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MelissaH's Kitchen (Renovation) Dreams


MelissaH
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We just got finished installing quartz countertops in our kitchen and have a apron fron kohler dickinson farmhouse sink. We love it. This Zodiaq quartz is an amazing surface. It is completely non-porous and the FDA approved it as a "food preparation" surface. The only other surface that has this approval is stainless steel.

We opted for the Zodiaq Mercury Grey. If you want to see a picture of it and our sink installed, click here.

John Deragon

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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One further thought.  Move the door into the kitchen closer to the pantry end of the kitchen.

I sometimes think it would be nice to have a straight shot from the stairwell to the kitchen. But I'm afraid that if we start messing with walls, we'd blow the budget. However, we'll see what we find when we start to really plan out the cabinets, to see if adjusting the doorway will give us a more advantageous layout of normal-sized (aka less-expensive, off-the-shelf sized) cabinets.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Mm.  I think swing-down is easier to support.  I also think that a backsplash attached to a fold-down surface is a potential shin-basher - or perhaps, in this case, ankle-basher.  Depending on how big you intend this backsplash to be (as in height above the work surface) perhaps you could recess the side into which it swings?  In other words - fold the word surface up (no, I do not think a folding counter is goofy, I've seen many an office and library with such a beast) with the backspash sticking into a recess made to fit it.

This morning as we went for a ride on our tandem (best marriage counselor ever; it'll make or break you probably about as well as a kitchen remodel will) and talked a bit more about the swing-up/fold-down section. He assures me that supporting a swing-up will not be a problem. He's also thinking that this section would be perfect to make out of a different material, such as marble, and we could even put it at a slightly different height (a touch lower than a standard countertop, because I'm short enough that when I roll dough on my pastry board on top of our counter, my shoulders go up around my ears.)

But this is the part I think is really neat. One of my concerns about a swing-up was that the working surface is on the outside, where it can get bumped, bashed, shin-whacked, or worse. His plan now: build a sort of cabinet around the swing-up, with a door that looks like all the other cabinet doors. Then, when you want to use the swing-up, you'd open the door---which would then block the doorway to prevent people from trying to come through and banging their hips on the swing-up. A multi-tasker! (Depending on how things are set up, the door may also help to support a fold-up backsplash.)

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Mm.  I think swing-down is easier to support.  I also think that a backsplash attached to a fold-down surface is a potential shin-basher - or perhaps, in this case, ankle-basher.  Depending on how big you intend this backsplash to be (as in height above the work surface) perhaps you could recess the side into which it swings?  In other words - fold the word surface up (no, I do not think a folding counter is goofy, I've seen many an office and library with such a beast) with the backspash sticking into a recess made to fit it.

This morning as we went for a ride on our tandem (best marriage counselor ever; it'll make or break you probably about as well as a kitchen remodel will) and talked a bit more about the swing-up/fold-down section. He assures me that supporting a swing-up will not be a problem. He's also thinking that this section would be perfect to make out of a different material, such as marble, and we could even put it at a slightly different height (a touch lower than a standard countertop, because I'm short enough that when I roll dough on my pastry board on top of our counter, my shoulders go up around my ears.)

But this is the part I think is really neat. One of my concerns about a swing-up was that the working surface is on the outside, where it can get bumped, bashed, shin-whacked, or worse. His plan now: build a sort of cabinet around the swing-up, with a door that looks like all the other cabinet doors. Then, when you want to use the swing-up, you'd open the door---which would then block the doorway to prevent people from trying to come through and banging their hips on the swing-up. A multi-tasker! (Depending on how things are set up, the door may also help to support a fold-up backsplash.)

MelissaH

That's bloody brilliant! OK, I'm a convert now!

...and I agree with you about the tandem; try tandem kayaking sometime, too! :biggrin:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I think I'll take a page out of fifi's book (excuse the expression!) and start keeping a log of what we cook and otherwise how we use the kitchen. (Yesterday dinner: loin lamb chops marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, herbes de Provence, and S&P for about 10 minutes before getting grilled for about 4 min/side, and a cool crunchy green salad.) Of course, as I say this, we're in our hottest weather of the year, and we haven't been cooking inside at all for the last two days, and aren't likely to do so again for a few more days. (I know that heat's all relative. We're so close to the lake that we don't get as hot as Syracuse or even the nearest NWS post ten miles south of here, but the humidity and dew points are way up so it's sticky. We don't know anyone living here with air conditioning, because we generally don't need it! SUNY-Oswego has a meteorology program, and you can check a real-time display of our weather.)

What we cook: the short answer is a little bit of everything. We often joke that if you have half an hour, my husband is better at putting dinner on the table; if you have all week, I'll serve you a meal you'll never forget. In reality, most of the time, who cooks depends on who gets home first, or who had the later class, or the longer day. During the week, we tend to do quicker meals, or leftovers. Quicker meals are things like mac & cheese (either my way on the stovetop with a bechamel, his way which uses evaporated milk, butter, and cheese chunks and goes in the oven, or the Blue Box way, depending on who's cooking and how much time we have), a one-dish something, pasta with sauce, something Asian, Mexican, or Cajun-style to go with rice from the rice cooker, a quick saute of some kind, or whatever else we can throw together. We don't always eat meat; I'd estimate that about half the time, we instead choose beans, veggie crumbles AKA "burgeroid" in our house, or another alternate source of protein. Sometimes we'll also use just a little meat (usually ham, bacon, or sausage) as an accent in an otherwise vegetarian dinner. When it's soup or stew weather, we'll often make one in the crock-pot, often prepping it the night before and then cooking it while we're at work. Beans usually get done in the crock-pot no matter what the season.

On weekends we're more inclined to spend more time in the kitchen, especially during the 51 weeks a year it's not too hot to even think about boiling water. Weekends are when a chicken or other large cut of beast might get roasted, and it's not uncommon for us to use the leftovers in weekday dishes for some of that week. We like to keep a pantry with enough staples to eat for a week if necessary, and we also freeze stuff for later use. It's common for us to buy chickens or parts thereof on sale, and then bone them ourselves and make stock when we have enough bones to make it worthwhile. The stock typically gets reduced way down, frozen in ice cube trays, and then bagged for later use. The hardest part about the freezer is remembering to bring meat up from the deep freeze at least a day before you want to eat it. This year's strawberry crop was partially destroyed by a freeze a couple of weeks ago (hard to believe it now) so I'm glad we still have plenty of last year's berries, which we picked ourselves, safely frozen. We also still have enough pitted sour cherries for two or three pies, and a few gallons of the blueberries we picked.

I bake more than my husband does. He does a batch of cookies or bars or muffins or something every three months or so; it often gets brought in to share with his colleagues and students.) I do lots of different kinds of breads, as well as cookies and pies. (Actually, we share the pies: I make the crust, he makes the filling. Doesn't matter who puts it together.) I don't do as many cakes, because the current oven doesn't seem to do them well. For one thing, there's a tremendous hot spot in one back corner. Keeping the lower rack filled with quarry tiles seems to help even things out somewhat, but any time I bake anything, I must rotate halfway through or I'll char the corner. The oven is also small, so if I want to do anything in more than one round pan, I need to use my 8-inch pans because otherwise they don't fit. (Forget about using multiple oven racks in this oven, for anything.) Another pipe dream of mine is a wood-burning oven in the back yard.

We have a Weber gas grill, which we use extensively when the weather's warm enough that the propane ignites. We cook just about everything on it, including our Thanksgiving turkey and the asparagus that came from the farmer's market last week, but have never had much luck grilling tofu. When we have the time and a reasonably full propane tank, we'll do a beer can chicken. The grill is an absolute savior during the one week a year it's hot...like now. When we entertain large groups during non-winter, one of our favorite ways of feeding everyone is to ask everyone to bring a dish to pass, and cook brats and veggie burgers on the grill. The brats always get boiled in beer first. Our first year here, we had a hard time finding brats in the supermarkets!

My husband brews beer, so we have a 170,000 btu burner to boil gallons of water in a hurry. This burner also gets used for stir-frying in the summer. When we're done, the garage smells exactly like a cheap Chinese restaurant. :smile: It's also great when I load up the canner, if we've had a good year for tomatoes or something else. While high output burners are probably nice to have right there in the kitchen, this works well for us, and has the added benefit that most of the mess is outside! We also have an ancient three-burner propane stove, which came from my husband's family's farm. We use this when we make mole, so that smoke from toasting chiles and then frying chile paste is outside.

I'll be keeping track of what we cook over the next few weeks, to see if what I think we do is accurate. I'll also try to remember to repeat the exercise in fall or winter, to see what difference the seasons make to me. In the meantime, I need to figure out what we're doing tonight, which will probably involve a shopping trip later today, so I'd better look at the new sale ads! A friend will be bringing her dinner over to grill alongside, so it will be a pleasant if sticky-hot evening.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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...and I agree with you about the tandem; try tandem kayaking sometime, too!  :biggrin:

We thought about it, since we have this big lake just out our front door. But then we realized that cycling season and kayaking season overlap pretty closely, and as it is we don't have the time to do all the cycling we want. However, I could see how hot days like today would be better spent in a kayak than on a bike, at least until the thunderstorms roll in when you're far from shore. :shock:

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Here's my husband's latest modified plan, adjusted so the fridge is not opposite the dishwasher:

gallery_23869_1329_9384.png

There are a few other changes. The stove is at the end of the kitchen, about where the old stove is now. It's not quite centered, because if we centered it we'd have a really skinny cabinet on either side down below. By moving the stove off-center, we instead would have one wider cabinet, which seemed to make more sense to us. He's also removed all upper cabinets on the stove wall. There's still one upper corner cabinet, but on the corner closest to the stove he's just extended the wall cabinet all the way back. I don't think I like this, because the only way I'd be able to reach back there would be to basically sit on the stove top. I think we'd be better off just putting another corner cabinet in there, if there's room, and run cabinets along the wall. Another option would be to just block it off completely and build a soffit in to give us a place to put a set of speakers and car stereo, a la snowangel.

I've started to think of the area between stove and door as my baking area, with swing-up marble surface on the end of the cabinet. There will be room on the counter for the mixer and food processor!

The microwave is now over the counter between fridge and dining room. And we drew in a small sink at the end of that counter. We thought it would be useful to have a sink near the table and a separate work area; we also thought it would be good to have the microwave near the table since we use it mostly for heating leftovers.

I'll probably do what my friend recommended: tape out where everything will go, and "make a cake" or "put together dinner" or even "do the dishes" by getting everything from where we think it will go, and walking through the task at hand. She said they found and corrected lots of little problems that way. She also commented that if we talk to a kitchen designer, make sure we find someone who likes to cook. :raz:

This is getting to be lots of fun, especially while we still don't have price tags attached to anything yet!

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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  • 1 month later...

We made some purchases for the kitchen last weekend at the Ikea in New Haven.

Our initial foray to Ikea happened before we moved from northeast Ohio to New York. We were thinking at the time about our previous house's kitchen. We didn't know much about the cabinets available from Ikea, other than they seemed to be much less expensive than other options. So we spent probably 45 minutes playing with the setups in the Pittsburgh store: looking carefully at cabinet doors and drawer construction, seeing how the drawers slid, checking out the sizes available, opening and closing cabinets and drawers (many many many times, not always gently!) and in general investigating robustness and quality. We liked what we saw, and have also heard positive things from both Fine Homebuilding and Consumer Reports magazines as well as eGullet, especially with respect to getting a lot of bang for the buck. So when we moved into this house and knew we'd be redoing the kitchen, our first thought was to go with Ikea cabinets.

This time around, we didn't do too much with cabinets, other than pick up a new price list. We'll see if we get the order in before the prices change upward again next summer. But we did very much want to look at kitchen carts, to give us a bit more surface and storage area and allow us to remove the semicircular shelves at the end of the existing counter. There were two carts that we considered, but this is the one we ultimately went with. We liked that it had two drawers, two shelves, two wheels, a solid-feeling top, and a box that would slide nicely into the back of our car.

Shortly before we left, one of the two ceiling lights in the kitchen started to go fritzy on us, refusing to turn on about half the time unless you gave it a hard tap. We were afraid that would happen: those circular fluorescent tubes are quite pricey, and we don't like the light they give. So we also explored the lighting available at Ikea, to see if we could find replacements for one or both of the ceiling lights to get us through the next year, and then either stay in the renovated kitchen or relocate to another part of the house afterward. We wound up with two of these at a price tag we could swallow. We liked the directability of the lights, and if these don't wind up in the new kitchen, we can easily see them downstairs in the family room.

Our other kitchen-related purchases were cutting boards. On that initial kitchen investigation trip a number of years ago, we'd gotten a slew of plastic cutting boards in multiple colors, and some of them are now nicked up enough that we'd prefer not to use them anymore. We weren't able to find the three-packs of cutting boards they'd sold once upon a time, but we did find pairs sold in black, and a big-and-little set in white. In the scratch-and-dent area we also found a nice chunk of butcher block for $10. We didn't see anything wrong with it, other than the shrink-wrap was torn open. The surface is perfect. If we don't keep it for ourselves, we'll give it to my MIL because her wooden bread board has split and needs to either be reglued or replaced. Later today I'll give it a coat of oil. (We would have liked to have found another board for her like the one I have, shaped like a Z so it hooks on to the countertop and then has a little bit of a backsplash, but apparently those aren't being made anymore.)

Yesterday night, my husband took out the semicircular shelves. They surprised me by coming out in one piece: they'd been attached to a big piece of plywood, which was then attached to the outside wall of the cabinet. So we exposed a finished surface, rather than leaving behind ugly marks where the shelves had been. We also finally opened up a small corner that's been collecting dust bunnies for who-knows-how-long, and made it possible to actually get at the valve controlling that baseboard heater.

gallery_23869_1329_542.jpg

Did I say that nothing had been done to the kitchen in 40 years? I lied! When we took out the shelves, we saw a small piece of what was probably the original floor of the kitchen. Thank heavens we don't see more of it!

gallery_23869_1329_5498.jpg

Here's the cart, put together and in its place alongside the cabinets. (The butcher block is resting on top. We haven't organized anything on it yet; this is just where a few things landed.) We also haven't quite figured out if the cart will have a place in the new kitchen, if it will find itself elsewhere in our house, or if we'll find it a new home.

gallery_23869_1329_3435.jpg

We haven't gotten the new lights in yet, since we'd like to wait for a cooler day before tackling a job that may require some work in the attic. But I'm excited about the possibility of finally being able to shed some light on my counter!

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Melissa,

I'm glad things are moving forward with the kitchen. I look forward to seeing your reno unfold. We have similar lighting in our kitchen and have been very pleased with the heightened visibility.

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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Grrr! I got a rude awakening to reality last night, as I made dinner and remembered a big reason why the kitchen needs to be changed.

I thought it was going to be a simple dinner, not much actual cooking because it's still hot: green beans similar to the ones in Dave the Cook's foodblog, served with polenta. I'd gotten the beans and a tube of premade polenta at the grocery store early in the afternoon, since we're looking in on an east sider friend's cat while she's on vacation this week and I was practically in the parking lot anyway. I figured I'd do the beans the way DtC did, except that instead of vegetable stock and creole mustard, I used a frozen cube of reduced chicken stock reconstituted with a bit of water and Dijon mustard. I also didn't want to open a lemon for one tablespoon of juice, so I used a little bit of an orange champagne vinegar imported from Trader Joe's. This dish gets cooked on the stovetop, in a big skillet with big surface area for maximum brownage. Therefore, I used my straight-sided NOT-nonstick pan, which conveniently also has a lid. In order to get the heat I'd need to make things brown, this pan got the back left burner of my stove, the only big burner that can do high heat.

The problem arose when I realized that in order to fry the polenta in a touch of olive oil, to crisp up the slices, I'd need to use my big non-stick frying pan so all the slices would fit in the pan at the same time. The problem: the big frying pan really doesn't work well on either of the small front burners, and the only other big burner is the one with the thermostat, which is great for simmering but really lousy for anything over 250 degrees F. A new stove must be able to handle more than one large pan on high heat at the same time!

In the end, I wound up doing the polenta in the toaster oven: covering the pan with foil so I didn't have to wash it, rubbing each side of the polenta slices with oil, and baking at about 400 degrees for about 15 or 20 minutes. It heated through, but it didn't get that nice crispy skin that frying or even grilling would have given it. We each got some of the green beans, a few wedges of a fresh tomato that needed to be used ASAP, and some polenta slices with shredded sharp cheddar melted over. It was about perfect for a hot night.

But this cooking experience was a huge slap in the face, since over the weekend we were visiting our friends Marty and Linda in Connecticut, who completely redid their kitchen a couple of years ago. We each got a chance to cook in their beautiful new kitchen, and to remember that it can be a lot of fun to cook with friends!

Marty and Linda's kitchen is more or less the same shape as ours, even though it doesn't appear that way at first glance. The big difference is that instead of having one of the short sides open onto a dining room, one of the long "walls" is not there at all, and the kitchen and living room are one big space. So instead of just a countertop and wall cabinets, they have a large island. The living room side of the island has four stools for seating, and underneath the overhang are three large two-door cabinets used to store games, cat food, computers when company comes, and the like. That all works well.

Between the other side of the island and the kitchen wall, they have the main aisle of the kitchen, which feels about as long as ours is. The island has no cabinets, only drawers. There are shorter drawers for smaller stuff, medium-size drawers for mixing bowls etc., and a really tall (double-height, actually looks like two drawers) one for the KitchenAid mixer. There's a single "wall" oven in the island as well (GE Profile convection). (There's a second oven in the house: the original range from the kitchen was relocated to the laundry room, and plugged into the outlet not needed since the gas dryer was installed. When Linda baked her wedding cake layers, we needed both ovens.) Against the wall side, there's a bunch more drawers, this time to hold the dishes, silverware, etc. There are also a few wall cabinets, which mainly hold glasses and mugs of various kinds, as well as one wall cabinet under the sink. The over-the-sink cabinets have glass fronts, but everything else is recessed-panel cherry. Against this wall are the sink (no disposal to help keep the gods of the septic system happy), the dishwasher just right of the sink, and the Viking 6-burner rangetop. Under the rangetop are still more drawers, deep ones for pots and pans. One short end of the kitchen is open, with space to walk between the island and the wall of windows, beneath the three skylights that do wonders for the lighting during the day. At the other end of the kitchen, if you walk straight through from the living room, you pass (in order) the door leading down to the basement on the right, the door of the pantry closet on the right, the island on the left, the microwave/fridge landing counter/phone/more storage space on the right, and (simultaneously) the counter over the dishwasher on the left and the fridge on the right before going through a doorway into the dining room.

The layout of the kitchen seems to work. There's plenty of room for two people to cook, although if two people need counter prep space at the same time, they need to use opposite ends of the island because there isn't really another big surface. All along the edge of the island, they put power strips so there's always an outlet nearby. (The computers plug into these outlets also, even though they get used from the stove. In retrospect, outlets on the other side of the island would have been a good idea too.) The rangetop and oven were purposely offset from each other, so that you don't open the oven door into the way of someone else cooking on the stove. A third person can be standing at the sink, loading the dishwasher or hand-washing the dishes that don't go in the dishwasher. Lots of people can be in the living room chatting with the cooks, either sitting on the stools on the other side of the island and doing little prep tasks or sitting on other furniture with drinks. It's just not so easy for the dishwasher to be unloaded and dishes to be put away if someone's working at the island on the kitchen side. The aisle between the island and the wall is 48 inches wide, just like the aisle in our kitchen is likely to be. All countertops are at standard height in Marty and Linda's kitchen.

The kitchen floor is hardwood, as are all the other floors in the living spaces of the house. It looked wonderful in this house, and was soft enough that my feet didn't start to hurt halfway through cooking. But I didn't like the part about being careful not to drip water on the floor, or being sure to mop up any drips with a towel after they happened, or just keeping a paper towel on the floor to push along with your foot and pick up the droplets you inevitably notice long after they've happened. I still think I'd be happier with a vinyl, linoleum, or other floor in my kitchen, even though we will eventually have wood throughout the rest of the top level of the house. Linda commented that she, too, loved the way the wood looked and felt, but if she were to do it over she'd consider a tile of some sort, just for the aisle between island and kitchen wall, to give one less thing to think about.

Oh, the wonderful undermounted sink! It's stainless, with a small shallow bowl and a bigger deep bowl large enough to hold a cookie sheet! No rim to catch the crumbs you sweep in, or the water you splatter on the counter! The faucet is relatively high-rise, with a single-handle control on the left and a separate sprayer on the right. It felt comfortable to work with, and didn't require any thought to know which way was on, or hot, or cold, unlike some faucets I've seen. Since we have city sewer rather than septic system gods, I'd also do a disposal.

The countertops throughout the kitchen are a granite-look Corian. I'm curious if the price has dropped at all since I heard that Corian's patent protection expired. I loved having a large area without noticeable seams on the island. It looks as good today as it did the first time I saw it two years ago. But I also noticed that the countertops felt warm to the touch, not cool like stone does. This was pertinent to my weekend plans, as I'd brought everything I needed to make a cherry pie, and this was my crust-rolling surface. I was careful to keep my butter cold, and everything worked fine, with one caveat. I'd been warned that when you turned on the oven, the top of the island also heated up a bit. So I made sure not to turn on the oven until my entire pie was constructed and moved elsewhere. All the sources I've found say that Corian and other solid surfaces cost about the same as real stone, and if that's still true when we're ready to remodel, I think I'd be happier with real stone. Or cheap laminate until we can afford real stone.

Their kitchen lighting scheme makes things easy to see, from what I could tell. (This time of year, there's enough daylight coming through the windows and skylights that we didn't need to test the lighting too much.) They have undercabinet lights under the wall cabinets, as well as a light above the sink. Over the island are recessed cans: incandescents closer to the rest of the kitchen, and halogens for the side with the stools. Linda's primary concern was to have enough light to see everything without having danglies from the ceiling over the island in the way of the view. For me, danglies would be less of a concern, as long as they were high enough to not get in the way. But since we can't do an island in our kitchen, we won't have to worry about that. (Something we will need to be concerned with, though: if we're getting rid of the soffit,we'll have cabinet doors just about all the way up to the ceiling, which means that we'll need to keep lights out of the way of the doors.) If we don't have wall cabinets all the way around, we'll have some places where we can't put undercabinet lighting, so we'll need a different option there. The lighting is something I'm less comfortable thinking about, and I'm guessing we'll try to find a consultant to (get ready to groan now!) shed some light on the subject. :raz:

A stove like theirs would have made yesterday's dinner much easier. They have a 36-inch Viking hood over the stove, which they say is easy to clean. (We didn't need it.) The oven also did a nice job on the pie, although Linda noted that in order to get baking times in recipes to work out, the oven needed to be set 10 degrees higher than the recipe instructed. (The oven's thermostat is spot-on according to every thermometer they've stuck inside, and once it's up to temperature, the oven stays within a couple of degrees of where it's set. I wonder if many recipes are written for ovens without such perfect thermostats, hence the difference between what this oven needs to be set for and what the recipe says to use.) I particularly liked being able to turn around and set the baked pie anywhere I wanted on the cooktop to cool, and it sat level and wasn't in the way.

Now, in our galley kitchen, an island is impossible. All our workspace will be along the walls. This means that we have a choice of where put our power strips on the wall OR just below the counter overhang. I'm sure now that we will not be able to put the refrigerator opposite the dishwasher, because there won't be room for anything else if the fridge door is open. (It's not uncommon for one of us to start clearing the table and the other to be putting leftovers away at the same time.) For us, wall covering choice will be crucial, because we'll have so much of it along the back of our work area.

Color? About the only things that are set for sure are the off-white fridge we're keeping and my dark blue KitchenAid mixer (the color was on sale when my mom bought it for my birthday one year), which I'd like to be able to leave on the countertop. I'm not a big appliance garage type; why should I hide the facts that I like to bake and we both use our kitchen?

I'm about at the point where I'd like to find a kitchen designer and see if there are other things we aren't considering, and to start to get a handle on our budget for both the "money-is-no-object" and the "we-haven't-won-the-lottery-yet" versions. Linda cautioned us to be sure that our kitchen designer actually cooks, because they found some who don't and consequently had some really silly ideas. I did a quick search on the NKBA Web site, and found 13 certified designers within a 50-mile radius. If you're in central NY and have used a kitchen designer, please PM me and let me know who you used and whether you liked them.

The two worst things right now are knowing that much of this process is likely to come to a screeching halt when the semester starts at the end of the month and I'm teaching new-to-me classes full-time, and knowing that I have to live with the old kitchen another year or so. On the other hand, a full-time paycheck will be nice to have when those budget estimates start to come in.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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It's been an interesting week.

First of all, we took out the one ceiling light with circular fluorescent tubes and replaced it with one of the Ikea light fixtures. We learned that you only use the lamp holder to focus the light, not the bulb itself. Then we learned that the bulbs are available at our local home-improvement megamart, individually or as a box of 3 for about $10. The new light is nice, I think. It's definitely different from the old fluorescent. For one thing, the light's much warmer, both in color and in temperature. But I like that the light's on as soon as you flip the switch, and I really like that we were able to focus the lamps to the areas that need the light. We have one pointing at the table next to the fridge, another onto the dish-drying area, a third onto the new cart, and the last more or less down but towards the sink. You can actually do dishes and know that they're clean without having to turn on the over-the-sink light that always burns out! We oriented the fixture down the long axis of the kitchen. We'll probably replace the other light fixture in the very near future, and we're planning to install that one perpendicular to the first, across the short dimension of the kitchen, to get the lights aimed at the oven, cooktop, and the rest of the counter.

We also picked up our rebuilt tandem wheel from the shop in Geneva, and instead of driving back home on the Thruway, we took back roads and paid a visit to an appliance store in Auburn, NY (home of Harriet Tubman's house). I'd wanted to go there because this store carries both GE Monogram and Viking appliances. When we got there, I learned that they also carry many other brands, including DCS, Dacor, and Thermador. We spent a little while just looking at everything, starting to figure out what we liked and didn't like. We also learned that if we go with a professional-style rangetop (as opposed to a consumer-style cooktop), we would probably not be able to put an oven underneath it. We also picked up a stack of "kitchen porn" to look through and drool over.

It's shocking how expensive some of the electric convection wall ovens are!

The third thing we did, kitchen-wise, was we spent a bit of time talking with a kitchen designer. I started by doing a search on the NKBA Web site for designers in our area. Their default search is apparently set for a 20 mile radius, but didn't turn up anything. I widened the search to 50 miles, and got some hits. I set my focus on Monday afternoon, because we were making a trip to Syracuse anyway to pick up a friend at the train station.

I immediately crossed out the designers with Home Depot as the referral company, because we'd had bad experiences with them only trying to sell us the stuff that Home Depot sells, when we were thinking about redoing a previous kitchen. That pretty much narrowed down the list. One person on the list either didn't answer the phone or had a busy signal, so I also crossed that name off because I want to work with people who I can easily get a hold of, if the need arises. Then, I called someone who answered the phone, said they liked to cook, and was available that afternoon. So we headed down, and spent a worthwhile couple of hours there.

One thing I found out right off the bat, just from some phone calls: nobody around here has any firsthand experience with Ikea cabinets. I attribute this to the lack of close Ikea stores. We'd started there for two reasons: first, it was easy to do especially with the kitchen planning software they make available; and second, we liked the combination of style, quality, and price. But the designer we talked to deals in some lines of cabinets, and that's obviously where this designer's profit comes from since our chat was free of charge. As we said, though, we aren't wedded to Ikea cabinets, and we're quite interested in seeing what else is available without us needing to drive five hours to New Haven and renting a truck for the trip home. In fact, one of the things that I'd wondered about was if the lack of customization options for the Ikea cabinets would make our kitchen trickier to plan or less user-friendly in the long run, especially since we're likely going to have at least two corners to deal with. Furthermore, as we learned, almost nobody around here wants to touch frameless cabinets; the contractors are much happier dealing with face frames. And my husband the handy guy pointed out to me the various ways in which face framed cabinets can be easier to deal with. In any case, we can price out the Ikea cabinets on our own, and we're both curious how this designer's cabinet options will compare. The designer has agreed to work on a per-hour basis if we choose in the end to go with the Ikea cabinets rather than his cabinets.

The designer confirmed that separating the stovetop from the oven increases the price. This is good to know, because it means that we're likely going to be looking only at ranges, not at separates. But because we're probably not going to separate the two, we'll need to find something on which we like both stovetop and oven. I don't think this will be that big a deal, but it's good that we know this now before getting our hearts set on one brand cooktop and another brand oven. Unless we decide we'd be sorry if we only had one oven in the kitchen. Right now I can't think of many occasions we would have liked two ovens at different temperatures. (I certainly would like more oven space at times, but we've come up with ways to work around the spacial restrictions of a tiny oven.) But a second oven is probably something best considered in the original kitchen design rather than as a retrofit, which means we should make up our minds sooner rather than later!

We also laid out the dimensions of the kitchen for the designer, explained some of what we're looking for and our likes and dislikes. We also brought along our latest proposal for a floor plan, and explained what we did and why. One thing I really liked was that this designer spent a lot of time listening to us, and seemed to understand that we don't know what our budget is yet but that price will likely be of some consideration so there may be places where we'd like to save money. (The one that comes to mind right away: countertops.) We should have some of the designer's plans within a month, and it will be interesting to see how those ideas differ from what we came up with on our own.

Yesterday, after our visit and discussion, my husband came up with yet another iteration of our plan, based on the possibility of moving the sink away from the window...or possibly even adding a second window to the kitchen wall. He hasn't walked me through it (dinner with our friend last night, plus the Hell's Kitchen finale we'd Tivoed for her, kept us otherwise occupied), so I can't post it or say much about it yet.

I'm all of a sudden really starting to question my own yearning for a pro-style range or rangetop. Yes, it's way cool. Yes, I think I'd probably get a lot of use out of it and having it would probably make me very very happy. (That in itself should be reason enough for doing it, I know.) But you do pay a rather hefty premium for getting a rangetop rather than simply a cooktop. I'm wondering if the happiness I'd derive is worth the extra $$$. And I'm also wondering how much I'd miss the extra BTUs you get from a rangetop that you don't get from a cooktop.

But then again, it's not just my kitchen. Yesterday my husband cooked dinner. He had three burners going at once: one on which he cooked somen noodles, a second on which he steamed broccoli, and a third for searing tofu. Somewhere in there, one of the burners got used to toss everything together with a sauce he whipped up from oyster sauce and other stuff. Any time you're talking noodles and searing, that's two high-heat burners at once. And I'm not convinced that a cooktop will give us the heat we'd like for meals like this. I really like the idea of using whichever burner I want for whatever task I want, not necessarily being stuck with the noodle pot in the middle because that's where the highest heat is. And I think that last part dictates rangetop or pro-style range. Any thoughts on whether I'd be sorry for not going pro-style, when the dollar speaks and push comes to shove?

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Floors: Have you considered Marmoleum? That's what we are having installed-it's natural linoleum (made from flaxseeds, so it's a "green" product) and comes in beautiful pattens and colors (we got a lovely swirly blue). It's warm and soft underfoot and doesn't dent, fade or scratch (well, you can't see scratches anyway, since it's solid color throughout). We have 100 y.o. fir floors in the rest of the house but the Marmoluem works with it. Looking at it online it doesn't look very special but go see samples in a showroom-it's really cool.

Counters: My boyfriend, too, loved soapstone for its old time science room look, and I loved its matte finish (I hate shiny countertops). It's pretty rare stuff here in the PNW but even with that it was not more expensive than any other stone, wood, or even the recycled Richlite product, which was our second choice. We don't have miles of countertops but it cost a lot less than we'd expected to spend. It seemed like laminate was the only surface that offered significant savings.

Stoves: We considered dropping a chunk of money on a pro-style stove before actually investigating what you get for your money. After reading Consumer Reports articles (the repair frequency of some of the high end ranges is abysmal) and doing quite a bit of other research, it just didn't seem worth the extra thousands of dollars. A salesman at the highest-end appliance store in town, after I pressed him, admitted that I wouldn't get much more out of the ranges that were $4000+ than I would out of the ranges that cost half that. Before buying this home, I had rented probably 15 different homes and apartments, all with cheap crappy appliances, and you know what? I still cooked, and even baked, well. The pro-style sure are pretty but I just couldn't justify the extra cost. Also, I find it interesting that your designer told you that installing a wall oven/stovetop would cost more than a range. The cost difference was insignificant with our remodeler (we chose a range just for space reasons). Which brings me to my next point...

We are in week 5 (of 9) of our kitchen remodel-a gut job including pushing the kitchen out onto the back porch and reconfiguring an interior wall. I wish I'd seen this thread sooner so I could have shared the best thing that I've found in this process: using a design/build firm. We'd already had one experience hiring a architect/desgner to help us remodel the attic, and it turns out that she had a very bad sense of what things would actually cost and what, in fact, what actually possible, since she wasn't a contractor. She designed something that cost about 4 times what she'd estimated, putting it WAY out of our reach. I'm told that this is not uncommon. With a design/build firm, you tell them your budget and they design and build a space within that budget, period. The firms themselves will tell you that they are more expensive than doing it the "regular" way (with a contractor and separate designer or architect) but we don't feel we're spending more than most people do on a kitchen remodel. The whole project has been stress-free-zero headaches and hassles, on-time and on-budget. We did do extensive interviews and reference checks to find our wonderful firm.

If you intend to do a fair amount of work yourselves, it might not be the best solution for you (our firm was happy to let us do a couple things ourselves, but we have to keep to their strict schedule), and you have already hired a designer, but I see you so often wondering, can we afford this, how much will it cost to do this, etc etc, and it is so much easier to sit down with people that will both design and construct the space-they know what can be done and how much it will cost right from the get-go.

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Floors: Have you considered Marmoleum?

We haven't un-considered anything except ceramic tile and Pergo-style laminate, and possibly hardwood. Something that we haven't yet decided is whether we're going to convert the kitchen from baseboard heating to radiant underfloor heating, and that decision will undoubtedly have some impact on our floor choice.

Counters: My boyfriend, too, loved soapstone for its old time science room look, and I loved its matte finish (I hate shiny countertops). It's pretty rare stuff here in the PNW but even with that it was not more expensive than any other stone, wood, or even the recycled Richlite product, which was our second choice. We don't have miles of countertops but it cost a lot less than we'd expected to spend. It seemed like laminate was the only surface that offered significant savings.

That's what we've discovered as well: laminate is less expensive than everything else, and everything else is fairly close in price. We've already decided that laminate countertops are one thing we can live with for a while, since we hope to have a fair amount of counterspace in the new kitchen. We're also looking into the possibility of putting in multiple surfaces, therefore saving the soapstone (and its price tag) for where it would be best used. We just aren't sure that we have good places to make the transitions between surfaces. Then again, we don't have a design set out either!

Stoves: We considered dropping a chunk of money on a pro-style stove before actually investigating what you get for your money. After reading Consumer Reports articles (the repair frequency of some of the high end ranges is abysmal) and doing quite a bit of other research, it just didn't seem worth the extra thousands of dollars. A salesman at the highest-end appliance store in town, after I pressed him, admitted that I wouldn't get much more out of the ranges that were $4000+ than I would out of the ranges that cost half that. Before buying this home, I had rented probably 15 different homes and apartments, all with cheap crappy appliances, and you know what? I still cooked, and even baked, well. The pro-style sure are pretty but I just couldn't justify the extra cost. Also, I find it interesting that your designer told you that installing a wall oven/stovetop would cost more than a range. The cost difference was insignificant with our remodeler (we chose a range just for space reasons). Which brings me to my next point...

What we were told is that oven cabinets are expensive. They're big (30 inches or larger) which jacks up the cost. And very often the cost of bringing the utilities to a second location also ups the price tag. Based on the looking I've done in the last couple of days, I'm inclined to agree with the designer.

For other reasons, in thinking about it more, I'm thinking that we'll be going with a pro-style range. This is for reasons that have more to do with our cooking style than anything. We want the space of a 36 inch wide cooking surface, and we also want continuous grates. In addition, we want to be able to get high heat on whatever burner we choose, not whichever burner the manufacturer has deemed will be the high heat burner. Those requirements seem to be pushing us into the pro-style lines. Since I don't think we'll have the space to separate an oven from a rangetop, if we want a pro-style cooking surface we'll need to go with a range. I'm willing to put the money toward a range, since that's not something that can easily be replaced or upgraded. (Have you looked at what's out there for consumer-level 36-inch-wide ranges? Not much!)

We are in week 5 (of 9) of our kitchen remodel-a gut job including pushing the kitchen out onto the back porch and reconfiguring an interior wall. I wish I'd seen this thread sooner so I could have shared the best thing that I've found in this process: using a design/build firm. We'd already had one experience hiring a architect/desgner to help us remodel the attic, and it turns out that she had a very bad sense of what things would actually cost and what, in fact, what actually possible, since she wasn't a contractor. She designed something that cost about 4 times what she'd estimated, putting it WAY out of our reach. I'm told that this is not uncommon. With a design/build firm, you tell them your budget and they design and build a space within that budget, period.  The firms themselves will tell you that they are more expensive than doing it the "regular" way (with a contractor and separate designer or architect) but we don't feel we're spending more than most people do on a kitchen remodel. The whole project has been stress-free-zero headaches and hassles, on-time and on-budget. We did do extensive interviews and reference checks to find our wonderful firm.

If you intend to do a fair amount of work yourselves, it might not be the best solution for you (our firm was happy to let us do a couple things ourselves, but we have to keep to their strict schedule), and you have already hired a designer, but I see you so often wondering, can we afford this, how much will it cost to do this, etc etc, and it is so much easier to sit down with people that will both design and construct the space-they know what can be done and how much it will cost right from the get-go.

What I haven't said here is that we actually are likely to do a fair amount of the work ourselves. My husband's quite comfortable with and good at building things; the only reason he's not considering making our cabinets himself is time. Some things (plumbing, electric) we're going to have to let other people do for us, and there are other things we may let other people do (drywall, maybe floors depending on what the floors are) because they'll be able to do it much faster and/or better than we will. But there are plenty of other things we can do ourselves, and the more sweat equity we can put in, the more cash we'll have available for other parts of the kitchen. If we need more people-power than what we can provide ourselves, there are local contractors who are more than willing to help us out, ones who wouldn't need to drive an hour each way to get here.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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so much depends on budget and determining priorities--and what you value or "yearn" for--whether you go pro, pro-style, pretend pro, whatever, and while I'm late to this thread, I think you're doing a great job revealing your thought process behind all this Melissa. Whether you go IKEA I think will depend mainly on whether you can do most of it yourself--aside from plumbing/electrical/drywall etc--whether you find value in doing most of it yourself--and with a handy husband, 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?

We did that and don't regret it.

A few of your oven/stovetop concerns--a separate cooktop--if you have the space and budget, why not? But I don't think you do, and as you keep upscaling your thought about more powerful appliances, don't forget to keep considering the need for a more powerful 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. But where you going to put it and not hinder countertop space? So, 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--but it will require space to do so. Or course, you could also have deep wide pullouts below your freestanding cooktop as well, if you stayed with that, but again--you lose countertop space even if you went with 30" separates.

A second oven? Only you can decide whether it'll be valuable. In our very small kitchen, we went with a regular freestanding range, but part of our solution was also adding a small (but commercial) freestanding electric convection oven rather than something built in--as our kitchen or needs change, it could be unplugged and moved around easily. Whether you need a second built-in oven--to hold/cook things at different temps--will depend on the kind of cook you are. 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, when we use the small convection oven, it is instead of rather than in addition to the stove.

"Don't know your budget" "yet want to save money"--sure sounds like IKEA candidates.

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. If 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.

IKEA or not--"we liked the combination of style, quality, and price"--realize, too, most of your stuff can be shipped instead. Just determine total cost when figuring out your options with IKEA and of what else is available. So what if you need to drive five hours to New Haven and rent a truck for the trip home--there's a cost with this--in time, in inconvenience, in rental fees, just add it all in--and you'll probably still save thousands. Then figure if it's worth it overall.

"In fact, one of the things that I'd wondered about was if the lack of customization options for the Ikea cabinets would make our kitchen trickier to plan or less user-friendly in the long run, especially since we're likely going to have at least two corners to deal with"

ahh, only you (or you in consultation with your designer/contractor or as kiliki suggests your "design/build" firm) can make your space user-friendly because you know how you use it. What I can tell you is there's a design, thought process and installation learning curve going IKEA, but once you get over it, it can be very empowering.

Unless your corners are weird IKEA can handle corners--they have two different corner cab styles, a 37" x 37" and a 49" x 25", and I like that its 37" doesn't bow out as a pentagon, but is instead an L with a double hinged door. The larger question for you will be: are you really gaining enough by putting your stove on that far wall and are you hindering your ability to deal with the corners?

There are some very neat kitchens on the European IKEA websites, too, which deal with small spaces. 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 low pullouts 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 logistics, temperment or locale, and clearly that isn't an option for you.)

As far as countertops, I wouldn't look at them as "the" way to save money, short or long term. I think countertops (look, feel, functionality) are vital. Do save money by not trying to have one expensive solid surface throughout--put what's good for what you're going to do, where it is needed, and at the right heights. I think it's fair to say, though, that by doing it yourself with IKEA, you'd have more money to get better countertops, better appliances, better lighting than you otherwise could at any given price point versus the designer/GC/hiring a crew to install a framed cab line for you. You might then more easily be able to cover the cost of seriously upgrading the electrical, adding that second window or second sink, etc. Staying with a regular but good 30" freestanding range might free up even more money put to better use elsewhere. You just might derive more happiness from being able to afford some of these other things instead of spending the extra $$$ on a very upscaled appliance array. Pros and cons no matter which route you take, so dream accordingly.

In our own kitchen/condo remodel we went with multiple surfaces--granite, 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 and no I don't think Corian is any cheaper these days) 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, and I have had to buff out a nick or scratch here and there. We have other surfaces and areas where we work as well, and we're kind of careful with the Corian--whereas we don't think twice about doing anything on or with the granite and stainless.

Now, if I were planning anew, would I at least consider the whitest Zodiaq/composite quartz stuff instead of what we picked, as has been mentioned? Yes, if I could get it close to the same price (and these prices are really gonna vary by color and depending where you live) and if I felt I would be diligent about cleaning the seam of an undermount sink and along the flush right angle edge of a backsplash piece. A lot of people who have had both Corian and st. st. sinks prefer the stainless for long term durability. All I can tell you is the Zodiaq that I've started to see around, is sweet, functionally and practically superior to Corian, granite and marble, if not also aesthetically superior--but that's gonna be very personal anyway. I do like the soft matte quality of the glacier white Corian, and you're right, it's much warmer to the touch than granite, a plus in my book.

We picked up remnant granite cheap--a nice thick 34" to 36" by 26" piece that long is enough of a worksurface for any baker and can sit atop a 30"-36" base cab or island end. Laminate is fine--I don't have that much experience working on it, but we do have two pieces of IKEA Numerar laminate extending out of our kitchen space, 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 as an inexpensive alternative (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.

Quick IKEA lighting comment--we, 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--twice the price but 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, not that I would. 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 works so well she's now thinking she wants a second one up. 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.

Quick floorplan comments:

--love the dedicated baking area--it's just I (personally) dislike the look of those upper corner cabs in general, and, like you, feel strange about the imbalance of just that one corner cab not a matched set. Straight runs of wall cabs on both sides right to the stove wall?

--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.

--if not wall cabs and if not an exhaust hood yet, perhaps just a stainless shelf or two above the stove on that wall

I was also just thinking how amazing that old floor tile--done with small glass tiles--would make as a backsplash behind your stove

And my husband the handy guy pointed out to me the various ways in which face framed cabinets can be easier to deal with

willing to share?

(edited to try to be a little more specific, once I read p.1-SK)

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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...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.

MelissaH

to be continued because I seem to have hit a limit on the number of quotes in a post

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Finishing my thought:

--if not wall cabs and if not an exhaust hood yet, perhaps just a stainless shelf or two above the stove on that wall

I was also just thinking how amazing that old floor tile--done with small glass tiles--would make as a backsplash behind your stove.

Some of my hesitation on putting shelves above the stove relates to not knowing how high-powered a stove we'll have, and what sort of heat it will put out, and what we'd store up there that would not be affected by this potential heat output.

If we could get a mosaic backsplash flat enough to be easy to clean, and with dirt-colored grout, I'd consider it. I like color in my kitchen, and that could be really neat if the light hits it right.

And my husband the handy guy pointed out to me the various ways in which face framed cabinets can be easier to deal with

willing to share?

The two things that I'm remembering right now are:

*With a frame, you have a frame to work with. Since walls aren't usually flat, square, and even, you usually have to make the cabinet fit into the wall. If you have a framed cabinet, you can just scribe and trim the frame to fit in (similar to coping molding). With a frameless cabinet, you can't do that directly to the cabinet frame; you need to instead work with a filler strip, which can be a challenge to get square to everything else.

*Depending on the frameless cabinet, they can be a bugger to keep square. And if a cabinet gets installed out of square, the doors won't close properly and the whole thing looks out of whack. Apparently, installers around here really hate frameless cabinets, and consequently the framed kind are easier to find. Of course, with Ikea cabinets you install them yourself, so there's nobody to blame but yourself!

I'm ready to handle the challenge, especially if it does turn out to give us more money to spend elsewhere without causing major headaches.

MelissaH

Have I bored you all stiff yet, with my musings? :wacko:

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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We've never had a hood that actually vents to the outside

so, that's in the priority column--especially since it'll be easy for you to do

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?

I like how it bakes, it's a small, powerful and fast Sodir and I was given it for doing demo at a show in NYC once. But not because it bakes better--the big Profile convection oven actually is better. My kitchen is just a 7' x 10' galley so everything, really, is in a convenient place for me--I'm 6' 6" so yes I do have to bend down to get into the Profile but standing, bending, it isn't a conscious concern for me. That oven is at eye level for me, though--on an open shelf--it's above the microwave--which is on another shelf below it--yes, that's kind of an industrial/commercial placement, not for everyone--and in the Summer I tend to use them both more just because they heat the house up less. It really has nothing to do with keeping tasks separate, performance or convenience. My wife and I just naturally tend to bake more at home, recreationally, when it's colder--and then my use of the Sodir drops and we use the Profile much more.

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.

I'm not sure I can, either, I just haven't prioritized the time to do those kinds of comparisons. What I do personally believe is this, a good cook can cook well on anything halfway decent and I don't think good cooks need more than prosumer type capabilities. But, as far as what I've observed or quantified, I really can just speak about the Profile, and I've written about it in other posts: when Rosengarten, that once interesting television host and now annoying newsletter pitch man, did a review of a bunch of very high end stoves--he listed the exact Consumer Reports-like tests he did in order to try to compare performance objectively--like timing how long it took to boil x amount of cold water in a y quart stainless steel stockpot, covered, on their power burner. So I did them on a lark with our Profile--which was too inexpensive to be in the group Rosengarten tested--and which my wife had already bought anyway based on looks, the big convection oven, the continuous grates and the great deal she got. It kicked butt over most of the high end stuff four times the price. I haven't once wished I had more heat output--but then we're pastry chefs and tend not to flame and flare stuff up, even when we cook food--and we don't wok/stir fry. If you do that a lot, maybe you would prefer one of those higher end cooktops that have a power burner with a reversible metal grate--the kind the you flip over and is curved to cradle your wok. That might be a worthy upscale in terms of safety and performance. But in general, my sense for home cooks would be spend more for looks and perception, not because you'll gain such clear performance differences.

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.

That's where looking at a lot of their display kitchens helps, you see how they do it--most of the time it seems they pad widthwise with cover panels, or cut strips from cover panels--and you can decide if that is worth it to you. I've disliked most of the attempts at this that their installers have done, just fyi. I tend not to like the complete built-in look anyway, I dislike toekicks, so I don't bother or have designed around it. I've seen their matching molding used to give a more framed, more built-in look, above the cabinets as well--but for me, the most I'll do is frame a cabinet with an edge of thin cover panel above and below, flush with the door and side cover panel. I also don't make any attempt to hide the under-cabinet lights, but that can be done as well with squared off strips of molding.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Have I bored you all stiff yet, with my musings?  :wacko:

Not at all, your thoughfulness is very helpful to those of us in a similar situation. I've been dragging my feet for months over the direction of my own kitchen redesign, despite having suggested drawings from a half-dozen different architect friends. In the end it's a very personal decision-making process (which admittedly would be easier if budget weren't an issue).


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My wife and I just naturally tend to bake more at home, recreationally, when it's colder--and then my use of the Sodir drops and we use the Profile much more.

I usually don't have much of an issue baking through the summer. Even now, I don't mind firing up the oven, as long as it isn't one of those days when you wake up and it's already sticky and 85 out. (None of my friends here have AC; we just don't need it for enough of the year to get it, and many of the houses have baseboard heat without ducts.) Summer's when school's out, and when I have the time to play and experiment more. But baking during the school year has its advantages too: it stays cooler in the house so I don't have to be up at the crack of dawn, and there are more people around to help eat what I make and preserve my waistline.

I haven't done as much baking as I'd like since moving here two years ago, in large part because I hate this oven so much. I hate this one even more than I hated the smaller oven we left behind in Ohio, because this one's so much more uneven. I'm very much looking forward to when our friend Anne gets her kitchen settled, because she's got a beautiful new dual-fuel range (no continuous grates, alas) waiting for the plumber to come tomorrow morning and run the new gas line into the kitchen. I've already told her that I'm coming to cook at her house because her stove's nicer than mine. My workspace is better even now, though. :laugh:

On the bright side, I've figured out how to make this oven cook an acceptable spinach souffle, and it does have a window so you can look in and see just how unevenly things are cooking. I can usually do an adequate pie in it as long as I use a glass pan so I know when to move it down to the quarry tiles that live on the bottom shelf. I turn out decent (but not excellent) bread. But forget cakes. Even cakes that work elsewhere don't work in this oven. I can even go for a little while without remembering just how miserable the oven is, if I don't go visiting.

when Rosengarten, that once interesting television host and now annoying newsletter pitch man, did a review of a bunch of very high end stoves--he listed the exact Consumer Reports-like tests he did in order to try to compare performance objectively--like timing how long it took to boil x amount of cold water in a y quart stainless steel stockpot, covered, on their power burner.  So I did them on a lark with our Profile--which was too inexpensive to be in the group Rosengarten tested--and which my wife had already bought anyway based on looks, the big convection oven, the continuous grates and the great deal she got.  It kicked butt over most of the high end stuff four times the price.

<rant>

I looked through the latest Consumer Reports buying guide, and found their qualitative ratings to be useless. Call me a geek (I do!) but if you're talking about something quantitative like heat output, I want to see numbers! Don't just tell me that a given cooktop did a "very good" job at bringing water to a boil, but tell me how much water, in what size pot, at what temperature, and how long it took, fer cryin' out loud! Don't just tell me that Model ABC of oven was only "good" on evenness of baking a pan of cooking, show me a picture! If you're going to test a burner's low heat capacity by using it to melt chocolate without scorching, tell me more about what you did: was the chocolate chunked up first, or did you just toss in a big Hershey's Special Dark bar? Did you stir the melting chocolate? How much chocolate in what size and weight pan, and did you wait to pull it off the heat until the whole thing was liquid, or did you take it off sooner and let a little carryover finish the job? (This is one job I tend to use the microwave for, actually. It's one of the few microwave tasks for us that isn't just reheating leftovers.) And if you're telling me what the reliability of these ranges is, don't just give me a qualitative ranking from excellent to poor, tell me how many repair calls were made per given number of units, on average. If a student handed me a lab report that read like the Consumer Reports article, discussing quantitative information without quantitative evidence, I wouldn't accept it!

</rant>

I haven't once wished I had more heat output--but then we're pastry chefs and tend not to flame and flare stuff up, even when we cook food--and we don't wok/stir fry.  If you do that a lot, maybe you would prefer one of those higher end cooktops that have a power burner with a reversible metal grate--the kind the you flip over and is curved to cradle your wok.  That might be a worthy upscale in terms of safety and performance.  But in general, my sense for home cooks would be spend more for looks and perception, not because you'll gain such clear performance differences.

I like heat. If we both get home starving at 7:30 after a long day, I want to be able to very quickly bring a pot of pasta water to a boil. On the rare occasions that I can get a hold of a steak worthy of such treatment, I like to get a cast-iron pan ripping hot and toss that hunk of cow in. I like being able to get some good Maillard action on stew meat before it turns into stew-in-progress. I also like being able to do a good stir-fry indoors. When we stir-fry on a stove, we actually use a flat-bottomed pan because it works better for us. But when we want to do some serious wokking, we actually head for the garage. My husband is a homebrewer, which means that he regularly heats large quantities of water, the quicker the better. For this, he has a 180,000 BTU propane burner. And this burner does marvelous things for a wok, especially one with a reasonably long handle. No home stove, even a pro-style wok burner, is going to touch this. (On TV not long ago, we saw someone going into ecstasy over her stove and it's 15,000 BTU burner for her wok. Not only did this seem like a laughable amount of heat for a wok to us, the burner held the wok so far above the flame that there's no way she was getting much of the heat it did put out.)

But by the same token, I like to have the control to simmer that stew meat long and slow after it's been browned. On a relaxed day, I like to be able to cook a big batch of tomato sauce to freeze without having to clean a scorched pot afterwards. I sometimes make risotto for dinner. And I even sometimes make creme anglaise and lemon curd when the mood strikes. My point: super-high heat isn't everything for me, although there are times when I want it.

I remember when I first moved into a house equipped with a gas stove (as cheap as they get, with pilot lights for the burners and the oven with the broiler pan underneath), after cooking on electric coils all my life. After a stage when I burned everything that wasn't cooked in a ton of water, I finally learned that gas gets hot faster than electric, especially older electric. I also occasionally had an issue with not getting things cooked the way I wanted, because I'd turn the gas down to soon and wait for the non-existent carryover from the hot electric coil. I was a graduate student then, and for about a week I was miffed at myself for wrecking my dinner (and consequently the next day's lunch). Once I got over that, I didn't burn much for the more than three years I lived in that house. But then we moved to Ohio and the cooktop was a flat-top electric model. Once again, I burned everything at the beginning: I'd turn a burner on, get impatient with it for not heating as fast as I thought it should, turn up the heat, and eventually it would get hotter than I wanted it. After I regained my patience at the stove, I did mostly fine.

I foresee a trip to Sears the next time we're in Syracuse, since that's generally a decent place to look at a lot of brands of appliances like stoves, and a lot of models in each brand. And also a trip to Anne's kitchen with thermometer and stopwatch once her stove is connected, to see how well one modern home dual-fuel range works.

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.

That's where looking at a lot of their display kitchens helps, you see how they do it--most of the time it seems they pad widthwise with cover panels, or cut strips from cover panels--and you can decide if that is worth it to you. I've disliked most of the attempts at this that their installers have done, just fyi. I tend not to like the complete built-in look anyway so I don't bother or have designed around it. I've seen their crown molding used to give a more framed, more built-in look, above the cabinets as well--but me, the most I'll do is an edge of thin cover panel above and below, even with the door and side panel. I also don't make any attempt to hide the under-cabinet lights but that can be done as well with squared off strips of molding.

Ah, that's what I don't remember explicitly looking at during our last trip to New Haven. At the time, I guess I didn't realize it might be an issue. But now that you mention it, I can see how it would work. I'm guessing you could get a lot of filler out of one cabinet door.

One of these days, I'll see if our new ceiling fixture is set such that your shadow falls onto your work area. It's still summery enough that when I'm working in the kitchen, there's plenty of natural light. The way our designs keep coming out, we continue to have work areas without wall cabinets overhead, and therefore work areas that couldn't have undercabinet task lighting.

MelissaH

edited to fix where my brain got ahead of my fingers

Edited by MelissaH (log)

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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If you're going to test a burner's low heat capacity by using it to melt chocolate without scorching it, tell me more about what you did: was the chocolate chunked up first, or did you just toss in a big Hershey's Special Dark bar? Did you stir the melting chocolate? How much chocolate in what size and weight pan, and did you wait to pull it off the heat until the whole thing was liquid, or did you take it off sooner and let a little carryover finish the job?

you're demonstrating that there's a little chemist in every pastry chef and a little pastry chef in every chemist. my sense is, you're going to agonize over all the details just fine and find out exactly what you need to know about every issue. and that'll keep people invested, reading along. win-win.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Melissa, I did two kitchen remodels (one almost a total gut, one cosmetic) within 18 months of each other.

There is good advice above.

My biggest piece of advice. Seriously think everything through. I knew when I moved into this new house, that great counters were paramount. I had lived with laminate, and the chips, etc. long enough. The "leatherette" textured countertops (read clean with a toothbrush) counters that were chipped and cigarette burns were actually a selling point. I opted for granite because I love the look, and the cool, clean feeling. After looking high and low at counters, I approached a monument company about making countertops, which is a biz they were getting into, and they were only 30% more than laminate.

Think long and hard about having a nice long countertop. I went from limitless counters (we downsized in kitchen, upsized in number of bathrooms and bedrooms, which is imporant in our case). The longest span I have is 35.5", which just sucks.

Look at the whole pik. We looked at all sorts of alternatives for this new house, which has a tiny kitchen, but a big dining room. For us, the big dining room was a plus, because at least twice a week, we have at least 8 at the table. So, giving up the Special Family Table and the space was not an option, but storing stuff that doesn't fit into the laundry room cupboards did.

I'm lucky in that we had no alternative but to replace all of our appliances when we moved in. The dishwasher leaked (from the top, no less), the oven wouldn't go over 350, and the freezer was missing part of the gasket.

I opted not for a pro 36" range because I wanted to preserve what counter space I had, and because I wanted to save money for the counters and the HVAC system we need. When it comes to looking at cooktops/ranges, nothing wrong with taking some of your pans to the store and pretend cooking. They will know you are serious.

Floor. I've had ceramic, hardwood, and pergo. I'm going CVT next time.

That second oven. It reminds me of our former house. We had a second oven. It died. We sat back and thought about actually how often we'd used it. Made a real list. Then realized that since we were in the middle of finishing an un-finished basement, we could use that power down in the basement, and save a big bill (we actually do our own elec and plumbing).

Think long and hard. Don't rush into anything. Sure, in this house, I will redo the kitchen at some point, with a new layout and new cabinets and cupboards. But, I know I waited a long time to redo it in our former house, and it was worth the wait.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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just one comments, as you seem to think of most things :smile: :

i feel that one should not have any very hard surfaces in one's kitchens, be it sink, countertops or og floors. for me, that rules out marble or granite or tiles. sure, they look chic, but stone and ceramic can be very tough on your cookware, glasses, plates, knives etc.

only exception is a granite slab for rolling out dough.

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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Here's Version 2.1 of the kitchen (I didn't post v2.0), very different from Versions 1.x described upthread, as planned by my husband in Ikea's software and then twiddled by me in Photoshop, and based on the revelation that the sink doesn't need to be under the window. We also wondered if there was perhaps another place to put the fridge. This is what he came up with:

gallery_23869_1329_5644.jpg

And since this really doesn't give a great view of things, here are a couple of 3D views the program generated. We gave the cabinets the inset-panel birch veneer finish, since that's the Ikea finish that we're both most strongly drawn to. The first view would be what you'd see if you stood just about in the sliding door opening, and the outside wall of the house were transparent:

gallery_23869_1329_2296.jpg

and the second would be if you were Superman and could fly up above and use your X-ray vision to see through the ceiling (and ignore whatever else is in the attic):

gallery_23869_1329_3094.jpg

The hugest pro of this arrangement, from what I can see, is that there's now a very long unbroken stretch of cabinets along that inside wall (8 feet worth). This goes along with what snowangel just added. If we wanted a separate oven or an additional oven, that could be put underneath the countertop here, at the expense of some storage space. My husband keeps saying that it's up to me whether I want a second oven, but I don't think that's exclusively the case!

In this arrangement, there's also only one corner with cabinetry. And the stove is back on the outside wall of the house, which should help with ventilation for the hood overhead.

Additionally, the main sink is now down closer to the table, so we don't need a secondary sink. And the dishwasher is now also closer to the table, which means that everything with the dishes (washing, using, and storing) will happen close to each other and we won't need to haul them around the room. But I wonder if we'd have congestion issues with too many people wanting to get into the same sink. (The original design had a secondary sink tucked into the short stretch of countertop next to the fridge. I got rid of that because I didn't think a sink there would be of tremendous use, and because I didn't want a sink bowl in my refrigerator landing space.)

But:

*There's definitely some weirdness going on with the upper cabinets, especially around the fridge. Some of this is due to shortcomings in the Ikea design software, but we'll definitely need to do something different than what's shown here.

*The distance from sink to fridge may be too long. Maybe it would be a good idea to have a second sink to cut this down to a more reasonable length, but right now I don't know where a good place (not in the way of other things) would be.

*I want to measure the overall counter space in this design and compare it to the overall counter space in Versions 1.x. If we want to be able to open the refrigerator, we'll need to leave the wall between it and the side doorway without cabinets except maybe some really high ones, and I want to know exactly what we'd be sacrificing.

*I just realized: this kitchen has no tall pantry cabinet. Might be able to put one in between wall and fridge.

*I was kind of getting into the idea of a baking corner, which can't exist in this design because there's only the one corner in the kitchen. (And I thought the swing-up/down surface would be really neat too.) The best we could do with this arrangement is designate a portion of counter somewhere else (probably somewhere on the long counter) as the baking area, and store the appropriate goods (food and hardware) in that area. But if we wind up with a range, that puts my baking area further from the oven than I'd like.

*Is the dishwasher too close to the entrance from the deck? I wonder if we'd want to round or slant that corner of the countertop, as a potential gut-saver. The door opening ends just about where the floor transitions now. If the DW is right at the end there or if the countertop is otherwise taken right to that edge with a 90° corner, I worry that it will give too closed-in a feeling, and lead to people coming in the door, trying to turn the corner to soon, and OOOOF! :wacko: especially if the DW door isn't completely closed.

The idea of moving the sink away from the window has some merit, because once we get a dishwasher we'll be spending much less time standing in front of the sink (I hope). Must think more about possible permutations, and refrigerator placement.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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just one comments, as you seem to think of most things  :smile: :

i feel that one should not have any very hard surfaces in one's kitchens, be it sink, countertops or og floors. for me, that rules out marble or granite or tiles. sure, they look chic, but stone and ceramic can be very tough on your cookware, glasses, plates, knives etc.

only exception is a granite slab for rolling out dough.

Oraklet,

We're with you on not wanting a hard floor. But for us, a "hard" countertop isn't a problem. We both grew up in houses where it would have been unthinkable to cut on anything other than a cutting board, and as a result we now have a multitude of cutting boards. (Besides, we like our knives too much to use them on anything that would do them harm. :smile: ) Anything so fragile that it would be broken just from being put on a hard surface won't survive our normal usage anyway. And if something falls from wall cabinet height, then oh well: if the hard countertop doesn't do it in, the distance to the softer floor probably will.

I've ruled out a traditional tile counter for another reason: grout. I don't want to have to keep it clean, and if I'm spending a small fortune on a countertop, I'd like to be able to roll my piecrust directly on it. I am curious, though, if there's a way to get a stone tile countertop flat and smooth enough that dough won't get crisscross lines.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Just make sure you'll be able to open up the refrigerator door all the way to allow you to open your crisper drawers. That's a drawback of putting it in the corner. And if you swap the hinges, then you're sort of trapped with nowhere to put the food.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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