Embarking on a kitchen resurfacing project

karin_mtOctober 28, 2012

Hi folks,

Let me start by saying how impressed I am with the strong community on this forum. I have been enjoying everyone else's ideas, photos and backsplash dilemmas.

So please indulge me as I introduce our project and ask some questions.

This is a small budget project (by kitchen terms). This work follows on a major remodel of our garage and office. One item of the project crept into the kitchen. We replaced the kitchen window so it matched three new windows nearby. Replacing the kitchen window required ripping out some of the backsplash tile. We decided we'd have some fun and pick out new tile. But all the tiles we liked looked silly with our builder's oak kitchen. Uh oh...

So we sat on it for a few months, gathered our strength, and decided to take the plunge and redo the surfaces of the kitchen. The layout is fine, the cabinet boxes are in great shape and the appliances are OK. No need to get crazy and really rip things out. But our house has a very open plan and as we work through the house and make updates to the furnishings and paint, the parts that are still original are looking kinda bad. OK, maybe not bad but certainly at odds with the contemporary style that we are moving toward.

Some photos:

Newly remodeled house - note contemporary styling

New kitchen window (the square window farthest to the left) that started us down this slippery slope.

Inside the house, the newly furnished living room that has the style we hope to propagate throughout the house.

And... the existing kitchen in all its oakey glory. :)

Contemporary Kitchen design by San Francisco Architect MH Architects

The Houzz photo that shows where we're heading with the redesign.

Lastly, the materials we have selected so far.

Baltic birch with clear lacquer for the cabinet doors. The new doors will go to the ceiling, will be smooth slabs with no raised panels, and will cover as much of the old cabinet frames as possible. The look we want here is smooth and planar.

Backsplash will be glass tile in a cool green color. The tile is frosted, 3" by 12" and will be stacked vertically as in the photo.

Countertop will be silvery laminate. Believe me, I would love some sort of solid surface countertop but for budget reasons we are just going with laminate. And we really like this silver! It has a zingy energy that we both really like. And the entire countertop will cost $1000.

Two accents will be stone, in Wild Sea. The windowsill under the new window is already Wild Sea. It's awesome! There is a peninsula that is not shown in these photos that has a raised top on it. Sort of like a bar top. This surface will also be Wild Sea.

Flooring will wait until some other time.

Walls will be painted, color TBD.

Simple curtains will be in the fabric shown.

New sink will be Kohler Vault in stainless (cannot wait for that upgrade!)

Hardware will be the same as we have now, although I am twitchy for something even more contemporary.

So - we are pretty far through the decision process. Materials have all been ordered and there is no turning back now. But I would love to know if I am missing something important. Plus I have some questions but my goodness this post has gotten long so I will leave it at this for now.

Thanks for reading!


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Sophie Wheeler

Lighting and ventilation are the two most neglected components in most kitchen redos. And, typically, you didn't mention either. :)

Under cabinet lighting is a must. If you are doing any glass doors, in cabinet lighting is also needed. Recessed LED lights to wash light down the front of the cabinets and to light your walkways. Pendants or goosneck sconces above the sink to create focal points, and possibly pendants over any island or peninsula as well.

Then there's ventilation. Replacing an under cabinet hood with a stainless chimney hood could continue the modern look, but you also need to assess if the current hood is vented externally. If it's not, then take the opportunity while things are being torn up to put in the needed ducting to get all of the kitchen nasties outdoors. If you are looking for something even sleeker than a stainless chimney hood, there are several inserts that will fit in upper cabinets that are virtually invisible and then will slide out to create a capture area for the heat, odors, grease, and steam that needs to be eliminated. How many CFM you need for proper ventilation will depend on the type of range you have and how you cook. But you do need to look at that now rather than later after all of your new pretty stuff has a layer of mung on it.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 12:12PM
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I would agree with hollysprings that lighting is very important. Very Important. However, I also think it is highly personal. In our kitchen we have nine sources of light: The ceiling recessed lights (there are several of them but I am counting them as one), the pendant over the sink, the light in the vent hood, the small lamp on the counter, two floor lamps, some bounce lights on top of our big oak piece, the back door entry lights, and the schoolhouse fixture. Why so many? They serve different purposes. Many of them provide pools of light in different areas and this, plus the ability to dim almost all of them, gives my kitchen the warmness that is important to me. The recessed ceiling lights were all we had when we moved in and they weren't on dimmers. Was there enough light in the kitchen? Yes. But it was very harsh and uncomfortable to me.

Some people just want LOTS of light. I want to control how much light I have and where it is. There was a recent post about whether to use dimmers. You might want to read it to better understand how YOU feel about light.

I don't agree with hollysprings about the strip lighting under the cabinets. I know it is popular today but I like pools of light, and strip lighting doesn't do that. I tried mocking it up with rope lighting and I did not like the effect. There also are some things on my kitchen counter that I'd rather not light up (like my microwave).

We always try to mock things up as much as we can so we can see how it will be. For lighting, we use clamp ons and whatever else we can come up with.

As I said, I think it's personal. Sometimes I go into someone's house and I want sunglasses because the light is so glaringly bright. Some people come into my house and they want the dimmers turned up.

You said you liked my kitchen. I bet it has a lot to do with the lights and the warmth they make.

BTW, your choices indicate you ARE thinking it about how it all works together. Good job on that.

I think the post you wrote on super white was one of the best I've ever read on this forum; it was so informative and thoughtful and kind. Lots of people have responded so positively to that post that I bet most of us would do anything we could for you.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 2:07PM
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This is great feedback guys, thanks - just what I was looking for.

The kitchen does not have a hood. Is that terribly unusual? We've never wanted for one, we don't cook spattery foods and the nearby surfaces don't get grungy. The stove is on the peninsula and doesn't have an easy way to add a hood. So we won't. I hope that does not violate a golden rule of kitchens or get me banned from the kitchen forum!

Excellent point on lighting. We are not planning to open up the ceiling, so for now we are committed to the existing locations for lighting. We are definitely planning LED under-cabinet lighting. We've had a few cheapo versions of UCL and they are very nice, but we know the real deal will be brighter and more efficient, so that's what interests us. I am just starting to figure out what's what for LED UCL, so I'm open to recommendations.

There won't be above-cabinet lighting because the cabs will run to the ceiling.

Donaleen, we do lots of mock-ups too! My husband can fabricate just about anything out of cardboard. :)

Anyway, the light directly over the sink is subject to replacing. What's there is not quite bright enough. But we can change that down the road. Someday it would be nice to chop into the ceiling and set up the lighting from scratch. But not now - as the lighting works pretty well as is (unlike the sink, which has got to go!).

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 8:33PM
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