Kitchen Reno Help!/Design

Djx210September 25, 2012

I just purchased a 1925 Colonial about 6 months ago, and have been living in it for 5. The majority of work has been cosmetic, up until you walk into the kitchen! I have just about finished tearing out the wood paneling and completely tore out the soffit. We have 8 ft. ceilings. The kitchen has custom cabinets and I wanted to just repaint them and save some money, problem is that their dimensions aren't standard. The base cabs are 33", and the uppers on one wall are 12 1/4", while on the other wall they are closer to 12 1/2". They are also mounted 2" lower than the standard height from the countertop. To those shorter folk this might seem great, except that I'm 6'4, and my girlfriend is 5'7, or mind as well be as tall as me when she puts on the majority of the shoes she owns! So they gotta come up. They seem to be made really well and the wood is solid, it is definitely not particle board. An idea I had was to put a set of smaller cabs on tops of them and then finish it off with some moulding to the ceiling. Or am I just better off buying new, taller cabs?

Next, I want to open up the kitchen to the dining room by turning the one non-load bearing wall down to a half wall. Then throw a countertop on it over a set of bottom cabs to make up for some lost storage space from my next idea. I was thinking of moving the range to end of the small part of the "L" of my kitchen. I would take down those upper cabs and do a white subway tile backsplash with grey grout right up to the ceiling. In the photo you will see the appliances. The refrigerator will move left to where the range was, butted up against the chimney (would have loved to have that extra 2 ft. of space!). Behind where the refrigerator was is where I'd take that wall to a half wall.

guess I am asking if you agree with my design. I can't move the refrigerator to the opposite side of the kitchen because it is too deep. The range is 25" deep and as is would stick out an inch further than the countertop. With this design I believe I have the functional triangle layout, but is there a better layout I'm missing? Am I getting myself in too deep?

Also, I am not forgetting about the horrible flooring and fluorescent ceiling light, those are just the least of my problems at this point!

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This is Francoise47's kitchen, it is a much bigger space but it is almost just like I had in mind. Possible to do on a smaller scale?¤t=DSC_0340.jpg

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 1:45AM
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it is wise to put up the overall layout of this part of the home.....explain the glass block and the doorways-2 up by the fridge and one at the bottom...??? the style of cabs has definite potential to re-purpose but you state the home is a colonial-talk more about the features of the home---I see a different style of kitchen than what these doors represent,but some clever things can be done with what you have if you really need/want to keep them.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 8:37AM
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Good example of the thinking in 1960. What herb said plus take a measurement of the glass block on the outside of the house - you might find that part of the window opening is being blocked by the over the sink cabinet. There maybe a ton of added on wall depth there that ate the window trim.

Your cabinets most likely are not solid wood but are early cabinet plywood on the sides with a solid wood face frame.

About your question about moving them up - sure - go ahead and move them up near the ceiling (near because that thar ceiling don't look none too level). You'll have a much better idea of how they go together (or be able to stop if they start to fall apart) and its a good fit as a weekend project. I've seen photos of people who put a narrow shelf underneath taller cabinets or put up a hanging tool rail.

If possible, the range should move out of its little box between the wall and the ref. Ranges ALWAYS stick out beyond the counter. It's by design to do a couple of things - provide a large enough cooking surface, larger oven and doesn't vent the heat out of the oven at your cabinet doors. Don't you end up smacking the wall or the ref with your elbows or whatever you're pouring into a pot?

The problem with your desired location for the range is the probability of somebody sideswiping a hot pot off the range while doing something like carrying a laundry basket (or a case of beer) down to the basement. You might not have enough room for 9-15" breather cabinet to the left of the range, 30" for a range plus 3 feet for most corner cabinet solutions. It's kinda hard to predict, but sometimes corner cabinets are somewhat difficult to use with a range immediately next door - depends on the range and the exact corner cabinet solution.

One of the reasons we always want to see the surrounding stuff and a floor plan is to look for other opportunities - like would it be possible to open the wall immediately beyond the basement door for basement access and then close the kitchen side up? That would give you a nice long wall for the range. Or, you might have one of those rare times I'd vote to put the range in front of the glass block and put the waterworks in the counter with the half-wall.

I will warn you that it is a lot easier to do a couple of things now:
1. Have a plan for what you want to end up with. It can take years to diy a kitchen, but if you know where you're going, its a lot better and cheaper not to redo things multiple times. You don't have to do it all right now but its nice to only redo electric once and to do it before you fix and paint the drywall.

2. Reusing cabinets makes designing your space a lot more difficult. It imposes a lot of limitations on what can be done, where things can be placed. Then, there is the lure of more drawers and full extension glides and super susans and trash pullouts and what have you.

There is sometimes a level of delusion involved in doing any kitchen (ask me how I know ;), but I doubt you can do what you want with those cabinets. I think that because (1) the style isn't what you're dreaming; (2) you don't presently have enough of them - you'd likely need to scrounge or pay a cabinet maker or both; or (3) if your focus is mainly on reuse, you may miss some real opportunities.

At least half of the people who start off trying to re-use their cabinets give up in the middle because the cabinets don't fit, don't survive demolition or some opportunity or challenge uncovered during demo provides a convincing case to do new. Some portion of the people who recycled their cabinets regretted it.

People who reused and really like their results either enjoy the torture of reconfiguring and have the skills to do it -OR- the layout is very close to what they want and additional cabinets are available to fill in - either because they can order them or get somebody to make them. Some people have focused on preserving one or two features and replaced around them.

There are three potential good things from re-use - saving time and money and the environmental good. But your project may not work out that way and you may find that out only after spending a lot of time and some money trying to come up with a viable design. I'd encourage you to design what you want first and THEN see how many cabinets you have that could be recycled into the design you want.

In my own case - I didn't want to do new cabinets AT ALL, but we had unexpected cabinet casualties from a water problem and something changed during construction that meant we could not get any of the reminders to fit... Extra cabinets were available, but were not affordable.

Do I regret the decision to not reuse? Not for a moment. I had spent hours dithering on how to use what we had left and none of those were as good a plan as what we have now. When I think about it I'm still sad about losing the other cabinets but I have a kitchen that works and is stylin' enough for us. I don't tend to think about it too much because I am very happy that the kitchen works better than what we had before.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 11:30AM
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Our houses are very close together, I'm assuming the glass block was put it in for security. There is a much larger one in our living room. I would prefer a window there, but how much would that run me?

The doorway on the far left is to the dining room, in the new picture below you can see the wall that I want to cut to a half wall. The other door is a very shallow pantry and the lower door behind the one wall of cabs is to the basement and outside.

You can also see in the picture below the addition they put on at some time which is kind of a breakfast nook and half bath. I left the paneling in the half bath and just painted it when we moved in. I don't mind the texture in that small space the panel gives.

Our home has an entry foyer and stairs up to another door to the living room. There is a front sun room. The previous owners took down the french doors. I have to refinish the hardwood floors throughout. From that living room you enter the dining room and then make the left though that door to the kitchen. The previous owners also stripped the wood but in the process gauged it pretty good so I'm up in the air about how to reno that (paint it white or stain).
I would post a whole bunch of pics, but I can only upload via attachment from my iphone.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 11:50AM
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This picture is a panorama and is a little bit warped, picture the sunroom first, connected to the living room, that flows to the dining room. Just trying to give everyone an idea of our layout. The living room has been tough to set up, it has a lot of doors and openings to work with.

Thank you bmorepanic for your input, it is very helpful! The glass block in the kitchen is that size, the upper cabs just prevented them from trimming out the top of it.

I am hoping for tax season to be very good to us, we are only 24 so money is tight right now. Too tight for a 20k reno, we could maybe swing 8k or somewhere in that ballpark.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 12:05PM
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Nah - get some graph paper at the store with big blocks and sketch the whole 1st floor with doors and windows - at 2-4 feet to the block.

Then do another drawing of the kitchen at 1 block = 1 foot. Mark up the actual measurements of stuff to the extent you know about it - size and position of openings for windows, doors and the location of the existing utilities. Don't put the existing cabinets on it - just walls, windows, doors and utilities.

Take pictures of the drawings as straight on as possible and post those.

Passing along the brightest suggestion I ever heard - before you doodle more stuff on the existing kitchen drawing - go get a few copies made so you have extras to doodle different ideas.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 12:08PM
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This is watermarked like crazy but should help.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 6:56PM
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Without the watermark.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:01PM
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You can see that behind the far wall where you exit to the basement and outside is the living room.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:08PM
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    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 3:06AM
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what do you want to do with the breakfast nook and half bath/ that's the lower bumped out part of the kitchen,right?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 7:21AM
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This is just an indication of counters. It's an overview of space taken, not a plan.

It shows a fat peninsula in a partial "U". The peninsula is big enough for either narrow depth cabinets that face into the dining room as well as full depth cabinets that face into the kitchen OR to have the full 15" depth for stools on the dining room side and full depth cabinets on the kitchen side.

This moves the doorway to the basement into the dining room. The long hall to the basement stairs might have enough width to have a sort of hanging rail for brooms, mops, etc. with a long row of cleaning products above. It changes the half wall stuff you were thinking about by changing the side of the kitchen that gets the half wall.

As far as I could tell from playing, this type of design creates the maximum amount of counters. I don't know that you WANT max counters or wall ovens (If I were your height, I sure would) or anything else other than to reuse your cabinets...


    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 11:37AM
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Thanks for adding in the half bath, that is correct. A pantry would be nice in that space but the two main walls have large crank out windows. A co-worker also suggested a study. She said families like to have a nook for the kids to do their homework. No kids yet but I'll entertain the idea, otherwise a small cafe set might just be put there.

bmorepanic: I never thought to look at it that way but there are a few concerns. I would be worried about just how narrow the long hall to the basement and outside would be. Effectively it would be just wider than the width of a standard door. Also would it look odd having a corridor to such a place from the dining room? Also my much loved laundry shoot runs right down the side of that mini pantry.

Opening the other wall up to the chimney, there is one vent on that wall and some electrical. That might be a little too much extra work than I'm looking for. These are some details I've omitted and I apologize. But in your mockup, where would you put the sink, ref., and range?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 1:07AM
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if you moved the outside entry exit to the back nook you could do a lot more there-half bath and space thereabouts can be new entry/mudroom/laundry/drop zone/some pantry. You'd probably borrow a little space from bottom part of kitchen to do this nicely for yourselves and to really improve the home's value.there is still a ton of space left on the first floor for kitchen/dining/living. Where is the laundry anyway? Remember-you can do Ikea cabs/along with repurposing some of your cabs [maybe] and save in the kitchen itself,and do more around the edges to make the place "work" for a modern lifestyle. Are there other major things the house needs-it's an older home and you haven't been in very long...surprises? yet to come?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:16AM
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