Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ask the audience [kitchen edition] + update


It is fun reading through your ideas. Keep them coming by leaving a comment -- I read them all.  From those who commented so far, I heard, "no to the curtains," "for the love of all that is good and holy, get rid of the soffit," "try an island," and "yes, paint the cabinets a darker color." Good, good ideas here.

Jeff also enjoyed reading your comments. We had a very calm and introspective conversation about the kitchen. He understands my complaints. I've got a good man here. Soft and chewy oatmeal cookies are in the oven as we speak to reward that good man for having an hour long conversation about my kitchen woes -- a conversation that ended with him agreeing to back-breaking work. The Handy Man said he thought skinnying up the cabinets and taking out the soffit are do-able. I am sure he would swim through shark infested waters to get me a lemonaid. Stay tuned for "How Blogging Saved My Marriage," coming soon in paperback.

As we speak (hypothetically speaking), I'm trying out an island. I have a small table that and I'm trying it now in the middle of my kitchen. The jury is still out and my hips are bruised from crashing into it 147 times already today. Another ideas we tossed around are to move the computer desk to the back hallway and add a work station to the kitchen for baking.

I'll have more questions for you soon, oh wise blog audience.


There is no way to more quickly strike fear and trepidation into my husband's heart than for me to say, "I've been thinking about changing some things in the ______ room." Whether the living room, the bathroom, a bedroom, or the kitchen, he knows that all my thinking amounts to a whole lot of work for him. Dreams come cheap.

So, I've been dreaming about my kitchen. And my husband is quaking in his strong, manly boots. This is what I've been dreaming about:

(photo credit from Better Homes and Gardens)

Interestingly enough, a $50,000 kitchen remodel is not in the budget right now. No kitchen remodel is in the budget right now.

My kitchen is not super functional and is showing the wear and tear of a busy and not-so-clean family.  I would like to, ehem, make some changes. Small changes that would make the space more inviting, more functional, and not a lot of work for the hard-working man of the house.

Here is what we are working with, oh smart, creative, and amazing audience:

The issues:

  • Cabinets painted white are chipping and show every dirty paw print. There are a lot of dirty paw prints around here.

  • The top cabinets sticks out nearly as far as the bottom counter making the space very cramped. For a prep space, it doesn't work because I can't see what I am doing. Not sure what the builder was thinking there.

Those are really my only problem. Small, right? No $50,000 kitchen makeover required. I've been throwing ideas around in my head.

I ended up with something like this:

Open shelves on the left, take out the soffit, add pendant lights, paint bottom cabinets brown, replace the doors on the left cabinets with a fun, changeable fabric, (maybe make the top cabinets less deep if I sweet talk the contractor) and add another row of white tiles on the backsplash.

Okay, now it is your turn. Leave a comment with an idea to make this space better-homes-and-garden worthy on a bologna budget. Post a link if you have a great idea too! Thanks for your help. My husband thanks you too...



Annie said...

Do you have room for a small island? The house we bought has one. I don't know if I would have thought of putting one in if the house hadn't already had one, because our kitchen is a similar size as yours. I really love having one. It doubles your work space, and mine has cabinets undereath so that's more space as well. Just an idea.

Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs said...

I love the open cabinets, but I think I would do it on both sides of the kitchen. If that isn't possible (because you would like to conceal some stuff), maybe you could talk your hubby into cutting out an opening in the cabinet doors that you could cover with frosted glass or even your fabric idea.

First thought was that those cabinets need moulding. You could get some cheap 1/2 round and create a frame around each of the doors. OR, forget the moulding and paint your bottom cabinets something BOLD. Like Red!! Just kidding, Jeff!! But, I do think that a darker, chocolate brown would look better than the lighter brown you have there.

AND, love the removing soffit idea. You could always spray paint your hardware an oil rubbed bronze like your inspiration photo! CHEAP and huge impact!

simplykersh said...

Love the look of the redo. Changing your cabinet color to dark when so much of the room is light, sigh love the dramatic contrast. I do have a warning though about taking out the soffit. When we got our house the whole kitchen ceiling was essentially a soffit - I felt tall, but I also felt like I was in a cave. We found out a lot of times there is not sheet rock behind the soffit at the actual ceiling height, and with older homes you run into the problem that new 1/2 inch sheet rock is smaller than old 1/2 sheet rock (I know, makes no since) and the best way to blend the seem is to take out the whole ceiling and start over or create a false beam of some type over the seam because it is impossible to blend the two or you can do what we did and live with a bump in your ceiling, it's not the end of the world. Maybe you shouldn't show this comment to Jeff though, because I love the look of the no soffit with pendant lights.

Kellie said...

My first thought? New hardware! It will totally update the look of your cabinets. I love the hardware in the Dream Kitchen photo. While I think the white cabinets could be pretty I can totally understand how white cabinets might not be the most practical. In fact I'm kind of glad mine are not white!

I think the idea to have open shelving on the one side is a good one. Of course that means more work keeping the dishes stacked in an attractive manner etc. Something to think about.

What about painting some color on the walls to pop the white cabinetry out a little? I also like the idea of adding new lighting above the kitchen sink. I love having a light just above the sink. Pendant lights can be fun.

I'm not sure on the fabric covered cabinets. Would it be easy to access everything behind them? Would the fabric get gross in a hurry? I think new hardware would help make them look prettier.

Dan & Hillary said...

I would paint with a sharper contrast paint color. A nice blue or yellow perhaps? Also, I've thought about exposed cabinets but dust is my nemisis. Perhaps glass-covered cabinets instead? Could Jeff take down the cabinets on the right-hand side and put a different storage unit there (IKEA for ideas?).

My to-die-for love is the office area advertised in Pottery Barn right now. I have $5... only $1195 to go...

Kari said...

not a huge fan of fabric where greasy fingers work. I bet Jeff could make new doors and you could put plexi glass in (cheaper and more "durable" than glass). I know on our farm, open cabinets would be a drag because of the huge amount of dirt that floats in. I do have glass on one cabinet in the new place and I like it.
What kind of wood is under all that paint? I know that stripping is not high on the list of easy work, but is it nice underneath?

What about an Island? Big Lots had some nice ones last year for ......more than free, but not atrocious. Then you would have some nice work space without the overhead cabinets in the way. Maybe even one of those skinny islands with the tuck in stools, perfect for little girls helping and snacking :)

Sherri said...

I had open cabinets in a couple of different houses- wouldn't go there again on purpose- only nice when every thing is put away properly and the dust is a continual chore...I now you will come up with something great!

Shawna said...

By no means do I even BELONG in a kitchen let alone give feedback as to design and function of one. I just want to point out a couple of things.

Looks like you have the paw print problem covered. But function...If only you could make the cabinets smaller or the counters deeper. I like the IKEA new unit idea. But then again you lose storage and that might be trading one thing for another if the extra stuff you can no longer put IN the cabinet ends up ON the counter.

Do you have under cabinet lighting? I have heard that makes a great deal of difference.

My 1950's kitchen has similar problems and one thing they did was install cutting boards that come out from under the counters. There are several. The problem for is (other than a lack of skill) is that they were designed for a four foot old lady and I, like you am tall) But in theory it does give extra workspace that then gets put away.

Where's the clock going to go?

Can't wait to see the final result!

Andee said...

Open cabinets: NO. dust, organization, dust, dishes falling on you in an earthquake, and the dust!
Remove soffit: yes!! Love it with the pendant lights
Cloth covers: They are far enough from the greasy stove problem that it would be OK, but I'm not so sure they would actually solve any problems.
Brown lower cabinets: Yes! Although I may be a little partial. Pecan Praline is nice. Finger prints don't show up too bad.
Island: A couple people have mentioned the island, and I love the idea. A word of warning though: I read somewhere that if you are going to have an island, it should not obstruct the triangle path between sink, stove and fridge. (I'm thinking that's because of the bruising you would acquire trying to get from point A to B with a counter in between).
Here is my advice in sumation: paint and new hardware, remove the soffit and put in the pendant lighting and under cabnent lights for now. For later, save every last penny you can find for the dream kitchen later. IF you convince Jeff to do something about the upper cabnents that requires purchasing something new, make sure it's something you would like to keep around in your dream kitchen. In my experience, husbands hate buying things twice.
Have fun!!

Anonymous said...

a. Paint cabinets - don't get rid of them!
b. Add lighting under cabinets so you can see where you are working. Ikea has some good options that you could install for cheap and they work well.
c. Out with soffit, in with pendant lighting.
d. Add curtain ruffle above sink to add color and variety.
e. Vacation in Portland and use our very poor laid out kitchen and you will absolutely LOVE yours:)
Jenni B

Sherri said...

I like Jenni's idea!! Using my kitchen would make you love yours too!

Jayne said...

I have no new ideas to add--sounds like whatever it will be will be fun. Looking forward to seeing the finished product. Good Luck! Jayne

Melanie said...

Hi Alysun - I'm a little late to this party, but I have seen a lot of kitchens, so I wanted to add my 2c.

Wow - your kitchen looks like such a farm house kitchen! I'm sure I've been in this kitchen before.

First, the major problem: the unaccessable counters. It looks to me like this problem comes not from your upper cabinets being too deep, but from your lower cabinets being too shallow. My kitchen is no model, but my lower cabinet is 24" deep. How deep is yours? Do you have room to spare in your upper cabinets? If they were shallower, would your dishes still fit? I know a remodel isn't in the budget, but deeper lowers would also give you more counter space. (And while you're at it, center the sink on the window - both for aesthetics and so you don't feel cramped in the corner!)

Then, for the uppers, what if you were to just take the soffit doors off? This would give you some open shelving for decorating, and it would be high enough that no one would notice if you only dusted it once a year. (Just as a counter opinion, we have open shelving in our kitchen in the form of a bookshelf, and I love it. But I do have to wash items that haven't been used in a few weeks before we use them.)

And yes, do away with the soffit above the sink too.

If you decide you want a cabinet builder, I know one in your area who has no work lined up for the next couple of months! ;)