Tag Archives: kitchen

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Wow, it’s been more than two months since my last kitchen update! Things are progressing very slowly. What I had thought would be just an overall three-month renovation has dragged on and will be closer to six or seven months. However, we’ve been living here a month now because we do have a working kitchen and one working full bathroom.

Anyway, all the cabinets, appliances, and countertops are all in place. It still needs to be finished off because the fur-downs created a challenge. None of them were particularly straight, so there were gaps, but we will put some edging on them and paint to match the cabinets to make them look like an extension of the cabinets. We couldn’t get rid of them entirely because they hide some of the HVAC ductwork as well as some wiring and plumbing.

kitchenpt4

I am happy with the functionality of the IKEA cabinets (still using the AKURUM system, which is being discontinued by IKEA), but painting them was a real chore. I got some incorrect information that I could just use some alcohol-based primer and I wouldn’t need to sand all these pieces, so I’ve had to do some painting, re-painting, sanding, and re-re-painting. Of course, I probably would have been okay if I’d used an oil-based paint instead of latex. But I’m not going to re-do it all again! And I'm hopeful that they'll last a while. They have a 25-year warranty, but they are not real wood, so I'm anxious about how they'll hold up. I plan to take care of them, though. Prevent spills, keep them clean, and so on.

For the countertops, I went with quartz. There is some quartz that is just gorgeous...and also very expensive. But I opted for Caesarstone in "Nougat" which is pretty with just a bit of sparkle to it. It's in the middle range as far as quartz pricing and about the same as some of the nicer granite. I really like it.

The Bosch appliances have been mostly great. The counter-depth fridge is low on space, particularly in the freezer, but it’s very sleek (thanks to the water and ice dispensers being inside) and the alarm is nice since I don’t always get the door closed. Also, the stainless steel front will take a magnet! This is great news for my little artist.

The Bosch dishwasher (a 500 series) does a great job and is very quiet. So much so that when it does make a noise, it’s startling because I’ve forgotten it was on. However, I am accustomed to a “dry” cycle that could be disabled so that I could put any item anywhere in the dishwasher. This one does not have a dry cycle, but uses extra heated water to “made drying faster.” Well, that water melted a silly straw already. I used the express cycle once, but it did not get the dishes as clean as the “light” cycle on my old Kenmore. However, I can get a lot more stuff into the Bosch, so I don’t have to run it as often, so I suppose that works out.

The slide-in range is a bit disappointing. Though it is gorgeous, doesn’t require any countertop behind it (it is “full depth”) and has many, many nice features (most of which I’ll never use), the one problem with it is a big one. That is, when the oven is on, the cooling fan is also on. And it is not quiet. This is only true for the slide-in models and I really don’t get it. Even when I had it on a warming mode of 120F, the stupid fan was still running. In this age when everyone is blowing out the walls in their homes and many of us have living areas open to the kitchen, this seems like a real design flaw. And as quiet as the dishwasher is, I’d rather have it not be quiet and have a quiet oven because I can run the dishwasher at night and never hear it. And when I’ve finished cooking dinner, the fan will still run to cool down the oven for some 10 minutes after I’ve turned it off. So we hear this clutter noise while we’re eating. This is something I think Bosch should really address or they’re going to have a tough time selling these things. Though, in reading the reviews of the microwave, this feature may be preventing the microwave front from melting...

The microwave is the last of the suite of appliances I got. Its functionality is almost identical to the LG that I left behind (and loved), though it is smaller (by choice) and doesn’t heat items quite as quickly. A weird thing it does is run the vent fan after items are heated, but the fan turns off once you open the door. I suppose this is so there’s a lesser chance of your food continuing to be heated and cooked after it shuts off, so that’s actually a rather nice feature if you use it to steam vegetables (as I do).

The floor remains on the to-do list. Of the many mistakes I have made, I definitely count purchasing Behr Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain near the top of the list. I should have let a professional do this job (and I will have to let a professional RE-DO this job). Here’s the deal. This is acrylic water-based stain, which means it’s really just very liquidy, thin paint. So, when it goes on, you can’t really see where the stain is going because the water discolors the concrete. When it dried (lighter than when it went on), I could see roller marks that did not show up before. And by then, of course, it’s too late to fix. You can put another coat or two on, but then it’s not really semi-transparent any more. It’s mostly opaque. Also, it’s not a great sealer. Water-based sealer isn’t great for sealing against water (dur) and it wears off within a couple of years anyway (I learned this from another DIYer after the fact). I also didn’t prime the floors (I thought it was not necessary because of the sanding) and the stain did not adhere well. Lumps of drywall mud were left to dry on the floor when I had the ceilings finished and when I cleaned them off, the stain came with them. So I will pay someone else to stain and seal my floors…sometime.

Note that you see two faucets at the sink. Even though we have a filtered water dispenser inside the refrigerator, I wanted one at the sink (I don’t like to drink really cold beverages). Mr. Eats wanted something a little sleeker than the standard water dispenser, so he chose this Delta prep sink faucet. It’s not from the same line as the big pull-down faucet (Delta Allora, which I highly recommend), but similar enough and both come in Delta’s newest finish, “Arctic Stainless” which is brighter and closer to the color of stainless steel appliances. It’s really pretty.

The two barstools have been in my possession for 20 years now, purchased at a friend’s yard sale, so they were already old then. But finding comfy 24-inch bar stools (counter height) is more of a challenge than I’d thought! And WTH, bar stools are expensive! I also still need the new windows install and trimmed out, a stainless steel backsplash for behind the range, install the shelving for my cookbooks over the 6-foot long counter between the pantries, choose a paint color for the breakfast room, and find an island that I like. So far, I haven't needed it.

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It's been a long time since I updated about the kitchen. Right now, we're in the middle of renovating the home, pretty much top to bottom and side to side. There's not a single space in the house that doesn't need something. But it's moving along; it has to since we have to move in soon.

Since last time, I spent all afternoon in my local Ferguson showroom deciding on appliances as well as lighting for the entire house. The appliances were the easy part; after surveying a lot of friends, I decided to go with all Bosch appliances. They had the French door refrigerator without a dispenser on the front, the slide-in range (that's full depth, so I didn't have to run the countertop behind it), the over-the-range "microhood" microwave, as well as the dishwasher, which is what folks really rave about. The lighting took much longer (so many choices!) and is primarily Kichler in brushed nickel (to go with the stainless appliances and Delta Allora pull-down faucet, which I currently have and like so much I wanted it in my new house), including this badass fan (that I need because my microhood doesn't vent to the outside):

The Kichler Starkk fan
The Kichler Starkk fan

But now to the other really important part: the cabinets. I chose to use IKEA cabinets because of their high customer satisfaction rating. I have two friends with IKEA kitchens and they're both very happy. A local company, ModerNash operates as an importer of IKEA goods to Nashville (because we don't have our own) as well as a kitchen design and installation store. So, because they are experts on all the nuances of IKEA kitchens, I had them measure and design the space to my specifications. Namely, moving the appliances to where they made sense and making the space more functional. In the process, I lost a double oven (I didn't like losing the space on a 30" cooktop for the controls), but I think this will work just fine. Besides, I have a great Breville toaster oven!

Here's the mock-up of the kitchen layout:

kitchenrendering

It's changed some since this rendering; there was a miscommunication on the size of the slide-in range as well as the microwave, so now it's back at 30" wide for both (no filler panels) and a 15" tall cabinet over the microwave. Note that now the range is a shorter distance from the sink (for pot filling and draining) and that the refrigerator has been moved out of the primary workspace (and the sink is also accessible without having to pass by the range). It's a full-on functional work triangle! I take items from the fridge and either place them on the cabinet by the range or on the island (which will be removable). Also, not shown here is that the peninsula cabinets are all drawers. For all my many food storage containers (both plastic and glass).

The tricky part of the kitchen is the cabinets themselves. I'd pretty much decided on the Adel, but when I saw it in person, I saw that it was white laminate. It looked pretty cheap to me. No offense to Adel owners, but that's just not what I wanted. So I opted for the Orsa birch, which will be painted white. This is a huge PitA, but I'll have real wood cabinets, which is important to me (even though they'll be painted white). Sixty-eight pieces of cabinetry (including the laundry room) that need to be primed (twice) and painted is a lot of painting (and a lot of time, particularly when waiting on them to cure between coats). Aside from the painting, the other tricky part is having the cabinets look right with the soffits, which are uneven. But I've been assured that "it will look great."

Here are some pictures of the demolition, which we did ourselves (with some help from PopPop Eats):

You know how they always attack cabinets with sledgehammers? Now I know why: stripped screws and 4x4 tile. Sledgehammers are the only way.
You know how they always attack cabinets with sledgehammers? Now I know why: stripped screws and 4x4 tile. Sledgehammers are the only way.

 

Over the course of a couple of days, we got all the cabinets and tile out and all the flooring out, too. Not bad!
Over the course of a couple of days, we got all the cabinets and tile out and all the flooring out, too. Not bad!
But there was still more to rip out. All the drywall had to be replaced; some due to tears from the tile removal, some due to rot and water damage.
But there was still more to rip out. All the drywall had to be replaced; some due to tears from the tile removal, some due to rot and water damage.

 

Finally starting to look like it's ready for cabinets. Note that the floors are finally clean. Two days of sanding with a diamond head floor sander (messy and loud) finally got rid of 40 years of mastic and vinyl glue. Ready to be stained!
Finally starting to look like it's ready for cabinets. Note that the floors are finally clean. Two days of sanding with a diamond head floor sander (messy and loud) finally got rid of 40 years of mastic and vinyl glue. Ready to be stained!

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I have been a homeowner for nearly 15 years and in that time, I have had the great fortune to buy very few appliances. One washer/dryer set, one refrigerator, and one dishwasher. I am a researcher by previous profession and by nature, so the process of buying electronic items is often long, drawn out, and painful. And now I have to buy a whole set of new appliances! And though I worry about being on the wrong end of the trend, I'm going with stainless. I hope I don't hate everything in five years. Or less!

On the upside, I'm pretty excited that I will have--for the first time in my whole life--an oven that is completely clean and unused by anyone but me! However, I was hoping to buy a freestanding range with a smooth cooktop with the operating knobs on the front instead of on the back panel. This is not difficult to find with gas cooktops, but impossible with electric. So I'm on the hook for a slide-in range, which is not only more expensive, but will mean more expensive countertops. But I really dislike having to reach across cooking food to operate the cooktop.

Then, there's the refrigerator. I want a French door, counter depth refrigerator. This is not difficult EXCEPT I don't want an ice/water dispenser on the front (or a water dispenser at all). I can't stand dispensers and they also take up too much valuable real estate inside. I'm already challenged because of the shallow depth, so I'm not interested in giving up another square foot to a dispenser. I don't even use ice most of the time and I don't like really cold water.

Next up is the microwave. Instead of having one of those purdy vent hoods over my range, I will have a microwave with an exhaust fan...that exhausts into the room because installing a vent to the outside would be difficult and expensive (two story home, not an exterior wall). I've survived okay for the last 10 years without a real exhaust fan, so I hope that will continue. It's only bad when I fry stuff, which I do only rarely. And there's a window nearby. And I'll need one that's on the larger side, too. And installed at just the right height (eye level). I have an LG model now that it is more than 10 years old and it works great, so I hope they've kept up with their quality. We are actually bringing the LG washer and dryer with us that's just 5 years old because well, that's one less expense and we know they work. There's just not much of a guarantee about that any more. Warranties only last for 1 year!

Last is the dishwasher. It's the one thing I'm not too picky about except I don't love the basket on the door models. Wait. Not last. Then on to the faucet and the door handles and light fixtures...so many choices...

I'm not optimistic that I'll be able to find what I want for all the appliances in the same brand or product line, but I hope that they will look similar enough that it won't look odd. So, friends, if you have appliances you love, please do share the brand and, preferably, the model number (ha!). I'm hoping to save the cost of a Consumer Reports subscription. 🙂