors would be in front of the W/D with a dark stained wood counter. The left side of the counter would flip up on a side hinge for access to the top loading washer. I'm planning for easy disassembly of the lower portion for maintenance or repairs and will allow for ventilation. There are three questions:
1. Do you think the ceiling should be lowered inside the enclosure to give a less enclosed look? This would mean that 30" high wall cabinets would meet the ceiling.
2. I would like to leave the door frame in the event the doors would be rehung in the future. Do you think this set-up (door frames as well as this entire idea) would look "hokey," or do you think I just might be able to pull it off from an aesthetics angle? I haven't spoken with my cabinet guy yet re: build specifics. Concealing the top controls is another issue that would have to be addressed. There are plenty of photos on houzz of concealed W/D but none within a door framed area. I also love the added openness this would give to my kitchen/breakfast area. I'm an empty nester, and only wash about once a week so frequent access and noise shouldn't be too much of an issue.

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Have you thought about getting a front load washer and dryer? That would solve a few of your problems like hinged counter and top controls.

Could you do something like this but also with small doors at the top - like shown to the right? The upper doors would disguise the lowered ceiling (fake space behind the upper part of the doors where the ceiling is), you could have the doors that hide the counter made so they fold back out of the way to the sides (like media cabinet doors), exposing the counter. If you need the storage space that upper kitchen cabinets would provide, if you did this, maybe you could have open shelves behind the doors.

You could probably do something similar with your top load machine and a hinged counter.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Here's another idea. You could have the uppers built to disguise the dropped ceiling.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:37PM
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I would not lower the ceiling as it will only make the enclosure feel smaller. More importantly, I don't think it will change the fact that this is a separate room. But I don't think there is anything wrong with it looking like the separate area that it is.

Used Ws & Ds retain their value very well. I think I'd begin by selling what you have and upgrading to a set that stacks.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:56PM
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Thank you both for your thoughtful follow-ups. I'm keeping my W/D. They are Maytags, the last of those manufactured by that great company when they were still made in the US, are built like a tank and still look and work like new. Also, reviews for front loaders on the gardenweb laundry forum mostly give them poor reviews with some returning to top loaders. Lowering the ceiling for that tiny area shouldn't be a big deal or cost too much. A sheetrocker already needs to come out to patch areas left from the remodel. The upper bifold doors are a good idea, but I really think I want a counter top always available by the breakfast table if at all possible.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 3:13PM
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I thought I posted this pic, too, but ???

You could have the uppers built to disguise the dropped ceiling and I think you could accommodate your top load machine, too. If I had those maytags, I'd keep them, too!

I've posted this pic twice and it's disappeared both times??? Edited to add it back. We'll see if it sticks!

Edited the 3rd time because the pic doesn't show except in preview..maybe it's my computer blocking here is the link in case you can't see it either. Scroll down to pic #3 (or 4 if you count the header pic).

Here is a link that might be useful: Laundry center

This post was edited by olychick on Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 19:07

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 3:27PM
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Olychick, thank you for the idea and the photos. I think you're onto something I hadn't considered. It would need to be modified to serve my purpose. I need frequent access to the microwave (either exposed or a flip-up door), and the other doors remaining closed as cleaning products, light bulbs, and other utilitarian items are stored in that area. I think you're on the right path, though, and will discuss that type of option with my cabinet maker.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 5:07PM
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To clarify, does your current set-up look similar to this (but with a top-load washer)?

And if you add upper cabinets, you *don't* want it to look like this:

I would look into a built-in look like Olychick suggested. Or I would lower the ceiling and have an upper closet made in the empty space above. Like the upper 1/3 of this picture:

You could also do something exactly like in the above picture and make it more of a pantry/utility closet and a place to store your microwave.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:41PM
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Geokid, yes, yes, yes,my WD area looks like your top photo, the area with the open louvered doors. Fortunately, cheap wall cabinets with doors are hiding my stuff for now rather than having open shelves. Referring to the second photo, I absolutely agree with you that the wall cabinets rising higher than the outer door frame look awful. As they say, one photo is worth a thousand words. That photo convinced me to lower the ceiling height if I follow through with removing the bifold doors from the enclosure. Thank you so much for those pictures.

I believe the point of Olychick's initial photo is to have open area cut outs at the top of those very tall upper doors, if the ceiling is not lowered. This then would provide a visual break for the portion of the door which rises above the horizontal portion of the door frame molding. Is this correct?

Olychick, thank you for your persistance in providing me with the concealed W/D option in Titus homes. They used black screening in the upper portion of the lower cabinet doors as another option to provide ventilation. For my situation, putting louvered doors on the base portion and regular cabinet doors for the wall cabinet may be the best ventilation option. Visually, though, I prefer the look of regular raised panel doors for the base as well.

For the wall cabinets, I like 18"w cabinets on each side with an open 30" wall cabinet in the middle. A microwave would be in the lower part of the middle cabinet and leave the upper part open for display. Then have small doors immediately below the upper cabinets to the "counter" surface below. How does that sound? Or, should I leave the current set-up in place?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 4:00PM
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Is ripping the closet out, repairing the ceiling, walls and floors, and then building the hutch as freestanding not an option? I think that would look and function better than trying to add cabinetry to a closet. It removes the trickiness of dealing with the drywall coming down from the ceiling. PS - as long as the floor patch will be covered up by the W/D and/or cabinetry, it doesn't have to be perfect ;)

I say this because I have a 7' wide closet that I use as my pantry and I half wish my DH would have agreed to rip out the closet and replace it with a hutch-like piece. It's in the dining area like yours is, too. So far, what I've done is put 15-lite glass french doors on it, which dresses it up pretty nicely. I guess you need the airflow for the W/D though.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Tracie, that's a good question. I have to keep the recessed area as there is an outside wall on the right side, a pantry on the left (the door is around the corner, and a breakfast table immediately in front of the W/D doors. I've tinkered with the idea of removing the door frame molding if I lower the ceiling. Raising the opening higher would involve too much contruction expense. I have a high vaulted ceiling with skylights where the breakfast table sits immediately outside of the W/D enclosure. I guess I want to see how a concealed WD "hutch" works in real life before removing the door frame. Tile floors are throughout most of my home (including the WD). These were not changed with the remodel because I liked the existing tile. New copper and black grasscloth is on the accent wall in the breakfast room with a large woven metal framed mirror on the wall. I'm trying to say that the breakfast room looks very nice thanks to my interior designer. My grown son can't understand why I don't just put a microwave/vent above the cooktop and forget about a real vent and then where to put the microwave.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 5:28PM
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You're welcome, Texasgal. Pictures help a lot!

If you often use the microwave, I'd do as your son suggested. But, if you don't use it often, or cook a lot that you need a real vent, then I'd go with your plan. Mounting the microwave above the stove would be a lot easier, but it might not be best for your situation.

If the microwave is not in the laundry closet, you could use the whole countertop for folding and sorting. And you could keep the doors closed most of the time. I would personally rather have a dedicated laundry closet and a microwave vent above the stove, but I have two kids and a dog and a lot of laundry. Your situation may be totally different.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 9:55AM
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