Kitchen remodel

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My wife and I have talked non-seriously about a remodel for the past five or so years. Discussing what we think we would like to have in the kitchen, where and why we would like to have it, and go out and look at open houses in the area to get other kitchen ideas that we had not considered. (Each time we go out we come back liking our own house, lot, and location more and more, so it seems like a remodel instead of a new house is the correct answer for us.)

After talking with a few kitchen designers we have decided that it is a better use of our time and money to purchase several design books and do the design work ourselves. We have a rough outline of what we want in the kitchen and where we want it (I will attach some drawings tonight) and we have walked through all of the cabinet/drawer space to make sure that we can put everything that we have away and that items are near where they get used.

We are pretty certain that we have a good layout so the next thing to do is select appliances. After appliances we will pick flooring (probably cork though bamboo is still an option), cabinet faces (probably cherry to match the ones in the bathrooms), and finally counter tops (slab for the baking/pastry areas and granite tiles near the stove top). We are working in this order because we have a certain functionality and look we are after.

I will add to this blog as the remodel moves forward, but please share your remodel ideas, stories (good and bad), and any before/after photos.

The attached files are kit0.jpg (raw kitchen space 13'6"x20'4" showing just existing windows and doors) and kit1.jpg (rough draft of first plan w/ simple elevations). I will wait for the weekend so I can get some photos of the existing kitchen with natural light.

Here are the photos of the existing kitchen space. All of the photos were taken from the back wall, or from the loft which is above the back wall. The reason for this perspective is because that back wall is just a blank white wall.
If you take a look at kit0.jpg or kit1.jpg, you will notice that there are two stairways in the upper-right hand corner of the pictures.
Photo kit2.jpg was taken from the corner near the stairs.
Photo kit3.jpg is facing the main work area. (Can you see the squirrel on the tree?)
Photo kit4.jpg is facing the sliding glass door. (Sorry for the flash on the window, but a sunny day in northwest Oregon with a southern exposure of cedar trees is still not very bright, and the room was just too dark without the flash.)
Photo kit5.jpg is from the back corner farthest from the stairs.
Photo kit6.jpg is from the loft just about directly above from where kit3.jpg was taken.
Photo kit7.jpg is from the loft just about directly above from where kit4.jpg was taken.

If you would like to see any other perspectives of the existing kitchen, just let me know.

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I like the wall of cabinets.

I like the wall of cabinets. That should really help out on the storage. Is that counter going to be more prep space, or do you have to trade it away as decorative space? It would be really nice to have a prep space outside the main triangle. Is that a sink in the counter-top? I guess that would imply that it *is* prep.

I don't much like the position of the fridge right across from the peninsula, but I can't think of a better place for it either. It's the odd piece out.

What is the plan with the single height oven? Is that going to just have counter space over it? Does it match the range?

The cabinet wall does have a

The cabinet wall does have a prep. sink. It also has a microwave shelf and space on the counter for the toaster and coffee maker. Keeps all of these things near the kitchen table which makes for a happier wife - always an important kitchen item.

The fridge is definitely the odd piece in the space. We will either be getting one with French doors and a freezer on the bottom or re-spacing the wall a bit and getting separate, narrower, vertical fridge/freezer units that will be placed next to each other.

The second oven will match the oven in the range. I already have enough problems trying to bake large batches for people with just one oven, that I am going to make sure that I have two full size ovens in the new kitchen. I also wanted to maximize my work surfaces which was why I went with the side-by-side range/oven instead of stacked ovens. I am trading counter top for under counter storage, but with the cabinet wall I am still coming out ahead compared to the existing kitchen design.

I am still pondering the selection of 36" ranges/ovens at this point. I am thinking maybe going with 30" appliances and putting a stand-alone 12" wok burner between them might be a better option for how I cook. The only thing is that most 30" ovens will not hold 1/2 sheet pans so it will further reduce my appliance choices.

We have appointments at several different appliance showrooms over the next couple of weeks before I will finally make up my mind. I really recommend taking a lot of time at this point and insist on scheduling time to go in and cook on each of the items you are thinking about purchasing. All of the places worth dealing with will let you do this - especially if bribed with baked goodies.

Several appliances have already been crossed off my list just on initial inspection or service horror stories. Did you know that the big oven knob on the "high end" Kitchen Aid oven is held on with a 1/8" plastic pin? (On a $4500 range?!?) How long do you think that would last before it got snapped off with one of the large cast iron dutch ovens?

Having the toaster and

Having the toaster and microwave out there makes a lot of sense. Most of the time, that stuff isn't used the same way as most of the kitchen anyway. It might be a nice place for a hot/cold filtered water tap too if you want to go that route.

I don't really like the way things are going with a lot of larger appliances. Too many of them are based on high tech and looks. Fancy features are nice, but functionality and durability are way more important in my book. I was looking at dishwashers the other day, and even the $1000 models all felt like the top rack wasn't going to be able to survive much of a load.

I'm intentionally *not* looking at ranges right now, but I remember that a few years ago, that one of the double wide commercial range companies (possibly Viking) had a wok burner as one of their top options. I don't know if I would rush out to get a wok burner myself before seeing how a good commercial output burner did with my wok. I'm going to get one of the outdoor wok burners before I even think of going with an indoor one.

I've never been that impressed with Kitchen Aid large appliances, though they do a good job on the smaller ones. It's kinda like the difference between Craftsman hand tools and their power tools.

Lately, I've been toying with the idea of getting a combination of sunfrost fridge/freezers instead of one of the large name brands ones. Having a variety of 10 cu. ft. boxes in different locations seems like a kinda appealing option. The off-grid people I know really love them, and their miserly energy use too. The price on the other hand ... (though I would rather spend the money on a sunfrost than a subzero)

I looked at the Sunfrost

I looked at the Sunfrost units as well and I really like their energy use, but I need to be able to hold up to eight 1/2 sheet pans at a time with some of my baking and to do that I would have to take everything else out of the Sunfrost.

Right now the leaders for French door models are Amana and LG. We have the big Amana bottom freezer model right now and have had only one circulating fan problem in 10 years. We do not want to keep this one the kitchen because the door swing is over 5' out from the wall and it is starting to get a bit old.

I also kind of like the idea of going refrigerator only in the kitchen and just using the existing chest freezer in the garage. It is hard to find any reviews of refrigerators w/o freezers, so that is making me a bit uncertain about going down this route.