Ideas for a kitchen remodel?
June 20, 2014 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Hello MeFites, I'd like to redo my kitchen but I'm not sure what it is I want. Help me figure it out!

Our kitchen is nearly 50 years old and in addition to being old school, it's also falling apart so I'd like to replace it. Since I'm spending a lot of money I'd like to think it through. The real problem is I don't want to replace the cabinets and such with exactly the same thing. I'd like to tailor the design to our lifestyle and the stuff that we have -- not that it's particularly unique. I need some ideas. I've been looking at kitchen tag on pinterest. Are there any other resources for this kinda stuff?

posted by aeighty to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Duh, should've searched.
posted by aeighty at 8:36 AM on June 20, 2014

It really helps to know what kind of style you like. My sister is a designer and she has a neat method for helping people determine their style.

She uses magazines, but you can easily use Pinterest for this too. Go through the different sites, Pinterest, HGTV, Home and Garden, etc. Pin pictures of things that appeal to you. You don't have to verbalize why they do, just pin. Soon you'll see a pattern emerge. You'll notice that the cabinets are white in most of your pins, or that a fresh lime green accent is prevalent, or that you like French Provincial, or super modern.

Sites I like for inspiration:

Retro Renovation
Better Homes and Gardens
Real Simple

Once you've pinned (pun-sorry) down the style you want, work with someone at Ikea, Lowes, Home Depot or Cabinets to Go to actually measure and help you plan your kitchen. If you're not into DIY, you want pros measuring for you.

I've installed new kitchens and I've renovarted old kitchens. One thing you want to bear in mind is that if the setup is basically good, sinks, gas, fridge, etc are in good places for you, then it is a LOT less expensive, than rearranging everything and knocking out walls.

Another thing that helps you modernize a kitchen in a 50 year old house, is to create lines of sight into other rooms. The "open floorplan". You can do this with Pony Walls, or Pass throughs, without dealing with the structural integrity of the house. In our 50 year old house, we widened a doorway on a non-load bearing wall, took out about half the wall. It helped SO much in giving our kitchen a light, airy feel.

Go to your local show rooms and start looking at things (and pricing them) just to get an idea of what all is involved, add about 50% to any cost of raw materials mostly because you won't believe what the extra trim, hardware, etc costs.

Also, know your budget. Lots of people don't have a vague idea of what they can spend, and start out with gorgeous, extravagent purchases, and then as the project goes on, find that their materials are getting cheaper and cheaper because the budget is getting hammered by unexpected overages.

Also, once you start removing stuff, you may discover unpleasant and unexpected things behind walls and under floors. So have a contingency in case you need to replace the subfloor, or there's asbestos or some other common, but troubling discoveries.

Hope that helps!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:52 AM on June 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

You need kitchens section. Go through and save everything you like to get ideas, not just in terms of style, but also ideas for layout.
posted by Joh at 9:01 AM on June 20, 2014 [6 favorites]

Our house is of similar vintage, and the cabinets, while well built, have suffered through those decades of abuse and need to be replaced too. They are nice, solid pine boxes - no particle board. The ones that haven't been too abused are very solid.

We've been contemplating a kitchen remodel too now that we've gutted and done two bathrooms. Here's what I've learned WRT cabinets:
1) They are expensive, and will likely be the most expensive element of the kitchen remodel (other than possibly appliances)
2) Quality is all over the place. Off the shelf particle board stuff from Lowes/HD, build em yourself particle board ones, IKEA with the cool plastic drawers, to custom all options available units.
3) I can't really find an analog to our 50 year old pine cabinets. There are solid, well build cabinets, but the finishes are FAR superior - oak fronts for example. And then there are ones with similar finishes that are total crap because the base materials are cheap particle board that is glued/stapled together.

I've used off the shelf stuff in one bathroom 6 years ago and it already needs repairs. The drawers are falling apart. We had a semi-custom unit built for our other bathroom, and while costing about twice as much the difference is striking and obvious. Solid wood, dovetailed, full extension ball bearing sliders. Nice.

We'll probably be going with the IKEA units for our kitchen. The semi-custom stuff will cost way too much unfortunately, but if we had a little more $$ we absolutely would. Also we're talking about turning this into a rental in 4-5 years so the goals are different. We'll be doing some small layout changes probably too just for ease of use. Ours is a 10' long galley, and opening up a wall to get that airy feel is what modern layouts are all about.

As far as resources many manufacturers have online design centers, IKEA has a really cool kitchen design tool, and an inhouse service (that we haven't used yet but probably will). Our semi custom unit was ordered through Lowes and the design person there was really easy to work with, and did everything for free - there wasn't any design fee or anything.
posted by Big_B at 9:10 AM on June 20, 2014

Apartment Therapy is a good look at before and after for inspiration. Budget, green, everything. It's striking to see what paint, some new light fixtures, and some new knobs/handles can do.

I'm updating my 60 year old kitchen and I am doing a lot of searches like "counter top material comparison" and whatnot because there's what I like to look at, and then there's how I actually cook. An example is that I love the butcher block look, but I would not be meticulous about keeping them as dry as I feel would be wise. And I would flip if they started showing a lot of water damage or stains. Same with the floor. The almost all white linoleum is kind of a nightmare with two dogs and two cats. I need to have a dirt colored house. :)

My kitchen is old school as well and I am trying to decide right now what actually hinders me, because I am trying to keep the feel of the 1950s house. So far I am set on taking the 4x4 tile off the counter tops, since it looks terrible, grubby, and cracked, but I am keeping the original matching backsplash, since it is not terrible, grubby, or in the way. The cupboards are nice pine, solid, and I am thinking about stripping them and repainting, since they've had a few layers at this point.

Anyway, this is more about my thought process and less about internet resources, but I hope this helps. Fingers crossed--I hope both of our remodels go well.
posted by Lardmitten at 9:26 AM on June 20, 2014

Just to follow up Big_B, our cabinets were solid oak, and it would have been a crime and a shame to replace them. So we tarted them up. We painted them white, and took the plain, flat doors, and added fingertip trim to them to give them depth and interest.

We added more cabinetry, the pre-assembled, unpainted cabinets from Home Depot. We took the shaker-style doors off, and used flat MDF, again with the fingertip moulding, and painted them the same white.

We saved a metric shit-ton of money, and I really loved how it looked.

Just a thought.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:36 AM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had really crappy cabinets, falling apart, and replaced them with Ikea cabinets, which I like a lot. Ikea has an annual kitchen sale - I got 20% off by buying my appliances (except for the fridge, which I already had) at Ikea. If your cabinets are solid, consider renovating them. I love having under cabinet lights. Mine are halogen, newer ones are LED, which I would like even better.

Get references for the builder. I've had way too many flaky builders, even with recommendations. Anything non-standard will be a huge pain; I have slab pine counters which caused all sorts of hassle, but they're just what I wanted. When it's all done, it will be wonderful, but it will take longer than you think.

Post pictures if you want lots of specific advice/ ideas.
posted by theora55 at 9:59 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is how one of my favourite food bloggers (and pro chef) redecorated her kitchen. A combination of new shapes but old finishes. Anyway it's one idea (I happen to think it's not only gorgeous but astoundingly functional).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:33 AM on June 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh and I too am an enormous fan of under- and in-cabinet lighting. Cheap as chips from IKEA.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:33 AM on June 20, 2014

Oh yes - absolutely put some effort into lighting. It's one of those things that you don't see unless you are looking (ideally) but totally makes the space. The AAA battery sticky undercabinet lights we installed on a whim have convinced us to wire/plan for nicer ones when the remodel happens.

Maybe I should have been more clear about our old cabinets too - I'm all for salvaging (especially oak ala ruthless bunny) but on ours the fronts have splintered/split all over the place. I've been using a kreg jig to rejoin them as bandaids but they're done for. They all use those thin long finish nails with the tiny heads which were probably great for the first couple of decades. And they use the pushpin/wood slider system, aka none. The full extension ball bearing ones on our semi-custom bathroom vanity have spoiled us.
posted by Big_B at 10:46 AM on June 20, 2014

I thing that I love best about our kitchen is there's one counter that's an extra deep peninsula. Nothing is stored on top of that surface and there are no cabinets above it. There's a power outlet for that counter which doesn't have anything plugged into it. It has well designed task lighting. It's a 40 inch by 40 inch slab of clear counter that is my cooking prep area and I love it.

One thing that's really frustrating in a kitchen is not having a clear, deep counter where you can work. If I'm baking, that counter can comfortably hold the mixer, ingredients, mixing bowls and a big surface to roll dough. It's so much nicer to cook when no one is reaching over you to grab a glass out of the cabinet and when you don't need to unplug the coffee maker to plug in the mixer. Our kitchen isn't big but it's completely functional and it feels spacious because there is this perfect work space.

It sounds so trivial. We have several friends who are chefs or skilled home cooks - every single one of them has admired that little area. If I was redoing a kitchen I would visualize the perfect work space first, then design everything else around it.
posted by 26.2 at 10:50 AM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites] was absolutely invaluable for looking at stuff. Some stuff, you just can't find anywhere in person, (range hoods, why so few in the stores that sell them?) so photos are the best you are going to end up with.

While we were renovating, we found that all Google roads led to Gardenweb's Home Forums. Many, many threads on many, many topics related to renovating homes, and kitchens in particular. We either searched the forums for questions previously asked, or just asked the question ourselves. They helped us on the topics of range hoods, counter tops, sinks, and more.

We also had some suggestions come in from our contractors for things we would not have ever thought to look at to begin with.

-Beverage Faucet -- we were doing the delivery of large bottles of spring water. Now we have a small, second faucet on our sink, one handle for filtered drinking water (filter lives underneath and gets changed every six months) and one for instant hot water, which my housemate uses on the morning when she is running late but still desperately wants coffee. I no longer have to ruin my back and soak myself with water replacing bottles.

-Plug molds -- I gather some people hate these, because if you leave things plugged in, the gadget cords vanish up to the bottom of your cabinets, but my god, I love them. Outlets every six inches that don't require the new tile backsplashes to be cut up for installation? Invisible Outlets everywhere? ALL THE OUTLETS EVER?? We just unplug stuff when we aren't using it. I had never even heard of them before discussions with the electrician.

We got an ginormous, single bowl, deep sink, (31 inches wide, 9 deep) and I love it so much. All the pans fit, even the giant ones!

We put in shelving over the fridge, and this is typically an area short people like me can't reach so well. Instead of doing regular horizontal shelving, we split it into four vertical sections -- three of them we use for the thin stuff -- baking sheets, muffin pans, cutting boards -- that can be set on their edge vertically rather than stacked on one another in a way that requires you to dig them out. The last spot was as wide as the other three combined, and was left completely open, for super big pans (lobster pot, big and tall!)
posted by instead of three wishes at 11:47 AM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

The one thing I would change about my kitchen is to switch out all of the lower shelf cabinets for drawers. Not tiny silverware drawers, but deep, heavy duty drawers that will hold a slow cooker or a stack of dishes. You can reach things that are stored in the back of the bottom so much easier in drawers than with shelves. A specific cabinet for vertical storage of cookie sheets and cutting boards would be great as well.
posted by soelo at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2014

Think outside the box. I pondered for years before calling the contractor. I eliminated upper cabinets because I can never reach the top shelves. No upper cabinets = room looks way bigger. I mostly used deep drawers for storage and wished I had gone 100% drawers. I also added two windows and a real oak floor. The floor is the best thing I could have done for appearances.
posted by andreap at 9:18 AM on June 21, 2014

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