Please help me design a narrow cabinet!!

Madeline616October 28, 2012

Hi all,

So, a last-minute decision to add a second stacked row of "little square" glass front upper cabinets resulted in some cockamamie asymmetry in the upper cabinets that flank the range hood (pic below).

My awesome contractor agreed that it looks quirky/unbalanced/asymmetrical and told me he'd remove and rebuild whatever sections necessary.

The plan is to remove and replace the uppers to the right of the stove (when facing stove), and to remove the entire microwave tower.

The drawing below shows (in red) the new glass-fronted uppers that'll be identical to the uppers on the left of the range, and the new lower, where we'll do a micro drawer instead of the micro tower.

As you can see in my (really professional!!) drawing, we end up with a very narrow (about 12") space for another upper cabinet.

So, everything drawn in red will be the new cabs, and the green area is the project in question.

What should I do with the space?? The possibilities are endless.

I know I want to make it a bit of a design element of it's own, so I'll probably bump it out 3-4".

Big questions:

1) Should I extend it all the way to the countertop, (as shown in pic), or just have it the same size (height-wise) as the other uppers?

2) Should I do the whole thing as a glass front, should I use leaded glass, Waterglass, those pretty metal grilles, mullions, or other decorative glass to make it a feature of it's own?

3) What to do with the very top, where a tiny square upper cabinet will probably go? Glass front? Not a separate little square cabinet, but just one tall cabinet of some kind?

4) How to tie the look in with the rest of the cabs?

5) Functionally, do you have any ideas? A pull out pantry for spices and oils? Just a narrow cabinet with a little door?

Thanks thanks thanks!!!

Madeline :)

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Wow, your cabinets are in, how exciting. They are looking good. One question and I'm sure it's a perspective thing from the camera angle, but do you have enough space between your uppers and your base cabinets?
Ok, on to your post: functionally- what do you need? If you need spice storage- go for it. When you planned your kitchen storage what were you planning on putting in the cabinet above the micro in the old design? Can it still go there, if not, where is it going?
First thing that came to my mind, was book case. Second was lighted decorative niche for a large pitcher, urn, sculpture.
Aesthetically, I love the decorative grilles and I couldn't make them work in my kitchen so I'd vote for them. But really, I do think they are hard to make work in a long term kind of way. What kind of glass are you putting in the upper panels of the other doors? I would think it should be the same or a very nice tie-in.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 9:07PM
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Hi localeater,

Thanks for your input, and for the heads up on the space between. counters and cabs. I'll measure that this week to be sure.

The kitchen is actually in the new house my (snowbird) parents are building around the corner from me, here in the South. So, I'm designing/supervising while they're still up North.

Mom is pretty low-maintenance, she'll be happy with anything, but she would love a spice pull-out.

Great point about matching the glass of the narrow cab to the other glass to tie everything in. Maybe I can do mullions. I really love the grids, too, but have heard cleaning can be a challenge. She's not crazy about a lot of glass, so maybe I'd do a small glass cabinet along the top row, and the main cannot solid.

Do you think, if it's solid and not glass, that it should be a raised panel like the other doors?

Do you like the idea of having the stacked second upper, or do you think I should do one tall cabinet all of the way up?

Any opinion on whether to extend it all of the way down to the counter?

I appreciate the input, tks so much :)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 10:59PM
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I would do one solid cabinet all the way up or you will end up reintroducing another, but different asymmetry. Same kind of door, though.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 11:07PM
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Wouldn't it be easier to replace the wall cabinets to the left of the range? That way you could keep your microwave tower. Plus to my eye, the narrower doors to the right of the range are similar in scale to the wood hood whereas the wider doors to the left of the range dwarf it a little. If you did this, you'd end up with a narrow space by the corner, You could put a narrow cabinet Maybe use it for cookbooks or wine or something useful and decorative like a place to keep spices... I had seen a picture on houzz, just tried to find it for you but couldn't where spices were in mason jars and all lined up on a shelf - it looked great.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 10:06AM
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Hi mamaandpaige,

Thanks for that idea, and for searching Houzz for me :) That sounds adorable...the mason jars. I'm going to see if I can find that pic, because I think we're going to have glass front or maybe even open shelving regardless of which way I go with this re-do.

I really considered doing the cabs on the left before deciding to replace the ones to the right. My post was already long, so I didn't mention this detail, but those little doors over the range hood will be replaced with one solid panel, so that part will be solved.

I think the main reason I decided to remove the cabs on the right is that:

1) I was never crazy about the microwave tower...the home is so small and the floor plan is so open, I always felt like the micro was just so obvious and prominent in the tower.

2) I love the square glass uppers on the left, and I'm not so crazy about the rectangular ones, so I thought I'd keep the squares.

That said, I'm going to consider what you said and start scouring Houzz again.

Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 1:07PM
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Elraes Miller

If you are changing cabinets, I would go all the way to the ceiling or add trim to do so. I am probably missing that you aren't finished yet, so ignore this. In the space questioned...perhaps match the cabinet on the left wall. Far more storage for you. Depth would be close to needed, even if a filler was used. And I would love my small kitchen to look like yours.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 1:25PM
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madeline- i found it but there were lots of other cool ones too:

Eclectic Entry design by Philadelphia General Contractor Kenny Grono

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 1:37PM
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Technicolor- yup, trim will finish it off so the whole look will be all the way up to the ceiling. Thanks for your idea, and the kind compliment!!

Mamaandpaige-- love it!!!! My mom is so hesitant to have open shelving or glass fronted cabs, but I know she'll love this, and it would be a fun project to put the spices in glass jars. Thanks again! I know it can be frustrating hunting down pics we remember seeing on Houzz :) :)

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 3:54PM
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things like that don't really bother me. I had to go back and look several times - every time someone mentioned something different.

I'd probably replace the top door over the mw with solid doors.

changing the doors over the hood - it'll still open - right? I don't see anything wrong with the doors there now.

if the cabs are too low to the counter top you might need that inch or so at the top to move 'em on up. Remember adding counter top yet will decrease the distance you measure there now.

"I really love the grids, too, but have heard cleaning can be a challenge. She's not crazy about a lot of glass,"
yes, same with glass. Make it as cleaning friendly as possible for her and what she likes.

the mason jars of spices - be sure she can open them with her hands. it'd be a challenge to me. I love the jars - but would never do that. and I drop things easily so wouldn't want that much glass in use.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Elraes Miller

Resource for mason jars and the spice jars. Mason jars are getting popular and available up to a gallon size. Hobby Lobby has them in various sizes and most of the time at half price. Ace does too, but expensive. The little spice jars are available at the container store. Am sure they can be found in other places as well. Easy flip up design.

A question about the stove range hood. It looks really small and seems out of place to me. Are you adding another hood under this? And where did you get your cabinets? I love the small top glass addition.

I just looked at HL and they have the spice jars too, 1.99 per. Watch their in store ads for half price, a buck would be a steal. When they have specials and not enough stock, you can ask to have them ordered at the sale price. The online store only has the ball jars up to a quart size. I have never bought online from them due to shipping costs and the stock is slim compared to their stores. Hopefully you have one nearby.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 9:49AM
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Desertsteph--All good points about keeping everything easy-open and low-maintenance. And the point about the granite making the lowers an inch higher is a good one--I hadn't thought of that. I forgot to take that measurement today, i might run over and do it tonight.

Technicolor-- Thanks for these great resources!! I have a Hobby Lobby 10 minutes from me, but I rarely go. I had no idea they had spice and mason jars, I will absolutely be picking some up.

Good observation about the hood, lol. I have a preference for the hood higher above the cooktop--not functionally (it's not great for capture) but aesthetically, I think it looks better if it's higher. So, the hood is 30" wide (b/c the range will be 30" and we didn't want to sacrifice upper cabinet space for a 33" or 36" hood), and it's 33" above the cooking surface, rather than the 24-30" that is more common. So, I guess it looks kinda small :-) I'm okay with it though, especially once the b-spalsh is up and everything is painted and decorated.

The cabs were made by a local cabinetmaker. I prefer the inset design, but we had to choose between that and the small square uppers going up to the ceiling, and we went with the square uppers.

Thanks again!!

At this point I'm wondering if it won't work to just put 3 cabinets on the right of the range that are almost identical to the ones on the left of the range. We have almost enough space to do it:

43" to the left of the stove, divided by the 2 existing cabinets, is 21.5" wide for each small square glass upper.

60.5" to the right of the stove, divided by 3 new cabinets, is 20.16" for each small square glass upper.

I do have to allow for the faceplate (I think that's what the body of the cabinet is called), so maybe they'd be down to 19.5" each.

That's two approximately 21.5" wide squares on the left, and three 19.5" squares on the right. The difference might be noticeable at all....

Anyone who actually followed me to the end of this post, your opinion would be appreciated :-)

Thanks again!

Madeline :)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 7:33PM
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Technicolor - really? Hobby Lobby? I would have never guessed to go there for the mason jars! And at a good price too? All the better! I'm doing a bit of canning and I need a few more jars for the year. Thanks for the heads up. I might have to head there tomorrow.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 10:13PM
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OK, sorry about this, but I'm going to be blunt...

"...I have a preference for the hood higher above the cooktop--not functionally (it's not great for capture) but aesthetically, I think it looks better if it's higher...

You're supervising this but your parents are the ones who are building and will be living in this house, right? Are looks more important than functionality for your parents as well as you? I'm just asking b/c there are a lot of I's for your preferences in several of the above posts, and not much of what your parents might prefer - other than no glass & open shelves but you want them anyway.

Honestly? If my DD built a kitchen more for looks than functionality or based on her preferences not mine, I would be very unhappy - I would pretend it didn't matter and that I loved it, but inside I would not be happy. For most of us, as we get older we realize that beauty is only skin deep and that functionality is far more important. We also don't want to hurt our children's feelings so if asked directly we often tell them what they want to hear if they seem excited about something...

That said, if looks are still #1, then I would think about doing the following:

  • Move the MW drawer over to the cabinet next to the range and put it in a 24" cabinet

  • Put in a full-height 12" pullout pantry against the wall

  • Put in a 9" to 12" cabinet (whatever will fit) b/w the MW drawer cabinet and the pantry pullout. This cabinet could be for trays, cutting boards, etc.

As to the backsplash height...both the counters and the light rail (if you have it) will reduce that depth. So, be sure there's enough space to work in there without feeling claustrophobic b/c that's where most prepping will be done - b/w the sink and range. Also, be sure you parents' tallest appliance they will use on those counters will fit under the cabinets + light rail...if they open "up", then measure them when open...i.e., the tallest the appliance can be.

Regarding the hood...with cabinets flanking the hood, a width equal to the width of the range is fine, especially if your parents don't do a lot of frying. However, the installation height is more important. If it's a small house, then odors, grease, etc. will have less area to disperse in. Plus, it looks like the kitchen is pretty open, so that means the grease odors, etc. will spread beyond the kitchen. While any true hood will help, not mounting it per specifications can significantly reduce its effectiveness.

Just my two cents worth. Good luck to both you and your parents, whatever you decide!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 9:50AM
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Hi Buehl,

Thanks for taking all this time to think about my project and help me!! Your idea is an **excellent**, and I hadn't thought of it. The only drawback is that we were going to be able to preserve that lower cabinet right next to the range, b/c micro drawer was going where the current micro tower is. But...your idea really is pretty much the solution. So, I'm going to think about seeing if we can remove that one, too.

Lol, Of course my Mom prefers the hood higher, we wouldn't have done it if she and I didn't both share that preference. We both think it looks squatty/low/like you're going to bang your head (she's tall), and she's never had a hood before (older homes where the vent fan was literally a little round fan--with blades-- in the kitchen wall that sucked air out to the garage, which she never used b/c it was loud) so she isn't even used to having that function.

I've gone to insane lengths to squeeze every last opinion out of my mom on this project, to try to ask her what she wants for every decision and suit her likes/wants/needs, but she isn't really into this type of project, she wants certain particular things, but the rest she just wants to happen without having to think about it. She gets stressed when I ask her what she wants for this, that and the other thing. She's not a details person. She thinks I'm insane for re-doing these cabinets, at considerable headache and expense to me (drawer micros aren't cheap, apparently), but I want it to be right for her. Because she's living there, lol :)

Thanks again, I really appreciate your help!!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 11:20AM
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