Starting from scratch... cabinets stolen (intro)

SLTKotaDecember 4, 2012

Hi everyone! I'm Stuart, I figured I would introduce myself because I think I might need some help in the future, I was sort of thrown into a kitchen renovation.

I recently purchased my dream house out of foreclosure, it needed quite a bit of work initially but now it needs a new kitchen as well. It seems as though someone liked the old kitchen so they decided to take it. I walked in one day and the entire kitchen was gone... all of it(yes they even took the kitchen sink!). I was needing appliances anyway and had been lurking on here for a bit but now I am truly starting from scratch, just the floor and sheet rock remain.

So.... it looks like now I get to build myself a dream kitchen (well on a budget) for my new dream house. The decisions for the rest of the house are wrapping up and all the renovation work is underway so it is now time to start thinking about my kitchen.

My plans are to try to make a rustic "warm" feeling kitchen. The one that was taken had maple cabinets with corian counters. I am thinking that I will put in knotty alder cabinets stained to match the new knotty alder front door that is on order. I would love to do a textured granite if the budget allows, I fell in love with soapstone when I saw it but it is out of my budget. For the most part I think I leaving things in the same place but adding a few cabinets and moving the fridge a little.

I do know that I am doing stainless appliances.
I've already purchased the sink, dish washer and microwave/vent.
The house is plumbed for a gas range so I plan to put another one back in.

I am trying to stay realistic as as I live alone and this is my first "real" house but I do plan to stay for a while and the house is big enough that I won't outgrow it.

here is a before picture, now it is just bare walls and the tile floor.



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also, as far as my uses for the kitchen. I live alone currently but I plan to have a family someday. I want the ability to raise a family in the new kitchen but at the same time have it set up well for entertaining. I am also planning to move the fridge to the other side of the pantry and add a few cabinets next to it with a raised bar on a half wall between the kitchen and great room.
now.... off to look at more kitchen design books...

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:17PM
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Now THAT's a problem you don't hear about every day. That has to be the most bizarre reason for needing to do a new kitchen that I've ever heard of.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:22PM
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You should have seen my face when I walked around the corner!

I can't count how many times I have heard "They took WHAT? The kitchen? All of it?"

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:38PM
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I've read this twice and I'm still speechless. Who does that?! I hope that's covered on your insurance.

Post your layout if you want some feedback on your ideas. There's a great instructions thread for that. Welcome!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:40PM
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They even took that huge island? WOW. I wonder if it was the previous owners.

Are you looking for advice on the layout? ...or? If so, can you provide better photos of the space that show more of the adjacent areas? (That island appears to stick out past the cabinetry.. so curious what there is to work with in terms of space.)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:46PM
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I think that's hilarious.
They stole a builder grade kitchen.

Anyway, I hope you're considering an alarm system to hiring someone to at least sleep there while you're not in. You've changed the locks, I assume? Who knows about the previous owner.

If I lose my house, I'm stripping the whole thing bare. Cabinets I built and bought, flooring, maybe some windows, vanities, sinks & all lighting and plumbing fixtures and my solar panels. Heck, I'm even taking every plant and tree in my gardens! I wonder if I can dismantle my barn....

So I have nothing to offer but encouragement. What an opportunity! :) No need to feel you have to save something that's "too good to throw away!"

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:51PM
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Although this must have been a huge shock, I'd say it's really a blessing in disguise. I'm sure the layout gurus here will give you tons of good, sound advice.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:59PM
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Stripping of foreclosures has been on ongoing problem.

Kitchens, appliances, copper pipes, electrical wiring.

If it can be sold for $1 it has been stolen.

Sometimes by the defaulting former owner, other times by third parties stripping a vacant property.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 3:03PM
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I wonder where the thieves sold your kitchen? Unless you are glad it's gone, you might check craig's list and salvage places and see if it is there.

There is a house not far from me that sat empty for a long time after foreclosure. It has been vandalized also and the cabinets stolen as well as anything else of value.

I agree with getting a security system installed before you put in a new kitchen, or it might disappear too.

I love knotty alder cabinets. Your new kitchen will be gorgeous.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 3:29PM
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The house was somewhat stripped before they took the kitchen, all the pulls were gone, some door knobs, some lights, the railings, all of the plants were dug up at some point and taken too.

They did take the island, I'm not sure how but they did. The house is now in my possession and is secure. I don't think they will be back. They were nice enough to leave all of the personal things like tools, even put the cleaning supplies I left over there back under the sink (well where it use to be).

I'll try to get some current pictures tonight, I am new to this and kind of being thrown into the deep end as I didn't PLAN to remodel the kitchen and never lived with the old one to see what I like/did not like.

So far I plan keep all the appliances but the fridge in the same spot to save money. The fridge location will be moved to the pantry (where the "2" is highlighted). I think I will also extend cabinets down to the end of the half wall (number 1 on the drawing if you can see it) and have a small ledge / bar for entertain on top of the half wall.

I guess what I am wondering is where do I start? I am sort of lost. I think I just need to jump in feet first as I don't have much time to ponder it. I thought I would start with appliances/their location then go from there.

This is the best I have for now, its the old layout that was drawn up for insurance. I'll try to get pictures that show what I am trying to work with tonight.

Thanks in advance,

This post was edited by SLTKota on Tue, Dec 4, 12 at 15:59

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 3:58PM
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I saw quartz countertop "Soapstone" at IKEA on sale for 50.00/sqft.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 4:03PM
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Still staggered, but I don't have layout advice. Just, if you're going to put in a gas stove, be sure there is enough ventilation (I guess any stove). I don't know if the microwave/vent you mention means that is a microwave, and a separate vent, or some combination.

I'm not saying this well, I am still too flabbergasted.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 4:13PM
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I've seen people selling parts that they stripped from their foreclosure on craigslist, and they admitted it! I would think that every part of the house belongs to the lender, and its pretty cheeky to admit on a public site that you stripped your foreclosure. I'd be too afraid of being caught.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 4:49PM
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ha ha ha!!! I just am cracking up!!! Hilarious, and then they have manners on top of that lol!! The bit about the tools and putting the cleaning supplies back is just too much lol!!

My advice is to take this as slow as you possibly can. Enjoy every decision and enjoy the times you just can't decide!! Research as much as possible, ask more questions than you can think of and consider anything. Your dream kitchen :) Great feeling isn't it?

It can be really overwhelming, but is really fun also. Start with the layout. You will get great advice on here for that! (well, and everything else too) Building a kitchen is very much like a puzzle for me. Deciding and finding one piece of the puzzle leads the next piece to its appropriate spot.

Take any advice anyone cares to give. I have found useful tidbits from the strangest people with the craziest ideas!!!

Oh, and don't be surprised when your original plan of just a few modifications turns into a full 3 ring circus! Things going on in every corner!!

Good luck and congratulations on your new home!! (minus a kitchen ha ha!!)

Oh side note. If that stuff was taken after you had possession of the house (your cleaning supplies, correct?) then I suggest taking it to insurance. Unless you just feel its better left alone. If it was stolen before the property was in your name then I wouldn't suppose you could claim anything.

This post was edited by fav.auntx2 on Tue, Dec 4, 12 at 17:42

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 5:39PM
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I didn't have possession of the house when it was taken but I got compensated through a price reduction, the cleaning supplies was taken over when we had to meet the inspector. The house had been empty for about 2 years so it was nasty, I'm glad we scrubbed the sink so much haha. Now that it is over it really is quite funny.

I thought everyone might like some current pictures to see what it looks like now. I am meeting with a cabinet maker Friday. Hopefully I'll be able to draw up a better layout by then.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 6:32PM
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Still have the pantry door. The plate covers and pantry racks are off in preparation for sheet rock and paint. That should start tomorrow but there is still the rest of the house to do as well, in total it should be able 2 weeks of construction to fix everything else.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Last one for now. The cleaning supplies was right under the sink drain pipe sticking out of the wall. Just where I left it... sort of.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 6:43PM
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Around here, if it hasn't been stripped by the leaving owner, it is the guys the banks/realtors hire to winterize or to make the properties salable that are stripping them!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 6:47PM
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It's like when the Grinch stole all the presents and the tree.... Let's look at the positive side--you don't have to pay someone to demo it for you, or if you were going to demo it yourself, no risk of injury now, and you won't have to pay to have it disposed of.

Did they leave the toilets? I've heard of people pouring dry cement in the toilets in foreclosures so it hardens. People never cease to amaze me.

Well, welcome aboard. Get that microwave and hotplate hooked up, and your little fridge for now. No need to rush any decision. As mentioned above, enjoy every step of this process.

Can you post that pantry door for sale on CL? Maybe someone who bought the rest of the cabinets might need it....


    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 6:52PM
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"They stole a builder grade kitchen.." rofl...


This is the end of 'nothing new under the sun'.

You are now the owner of the best "need to remodel" story.

Totally blows mine out of the water.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 8:00PM
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So the house is empty for 2 years, and then when people start coming around prepping for the sale, THAT'S when someone steals the kitchen?! WTH! But I guess the free demo and removal is the silver lining.

Check out some of the Ikea threads. Affordable, and with replacement doors you can create any look you want (ok, not inset or partial overlay, but any feel you want). You can always buy the cabinets now and replace the doors in a little while.

And since you do not have an overly large amount of counter space, you can always get what you want for the perimeter, and if you still have an island put something less expensive on top temporarily.

You came to the right place. The people here will help you, and your unexpected new kitchen will come out great! And what a story.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 8:43PM
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I've only been on here a week or so, and I've got tears from laughing so much, not so much that they stole your kitchen, mind you, but at the responses! This is a lively bunch here.. I think the kitchen looks better empty than it did with cabinets, so you should thank them for the favor of hauling it away. This is going to be a fun one to watch with all the input available here! As others have said, take your time...

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 8:51PM
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Yikes, Stuart, I'm torn between laughing & crying for you. I'm about to embark on a major remodel where we are moving out, and I was going to have our security system shut off so we wouldn't have to deal with contractors & false alarms. Hmm, maybe I should reconsider!

I hope you are having fun making this kitchen yours. It may be a blessing in disguise, but I agree with deedles, "You are now the owner of the best "need to remodel" story."

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 9:02PM
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Stuart-I would take people's advice to take this at least as slow as you can. If you want to live with this kitchen for a while and have it be able to develop with you as you may gain a family then you'll need the time and expertise these people will give you.

I'm in my early 30's and know how my tastes have changed with the various kitchens I've lived in-especially as my cooking skills have developed and adding a husband and daughter.

Let me tell you how I started to do my kitchen layout (for a house we will hopefully build in a year or two). I started looking at home plans and kitchens on here and Houzz. I just started looking at spaces that were like mine to familiarize myself with what was out there in terms of cabinets, appliances, colors, shapes, lighting. It is because of the amazing talent on here that I know about proper aisle width and developing separate work spaces for various kitchen tasks.

I then had to sit down and make a diagram and list of how I cook and use the kitchen. For example what kind of meals I like to make/prep and what I plan on making in the future (with my new more awesome appliances) really helped me to focus on what kinds of cabinets to use (pretty much all drawers will be your almost unanimous answer here to save you the time of posting later). I actually developed a baking center in my peninsula where my stand mixer will sit on the counter. Under it a three drawer cabinet with measuring cups/whisks in top, second drawer will have containers of flours/sugars, and third drawer will have my mixing bowls for example. Then I went down the line and sort of filled in the space. For example there was space next to that to have a 15" cabinet for my baking sheets, muffin tins, and cake pans. Then next to that is an under counter wall oven just for baking. Those three pieces will be in my 5 foot peninsula.

That is certainly one of those things the great people on here will help you with. Although you will have to determine the sort of personal cooking skills (or if you don't have any they'll help you with that too).

It will also help in terms of styling to have an inspiration picture (and it sounds like you already know what you're going for). The appliance forum is great too. They really know their stuff.

It looks like you have a great space, and I can't wait to see what you're going to do with it.

I'm hoping your home has already seen the rough patches it will have. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Here is a great kitchen on Houzz with Knotty Alder shaker style cabinets, soapstone counters, and I think Walnut floors.

Here is a great picture of some Shaker style Alder cabinets.

Traditional Kitchen design by Portland Design-build Kaufman Homes, Inc.

Also it seems just about everyone has a rough time deciding the back splash-myself included. Especially since you're doing just about everything in this house at once (even if most of the decisions have already been made) I like the idea of developing the kitchen and living with it for a little bit before deciding on the back splash. I do love the simple (and cheap) style of plank walls:

Traditional Kitchen design by Atlanta Interior Designer Yvonne McFadden LLC

Also AngieDIY, Enduring, and others have or are currently working on DIYing their own soapstone counters and sinks. It is pretty easy to order slabs online. If you or someone you know is handy and already has some tools (soapstone is softer and cuts closer to wood than something like granite). It could save you some money and get the look you want.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:35PM
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Wow! I LOVE this place!

Thank you so very very much for all the advice so far!

It sounds like I need to slow things down... a lot.

I am still meeting with a cabinet maker Friday but it sounds like I should take a little time to play with the layout, I am surprised at how much I have thought about changing in just the last week.

The good news is that the house has a basement apartment with a small kitchen (well minus appliances and lights that were taken). I am starting to think I should finish the rest of the house and move into the basement so I am not as rushed to finish the main kitchen.

The bad news, my cooking skills are on par with those needed to cook on counter top plug in appliances (college). My biggest fear at this point is trying to design a kitchen that will work well for me in 10 years... and learning to actually use it.

Once again, I cannot say thank you enough! You all have me sketching ideas and actually excited about the process!


    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 8:29AM
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Before I remodeled my last kitchen I used to joke that it would be nice if someone stole it! I can't believe someone actually did that to you! But with the price reduction and no need to demo I think you really lucked out! I'm with others. Spend some time on here researching, play with the layout, and take your time. Especially if you have access to that basement kitchen.
And if you're new to cooking, getting the right layout will make it even more enjoyable. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 8:45AM
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I can't agree enough with the prior posters to take your time and think about how you will use the kitchen in the future. The talented folks here will help with so many decisions but tweaking the layout is key. Since the cabinet order is generally a permanent decision, getting the layout right is critical before going too far with cabinets.

However, there is value in meeting with a cabinetmaker to get some ideas and get a feel for what the cabinets will cost.

Best of luck to you and Welcome!!!

BTW - still the best excuse to re-do a kitchen!!!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 9:05AM
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About six months of doing research, including reviewing past topics here and in the appliance forum, should prepare you to converge on a plan and an equipment list for a kitchen that meets your expectations.

And keeping your new dream house clean means capturing and containing greasy cooking effluent, so don't neglect ventilation requirements.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 9:06AM
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Wow. What a story! It's hard to believe what some people will do, but I've heard of things like this before. I'm surprised they left you the light fixture. I've also heard of people stealing the copper pipes out from under the house. I personally would never, ever think to do such things.

How do they get away with it? Think this through from the bank's point of view: Yes, you're the victim of a crime, but the person who'd steal builder-grade cabinets and sell them on ebay probably has no financial assets. The old saying is true: You can't get blood from a turnip. You won't get the cabinets back (and you don't really want them back), nor will you get any money from this person. The courts probably wouldn't even put them in jail for this non-violent crime. So, if you're the bank, you would go to a great deal of trouble, and you stand to gain very little for your efforts. So I see why these crimes continue.

However, as a couple other people said, you have to look at it as a blessing in disguise. From the looks of the pictures, it appears that they didn't damage your walls or floor, and now you get to pick what you really want.

The pictures and layout make the room look like a nice-sized kitchen, so you can do something good with it.

I'd say put plenty of thought into the layout and cabinets because they're hard/expensive to change later. If you need to skimp somwhere, make it the countertop; that's not such an expensive fix. Also, you can let your backsplash wait, if necessary.

I'd reconsider the width of that island. I think it'd be hard to keep that big thing clean -- my arms aren't that long.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 9:35AM
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"About six months of doing research"

That is what I was afraid of!

I figure that most people in my position are either redoing a kitchen they have lived with for a while with plenty of time to plan, or are building a house from scratch and have months of time to plan while the house is being built.

I am only in my 20's and this is my first kitchen in a house but I don't want to build a "Starter" kitchen as this house isn't the typical starter house, its actually over twice the size I was originally looking for.

It sounds like I might want to live in the basement for a bit, I wasn't planning to put appliances in it but it wasn't that long ago I lived off a micro fridge in a dorm so I could figure something out.

Maybe I should start a general build thread, the kitchen is only a small portion of what I'm working on (hints why I am thinking I should probably put it on hold for a bit). Do you guys (and gals!) like more than just kitchens? I never even mentioned what caused all the other damage.

Thanks again,


This post was edited by SLTKota on Wed, Dec 5, 12 at 9:59

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 9:36AM
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Stuart I've been where you are (well kind of), and I'm sure most of us have in terms of being young and getting your first house.

You can have several threads going at one time (or at least staggered) because the same people often comment on different threads. Also knowing your situation you may even get a little extra help.

The people here really go above and beyond. Some helping you find products, the best prices and where to get them. Others will actually do layouts for you (kitchens, furniture, landscaping, bathrooms). I for example post in kitchens, bathrooms, and building a house because those are the areas I'm concentrating on right now. So don't feel like you have to stay in one forum.

We certainly don't want you to get overwhelmed because I certainly was, but the people on here are so nice and helpful you have nothing to worry about.

For the sake of giving you something maybe more concrete to think about are you still wanting help with your kitchen layout? I think you and others said it best meeting with your cabinet guy can really help. If they're good then they will have lots of suggestions. I hope some of the layout gurus (and there are several) will chime in to help you. I would suggest spending a little bit of time and looking at the FAQ thread that Buehl has recently posted. It has a link to kitchen acronyms, layout tips, and much more.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 10:30AM
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Hi Stuart, sorry posting again, but I am liking your project so you'll probably see a lot of me. Would you mind enlarging your kitchen layout with the cabinet dimensions or just writing them down? I can't quite make out some of them, and I was going to try my hand at doing your layout. So feel free to yay or nay anything (I and others promise not to take anything personally).

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 10:43AM
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Stuart, I'm so sorry this happened! It's unbelievable, sort of hilarious (particularly the leaving of the cleaning supplies in their place), and awful, all at the same time. I must say from your recent pictures, it looks like they did a nice job of carefully removing the kitchen and not destroying everything else. Polite, considerate thieves: who knew?

In any case, the space you have remaining looks spacious and ready for a great layout. I would recommend starting with planning the layout while simultaneously researching your materials. I think knotty alder cabinets sound fantastic. If you like soapstone, but are currently on a budget, perhaps you can use some soapstone look-alike laminate for now, and in the future if budget allows, change to real soapstone. Here is a thread on soapstone look-alike laminates with some really nice pictures. I'm not certain if this is quite the aesthetic you're looking for, but a while back we did a Rustic Modern Design Around This thread where people played around with rustic modern designs. You might find some inspiration there.

I think many people here are interested in more than just kitchens (myself included). There is also an excellent bathrooms forum and decor forum where you might receive help if you have questions about those topics.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 11:01AM
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Do you have kitchens that you can go into and just check out? Your moms, sisters, aunts, grandmas? Go into the kitchens and start by asking them what do they like/dislike about their kitchens. What would they change? Measure how deep counters are, and get some visuals in your mind about how long is a 3' or 4' long counter, how high is their ceiling, the height between counter and upper cabinets. How are their cabinets configured. Walk around with a measuring tape and measure everything. Also go to kitchen showrooms, including Ikea and see, again, what do things actually look like in real life.

In this forum and when you are researching we believe in drawers. All drawers in the bottom and no cabinets on the bottom (well maybe one and the one under the sink). But if you want a kitchen to last put in all drawers. And don't let others talk you out of it.

When you start getting ideas post them here, with measurements and what can be changed and not changed (windows, doors, plumbing, electrical, etc) and let the fun begin.

Before I redid my kitchen I often hoped that a big tree would take it out during a wind storm (never happened) but I never thought to hope that someone would steal it. Unbelievable.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 11:37AM
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Thanks again everyone! I have been reading and searching pictures like crazy!

I found this kitchen and love the set up, I know I can't do a full wall where the microwave is due to my half wall but the fridge, stove, and sink are all just like I am currently planning.

I've also attached my hand made sketch with the measurements, I could not get the one I posted to be any big enough to be read.

Here is a link that might be useful: Another angle of houzz kitchen

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 2:13PM
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Great story Stuart! At first I figured you lived in Europe where people often take their standalone kitchens with them when they move. But I guess not. Like many have said, definitely a blessing in disguise.

Once you get some preliminary cabinet dimensions try laying blue painter's tape to represent the cabinets position and depth. Then spend some time walking around the kitchen pretending to work in it. Reach for the 'dishwasher', the cutlery drawer, fridge, etc. to get a better feel for what it would be like to have to do these things every day.

Looking forward to more tales from the kich.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 2:33PM
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Welcome! Perhaps you can find a cheap temporary set of cabinets on Craigslist? :)

I purchased my first house in my 20's and it had a kitchen that would not meet my needs today. But I loved what I had. The original kitchen in my current house had lots of faults, but it functioned for me at the time. At least I had one, right?

Once I got married and entertained larger groups on a more regular basis my kitchen location and design became more of a challenge. Plus, we both wanted to make changes to the whole house. My new kitchen is wonderful, meeting our needs and design tastes. We were lucky to have funds to make the house ours rather than mine. I'm in my "later" 40's.

So what I'm saying is that I agree with the others that you should go slow. Who knows, you might not end up married with a family and still in this house. My husband will tell you it's hard to move into someone else's space.

There's a good chance that the kitchen that is perfect today many not still be so in 10 or 20 years when you have a family. That's way too much pressure.

Do what makes sense for your budget first and neighborhood second while working with a design and materials that you still like. And yes, rely on people you know with similar taste and budgets.

Finally, come back often...even if it's only to surf anonymously!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:55PM
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Some of the most helpful things I used in planning
- a template I could draft on. Get (or print) a sheet of graph paper. Take the time to put a really accurate outline of the room and all doors and windows on it, to scale. Label all dimensions on the outside of the room. Then make about 50 copies to start. It's so easy to just keep whipping out new templates to draw on when you are brainstorming.
- carbord boxes. Use them to block off space to see now things would feel, for example if you had 30 in deep bases, or a 42 in aisle, or a half wall, or a table somewhere.

Also, get one of those keychain tape measures to carry around. I went through a phase where I would measure all sorts of things. Sinks at a friends house, height of a countertop, depth of an appliance, etc. just to get a sense of sizing and proportion. I'm a decently accurate estimator now, but it's great to see something you like, and be able to get dimensions that allow you to recreate that feel.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Has anyone pointed you to our GW Finished Kitchen Blog yet? Our Starpooh set all this up (I'm guilty--haven't entered mine yet--but soon)

This is a collection of well thought out fabulous kitchens that you cannot find anywhere else!


Here is a link that might be useful: FKB

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 8:59PM
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  1. How far is the window from the left wall?

How wide is the window? How far is the window from the right end of window wall (just before the angled wall on the right starts)? What is the distance b/w the 97.5" wall at the top and the 48-1/4" wall on the bottom? How wide is the diagonal pantry wall (the wall that connects the 23" and 21-1/4" walls of the pantry)? That pantry seems rather shallow, does it recess back into another room? Is that half-wall 42" off the finished floor? Last question (for now!) you have a rough layout of the entire first floor so we can see how the kitchen fits in with the flow of the rest of the house?

A few tips...

  • Be careful that you don't create a "barrier island" b/w the sink and refrigerator or range

Don't hang upper cabinets over the creates a barrier b/w someone in the kitchen and someone on the other side of the wall. Unless you are very short, you will have duck down to see and talk to someone on the other side. Consider mid-range cabinets - they usually give you the "biggest bang for the buck". Sometimes you can find a local custom cabinetmaker who is less expensive than even mid-range cabinets, but be very careful that you research them thoroughly. In the "Read Me" thread, there's a link to a thread that discusses what to look for and what questions to ask when looking into a cabinetmaker. Another cabinet option is IKEA. They are actually well-made. Many here have them and swear by them. It wouldn't hurt to check them out. Since budget is a concern, consider postponing some things until later...e.g., a decorative backsplash. You can save a couple of thousand dollars in materials & labor if you just paint it for now (use scrubbable paint for ease of cleaning). Another place to save is your counters - consider laminate for now and upgrade to a more expensive surface later (e.g., stone). You could save several thousands of dollars with laminate.

Regarding the reconfiguration of your kitchen...

You say you want this kitchen to be one that will stand the test of time. Yet, you don't want to change much b/c of funds.

I think you need to seriously think about this. If you want it to last, then you need to make it a very functional kitchen - and that may or may not mean moving plumbing, gas, and/or electric. Plumbing and gas shouldn't be that costly to move b/c you have a basement. In fact, you may find that it's one of the least expensive items!

Before you insist things cannot be moved, I suggest you consult a few plumbers and electricians to get a ballpark figure for the cost of moving plumbing & gas and, if needed, electricity.

You also have the option of a basement kitchen - so if you needed to wait a year or so to save additional funds you wouldn't be too bad off. Many, if not most, of us here have been without any kitchen at all for 6 months or more during the remodel process, and we survived (as did our...

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 11:02PM
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You have a double blessing here -- no demo and a credit for the stolen cabinets on one hand and a basement kitchen on the other. Yes, definitely take advantage of the basement kitchen and take your time doing the main kitchen right. It sounds like you have a lot of other things to work on, so focus on getting those smaller tasks done and then tackle the one big one with a million decisions when you aren't in shock, frazzled and trying to think of a hundred other things. That basement kitchen is a luxury right now -- definitely use it.

If the basement kitchen is something that will stay pretty much as is, then it might make sense to buy some appliances you would be happy keeping there, but if you aren't sure, you could look on Craig's list, freecycle, scratch and dent sales (our Lowe's has an end aisle where returns, displays and damaged appliances are sold). You can probably find a light fixture the same way, Habitat's ReStore or buy a new one for $50-100.

Do search for IKEA kitchens and looko at them. You can get doors from another vendor and have them made to fit (Scherr's is one I think others here have used). The knotty alder is pretty -- I love my knotty cherry so I can't argue with that at all, but the IKEA boxes will give you frameless construction at a budget price. The frameless boxes will help you maximize the space in that not-so many cabinets kitchen.

I would at least consider taking out the corner pantry (took one here and it really opened up the space -- and I really like the pantry cabinet with rollouts and the pullout tower I have). If you keep the pantry in the corner, be careful with the fridge depth and banging doors. You don't have the wall space either side of the pantry door to give you any cushion, and anything but a built-in fridge ($7-10K) will stick out enough to keep the pantry doors from opening fully if those are cabinet doors. If that is a walk-in door, the swing issue. Those issues will be harder to spot in an empty room, so plan carefully.

I'm out of time tonight -- will be interested in seeing how things go for you. I think you have a great opportunity here.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 11:52PM
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Hi SLTKota, geez what a story. However, it really gives you a shot at putting together a great kitchen. In your first post I read you have already purchased a microwave/vent. I suggest you read up on these, many feel MW/vents to be insufficient. I hope that you will consider putting in proper ventilation and find a spot for the MW elsewhere in the design. Furthermore I heartily second the use of drawer stacks for base cabinets and the advice of looking into Ikea kitchens. Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:45AM
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Once again, I just wanted to say thank you, everyone here has me excited every time I walk into my kitchen now, something I was dreading is now becoming fun. I can't wait to start playing with tape this weekend. Hopefully I will be able to get a preliminary layout done as well as get the measurements asked about.

The microhood that I already have is going to go downstairs in the guest kitchen that will not be used much, I'm not sure what type of hood will go in this kitchen just yet.

I am going to start carrying around a measuring tape to measure other kitchens, that is a great idea!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 11:50AM
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Elraes Miller

My favorite blog is Hooked on Houses for inspiration and great stories. She is having a kitchen contest. Today natural wood kitchens are shown. I love #3 and the rustic, but professional finish. Keep an eye out as she is going to show small kitchens competing. And keep looking, you will find so many options and fall in love. Also consider Ikea free standing kitchens. Price is great and allows a lot of wiggle room for design.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood kitchens

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 8:01AM
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I met with my GC and the cabinet maker Friday, after taking some blue painters tape over there Saturday I have pretty much decided to leave the fridge where it was before. Even with a cabinet depth pantry and enclosing part of the half wall I just could not come up with something that I liked without moving the walls to the pantry (something I can't afford to do) The pantry wall marked 23" before is actually 26" as well so a cabinet depth fridge would go great where it was previously.

My GC also informed me that a hood vented outside is pretty much out of the question without major work since the range won't be on an exterior wall, I can't do a down draft vent either without tearing up the floor (or the basement ceiling).

Now, to answer buehl's questions about some of the measurements:

1. How far is the window from the left wall?
Answer: 25.5" to the trim

2. How wide is the window?
Answer: 53" with trim (trim is 2.5)

3. How far is the window from the right end of window wall (just before the angled wall on the right starts)?
Answer: 18.5" from window trim to bend in wall

4. What is the distance b/w the 97.5" wall at the top and the 48-1/4" wall on the bottom?
Answer: 183" (15' 3")

5. How wide is the diagonal pantry wall (the wall that connects the 23" and 21-1/4" walls of the pantry)?
Answer: 34.5"

6. That pantry seems rather shallow, does it recess back into another room?
Answer: Nope, it does not but it is actually bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside, also the wall marked 23" is actually 26".

7. Is that half-wall 42" off the finished floor?
Answer: Exactly 42"

8. Last question (for now!) you have a rough layout of the entire first floor so we can see how the kitchen fits in with the flow of the rest of the house?
I will attach a rough sketch below, this is not to scale at all, the main entry room will be split to be half dining room half great room. It has a two story vaulted ceiling with a loft (above kitchen) overlooking.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 7:59AM
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Here is a sketch I did on some graph paper of an initial layout (it is pretty close to what was there before). It started out pretty close to scale (sink is NOT to scale) with one square being 6" but the squares are hard to see. (I also ran out of space).

After taping it off, I really like the exterior arrangement, I am having trouble with the island though.

I think the island needs to move away from the range and away from the front wall (the long wall that contains the half wall), it just felt too close to the pantry and like it would actually create a barrier in my main work space. Also, I would like to put a small breakfast table in the bay window, I am worried about running into issues with having enough room to walk between the table and the island.

I am thinking that due to this I should probably make the island smaller, I don't want to make it feel too small for the space though.

My parents have a 39" wide island with 36" wide walkways, I feel like it works well in there house but I think I will need more than that because of the pantry and future table in the bay window.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
Thanks again for all the help!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 8:15AM
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I have a wonderful quirky old cape in Maine, with a small but efficient kitchen. If I could only change ONE thing, it would be to have an externally vented hood, no matter what. If you are more of a Stouffers kind of guy, a microhood will work for you. But.

If you ever stir fry, or want to cook a great steak, or make pizza on a pizza stone in a smokin' hot oven, you need a good vent. Seriously.

Every time I make pizza, I set off the smoke detectors in my house. I no longer cook steak unless on the grill because of the greasy smokey residue in the house.

With your vaulted ceiling in the kitchen, all the cooking vapors will travel straight up to the ceiling and linger.

If I were you, I would ABSOLUTELY find a way to vent the range. Your GC may not know much about venting a range, but many here do and it can be done from an inside wall. I would ask around, Kaseki posted earlier and he knows a lot about venting.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 8:22AM
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I 2nd "ABSOLUTELY find a way to vent the range". Your GC has either limited knowledge or just doesn't want to do the work. I also have a quirkly old house and had to be creative to vent but we did it. So worth it.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 8:38AM
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I completely agree. First of all I would be leery of a GC who is already telling me things like 'absolutely can not be done.' He sounds like a Negative Nancy or as Debrak_2008 suggested has limited knowledge and wants to do things his way. Both possibilities are not good for you.

I did a quick search on GW and here are some links I found. Many people (including myself-now and my future house) have this problem, and there are a couple of solutions.

How is your inside wall hood vented

Through-wall vent for range hood

Paths for venting range hood to exterior

How do vent your cooktop and does it work well

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:25AM
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Stuart, I think this is going to be one of those threads/kitchens for the ages. Opening your thread, I was reminded of the guy who planned to remodel his kitchen as a surprise to the wife while she was gone on a roadtrip with the kids. He did it, and she loved it! Like that remodeler, you don't know for sure how another person will like your new kitchen. He had a time constraint.

If you really don't want to buy a full kitchen for the basement, I would suggest the following: a used full-size fridge for the basement, a decent microwave and a toaster oven. A Coleman stove would be nice but it must be used outside for safety. A covered porch is okay. Someday, you can sell that used fridge back on craigslist (and maybe you'll see your old kitchen while you are there).

If your future significant other (SO) is into cooking, the vent could really matter. I lived with a crummy vent for 15 years in this house. There was a nasty coat of goo on the walls, ceiling and even the top shelf dishes that I seldom used. I did not stirfry that frequently either. Does your GC cook extensively himself? If not, he is going to discount concerns about the range hood.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:25PM
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Stuart, wow, that's quite a story!!! My goodness - I haven't been on here much lately.

Just skimmed over all the replies, but I would urge you to take your time in getting the kitchen together - it sounds like you would like to do this once and be done for quite some time.

It sounds like you have a good option to live in the basement area while getting everything else completed? I didn't read, are you planning on that becoming a rental unit for someone?

People on this site are amazing - if you are able to keep an open mind on what you want to do with that space, you can wind up with an amazingly functional kitchen that will be beautiful too.

I see that the current issue is outside venting. If you ever intend for anything more than mac 'n cheese to be cooked in the house, you really need to vent to the outside. I don't understand why people even do non-vented - it's wind up with smells from cooking and worse still, airborne micro-particles of oil/grease floating through the air and sticking everywhere. Actually, the fan portion of a non-vented hood serves to toss the grease out further. Trust me...I've inherited a kitchen where we have that's not pretty. You almost definitely CAN vent, the issue is that it might take a little extra ductwork and general work to make it happen which of course, increases the overall cost. Honestly, no matter how much it would increase the cost, to me, outside venting is a must.

Also, it's worth noting that most GC (and unfortunately) many kitchen designers know NOTHING or next to about using a kitchen to cook efficiently. And, in my experience, they will challenge you as to why you want something the way you do because it's easier for them to do it a different way/the way they always do it...even if it's not the best possible outcome for someone to cook.

Trust in the overall wisdom here - a tremendous number of people on here have extensive knowledge of laying out a kitchen AND also use the kitchen frequently...they will help guide you. Take your time - there's no sense in rushing this.

If you need a temporary kitchen where you can cook, get a decent sized fridge off of Craigslist. Get a microwave. And maybe look into one of the Breville Smart Ovens - they are more than just a toaster oven and can be easily made a part of the new kitchen...they actually function as a true 2nd oven for many people who have them.

Also, the suggestion about IKEA cabinets if you are on a more moderate budget is a sound one. There are companies that will do custom doors for the IKEA cabinets that might be an option for you since you mentioned wanting a certain type of wood.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 3:58PM
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Have you saged your home to bless it or cleanse it of negative energy? Just wanted to wish you good luck in your new home and with your reno. This site helped us so much during our remodel and we mostly lurked, rarely posted. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:25PM
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Hi, SLTKota. I like your new home's layout. One thing jumps out at me, though. That back room has to accommodate both a kitchen and the dining area. Not a breakfast area. You need to be able to expand whatever table is there and seat 8 people.

Good news is, you have the room.

Reality is, if it were mine, I'd absolutely define an adequate space for the dining function and put the kitchen function in the remaining space. A very good kitchen can be placed to the left (on the diagram) of the bay window.

Some perspective is in order, especially since you don't cook and need to acquire it from outside, and that is a potential problem because very little of the real thing is to be found there. I strongly advise you not to be carried away by the trend these days of making the kitchen much larger than it needs to be to be a pleasure to work in. Design a kitchen appropriate in size to the size of your house.

An awful lot of people coming here have too-large spaces that they are busy filling willy-nilly. Fantastic spending sprees, the must-have list grows very long to reflect all the possibilities, and the final kitchens are very pretty, and expensive; but, in the end, they are often as much as a third and to a half infill. And that's by today's standards. You could drop a compact, efficient kitchen into one end of many of them and play dodgeball in the rest of the space.

Other good news is that by providing your home with a good kitchen and a good dining area, you'll not only increase the value of the property but save a whole lot of money. Don't think future buyers, if any, would be so impressed by a big gorgeous kitchen that they wouldn't realize immediately that their table wouldn't fit and that they'd never be able to do a family Thanksgiving in that house.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 3:56PM
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I'm thinking of your interim cooking needs. Have you seen the infomercial for NuWave Portable Induction cooktops? Right now, the offer is that you get 2 of these 12" induction hobs, and some pans that work on them, all for $100 plus S&H. These seem so much better to me than a regular hotplate, and they'd allow you to cook things like grilled cheese sandwiches and eggs. You may even find you love induction and decide to put induction instead of gas in your kitchen.

BTW-I have no connection with NuWave, I just thought it looked like a good little hotplate. There are other single induction hobs on the market as well.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 12:32PM
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I met with a KD and priced out some Dura Supreme cabinets that I fell in LOVE with! She is coming out to the house tomorrow for to measure and work on the design.

Rosie, I do agree that it would be tight to have the dinning table and kitchen in the same back room. My plan it to have the back room just a kitchen with a breakfast nook in the bay window. I have a dinning room table that can easily seat 8 people that I plan to put on the left side of the front room (with the right side of the front room having a couch /seating area with the entry between them).

Also, my GC didn't say that I couldn't do a hood over the range period, just that it wouldn't be practical for my current budget and that it is something I can add in later down the road if I ever have the cooking skills to need one (he is a big cook and knows my current cooking ability is one that involves canned good and mac and cheese). He also pointed out that the range I've been cooking on for the past few years is not vented outside and I have never had an issue.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 8:24AM
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Do you boil water for your mac and cheese? Where does all the steam go? On your walls and cabinets?

For the 1st time in my life I have a real vented hood and it is wonderful. I am not a gourmet cook. My kitchen will stay much cleaner now.

I don't know how much your gc is going to charge you for your vent. I do know my DH did it himself and it wasn't even on an outside wall. It was fairly easy and low cost.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 8:44AM
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Stuart--I didn't realize entirely what was happening with my cruddy apartment-level hood until I went to remodel. I needed to scrub my ceiling to repaint it. The gunk on it was so gross, and it wouldn't come off easily with soap and water. I used several cleaners before I found one that worked well.

I am not a gourmet cook either, but if you fry hamburgers or pork chops on the stove top, boil water for tea or mac and cheese as mentioned above, you will have stuff on your ceiling.

I DO understand budget; in fact, we were a partial DIY for that reason. My suggestion is as follows:
1. Good layout
2. Sturdy Cabinets and a real hood (these are the "bones" of your kitchen)
3. Hunt for used or closeout on the appliances if needed and upgrade over time. Note that there are appliance shops that will sell reconditioned if you don't trust craigslist.
4. Go with a really nice laminate countertop if stone is out of the budget. Ask your contractor to build the base units strong enough for stone if you think you want to sub out down the line.

And as a side note, literally four days ago, we discovered our new fridge (18 months old) had a clogged drain. Being stubborn DIY people, we took the entire freezer apart to get to the drain and hairdryer all the ice and run hot water through the line. But my point is, that new appliances are not perfect either. I read that what happened to us is not uncommon.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 11:02AM
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What about an under cabinet vent with the venting on top, and run it right along the ceiling to vent on the sink wall? Depending on the shape and ceiling height you might be able to use 36 in cabinets and put the ducting behind the trim, or as some have done, run the cabinets to the ceiling but those few cabinets would have shallow shelves on top with the duct running behind.

I'm glad our ceiling is being replaced, it would've impossible to clean. Plus the wallpaper will go, so we don't have to clean the walls. It is a nightmare to clean rarely used dishes or display items. I moved some glasses from open shelves to a curio cabinet and even soaking in soapy water and a good scrub with a rag didnt get the oil/dust residue off completely.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 11:42AM
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Those are great ideas, Williamsem.

Stuart, even if you don't immediately buy the hood, to do what williamsem is suggesting, you need to decide this now and have the ducting in place and order your cabinets with that in mind. The same with having the proper electrical outlets inside the cabinet to hook it up.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 2:44PM
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Just a quick update! It doesn't look like much has happened since my demo was done so prematurely haha. I've also been busy picking out things for the rest of the house.

For the kitchen,
Sheet rock, paint, and electric work
(moving plugs and putting wiring in for over and under cabinet lights) is done! (for the most part).

Sheetrock work and paint for the rest of the house is also wrapping up! (I am having to remodel the entire house thanks to an F3 tornado)

So far I have a sink and dishwasher that I got at a closeout store for a wonderful price and I believe I have the rest of the appliances picked out as well. I am hoping I will be able to start a new layout thread soon with the current ideas (I'll link to it when I do). I am also just about sold on brushed/leather textured jet mist granite for the counters.

Thanks again for all the help! Everyone here has helped me move from a state of panic to being very very excited!
Thanks again!

P.S. Yes, I am having a professional construction cleaning crew come in and clean! They spent about 3 weeks doing sheet rock and tornado damage repair so the place is filthy! You can hardly see the blue tape left over from playing with the layout.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:32AM
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