Wednesday, October 26, 2011

i'm dreaming of a white kitchen...

As if daunting piles of laundry, infinite to-do lists, and a creepy moaning furnace weren't enough to keep me awake at night, I've been planning out a new kitchen in my mind for the past several nights.  Well, I guess I've been mulling over it for months.  Sure, I've seen worse but our kitchen is a total pain in the rear.  The cabinets are solid but not-so-functional.  It seems as if all of the doors are on backwards and they're divided up in a way that makes it hard to fit anything inside.  The floor is in decent condition but it's a laminate that's supposed to look like real wood but fails miserably.  The appliances are old and, ummm, sticky and are horribly inefficient.  The countertops are aqua.

We tore down the 70's wallpaper several months ago but haven't done anything to cover up the random outlets or spotty paint.  I'm not big on temporary solutions (even if temporary isn't so temporary) so we're living with the imperfections until we can give the entire room an overhaul.

We aren't exactly rolling in cash so we're meticulously planning our kitchen renovation so that every penny is used to it's full potential.  (Well, I'm literally going insane comparing prices and looking for deals while Joe just smiles and supports each new idea that I spout out.)  We're still in the "research" phase of our kitchen project and may not be able to get down to the actual "doing" phase for a few more months but, in the meantime, here's what I'm thinking...

One side of our kitchen is a long, empty wall with windows that look out onto the driveway and front yard.  In a kitchen that doesn't have many functional cabinets, this wall is pretty much wasted space.

I'd like to put some narrow storage on either side of the window.  We usually enter the house through the kitchen so a place to drop our mail, keys, and all of the other junk we seem to juggle into the house everyday would be nice.  A recycling/trash cabinet similar to this one would gladly replace the small trash bin that's currently under our sink.  I'd rather not block the flow of traffic with a table so I am thinking that a bench under the window might be a nice place for Joe and James to sit and cheer me on while I cook them amazing meals.  (Note:  Joe recently pointed out that I don't cook him nice dinners anymore.  I think I'd be more likely to cook if I had a cheering section - oh, and if I had someone to go grocery shopping for me and then prep everything and clean up afterwards so I can spend some time with James in that short window of time between work and bedtime.)  But I digress...I'd like everything on this wall to look built-in and custom as opposed to random, free standing pieces of furniture.  As you can see from the pictures above, there's baseboard heating along this wall so we'd need to take that into consideration.  Here's a sketch of what I'm imagining.  Look out Picasso...

I've done countless calculations to figure out if modifying our existing cabinets would be better than ripping them all out and putting in new ones.  Result: rip them out and get new ones.  With everything reconfigured and space optimized, I am hoping to get rid of these cabinets all together and replace them with open shelves.  Also, if budget allows, I'd like for this wall to be completely tiled from counter to ceiling.
Again, here's another totally-not-to-scale or accurate drawing of what I'm imagining for this wall:

Aside from new appliances and cabinets, the other side of the kitchen would remain relatively the same.  The only major change I would like to see would be to get rid of the microwave above the stove and replace it with a traditional hood.  Combined with the open shelves, I'd hope to make the space feel as airy as possible and getting rid of the microwave and upper cabinet might help.  Ya think?
Google images of "white kitchen" and I will take any one of the 150million results.  Again, once we get around to implementing these plans, we've got to do it on the cheap.  (Cheap: adv. to look rich and be of quality construction and function while costing as little money as possible)  I'd love for someone to give me a coupon for free soapstone countertops but we will probably settle for butcher block.  Butcher block should keep things feeling warm anyways. I'm still searching for flooring options but I hope to find black (or slate-colored) cork that's within our budget.  The dark floors would go with the masculine look I so enjoy and be a nice contrast to the wood floors in the adjoining room.  White cabinets, sink, and walls would allow for pops of fresh color throughout the space - and give me a clean slate to adjust whenever the mood strikes. 

As if my babbling descriptions and wonky pictures didn't explain the look I'm going for, here's a little sample of what I'm basing my research on:
Has anyone recently renovated their kitchen?  Give me some tips, suggestions, cash, etc.!


  1. Sounds nice! I don't have any cash to give away (sorry!), but I can tell you that refinishing our cabinets was WAY cheaper than getting new ones. I guess it depends on what kind of quality you want, though. We had our honey oak (blech!) cabinets stripped and stained a dark walnut color for around $4600 if I remember correctly, which included staining the window frame, pantry door, breakfast bar and baseboards.
    If the existing cabinets are good quality, you could always paint what you have (especially since you're going for white!) and install new hardware. They would look brand new! A friend of mine kept the base of her cabinets and had a company stain them and put new doors on. Not sure what she paid, but she said it was much cheaper than getting new cabinets and they look great!
    Also, I know a lot of Ikea's stuff is cheap crap, but they do sell butcher block counters that look really nice. We got a small slab for the cabinets we installed in the laundry room and it looks great.
    Happy remodeling!! It will probably be stressful (we were SOOO ready for it to be over with!) but you'll love having a new kitchen when it's done! We still admire ours from time to time :).

  2. Hi Liz
    I have renovated or designed at least 10 kitchens. Cabinets are pricey. Looks like you will use many shelves. I bought cherry wood , cut into shelf sections, sanded then stained with the stain used on my cabinets. Saved money.
    2. Ask around. Sometimes folks renovate their perfectly good kitchens, wanting to dispose of perfectly good cabinets. Long shot but worth asking around.. Cabinet makers may have leads for you.
    3. I bought a 7'x7' French Hutch to use on one wall in my kitchen for about $2600. Cabinets would have run close to $10000!
    4. Like your window solution. You could even have a counter top that can flip down using hinges. But your window box, desk etc is a good solution. Yes, you have to work around the base board heat.
    5. A friend of mine has just installed cork. Remind me to tell you what she says about it.
    6. You never have enough plugs. Make the kitchen cable ready unless you have wireless through out home.
    7. A table where 'your' boys can fold laundry, help with food prep etc is useful! Make this family time..Cooking takes time.
    8. Make sure your hooded vent is fitted with a quiet fan. Some are very quiet.
    9. Buy a quiet running dishwasher. I did..Asko.
    10. Your current refrig door opens from the wrong side. Glad you are going to center doors.
    11. Easy clean is important in your kitchen. Rounded counter top /desk edges may be a consideration.
    12. We had a handyman put up stainless steel behind one kitchen's range. Looks great and cheap. about $140 . Just behind range.
    13. Gas range? I bought a GE with a glass top , glass back, glass oven front. Easy to clean!!
    14. Look for black Friday and internet black Monday sales.

  3. thanks for all the tips! i went and checked out a few local places that sell cork and i dont think it will be in our budget - and i dont think the color i'm imagining exists! i saw several tiles that look exactly like slate and are very affordable - we might have to go that route!
    bev - what was your friends' opinion on her cork floor?


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