How Should We Update This Kitchen?

kmgardDecember 5, 2013

Hey there! You guys helped me with a kitchen 4-5 years ago and it turned out beautifully, so I'm hoping you can help me again. Unfortunately this time around, we're stuck dealing with the existing cabinets instead of doing a full gut job. It just makes sense for our budget and the fact that we'll probably only be in this house a few years. For that same reason, we're going to keep the layout mostly as-is, with potentially some minor adjustments to the cabinets (which will get painted!!).

From the dining room doorway:

From next to the peninsula:

From the "eat-in" part, which is fairly useless unless we want to squeeze past a table to get from the hallway to the sunroom:

Further back:

Pivoting 180-degrees towards the sunroom:

General thoughts:

-Want to remove the soffits if there's nothing behind them. The problem? We have to keep the 2 tall pantries (there's one you can't see just to the right of the fridge) for storage because there isn't a separate walk-in pantry. I've thought about moving the one next to the desk to the left side of the fridge (which will be replaced) to make it look built-in, but that doesn't solve the problem that we can't raise the tall pantries to the ceiling. I'm considering raising the other wall cabinets and putting a shelf beneath like this. I'm also not sure about moving the second pantry because it's the dividing line between two different kinds of flooring, and continuing the hardwoods into the kitchen isn't in the budget.

-If we put any new cabinets in, it will be in the desk area. I'm thinking maybe a cool antique piece of furniture or maybe some IKEA drawer bases and glass wall cabinets for hutch-like storage. Thoughts?

-The cabinets above the peninsula (and those spindles!) are definitely coming down. We're getting a gas range and since it looks like the microwave vents through the roof, we'll get a peninsula hood as well. Should we somehow widen the peninsula so it makes a nice work space behind the stove and prevents splatters from going on to the floor? Would it be okay for that part to extend past the doorway into the sunroom?

Those are my general ideas for now. We've only been in the house a few days, but we've already ordered the fridge and range, and I'm anxious to get the kitchen done so we have time to enjoy it. It won't be as great (functionality-wise) as our last, but I think we have good basic bones to work with. I'd love to hear your ideas as well! (And remember, while the layout isn't super ideal, I'm thinking we don't really want to mess with it too much.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Inspiration Kitchen

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If it were me I would get rid of the peninsula entirely and move the stove.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 1:02PM
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I'm not sure I can afford to lose the storage I'd lose on whatever wall I move the stove to… We were spoiled with lots of space in our last kitchen, and with this one, I'm having a hard time squeezing everything in! Plus, moving the stove would require either a recirculating vent or moving the ductwork, and we don't want to deal with all of that with this kitchen. We'd still prefer to have it vent outside since that tends to be better and the hard part is already done...

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 1:08PM
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Do you have a separate dining room, and if so, are you willing to go "all in" on that dining space and allocate the dine in space to kitchen?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 1:30PM
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That sunroom is so pretty!
I'm not a kitchen designer so take this as just personal thoughts:
Removing the peninsula uppers is a great idea. What about making the peninsula wider to make use of the dining space? You could get an island cabinet, or table and butt it up there with a countertop from IKEA and that way you'll have space on the other side of the stove for a couple of chairs etc?
I would definitely paint the cabinets, maybe even do a two tone thing (grey lowers, white uppers). Remove the handles, patch that up and add horizontal pulls. This is of course if you like a more modern aesthetic. You can go a different, shabby chic look and paint it all a light color and age the cabinet door profiles with some glaze. Paint the handles a lighter metallic as well.
It's a lot of space to work with but I think it can turn out lovely.

Here is a link that might be useful: diy painted cabinets with glaze

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 2:12PM
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GauchoGordo1993, We do have a dining room just through the doorway in the second picture. The table is already in there, and we're definitely willing to keep it that way. We can allocate the eat-in space to kitchen-only, but the only thing I can think to do with it is make the peninsula wider with maybe a breakfast bar and make a liquor/drink/coffee "station" somehow where the desk is. I could put a hutch or something on the blank wall, but I probably wouldn't put cabinetry because it would block both doorways too much.

lenzai, great ideas! All things I was thinking as well from that inspiration kitchen I linked to. I hadn't thought of the shabby chic look (it's not really my style), but I bet it would look great with these cabs! Maybe even with the original hardware. I know the hardware is so strange, but I almost hate to get rid of it because of the uniqueness/retro factor. Is that crazy?? Probably. :)

Anyone know how I can work with the tall pantries if I get rid of the soffit and raise the rest of the cabinets? Think it would be really hard to make those look "built in" too? Maybe if I leave the soffits that are above the pantries, I can add molding or something to make it look like they run to the ceiling…?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 3:45PM
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I wouldn't be so quick to conclude that you couldn't do cool things with that space. I suggest you post a floorplan that includes only the stuff (walls, windows, doors, ...) that you are committed to not changing and ask for layout ideas. I think you'll be surprised at some of the creative ideas folks come up with.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 4:35PM
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Haha, okay! I haven't unpacked my office yet, so once I go through those 80 or so boxes (kidding! kind of) and find my graph paper, I'll see what I can do. Thanks!


    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I remember seeing a kitchen in this forum (but can't remember whose it was) where a drawer front was used for a narrow wall cab and I think there was also a wall cab used as a base cab. Maybe someone will remember.

The uppers above the MW, can they be used above the pantry cabs? They seem narrower, but if you have the pantry cabs next to each other, maybe you can fit a shelf or two b/w those uppers. And maybe some of the uppers may be used to widen the peninsula.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Include the cabinet sizes - that way, we can see if we can switch some cabinets around.....I have some ideas, but I won't know if they are feasible until I see what the existing cabinets are.

There have been a couple of kitchens here where we had to work with the existing cabinets and by rearranging them we were able to come up with a better layout.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 5:34PM
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Here's the kitchen I mentioned in my previous post.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 5:42PM
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Okay, managed a layout with some free software - cabinets might be off a bit (especially in the angled corner), but measurements should be pretty close (the software wouldn't let me do half inches). The thing that concerns me about switching too many things around is that while the cabinets are boxes, there appear to be filler panels. So switching things might not be as straightforward as they appear.

sena01, great idea with the microwave cabinets! They're the right height - 15", but not the right width. They're each 15" wide, but one pantry is 18" while the other is 24". :( Also, I've been looking up some soffit disguising methods with molding and such (maybe instead of removing them), but the fridge we ordered is taller than the current space so the cabinets above will have to be removed, raised, or trimmed down somehow.

buehl, I definitely know this kitchen could use a better layout. I'm just concerned with the time/energy/money it would take to further rearrange things. It was "easy" in our last kitchen because we completely gutted it, but man… I don't know if our marriage could take rearranging it within the constraints of the existing cabinets. I thought about at least moving the other pantry over to make the new fridge look built in, but the stupid flooring transitions right at the wider pantry, and it seems like a good delineation point (if there has to be one). Ugh. Anyway, I included cabinet measurements so take a look and let me know what you think! Thanks everyone!


Kitchen with measurements:

Kitchen in context with surrounding rooms:

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 10:33PM
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P.S. The wall cabinet to the right of the passthrough (when you're facing it from inside the kitchen) is 23". But it's a great example because it's not *actually* 23" - much of that is filler panel. I think the box itself is 18".

P.P.S. Ignore the random 1'8" & 1'10" measurements running vertically towards the right. I'm not sure why those are there. Yay technology.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 10:42PM
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I would remove the uppers for the pass through and if you did not want the eat in space for a typical table perhaps you could use it as sort of a sitting area with a small round table and a couple of chairs or a sofa, a coffee table and a couple of end tables. That way, people can sit and talk with you while you are cooking.

I like your idea for the soffits.

Its going to look great! You have a lovely home! What a fabulous sunroom.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 7:25AM
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How about open shelves above the pantries or some (glass)doors?
Below a link to another kitchen with "raised" cabinets and shelves. Painted two-tones.

Here is a link that might be useful: raised cabinets

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 10:49AM
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Do you think it might be possible to move the exhaust hood 18" - 24" towards the eat in area? I totally agree that you want to continue to use the existing duct to the exterior, but do you think you could rework it (and maybe rework the soffit) to allow a small shift like that? I ask because the biggest functionality problem I see is insufficient prep space between the sink and range, and shifting the peninsula a bit would go a long way to resolving that. Assuming you could manage the exhaust hood shift, I'd consider using the 18" desk drawer base to fill the gap on the sink run. And I like the idea to make the peninsula ~4' deep to allow seating opposite the range.

The other functionality problem you highlight is insufficent pantry storage, and I think your idea is best there - replace the desk area with tall cabs from Ikea or the like. If you do that, I'd consider including a built-in microwave in those tall cabs.

From a purely aesthetic stantpoint, I agree that painting the cabs and removing uppers will be biggest bang/buck. And I'd also consider easy/inexpensive lighting improvements.

This post was edited by GauchoGordo1993 on Fri, Dec 6, 13 at 15:14

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 12:24PM
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I think the original handles are funky and can work depending on the colors. I can't really tell how bright they are but if you're repainting, it may be worth it to clean/shine them and maybe move the handles closer to tops of the lower cabinets and bottoms of upper cabinets (so you don't have to reach so far).
Depending on how long you're staying and how much effort you want to expend, I really don't know if it's worth it to remove the soffits. If they are painted a nice blending in color (instead of the busy wallpaper?) it'll all look much better.

Graucho's last comment and your idea about replacing the desk with some shallow IKEA pantry storage is great!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 2:32PM
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Just a quick idea...can you move the cooktop/range over to the other side of the kitchen and add a hood? Then take out the peninsula and move the dishwasher to the right side of the sink? If possible, I'd also try to move the sink over just a give you more prep space.

Then, I'd put a wall oven/microwave combo where you have the pantry. Then, move the pantry over to desk area...or maybe incorporate pantry and your antique hutch.

If there's room, maybe a banquette against that far wall? That would give you a place for seating and either a dining table of just a small coffee table. I can't really read your dimensions, but I think it would fit. Just a few ideas :)

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Oh, and I'd also remove the door between the eat in area and the hallway to the bedrooms. That's just silly IMHO.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 3:11PM
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This post was edited by GauchoGordo1993 on Fri, Dec 6, 13 at 15:13

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 3:12PM
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Hmmm....I don't see the pics from Kmgard's "Thu, Dec 5, 13 at 22:33" post.

Do others see them?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 3:22PM
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Can you see them now?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Good ideas here!

Aktillery, Thanks! Those cabs above the peninsula are definitely coming out. I like the idea of a sitting area in the eat-in space… the problem is putting too much stuff in the way of the walkway between the hallway and the sunroom. Maybe I'll wait to buy anything for that space until I see how it looks with the wider peninsula.

GauchoGordo1993, I'm not sure about moving the exhaust… it actually looks like it goes out the roof! So maybe, depending on the island hood we get, there will be some room for flexibility…? I've never had a hood before, just microwaves, so this will be a learning curve. It's funny - I almost took that door to the hallway out right away, but I've actually used it once or twice to block my dogs from getting in. Ha! I'll probably take it down when everything's done, but for right now I'm thinking maybe old-timey people were on to something with these choppy houses. :)

Lenzai, I think part of me wants to tear the soffits out just so I don't have to strip the wallpaper! lol There is SO much pink/green/blue floral wallpaper in this house. I was thinking more along the lines of more counter space and wall/base cabs from IKEA instead of pantries, but that could work too!

lavender_lass, thanks for the ideas! I think that's going to be way too much rearranging for this update, though. Trust me - I would LOVE to just rip everything out, move appliances and start fresh (I miss my old renovated kitchen!), but it just doesn't make sense for us to spend that kind of money in this house. The range is already venting through the roof in its current location, so I'm afraid moving it will open a whole can of worms. I don't love the idea of a range in the peninsula, but I think we might just have to make it work here. I like the idea of a banquette! Though i'm not sure if it would get too much in the way of the walkway… especially if we widen the peninsula.

Buehl, try this link and this link. I'm hosting the images from my blog, so maybe that's the problem? The pictures should be nice and big (and the dimensions legible) on those links.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Layout

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 3:51PM
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Regarding rerouting the exhaust duct to shift it over a couple feet, I get that it goes to the roof, which is great actually. Do you have access to the exhaust duct in the attic? If so, then it's super easy to change. But even if you don't, you could still add a couple 90 degree pieces of ducting below the ceiling to jog it over a couple feet and build a soffit around it. I just did something like this in my house and it wasn't hard.

This post was edited by GauchoGordo1993 on Fri, Dec 6, 13 at 17:22

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 5:17PM
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So good to know! Thank you! I'm not sure if we have access (I haven't been up to the attic yet), but I can't imagine why we wouldn't… the roof is very low so the attic is maybe only 3' tall. As long as putting bends doesn't keep it from working correctly, that could be a great solution. I can't use the drawer base from the desk straight-up because the desk is shorter than the base cabinets. I should've noted that. But maybe it can be rigged somehow, or maybe I can somehow use the base cabinet in the peninsula that's pointing *away* from the work area… just turn it the other way and use something else to hold up the counter behind it…? Ugh, this is like a jigsaw puzzle. :)

Edited to add: Will it be weird to have the peninsula countertop sticking into the sunroom doorway? I probably definitely shouldn't extend the cabinets past the doorway, right?

This post was edited by kmgard on Fri, Dec 6, 13 at 17:35

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 5:33PM
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> Will it be weird to have the peninsula countertop sticking into the sunroom doorway? I probably definitely shouldn't extend the cabinets past the doorway, right?

I don't see why either would be a problem so long as everything is finished properly. The backside of the corner cabinet, for example, probably isn't finished. But that would be pretty easy to fix if you paint everything.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 6:37PM
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That's a really wide opening into the sunroom; wouldn't making it slightly narrower solve that issue? Since you are removing the uppers, couldn't the passthrough opening possibly be extended all the way over to the walk-through?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 6:57PM
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I know you don't want to spend much...but if you could open the kitchen up to the sunroom, I think it would be a big bonus for resale.

Just an idea...take out the pass through and turn the peninsula into an island. You could keep the range (or cooktop) in the same location...maybe extend the island into the sunroom just a bit and add a prep sink.

On the other side, could you move the main sink out of the pass through (now would be walkway) and put it next to the dishwasher, for a clean up area on that wall?

I know, you want to keep it simple...but it would be such a nice space! :)

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 8:25PM
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peegee/lavender_lass, I could potentially connect the passthrough to the doorway, but I'd lose the upper directly to the right of the passthrough. I already have all of the cabinets full (including the ones around the microwave, which I'll have to empty), so I'd like to salvage as much storage space as possible. Of course, I could make it up in the desk area, but that's not directly in the work triangle and wouldn't be a convenient place to store oils, spices, etc.

I agree that opening the whole thing would be phenomenal, but while it would certainly help the house sell more quickly when it comes time, there's a significantly less chance we'd be able to recoup the money. Trust me - I looked at EVERY house in the area (and many surrounding areas) when we moved here, and this is already one of the nicest in this square footage/price range. With potentially only 3 years to appreciate, the less money we spend, the better. If the market stays stable or gets better, we shouldn't have a problem selling with the updates we have planned (wallpaper removal, painting, low-budget kitchen update, etc.). So I actually think it would be a huge financial mistake to spend too much on the kitchen! Especially since it's likely we won't be here super long to enjoy it.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 9:27PM
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Okay, that makes sense....

If you paint the cabinets and change the hardware...the only other thing I really think needs to be changed is the microwave. It looks like you used to have a hood there...and that back side is blocking so much light!

What if you take out the OTR microwave and move it to the pantry wall, by the fridge. If you already said you planned to do this....sorry I missed it and good idea! LOL

How about a raised counter behind the range...with a couple of stools. I know people always say not by the range, but if you had a nice backsplash and shoo people away when might be great. Add a nice little settee on the back wall (if the banquette/table won't fit) and maybe some small end tables.

This would give you more seating and be a nice transition space to the sunroom. At least, that's what I would do if I didn't want to change anything structural :)

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 9:36PM
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Thanks for understanding. :) It's SO hard to not just rip the whole thing out - especially since all of you TKO ladies on this site were able to help me design such a fantastic kitchen last time. It was so functional… and helped our house sell - by owner! - in just two weeks! I miss it so much already. Especially my drawer bases. :(

The raised counter is a really interesting idea. I was thinking just widen the peninsula at counter-height for more workspace, but there's a raised bar already in the sunroom along the entire wall below the pass-through. Perhaps I could connect the two? Would that be weird? We did already order a slide-in gas range (our biggest splurge for the kitchen) for the peninsula… My other concern would be if people are sitting at a raised bar there, would they just be staring at the peninsula range hood? (The cabinets above the peninsula are DEFINITELY coming out. It's too bad because the microwave is the newest appliance in the kitchen, but we don't need one that huge anyway. We'll probably buy a smaller one for the fridge wall somewhere.)

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 9:05AM
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The problem I have with what you're thinking is the actual cabinets. They are very, very dated in style and the floor plan is kinda non-functional. Even if your range died and you have a replacement, I'd just stick in in the same hole with the same hood until I had the floor plan figured out. Plus, I can't help it - those cabinet doors strongly creep me out. It's like a bad Italian villa design plunked into a modern house with a faded chintz wallpaper.

The other thing I'd say if you're really intent on keeping the cabinets is you could buy new doors and paint so the kitchen became like new, even though it wouldn't be.

In comparison to say my kitchen, yours is really big and you could configure it to have a lot of storage, a couple of stools and to be easy to work in. So drawing is just alternate views on the same problem. I know any of this is likely more than you want to do, but I think if you develop a road map, you'll avoid spending money on something you'll throw out later.

So this is not trying to be a measured drawing or nothing, it's just a dash of ideas and showing 3 potential island shapes.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 6:53PM
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bmorepanic, thanks for trying to tackle this! We've evolved a bit since this original posting. We're definitely changing a few things now (though still trying to stick with the fugly cabinets for budget purposes - hoping painting them and potentially changing hardware will update them *enough* to tolerate. It still really doesn't make sense to spend another 8-10K on new cabinets when we'll only be here 3 years - it's just not enough time to build that kind of equity).

Turning the passthrough into a doorway is an interesting take! It's definitely more than we want to do now, but it does open it up a bit more. What we're thinking now is that we'll move the range to the current fridge wall (close to where you have it in this plan). I really like where you have the fridge in your plan, but we're going to keep it (almost) in it's current location because it won't work where you have it if we still have cabinets on that passthrough wall. We're going to move the wider pantry to the the right of the fridge to push it further from the dining room doorway and put the narrow pantry where the peninsula is.

We're going to get rid of the peninsula completely, and possibly put some kind of square-ish island off to the left in the "eat-in" space. I'm still trying to hash out the cabinet situation on the range wall, which may require some open shelving and possibly commissioning a wide drawer base next to the range. Not doing a prep sink - I hate cleaning the one. :) Oh, and we were thinking of having the counter behind the sink kind of "spill" through the passthrough to the sunroom. THere's already a cheap laminate counter in there a few inches higher than counter-height, so this would really just lower it. Maybe that's weird?? I thought it might be nice to have everything on the same level to kind of "faux" open it up since we can't really open it up.

Anyway, thanks for taking a shot at it! I definitely like the idea of having the range on that back wall.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 8:29PM
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