January 31, 2011

Kitchen Remodel: Starting To Plan

At long last, we are ready to start thinking ahead to our 2011 house project, the kitchen. (Yay!) Waiting almost two years before getting started on it may seem a long time, but honestly, I had to live with it to know what I really wanted. After all the kitchen is the heart of the home, the homemaker's workshop.

I've done a lot of thinking though. And I've blogged as I've thought:
  • The kitchen as we first saw it is in this post.
  • What we did to make it temporarily livable is in this post.
  • And all my initial thoughts about my kitchen are in this post.

There are lots of things that need to be figured out before we can actually start, and that's why we've been brainstorming. We've developed a system for that as we've tackled our various house projects. The rules are simple:
  • either of us can toss out any and all ideas, no matter how wild, expensive, extravagant, bizarre, simplistic, or silly 
  • all ideas are written down in a notebook
  • no value judgments are placed on any of the ideas during brainstorming. No preferences expressed, no problems pointed out, no criticisms allowed, and no decisions are made at that time

Besides cost, final decisions must meet only one of the following criteria:
  • we must agree about any particular idea, either for or 'agin'
  • one feels strongly about something and the other is neutral, we'll go with it
  • we feel strongly about opposite outcomes means that idea is out
  • if either of us is undecided on anything, we wait. 

This method works very well for us and we haven't had fight One about any house project so far.

So here are the notes from our recent kitchen brainstorming session. These are the preliminary ideas, nothing written in stone, just things we're in agreement about. They are not necessarily in the order we'll work on them, and much of it obviously still needs to be worked out.

[NOTE: All images are displayed as small. Click on any one for a larger view.]

Floor plan (proposed): For comparison, current set-up is here.

Click to enlarge

All measurements are approximate. Walls, doors, and window measurements were all rounded to nearest quarter foot and may or may not include trim.

  • challenges included the shape of room & placement of the 2 windows and 3 doors
  • want a dining nook
  • change location of back door 
  • need cat door to back porch
  • move electric stove to back porch/summer kitchen
  • incorporate part of the addition as a short hallway to bathroom, pantry, & utility room (finish same as kitchen floor)
  • add phone line to kitchen

The "what's it doing in the middle of the room" Post

The Post
Would you be surprised if I mentioned that the location of The Post is a tad annoying?

  • remove!!!
  • function? Determine. Wall is load bearing but why would anyone design a kitchen this way? (Just wondering)
  • resting on top of a crawlspace floor beam 
  • in attic, does anything need to be done to eliminate it?
  • replace with corbels?


cracked tiles & missing grout
I used to love the look of ceramic tiles in a
kitchen. After living with them however, I've discovered I don't like them after all. For one, I'm a klutz and it cracks when things are dropped on it. For two, grout is missing and traps all manner of dirt, etc. And third (Dan's reason for nixing it), it's freezing on the feet in winter. Plus, I don't like any floor with a non-skid texture to it. The little grooves trap dirt and are difficult to clean.

  • floor needs to be reinforced first
    • for additional support under cookstove
    • because floor joists are on 24" centers (16" is the usual)
  • bridging improperly done (photo of same problem under dining room floor here, what we did about it, here)
  • needs leveling(?) - Dan's deal
  • floor going in to addition is slightly lower. Need to raise it to level with kitchen. 
  • good bye ceramic tile
  • may need new subfloor
  • cement board subfloor under cookstove
  • thinking about a plank look floor. Need a marine type finish?
  • exception - ceramic or terra cotta tile under cookstove where a noncombustible is needed


nuisance post & beam
  • keep the tongue & groove ceiling
  • use existing beam to differentiate kitchen and dining nook?
  • add beams in kitchen for a rustic look 
  • dining nook, decorative tin ceiling tiles? (with no beams)


cracks in T&G
Initially I was calling the walls, "beadboard." That is incorrect. They are actually tongue and groove. The problem we've noticed since moving in, is cracking between the individual boards. Paint covered this up when we first looked at the place in March 2009. Now it's noticeable and we need to figure out what to do. Do we want to replace it? Do we want to try and find a fix?

water damaged(?) wall
The worst problem is under this window. You probably can't tell from the photo, but the paint is peeling and the boards are buckling from what looks like water damage. The window is not the original, and in fact we wonder if there wasn't a door here at one time. This section of wall will have to be removed and replaced. 

  • replace all or part of the T&G? (I'd like to keep at least some, maybe on the inner walls?)
  • seal cracks in T&G? How?
  • insulate outer walls? Replace T&G with sheet rock?
  • add tile backsplash behind counters
  • behind cookstove?
  • color - light but not bright white


  • not original, were replaced at some point
  • replace again? 
  • replace only aluminum storm windows?
  • remove moulding and insulate around at the very least
  • better replace moulding while we're at it


crookedy back door
There are three doors going in and out of the kitchen. The first is the back door, photo on left. It is not square, and is an odd size, 29 & 1/2 inches wide, 76 & 1/8 inches tall on the right side, 76 & 7/8 inches on the left side. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but the top of the door is cut at quite an angle. Initially we were just going to replace it, but now I think we'll move it too, as shown in the proposed floor plan.

pantry quilt door
The second is a French door (photo right) going back into the addition, so called because it was added on to the house in more recent years.  This door always stays open because there is no heating & cooling duct in the bathroom back there. But, since I keep the pantry unheated in winter, I need to be able to close that part of the house off. Currently I use a quilt (sadly not homemade) to keep the pantry cooler, and the kitchen and bathroom warmer.

We also we have a swinging door between kitchen and dining room. No photo, as it was taken down when we did the dining room floor. It's currently in a neglected stage of refinishing, photo of that here.

  • new back door for sure
  • Move location of back door? See floor plan and "The Post" photo above
  • add cat door for cat access to back porch
  • eventually finish & rehang dining room door
  • remove French door from current location and use as door to pantry?


note circuit panel
behind the stove
If you click on the photo on the right to enlarge it, you will notice that the service panel is behind the stove. When we moved in, the refrigerator was there, covering it up!

  • move circuit panel to utility room
  • lighting: over dining nook and work areas
  • ceiling light - do we really need one?
  • ceiling fan for sure
  • add outlet for peninsula


  • replace sink with deep double
  • maybe hook up ice maker (line is already there from old dishwasher, which will be removed)

Cabinets, cupboards, & shelves

  • I like a galley style kitchen and current set-up is fine
  • proposed plan allows for two areas of countertop for workspaces. 
    • dedicate one to working with small appliances
    • keep the other clear for mixing, rolling, cutting, etc
  • peninsula will need to be shortened though, due to required clearance in front of wood cookstove. Have enough room though to widen it to at least 30 inches to help make up for that.
  • reuse as many of the old cabinets as possible, but replace doors
  • except the too tall wall cabinets. replace those with a wall of shelves, cubby-holes, and small cabinets
  • already have
  • customize shelves and cubby-holes for my tools & gadgets

We certainly have our work cut out for us don't we? This is going to be a pay as we go project, so going will be slow, though we really can't work very fast anyway. This is why this is the only house project on our 2011 goals for the homestead.

The plan is to start with the additional support for the floor, and figure out what needs to be done to remove that post. We still have a lot of research to do and decisions to make. I'm just happy to be getting started on it.


Mama Pea said...

Yes, it will be a big job but I know it will turn out to be just what you want. You put so much research, thought and planning into everything you do. The kitchen is so important to a woman that it deserves to be "done right." I'll be eagerly watching for each post to track the progress.

Anonymous said...

You've obviously given this remodel a lot of thought and have probably come up with solutions that work for you and are what you need. I just want to add that I once had a stove on the other side of the kitchen, such as you indicate yours will be, and I was always bothered by not having a countertop next to it. It drove me crazy. And that kitchen had 4 doors. Fortunately, we moved before any remodeling was done. --Sue in MA

Dani said...


Exciting times ahead - the kitchen IS the heart of the home and once yours is complete you will feel a lot more at peace.

I agree with Anonymous - the stove on the other side may be irritating with no counter next to it - taking something heavy out of the oven and not having a counter to put it on, whilst you close the oven door, may drive you up the wall.

Have you though of putting it on the side of the kitchen where the open shelves / peninsular are?

And instead of a fixed peninsular, have you thought of the island we did at the farm ( http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.com/2010/05/kitchen-progress.html) - it is brilliant, as you can move it around as you need it - even wheeling it outside should the need arise...

Love the sink by the window - I have mine there too - and although the window does get splashed, it's worth it for me - I would rather clean the one window often than stare at a blank wall whilst washing up.

Evelyn said...

I too wondered about the stove being so far from the counter, then remembered it is a wood stove. It is a long time since I cooked on a wood stove, but don't recall it as being a problem, because you have a cooler side of the cook top. Redoing the kitchen was something I would like to have done in this house, but I am selling so someone else can have the fun!

Theresa said...

Wow, you guys have done your homework. I do have a few suggestions/questions. The wood cookstove will be only stove in the house? It's a big one as I remember and will provide it's own resting place for stuff you might need close at hand. I don't like that its by a door way, but it is what it is and that's a hard piece to just put anywhere! The peninsula...how do you reach the shelves that are at the end and over it? Why not put base cabinets there, make a straight run with counter (no peninsula) and do a small island more central, like opposite the sink? Something round might work for island space, not too big, no corners and provide both a fun work space and some visual relief from all the boxiness. Can you utilize pocket doors anywhere to cut down on the swing path of them.Back porch door or change the swing to the porch side? Any thoughts to just getting rid of that wall of shelving and opening up the kitchen to the dining room? Yes, you'll lose some storage, recycle them into the pantry or the wall that the door opens against since it would be gone and that area opened maybe then an island could be placed, larger than what would work with the wall as it is.. It would help with heat circulation from the stove through the house and might provide enough cross drafting to push heat further into the back area.
Having lived in houses with exposed beams and without, I can say I prefer without. Visually unless the room is open bright and airy they really do make one feel closed in. They collect dust, they are a pain to paint or repaint around and IMHO not worth the small added hanging storage they supply. This is doubly so in a kitchen where things do get a little greasier than in other parts of the house. You do need to find that water leak before you can do much of anything. T&G is nice, but again, hard to clean, hard to keep fresh looking and requires a bit more work when painting. You have a busy room without adding more horizontal pattern. I do love the ceiling though and do get a ceiling light with a fan.
While most people think that storage is most important in a kitchen, I think flow is. If it doesn't provide a joyful and efficient work space, with good ventilation and visual space, it won't be fun to work in no matter how much stuff you can fit in there.
So, there is my short little comment post! ;) Whatever you guys do it will be lovely I know.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, I'll be eagerly watching too! LOL. You know how it is with an old house though, one never knows what's lurking beneath the surface!

Sue and Dani, about that stove. Yes, I thought about it's location and proximity to to tabletop or countertop space for the very reason you mention. The thing is, it's a wood burning cook stove, which means required clearances don't allow for tables or countertops very near to it. As it is, when the oven door is open, the peninsula is 33 inches away, which allows room for stooping and turning.

From experience though, I can tell you that usually, anything coming out of the oven is simply put on top of the stove farthest from the firebox. It has no burners, so the entire cast iron surface either cooks or serves as a giant warming plate.

We did discuss other places to put it. We finally decided this location was best, given traffic flow patterns. (The original wood cookstove was to the left of the sink; the stovepipe hole was later covered with a board and is still there.) Being opposite the dining room door will allow it's heat to better circulate throughout the house and by moving the back door, firewood doesn't have to be traipsed across the kitchen!

Evelyn, it's been awhile since I cooked on one too, but like you, I really don't remember there being a problem for the reason I mention above. I do find though, that using a summer kitchen can be inconvenient, having to go in and out to cook a meal. I just don't do a lot of cooking in summer and remind myself that it's worth not having all that extra heat in the house!

Theresa, I see your wheels are turning! LOL. I thought about the L shape cabinet arrangement with island, (heck, I've probably though about every arrangement under the sun) but there isn't enough room. The depth of the cookstove plus required clearances (front and back) will take up over 7 feet of my 11.5 wide kitchen.

Dan suggested opening up to dining room wall too, to which I said NO! LOL I know we're supposed to love the "open" feel, but I really prefer having separate rooms, plus I'd lose that wall space, and it's really to only wall I have for cabinets and shelves. For myself, I'm trying to achieve a balance of flow and storage. Controlling flow is one reason why I like the dead-end workspace a galley style set up offers, no one cuts through and I can keep a tighter distance between the facing floor cabinets. I like working that way. I am going for maximum storage though, because I'm already getting tired of numerous trips to the pantry because I have no place to put ingredients that I use frequently. I do a lot of cooking with whole bulk purchased ingredients, so they are somewhat less convenient that conventional packaging.

Some things we'll just decide as we go along, I'm sure. I think Dan wouldn't mind getting rid of the T&G, but I like the original look plus paying for all new walls is a factor. I think the T&G would look better unpainted though. But am I willing to strip it all??? I don't think so. On the other hand, he really wants the beams. We have to have one because of the post situation, so we might as well have as many as he wants.

The real trick is achieving a balance that makes us both happy! This will probably be the most challenging room we'll ever do and I'm curious as to how it will work out in the end.

Woolly Bits said...

that sounds like a job for a whole year! lots to think about and make decisions... though I find it rather exciting to throw in all kinds of ideas to find a way to make it work for you. it's not a small kitchen in an apartment you live in for a while - you have to be happy with it for a long time! and to be prepared for all kinds of weird happenings during renovations - usually unexpected problems crop up with jobs like this! I would love to change quite a few things in our kitchen - but there isn't much I can do about it just now - we plan to change things when DS moves out (he's only 13, I have to be patient:)), but right now we have to make do what's there. but maybe I can steal some good ideas once you're finished with your job:))

Laura Jeanne @ Getting There said...

I too dislike ceramic tiles in the kitchen. The tiles we have are not only hard to clean, but they shatter EVERYTHING that gets dropped on the floor. Even wooden and plastic items break when they fall on that floor, it's ridiculous.

Susan McShannon-Monteith said...

You certainly have your work cut out for you... but with patience and ingenuity the sky's the limit.
My humble cottage is over a 100 years old so I long ago have forgiven her for her faults and made the best of the sloping floors, crooked walls and cozy nooks.
Keep us updated on your progress.
Susan x

Anonymous said...

How exciting Leigh! And I love your decision-making criteria, that applies to so many things. Good luck! I'll be following along as things progress! :)

Renee Nefe said...

I don't like tile either. When we were house hunting there were all these homes with "upgraded" tile counters, floors and such and I just didn't want them. We probably annoyed our realtor but I knew that I didn't want to deal with them. they are not practical at all.

I too felt that the stove was too far from the action for my liking, but your reasons for it seem like they'll work out for you very well.

so for the floor will you work from underneath or take everything out and start from scratch?

Benita said...

That is a pretty detailed list and you can tell you've been discussing this (and cussing some of it, I'm sure). I'll admit, that post bothers me. I hope it isn't too integral that it can't be changed somehow.

I agree, take your time, look each and every part over carefully, the proceed. With luck, ingenuity, prayers, and holding your tongue just right, you'll have a effecient, pretty kitchen to work in.

Leigh said...

Bettina, being prepared for those weird renovation happenings is a good reason to take it slowly! Gosh, but we have learned the truth of that. I can't wait to see what's under the wall beneath that window!

Laura Jeanne, it seems to me that things just go into style for the look of them, with little thought to practicality. For career folks the ceramic tiles might work. As in never being home to drop anything on them. :)

Susan, I now what you mean about learning to live with certain things. The sloping floors and crooked walls really don't bother me but they drive DH crazy. If it makes him happy to do something about them, I'm happy to let him. :) You mention two very important key words, "patience," and "ingenuity." I know we'll need plenty of both.

Rain thanks! I think mostly it's a matter of wanting the other to be happy with the results rather than wanting one's own way. Figuring out that there's more than one way to do things really helped me in that department. Plus learning that I like more than one particular look. Eventually we find things we're both happy with!

Renee, apparently not too many folks actually like it. Yes, working with a cookstove is a different way of cooking. It takes some getting used to, but isn't all that hard of an adjustment.

Dan's going to strengthen the floor underneath first. Once the weather gets a bit warmer we'll clear out the kitchen and tear up that tile!

Benita, you know me, analytical to the nth degree! LOL. If you have any tips on holding my tongue just right I'd love to hear them. I think I'll be needing to do that a lot. :)

Tami said...

Agree with your thoughts on ceramic tile. We put them in our spare bathroom. Brrrr...Try doing your business with ice cold feet. (Yikes)

Why is that people care more about how it looks than how it functions?

I have the electric coil type stove and vinyl floors. SM wanted granite countertops. Please! So easy to ruin. Give me my laminate counters any day.

The Apple Pie Gal said...

Living in it for a while to consider what functionality you truly need is a great idea. Nothing worse then tearing out and not knowing what to put back! If I could design a kitchen, it would be very thought out too. We live in our kitchen!

Nina said...

It's a huge job but hopefully taking it step by step will mean it's not an overwhelming job. I agree with not having ceramic tiles in the kitchen. When we get around to doing ours, I'm hoping for sheet vinyl flooring for ease of upkeep, although my dh would prefer hardwood. I'm sure the whole process will be both a bit frustrating and exciting at the same time. Just think of how great it will feel when you are finally finished!

BeautifulDees said...

Wow very ambitious. I am glad you are following my blog....come back by I am having a blog giveaway for my blog first birthday.

cwisner said...

Lots of good ideas from others. One thing I learned from our own kitchen redo - You can never have too much light in the kitchen, just when you think you have enough - find room for one more. As we aged we found that more light in our most used room was necessary. Although you have natural light during the summer days, nights and winter make you wish for more. Also if you put in an island consider pendant lights above.
Have fun and enjoy.

Robin said...

How exciting for you. It will be neat to see how your kitchen comes along.

Leigh said...

Tami, I think the only thing for ceramic tiles is radiant floor heat. Funny you mention granite countertops. Dan keeps trying to talk me into them but I keep saying no! I have confidence he'll change his mind if we ever get an estimate as to how much they'd cost. :)

Diana, so true! And I'm not one to make decisions about it haphazardly! I have to admit though, that trying to figure something out with that kitchen's size, doors, shape, and window placement has been a challenge.

Nina, you and your DH sound like me and mine. I wouldn't mind a vinyl floor in the kitchen, but he doesn't like that any better than ceramic tile. I'm concerned about spilling water on it, which I know will happen. Folks do have wood floors in their kitchens though. That's why I want to explore a marine type finish, to protect it from moisture!

Debbie, it is isn't it! LOL I'm on my way over to enter your giveaway!

Charlotte, excellent point. I'm concerned about getting enough light in the room too. We have high ceilings, 9 foot, so pendant lights are a good idea, especially over the peninsula.

Robin, I have to admit I haven't felt this excited over any other house project we've done so far! Hopefully completion won't take longer than a year or two, LOL

Toni aka irishlas said...

Very exciting. Can't wait to follow your progress.

We're the same way when it comes to home improvement - pay as you go!

Nina said...

I had a lovely conversation with a friend who considered granite countertops. Her BIL is a contractor who said he'd never put in granite in his own kitchen. He said a good quality laminate is better because it's so much cheaper to change out when styles change or you tire of it, but it's still very durable. Plus there is the issue of Granite and radon emmisions, which is at least worth investigating and enough to make me question them.

Jane said...

I like older houses, probably because thats all I ever lived in. They seem to have a certain chracter to them,anyway I love them, yours will be beautiful when finished. I am following your blog,you are welcome to follow mine as well. Blessings jane

Leigh said...

Toni, we were fortunate in that we had a small inheritance to help us get started. It gave us a down payment and expensive things like fencing for the animals and a new roof, which our insurance company insisted on! That's gone now but we don't mind doing as you say, paying as we go.

Nina, quite an interesting conversation I'd say. Thanks for sharing that. Didn't even know about the radon emissions. I've always wanted something like a laminate, because there are so many colors and they are so much more economical. Dan really likes the look of granite, so I told him we could get a granite countertop when we do the hall bath!

Jane, another old house lover! Thank you for commenting and following! I'm on my way over to your blog as soon as I hit "publish comment." :)

Tom Stewart said...

You make me feel lazy. My house is a modular and was built a little over 3 years ago and I have done nothing to it! Not even paint! I really like it, but the builder did not always use the best matieral in the constrution. I hate paint and would like to use natural wood where ever I can, But all of the trim work (crown molding, base boards and trim around windows and doors) is primed MDF! So I'm replacing it as time and money permit. I have to do a post about all this...Maybe it will motavate me to get it done?
I love your Blog and the fact that you are a "HOMESTEARED" like me.I'll keep watching, I know it will be amazing!

Leigh said...

Gosh Tom, you're house is only three years old and you have a long list of stuff to do too! I think with homes, it never ends. Quality materials is a problem nowadays for sure. We're discovering quality materials, but the workmanship often stinks. No we get to re-do what they didn't do right in the first place!