Our family's modest kitchen!

CamGDecember 29, 2013

Whew, we're moved into the new house, and here's the kitchen.

First off, thanks to everyone who answered my many questions while we were designing and building. There are too many of you to name, but in particular, I want to thank lavender_lass and kirkhall for their tireless attention to my many issues, Greendesign who suggested putting the fridge where it is (which I never would have considered), and Hollysprings for suggesting a slab door that I paint with chalkboard paint (which I also never would have considered). There was some advice we didn't take--range hood, more drawers, nixing the kitchen desk, cabinet pantry instead of walk-in--but we strongly considered them and were able to make purposeful decisions in those areas, so they helped, too.

We finished almost two months ago, but I kept waiting for a chance that things were clean to get some good photos--and just before my son's 2nd birthday was about as good as it gets, folks. Besides, it's nice to see kitchens in action, right?

Ultimately, not a fancy or particularly nice kitchen, but we love it, and think it fits our goals well (comfortable, can handle a large family). Maybe this post can give ideas (on what to do or what NOT to do!) especially for those building more modest kitchens.

Here's a main shot of the kitchen:

One of our favorite things about this house is our chalkboard door. As mentioned above, this is just a hollow slab door that I primed and painted on all sides with Rustoleum chalkboard paint. It's holding up really well, considering my son's idea of drawing is to try to stab the door with chalk. But it's been really fun for us, putting different messages on to visitors, or each other.

Here's our sink and faucet. It's a chrome Kohler Simplice. I love it, except the handle is occasionally difficult to operate, as if it gets slightly stuck, but I think that may be a defect in this model (when I figure out how to reliably reproduce it, I'll be calling the plumber to report it.) But we love how tall it is, how it looks, and the pull-down spray snaps back into place perfectly (I think with a magnet), unlike the other pull-out faucets we've had. We also have a black composite sink, but I don't know the brand.

This is our desk. This was always non-negotiable with my wife, and I'm glad I didn't fight her on it. We love keeping the laptop there, as we usually have only a few minutes to get on it here and there, so if we had to fish it out of a drawer someplace, we rarely would. And it served as a great drink station at a Christmas party we hosted.

We love this placement of the fridge. When GreenDesigns suggested it on a post I made, I thought it was crazy. Then others seconded the suggestion, and I warmed up to it--but not until it was finished did I really decide I liked it. It is so nice to have access to the fridge and the water/ice dispenser so close to the table. It's on the edge, but not interfering with, the working area of the kitchen. That's much better than cramming it on the wall with the range, as I had planned. By the way, the fridge is a GE GSH25JGDBB, available for around $800 if you look. It's pretty clearly the best, and one of the only, textured fridges still around.

This is our little lady playing in the island cabinet, which is one reason we decided not to go with drawers here. In one of the cabs, I'm going to put vertical dividers for placing cookies trays and such on end.

Also notice the floor in this shot. It is Traffic Master Allure Plus American Cherry from Home Depot, a LVT that sticks together (but floats on the floor). I installed it myself, and it was, well, not especially easy, mostly because the edges are beveled, and so we had to be careful to keep the pattern consistent across the whole first floor. It also scratches more easily than the medium-grade laminate we had in our old house. But it is pretty much waterproof, which is what we were were looking for, and I bought it for $1.38/sf!

For equal opportunity, here's a totally gratuitous picture of our son licking a beater at the island.

One thing that doesn't show up in the pictures is the pull-out trash on the right of the sink.

Also a word about our lighting. We went with only can lights, 6 total, which is considerably less than is generally recommended. We also put in LED tape for undercabinet lighting. Finally, we have above cabinet outlets that I just put rope-lighting in (I'll post a picture when my new camera gets here). Despite so few lights and a fairly small window, we feel like there is plenty of light, even at night, and we often only use the three perimeter lights and the undercabinet lights. The rope lighting above the cabinets is pretty much useless unless every other light is turned off--but it's handy when bringing kids down to get medicine or milk in the middle of the night, for a soft glow that isn't too bright.

And that's about it. Thanks again for everyone's thoughts and thanks for looking--it's so exciting to be on this side of the project!

This post was edited by CamG on Sun, Dec 29, 13 at 18:52

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Congratulations!!! I'm sure it feels really good to be moved in and have a kitchen that works well for your family. I too will only have can lighting - it works for me....not too fussy and gets the job done. I love the chalkboard door. That's a great idea especially with kids....way to get them involved in the kitchen at an early age. Enjoy your new home!!!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 5:26PM
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Your cabinets are beautiful, love the rich wood stain. What a great island cabinet to keep the little ones entertained while you prep & cook. Lovely family, lovely kitchen. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 5:50PM
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I love your kitchen. It looks comfy, well functioning, warm, and not just for looks. Love the chalkboard door! Make sure to take pictures of your kids' artwork and special messages. It'll be a wonderful record for years to come.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 5:53PM
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Modest is good, and functional. Enjoy. What I could see. I seem to have a problem with anyone who posts pix from TinyPic, ultra slow, or not there? Except for the finale, of Mr. Licker helping do the dishes.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 5:54PM
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Just a suggestion: You may get more comments, and certainly more eyeballs, if you "lighten" (reduce the data size of) your pictures considerably.

The first one alone is more than ONE MILLION bytes of data. That is extremely heavy and prevents additional pictures from downloading for people who don't have a very high-speed, broadband connection. After repeated tries I have only managed to see the top two pics (and the second hasn't fully d/l, yet.)

What I can see is very nice and I'd like to see more!


    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 5:56PM
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Thanks everyone! liriodendron, I'm glad you mentioned that. I think I've reworked it so the pictures are smaller, but are links to the higher-res. I borrowed a DSLR to take these and forgot how big the file sizes are. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 6:53PM
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Very nice and I had to chime in to say that I love the pics of your helpers. My daughter (21 months) has the same elephant paci and I'm afraid she'll take it to college she loves it so much. I don't see too many other kids with those but I have made a lot of converts when giving them as shower gifts (hidden agenda: my daughter won't be the only one bringing a Wubbanub to college).


    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 7:19PM
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So happy for you! You may have ended up with something fancier if you had waited and saved for a decade or longer….but then you wouldn't have the same young children who can enjoy and benefit from such a fabulous, family kitchen! That really looks like a wonderful space and you are wise to customize it for your family's needs. Lucky them. Congratulations!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 7:30PM
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Great job and thank you for sharing!
You will love the vertical dividers in your drawers.
Great idea for the chalkboard door - I might have to do a section of our pocket door with chalkboard! Thanks for the idea.
And you little one- I am partial to those red heads!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 7:39PM
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Love your cabinets, and, although I may be in the minority, I really do like the look of your drop-in sink, with the slim border. I nearly did the same myself.
Thanks for posting!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 8:06PM
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Looks lovely! Seems like it really works for you, and is beautiful. Great job!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 9:27PM
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camg - your in! Yay! How wonderful to be finished and enjoying the space. I think it looks great and a perfect example of gleaning what you can from here while staying true to your family's needs and your budget.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 8:21AM
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i love your cabinets but you don't say what they are. what kind of countertop did you put in? i am hoping to redo my very modest kitchen in summer and am still looking for counters/cabinets so i am interested in any info you can pass on

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 11:17AM
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Good layout and materials. It should be easy to work in.

I like it. :)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 3:28PM
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I'm coming in late, but I wanted to tell you how much I like what you've done. Your kids are cute, too.

You said your kitchen was "not a fancy or particularly nice kitchen." I absolutely beg to differ. It's well thought out, pleasing to the eye, and most of all (to me) it sounds like it's very functional for your family.

That, my friend, is a nice kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 3:59PM
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Cam- Congrats! It looks wonderful....tell your wife I love the desk! LOL When do we get to see pictures of the rest of the house??? :)

Your little helpers are adorable! The chalkboard door is a great idea.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 4:07PM
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I also like the desk! Nice to see an attractive space that seems to work so well for your family.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:37PM
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I also have a modest kitchen. It's nice to see others for ideas. Glad you enjoy it. And your little helpers are adorable :)

I agree with CEFreeman...

"It's well thought out, pleasing to the eye, and most of all (to me) it sounds like it's very functional for your family.

That, my friend, is a nice kitchen".

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 12:10AM
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Thanks everyone for the kind words! (Sorry I just saw all of these responses)

ardcp, the cabinets are Koch Cabinets (which is online), expres, birch in brandy stain, the least expensive style they had (which we happened to like!). The countertops are Wilsonart Laminate Milano Quartz. One of my regrets is getting the "blind" edge--I wish I would have gotten the beveled or curved edge, and there's a long story why we couldn't. It's a bit sharp in the corners, which is uncomfortable for your forearms sitting at the bar, and the non-radius corners look a bit dangerous.

I would highly recommend splurging on undercabinet lighting, unless you've got a lot more lighting than we have. We did LED tape lights. We feel like the general lighting is pretty good, and we'd probably be okay without it, but boy is it nice to have the task lighting under each cab. As I've mentioned, I don't care much for the over cabinet lighting except as mood lighting when it's otherwise completely dark. I'll snap a pic of the above cabinet lighting as soon as we clean our kitchen again.

LL, glad you saw this!! I've been trying to find the time to post about the rest of the house. I've got the pictures taken, and although I don't find the rest quite as interesting as we didn't modify it all that much, I will be sure to post in the Building a Home section. At least we can show off the fireplace that I had the builders beef up and our through-the-wall dog door!

Yes, our desk really gets tons of use, and I don't see that changing as our kids do more and more. I like that there is a specific spot for my son to have his computer time, even on the ipad.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 12:05PM
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