Feb 21, 2018

The Joy of Kitchen Renovations! aka It's Finally Quiet Enough to Write Again - Annie West

Starting from scratch - after the kitchen was ripped out.
Well, we survived! Better than I expected, actually. If the words kitchen renovations fill you with fear, then you'll know what I mean. We've renovated before, but never a kitchen. We did easy rooms, where no plumbing was involved, and where, despite the mess around the place we could still end the day with a home cooked meal. But here - not so easy, as you'll see from this photo. 

Weeks without a kitchen bench, with doing the washing up in the laundry, with having a bare minimum of work space on a fold up table in the back room. Actually, it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd anticipated, maybe because it's summer and it was easy to live off salads and barbecues. Plus the experts who did the hard work were so good to work with (and not a single blaring radio in the place). I can put up with hammering and drilling and still manage to do some work, but loud radios mean an end to my word count. In this case, I admit I tended to take myself out on the really busy days.

During the process - minus benchtops and doors.

One of the best things about the new design is its accessibility. No more blind corner cupboards to dig into. You'll see from the photo above the two corner contraptions that pull right out into the room so you can get to the things you've packed away. Plus lots of drawers and, sigh, a walk in pantry. Heaven! Is it any wonder I walk into this room and smile? And, best of all - the bench height. For the first time in my adult life I have a bench that is the right height for me. It's marvellous to spend time working here and not get that niggle of pain from bending all the time. My skyscraper son would have been happy with an even taller bench but he can get his own!


The transformation took longer than expected, with some public holiday delays but we think it was worth waiting for. I'm still filling cupboards (and culling) and still have a table covered in bits and pieces waiting for their new home, but it's rather fun taking time to decide just where everything goes.

How about you? Have you done renovations? Were they a huge success or do you want to run, screaming to the hills at the mention of the word 'renovation'? Are you dreaming of a makeover and haven't yet attempted it? I'd be interested to hear your story!



15 comments:

  1. I created a floor plan/blueprint of exactly how I wanted my kitchen to look. The SEVENTEENTH company to give me an estimate was the ONLY one who said they could do it the way I wanted. The rest wanted one or more of the following: to add venting out my roof for the stove that had been in the centre of the house since it was built 38 years previous to this ... to move my stove to where my clients could see let's say spaghetti sauce splattering while standing at the front doorway ... to use premade cabinetry (as opposed to custom cabinetry), thus making several square feet of possible cupboard space useless in my tiny kitchen ... told me to replace my 12-year-old Panasonic microwave because it was too big (and old), and they could build in a smaller area with a newer and smaller microwave (I am still using my now 32-year-old microwave and have no problem with moving the shelf on which it sits up higher, if necessary, when it is soon replaced) ... some wouldn't install a garbage disposal (too tedious, apparently) ... I wanted my peninsula to have a hinged extension so I could raise it when I had a lot of company for our buffets ... some didn't want to cut through our kitchen wall right into the dining room so that our cupboards could open from both rooms (I LOVE that feature), etc., you get the drift. The company I hired not only did everything I asked, but made numerous suggestions to improve upon my plan, of which I heartily approved all but one (I requested that they carefully remove the trim from our kitchen closet that was now becoming a floor-to-ceiling pantry and use it to replace the jutted-out wooden kitchen window bottom - they thought it would look nicer with another shelf-like bottom sticking out, but I wanted it to look consistent with the rest of our house instead, without being in my way).
    What did I get? Infinitely more cupboard space because we no longer had a tiny table in the kitchen and instead only use our dining room table nearby (we have the classic "L-shaped" dining room/living room with the kitchen making up the balance of the rectangle for our side-split home). Enough storage for ALL the groceries, instead of having shelves in the basement too. My crockpots, roasting pans, and big items were brought up from the crawl space. Because I'm 5'10" tall, I had customary countertop height raised an extra 2" (I wanted more but realized we all shrink), but I put in an extension (peninsula) that was lowered to regular height for my shorter friends. Lots of electrical outlets that don't blow a fuse/circuit breaker. All in all, I love it and would go through that pain over and over again. Alas, we don't have the money but "some day soon" I'll need to replace the flooring and refinish the cupboard doors....
    Congrats, Annie. It looks highly practical, as well as beautiful (both of which I hoped to attain and believe I did)!

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    1. Laney, it sounds like it was worth waiting to get the right contractor to do the work you wanted. I loved the suggestions we got for ours but especially appreciated the fact that we were told that they'd fit with whatever we wanted. So many little things that together made a big difference with more usable space and more convenience. It's amazing how different it feels to work in there now. I'm glad yours was a big success too. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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    2. Laney - good on you for sticking to your guns with what you wanted. Wow on it taking seventeen different contractors quoting the work to find one that didn't want to take away from your plans.

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  2. Kitchen looks fab, Annie.
    I've renovated a kitchen a long, long time ago and think it was realtively painless. But, as you know, I'm packing up house at the moment which is a little more stressful. The kitchen in the new house isn't as good as the one here so we'll probably end up tinkering with it eventually.
    I hear you on bench height. Our current kitchen has 1m high benches for my tall husband - bench height obviously NOT a problem for me... :-)Hubby's going to notice the difference in the new house, that's for sure!

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    1. Thanks, Amy - we're pleased with it, for sure. It's interesting how bench heights have changed. I was at my parents' home recently and the bathroom sink was so very low! Having a kitchen that suits us is such a treat. Good luck with the house move. That's such a huge thing.

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  3. Hi Annie

    Your new kitchen looks fantastic and yes we have had an extension a new bathroom and a new kitchen and it was painful every time but yes well worth it in the end 😀😀

    Have Fun
    Helen

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    1. Helen, it does look rather good, doesn't it? I bet you didn't know yourself with a new kitchen and bathroom. Worth waiting for!

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  4. Hi Annie,
    That looks just lovely. I know how pleased you are. We did inside and outside renovations right after I retired about 4 years ago. While we are pleased with results of both, the contrast between frustration and inconvenience were night and day. Outside was first and pretty much a nightmare. The general contractor was terrible, lots of delays and arguments - but we now have a beautiful pond that runs end-to-end in the back yard, covered patio to sit and admire it, and large storage shed that matches the house. Heaven, even when raining.
    Then the inside. Hadn't done anything much as far as updating in the 25 years in the house so much needed. Not too major - no moving walls or location of appliances or messing with plumbing - but replaced carpet with hardwood in all but master bed & bath, bumped out master shower a bit, and painted throughout and added much needed color. The kitchen was the big change. In addition to swapping the tile floor for hardwood swapped use of rooms: instead of the kitchen-nook-TV room arrangement across the back of the house and dining room around the corner, made the unused dining room my reading room (bookshelves and comfy chair) and now have a large country kitchen. The dining room table can have both leaves in all the time. Why didn't I do this 25 years ago, so much more functional? Hardwood floor has tones of gray so painted accent walls and island gray, painted kitchen cabinets white, blue-gray subway tile backsplash, blue marble counter. I absolutely love it. And there is a wall of windows and slider looking out to the pond. I am a slow planner and agonize over the decisions but everything works! The contractor and all the crews were wonderful, minimal delays and problems, and it was summer so I set up an outdoor kitchen and work area.
    Enjoy your new kitchen. I too did a big clear out of things I can't remember why I ever acquired or kept.

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    1. Grandma Cootie, it sounds like a long process to do both inside and out, but how marvellous that you've now got both just as you want them! Doesn't it make a big difference to have things just they way they work best for you? And I do think living in a house (and yard) for a while is the best way to find out what's really convenient and what's not. Nice to be able to have your big dining table set up all the time too - so convenient and homely! Thanks for the good wishes - yes, I'm definitely enjoying it.

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  5. Annie, how brilliant. It looks amazing. So glad you got exactly what you want - well worth the hassle, I'd say!

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    1. Hi Anna. Yes, it's been a long haul but definitely worth it.

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  6. I haven't ever renovated myself Annie, but that's mainly because I have rented since I left home. My family is definitely keen on DIY so I grew up with my share of renovation. I think the kitchen may be one of the few rooms that Mum didn't try to do while I was growning up.
    I'd like to think that I'll buy a home that fits my needs without requiring big changes. I am realistic though that it's likely that I will need to make some changes just to update the home and also to ensure it continues to work well for me.

    All the mentions of bench heights in your post and the comments remind me of the kitchen that a friend's parents had. As he, both his parents and his brother are at least 6 foot tall, the benches where built higher and so his sister-in-law had to use a stool whenever they had family get togethers.

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    1. Lyn - that's a great solution. If you can't reach up you can stand on a stool but if you're tall and have to bend - very painful.

      Wouldn't it be nice to have a place that fits your personal needs? It's fun to plan and even nicer to have got it!

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  7. Fabulous update to the kitchen, which is the most important room in a home!
    I've worked for 20 years now in an American company which might be the largest manufacturer of semi-custom kitchens and bathrooms. I've heard so many stories in either direction of a renovation. I am always thrilled to hear the end story. I am rather proud to say I have helped create so many dream kitchens.
    Personally I haven't yet undertaken the kitchen or bath remodel. I am grateful I am able to get these cabinets at a very good discount too. I am slowly starting to collect the cabinets I require. I bought my home 5 years ago so it is a slow process but I look forward to a completed project soon!
    Enjoy your new kitchen and make lots of delicious and tempting gastronomic delights, perhaps some of your creations will find their way into the pages of your wonderful stories!

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