When we bought our ranch, Slav predicted that it would take us five years to renovate it. I did not believe him then, and insisted that we could do it in three years, or even two. It turned out that he is right! We have been living here for four and half years now, and this Spring, we will be renovating the last space in our house, our kitchen.
This is how the kitchen looked like when we moved into the house (see floor plan here). Decades of grease had soaked through cabinets and walls, and most of the base cabinets had visible water damage and grew mold.
We knew that renovating the kitchen would be a gut job. We did not have the cash nor the energy to do it right after moving in, and there were much more urgent matters we had to address, such as the roof. So Slav scrubbed down the walls, bleached all the cabinets, and freshened up the caulking. And we started living with the old kitchen while waiting for the total overhaul.
The current kitchen
Above are what the kitchen looked like over the last a couple years. We modified the sideboard and relocated it in front of the stair railing for better traffic flow. Slav continued refreshing caulking and we tried to keep the old cabinet as clean as possible.
In 2018, we briefly entertained the idea for a temporary makeover. It did not happen. But at least it helped me to identify what bothered me the most in the current kitchen, and inspired me to list all the want-to-haves in the future kitchen space.
The wish list
1. The appliance layout
The first we would like to change about the kitchen is its appliance layout. We have a typical L-shape kitchen like below:
Do not get my wrong, I love a L-shape kitchen and this layout provides very functional working triangle for a single cook. However, we often cook together and the path between fridge and stove often intersects with the second person moving between the sink and the open space. In addition, we enter the house from the garage door from the right, and the bulky fridge is the first thing you see when you walk in.
We want to keep the same working triangle for the new kitchen, but to switch the fridge and the stove, like shown below:
When you look at our kitchen in 3D, below is a Sketchup image of the current kitchen:
And here is the future kitchen with the stove between windows. The fridge will be moved to where the hall closet is now and turned to face the kitchen. In this layout, we no longer have the visual obstacle when walking into the house.
2. New appliances
After deciding the new layout for the appliances, we made some decisions on what appliances to put in. First, we are getting a gas stove! We both grew up with gas stoves. However, since moving to US, all the rental properties we have lived in have only electrical stoves. We are so tired of looking at (and cleaning) these ugly electrical burners! I’d say that getting a gas stove is one of biggest motivators for this renovation. And since we are opening all the walls and floors, it will be pretty easy for our contractor to run a new gas line to the future stove location.
Another biggest motivator for the kitchen redo is adding a dishwasher. Dishwasher was definitely not something people had in mind when building our house back in the 60s. It is actually hard to fit it into the floor plan, which explained why most of our neighbors did not install dishwashers when renovating their kitchens. But Slav really wants one, so we make it happen! I will be sharing the final layout and cabinet design next week, and you will be able to see how we manage to insert a 24-inch dishwasher into our limited base cabinet spaces.
Next, the fridge. We will replace our current side-by-side fridge with a French door model. Our current fridge is a counter-depth model, but still protrudes into the room a bit. With the new location of the fridge being much deeper, we will be able to fit in a standard-depth model that offers bigger compacity.
We are still yet to decide on the microwave and range hood. Thus far, we are considering a 36″ range hood over the 30″ stove, which will look great centered between the windows. Slav is going back and forth between over-the-range microwave and countertop versions, we will see what he picks!
3. Raising the upper cabinets
One small change we will do to make the kitchen feel more airy is to get rid of the empty soffits. From the 3D Sketchup model, you can see that we have soffit on two sides of the kitchen. Once they are gone, we will be able to install taller upper cabinets for more storage, and also install them higher to gain a couple more inches between the upper cabinets and the countertop. This change will not only make the kitchen looks more spacious, but also make working on the counter more pleasant.
4. Redirecting the traffic pattern
After living in our kitchen for almost five years, what I wanted to change the most, is how traffic flows here. Right now, there is a dividing wall between the kitchen and the living room, which forces us to walk diagonally through the kitchen when entering the house. The traffic pattern often interferes with the movement of the cook, and it is hard to keep the floor clean.
To redirect the traffic away from the working triangle, we decided to remove the dividing wall between the kitchen and living room, and add a small center island to the kitchen.
We have confirmed that the dividing wall is not weight bearing, and made sure that there is enough space for an island. This island does not only keep the foot traffic from the back entry to the living room outside of the cooking area, but also provide much needed prep space. We will also create an overhang on the living room side of the island, which adds eat-in function to the island. Without a former dining room in this house, I think having an eat-in space will make this kitchen the most functional for us.
We have worked with Lowe’s to come up with a floor plan and cabinet design for the kitchen, and I am excited to share it with you next week. It is gonna be great. I promise!
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