Kitchen Remodel/The old kitchen

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The old kitchen

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The house was built in 1980, and the old kitchen that was to be replaced was probably original from that year. This kitchen was high-style 1980s, with a lot of features that were typical for that time period in kitchen design, and actually beautifully and professionally designed, much more inventive and better thought through than many kitchens that I have seen from later periods. It was certainly the work of an architect and not just that of some builder or developer.

The kitchen was preserved as a time capsule for the sole reason that the house had been rented out for decades; the owners' philosophy had been to invest only as much money into the property as was necessary to keep it in a rentable state. So from a preservationist's point of view, it may have been a questionable decision to destroy and to update this kitchen, but the 1980s are not my favorite period of design anyway and so we decided to kick off.

But first, I want to give you the full picture. For somebody who is not a designer by profession but is up to design a kitchen anyway, it will be extremely helpful to study every example they can get hold of. Even if you hate your old kitchen, I believe it is very much worthwhile to thoroughly study it, and to identify what is good about it and what you really want to be different.

The old kitchen
Image Pluses Minuses
  • the U-shape is very good because it establishes a confined space for undisturbed work with no thru-traffic
  • a lot of closet space close to the kitchen
  • pass-through (near the sink) that connects kitchen and the dining area in the adjacent living room
  • the interestingly complicated shape and the lowered ceiling add a cozy feel (if you like cozy)
  • the U-shaped space is only large enough for 2 people max. working there
  • no work triangle between sink, range, and fridge
  • long walking distance between kitchen and dining area
  • labyrinthic hallway shape
  • three different ceiling heights only for technical but not for aesthetic reasons
  • breakfast area, adjacent to the bedrooms and with morning sun
  • large patio door, inviting to have breakfast al fresco
  • cheap and outdated vinyl flooring
  • flush ceiling lamp: ugly to look at and gives ugly light, too
  • popcorn ceiling (souvenir from the 1980ies)
  • kitchen peninsula with a bar, for kitchen spectators or just those who like perching on a bar stool
  • large number of cabinets, some of them hung directly to the ceiling, which was a novelty from the 1970s and sort of cool
  • sleek look of the handleless drawer fronts and cabinet doors
  • cheap laminate countertop
  • vintage, worn-out cabinets (laminate) with icky interior shelves
  • drawers don't run on slides but on wood
  • handleless drawer fronts and doors should have a push opening system, but those don't
  • cabinets with modern appearance and full overlay should be frameless for efficiency, but those are framed
  • sink at window with a lot of daylight, and a view
  • dishwasher cramped into a corner: when the dishwasher's door is open, the doors of the adjacent cabinet must remain shut, so stuff cannot be cleared out from the dishwasher directly into the cabinet
  • the oven is deeper than the base cabinets and sticks out
  • the corner cabinets at the right side of the sink (wall and base) offer mostly dead space
  • double sink (if you actually need that)
  • in-sink-erator
  • double sink (if you don't need that)
  • the sink's enamel is chipped
  • metal cover around the sink's edge: a favorite spot for dirt to get caught
  • countertop is extended to the window which was obviously a design idea, but it makes an odd transition between both elements
  • clean look: recessed lighting
  • recessed lighting: yesteryear's equivalent of can lights, only that they had to bring the whole ceiling down to fit it in; and it still doesn't light the countertop, because of the shadow that you cast while you stand in front of it
  • gas range and oven (if you like that)
  • the range hood is actually venting to the outside
  • the cabinets reach up all the way to the ceiling: good use of space and no need to clean the top sides
  • gas range and oven (if you don't like that)
  • the range hood is worn and outdated, poorly lit and hard to clean
  • the refrigerator is much deeper than the cabinets and sticks out; the wall cabinet above the fridge is hard to reach
  • no under-cabinet lighting
  • the backsplash is an extension of the laminate countertop and not much to look at
  • nifty: the pantry is located in the passage way that leads from the hallway to the kitchen; if a passage way is necessary somewhere in the house, I believe it is a great idea to use this space for still another purpose than just traffic
  • a pantry with no drawers whatsoever: how do you keep track of what is in front of those cabinets and what is hidden in their depths?
  • the hallway that connects the dining area to the kitchen (and to the bedrooms) features a closet
  • carpet (if you like that)
  • the hallway is a tunnel experience: long, dark, narrow and very low (no chance to raise the ceiling because it contains ducts of the forced air heating system)
  • carpet (if you don't like that)
  • more popcorn ceiling
  • at the rear end of the hallway there is – around the corner, close to the breakfast area – another closet
  • again: no drawers
  • the L-shape of this narrow hallway gives it the feel of a maze