Zero to Modern in Four Months
After living with a tired kitchen (linoleum tiles, Formica and wall paper on horsehair) for 15 years, we decided to modernize our kitchen. Having closed my business, and finding myself with free time … it was now or never. The scope of the project was a complete gut including removal of 2 walls (including structural beam work on the exterior wall) to open up the kitchen to an existing enclosed sun porch. Probably the biggest challenge was designing the space to have a modern open feel while still maximizing storage and counter space. In this arena, incorporating a full size refrigerator (36″ x 36″ footprint x 70″ tall) into an already small space (11′ x 11′) was root to numerous heated conversations. My wife wanted to keep our large refrigerator’s space, and I wanted a new counter depth fridge that would not overwhelm the space and make the room have a lighter feel. After building a cardboard mockup of the cabinetry (see pictures) we settled on using the old monster but removed the over-the-fridge cabinet to reduce the disproportionally out of scale proportions. The mockup was the best tool to solve this dilemma since my wife had a hard time visualizing this design even after showing her a 3D computer rendition (Google Sketchup). Another challenge we faced was finding affordable modern style kitchen cabinetry not made out of pressboard (such as Ikea). After lots of searching we settled on custom-built cabinetry that due to its simple line frameless design was comparable in pricing to Kraftmaid. I had a cabinet-maker spray conversion varnish since the lacquer test piece was not durable enough to our nail scratch test even after 10 days of curing. Custom cabinetry sizes also allowed us to fully utilize the space and preserve the modern clean line. Incorporating a vent hood was also a priority. Not having one for 15 years meant we never cooked fish inside and had a stool handy to pull the fire alarm off the ceiling whenever we pan fried meals. As a result we relocated the stove and fridge across from each other and used the new beam detail to create a soffit to house an 800 cfm island hood. The island hood was customized to vent through the soffit and was a key design feature to allow sunlight in and unobstructed views of the back yard. I used brushed stainless and glass doors in the upper cabinets to reduce the amount of high gloss gray of the cabinetry. Although the original plan was to use frosted glass as the insert, my wife disliked the idea of seeing through glass the colorful cereal boxes and crammed mess. So I used white back-painted glass that gives it a similar look without exposing what brand of pasta we buy. To complete the contemporary look, I used stainless baseboards, maple hardwood floors, and white quartz countertops with a waterfall detail. However, I still needed an accent color/feature to make the design pop. I struggled between using a bright backsplash or a bright wall color in selected accent walls; and finally settled on lime green accent walls versus a rust orange glass tile backsplash.
Cardboard mockup to refine design.
Before picture - the monster fridge
Deep sink flanked by built-in trash/recycle bins on one side and Bosch panel-ready dishwasher on the other