Kitchen Chronicles: The (not so) bad beginningDecember 17, 2009
Yep, it’s that pesky kitchen again…
In the last episode, we discovered that there were far too many complicated and expensive things that needed to be fixed with our circa-1939 kitchen (with a 2007 “facelift”) for it to make much sense to do the project piecemeal. Instead, we started saving up for one big overhaul. We’re not quite there yet, but I’ve decided to go ahead and start working on the plan and talking to contractors so that we can get this thing rolling in the new year. Not exactly a bad beginning, per se, but certainly a far more expensive (and stressful!) one than we’d originally envisioned.
First things first: to save those of you who really don’t care about our kitchen from having to wade through what will probably be a LOT of posts about the renovation process in the coming year, I’m going to start titling and tagging any kitchen-related posts as “kitchen chronicles.” Read ’em if you like kitchens, or ignore ’em if you don’t.
Crafting the plan
One of the first things I did once we decided to tackle the entire space was to sit down and make a list of the current problems and the multiple roles we’d like the space to serve. Here’s how we envision it:
- More light!
- Better flow from the dining room into the kitchen into the breakfast room and out into the yard
- Preserve the breakfast room function, if not the physical division of space
- Allow the breakfast room to double as a mud room (which it sort of does now, but not terribly well)
- Create space for the dog’s bowl and supplies
- Create a continuous work surface somewhere in the kitchen itself
- Eliminate the “wall” of cabinets that you walk into when you enter the kitchen from the dining room
- Preserve the California cooler, the only original element in the kitchen
- Preserve the ability to close the kitchen off from the rest of the house
- Create a kitchen that fits into the historical aesthetic of the house
That’s a lot of different pieces and different jobs for a relatively small (13 feet by 17.5 feet, counting the breakfast room) space to fill. We’re still playing around with different configurations to get there, but right now, the plan is looking something like this:
Here’s what we’re starting with, as a refresher:
And here’s what we really started with, courtesy of our neighbor. This kitchen is actually from the blueprints of our house’s mirror-image twin. I flipped it in Photoshop, but that would be why “screen” and “glass” are still backwards. (Or rather, I’m lazy and that’s why they are.) But you get the idea, and you can still see where the original walls and counters were, which is pretty crazy! In our house, the wall between the porch and the breakfast room was taken down as part of the 1939 remodel and the ironing board was moved.
The plan is still very much a work in progress and we have a lot of things to work out (like whether we can actually move the doorway, for starters—and if we do, how do we set it up so that the door closes, given that it’s a swinging door right now, and apparently you can’t put a pocket door in without stripping both sides of a wall down to the studs?) Our kitchen is awkwardly sized—too wide for a good galley layout, but too narrow to really accommodate an island. Most people with this layout—and there are a surprising number of them given how many bungalows are floating around town!—take out the cooler and stick the refrigerator there or make this into a U shape, but I really love our cooler and would hate to lose it. So, no U.
Kitchen Work Plan
- Disconnect and move stove and refrigerator; demo all cabinets. Remember to buy new toaster oven and borrow hot plate or microwave from somewhere before we get to this point!!
- Demo furnace chimney; re-vent furnace and hot water heater through wall or to exterior of house as needed. Explore the possibility of using the new Oakland iteration of CaliforniaFIRST to upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace and solar water heater at the same time.
- Remove tile floor, baseboard trim, sink backsplash, and washer/dryer hookups on breakfast room walls.
- Widen doorway between breakfast room and kitchen and figure out what kind of door to install here.
- Insulate outside wall behind sink, and add heat to the kitchen.
- Finish open walls and install new flooring and new trim to match the original.
- Install new cabinets, open shelves, sink, dishwasher, backsplash, etc.
- Install new counter. Paperstone, maybe?
- Install (or acquire freestanding) benches for breakfast room and mudroom areas. Install coat hooks.
- Install new light fixtures and exhaust hood.
- Replace back door with better insulated door. Yay Obama tax credits!
The million dollar question, of course, is how much all of this is going to cost. (Hopefully not a million dollars!) We’re on a pretty tight budget for this project, so the goal is to do as much of the work ourselves as seems feasible and wise. That probably means lots of fun demo-ing things, but leaving some of the finishing to the pros. I shipped off some paint and dust samples to be tested for lead a few months ago and was psyched to learn that the paint and plaster in the kitchen are effectively lead-free, so we can demo our hearts out. We also need to figure out where the cabinets are coming from. I’m getting a few estimates from local cabinetmakers, since that’s our ideal scenario—but we may end up back at Ikea if we can’t make it pencil out. We’ll see.
So with that—welcome to the City Homestead Kitchen Chronicles!