Return to the Kitchens Forum | Post a Follow-Up

I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

Posted by malna (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 2, 12 at 6:59

New to this forum, but not to Gardenweb. I've read a lot of the posts here, but I'm still totally lost.

We had a fire in the kitchen a few weeks ago, so it's time for a remodel. A total remodel. It's a 1950's kitchen and I absolutely hate it, so I'm not terribly distressed about the fire, to tell you the truth.

The only things damaged in the fire were some upper cabinets, part of the wood on the window above the sink, the faux brick backsplash and the hideous Formica countertop. That's all we are getting reimbursed for by the insurance company.

We need a new floor. The existing one is 1970's peel and stick tiles, most of which have come off. So it's raw plywood. Charming, I know.

The layout is horrible, the storage is non-existent and we've cobbled together some old laminate cabinets, a hutch, etc. just to have a place to put "stuff". We cook a lot and DH loves pots, pans, appliances, gadgets, etc. and there is nowhere to put them.

Where do I start? Pick the cabinets first (we are going to replace them all) or the flooring (we have two dogs, two cats, and two messy cooks so we're looking at sheet vinyl for easy clean-up)? DH and I have never been able to agree on decor - it's a 1920's bungalow so I want an Arts and Crafts look but I'm not a purist.

The appliances are all stainless. The window above the sink will probably be replaced with a narrower one, and we may move the door, but I'm not sure about that yet. Depends on the budget. Which isn't much.

Here's the existing layout for reference (I'm too embarrassed to post photos :-) Any ideas? DH was a cabinetmaker, so to save some money, we'll install the cabinets ourselves. Not sure exactly what we will be contracting out (my brother is a contractor, so that helps) and what will be DIY yet.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

assuming the freezer and refrigerator are non-negotiable...put the dishwasher to the right of sink.does the hutch wall have counter? keep the 17 in depth there ...[you can do it with cabs and counter]. Design a better island with microwave drawer,thereby eliminating the protruding mwave oven next to hutch.You can do more than a cart and portable dishwasher in the middle.The entry area with freezer offers options,but if you wish to keep the chest freezer[vs upright-smaller unit], the way you have it would likely remain.Good luck and don't worry about showing pics if it benefits in your planning....people understand-things happen.

RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

Awww. You sound stressed. Many, if not most, if not all here can relate to that, don't worry. You're not alone and you'll get as much help as you need from GW.

My best advice at this stage comes from my past year experience in planning my (still not started) kitchen remodel.

Start with your layout. Layout is everything. Style and color and finishes follow that. A beautiful kitchen without a well thought out floor/storage/traffic plan will be beautiful but just as frustrating as your old kitchen.

I started out with colors and floors, etc and shortly had to realize (and luckily so) that I had the cart waaayy ahead of the horse.

There are layout Einsteins on here and you'll be hearing from them shortly. I have a question for you: is there a wall between the fridge and chest freezer or are they right next to each other?

It seems like your fridge might be better over where the microwave is? That would give you a nicer countertop to the left of your sink (and a spot for a built in DW) and if you shrink your window, you might find it helpful to scootch your sink down to the left a bit, giving you more prep space between your sink and stove. That would involve moving plumbing, though.. but just a little.

Chin up! It can be overwhelming at first, but it'll all work out okay. Have you read the planning a new kitchen thread that is always somewhere in the top of the first page? Do that if you haven't already.

RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

First off, I am sorry to hear about the fire ... And I understand the sentiment of, "Meh, I hated that kitchen anyways."

My suggestions:

  • change chest freezer and portable DW for upright freezer and built in DW
  • for the budget, really consider IKEA cabinets ... Even if you need to go with Scherr doors and drawer fronts.
  • are you doing granite or quartzite or laminate counters? If granite, I would start looking at that before deciding on a cabinet finish personally. But I'd also say to not rule out laminate too quickly, it seems like the newer colors and styles hold up well and are very attractive.
  • prioritize! What is most important to you? Storage or prep space? What kitchen stuff is homeless today (specialty pots and pans, big knife collection, etc). What frequent kitchen tasks have you cursing the space you have (canning, baking, prepping a whole pig for a BBQ).

    Last thing ... The door at the top of the drawing (on the 104" wall), can it be moved?

  •  o
    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Thanks for the help so far and the reassurance that I might just live through this.

    Some answers to your questions in no particular order:

    1. Everything is negotiable as far as I'm concerned. Except having a separate freezer in the kitchen. We do have an upright freezer in the basement. We have talked about moving the chest freezer down there and bringing up the upright. It's 28" wide, 27" deep and 54" high, so a much smaller footprint than the chest freezer. Also the area between the beam and the back door was an addition so I'm pretty sure that area is concrete slab. No plumbing or floor penetrations there.

    2. The plumbing will have to be replaced, so moving it in the area with basement below is no big deal. There is still some 1930's wiring but no power to it as far as we know, so that will be replaced. We've already replaced a lot of the 1950's wiring in the kitchen, but most of the receptacles are surface mounted on the wall (it was quicker) and will be put in the wall when we demo, insulate and sheetrock it.

    3. We'd love to move the door (might be a budget concern, though - I have no idea yet). Ideally to where the window is above the chest freezer. That would open onto the patio outside instead of having to walk out the back and around the corner. Basically we'd swap the door and the window now above the chest freezer.

    4. We have a large garden plus we hunt and fish, and I do a lot of canning. We do have an outdoor kitchen, so to speak, with a two burner propane stove, sink and grill so that's where the summer canning is done. We do butcher our own game (yes, in the kitchen. Another reason for a very easy-to-clean floor.) So we have a lot of large pots, meat grinder, etc. Currently, the pots are hanging off the beam. Anyone over 5-11" quickly learns to duck.

    5. We were thinking about stainless countertops. I'm not crazy about laminate countertops. I have them in my office (we built all the office furniture). DH said no granite and definitely no solid surface like Corian. I'm not sure why the instant "No" about the granite though. He didn't elaborate - it was just "No".

    6. I suggested moving the refrigerator to the wall where the oven and microwave are. Again, DH just said "No" with no specific reason. I think I'll to mock it up with some large sheets of cardboard to show him it won't stick out as much as he thinks it will and block the traffic flow into the bathroom and bedroom.

    6. We just bought the portable DW in September to replace an ancient one that we couldn't get parts for. I'm pretty sure it can be converted to a built-in if I can work it into the layout. It's a handy island for right now, though.

    7. I would like it to function as a two-cook kitchen. Right now, one of us gets out when the other is cooking because we trip over each other.

    8. What's important to me: Storage for dishes, bowls, etc. and a larger lower (30-31") countertop area to do things like roll out dough, make pizza. etc. Right now I do that on the cart and it's too small. But I've learned to live with it. A lot of pantry storage - I do bake a lot and have a zillion kinds of flour, spices, and things like that. The shelving is cobbled together from an old open shelf videotape storage unit (tall) and some KV standards with brackets with plywood shelving. It's functional, but it sure isn't purty.

    9. What's important to DH: As long as he has his "stuff" handy while he's cooking, he's happy.

    I'll keep messing with the floor plan and see what I can come up with. Thanks again!

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Given how you use the kitchen, I would suggest you consider soapstone or --and I know you said you didn't want this -- Corian.

    Soapstone is hard working, easily maintained and period appropriate. Scratches can be sanded out, or left in for the authenticity use brings.

    The new Corians are a million times more attractive than the old ones, and have some of the same features as soapstone. Scratches can be sanded out, some damages can be repaired, etc. Seams are invisible and don't collect gunk.

    The other thing I recently saw that looked like a good solution to add counter space was an undermount sink with a large wooden pastry board designed to set over the sink precisely. Use it to roll out dough, etc. then lift it up, slide it back and sweep the excess flour and crumbs into the sink.

    Good luck, I hope this gives you an opportunity to turn a lemon into some dandy lemonade.

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Our kitchen dimensions are similar to yours, with doorways in the same locations. This is how I rearranged ours and it is a FANTASTIC layout for us:

    (You would need to shift over the doorway beside your range so you could get a full-depth cabinet on the wall where you now have the MW. This may or may not work with your dimensions so take all this with a slight grain of salt...)

    1. Shift the sink to the left, out from under the window if needed, and park it more or less where your fridge is now (wherever makes sense with the cabinets and window). DW goes to left of sink.

    2. Range is in the same place but scooted up against the corner cabinet (no small cab in between). Whatever size cab you can fit between range and doorway goes on the other side of range.

    3. Move fridge to where you have the hutch now, and the rest of that run can be either just cabinets with a work counter for a second cook, or you can add a small secondary sink on the end of the run (away from the fridge) if there's room and budget for it. (We have a secondary sink there and it's terrific for somebody fixing salads or coffee or whatever while main cook is working between the big sink and range.) We have our MW in an upper cabinet immediately to the right of the fridge.

    The advantage in our kitchen is that we now have a long stretch of counter to the right of the main sink, convenient to the range for prep and baking.

    We used IKEA and I would do it again in a heartbeat. We also have their butcherblock countertop and I love it. I highly recommend drawers in all the lower cabinets except the sink one.

    Sorry for your fire, good luck with the reno!

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    The one piece of advice I can give you is to take your time if at all posible. We had a disaster hit our kitchen last January. We lived with our partially usable kitchen for several months trying to decide how much to redo. Like you, only a part of the kitchen was covered by insurance but we felt if we were ever going to remodel this was the time.

    It wasn't until June that we finally settled on a final layout - after drawing up several. The advice you will get on GW is invaluable. It is well worth taking the time to "chew" over different ideas. The zone method is useful for a multi-cook kitchen. A cooking/prep zone, a clean-up zone and a baking zone helps keep people from tripping over each other. You might be able to talk to you DH about moving things if he could see how handy it would be to have fridge and pantry near the cook and prep zones.
    A bit of a warning - you may/will feel very overwhelmed and stressed out for quite a while while you make a plethora (my DS's favorite word) of decisions. Don't worry, many of us have been down that road but once you reach the other side and have your new kitchen you will tend to forget the anxiety and pain of the past (sounds like childbirth!)

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Have you negotiated with the insurance company? Have you gotten quotes for replacement of the damaged items?

    You had a small kitchen fire that went out on its own? Did you use a fire extinguisher or water? Was the fire department involved? What about smoke damage to the kitchen or anything else in the house?

    Most insurance companys are for profit corporations, their job is to make as much money as possible. They do this by bring in more premiums than they pay in claims. As a rule the first $ offered is not the last number they will pay, its what they want you to take so they can make more money.

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Like Deedles, I think you should slow down! I know you want to charge full steam ahead, but don't! It's better to live w/a "temporary kitchen" for awhile than to move so quickly that you make mistakes that are too late to fix when you encounter them...particularly layout!

    Check out the "Read Me" thread (linked below) has a basic description of how to start/what to do.

    1. Read the "Read Me" thread - in particular the "Layout Help" and "Planning for Storage" topics.

    2. Take the "Sweeby Test" (linked in the "Read Me" thread), if you haven't already. This will help you verbalize what you want out of your kitchen - the overall feel and look, how you want to use it, etc.
    3. Think about what "extras" you want. E.g., a built-in pantry (reach-in/step-in/walk-in) vs pantry cabs (more expensive and hold less than a built-in pantry, btw) vs upper/lower cabs for food, small appliance, etc. storage.
    4. Next, work on the layout...try out as many ideas as you can think of...and we'll do the same here for you.
    5. Once you have settled on a layout, think about storage...Plan what configuration your cabinets will be...E.g., all drawers vs standard cabs w/doors & roll-out shelves (generally less functional than drawers).
    6. Now...the aesthetics!

      • Cabinets: What door/drawer style, what wood species, what finish, etc.

      • Counters: Natural Stone (soapstone, granite), Laminate, Engineered Stone (Silestone, Caesarstone, etc.), Corian, Butcher Block, Concrete, etc.

      • Floors: Hardwood, Tile, Bamboo, Laminate, Linoleum, etc.

      • Backsplash: None, 4" backsplash of counter material, tile/quartz/etc., other

      • Appliances:
        • What you want (Ref, Range, Cooktop, Wall oven, range hood, MW, Warming Drawer, etc.)
        • "Color" (stainless steel, white, black, other)
        • Built-in w/cabinet door vs stand alone
        • Type of each appliance (E.g., Refrigerator: Bottom Freezer, All Fridge/All Freezer columns, French Door, Side-by-Side; Cooking: range or cooktop + oven(s); MW: Built-in, MW Drawer, alcove, on
          the counter, shelf above counter, etc.)

    7. There are other steps, of course - e.g., finding a Kitchen Designer, if you want one, finding a GC if you are not planning to run the project yourself, etc. - but this list will get you started

    For layout help, I suggest starting a new thread and be sure the Subject indicates you want layout help.

    Good luck!

    Here is a link that might be useful: New To Kitchens? Posting Pics? Read Me!

    Window - Counter height?

    Window...I suggest making it counter-height. Counter-height windows open up a room, provides better natural light (during the daytime, of course!), and is just nicer aesthetically! A bump-out would be nice as well (6" to 9" or so - no foundation needed for that small amount).

    Here is a link that might be useful: Thread: counter height window pictures please

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Do take your time to make sure you plan and thing things through. It took us much, much longer to plan our kitchen. We camped out with a grill, microwave, crockpot, camping stove and toaster oven for months and I'd have gladly done it longer if I had to in order to know I had a workable plan.

    I grew up in the insurance business (my dad was an independent agent, so I saw both sides of working claims). Your policy is what guides what is covered, but I do question whether you might have water or smoke damage, whether you might be entitles to replace items that are part of a matched set -- like cabinets, and whether things like electrical lines might have been damaged. If your floor or lower cabinets were damaged by water, those may be covered as well. If you have not, do not sign off on a claim amount until you have read the terms of your policy (may need to review applicable state laws too), gotten bids, and even then I would not sign off on a final settlement of your claim until the work is done. Just like an auto repair after an accident, it is very possible, if not somewhat likely that you will find somethings that need work once you get into the demo and repairs -- like damaged wiring or things that are not up to code and have to be changed. You need to know who pays for the upgrade.

    Don't be ashamed to post pictures. You just had a fire and it's an old kitchen you want to improve! You've got nothing to be ashamed of, and even with all that, we've probably seen worse. If not, then you deserve even more help. ;-)

    Do switch the freezers -- a chest takes up too much room for a kitchen, and be patient but persistent with DH and the things you need to do to make the kitchen work. He's probably upset and/or overwhelmed too, but you will both regret rushing to get something in place without making sure you do the best you can. Taking some time to plan also gives you time to find deals on things that you need to replace -- sales, resales, etc.

    Best of luck with everything.

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    I did want to thank you all for the many ideas and good wishes!

    You've given me a lot to think about and we're in the first stages of planning. Not DOING as so many of you pointed out!

    Over Christmas, I'll be working on layout ideas, since that is a busy time in the kitchen and now I can think ahead to "Well, how would this work if _______ was over here or _____ was taller/shorter/wider/and so on?"

    Thank you all again and...I'll be back :-)

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    I had a fire, too. The smoke damage is incredible, no matter where the fire actually happens. I lost 4 pets; I hope you and yours are all safe.

    I cannot say enough good things about my insurance man and company. How often do you hear that!? But they are fantastic . Sadly, my DH, GC by license and contract was the contractor on the job and he bailed on me in 2007. I've been rebuilding on my own ever since.

    The good news about poverty is that it's given me a lot of time to think, reorganize, build, replace, and just plan improve (ok, change) my kitchen.

    My layout pretty much remains the same, but the little things happen. However, in my future, for example, when I can save for soapstone counters, I'll also be taking out the window over my sink and making a counter height one.
    I'm going to rearrange another whole run of base cabinets to move a trash pull-out next to the stove where I prep. This involves uninstalling 16' of cabs, shifting them, reinstalling them, all underneath the BB countertop I built. That example is to demonstrate why one should take it slowly. I didn't think any ideas would work for me, then prepping and dumping stuff into the waste basket I'd pulled over, I had a brain storm.

    My suggestion to add to the mix is small but I found important. Wherever you end up installing your outlets, use quad outlets. The 2-plug outlets are outdated in the face of electrical usage of this decade, let alone century. I also put it 220 (the ones with the little, horizontal slit on them?) for a heavier appliance demand. Already I'm wishing I had more outlets by the stove. And I barely cook alone!

    Oh! And remember you don't need 14000 different outlet boxes along your counters, etc. They make a huge variety of boxes where you can have them all neatly tucked into one box. On one side of my sink I have 2 outlets, a UCL switch, and the switch for the peninsula pendants. The other side is the light over the sink switch, GD, and 2 outlets. All neatly tucked into a box that holds 4 things. They make light switch plates with as many as 12 switches in it, so don't let anyone tell you they're not made. .

    Along with Ikea, since you guys sound incredibly handy, I'd suggest looking at building your own boxes. You could purchase your own face frames and doors from Barker (doors), or someone like Brian at the Cabinet Joint .com for the package of face frames and doors together. You'd save a TON of money and get exactly what you want.

    I've taken a bunch of cabinets and knocked the face frames off to replace them with beaded inset, which makes my heart sing. [lol] No kidding! I've also retrofitted base cabinets to take drawers, which makes my life SO MUCH EASIER!

    So there is my $.02. Hang in there and just realize there's no prize for finishing fast. Finish well.

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    CE: you are so gol-dang handy, girl! Your resourcefulness and perseverance is an inspiration to me. Just sayin'

    Anyway, to the OP: I hope you keep us in the loop as you move forward!

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Oh, CEFreeman, I am so sorry about your furkids. Thank goodness mine came through this OK - I don't have human children, so our four ARE "the children".

    And thanks for the tips and tricks. More ideas to put on "the list".

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Hey, Malna,
    you are getting great help here, Buehl is a guru of layouts. I would also suggest you do some searches, with Google to read old layout posts to get thinking. I checked out a lot of books at the library, especially the ones that had before/after layout drawings.

    I am wondering what you butcher. We always did our own chickens. My dad mostly sent out our beef and pork for butchering, but one time we did a whole pig and I remember a large, 5x8 table just being full. When you post your layout request, I would suggest you describe what space you need ideally for butchering because people mostly won't know (including me).

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    I remember telling my then-fiance that I didn't care what he hunted, but I really didn't want him cleaning raccoons and squirrels in the kitchen sink. Luckily, although he did get a deer, the Great White Hunter pretty much hunted in his imagination.

    Malna, I see a really nice, old fashioned butcher block table in your kitchen. You know, the 2' thick kind on legs? With a cleaver stuck in it. Ok, maybe not, but living off the land it could be! :)

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Since everyone is so curious - we just finished putting two deer in the freezer. Some roasts, filets and chops, ground meat and five kinds of sausage.

    A few assorted wild turkeys, rabbits, pheasant and quail, but the freezers (just got another one last week which makes four) are full, so we are DONE for the year.

    One of the best things was thinking the whole time how this could/should be easier/more efficient in our "new" kitchen.

    RE: I'm Lost - Kitchen Disaster=Remodel

    Wow. You were busy this fall. My dad's best friend still hunts. I gave him and my dad the first pick of firewood and think I got the better trade with those venison sausages.

    You will definitely need to figure out your ideal workspace. I am not your best adviser for space, so take this suggestion with a grain of salt: Could that side of your kitchen that is now a hutch/microwave stnd become a 7-8 foot plain counter? Or would the door need moved over and be unfeasible financially?

     o Post a Follow-Up

    Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

        If you are a member, please log in.

        If you aren't yet a member, join now!

    Return to the Kitchens Forum

    Information about Posting

    • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
    • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
    • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
    • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
    • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
    • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
    • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
    • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

    Learn more about in-text links on this page here