What I don’t like about our kitchen

house 049

It isn’t gingham anymore (and that microwave died as part of a series of short-lived microwaves)

When we moved into our house more than a decade ago, we loved everything about it except the kitchen, which was odd because going into the home-buying process, we’d told the real estate agent that the kitchen was the one thing we cared about.  At the time, we thought that the main problems with the kitchen would be easily solved by putting in a new stove and countertops (which we could not then afford to do, but we figured we would be able to do after a year of steady income).  Turns out it was not that easy.

Here’s the things we really dislike about our kitchen:

  • The triangle is all messed up
  • The countertops are the second worst quality and are difficult to clean
  • Water pools on the ledge between the faucets and the backsplash on our sink
  • I can’t use the top oven because it’s too high so I’m likely to burn myself unless I’m extremely careful
  • The stovetop is electric not gas
  • Our sink is chipped (this doesn’t bother me that much though)
  • I kind of wish it were a galley kitchen (though I dunno, maybe with a better triangle, I’d be ok with the current setup)

Because this is all so hard and expensive, we haven’t changed anything.  First because until recently we couldn’t afford it.  Then because it was too difficult.  Like, we’d have to find a designer who could help us fix the triangle, but we haven’t been able to get recommendations for anyone that people like.  And if we move the island, then we may have to redo the flooring.  So many changes, so many choices.  And what if we spend $30K and it ends up just as bad or even worse?

We also had kind of hideous gingham wallpaper, but that has since been painted over.  So we did change one thing about the kitchen!  If I were in charge of the world, we would have natural oak cabinets and natural oak kitchen cabinets would be “in” instead of getting snide comments about how outre they are on home decorating sites.  (We need light colored cabinets for our interior kitchen, and I like natural wood better than paint.)  Instead we have white cabinets, which I can live with.

I do love our pantry though.  Our pantry is awesome.

Any kitchen renovation stories?  Any suggestions about what we should do?  What do you love and hate about your kitchen?

96 Responses to “What I don’t like about our kitchen”

  1. Omdg Says:

    We thought about renovating our kitchen seven years ago. It would have involved taking out walls and replacing our cheap ass cabinets with new cabinets to the tune of somewhere in between 20-50k depending on who you asked. In the end we replaced our appliances bc they all broke (now appliances have a shelf life of 7 years? Not ok), and live with the lack of counter space. Given we’re perpetually in a state where we might have to move three years from now, and the fact that everyone who did this to their house said it was a year of hell, we have elected to not proceed. Probably ever.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Hm, shorter appliance lives do seem to be a good reason not to replace things that aren’t broken. We went through 3 microwaves with faulty vacuum tubes (the one part not covered under warranty and replacing cost more than a new unit) in something like a 2 month period after the ancient microwave that came with the house died. (Our current microwave is not very powerful, but it hasn’t died, so we’re keeping it!)

      You’re making me feel better about my laziness when it comes to not renovating. :)

  2. solitarydiner016 Says:

    Our kitchen is too small for two people who love to cook. It also has no triangle, as it’s a galley kitchen, so it is very inefficient to get around in. We’re looking to buy a new house and would love to have a beautiful kitchen, but unfortunately all the homes in the neighbourhood we want to live in also have tiny kitchens. At some point, we’ll likely either end up buying a house that’s bigger than we need so that we can get a good kitchen (not ideal) or buying a place that has room to expand the kitchen.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We had a lovely triangle in a galley kitchen one year when we rented (sink/fridge on one side,stove/oven on the other side), but it sounds like yours doesn’t have a good one. We were surprised how well a small kitchen worked when the layout was perfect (especially compared to our big imperfect kitchen)– though it does sound like yours probably doesn’t have enough space between the two rows in the galley if it can’t fit two people well. The only problem with that kitchen was that the gas stove was too close to the wall so we put up a steel plate next to it so as to stop burning the wall…

  3. jjiraffe Says:

    I recently went through a remodel (including kitchen). Here’s what the space was like before: https://jjiraffe.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/before/

    I need to write an After post. We lived in our house while it was remodeled, which sucked at the time but saved a lot of $$. I love love love the results.

    On the natural oak cabinets: my husband’s friend runs one of the big design sites you’re probably talking about, and she has light wood cabinets, I think they might be light colored maple. Anyway, if you do a remodel, a big part of it is picking your own design aesthetic so you love the results. So go for light oak!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Thanks for the link! It would be neat to see the remodel.

      We talked to my FIL a few years ago (who was a carpenter before throwing out his back forced him to become an accountant) and we could strip the paint off our current cabinets and restain them. It sounded like a big expense/effort for something that we don’t actually care that much about and would most likely decrease the resale/rental value of our house. (Which is why we had them repainted white before renting out the house when we went on leave.) We really don’t care that much about aesthetics so much as functionality (with a mild care to resale/rental value).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Wow, your “before” kitchen certainly puts ours in perspective. We don’t really need a remodel…

  4. JPHM Says:

    Just to add a further expense, have to looked into induction stoves? I also prefer gas to traditional electric, but induction is definitely on my one-of-these-days-we’ll-afford-it list.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      From my understanding, induction is good for safety and efficiency reasons. I’m sure we’d get used to cooking with it like we have gotten used to cooking with an electric stove so many times in our lives, but it is SO nice to cook with gas. (Also I’m attached to our current cookware, and I don’t think all of it is magnetic.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DH has changed his mind on this and is leaning towards induction… I have to say that the safety benefits are really tempting.

  5. gwinne Says:

    If I were starting completely over, our kitchen would look nothing like it is. But ‘quick’ fixes that I might do this summer: new appliances (they are 25ish years old), followed by new counter tops….

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I often wonder if we should just do quick fixes– then it wouldn’t be so hard to clean counter-tops! If we’re never going to fix our triangle, then we should just get new countertops, you know?

      Generally we replace things when they really really break, which so far has been the ancient dishwasher (the repairman said it was beyond hope and inefficient to boot) and microwave that both came with the house. (Well, also things like the a/c and waterheaters, but they’re not in the kitchen.) I have an upcoming post about how DH has been keeping our 15 year old refrigerator limping along. We did think long and hard about replacing it this weekend when it started whining again.

  6. Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial Says:

    We did a remodel before moving in. I think the kitchen portion was about 12-15k. None of it was really planned out, mostly responsive to all the structural changes in our place (i.e. tearing out a wall and chimney in the middle of the former kitchen), but I really like cooking in our kitchen and we can both cook different meals without getting in each other’s way so I guess we did a good enough job.

    The things I like most about our kitchen were some of the cheapest: our Ikea Stenstorp island, Kraus gooseneck faucet, heavy cabinet handles I bought for $1/piece on Amazon, building out a pantry. The tiny details matter!

    If I could do it over again I’d add radiant heating under our slate floors, they can get quite chilly in winter. Otherwise we still need to extend our backsplash and add a hood over the stove, but it certainly isn’t critical. And, of course, we could replace our 8 linear feet of ancient particle board cabinets and add a quartz countertops, but now I’m just being indulgent.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Wow, a chimney in the middle of the kitchen! You can tell that Boston has never had a major natural disaster to destroy all the ancient housing stock.

    • Leah Says:

      We have a Stenstorp Island too, and I love it. It unfortunately doesn’t fit in our new kitchen (tho we have an actual built-in island now). It’s in our basement for now. Definitely a good, affordable addition to a kitchen that has lots of floor space and not enough counter. We bought it when our kitchen was a giant box with literally a 2 foot long piece of counter. We could have both done yoga in that kitchen, but it was hard to cook pre-island.

    • Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial Says:

      Oh you added pictures!

      My suggestions (I am not designer):
      -Rip out entire rhs of kitchen cabinets including closed pantry, turn into food storage wall: cover most of wall with open shelving behind a sliding door, also keep fridge on rhs
      -Make lhs a prep and cook area: L shaped so that stove is roughly in current position and sink is behind a bar facing camera (no corner sink)
      -Remove double oven, replace slot with something akin to microwave hutch, get stove/oven combo instead
      -Have a small kitchen cart that you can have in the middle if you need additional prep space but otherwise has designated space on rhs

  7. Leigh Says:

    The kitchen was not really something I cared about when I bought this condo five (!) years ago. I love the square footage, the storage space (including the pantry), the fact that it gets reasonable daylight for being in a condo, and the fact that the countertops are in really great shape considering that they’re almost 20 years old now. Despite the square footage, there is really not sufficient counter space for cooking and dish drying. If we want to cook anything complicated, we need to wash and dry all of the previous meal’s dishes before we cook something more, which is a huge pain.

    We’ve honestly contemplated moving for a better sized kitchen, but in order to do that, we would need to move up to a house – most townhouses have smaller kitchens than we do. So we’ve contemplated re-doing the layout of the kitchen entirely in about five years or so. (Why five years? We want to feel more confident we aren’t going to have kids or move out of state, either of which would happen within 5-7 years if they’re going to happen, and have agreed that we don’t feel the project is “affordable” at this point.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      What kind of layout do you have? (And do you not have a dishwasher or a big sink to put dishes in?)

      • Leigh Says:

        It’s a galley kitchen. Both of our mothers did dishes immediately after eating and forced children into drying them immediately, so neither of us is sure of how best to satisfice with the dishes.

        One sink is large, but the one we use for letting dishes dry is very tiny, resulting in using up two “squares” of counter space for drying dishes. The “square” above the dishwasher usually ends up full of dirty dishes. That leaves us the three “squares” on the oven side for cooking prep. The dishwasher only dries cutlery, plates, bowls, and glasses. Everything else needs to be dried manually after running the dishwasher.

      • Sarabeth Says:

        Leigh, you need a Finnish-style dishrack!

      • Leah Says:

        ooh, I love that dishrack! Wow <3

      • Linda Says:

        I wish I could post a photo I took of the dish drying arrangement in an apartment I stayed at in Spain a few years ago. It was so clever. There was a cabinet over the sink that had no bottom shelf and was open. Inside the cabinet were plastic coated wire shelves. Dishes were washed by hand and stacked in the rack inside the cabinet to dry. The doors to the cabinet were usually left open to allow more air to circulate, but it was also possible to close them while the dishes were drying. This set up negated the need for a dish rack that took up precious counter space in the small, galley kitchen. It amazed me.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That sounds really cool.

      • Sarabeth Says:

        The cabinet style is actually what I meant – I think the Amazon one is a good quick fix for American kitchens, though. But yes, they are so handy!

  8. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    We’ve done very little to our kitchen over the past 30 years: replacing appliances as they fail, replacing the ugly vinyl floor with large ceramic tiles, and replacing the lighting. My wife would like paler cabinets and new countertops (these are 60s-era white laminate, somewhat scratched and chipped), but remodeling has not yet become worth the interruption to the use of the kitchen.

    Here is a post on the new lighting: https://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/kitchen-lighting/

    And here is an older one on replacing the dishwasher:

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Do you have a bungalow? I really love the kitchens in those post-war CA coastal cottages.

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        My house is very unusual for CA: a late 1940s reinforced concrete house, just under 2000 sq ft, but only 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths. It is covered in stucco, so we replaced the roof with a tile one when we put a big skylight in the dining room.

        Big living room and dining room, which are now both full of junk—we live in the breakfast room and kitchen, the bedrooms, and a “book room” that we converted out of half the detached garage.

  9. Mrs PoP Says:

    I used to mostly hate our kitchen. The countertops were terrible and would stain at the drop of a hat, the cabinets were kindof falling apart from long ago water damage, and it was basically designed to be a tiny dark little cave.

    $30K and 2.5 years later I mostly love our kitchen. I love that we designed everything to be “just so” so we have spaces for everything we want, but not a ton of extra space to accumulate a lot of crap that we won’t use. And I think the thing I love most of all is that we no longer have to store things on the countertop (the knife block being the one exception that lives on the counter). All appliances have homes they go to after every use and there aren’t any bins of utensils or dish drainers or microwaves always sitting out on the countertop either. The default is just so much cleaner and more organized it makes me very happy every time I think about it. =)

    In terms of advice, I think you have to REALLY want a new kitchen to do the renovation and especially to live there through it. But if you do REALLY want it, then go whole hog and get what you want (even if that is natural oak cabinets!). Doing that added at least 18 months to our timeline (since what I wanted was custom built cabinetry that I built myself), but I really do love it now.

    The process was daunting, and before we started modifying our the roof trusses to vault the ceiling we definitely stepped back and asked ourselves if we REALLY wanted this. After taking that breather, we decided we did, so we kept going. But even if you’re hiring someone else to do the work it can take ages and be a fairly painful process. Heck, even getting plans and quotes is proving to be a painful process for my MIL who is considering some pretty hefty renovations on their place.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Sorry I had to dig you out of spam!

      I don’t know that we trust ourselves to know what we want. After all, we thought this kitchen just needed new countertops and a gas stovetop to be perfect.

      (We keep our real knife block on a large butcherblock stand in the corner of our dining room– leftover from when we were living in the apartment with the teeny kitchen and huge dining room. We do keep our cheap steak knives on a countertop next to the microwave sort of back in the corner.)

  10. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    Our refrigerator and stove are both about 20 years old, or more, and I hate them both. Terrible design. But since they work and since we’ve been wanting to move out almost since we moved in, we haven’t bothered to replace them. It seems like everyone in our area re-does their kitchens (or at least starts thinking about it) as soon as they move, anyway, so we might as well leave that to the next people. I am pretty much indifferent to kitchen design. It’s not that I don’t cook. But so long as the usual equipment is there and working, I make do. When I think about all the kitchens I’ve ever cooked in, one stands out as really badly designed, but I gave dinner parties in that house. I’ve never been in a kitchen that made me say “I want one like this.”

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I cook more and enjoy cooking more in well-designed kitchens. Of course, DH cooks more and we eat out more when we have a poorly designed kitchen… He’s better at making do than I am, I guess.

      Oddly the kitchen I’ve liked the best was a small galley kitchen in a bungalow. It was small but really well-designed. (It didn’t hurt that it also had top of the line appliances from the Bosch dishwasher to the professional quality gas stove.)

  11. chacha1 Says:

    As you know I am enmeshed in a renovation myself right now so I have Thoughts. But a reflexive response on specifics:

    1. I think the “kitchen triangle” concept is highly overrated. Galley works fine, as long as there is enough counter space.
    2. If you have an island and you don’t like the triangle, and there is some work component in the island (sink or cooktop) I’d suggest leaving the island where it is but putting all of your appliances, sink, etc. on the wall across from the island. Then you can re-surface the island.
    3. Replacing sink & countertops is messy but doesn’t have to be super expensive.
    4. Replacing a wall oven you don’t like with a slide-in range (oven + cooktop) saves real estate and is more efficient. You could even get one of those matching wall-mounted microwaves with an integrated vent fan – or, if like me you don’t like having the microwave at face level, put it in a niche under the new island surface.
    5. If your cabinets are not first choice but functional and sound, I’d leave ’em alone because those can run into huge $$ and new ones won’t improve your Q.O.L. as much as having a cooking station you like, a sink you like, and a countertop/faucet assembly you like. :-)

    fwiw I got a single-basin stainless sink (came as an all-in-one with pull-out faucet included) to replace the double-basin enamel sink in our new old kitchen for $230. CANNOT WAIT to not be dealing with mangey old enamel.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We don’t have a galley kitchen. We have standard 1990s-style open-concept McMansion kitchen, except without the standard granite countertops (there’s also some upgrades for entertaining like heat lamps and warming trays). Galleys do have triangles! I definitely don’t think the triangle is an overrated concept because that is precisely what is wrong with our current kitchen. It is too much of a pain to get between the fridge, stovetop, and sink.

      Our island does not have any work component to it. It’s just cabinets and a surface. We can’t move any appliances without tearing out and replacing the cabinets, though one of these days we should get rid of the ice maker we never use and replace it with cabinets (there’s also a boiling water tap that we disabled because we have small children).

      The question of whether to spend a few thousand dollars replacing the countertops when we have a terrible triangle vs. redoing the entire kitchen for ~30K (give or take) is one we’ve been asking for about 9 years now. I guess in the time we’ve waited they’ve started making better quartz options so waiting hasn’t been a total loss (we would have gone with whatever granite was cheapest had we done this 9 years ago as we’d planned when we bought the house).

      • chacha1 Says:

        Yes, I understood you don’t have a galley now. :-) My idea of a McMansion kitchen is one with an oversized island that is in between cooking/washing-up stations and the refrigerator. Is that what you have?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That is precisely what we have. If it were moved over like 3-6 inches, it wouldn’t be so very much in the way of everything. And its the 90s style, meaning it’s an odd almost circular shape– modern mcmansion kitchens are galley.

      • chacha1 Says:

        Aaaaaaahh that picture tells such a story. LOL OMG wallpaper. Is that a full-sized refrigerator??

        OK so I think if you were told “all the cabinets have to go in order to change appliances” you were … let’s be kind and say exaggerated to. If not straight-up lied to.

        The cabinet housing the double ovens should be removable without demolishing anything else on that row. The cooktop should be removable without demolishing anything but the countertop. Since you don’t like that anyway … .

        If that were my kitchen?
        1. take out double-ovens and their cabinet, replace with slide-in gas range (w/convection oven, natch).
        2. take out electric cooktop & countertop, replace with a good countertop.
        3. move vent hood over new range.
        4. put open shelves where range hood cabinet used to be.
        5. take out the island.
        6. take out existing sink & countertop on that side, replace with good sink & countertop.
        7. replace flooring.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That is a full-sized refrigerator.

        The slot for the double ovens is too small for a full-range stovetop. Those are small ovens. If we were to replace them with a single oven we would need a much larger range (we do often use both at the same time). The gas hookup, btw, is to the left of the stovetop.

      • Linda Says:

        chacha has some great points and tips, but I disagree on one point. I would put in a slide in range where the cook top currently is located, though, not where the wall ovens are. When the wall ovens are pulled out, you could add a cabinet with pull out shelves for pantry/food storage, pots and pans, etc. Definitely take out that tiny island and then re-do the floor. The cabinets look fine. You shouldn’t have to replace anything else except the counter tops since you want to.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It’s actually quite a large island! (Fits all our pans, most of our pots, and all our pyrex/casseroles.) We really do need more countertop space for prep than there is with just the counters as they are currently. Possibly if the counters were larger it would be enough. Right now it’s a bit claustrophobic working next to the stove because of the upper cabinets. We pretty much do all of our chopping on the island. (Of course, we do all our baking prep on the bureau in the dining room– it has a granite top.)

        Sadly those floors are uninterrupted between the informal dining and the Great Room, so we might have to do the entire area.

  12. accm Says:

    In case you’re wondering what to do for countertops, I’ll put in a recommendation against concrete. The previous owner put dark gray ones into my place. They’re supposed to develop a patina with use. In practice, that means that the space I primarily use for chopping things has a big whitish cloud, and any time I drip lemon juice onto the countertop (at least once a week!) it’s a frantic scramble to clean it up before it makes a permanent stain. Yes, I do oil them regularly and finally tracked down food-grade beeswax to seal them, but they just don’t look nice anymore (and dark gray wouldn’t have been my first choice, anyway, but the layout of the house was too good to pass up). It’s too big a hassle and expense to change them, though.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Noted! If we’d done this 10 years ago, we would have gone with granite. Now we’d probably pick quartz. We are all about the ease of use! And not having to do regular maintenance.

  13. Debbie M Says:

    I love my kitchen, even though it’s 60 years old, but my boyfriend doesn’t. Here’s what I love:
    * cabinets are made of real wood, so they do not disintegrate
    * cabinets go all the way up to the ceiling, so there’s no dust problem
    * counters are formica–they are a little stained and scratched but super each to keep clean (no grout!) and they are soft, so things don’t break when you set them down wrong
    * floors are laminate, also soft (good for standing on and dropping things)
    * window over the sink
    * double sink with long faucet
    * excellent water pressure
    * real storage space and counter space, including next to the sink and fridge (though not next to the stove)
    * square shape rather than galley, so good for parties
    * can easily put away all the dishes, and there’s a good triangle

    What I don’t or didn’t like:
    * the counters and backsplash are a light orange – I covered part of the backsplash with a black wallpaper edging and removed the dark orange curtains with tan pinstripes that came with the house and put up white lacy curtains instead
    * no counter next to the stove – we put a cart there
    * floor is scratched up, so it never looks good
    * fume hood doesn’t work
    * all different colored appliances (we had white, brown, and harvest gold)
    * we replaced the long fluorescent light fixture over the sink with a regular light fixture
    * the fridge is next to a window, and I think the sun might be what causes our fridges to warp after five years or so

    Things that would be okay except for my boyfriend:
    * fridge is normal sized instead of huge – he uses millions of ingredients in each dish and he specializes in everything
    * there’s no dishwasher and he makes huge piles of dishes
    * the clothes washer is in the kitchen, and he uses it as a counter and spills stuff on it all the time, and some of the spills drip or fall into the washer
    * not enough cabinets because he has loads of kitchen tools and is always buying more – he did build a pot rack over the stove and puts all of his millions of pots there

    • Leigh Says:

      I also love that our cabinets go to the ceiling! And our long and sprayable faucet!

    • Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

      The sink-window reminds me that our current house taught me why a south-facing window over the sink is a bad idea. Brilliant sun reflections off metal items or just water in the sink are blinding.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Oh, good to know. You probably have curtains. You might also like window-film–just putting it up on a hot day it suddenly feels like one is in shade. And you might like to plant a tree or build a courtyard wall or add an awning.

        My kitchen window is west-facing, which one would think would be horrible in the afternoon, but is not.

      • Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

        No curtains. It’s one of those mini-greenhouse windows. The former owners put plants there. We use it to recharge the solar-powered felines. :) The tree isn’t tall enough to block the sun, and there’s not a lot of space between us and the neighbor.

  14. Debbie M Says:

    On re-modelling: I like the idea of paying cash (though interest is so low right now that this is tempting too). I also like the idea of living at home during the remodel (cheaper), but instead of eating out all the time, making a temporary kitchen elsewhere with a hot plate, toaster oven, microwave, and maybe move the fridge or at least get a dorm fridge or something. We have lived without the sink working and without the stove/oven working (actually, the oven was just on full blast, so we turned the gas off), but not with the whole kitchen unavailable, so I’m sure that sucks.

    I also like the idea of having a master plan and doing things in stages. For example (for my house): First build a laundry room and move the washer out; put a baker’s rack in that space. Then later install a dishwasher, make cabinets where the washer was, and replace all the counters at once.

    I’ve heard that it’s good to hire an architect to create your plan because they know everything, I mean they work with contractors so they know about practicality and costs but they also know about theory and maybe long-term issues.

    My biggest fear is making things worse. Like replacing something of high quality but ugly and/or worn but working with something new and beautiful that turns out to be crap. And modern counters–will they be properly sloped, or will water pool or drip onto the floor? Stuff like that.

    I’m curious what the second-worst kind of countertop is. Part of me wants to switch to Corian or something similar from another brand (it’s soft and you can have a continuous sink). But formica is so much cheaper and I really like how well mine has held up. But does Corian hold up? And have they changed the formula in the past sixty years to get rid of poisons, so the modern stuff isn’t as good? And do some colors of Corian and formica age worse than others? I’ve never had black before, but it sounds kind of great with black and white floors, white appliances, and white and/or red cabinets.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      “My biggest fear is making things worse.” Me too!

      Um, the worst kind of countertop is made out of paper and it flakes off– we have had this in rentals. I’m not sure what we have now. (Definitely not as nice as Corian.) The /s lovely thing about the kind we have is that it turns yellow if you bleach it, which also makes having cleaning people really frustrating because they cannot handle that concept and have to be constantly reminded unless we want to go through and barkeep’s friend after they’ve been in (one reason we don’t have a cleaner). The internet is not sure if it is formica or laminate.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Wow, I’ve never had countertops that flake off, and I’ve been in many rentals. Ugh!

        I don’t think I’ve tried bleaching my counter. But then if I get a stain, I just try to figure out what caused it, try not to do that again, and wait for it to gradually fade away.

        I also don’t know the difference between formica and laminate. Hmm, quick googling implies they are the same or perhaps that formica is one type of laminate.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I suspect the countertop in that tiny kitchen apartment was original to 1940 when the apartment building was built. (Oddly there was a formal dining room, so we bought an island from home depot and did most of our kitchen prep in the dining room.)

        Re: bleach, like, if you use any kind of cleaning supply that has bleach in it (softsoap with bleach, comet, etc.) the countertop turns yellow. We generally just use water, but cleaners like to disinfect.

      • Debbie M Says:

        I use soapy water. I wonder if you can talk them into disinfecting with alcohol. (And if alcohol would also be problematic in some way.)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        They would use something correct for a few weeks and then forget. Thankfully we’re not trying to rent out our house and don’t have to deal with cleaners right now.

  15. J Liedl Says:

    It’s ten years next week that we’ve been in this house and we still haven’t renovated the kitchen. Cheap laminate counters, awful textured no-handled 80s peachy-tan cupboards with wood-stained end-caps, a weird layout that resembles a spiral and a lot of dead space that’s theoretically a tiny “eat-in” area in front of the sliding doors? It’s uniformly awful. I’d personally go with something like a galley style (to get rid of that peninsula piece that cuts off more than it enables) and put a bunch of cupboards on the back wall of the “eat-in” area. Maybe I’d open part of the wall between the dining room and the kitchen, too? There’s no obvious perfect fix, though.

    We have a cousin who’s an architect and general contractor in the big city. He’s offered to look over our current kitchen given measurements and photos and recommend something new. But then we have to save up the money to redo the kitchen and most of our short-term savings that could be frittered away on that has gone into educating Eldest. Since she’s going on to grad school with good but not complete funding (high cost of big-city living!), we’re being cautious and not ready to pay for a big reno, so we just grumble, repair falling-apart drawers and dream.

  16. Linda Says:

    After living in my house in Chicago for 8 years and dealing with was was essentially the original 1950s kitchen (with slightly newer appliances), I decided enough was enough and I remodeled it. High on my list were to add a dishwasher, replace the electric range with a gas one, and get rid of the ceramic sink that took such a toll on my glasses and stoneware. (When you’re hand washing everything, it’s easy to knock something against the side of sink before putting it in the drainer.) I kept the cabinets, because I really liked them. They were solid ash and stained a warm, honey color. No walls were moved, but I did add a small peninsula, which changed the work triangle a little bit. So despite re-using all of the old cabinets, there was some custom cabinetry work involved. I also had to completely replace the floors in the kitchen and the connecting hallway. I wasn’t sure what would be there when the old laminate was pulled up. Sure enough, it was just sub-floor. I had hardwood floors laid that matched the hardwood in the rest of the house. All appliances were replaced: range, refrigerator, and microwave. As already noted, a dishwasher was added, and I also added a garbage disposal. I also got a new sink and faucet, solid surface counter tops, tile back splash on all walls, under cabinet lighting, and new light fixtures. It ended up costing about $35,000 and I thought it was worth every penny. It made the final 5 years I lived in that house much better. It was only about 6 weeks of messiness in the house, so that wasn’t too bad. For most of that time I lived in the basement where I had a bathroom with a shower, a refrigerator, a cooktop, and the laundry sink for washing up. I had to sleep elsewhere for a couple nights while the wood floors were being finished, though. In case you’re curious, here’s a link to the album where I put all the before/during/after photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjk1baBG

    My current house has a small peninsula, too, but while the kitchen had been recently remodeled and features some really good appliances, there are a few things I’d change about it. First, the lighting is not that great. There is a window over the sink and two light fixtures: a pendulum above the sink, and a ceiling mount light in the center of the kitchen. But there are still dark spots in the kitchen and there is no under cabinet lighting installed. When I first moved in there were these fancy edison bulbs in the fixtures and the light was so dim from them that unless the sun was streaming through the windows I couldn’t even read something I was holding in my hand. I replaced those bulbs with some LED ones and it is better, but I also installed plug-in under cabinet light bars, too. I also would like a pullout for the trash and recycling. Since I don’t want to give up cabinet space, though, I make do with a small trash can under the sink and a bag for recycling nearby. There’s a tiny pantry nook in this kitchen that has a wire shelving unit awkwardly inside. One day I’d love to change that to built in shelves instead.

    As long as there are working appliances, I don’t think I’m that picky about kitchens and kitchen layout. I do love having a dishwasher, though.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I recognize that kitchen layout! Very popular where I grew up. My MIL recently redid hers, but that involved knocking out a wall and taking over the computer room.

      We lived without a dishwasher for many years, but as soon as we got some real money we were like, NEVER AGAIN.

    • Linda Says:

      Yeah, now that I look through all the photos I realize how much more work was involved, hence the higher cost. The windows were also replaced, and one of the windows was made smaller to accommodate the extension of the counter tops, so there was masonry work involved, too. I also hired a kitchen designer since I really needed the help figuring everything out. Again, all money well spent, though.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        If I knew a kitchen designer I could trust, we’d probably be more likely to do this precisely because that work triangle is so important. You can have a really great looking kitchen (which ours would be if it had better countertops, given that we’ve repainted since 2009), but not actually be much fun to cook in. (Of course, right now with DH’s company being on break and not having started up again like it was supposed to in July, we’re happy to have the money in our savings account.)

  17. Katherine Says:

    Our house (which we bought a year ago) has a somewhat recently remodeled kitchen with nice appliances. I don’t love the colors (the cabinets are white, which is my second choice after light natural wood, but the counters, tile, and paint are a warm brown/beige color scheme – I much prefer cool colors) but the appliances are really nice, except for the fact that the stove is electric. I LOVE having a convection oven. The countertops are Corian with a continuous sink. I miss the quartz countertops we had two apartments ago because they were heatproof. The Corian sink stains really, really easily, but at least it’s easy to clean with bleach.

    The main problem is that we don’t have a dining room, and the kitchen isn’t large enough to fit a real dining table. We have a tiny little dining table that seats three if it’s pushed against the wall or four if we move it to the center of the kitchen, but if we have more than the two of us we pretty much have to serve from the stove, because there isn’t room for pots or serving dishes on the table. I don’t know what the family that lived in this house before us did – they have 3 kids.

    I don’t think we have quite enough counter space (we have the same issue as Leigh, that dirty or drying dishes take up a lot of space), and I really wish our counters went all the way up to the ceiling (we have soffits, though, so at least we don’t have a dust problem). If we had somewhere else to put the dining table, I would put cabinets and countertop along the wall where the table currently is, which would give us countertops on 3 sides of the room instead of the L-shaped counter we have now.

    The only way to put our dining table somewhere else would be to put it in our finished basement (we have a large unused room under our living room). But then we’d need a safe way to get food and dishes down there, which seems kind of impractical. I wonder how hard it would be to put in a dumb waiter?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I was gonna say card table (since that’s how we handled having only an eat-in kitchen and no dining area), but that only fits 4 people. Maybe the baby had a high chair and then they had to move?

      Soffit: I learned a new word today!

  18. becca Says:

    Oh the kitchen reno.
    I think, if we had *just* done the kitchen reno, my emotional equilibrium would not be so off. But the cumulative toll of renovations is high (about 4 years and at least 50k). The kitchen part definitely took less than a year, except our floor which we still haven’t put back in, but there were other renos besides the kitchen happening so it’s hard to estimate. Cost was… < 15k for the kitchen + floors for the rest of the house (it's about 900sq ft, so not *that* much space). But for that we did not get our beloved hardwood for the floors (instead we have vinyl which is meh, though not bad looking) and we got pretty odd granite countertop (which I dislike). We did get nice cabinets and a nice gas stove with fan (the stove had to move so fan could vent to the outside, which for logistical reasons meant I didn't get a window above the stove which makes me irrationally grumpy considering the kitchen has a large sliding glass door).
    We also got a double sink I very much love, and a new dishwasher that is astonishingly quiet and reasonable effective though very time consuming on the hard core cycles.

    Depending on what I'm cooking, I can't share a kitchen truly happily. I've worked in commercial kitchens cooking for hundreds, and I still hate other people in my elbow room. If I have just one little task (say, kneading bread), I can do that with others around, and enjoy it, but if I'm doing lots of little things it drives me bananas.
    Oh! and we have a fantastic pot light set with a dimmer switch and a garbage disposal. Also, USB chargers on some of the outlets.

    My dream kitchen would have A) a window over the sink that you have a hummingbird feeder out of and an herb window box and a view of the mountains and B) a commercial dish washer/sterilizer. Neither of those are exactly ubiquitous, and I'm very much reluctant to ever redo a kitchen again since I can't have those things anyway.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      4 years and 50K is a LOT!!! Did you buy a fixer-upper? One nice thing about us living in the middle of nowhere is that there is a lot of cheap new housing stock. Getting a house built in the 1990s meant we were buying an “old” house from one of the “established” subdivisions.

      That little galley kitchen with the great triangle I talked about in earlier comments had a window above the sink where you could see hummingbirds (they had flowering bushes instead of a feeder). It was pretty amazing. Sadly, to see mountains we would have had to go outside of the house because there were other houses in the way. That was a good year. We also had fruit trees in the backyard.

      (When you said “pot light set” I was very confused at first … it took google to tell me that you’re talking about recessed lighting and not running a licensed growing unit in your kitchen for medicinal purposes.)

      • becca Says:

        It is a LOT. The house is from the 1920s, and it was $9,600 on Craigslist, no mortgage. I don’t feel much of the work was super urgent (the kitchen was mostly aesthetic, for example). Arguably as housing expenses go, it’s not *that* different from renting for $1000/month, except you end up with a renovated house at the end (also, in our area, you can easily rent this kind of place for $700-$800/month, so the rest was consumption if we don’t get it back when we sell- we’re getting estimates on it now).
        Though if an insurance company refuses to insure you because your roof is too old, it “has” to be done (though also, I did not try to go around it by finding another insurance company). And things like replacing the knob and tube wiring and old pipes weren’t the most satisfying projects, but they were valuable. There was also structural support added to the basement, but that ended up resettling the house and so a lot of the interior walls had more cracks than before- in retrospect we should’ve hired way more help on that part, but it was one of the first things we did and we had the least money at that stage.

        In a lot of ways, I think what makes people happy are things like hummingbirds, not things like double ovens. Or maybe some people really do feel about double ovens the way I feel about hummingbirds, but I think at least some of the double oven demand is just because advertisers don’t sell hummingbirds.
        lol on the pot lights- no, not these lights. Though I will not comment as to whether or not we have had the conversation of how best to justify the cost of making a really good greenhouse.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        $9,600? Um wow, yeah, so basically you paid 60K (and a lot of angst) for a house. That is not bad at all! I did see a house that cost about that much when we were buying houses, but it didn’t have windows or plumbing. To get something like you describe in our area it would probably cost around 30K or 40K depending on how bad the elementary school zone was (it would be in the town next to ours). But in paradise– 1-2million dollars, also depending on school zone.

        I care more about ovens than hummingbirds, sad to say. I have no aesthetic sensibility at all. It’s all function and no form for me. DH is the same way which makes some things difficult and some things easier.

  19. SP Says:

    Fun post? What is messed up about the triangle?

    What I like about our kitchen:
    – big double “farmhosue” sink
    – window = lots of light
    – gas stove with overhead vent
    – countertops clean easily, floors don’t show dirt that much
    – dishwasher
    – lots of drawer space (comparing to previous living situations, not to a midwest kitchen), drawers instead of shelves for anything below waist height (so much easier!)
    – Pull out trash cans on wheels, with a little shelf to hold the roll of bags. Such a small thing
    – Enough counter space (galley style)
    – Mostly open floor plan, but with a counter that creates a separate space

    What I dislike:
    – The nice sink is cracked, and we think the previous owners did this shortly before moving out when they tried to fix a leak. T fixed the leak, but we live with the crack
    – IKEA cabinets. They are fine, but they aren’t high end.
    – No really good space for a microwave. Well, maybe there is, but we put our espresso maker there, so there is not two good spaces for a microwave
    – I worry about whether it is “timeless” enough

  20. SP Says:

    Yeah, i see that now. I’d maybe remodel if DH’s job comes back and you are feeling flush with cash… but it isn’t needed if it doesn’t bug you much. I will say that is very unlikely that for $30k you’d end up with something you were also unhappy with. But you are likely to suffer many months of renovation, and you have to find a contractor you can trust.

    My suggestions: Remove the double oven (unless you really need this feature), get a gas oven/stove combo and place it where the current stovetop is. Extend the countertop to the wall (instead of the double oven). Get rid of the island to have a triangle. Redo the floors and countertops. The island looks pretty small in this photo, but without it, you may just have dead space in the middle of the kitchen. I am terrible at design, so you should ignore all of this.

  21. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  22. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    We have to completely redo our kitchen and I think we messed up the triangle because I don’t use it the way normal people do and I’m the one who’s most in the kitchen. I don’t know how to describe it but at best it’s kind of like an isoceles triangle if you count a countertop as a side.

    I wish we could refer some people to you – our GC is fantastic so far and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the process.

    Some of SP’s suggestions actually do make sense, seconding them!

  23. bogart Says:

    Yes, we have done a kitchen reno. When I moved into DH’s house, it had a galley kitchen with the fridge at one end, doors on either side of that, and then counters running down away from the doors, one with the stove (and microwave in the range hood) and one with the sink, dishwasher next to that. The owner before DH had added onto the house and put a roughly 10 x 10 dining room on the back side of the kitchen, so that the only way to get to the “dining room” (we did not really use it as such much and it mostly ended up being a place to throw junk that we weren’t sure where to put it) was to walk through the kitchen. Now we observe safety and hygiene rules (diligently) but I am not a neat cook and you really don’t want to walk through a kitchen I have just cooked in right before your meal. It just was not good.

    We basically remodeled the entire public area (i.e. everything except bedrooms and bathrooms) right after DS was born (not brilliant). So for the first 6 months or so of his life, our “kitchen” was a corner of the living room that contained a fridge and a microwave, plus a grill (out on the deck), and we washed everything in the bathroom sink. Crazy, really. But — we very much like the outcome, so there’s that.

    The former kitchen + dining room became a kitchen. It’s about 11 feet long x 10 feet wide. Things we got right (at least right for us):
    Basic layout is fridge (leftmost end of long end of an L), ~3 feet of butcher block counter (love, love, love) over cabinets that hold food prep and storage stuff relevant to food that’s just gone out of or just about to be put in the fridge plus a pull-out work board that looks like this: http://www.kitchensource.com/cau/ha-5-5.htm . Not only is it great if you want to sit and prep and good for kids to work on, but it pulls out and goes back in, so you can e.g. put all the grocery bags on it when you get home and then unload easily into the fridge. Immediately next to the butcher block is a large double sink with a pull out faucet, and immediately next to that is the dishwasher (counter space on top). Then the L angles right and shortly after the right angle is the stove. Beyond that a bit more counter space and then some floor-to-ceiling cabinets. On the opposite wall I insisted on a full size closet that would look dreadful to anyone with an eye for beauty but is functional for putting stuff in and has hookups for W/D (these have their own separate room in our current layout but being able to move them will simplify putting in an accessible bathroom if we later decide to do so).
    Kitchen has doors that close, so you can close kids or dogs or cats in or out of the kitchen. Essential. Cannot, cannot, cannot understand the move away from this.
    Cabinets have smooth (flat) doors, so no exterior nooks & crannies to hold dust. Also, no uncovered cabinets.
    We did the counters (ourselves) in tile, with the exception of the butcher block. Overall this has been good (virtually no grout, we squeezed 13×13 tiles as close to one another as we could, and was absurdly cheap (~$2 per sq. foot) BUT one time the coffee maker got jammed up and overflowed and by the time we realized it, the water had seeped through the grout, swollen the wood underlayment, and cracked one of the tiles. It dried and has settled and we are OK with it but realistically, we will probably get granite counter tops (or whatever is cool then) before we sell. Or maybe not, and let fixing it be the new owner’s problem, may depend on the market when we sell.
    Sink directly in front of a window. Stove genuinely vents to outdoors, doesn’t have a fan that just recirculates the air.
    Tile floor — very easy to clean, not a big deal (for it, but see below) if it gets wet.
    Cabinets under island are fairly narrow and open from both sides (so you can put stuff in from the kitchen and take it out from the dining area, or vice versa)

    Things we got wrong (for us)
    Tiles on floor get horrifically slippery when wet. Turns out this is a quality of tile that knowledgeable people are aware of and consider. We have too, now that we know about it (subsequent flooring decisions), but replacing the existing floor would be expensive.
    Marginally too little counter space, though this partly reflects disagreement about how many appliances we should or should not have on the counter (DH: yes to large toaster and large toaster oven; me: small toaster oven is all that’s needed of that pairing. DH won that one). We could fix this by ripping out the large closet and adding counter, but I mostly like the large closet.
    Island (at one end of kitchen, sort of like yours) is L-shaped. I let the builder talk me into this and that was dumb, I would much, much prefer a straight island. We use it as sitting space (to eat) and the inner corner of the island is wasted space. We have 2 doors into the kitchen, and this is probably excessive, one would be enough and would add room for a longer straight island.
    A lot of people would probably hate the butcher block counter, which has warped some over time. Doesn’t bother us (the warpage/discoloring of the aging wood).
    Floor-to-ceiling cabinets are too narrow and deep — need to be wider to be useful. Dumb design decision (made by builder, not caught by us).

    We expect to live here a long time (DH is entering his 4th decade in this house and I will soon be starting my 3rd; the remodel was a decade ago) and are pretty indifferent to resale value. There are clearly things we could change that would appeal more to the typical buyer (whether we will or not will be a function of when and why we sell, I think).

    Appliances: our electricity is sufficiently surge-y that appliances that have chips don’t last long. I have taken to insisting that all new appliances be 100% not smart, when feasible. This dramatically reduces the choices available when we pick out appliances, which is of course a mixed blessing. Of our current installed kitchen appliances, only the dishwasher is dumb (but the washing machine is, too). I know this means it is less energy efficient, but it’s not obvious to me that that is true after subtracting out the environmental costs that would be associated with (otherwise) needing to replace every appliance every ~5 years.

    I’m totally 100% glad we did the remodel we did (including but not limited to the kitchen). That said, I have since become more alert to hedonic adaptation and thus, more inclined to make incremental improvements and enjoy things getting … better than they were (repeatedly!).

    If I ever redo or do a kitchen again, I will (for cost reasons) look closely at Ikea cabinets, at least as a possibility.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I can’t imagine doing a kitchen renovation with a newborn!

      My parents have always had a pull-out chopping board. I wonder why I haven’t seen them as much lately. Maybe people don’t think of them as hygienic anymore, or maybe they’d rather have islands. I like the ones that you can easily pull out all the way to clean. Of course, these days it’s a pain using anything that can’t just be thrown into the dishwasher.

      • becca Says:

        Part of my bitterness may be that the kitchen was supposed to be done before baby came. Baby is now 9 months, kitchen still has no floor ;-)

      • Debbie M Says:

        I wonder if you can get the island you want and just keep your extra door closed. Sounds like you wouldn’t even have to re-do the floor.

        And #1, I wonder if you can get rid of your island and cover that part of the floor with a rug for the short term–or would you always be tripping over it and risking death?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yeah, I think a rug on the tile floor would be risking a lot of injury (given we have two highly energetic children and it gets hot outside).

        I’m not sold on getting rid of the island– I do think moving it a few inches would fix a lot of its problems and leave us with prep and storage space. But I dunno, we probably need to talk with a professional, but finding one is problematic.

  24. Leah Says:

    ooh, that island does look annoying in the middle. I have various levels of what I’d do to your kitchen depending on money. A cheapish thing you could do is something you didn’t even mention — I’d get an electrician in there to change out your light fixture. Fluorescent lighting can be hard on the eyes, and I’d go with some sort of can lights (another word for pot lights) and some task lighting. Looks like your kitchen is an interior room, and warmer, calmer lighting might help you feel better about the space.

    Next step would be eliminating the wall ovens. You could put in storage there that could be a home for some of that stuff from the island. I still think I’d put the full stove/oven where the cooktop is right now. And you could cook on a stove with the oven going, tho that does sometimes get warm. But if you have a new one, I find they’re insulated enough that you don’t swelter/burn yourself. I’ve almost always had a complete unit. I regularly use the oven and stove at the same time, and it works fine for me. YMMV thought, I suppose.

    If you really want to go full bore, I’d get rid of the island and make more of a proper L instead of the slant you have. OR . . . you can take out the L and make a straight line of counter/cabinets (what is on the other side of the L?). Then, slide the island somewhere approximately there so you could have a triangle without the island in the way but still have an island for storage and stuff.

    RE: counters, I prefer softer ones. My in-laws have Corian, and they seem pretty nice. I have a high-end laminate right now that I really like. I think you could adjust your kitchen without full remodeling everything to maybe save some time (and money).

    I suggest you sketch up the layout of your kitchen and post it here. And get the PoPs to take a look — they did some nice things with their kitchen. I’m also curious what the rest of the room looks like (a bird’s eye view, if you will) to get other ideas for adjustment.

    You do have my favorite feature in a kitchen: a pantry. Our new apartment is big and spacious, but we lost the amazing pantry we had in our smaller apartment. I suppose I’ll adjust over time, but I’m seriously missing it right now. Trying to figure out where to put everything . . . and I’m not even done unpacking kitchen stuff yet. Our other thing is that our cabinets aren’t as tall, so I only have some bottom cabinets that will fit a cereal box. First world problems ;-)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It has all sorts of fancy recessed lighting that you can’t see.

      The year we had the teeny kitchen we got cheap shelving and put it in the space between the dining and living room (where we also put our full sized fridge) and used that as a pantry. We had a similar setup in paradise with the shelving, though there it was built in in the kitchen.

    • chacha1 Says:

      My cabinets are old and have short shelves; I turn the cereal box on its side. :-)

      It does seem like replacing the double-oven + cooktop configuration would require replacement of cabinets. And if you’re doing one side, might as well do the other. If I were spending ALL the money on the subject kitchen, it would be a gut job.

      It’s very smart to discuss this as almost an academic exercise, while the actual project is not happening due to other factors. Figuring out what you would really WANT, before you are in the position of having to make all the actual decisions saves a lot of time once the materials have to be ordered. And it will also help you decide if you even want to bother given that you are not in Paradise. :-) I had a friend stuck in a loooooong renovation because she let the project evolve while in process, which meant change orders and re-scheduling and delay delay delay $$$.

  25. Sarah @ littlebusontheprairie.com Says:

    I’m late to the party and you have a ton of replies already, but when we were building our home I stumbled upon the Garden Web kitchen forums (it’s a part of houzz.com now, I believe) and they were a total life saver when it came to planning my kitchen and offered fantastic, knowledgeable advice to everyone who asked, especially if you participate and provide measurements and pictures.

    I absolutely LOVE my kitchen and it’s because someone suggested that I turn the planned island into a peninsula and arrange my ikea cabinets effectively. Another shout out to the online ikea kitchen planner. Kind of tricky to get the knack of, but extremely helpful for picturing what you’re planning, even if you’re not using ikea stuff.

    So, just another resource for you to look into.

  26. First Gen American Says:

    My last blog post has a bunch of questions you can ask yourself to help with layout.

    There is no such thing as too much counter space.

    Pantries are awesome.

    I prefer drawers for lower cabinets. They aren’t that much more expensive than shelves and are a lot neater and things like Tupperware are so much easier to store. No more lids falling off the back of the shelf.

    I think you’d enjoy more counter space adjacent to stove. It’s nicer to have your stove where counters on both sides (I’ve had both and center stove is better). If you can’t center the stove, give more counter space to the side of your dominant arm. If primary cook is right handed, then more counter space to the right of the stove is better than left.

    You can free up 2 feet of counter space swapping your countertop mic with vent/microwave combo over stove.

    If you do a total redo, I love my vertical tray cabinet. I store sheetpans, cutting boards, pizza stones, cooling racks, muffin tins, etc in it. Works like a bookshelf, just slide out the one you need. Much better than stacking horizontally.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Thanks! These are all great– I think you’re right about more counterspace next to the stove, and I agree about the microwave hutch. I think our previous owners didn’t do that because what you’re not seeing in that spot where many people put the microwave is an elaborate setup for keeping catered appetizer trays warm (with trays and heat lamps). The kitchen is set up beautifully for people who like to entertain but hate to cook.

      We do have drawers in some of those lower cabinets– specifically the ones under the stovetop– but we don’t really use them.

      We have a vertical tray cabinet– it’s above the double-ovens. We do keep our sheet pans and jelly pans there. We keep cutting boards in the pantry. The pizza stone is in the drawer under the ovens. The cooling racks and muffin tins are in the lower cupboards next to the oven. We keep tupperware in the pantry, except the specifically for school tupperware which is in the cupboard above the dishwasher.

  27. M Says:

    Even though there are a million comments, I’m inclined to add because this resonated. When we bought our house, the same thing happened. I said that the kitchen was the most important room. And the crappiest part about the house ended up being the kitchen. Because everything else was right. (Well, the yard is pretty crappy too, but it’s huge at least). I’d say our kitchen was way worse than yours. At least in terms of appearance, if not functionality (hard to say). Pretty similar size I’d venture. Really ugly though. Hamburger wallpaper (seriously), yellow and beige painted cabinets, small ceramic sink, and a flour cabinet for a counter. We finally did a remodel after a few years. $20K. My husband was able to do all the labor with some help from his dad. We bought pretty nice stuff… not absolute top end of the line, but not cheap. We did end up choosing natural hickory cabinets, despite their not being “in,” as my husband loves natural wood. They look pretty nice. And I think (in my opinion at least), the kitchen looks somewhat classy due to our use of stainless appliances, black counters, and nice tile. I was a bit fearful of a “country cabin” vibe, but I’d like to think it’s at least somewhat modern looking. The other issue was space, and no matter what we considered in terms of tearing down walls, etc, there just were not many options for increasing space. We did the best we could, and added in huge appliances (stove and fridge – because we need them), a little bit more counter space, as much cabinet space as possible (never enough), and a “cozy” (read: cramped) nook-style corner table. We have a “dining room” of sorts, but hate the idea of using it, so we don’t. We opted to keep the existing laminate (fake wood) flooring as it was in fine condition. I actually love it since it’s so so easy, even if it’s not the classiest. We have hardwood everywhere else, and I just can’t imagine having to deal with that or tile in the kitchen. We also turned the quasi-coat closet into a “pantry” of sorts, but it’s very small and just serves to hold a few extra things (plus broom, plastic bags, etc.). Our pantry area is basically in the basement storage room. I like to think of it as our mini-Costco.

    Things we like in the kitchen:
    -fake-wood laminate flooring
    -countertops (not granite/marble, but a synthetic… maybe corian?… basically invicible… I also wasn’t sure I’d dig the dark color, but you see no mess on them and they look nice)
    -large sink (synthetic material, not stainless) with huge faucet
    -two pull out spice cabinets
    -bottom cabinets with really big drawers
    -one area with open shelving for cook books (maybe not critical, but looks really nice and makes me happy)
    -and the best: oversized stainless cooktop/oven unit with ceramic cooktop, which we got for 50% off at Sears and is a really pretty rare style. I couldn’t imagine getting gas even though this is classier and surely better for cooking because omg – who has time to clean that? But, even though the double oven style on this is kind of crappy, having five elements (three large ones) on the stovetop is a game changer. We cook a lot, and have three different large pots/pans going simultaneously regularly.

    Other things I did for my sanity: relegated “papers and mail” to a corner with a three-tier filing tray… people leave them all over and I put them on the tray :) (unless they are mine, in which case I put them in my own space – my desk).

    Also, set up a charging station in the family room so that people would stop charging their damn electronics all around the kitchen.

    I only wish my husband would hang his keys on the key hook like I do rather than leaving them on the counter, but some things you just have to compromise on.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I had to look up flour cabinet– that is NOT enough counterspace.

      We have a hanging wire spice rack on the other side of the pantry door that we put in. I love it so much. We’ve also got a bookcase just for cookbooks that you can’t see against the side of the kitchen facing the breakfast nook (sort of underneath where that phone we no longer own is in the picture).

      Our mail stuff ends up on the dining room table– it’s my job to go through on weekends. (My own stuff ends up everywhere because all of my kids’ bad habits come from me.) We have a hard and fast rule that non-kitchen stuff does NOT belong in the kitchen (they can use that ledge near the phone, but not inside the kitchen itself) and I am constantly telling the kids to get their stuff out from in front of the microwave and off the island. I leave my keys on the counter… (DH leaves his on his dresser in the bedroom),

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