I need suggestions for updating my kitchen

undercoverangelNovember 22, 2013

Here is the kitchen when we bought the house 2 years ago.

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What's your budget, and how much of DIYer are you?
Are the bottom cabinets painted or stained? What's their condition? Is the wall paint the same?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Here is what it looks like now.

We painted the cabinets and got new hardware.

I personally hate the rounded design. The house was built in 1988 and I know that was popular back then. When I looked into replacing the old laminate countertops, I was told because of the roundness of the counters, new laminate would run the same cost as granite. I was quoted 4k by two different companies.

So now I'm trying to look at butcherblock thinking that maybe cutting wood won't be so difficult and therefore not so expensive. I wanted to see if anyone had Ikea butcherblock and how they liked it. Also, do they measure and install it for you? Do they deliver it or did you have to pick it up?

Then there's the cabinets. For some reason they are extremely small inside. I can't even fit a dinner plate in them. Both top and bottom cabinets are undersized. Plus they are so, so cheap. You'd have to see them in person but they are really horrible. I used to rent a house from the 1920s that had original cabinets and they were bigger and nicer than these.

We will likely be selling in 5 years or so. Moving is not in the near future, but we know we aren't' going to be here more than 5-7 years. So I want to update the kitchen but do so on a budget.

Any suggestions on cabinet brands?
Also, be honest, does the drop ceiling, recessed lights and roundness of the cabinets turn you off? Should we look into gutting the kitchen and just throwing more money at it? I hate this style but maybe others don't.

It's a pretty big house. 3700 square feet with 17 acres of horse property in Virginia. So I would think buyers are going to expect a decent kitchen.

Any suggestions appreciated!

This post was edited by LonelyGoatherd on Fri, Nov 22, 13 at 13:20

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 1:05PM
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another view

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 1:09PM
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nosoccermom we are handy with some things but not others. My husband and I renovated our last kitchen but the house was much smaller and not worth as much. And the final product was 1000 times better than what we started with. But really considering neither of us had done it before, looking closely, it looked like a DIY job. And that is the problem with our current house. Either nothing was updated or it was an obvious DIY job that really didn't turn out that great. So lack of experience and overall total lack of time is making me want to avoid a DIY this time. I was considering having an IKEA kitchen but 1. I don't know if IKEA will do it for you or is it all DIY. and 2. I'm reading such mixed reviews on IKEA kitchens. Will it help or hurt our value?

I should add there is no eat in area in this kitchen. There is the dining room that is located in the room on the other side of the fridge.

There is no room for an island either.

I wonder if lack of those two really hurt resell.

I'm always torn between making due and just putting the money into gutting it.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 1:27PM
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I'd get rid of the soffits, if you can. Visually, they really shorten the space.

Are the angled walls like that on the exterior or is that really just dead space behind? If dead space, I'd rip those angled walls out. It will be easier to make a new layout, maximize storage space and minimize the number of counter top joints needed.

Maybe consider removing the peninsula and putting in an island.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 1:36PM
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Sorry, I missed that you may be moving in 5 yrs. You might want to get a realtor to look at your house and see if it would make sense to just do some dress up or if it would be better to go with a full blown reno. It is hard to know what the market will be like in 5 yrs, but it may be helpful to know what buyers are looking for right now in your neighborhood. Is everyone currently expecting granite counters, upgraded appliances, etc.?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 1:44PM
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robo (z6a)

IKEA kitchens are awesome and IMO could do nothing but help you 5-7 years down the road. For IKEA, the general idea is you measure, you buy, you build, you install (although you can hire someone to help with any or all of those steps).

People are happy with their butcher block but there is some concern about water around the sink. I'm solving that issue with a worktop sink.

I'm not sure why a laminate install would be so expensive when your counters are angled (not rounded). Must be missing something.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 1:59PM
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The kitchen window area is angled on the outside so I think we are stuck with the angled space but I'm not sure. Here is the outside view of the kitchen. The small window is the kitchen and the space to the right is the sunroom.

This post was edited by LonelyGoatherd on Fri, Nov 22, 13 at 14:26

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Lonely, unfortunately I can't see what you've done with your kitchen already. Honestly, though, it looks like an attractively designed space with a decent layout to me, and no, I'm not turned off by any of those things you mention. You have something basically pretty nice that would be fun to go to work on. And I see plenty of places that'll hold plates.

It's extremely unfortunate that you don't like the basic shape right now, as moving the kitchen to another area of the house would likely be very pricey, and any interior changes to this one would still leave you with what you don't like. And you plan to walk away from it in short order anyway.

As a first step, how about looking at what you can't stand about this space and analyzing WHY. We have a lot of people come here hating what they see as tacky, out-of-date style, frankly unable to appreciate any virtues in it because it's not IN style right now. Write up a cool-eyed list of what'll work for you and is even good about it.

Would it change your opinion if this shape were really hot now and all your friends really envied you? If it did, that'd be great. Because with no money at all and just the investment of some mental elbow grease you might well be able to upgrade "hate" to at least "it's not my dream, but it's really not so bad after all, I actually like..," with accompanying enthusiasm for what you'd be able to do with it--working on other elements of style.

How about googling posts by independent spirits who insist on doing their own thing and wouldn't dream of having a kitchen that looked like it belonged in brochure? Google posts and blogs from others trying to renovate homes of your general era while retaining their character? Just to see if a little of their attitude and excitement resonated at all?

You could also go to less conventional chat sites than this one and ask people what they'd do with it? I might like a beautiful sky painted on that ceiling. High-end decorators have always done that kind of thing, but you don't see it here.

If you can't imagine not hating it, maybe move the kitchen to another room? Or hire a small-job contractor to remodel the angled bay into a rectangular one?

But as for redoing the existing counters? Very easy, very fast, and very cheap: Hire a guy who does laminate for a living to cover the existing counters. It would be foolish pay someone to tear out a counter, rebuild the same thing in a shop, cover it with laminate, and install it in your house. Your base is already there. Cover it. :)

No to Ikea butcherblock. We have it and like it, but it'd be more expensive and far less functional; it does need refinishing now and then, putting in a bottom-mount sink would definitely be a specialty job and require daily protective care and maintenance (we didn't do it), and we have staining around our little soap dispenser base as it is.

As for an inexpensive cabinet upgrade now, do it for your own enjoyment and to improve workability, not as an investment this far in advance of sale. In five years, what you do now will look like yesterday's dinner left out to all those buyers who really wish they could afford the new development down the road.

Replacing the uppers would be expensive--could you just take them down and not replace, or put new doors on? Put art up there? What would you think of a few low, open shelves? Ikea drawer stacks would be a good affordable option for the lowers. You'd lose space at the angles, but gain so much greater function from the drawers that you'd never miss it. You'd love having full-extension drawers instead of shelves; THAT'd be on my list for sure.

Whatever you do, remember that there's big, big, big money in the public's dissatisfaction with yesterday's look, and so retail and design industries spend literally billions of dollars every year cultivating our dissatisfaction with what we have. I can't recommend enough grabbing this chance to declare your independence of thought. Waiting twenty or thirty years to get tired of being milked would be very unfortunate.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 2:22PM
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robotropolis I was surprised by the laminate quotes too. This current laminate is horrible. It's stained and coming off in places. Anything would be better. But I had two places tell me that the angles of fitting the countertop would drive up the cost. I was told that laminate or granite would be the same price which would be 4k. In our old house we did wilsonart laminate for under 1k. We installed it ourselves.

So for IKEA, you are pretty much just buying the materials from them and doing it yourself? We'd have to hire help for that.

I'd love to get rid of the soffits! It would look so much bigger. Plus I hate the recessed lights because one is always going out.

Here is another view of the kitchen. Believe me when I say it photographs MUCH nicer than it is. In person the counters are stained, the paint on the cabinets is always coming off and it just overall doesn't look good.

So what would the cost of an IKEA kitchen average for upper and lower cabinets and counters for a kitchen this size? Are there any companies that are a step up from IKEA but still budget friendly?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 2:24PM
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robo (z6a)

How does the layout work for you? Aside from the finishes?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 2:28PM
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rosie you make excellent points!

I should clarify that it's the upper cabinets that don't fit dinner plates. The lower ones do. If you open the cabinets there is blue paint that's dribbled on the insides of all of them from the previous owners painting. It's difficult opening and closing the drawers. I know it seems silly to replace laminate with laminate but I know this stuff we have now is 25 years old and stained and the Wilsonart laminate in our old house was gorgeous. Plus laminate seemed to be our cheapest option.

I don't want to sound like a whiner! The kitchen really does look so much nicer in pictures. The backsplash was originally this blue tile that had a weird design on it and the sellers just painted it white. In person there are drip marks all over the tile and other parts you see the blue coming through.

I'm not one to jump on trends. But I do like more modern functions. And I know a lot of my dissatisfaction comes from the fact that I've never escaped the 80s kitchen. This is our 3rd house we've owned and I've rented a couple and they just all happened to have 80s kitchens. My first one was when I was in my 20s so not so bad, but at 42, I'm kind of over the 80s.

But you're very right about trends. A friend of mine hates her kitchen from 2005. It's the Tuscany look that was big back then. I think it's beautiful even though it is dated.

This kitchen is like an artichoke to me. It's like you start peeling the layers and there's more and more and more. I'm trying to find a middle ground between leaving it and gutting it, lol.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Finishes aside, I think the layout looks pretty good. Only changes I'd suggest are more drawers and fewer cabinets in lowers, and remove wall cabinet above primary prep ( counter between sink & range). I'd probably leave the wall cabs that flank the range though.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 2:46PM
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I think the high cost of the laminate is coming from the larger amount of counter and the angled design. See if you can get an estimate on just recovering the counters with sheet laminate. This can be a DIY thing but with all the angles you might want someone experienced.

Perhaps you can purchase some new (or used) upper cabinets that are a standard size. I would measure your cabinets and compare them to standard sized cabinets. It seems odd that your plates won't fit.

Before doing anything I would go look at houses that would be your comps if selling. What are those kitchens like?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 3:01PM
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I agree with debark. Why reinvent the whee? See what others with the same style home have done.
I know you say you are moving in five-seven years. I think that is a nice amount of time to redo your kitchen and still be able to enjoy it. Who knows, you might have to stay longer?
Start researching by first going to big box stores or Ikea, just for ideas on pricing only. Go to a few local kitchen companies and get ideas from them. Most have low, middle and high end ideas. If you want higher end cabinetry, then don't get all the extras that add to the price. If you want all the special pullouts and drawers, then you can go with a lower end cabinet. Lots of options.
Counter tops can be low end and high end too. Again you have plenty of options, you just have to fit them into your budget.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 3:12PM
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Go to the IKEA site and play around with their kitchen design. It will give you the cost, too, and also keep in mind that twice a year IKEA has a 20% off kitchen sale (it's ending right now, so the next one is in March or thereabouts).
IKEA does offer referrals to local installers. There were some major issues about a year ago with their main installer along the east coast, but supposedly those have been resolved. You can also find recommendations on Ikeafans for your area, or install it yourself. It's not that hard.
Is the sun room on the other side of the peninsula? Could that become an eating area?
BTW, I don't mind the rounded design,but would look into removing the soffits if possible.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 6:54PM
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Thanks everyone. The IKEA store is about 1 1/2 hours north of me and next time we go to DC I'm going to check it out on the way. I want to see their cabinets in person. They can't be lower quality than what we have now.

nosoccermom yes the sunroom is on the other side of the peninsula. It is also an eating area. I don't mind not having an actual eat- in kitchen, but I have noticed on some forums that some people do want that in a house. I just don't see how this kitchen could have one unless we go through the wall into the sunroom. That's just more work than I want to deal with. Hopefully at resale it won't matter.
Glad you all don't mind the rounded design! Maybe it's not as bad as I think it is.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 11:43PM
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I meant what area is directly on the other side of the peninsula?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 8:40AM
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Not about the cabinets, but consider a quick, cheap lighting fix to just change out your black baffles to white. Makes the lights fade much more into the ceiling when off in the daytime.
Good luck, I would have loved to have played with as much space as you have!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 11:07AM
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Some inexpensive ideas could include:
-getting smaller dishes that fit in the cupboards
-using contact cement and clamps to re-glue the loose laminate
-Have you tried bleaching the counters? I remember a friend of mine who had white laminate and she would bleach her counters about once a month or so. It did wonders for them. Coffee stains, red Kool-Aid and the like came out with a little bleach and elbow grease.
-Keeping a small paintbrush and a little jar of paint in the kitchen for quick touch-ups on the chipped areas.

None of these are glamorous ideas, but they might help lessen a few of the frustrations while you decide what you'd like to do. : )

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 9:37PM
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I would echo the suggestion to get some input from a local realtor.

Personally, in my prior home searches, I found it off-putting when the homeowner updated 1 or 2 items in a space, but left the rest as is. I got the impression they bumped up the price to make up for their few updates, even though these would not have been what I would have chosen as updates.

If you're going to update, go the whole 9 yards. If not, save your $$ for your next home, and acknowledge when you sell this, that the entire kitchen will need to be gutted by the next homeowners.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 11:47PM
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Have you considered tile countertops? While not the current trend, they are very affordable and not as expensive as granite or other solid surfaces.

We had porcelain tile counters in our old house, and I chose them again for our new house. Ours are 12 x 12 and they came with both field tiles and factory made 3 x 12 bullnose edge tiles for the counter fronts. Depending on the condition of your current counters, they may be able to be installed right on top.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 12:10PM
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I think that, given where you are, and the shape/layout of the kitchen, that the odds are the next owner will want to gut the kitchen anyway.

So I'd update only what you need to make you happier (new upper cabs that fit your plates, say, and doing away with the soffits if that will make a big difference at minimal cost).

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 12:21PM
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