We are starting to figure out that picking styles of stuff for the kitchen is not for the faint of heart. We thought we had made great progress when we decided we wanted Shaker style, but no. The minute I sent out the email I got a message back asking whether we wanted pulls or handles or both on the cabinets. I have NO idea about that. I asked Lorena, but then asked our über builder, Mark P., what he thought and, even more importantly, what is the difference.
Right now Lorena is out looking at granite colors to try to figure out what we want for that. In our discussion with our builder, we just got more confused by the different grades of granite and hardwood floors not to mention hardwood species that go with the floors that are already there. Fun and challenging.
We are now on the third semi-official round of the kitchen layout. This time we put an angle in the kitchen island and moved the sink and dishwasher there from where it was previously along the wall beside the cook top. The sink is in the angled part of the island so whoever is working there can see what is going on in the living room as well as look out the back windows of the house at Mt. Rainier and the forested area below.
You can see there is a cheesy drawing (sorry Mark P.) of a vegetable sink drawn on the right side of the island in the front view (right above the letters FSB). That is one of the things over which we are still in negotiation, but pretty much everything else is in the design the way we want it our the best way we can figure out based on the footprint of the kitchen, the doors and what will be the dining area.
We have already picked the cook top and ventilation hood (Thermador both), so next we have to pick out counter tops and appliances. We also have to figure out what style of cabinets we want even though we have already decided on the same hickory Mark P. installed in the kitchen he remodeled for us in Albany. We have to get this figured out pretty quickly because the house is due to close in two weeks and we want him to start work the week after that so it will all be ready when we move in.
This is the second pass at the kitchen design. After Mark P. sent it over we talked about it four a half an hour or so. This and the previous design were good efforts to allow us to start the conversation, but there will be some pretty big changes from what is in this image. We think we might put in a dogleg shaped island and move the sink and the dishwasher from the wall over to the island. The reason for the dogleg is to be able to put the sink in a place where it is possible to see into the living area and out the window. Mark said, and we concur, the view from the sink is very important because so much time is spent there.
The island and what is in it is the major change, but here are quite a few other little changes we think will make the kitchen more usable. One of the main features of the new design is the movement of the sink made the appliances and counter space much less cramped on the wall where the stove will be. It also made more space to the right of the kitchen for the dining area. We plan to have a vegetable sink installed beside the refrigerator and, on the left wall (in this drawing), there will be a small counter that protrudes further out than the narrow cabinets we can use for coffee/tea service.
Drawings have started to arrive from the kitchen designers. As is always the case in these kinds of things, some of the ideas are exactly what we wanted, but there is a disconnect on others. Part of the disconnect is due to not properly communicating what was wanted. Some though are because of our own disconnect with reality. Sometimes it is not possible to do what you want because of lack of budget, a footprint and configuration that will not fit the available space, etc. etc.
This is a very fun process for us. Now that we have been through it a couple of times we know more about what to expect and what is actually possible. One of our big challenges in this pass through the process is that we would really like to kick off the construction in less than three weeks. That means the builder has to have the material available to him post haste. He needs appliances, custom cabinets and local subcontractors on a tight schedule. We hope to have the design in place before the end of the week so we can officially pull the trigger and our contractor, Mark P. can get started.
The kitchen in the house we are trying to buy is getting dated. We pretty much need to replace everything. We hope to use the pieces in the current kitchen to make a standalone apartment in the daylight basement. The three things we usually do not have to replace when we move are the refrigerator and the clothes washer and dryer, but they all went as part of the sell in the house in North Carolina. We did buy a new clothes washer and dryer when we moved to Texas, so that means we are going to have to figure out how to get a range top and hood, an oven or two, a microwave, a dish washer and a refrigerator.
Of course everything is negotiable, but Lorena knows what she wants, especially when it comes to the range top. The range top shown in the picture on the left is the one she wants. It is the Thermador Professional 36″ with an electrically heated griddle in the middle (for warming tortillas). The range top is always the center piece in her kitchen so we do the best we can. We think we kind of have it figured out this time. In these pictures, it looks like the Albany range top was better and, in some ways, that was true. It had the cool blue knobs (actually, we still have them because we kept the blue knobs that came as add-ons and returned the original metal knobs back to the range top when we moved from Albany to Raleigh) and it was a 36″ inch top with a grill in the middle. That is not entirely true because we had a much better hood in Raleigh than in Albany. All in all it was about a wash.
We chose the grill in the middle of the Albany stove because we thought we would use it a lot. We hardly used it at all. We liked to cook on the outdoor grill a lot more than the one in doors and ended up getting a comal which Lorena set on the grill to warm tortillas. When we moved to Raleigh, we would have had to make wholesale changes to the cabinetry and buy new granite to accommodate a 36″ cook top, so we reconciled ourselves to a 30″ top with four burners and no grill nor griddle in between. Sadly, the blue knobs from our old Thermador did not fit the grill we bought in Raleigh, so they have been packed away ever since. We will bite the bullet and buy new blue ones if they do not fit our new range top this time. We are not sure exactly what we can afford, but we certainly know what we would like!
Notes: We will talk about the hood in a later post
We bought a new house in Albany, Oregon back in about 2004 (picture to the left). When we bought the house it did not have anything but a small slab for a patio in the back. Grandpa Milo helped us put in a beautiful, stamped concrete patio with large planters in the back. There was no landscaping other than a small patch at the front of the house; all of the rest of it was dirt and weeds. I have to say we had a great time putting in the lawn and doing a little landscaping around the house. We planted rows of trees along both streets (it is a corner lot) and the back property line. There were some electrical services at the front of the lot that drew attention that we did not look. Since there was a very slight slope toward that corner of the lot, we put a small retaining wall around the services, built up the dirt behind the wall a little and planted some trees and plants. We also added the porch roof and decorative posts that cover the porch that leads to the lawn on two sides of the house and the French doors that lead out to the porch. lead out to the lawn from(well that was our builder Mark, but we paid for it). What you see here is the result.
As Lorena and I are get closer to our move to Washington state, we get more anxious to figure out what we want to do with the old kitchen in the new (to us) house. I thought it would be fun to have some before and after pictures of the work we hope to do. Our plan is to do this in five phases: 1) the kitchen, 2) the covered porch/new roof line, 3) fireplaces and a new floor upstairs, 4) a downstairs apartment with kitchen and laundry and 5) new bathrooms. Of course, we might have the time, resources or energy to do all of this, some other change in personal or world circumstances might dictate other priorities or we could just die in a flaming train, car or airplane wreck (or maybe something not so exotic) so we reserve the right to change or stop the plan.
With all those caveats, we know we need to start with the kitchen. Our friend Mark Prescott has already started putting together some options for us. The pictures below show the kitchen as it is now. The window of which you cannot see much in the first pictures looks out onto a fairly incredible view of Mount Rainier. The window to the left of that looks out onto the front/side yard which is an obvious place for Lorena to grow flowers. We want to take all the appliances and the cabinets from the old kitchen (and the clothes washer and dryer from the laundry room–we have better ones) down to the daylight basement for the apartment down there.
We were thinking we could put the main sink where the stove currently sits with a window above it looking out onto the garden and the stove to the right of that. Then put in a French door to replace the window facing the front/side yard–the porch right there is a great place to put a grilling area. We are still thinking about it and Mark almost always has better ideas than us, but it is getting real now and we are looking forward to getting started.