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Old 08-09-2008, 04:58 AM
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 18,268,930 times
Reputation: 7740


We are in the process of figuring out a new kitchen for our 1880's home. The last kitchen was put in around the time Lassie went off the air, so we have a huge job - everything from the floor up has to go except the refrigerator (new - the Lassie-era one died). The floor plan is longer than it is wide, approx 18L x 14W, and I think I have a plan worked out, but what's the BEST thing you ever to improve your kitchen during a remodel, and what's the WORST mistake you made?

This will be, I guess, a lower end re-do, although looking at the number of zeros makes me wonder just how low end it really is! Please bear in mind...we are in our 50's, this is our final home, but we won't live long enough to see a gazillion dollar re-do pay for itself. What happens to the house after we're gone is the kids' problem, so I'm not interested in upgrades for resale.

I am HARD on a kitchen because I'm a klutz and very messy. We have 7 dogs so wood floors are out of the question, and tile is hard on my back...or at least it was on a concrete slab, but now we're on a crawl space. The tile would certainly be easier to clean, though. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I don't want to go to bed in pain every night.

Before I tie into this and make multiple horrendous mistakes, I'd like to hear from others as to what they would do differently if they had it all to do over again. I'm leaning toward not very many upper cabinets and replacing the cabinets on the west wall with a bank of windows...very dark in there, but there's only one tiny window now. Is this a huge error? I have an 80 sq. ft. pantry that is 11 feet tall, so there's plenty of room for stuff at eye level there. The west side of the house is also very shaded, so no matter what I will not get a ton of light in there. The ceilings are 11 feet with a total 22 ft. roof pitch, so a skylight would have a deep well. Again, trees...doubt much light would come in, and a skylight isn't really very characteristic for a house 120 years old.

Oh, and we're trying to hold this below $25K. I guess that would make a big difference!
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Old 08-09-2008, 06:36 AM
Location: Central Fl
2,903 posts, read 12,532,935 times
Reputation: 2901
Years ago I was a kitchen designer.
A common mistake is planning a over refrigerator cabinet too low for the bigger refrigerators.

This cabinet is hardly used, unless it is for "once a year" stuff.
Go with a 12" high max there......not an 18"

Weather you go with a 12" deep or a 24" deep is personal preference.

Frank D.
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Old 08-09-2008, 06:49 AM
20,793 posts, read 61,297,575 times
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The things I love about our kitchen are the drawers and slide out shelves in every cabinet, except the pantry cabinet--not sure why they didn't do that--we bought the house this way. We are planning on a re-do next year and that is one thing I will change.

If you remove upper cabinets, make sure you can replace them with lowers or something else. While you might not need them it will make your house harder to sell with the perception of not enough kitchen cabinets. You could do uppers with small windows as a backsplash too?

One thing I want to do is elevate the dishwasher. My Dad and step-mom have this and it is WONDERFUL!!!

We have a corner sink and while I have always wanted one the space behind the sink is an issue. I have to get up on the counter to clean behind there--or get one of the kids to do that. I love having the windows there but I might rethink that for our re-do.

I have to agree with you that tile is hard on your back/legs. If you are a klutz, expect to break a lot of dishes with tile. I would go with a tile look vinyl if I were you. A friend of mine had that in her kitchen and you have to get down and touch the floor to be able to tell it is not real. If you get a higher end vinyl it will hold up to the dogs plus you can replace it a few times compared to the cost of tile so keep that in mind.

We have an enormous amount of countertop space--HUGE selling point for this house. We have cabinets/countertops along 2 walls, L-shaped with the sink and the stove breaking up some of it but I have one run of about 5 feet, the stove, then about 3 feet, the sink and then a run of about 9 feet to the right of the sink AND a 10 foot long island that is double width. It is SOOOO nice.

I don't like that I don't have seating at the island though-we are trying to figure out a way to add that in our re-do. We have plenty of room to add to one end of the island but it will get in the way of the fridge. It might be possible to move the fridge or get a more shallow fridge--I think the new french door ones will work--haven't measured them yet.
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:30 AM
Location: When things get hot they expand. Im not fat. Im hot.
2,519 posts, read 6,325,899 times
Reputation: 5332
JMO but I prefer an older looking kitchen in an old house. My house is 1850. I dont want an 1850's kitchen tho. I like modern stuff like refrgerators so my kitchen is a mix of 1920 and 1850's. If youre more into chrome how about a 1950's kitchen with a chrome dinette set . If you do an older look kitchen you could use real linoleum. Theres a ton of colors. Or you could do a black and white floor.

Another thing to consider is wood floors dont have to be all perfect. I took my kitchen floor back to the original pumpkin pine. It has boo boos and a few black stains and even a tin patch or two. In other words it has character. Other people pay big bucks for distressed wood floors. I got mine for free. Have you checked your kitchen to see what you got.

If you like wood but want to stay with tile theres tile that comes in planks instead of squares and looks like wood.
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:34 AM
Location: On the East Coast
2,364 posts, read 4,871,535 times
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We totally re-did our kitchen here in PA about 10 years ago, and are actually upgrading a kitchen installed by the builders in our brand new house! There were just some things that I wouldn't live without and they weren't available from the builder. Here are some of my suggestions.

1. Go with the best quality cabinets you can afford. If you are the klutz you say you are, they will get dinged and banged. It is much easier to touch up wood than try to fix a laminate chip. And they are easy to clean with Murphy's oil soap and some wood polish twice a year or so. Most cabinet companies will send you a touch-up kit if you order a bunch of cabinets from them. Or you can order one as well.

2. Try to get a catalog of all the available sizes of cabinets. Go through and "flag" the stuff you like. Then sit down with a piece of graph paper and plot out the space you have. Include where your sink, stove and fridge are in the graph and work from there. Start from the corner (if you have one) and work out......much easier than trying to fit something small in at the corner. Check out the various websites of cabinets manufacturer's on the 'net. Most of them have great idea pages as well. A couple are www.kraftmaid.com and www.aristokraft.com . I'm sure there are also more. Even www.ikea.com has some interesting ideas even if you don't like their cabinets.

3. Personally, I disagree about the cabinet over the fridge. IMHO get the biggest one you can fit and still have room for the fridge. It's amazing the items you have that you only use a few times a year (turkey roaster???) that you can store up there out of your everyday life. And unless you are well over 6' tall, get a 24" deep one so that you can actually put a few things in front that you can reach. I keep my tupperware pitchers stored there as well as my hubby's lunchbox that he only uses about once a month. In fact, we just bought a brand new house that had a 12" deep and 12" high cabinet and we are replacing it with one that is 24" high and 24" deep.

4. Look at every nook and cranny as possible storage space. There are so many really great cabinet accessories out there. Take a look at Rev-A-Shelf's website at Rev-A-Shelf Your Worldwide Accessory Source (they carry this stuff at Lowe's and Home Depot). My absolute favorites are my pull out trashcan, my upright supports for trays and pizza pans, and my tilt-outs that go behind the usually dead space fronts right under the sink. Hubby just installed all of these in our new house. You can also usually order cabinets with these items already installed or have your installer do it. But they are pretty much easy enough for even a moderate do-it-yourselfer.

5. I triple agree with the pull out shelves on your bottom cabinets!!! Get as many of those as you absolutely can. I am in my mid-50's with arthritis in my back and those are an absolute God send to me. If I didn't have them I would have to get down on the floor to see what's in the back of my cabinets. They have also been put in our new kitchen.

6. Consider an "applicance garage". They come in both corner and straight styles. Basically this looks like a cabinet that goes clear down to your counter surface, but it has a roll-up door on it (hence, the name "garage"). You can store frequently used, or too big small appliances in there but they are out of site. I keep my smoothie maker, bread machine, and ice tea pot under there since they are too tall to fit in any of my other cabinets.

Those are my main suggestions, but the best thing you can do is just a lot of research before buying. It is a big purchase, but if you do it right it is worth every penny to you!
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:58 AM
Location: Coastal Georgia
50,367 posts, read 63,948,892 times
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Think about what will make you happy, and the way you actually work. I would rather sacrifice some cupboards in order to have the new window. Good light=cheerful.
Kitchen designers are free, so I would not spend too much time trying to figure the plan out myself, but would use someone who can take your thoughts and convert them into a plan you like.
I am in the same stage of life as you are, and what I appreciate most about my kitchen is I have mostly pull out drawers instead of cupboards on the bottom...no crawling into a black hole to find things. Also, I am tall, so we had the counters raised for comfort. Pay attention that you have an unimpeded triangle between your sink, stove and fridge (but a kitchen designer will know this). I LOVE that I have a pull out drawer with 2 wastebaskets..you could have something like this to hold dog food, too.
As to flooring, if I were you I would use tile.
You should post pictures when you're done.
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Old 08-09-2008, 08:08 AM
Location: Big skies....woohoo
12,420 posts, read 3,231,602 times
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We built a house last year.....tile floors...clean easily but hard on your legs so I have a thick throw rug in front of one of the sinks. We have really tall cupboards which are a big pain. I really like the wall oven with large drawers under it. If you put in a dishwasher, you may like the drawer (rather than door) type better. I should have done that. Oh, definitely get undercabinet lighting...especially if you don't have much natural light.
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Old 08-09-2008, 08:26 AM
8,411 posts, read 39,257,845 times
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After looking at scratch and dent appliances in a local store here...No way would I pay hundreds of dollars more for one that didnt have a scratch. Check out a place like that for some good deals.
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Old 08-09-2008, 08:29 AM
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 18,268,930 times
Reputation: 7740
All great suggestions, please keep them coming! We live next door to our ex-house (weird, I know) and I'm trying to think of why that kitchen "flows" so much better than this one. The one thing I did love was a couple of pull out drawers for pots and pans - and for whatever reason hadn't thought of putting them in all of the cabinets. Check...got it now!

We definitely want something in character with the age of the house but some of the vintage reproductions are just way out of the budget. The cabinets will have the half leg thingys and be raised just a bit. I'm short, 5'6", but these are just an uncomfortable height.

The only thing that is not negotiable, I suppose, is the sink...I've heard relocating that is just an awful expense. The kitchen designers so far have been less than imaginative with the space we have, or very imaginative to the point they are inventing fictitious figures in my checkbook - that's why I'm trying to figure it out myself!

Does anyone have the snap and lock laminate floors that are tile look? We had them in a rental we lived in briefly when we returned from the Caribbean. The color was horrid, but they seemed to hold up well. We found some with a slate look but again - I can't see anything in big pictures. We only lived there 8 months, so I'm wondering long term how they would do. It seems liquids spilled would go in the cracks and expand the wood and warp them, but I could be off on that...probably am...
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Old 08-09-2008, 11:04 AM
Location: Houston, Texas
10,447 posts, read 49,653,116 times
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Originally Posted by faithfulFrank View Post
Years ago I was a kitchen designer.
A common mistake is planning a over refrigerator cabinet too low for the bigger refrigerators.

This cabinet is hardly used, unless it is for "once a year" stuff.
Go with a 12" high max there......not an 18"

Weather you go with a 12" deep or a 24" deep is personal preference.

Frank D.
For the record, refridgerators basicly come from 66" high to 72" high max unless you go into the built-ins like Sub Zeros.

For the most part most fridges that we all have (most common) are 68". I highly recomend the 24" deep because putting a 12" deep over the fridge is useless unless you are a basketball player. With the 24" deep over the fridge we can put end panels and make the fridge appear as built-in.

So depending on your kitchen height, use that as a guide. Many of my clients choose to have some extra space above the fridge just in case they ever want to buy a taller fridge in the future.
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