Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kitchen progress à la carte

For some time we’ve been deliberating over a kitchen remodel. We’ve pondered the possibilities from every angle, producing pages of potential layouts, special features, pros v. cons, and debating each option backward and forward. We were hoping to arrive at a grand plan and then launch into it, but in the end we’re still not ready to commit the funds and time to anything too drastic. So we’ve put the ‘Stage 2’ remodel off for the time being, and (mostly) finished up ‘Stage 1’. For Stage 1 we’ve limited ourselves to the straightforward changes that we knew we wanted, provided they weren’t too costly and/or intertwined with the Stage 2 decisions.

This was the view toward the kitchen when we first saw the house.

Right away we started thinking about removing the full height section of wall that blocked the space off from the family room. That meant moving or replacing the double ovens behind the wall. The pinty pendants weren’t my style either and the big-screen microwave showpiece needed to go too.

We decided to sell the double ovens, range, and microwave on Craig’s List, and use those funds to buy appliances that better suited our style. I was initially quite pleased with myself for covering our new-to-us range and vent hood purchase costs with the Craig’s List sales, but once you add in the 8-hour round-trip drive to El Paso for the range, running gas pipe from the meter (the previous appliances were electric), and installing hood ducting through the roof, this switch-out was far from free. BUT the gas range is so much more responsive for cooking, the ducting keeps the kitchen tremendously cooler in the summer, and you can judge the aesthetics for yourself! I love the heavy duty grates on the Viking range and am so happy that I sought out a hood with more personality than the all-stainless models.

Instead of looking into the kitchen from the family room and seeing a huge microwave, there is this lovely view.

The range swap has allowed us to remove the chunky double-oven wall, producing a much more open flow between the spaces.

There are a few lingering tasks to complete, such as rogue wires, duct-taped drywall, and a patch of exposed slab where the ovens used to be. But let’s not think about that. Instead direct your attention to the new cabinet hardware (Home Depot super-clearance), the light fixtures (a terrific value at Lowe’s), and our bit of open shelving (a Pottery Barn shelf I’ve had for years). We took out a section of cabinets to allow for better sightlines to the kitchen window and more roominess when working at the counter.

Painting the walls, adding art, and replacing the flimsy faucet didn’t hurt either. Here’s another before…

And the happier after!

There’s still work to be done, but we feel so thankful to be spending Thanksgiving in a kitchen that suits our taste and lifestyle so much better. Down the road, we’d like to take out the soffit, replace the window with a larger unit, extend the cabinets to the ceiling, take out the peninsula and build an island, cabinet in the fridge, paint the cabinets (white I think?), replace the backsplash, and take up the wall-to-wall carpet and tile so we can re-floor the space with a single material, probably engineered wood.

But since each one of those tasks is slightly daunting on its own, a humongous run-on sentence of them begins to alarm me. Erik is loathe to hire out anything so they spell a long season of dust and caution tape. For now we’ll finish up a few Stage 1 loose ends (or wires), waiting for the right time to launch Stage 2 and stocking up on respirator filters!

Let me know if you have any kitchen Qs!

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