This post is about how we’re ever so slowly taking our kitchen from closed-in-and-drab to open-and-fab. We’re still not quite to the “fab” end of the spectrum . . . getting to “fab” will involve new flooring and new cabinets, neither of which are in the budget at the moment.
It was only as recent as a couple months ago that I began bringing in a full-time income again, and that added income is allowing us to begin to save up money for home projects which have been on the back burner for ages. First up will be having the electrical system in this older home brought to current standards (including having additional outlets added to accommodate computers, video game systems, and other things which weren’t a concern back in the ’40s & ’50s!), and that project, unlike the kitchen, is a Need To Do, so takes priority.
We bought our house in 2003 and have made changes in fits and spurts ever since. I don’t have a picture of the kitchen from when we moved in, but the picture below is close. A leeeeettle bit cabinet-happy, wouldn’t you say?!!
In the above photo, we’d replaced the dishwasher, which is why the carpet in front of the dishwasher is cut (we had to pull the carpet back & remove the padding to be able to slide out the old dishwasher). The wall on the far end of the room was a laundry area with a cabinet above it, which we removed. (We originally had our washer & dryer in the mudroom, just on the other side of that wall. But we moved them back inside when we bought a chest freezer a couple years ago and chose to put it in the mudroom. I’ll admit it’s *much* nicer doing laundry in a room with central air & heat!!)
As you can see in that photo, natural light was hard to come by. There used to be a window over the sink, but it was covered over at some point . . . which we have no complaints about because (a) the building next door is extremely close, and (b) the sun sets on that side of the house, which would make the kitchen incredibly hot in the summers. The lack of natural light + brown walls + being surrounded by plywood from floor to ceiling was, for me, depressing and claustrophobic.
The next change we made (2006) was to remove the part of the lower cabinet that jutted out into the space, and we pulled up the carpet, which was pretty gross. What was underneath was “interesting” . . . the squiggles you see on the flooring are where the orange carpet padding and the carpet glue had turned into some kind of impossible-to-remove gunk. Other than that gunk, though, at least I could clean this faded-green flooring, unlike the carpet which had been there!
See how much more open it looks, just making those two changes?!!
Over the next several years, down came the shelf over the sink, the cabinet over the stove, the microwave cabinet next to the stove, the cabinet over the fridge, and the huge pantry next to the stove. My hubby used some of the pantry wood to make me two sturdy worktables, one of which is now my desk and the other of which is a work surface in the kitchen.
In 2012, my hubby repaired the walls from where the various cabinets had been removed, and repainted the entire kitchen with a nice, light color. We also removed the faded-green flooring which, it turned out, wasn’t even glued down!! It was sheet flooring which had been nailed down, but there weren’t a lot of nails in it, so it was super-duper easy to remove. It’s probably the only DIY shortcut utilized by the prior homeowners that I appreciate :P.
I don’t know what the stuff underneath that flooring is called — it’s smoother underfoot than plywood . . . some type of underlayment, perhaps? Whatever it is, it’s been our flooring for the past couple years and has worked like a charm. That said, it’s not intended to function as flooring, so we have area rugs in there, and I also have a thick water-resistant rug (not shown) in front of the sink.
On the right side of the picture is one of the worktables my hubby made from the old pantry. Since readymade lower cabinets are a smidge too tall for me, he made the worktable slightly lower so it’s comfortable for me to use. Yay for having a handyman hubby!!
But one thing I’d realized as time went by is that none of us often used that worktable for food/meal prep. Instead, we’d use the little bit of countertop between the fridge and stove . . . which defeated the purpose of having the worktable. So this past week I decided to completely get rid of that single lower cabinet between the fridge and stove and instead place the worktable there, giving us more than double the countertop space in that area.
I love love love how it turned out!!! And it’s so much more functional. Even with my short legs ;-), the distance between the stove and sink is still comfortable. When we replace our cabinets, I want no upper cabinets on this side. Where the worktable is, I want a lower cabinet, to be approximately the same length as the worktable, and then maybe a short lower cabinet to the left of the stove (where the pots and pans currently are).
While I had the change-it-up bug, I decided to futz around with the cabinets on the opposite site of the room. I have a very strong dislike for these cabinets . . . I don’t like the style, I don’t like that they’re floor-to-ceiling, and I don’t like the color. Even though I knew I didn’t want to keep these cabinets forever, the yellow-brown tint of them has been my least favorite thing about this house, so we experimented with painting them . . . only to decide for a variety of reasons that, nope!, we don’t want to go that route with these cabinets!!
I ultimately want no upper cabinets on the wall area above and to the right of the sink. Those upper cabinets block what bit of natural light comes in through the window by the washer and dryer; with that bank of cabinets gone, more natural light would make its way into the kitchen, especially down by the sink, which is the darkest area yet is also the area where I spend the most time!
To get an idea of if we could actually do without upper cabinets in that area, I decided to see how much of the pantry food could be stashed into the three drawers to the right of the dishwasher, and, to my surprise, most of it fit in just those three drawers!
We don’t use our dishwasher at all, so when we replace our cabinets I want to forego a dishwasher completely and, instead, have drawers in that spot. I also want to have the lower cabinets extend to the right by a drawer width, to basically take over the space where the microwave cart’s currently located. And then I want the lower cabinets to the left of the sink to also be drawers. By making these changes, everything you see in the upper cabinets to the right of the sink would be able to be 100% stored in that long bank of lower cabinets.
As a concession to the fact we don’t plan for this to be our forever home, I would like to have an upper cabinet to the left of the sink, where our dishes are. But I want glass-fronted cabinets, to help retain the open and airy feeling.
Scroll back up to the very first picture, then look at the picture below, taken from approximately the same location. So much airier, with plenty of elbow room!!
For working with what we have flooring-wise and cabinet-wise, this is about as good as it’s gonna get. I’m extremely happy with the fridge-n-stove side of the kitchen . . . I love using the worktable, I love being over there by the art, I love the sunlight that hits that area, I love the lightness of that side of the room. While I don’t love the cabinetry on the sink side of the kitchen, taking the doors off allows more light on that side of the room and visually gives you more “texture” to look at, and I actually smile when I walk into the space =D.
Most exciting for me is that the futzing I’ve done this past week has helped me realize how this space can be utilized in a way which jives with my desire for primarily lower cabinets. Having this information will make it much easier to get pricing for cabinets and countertops, so we can begin saving up for those, plus flooring, after our electrical work has been done. It’s crazy to think we will probably have lived here for twelve years by the time we get new cabinets, countertops, and flooring!!! Gosh, the time flies, doesn’t it?!?!!