Sunday, September 9, 2007

Designing a kitchen is NOT easy.

As to the remodeling project, I must tell you that Mr. Hawthorne and I have thought about this for many years. We knew it had to be done, but wanted to come up with solutions for all of our current problems, plus a design that would be efficient.

I always disliked the oven/range in the corner - so much wasted space.

I also hated the crawl space behind the bar/counter. Again, wasted space.

The counter tops were not level. Try to fry something, and the oil is 1/4 inch lower on one side of the pan. The big oven stopped working years ago. Only 2 burners out of 4 worked at all, and even then you had to hold your tongue just right. The oven was so old that parts just weren't available for it. Every tile on the floor has been cracked. Twenty years ago, it was an attractive kitchen. But no more. The cabinets are particle board covered with a laminate. The hardware on them is failing. Particle board does not lend itself to repair if a hinge is knocked out.

When my youngest was 2 and had a temper tantrum, he slammed the cereal cabinet door backwards and broke the hinge so I haven't had a door on that cabinet for 15 years.

The cabinet over the microwave was about 2 feet high with NO shelf, so everything was just piled on top of everything. Totally inefficient use of space. The cabinet over my fridge was used for appliances, but to get to them and lift them out, I had to get on a step ladder. The cabinet left of the sink was 3 feet tall and had 1 shelf in it. I'd just put cans in there, stacked on top of each other. It was a mess to get to anything because I'd have to pull everything out to find the item I was looking for. The cabinet in the back of the bar/counter was where I kept all my pots and pans. 1 shelf. Every time you got a pan out, everything else would fall out on the tile floor. Nothing was working for me.

We finally got two chilluns out of the house and decided to bite the bullet and do it. Big time.

I met with 3 different kitchen design people. They all said this was a very difficult kitchen to work with, not that I didn't already know that. I was getting frustrated and confused. Nobody was really helping me. It was driving me nuts. I told them all what I needed and wanted:

1 refrigerator/freezer
1 gas cook-top, with at least 4 burners
2 ovens

1 microwave
1 dishwasher

Not a one of them ever came up with anything workable.

Finally I called a 4th place and WALLAH! This guy came up with a plan. He worked with me, came up with his own suggestions, and was on the ball. He's since been out to the house 3 times. I have called him numerous times, saying something like, "Ehhhh, don't think this is gonna work, how 'bout figuring something else out." And he makes it work. He kept tweaking the design until everything was in its proper place.

If you ever undertake a project like this, and have the remodeling plans in front of you, think about actually working in that space. Imagine yourself in the kitchen. For example, we had a huge problem with the microwave and I refused to let the microwave make or break this project. In one design, he had it over my prep counter. Then I looked at my microwave and it was very deep- 19 inches. It would be projecting out of the cabinet space and I wouldn't be able to do prep work in that area. Then hubby suggested putting it on the counter. Didn't like that either. I want clean countertops. I finally decided to use a microwave/convection oven combo. I had heard of them, but dismissed it early on since I thought I'd have to relearn how to cook. Now, I'm going with it. The microwave and second oven are one and the same. The major oven with cooktop has been moved from the corner to the side of the wall, next to the fridge. Now it will be the focal point of the kitchen.

Another major change we made was to take the bar/counter top out from the right hand side of the kitchen (getting rid of the dead crawl space) and move the bar/sitting area to coming out from the left side where the pantry used to be. This was a f'ntastic move, since it got rid of the hated wasted crawl space, but more importantly, opened up the whole kitchen, allowing a straightforward access to the hallway beyond. You used to have to zigzag through the kitchen to get to that back hallway to the bathroom and bedroom. Now it's just a straight run.

If you noticed in the before pictures, my computer and printer took up a bunch of room on the bar/counter (directly over the crawl space). By moving the bar to the left side, I opened up that wall in the living room which is going to be my new computer center.

After all is said and done, I'm sure I'll be working in the kitchen and think to myself, "You know, why didn't I do this? I should have put that over here." There's always going to be something you didn't think of. Hopefully, not too many things.

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