Kitchen Design Time!

I am not a kitchen designer. I never really had any plans to become one. However, I’m an expert in knowing when I’m not in love with a room layout. We’ve liked our kitchen just fine for the past 11 years, but there have been things that have bugged us about it that whole time. It doesn’t have a lot of windows, so it’s often dark, and it doesn’t get much sunlight, so it’s also often cold. The counters are a bit too low. The cabinets are open on the back, so mice can get inside far too easily. Things like that.

None of these are deal breakers on their own, but as we’ve moved through the house, crossing off renovation projects one at a time, we’re now at the point where tackling the kitchen seems like the next logical step.

And what a step it is.

Our kitchen is right in the middle of our house. It’s right in the main thoroughfare, so to speak. To renovate it will be a job and a half, and it’ll knock a lot of our house out of commission for quite some time. It’s not a job to undertake lightly.

So Denisa and I have been debating how exactly we want it to look when it’s all finished. The plan is to take three rooms and tear down the walls between them, opening them up into one big room. But we were really having a hard time visualizing just how the space would look once that was all finished. For a while we were even thinking we might need to hire a professional kitchen designer, but that didn’t feel right to me. Our house is an old 1800s farmhouse. You can bet they didn’t hire a kitchen designer when they drew it up in the first place, and I didn’t really want a kitchen that looked like it had been professionally designed.

In the end, I resorted to graph paper.

Measure all the rooms, get the dimensions down perfectly on paper, and then you have a bird’s eye view of what it will all look like. Once that was in place, I measured out dimensions of various pieces of furniture: tables, chairs, countertops, appliances. I cut those out in other pieces of graph paper, and then it just turned into a case of moving bits around on a piece of paper to see what different layouts could fit.

After a few hours of brainstorming, I think we’ve got a pretty solid plan in place. The kitchen will be an L shape, with a long counter on one wall, plenty of windows, lots of cabinet space, and an island running parallel to the counter. We’ll have a spot with a u-shaped window seat at the front of the house, and there will be plenty of spots to gather and eat. I wish I could wave a wand and have it all done at once.

Of course, it’s not quite as easy as that. Looking at what needs to happen, I’m struck by how much work it will all be, and how expensive it will no doubt end up. I had hoped at first we’d be able to separate it out across two years of projects, which would help defer the costs a fair bit. Looking at how much has to be done, however, I don’t think that’s feasible. It just doesn’t make sense to stutter step our way through this. We can get some renovations done at first (the window seats at the front of the house, for example), but the bulk of it will need to happen all at once.

So what that likely means is I’ll have to go into “saving for the kitchen” mode. Maybe we take a year off of renovations, or at least have a lighter year. And then when we’ve got enough in the war chest, we can begin the project. Kind of a bummer, since now that I’ve thought through all those renovations, I want them all at once.

But there’s no way I’d go into debt to get them done. The graph paper plans will just have to wait for now . . .


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