help with dated 90s kitchen

janduckworthOctober 20, 2012

I would greatly appreciate some advice on what to do with my kitchen. The kitchen has been somewhat neglected throughout other reno's, other than paint and the island we put in. I hate all the oak, and it is everywhere in this house. I know it's better than mdf, but I feel it looks so dated. We are on a tight budget and will be doing most of the work ourselves. I really don't even know where to start. We have been pondering refinishing the cupboards in a dark colour to somewhat match the espresso wood in the island. But then I wonder if the window trim and baseboards would look silly? I would like new flooring (it's laminate now, and getting worn. I hate the track lighting, but have no idea how to get rid of that. The white tiling has to stay as my husband said replacing that would be a nightmare. I hate the little wall that separates the kitchen from the dining area, but fear we are stuck with it. Too much wiring, and then it would make the tiles on the other wall just stop.

The other big issue I have is the top piece along the cupboards that hooks up to the cupboard to the right of the fridge. Should I just get rid of all that and that right cupboard completely? Then put some crown moulding along the top of the cupboards instead?

Thank you for any advice!!

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Have you considered painting them a light color? I believe dark cabinets will suffocate the room. Lighter cabinets will also highlight the beautiful island. There are some very nice and inexpensive laminate tile in the market. Or you could use Duraceramic. There are some excellent layout and idea-meisters on this board. I look forward to their comments.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 7:32PM
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Definitely white cabinets will update it a lot, and go nicely with the espresso island. Can you make that short wall into a bar area?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 8:03PM
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I would paint the cabinets white. Also,think about replacing the door fronts. Remove the cabinet on the side of the fridge.
Remove all that tile there. Remove the small wall and paint the end of that counter white. Although you can't use it for bar stools, you can use it as a buffet.
New more substantial hardware.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 10:17PM
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I would also paint the cabs white, move the last cabinet down to the level of the others, and get rid of the upper shelf.

I would also knock that pony wall down to counter height. The electrical changes would be easy and cheap- just have the outlets facing up, if you have to keep them. I would also extend the counter in an L over to the fridge.

I think your door and window trim would look better white too.

The track lighting is easy to replace with can lights or with other fixtures. You could put a couple of pendants over the island.

It's a nice sized kitchen, and I like your sink. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 11:52PM
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I must say for a space you hate it sure looks good. You are a fantastic housekeeper! It just sparkles.

From your comments it sounds to me like you are trying to decide how "all in" you are wanting to go with this.

I don't think you by code can have the outlets on the countertop plane as hose nemesis suggested. But you could remove that entire row of counter and cabinets. Move the outlets to the wall next to the fridge, and use 2 of the cabinets next to the fridge with additional counter space there.

I agree about removing the tall cabinet next to the fridge, and removing the shelves above the uppers. Then I agree about painting them.

But if you will be keeping the white tile for now, and have white appliances then consider another cabinet color besides just white.

Houzz has a bazillion kitchen pictures. Take a look at painted kitchen cabinets and see what is out there. Or upload a photo of your room to one of the paint manufacturer's websites and try out some options.

I would save the lighting for last. If you like the location of your current lights functionally, then you may be able to find fixtures that you like better that can work on the same track.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 1:19AM
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regarding the tile being a PITA to remove ... that depends on what you replace it with. If you replaced it with beadboard or a faux paneling look (with painted MDF) you might like the results & it wouldn't matter so much if hte tiles came off the wall happily or with a struggle (creating divots in the wall).

I wouldn't remove the pony wall, but I would lower it so that it was flush with the cabinets. Then turn the outloets so they face into the dining space, and put a large countertop in place that covers the top of your cabinets and extends past the pony wall just a few inches. That way you can still put small appliances up there (crock pot, popcorn maker) when you are using them & plug them in on the dining room side. It's also a lot less work to move the outlets down to the other side than removing them altogether. I think that would help the space feel more open & you'd still have the storage and keep the pet-feeding area next to the fridge.

I agree about removing the open storage above the cabinets & that odd cabinet next to the fridge. I'm not sure what to tell you to do about the oak color. Painting is a lot of work, but would probably transform the space dramatically.

I sort of like your layout, to be honest. It's open but you have 3 different work areas & your sink is really pretty from here.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:09AM
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Lowering the pony wall to counter height is a great idea. Convert the electrical outlets to the horizontal plane of the counter using mockett outlets.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mockett outlets

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 6:19AM
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We are in the middle of an update to our kitchen. Couldn't afford to replace the cabinets so I am painting them. My entire home is walnut stained wood trim, doors, mouldings and I too have a window in my kitchen, actually a window, a door and a slider; all done in walnut. The cabinets were also walnut stained. What a difference it made to paint - truly opened up the area. Of course, we still don't have doors on the cabinets so it is really, really open in there now. My husband worried about the same thing - how would the trim look if we painted the cabinets a different color because before everything was a single color. No worries, he is happy. I can send a pic off if you'd like, but again, we have no doors on yet. Amazing the difference a can of primer and a can of paint make!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 7:55AM
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If you took down the cab next to the fridge, you could put a tall pantry cabinet in that space. Don't have to worry about matching wood if you painted everything white (which would go well with your existing appliances and contrast with counters).

I believe you could get a huge transformation, and achieve a stacked cabinet look, if you found a way to add glass doors to those open shelves on top of the cabs in the high ceiling area. Again, if all painted white it could blend nicely. If you are handy, you could custom cut picture molding into "frames" that fit those openings, use thin lightweight glass, and hinge onto the verticals that are there. Inexpensive white Ikea doors are another option for that area.

If you really can't lower the pony wall, perhaps you could add some brackets on the other side to support a wooden "bartop" on top. Butcher block maple, or stained Ikea tops would be nice there.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 8:08AM
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Painting kitchen cabinets is easier said than done. I would not go through all that work because you'll still have a 90s kitchen with the arched door style and tiny refrigerator cabinets.

First I would remove the two cabinets that are crowding your door. That will open up your entryway and give some balance to that wall. I would turn it into a beverage center by installing a chunky shelf or two on the angled wall. It can hold coffee cups, coffee/tea canisters and a few decorative touches. Instant modernization! Or you could put in a cabinet with a microwave shelf and clear up some counter space.

Your lower cabinets really aren't that bad. You've got at least one nice drawer stack, but you probably don't like the color or the arched door. I'd consider replacing the door and drawer fronts on the bottom cabs--there's a company that people here have ordered from and they've been very pleased. Scheers? Shreks? Okay, it's probably not Shreks. ;) Ideally I'd slide the fridge down and get another drawer stack to the right of the stove. It's pretty cramped there. Smiling has a great suggestion for a pantry to the right of the fridge.

I would take out the pony wall if possible. I don't think you need it now that you have the island, so why use your remodeling budget on new countertops and rewiring? We knocked down our pony wall and built a one-level peninsula with cabinets. It wasn't cheap. It was about the length of yours and we needed a full slab of quartz for it.

That would leave you with the uppers on the fridge wall. Replacing them will give you the most bang for your buck imo. It's the focal point of the room but it's got the most problems. Since it's a short run of cabs, would you be able to budget for new ones? You could have a full cab where the plate rack is now, which would give you so much more dish storage near your DW and sink.

You've got a cute space to work with and I hope you'll keep us up-to-date on your remodel.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:09AM
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Wow, lots of great ideas! I love the island you made, looks great.

What are you hoping to accomplish with the remodel? That will help focus the suggestions a bit.

Painting would certainly look great, but it is also a lot of work to do it right. There are some great posts on here about painting yourself. I know some people have also refinished the cabinets and put on new doors, which may be an option.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Thanks so much for all the suggestions! Didn't know that was called a pony wall, we have it nicknamed the "stupid wall"! I will have to convince my husband to lower it.

I love white cabinets, but I thought it would be too much white? I found a DIY pic below that I love, I just thought it wouldn't go with the super white tiling. My husband prefers the darker, but I too was worried about it being too dark. I will try to find a paint site that I can upload a pic to and try different colors. What do you think of the pics of the light and dark? Not in the budget to replace at this point.

Thanks for the compliments on the space, I do like a lot of things in the kitchen (like the big sink, the size of the room, the tall ceilings, and the functionality)!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 4:05PM
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I would paint the cabinets a creamy white, not a stark white. If you paint them, the arched door will not be an issue as you can see in the picture you posted. We are getting ready to do the same thing and I believe it will make a world of difference. Also change out the hardware. Would you consider removing the open cabinets that are above your regular cabs on top? Crown molding around the top of your cabinets would look great too.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 6:00PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Only paint them if you can commit to the time and effort of doing a good DIY job. Don't underestimate how much work that it is to do that either. However, it will cost too much to have done professionally (3-5K) when the kitchen has other functional and layout issues that really need to be addressed. Like the DW right next to the sink and too little space between the sink and range. If you are on a crawlspace, the best improvement that you could make "in the meantime" would be to put a prep sink on the island so that you can prep there easier without so much twisting and turning. That wouldn't be dollars or time wasted if you were to do that. But the BEST thing that you could do right now is to start making graph paper layouts of the space and try to find a better layout while you save money to address the larger issues that only a complete redo can address.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Hollysprings, I have to ask, what is wrong with the DW next to the sink? I like having mine next to the sink.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 8:03PM
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Mick Mick

I would buy new cabinet doors and figure out a way to put doors on the top of the cabinets. Get quotes for professional painting. My painter is charging less than $1K to spray my cabinets and doors white. I think that the tile is also dating your kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 9:38PM
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I agree with divastyle.

I had my walls spray painted - they can mask everything else off and do it very quickly. A change of door style would also give you the chance to put doors on the shelf above - if that can be done.

what is your counter top?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:24PM
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Whatever else you decide to do to your kitchen, do not change the cat: he/she is adorable and *definitely* does not look dated. :)

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:42PM
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White paint, white appliances, and white tile? Now you've got a new problem. If you stain them darker, you won't have that smooth, even finish in your photo. The oak grain will still show and could look worse. A very dark gel stain can camouflage some of the grain, but that's not a great look with white appliances and white tile.

I'd live with the oak and focus on the funky cabinetry. I'd remove that open structure and add crown molding. Remove the end cabinet near the fridge and both cabs near the door. Could you replace the plate rack cabinet with the larger of the two cabinets near the door? Those tiny top doors are also funky and the cab isn't providing much storage. Or buy a full door and shelves for the plate rack cabinet.

I'd probably even leave the pony wall because of what's involved in removing it--countertop, wiring, and finishing off the DR side. If you want to remove it in the future, it could affect your flooring, so I wouldn't lock myself into new tile or hardwood just yet. It would be nice to replace the flooring in the dining room though.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 8:53AM
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What is the thing to the left of the mini fridge ? My suggestion is to take that out and slide the bar cabinets to the right so they are next to the mini fridge. Take the last one of those 3 cabinets at the bar as well as the odd upper and put them on the left of the fridge, moving the fridge and cabinet over the fridge to the right. You will need a small new piece of counter between the stove and fridge to cover the current cabinet and the new lower cabinet that was moved to there. This will give you more counter space by the stove and make the bar area seem like it belongs in the kitchen by making it seem more part of it.

It will leave you with an empty space under the counter between the fridge and the pony wall, which is ok. Maybe you could figure out a way to access that space from the other side with a small door from the dining side. It would be cool if there was some way to make a little cat domain under there where their dishes would be more hidden. The cats would love their own little cave, but it might be a little hard for the humans to access. But, you can play around with that idea.

I would like to remove the plate rack dowels and move the microwave into that space to get it off the counter, then move the coffee maker into the space where the MW was. I really like the idea of glassing in the upper area and adding a piece of crown across the top of that. You would need to extend it slightly to the right across the top of the newly moved fridge cabinets. You could even add one extra cabinet on the right of the newly moved fridge with glass front doors (it would be over the part of the pony wall counter that has empty space under it). The new cabinet could have a square frame around the glass instead of the arched top because it is glass. You could use this space for display of stemware etc and free up whatever space that stuff is currently residing. Very likely you could find a cheeeap upper cabinet to fill that spot from Habitat for Humanity.

I would definitely paint all of the cabinets or have them sprayed for you. (leave the island espresso). White would be nice and would make the counters come alive and make the appliances blend in more. Your counters and flooring will provide the color in the kitchen.

Get the knife block and the spices out of the window (I'm sure that's not good for spices?) and put something decorative in that area or either some plants ? You could move them into the new wider space between the stove and the fridge. As well as move the canister set over there. Opens up the area around the sink and makes it feel more spacious.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 11:10AM
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P.S. Lots of white kitchens with white tile in this thread ...
Also, do a search using the search box at the bottom of the main kitchen forum page using "white kitchen" in the search block to find lots more inspiration pictures.

I didn't see any with white appliances, but then there are not many white appliances to be found around gardenweb at all anyway. My kitchen in our primary residence is white kitchen with white appliances and a speckled counter. I have been struggling to find a backsplash tile that will go with the counter, but maybe I have been struggling in vain. I never thought of going with white tile but it looks great in all those kitchens and I bet it would look great in mine as well.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Those expensive kitchens with top of the line cabinets, granite, and stainless steel appliances do look great with white tile. With 20 year old repainted cabinets, standard appliances, and laminate countertops, YMMV.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 12:14PM
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Not everyone can afford new cabinets - they are not cheap!As I said in a prior post, my cabinets are older than the initial poster and I am painting mine; I can't afford the 27 - 50K for new ones that I have been quoted. And white appliances are coming back - like Stainless they are fairly timeless. I think other colors come and go but stainless and white have stood the test of time.

My thoughts? Finish off the end of the top cabinet nearest the door. If you could replace doors, replace that end with a door size that would balance to the cabinet at the other end. In the center, I'd try for glass doors. I don't think I'd spend the money to replace all the doors considering the cabinets are in good shape.

I'd consider a counter for the top of the pony wall; recreate it as a bar.

I'd paint white, but not a stark white or you could try gel stain on the wood to go dark. Both are doable so long as the proper prep is followed.

If you have a free cabinet, check out spice storage on the forum search. I agree with a previous poster that they should not be out like they are currently.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 2:49PM
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ooh, thanks for the spice advice, not sure why I didn't realize that. I will put something more decorative in that space that my sweet bad cats won't destroy. I had plants there, but they ate them! My cabinets are very shallow, so neither my plates nor a microwave will fit. The thing beside the mini fridge is my stool! I can't reach anything on the top shelf in the cabinets, let alone stuff on top of them! I like having my dishwasher by my sink; I can just rinse and load. As much as I would like to change many things in this kitchen, most of it is too costly and just not feasible. Thanks for all the help!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 6:27PM
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We had a painter repaint all the cabinets in a similarly sized kitchen for $900, five years ago (before the economy crashed)-- just FYI.

New Ikea cabinet doors including on the upper open spaces would do a lot, if you were painting the cabinets anyway.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 11:39PM
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