Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Sister's New Kitchen

While you're patiently waiting for pictures of my new kitchen, I thought I'd share my sister's kitchen remodel. Her home is a modest post-war tract home in Sacramento. She (J) and her husband (G) wrangled over the plans for years before finally leaping into it last year. Here, in her own words, is the play by play:

Old Kitchen -
Absolutely no counter space, a few cabinet doors that wouldn’t stay closed and drawers that wouldn’t open. Notice the “custom” step G built for me so that I could wash dishes without hurting my back.The kitchen table stuck out in the middle of the room, and you don’t even see the chairs in this picture.

I did like the old Wedgewood range, but it took up too much room in a tiny kitchen and the oven wasn’t big enough to cook a large pizza.

I just kept putting off doing anything that would make it a little better because I knew the remodel was just around the corner. I was a scary step to take so it took 16 years to take it. It then took almost another year for the contractor to take his step. But finally we have...

The room is five feet longer. We ate up the old laundry area and moved the door to the side.

The view to the yard will be nicer when we put in the patio or deck or whatever we do next year. But we still can sit at the kitchen table and look at the roses or birds in the trees. The table is small, only 28”, but it’s enough for two people and sometimes a visiting cockatiel.

Plus, there is a ton of storage underneath.

The old kitchen had two windows, but because of a bad layout, we had to put the refrigerator in front of the bigger window. Now we have a nice big awning style window over the sink. It cranks open from the bottom and gives an unobstructed view of the yard. In this picture, you can see the crank extended in the bottom center of the window frame. It’s in the perfect location to whack the back of the faucet.

The contractor keeps coming up with ideas to fix the problem, but nothing satisfactory so far. I can make it work, but it is kind of irritating. G wants to put on another coat of stain before we attach the final hardware and I’m still looking for blinds. But it is a nice view.

I also like the Smart Divide sink. I wanted one big sink and G wanted a double sink so this is an excellent compromise.

In the old kitchen, G built a box step for me. The contractor is easily 6’5". When he came out to see the old kitchen, he kept tripping over my step. It was right there in the middle of the floor for all to see, but I guess his feet are so far away from his eyes that he never looks down. Anyway, cabinet guy came up with this nice little step that slides away under the cabinet. No more tripping. When the construction guys came to install it, they put it in upside down and thought it was a secret gun drawer.

Although it comes in handy for doing dishes, I don’t need it nearly as much because of my very first dishwasher.

I like the looks of it and the idea of it, but I still have quite figured out how to load it efficiently enough to use regularly. But it is pretty.

The only thing G wanted in the new kitchen was for the drawers to open and for water to come out of the refrigerator door. Now, every drawer opens and here is G’s new fridge.

I know it violates the sleek look we wanted in our modern kitchen, but it makes G so happy. He drinks a lot of water. Now, he always has cold filtered water without opening the door. It’s kind of mechanical, so you know he likes that and you don’t lose cold air when opening the door and pouring a glass of water. Yea for G!

I never really wanted a French door style but when I started looking, they didn’t come with water in the door. Now I find out it’s a good thing I didn’t want one to begin with. The freezer side is right up against the wall. In fact, the handle bangs the wall every time you open the freezer. Not ideal, but it hasn’t hurt anything yet. If we had the French door, I wouldn’t have been able to open it wide enough for it to be practical.

We have a similar problem with the horizontal handles on the cabinets. I was determined to have all handles horizontal. The construction guy tried to convince me that they are never installed that way and there might not be enough leverage to easily open the door. Hogwash! The one thing neither of us thought about was clearance. The back end of the handle rams into the cabinet around the refrigerator before the cabinet is fully open. Oops.

They thought of way to put special hinges on those doors so that they will swing out when they open, but apparently there are thousands of hinge options and they haven’t come up with just the right one yet. I think he’s been here four times. I’ve just decided to use that cabinet for all of the nice things that I rarely use. The Millennium Toasting Flutes now have a permanent home.

G only wanted two things in the new kitchen and I wanted everything, but the one thing I didn’t want to compromise away was the cork floor. I think it turned out pretty good. You never see the dirt, but you also have a hard time finding the big piece of cracker that fell to the floor until you step on it and hear the crunch. I’m always finding pictures in the pattern. Once, I found Osama Bin Laden, but of course, I lost him again.

There are some things that I think I would do differently. I like the look of my stove, but the top part under the grates scratches really easily and there are already some water spots I can’t remove.

Also, the range hood does nothing for me. I try not to think about it. I do like my 6x18 backsplash tiles, but I am sorry that I couldn’t come up with accent tiles.

Also, I bought the light fixture for the dining area on impulse. My first choice cost over $1400. I didn’t love it that much and I would have had to order it without seeing it first. That made me really uncomfortable, so that left whatever I could find in town. I stumbled on this one almost by accident. It actually satisfies the main criteria I had for the fixture. I wanted it small, with square glass shades that face down mounted on flat bars, but it is a little cheap looking up close and it’s actually brushed nickel instead of stainless steel, but for $149, it’s close enough.

One experiment that has been receiving good reviews was my little foray into painting techniques. I didn’t know what to do with the trim, so I bought saffron and chocolate. G built this flat fire rated door to the garage so that it mimicked the look of the cabinets and the glass patio door. I painted the trim saffron, let it dry, then painted over it with chocolate and used a whisk broom to scrape off most of it. I was just playing around when G saw it and made enthusiastic comments. G is rarely enthusiastic about this kind of stuff without me making him, so I decided to keep it. Now, almost everyone who sees it comments on it positively. It gives it texture. It doesn’t really look like real grain, but it does make MDF look more like real wood.

OK. I think the kitchen tour is complete. I’m overall very happy with it. More than one person at a time can actually work in there. Last weekend, G was making green beans, I was stuffing squash and Mom was slicing tomatoes all at the same time. Unheard of in the old kitchen, mostly because I wouldn't let anybody in there.

This is me now. That last line is true. I remembered when J knocked a glass jar full of cocoa powder on the floor during the making of Christmas Eve dinner. No one was allowed to help with that nasty clean up.

I don't miss the accent tile at all. I love the big green tile. Maybe accents would just clutter it?

I love her kitchen though I have yet to see it in person But the single thing that I really love (and wish I'd thought of for my own kitchen) is the slide-out under-sink step. I would love to have that extra height at my surprisingly uncomfortable farm sink.

I told J she should have kept her own blog but she insisted she didn't want to think about something to write all the time. She could have written about how the wooden boat G was building that had to be brought out of the garage and onto the yard every day. She could have written about the worker who admired the workmanship of the boat and instead of being flattered, G became suspicious that the worker might be considering making off with it. She could have written about how she'd ordered the stove almost a year before the construction started and how the store owner was kind of enough to keep it in his warehouse until she was ready for it. She might have written about how the counter-top was almost cut for a completely different sink, until she came home just in time to stop it. Or she might have written about her long search for the perfect tile. Or she might have written about the agonizing process of determining the new configuration of the kitchen and garage.

Maybe she'll blog about the new patio.


Todd - Home Construction Improvement said...

I can think of one solution for the faucet problem. Switch over to one of the faucets that pull out as a sprayer also. That way you can pull it out when you need to crank the window. Just a thought...but I bet you could re-sell the first faucet.

Anonymous said...

That is such an amazing kitchen !

We dream of having ours done some day just waiting to save the money.

Above the City said...

Thanks for the possum comment. I love your header, so cool.

Great old stove by the way, we got a 40's one too.

Why S? said...

Todd, that's an excellent idea about the faucet. I'll pass it on.

Debateur, it is lovely, isn't it? J will be pleased you apprciate it.

"Above" - I'm glad you checked in. It's a reminder to me to keep an eye on what's going on over on your Hill.