As first-time homeowners, after being l-o-n-g-term renters, we made lots of cosmetic changes to our house within the first several years of purchasing it back in 2003: replaced carpet, painted walls, and tore out the airplane-bathroom-sized half bath the prior owners added half-assedly just to inflate the sales price (the things you learn from neighbors!).
The one room we didn’t tackle right away was the kitchen . . . mostly because trying to figure out what to do to make it a space we loved was overwhelming. Here’s what it looked like in September 2006, when the only change we’d made was removing the laundry cabinet that’d been mounted on the wall at the far end of the kitchen (where the white square is on the upper portion of the wall; the white square on the lower portion of the wall is where the W&D had been located):
The info furnished when the house was on the market indicated all this cabinetry was added in 1993. I suspect that’s also when the carpeting was installed in the kitchen. And perhaps that was when the window at the kitchen sink was boarded over from the outside . . . or maybe that was done by an owner prior to whoever owned the house in ’93.
There is a hideous gray rental duplex within spitting distance on the kitchen sink side of the house, so I understand the reasoning behind boarding over the window. But adding floor to ceiling cabinetry on both sides of the room AND having no natural light in the main work area of the kitchen made the room feel soooooo claustrophobic and dark and . . . uncheerful.
A month after that photo was taken, I removed the section of the lower cabinets that jutted out into the middle of the room, and I pulled up the carpet.
Removing that section of lower cabinetry opened up the room so much! The sheet flooring was pretty hiddy, especially where the carpet padding + carpet glue had discolored it, but removing the carpet lightened up the room a great deal, which was extremely important to me.
A couple months later I took down the small cabinet over the stove and the microwave cabinet that was next to it, and one of the two shelves over the kitchen sink.
I was slowly experimenting with determining how much cabinetry we could eliminate, to help the space feel roomier and more open. Each time a piece of cabinetry was removed, I was faced with deciding how much of our kitchen “stuff” was truly necessary.
In the fall of 2009, we removed the big 3-door pantry on the right side of the kitchen, as well as the cabinet that was above the fridge. That was one of The Best changes we’ve made to that room . . . it no longer felt like being in a coffin!! At the same time, we removed all the doors off the very uppermost cabinets on the left side of the kitchen, to break up the “wall” of solid cabinetry. (The pictures from that particular demo were lost forever when my previous laptop took a nosedive off the couch onto the floor, destroying my hard drive in the process. Nope, I had no back-up.)
My hubby used those pantry doors to create a worktable for my workspace and a worktable for our kitchen. They are sturdy and awesome worktables!!
In September of 2010 I got tired of the hiddy green sheet flooring and pulled it all up. It wasn’t glued down, rather it’d just been laid down right on top of some type of underlayment. Ironically, the underlayment is the best looking flooring we’ve had yet in the kitchen ;-).
Even though that picture is from 9/2010, that’s essentially how the kitchen still looks.
But not for long!!
[Part 2 to follow.]