...seems a no brainer for you to give serious consideration to that option. I mean, you're going through all the right motions, intellectually, but don't you already kind of feel you're gonna go IKEA and use what you save by doing the work yourself to upgrade/upscale other aspects of the project?
Yeah, I kind of do. The one bugaboo is, as you pointed out, our distance from any of the Ikea stores. We'd been using New Haven as our proposed pick-up point simply because we have good friends nearby, so we'd be able to see them and spend the night inexpensively. I hadn't considered having the cabinets shipped in to us, though: that's a good idea. However, none of this still solves the difficulty of getting replacement parts to us quickly.
A few of your oven/stovetop concerns--a separate cooktop--if you have the space and budget, why not? But as you keep upscaling your thought about more powerful appliances, don't forget to consider a vent/hood. The 30" x 88" IKEA oven cab is what, 90 bucks? That's cheap--a cover panel for it, if a side is exposed, is also cheap. The real expense are the doors and drawer fronts, anyway, for these types of things--and I think you'd find value having two deep drawer pullouts below your oven if you stuck one in a tall cab. So I guess I feel it doesn't have to be expensive to have an oven at a usable height AND you can get some really functional storage out of it by keeping all your casseroles, trays, heavier pots and pans below in two pullout drawers. Or course, you could also have deep wide pullouts below your freestanding cooktop as well
We'd wondered where an oven might best fit, if we wanted it higher than below-countertop level. As of now, we haven't come up with a good location, because we didn't want to interrupt runs of countertop. We told the designer that we'd be willing to consider anything, and we can hardly wait to see what options come back.
I certainly agree that having functional storage near the cooking appliances is desirable; something that we haven't yet done is formally made a list of everything that we want to have kitchen storage for, and what we want them near, to be sure we'll have space for everything where we want it. In the last configuration pictured above, I'd mentally placed our dishes in drawers opposite the dishwasher, next to the fridge, and the glasses in cabinets up above that: near the dishwasher and the table. It would make sense to also put the rubbermaid containers that we use for leftovers in this vicinity. I'd figured that all the baking dishes would go in drawers under the baking side of the counter, and the pots and pans and stuff that goes in the oven but that I don't typically bake flour-based stuff in would rest in drawers on the other side. No clue where the baking sheets and cooling racks might live, if they don't go into the skinny cabinet that fills the space next to the range. Right now, I keep my flour (except the whole-grain flours in the freezer) and sugars with the rolling pin in the cabinets under my primary work area, and the little containers of baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and other baking supplies in the cabinet over the cooktop, but I could see relocating both of these under the baking area as well. Given a choice I'd like to have the mixer and food processor on the counter, but my husband grew up in a house where all the appliances were hidden from view, and those that had to live on the counter got covered with a little embroidered tea-cozy sort of thing. I'd be willing to compromise with appliance garages, or swing-up shelves behind cabinet doors if we find ourselves with enough cabinet space, but I refuse to embroider a cozy for my mixer. I obviously need to think about storage (food, appliances, spices, dishes, everything else) some more.
We're also well aware of the importance of a good hood. After the remodel, I'd like us to be able to make a batch of mole inside, including the first part that involves toasting a pound of dried chiles on a dry cast-iron skillet. We've never had a hood that actually vents to the outside, and after the first experience of me getting smoked out of my house for the rest of the day, we've always done that part outside.
I tend to adapt everything to one temp--and cook in a style where I don't need two ovens and two temps, ever, even those 2 or 3 times a year when 15 people are over. But then I tend to cook most things on the stovetop on high flame as well. Most of the time we use the small convection instead of rather than in addition to the stove.
I'm curious about your oven usage, Steve. Do you like the way the freestanding oven bakes better, is it a matter of keeping what's going on in the oven out of the way of what's going on in the stove, or is the freestanding oven just in a more convenient place for you?
Over the last seven years, we've become masters at cooking with inadequate ovens (both quantity and quality of the space). Exhibit A: what we've done nearly every Thanksgiving we've hosted. The turkey goes on the grill, so it doesn't need oven space. The stuffing (which never gets stuffed) goes in the crockpot, although we've sometimes put some of the stuffing under the broiler to get a crispy top. Always mashed potatoes, which get cooked on the stove. My husband prefers squash to sweet potatoes so we always have roasted winter squash, scooped out of its shell and mashed with butter and brown sugar, and we make that way ahead of time and freeze it, so on T-day we only need to defrost it in the microwave. Cranberry sauce is a stovetop thing, and gets done the night before. Gravy is also a stove item. Green vegetable on the stove, and/or uncooked salad. If my husband makes a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert, that gets baked the night before. The only day-of oven items are apple pie if we do that for dessert (goes into the oven just as we start eating), and rolls which I try to have coming out of the oven shortly before we sit down at the table. Last year was nearly a disaster because it was cold enough that we couldn't get the propane in the grill to ignite and stay lit, so the bird had to go in the oven. While it rested, I was able to bake the rolls, and the pie baked while we ate.
A few other times we've had gatherings of 6 people before hockey games. Lasagna's worked well for that: while it rests, the garlic bread uses the oven, and we eat salad and brownies or cookies that other people bring.
I did a Seder this year, and we had eight plus Elijah at the table. The same principles applied: anything that needed oven time got done early, and as much as possible got cooked elsewhere. The biggest issue had nothing to do with the amount of oven space and everything to do with our table only being big enough to hold 6, if everyone keeps their elbows tucked in. Next summer when my parents move and we get the table that's in their dining room, we'll have the capability to seat twice that many. We don't plan to do feed a dozen on a regular basis, but cooktop and oven space would certainly be more of an issue.
It's not hard to find affordable 30" freestanding ranges with two high-heat burners in front--we lucked into one, a GE Profile, which can be had ballpark for a grand--we've cooked on one for a year and their two front burners heat quickly and well--and really, you or your husband should be able to adjust how you cook as long as you have those two kickass burners and continuous grates, as our model Profile does. You don't want to have to adjust mentally or technique-wise, as you already realize you have options--spend a lot more money, and even then there's no guarantee you'll get burners that heat significantly faster than the Profile in real world tasks. We love ours and love how it convection-bakes, too--so clearly I tend toward kiliki's perspective on this, but I can't say with confidence that I'd feel the same way about a $500 stove. That's not to say we wouldn't also love a $4,000 stove if one were magically (and safely) installed in our space. It's just I really don't mind not having 4 or 5 equally powerful burners in our kitchen, but then our space is only 7' x 10'. Everyone's mileage on this is gonna vary--so know thyself and assess well.
As I said to Varmint in a PM, I've been asking all the kitchen people we've talked to whether the difference between heat output of consumer cooktop and pro-style rangetop is enough to be noticeable, in practical terms for everyday usage. And nobody's been able to give me an answer. For instance, if I have a pot of water that I want to boil, will that happen significantly faster on a rangetop's high-powered burner than on a standard cooktop burner? What about if I want to sear a steak in a cast-iron pan: would the pan get significantly hotter in a normal amount of time on a rangetop than on a cooktop? I can calculate the theoretical answer, but I'm more interested here in experimental results. And I can't get those without actually doing the experiment, which is near-impossible given the facilities I've found. The consumer vs. pro-style is probably the issue that conflicts me most, largely due to the big financial difference between the two and the fact that I don't really know what I'm in for either way. While I realize the countertop issue is also a potentially expensive-difference choice, I know what laminate countertops are since I've had them everywhere I've lived, and I know that they'll function reasonably well for nearly everything I'd ask of them. (Then again, as my dad likes to say, "There are two kinds of problems in this world: those that can be solved with money and those that can't. The former are invariably easier to fix." And the whole kitchen comes down to a problem that can be solved with money.)
Unless your corners are somehow really special, IKEA can handle corners. Or just design around them. There are some very neat kitchens on the European IKEA websites. Clearly, the value of IKEA increases if you like clean lines and DIY--but even standard IKEA stuff can be modified: we created a 15" pullout trash base cab long before IKEA even started mentioning that as an option, and there are all sorts of tricks to adapt, to get your way, to cut down cabs for an inch here or 3 there, to pull something you like from one cab and fit it into another--almost all of these elements can be ordered piecemeal. You like that single 30" wide low drawer you see in the tall oven cab--and want to put it in a regular 30" base cab instead of the two 15" wide drawers and drawer fronts the IKEA kitchen designers try to sell you and that 99.9% of their customers buy--you can. You are at a big disadvantage NOT being near a store: 1) there's undeniably a bias/cluelessness/resistance to IKEA and frameless the further you get from an IKEA store which makes it harder to overcome if you are not capable DIYers and 2) it's a lot harder for you to just run to the store to fix little things that come up or to exchange things. You have to have more patience than someone else with a store nearby--are you patient? I'm in the middle of re-modeling a kitchen for my sister, and have been to 5 IKEAs within the past week: Elizabeth, Philly, College Park, White Marsh and Potomac Mills. (Philly, at the moment, is by far the biggest, most amazing, most well-laid out, of the bunch.) I've been able to get whatever I've needed, at the spur of the moment (and saved her thousands by 1) doing it myself and 2) once we had agreed on a design, buying about 80% of her stuff from as is, acquired piecemeal in the months leading up to when I could actually do the work. Not everyone can do it this way, due to temperment or locale, and clearly that isn't an option for you.)
The customization edge is where I think we'd lose out the most on not having an Ikea store nearby. No matter how carefully you plan a project, there are always curveballs and things that need to be changed, and there's a big difference between running to the store to pick up the part, and a five-hour one-way trip. We do have a fair amount of patience, but the timeframe could get to be an issue since we won't be able to start work until June and we'd need to have the kitchen mostly done (or at least functional) before the fall semester starts. If the missing pieces are things that can be worked around, we can either order them, send our friends to get them and ship them to us, or make a list and take a weekend trip to pick them up ourselves. But if we run into too many items that would bring the whole project to a screeching halt, we'd start to have timeframe issues. Once school starts in the fall, we'd get a couple of long weekends, but no extended time to work until the end of the semester after grades are due. I don't mind cosmetic details (unpainted walls, moldings not up yet, even doors not on upper cabinets) staying unfinished a little longer, but I do mind things that affect function ("Sorry, you don't have anywhere to put your dishes because that cabinet's got a problem and had to be reordered" sorts of things).
However, I'm delighted to hear that there are ways to scootch something over an inch or two if need be, because that's the sort of thing not obvious from either the Web site or the kitchen planning software. In the drawings I've posted, it's probably not obvious but I've had to do quite a bit of inch-here and inch-there tweaking to get the cabinets to fill the space of the kitchen. Knowing that I'll be able to tweak the real thing makes me more comfortable. Does Ikea make filler strips, to take up an extra inch or two if you need to? That's also not obvious from the Web site.
In our own kitchen/condo remodel we went with multiple surfaces--mostly stainless and Corian, at slightly different heights for different things--and every day I use our sink side (glacier white Corian, seamless integrated sink, coved backsplash--no seams, no caulk, no grout, nothing to hide or trap dirt--and yes, at $1500 or so it was our single biggest expense) I know we made the perfect choice for us. But then we don't have kids, or cut on it much, we don't put hot pans on it, we don't leave things soaking in the sink. We have other surfaces and work zones for that--and when we visit our nieces and nephews we don't bring the Corian.
Did you have logical places in your kitchen to make transitions between materials and heights, places where you were going to have to start a new piece of surface anyway? Or are there just good ways to fill seams between materials so you don't get bits and pieces of gunk falling into the junction? I hear you on places to hide or trap dirt.
We picked up remnant granite cheap--a 34"-36" by 26"--and it's enough of a worksurface for any baker and can sit atop a 30"-36" base cab or island end. Laminate is fine--we have two pieces of IKEA Numerar laminate, very strong, very nice--your color options are limited, but stone effect cream and aluminum effect gray worked well for us since all our other stuff was stainless, aluminum, red Abstrakt and glass. Don't overlook wood/butcherblock (IKEA Numerar or Pronomen) we don't have any of it--the only wood we have is a pizza peel that we tuck away--but I'm using Pronomen Birch right now in my sister's remodel, it's inexpensive (discontinued to boot, so even cheaper than usual--I picked up two 57" long x 26" pieces, new in box, for $10 each last week) and great if you like its look. She did.
I'm not a big fan of wood surfaces that aren't removable, because I'm too paranoid about being able to get them clean if (heaven forbid) I should drip raw chicken juice or other germy material on them. I too have a wooden pizza peel, which right now lives next to my wooden pastry board between the pantry cabinet and the refrigerator. And I have the wooden pastry board, which may become redundant if I get a stone baking worksurface. Should that happen, the board will probably migrate to my mother-in-law.
The chemist in me runs screaming from marble, because I don't want to see my countertops disappear in a bubble of carbon dioxide from an errant lemon squeeze or vinegar spill.
As you say, countertops and their prices are greatly determined by location. For us, an Ikea countertop would have to be a good deal to make it worth shipping to us. A quick Yellow Pages search turns up a couple of countertop shopss in our town, as well as the listings for the hardware stores here. Once the design for the kitchen is a bit firmer and we know how much countertop we'll need, I'll be talking to them to see what's available and how much it costs.
Quick IKEA lighting comment--I, too, have a Cittra in a small anteway--29 bucks and a lot of light--it's above shelves, a mirror, a wall-mounted pantry and white marble tile floor--and I also like how you can angle a spot here or there. Depending on how much light you need in your kitchen, Melissa, you might consider the Magnesium instead--with it you can do a much better job angling and focusing light around where you'd stand and probably direct it onto your surfaces, wall or backsplash easier, because you can curve it any which way, you can even wall mount rather than ceiling mount. I just put this in my sister's kitchen, she was a little apprehensive at first--she's more country than contemporary--but she loved it once up and it turns out to work so well I'm now thinking of putting a second one up for her. Very cool and functional for the price--and it just might help you light in and around both of your corners. You have to be able to drill multiple holes in the ceiling, though--and like with everything, curvilinear gray and clear plastic is not necessarily the right look.
Yeah, we saw that one and liked it. But we went with the Cittra because it was easier to put up, and because we were really looking for something to just get us through the next year that cost less than replacing the two circular fluorescent tubes in one of the old fixtures. If we have a place for it after that, terrific. If not, they'll probably show up on eBay. We'll be revisiting the kitchen lighting issue, I'm sure.
Quick floorplan comments:
--love the baking corner--hate those upper corner cabs in general, especially hate the imbalance of just that one corner cab and not a matched set. Do consider straight runs of wall cabs on both sides right to the stove wall;
I hear you on upper corner cabs. The one we currently have, with its wobbly turntable, is so poorly built that it's a prime example of why they are deserving of hate. But what we're running into here is that if you run the wall cabinets all the way to the stove wall, you get a couple of cabinets (one on each side) waaaay back to the point where you'd pretty much have to stand on the burners, or somehow squeeze between the cabinet and the hood, to be able to reach inside. I think we'd be better off putting a soffit back in on the stove wall and building the hood into the soffit, should we do away with any corner cabinet. To be honest, these corners were one reason we talked to a designer, because we just didn't know what to do.
--asymmetric stove--ok, I have my doubts about the stove on that back wall improving things, symmetric or otherwise. I think I'd rather see that whole wall as prep/worksurface: countertop with wall cabinets above, drawers and pull out storage below wrapping around to include your baking corner--IF there was room to put the stove along the sink wall instead. Why? A 12" or 15" base cab right next to your baking counter--with say 3-5 pullout drawers--might in theory be very nice for tips, molds, tools, brushes, cutters, all the sorts of things pastry cooks/bakers need to have at hand--you don't need 'em often, but it's nice having it all right there. Narrow drawers might be easier to keep organized. You might even decide NOT to put a door/drawer front on--leave all the drawers visible with false fronts--and attach strips of trim or molding to cover up the cabinet frame and coordinate with your door color. Instead of drawers, this 12"/15" could also be a pullout trash dedicated to your baking station--take a half step back--pull out the trash--clean off your counter right into the trash--close trash. Both seem a little awkward to me, though. Matching narrow vertical storage slots on both sides of the stove would allow you to store all your flat things vertically--cutting boards, marbles, sheet trays, pizza peel, wire racks--it might allow you to slide a folding step-stool out of the way--then the oven would be centered and you'd have balance, but then you'd also have to decide how to handle that L turns of the countertops. Another concern will be how does putting the oven against that wall affect the usability of your baking area--something you obviously care about. Given that that baking corner will be "your" corner, you can surmise best how you'll work there, what personal pivot, ballet and stretch you'll go through--so you'll have to measure 25" out from either wall, stand in there, simulate what it'll be like. If you stay with this latest schematic, you'll probably get the most use out of a 37" base corner cab in that corner but with a 49" base corner cab on the sink side, my concern would be there may not be enough clearance to open it's drawer or door with your stove right there. There may not be enough space even pushed 7" further away--I think the door/drawer opening of that cab is 21"--you'll have to figure out the angle based on how far your new stove sticks out from the wall. You may have to pull the 49" out from the wall a few inches for clearance and cut a slightly longer side panel.
Distance: the kitchen's 8 feet wide, wall to wall. Put normal-width countertops in on both sides, and you have 4 feet left, or 48 inches. Put in a 36 inch range or cooktop, and that leaves you with just 12 inches of unused space. Should we downsize to a 30 inch range, we'd have 18 inches. And those are numbers that don't take any kind of corner cabinet turntable into account. I'm not overly fond of turntables down below either, although some of the more modern ones I've seen lately are better than the one we currently have. I think I'd prefer some kind of sliding basket system like Varmint's Magic Corner, because that would then leave us with more space available next to the stove.
I think symmetry will likely be a casualty, unless you think 6 or 9 inches on each side is wide enough to be useful? I like all your ideas for ways to use the skinny space next to the stove, but we'll need to pick and choose. I'm leaning towards vertical storage for flat things. Right now I keep all my little baking tools stuffed in a shoebox in one of my cabinets, but that's obviously not ideal. If we weren't about to redo the kitchen, I'd think it may be time to invest in a nicer box that can live outside the kitchen except when it's needed. For now, I'm in "wait and see" mode.
MelissaHto be continued because I seem to have hit a limit on the number of quotes in a post