18 Apr, 2013
Fishbowl Reno post #55 – mostly about the kitchen
Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno
I’m slowly coming to the end of what has officially become The Longest Series Ever here on the Fishbowl.The remaining posts will be a summary of each room. Each post will contain as much information as I can possibly share. If I have regrets I will mention them, as well as things that make me happy. I hope someone out there can learn from our mistakes and that I can make someone’s home renovation a little easier. If you have questions, ask! I can even snap an additional photo if you need a closer peek at something.
As some of you know I do some freelance writing in the home/home reno category. Every time I write an article I practically have to sit on hands to prevent myself from using kitchen-related clichés such as “the kitchen is the heart of the home.” But here’s the thing, it’s cliché because it’s true. The kitchen really IS the heart of the home and and parties ALWAYS end up in the kitchen. I wonder if it’s because the kitchen where nourishment of our loved ones happens, so subconsciously it’s been everyone’s happy place since they were small. Food is love. And it stands to reason that kitchens are LOVE too, right?
Unlike the last reno post (which was about the mudroom) I decided to incorporate a short video walkthough this time. Please note that I don’t sound nearly as breathless in real life.
I know a bunch of you out there have been info-gathering about your own kitchen renovations, so here’s my kitchen advice to you:
- If you’re planning a kitchen reno, tear out pictures out of magazines and keep them in a folder. You can also start a Pinterest board and file away all your great ideas there. After awhile you’ll start noticing some patterns. For me, this pattern appeared in the shape of a classic black and white kitchen. I knew it could be no other! Following your pattern will narrow it down and help you decide what style of kitchen you’d like.
- Should you opt for a classic or modern kitchen? Design is a very personal thing, and it depends on your tastes of course, but a small part of me thinks that “modern” is just another word for “trendy.” I’ve seen some stunning contemporary kitchens, but I personally think “modern” actually means “modern at this point in time,” and as a result it will stop being modern sooner than later. I think (I hope!) that a more traditional design has more staying power, which is why we chose the style we did. A black and white kitchen doesn’t have to be stark or overly formal either. You can easily add pops of trendy colours, (i.e. dishtowels, vases, bowls etc) and switch them out when you’re bored of them.
- Should you opt for an Ikea kitchen, or something custom? We really struggled with this and gave it a lot of thought. I’ve seen a lot of gorgeous Ikea kitchens, but from what I’ve heard they only have a lifespan of 10 years or so. And since I don’t want to renovate ever again, we spent a bit extra for custom. It wasn’t really that much more than an Ikea kitchen either. It may be worth mentioning that we didn’t hire a designer. Our architect designed the general area and Bob from BCR Woodworking did the detail work.
- Kitchens need light, and plenty of it, so make sure your lighting is AWESOME. I love task lighting under the cabinets. We have lots of pot lights too. Lighting is one of those aspects of a reno that can really add up. You can spend an arm and a leg on lighting but you don’t need to. Multi Luminaire had some good deals, and Lowe’s had some surprisingly nice stuff too. Other lighting in the house we bought at The Electrical and Plumbing store in Bell’s Corners.
- When you’re planning your kitchen, imagine yourself doing everyday tasks and then ask yourself, where is the toaster going to go? The kettle? The coffee maker? Plan your outlets carefully and then put in an extra one. So many people I’ve interviewed about their kitchen renovations have had outlet regret!
- Really think about the things that you own and how frequently you use them. High frequency items like big frying pans and baking sheets should be stored close at hand. Things you don’t use very often, like decorative serving trays, extra cutlery, etc can be stored elsewhere. For example, we have a large ice-cream maker we only use a couple times a year so we didn’t bother to plan storage for it upstairs. It’s in the basement at the bottom of the stairs. So is the toaster oven. No biggie.
- Deep drawers are the BEST. Do you have a lot of pots and pans? Plan for some heavy duty drawers that are really deep. You’ll be amazed at how much you can stack in a deep drawer. I forgot to show you the giant drawer that’s in the island underneath the microwave. I just love it.
- Really think about what bugs you about your current space. Let’s look at kitchen garbage for example. Why is it traditionally under the sink? It drove me bonkers when I was washing the dishes and always had to step aside to let someone in there to throw something out. Now it’s in the island, along with glass and plastics recycling. (Our compost bin is kept under the sink by the way, so soggy drain drippings can be tossed right in there.)
- Do yourself a favour and plan a kitchen that is easy to clean. I didn’t mention this in the video, but I LOVE having an undermounted sink. Being able to sweep crumbs right in there without having them getting stuck in the lip of a sink is a blessing.
- Granite v. quartz? We were originally going to go for quartz because of its famed durability, but once I saw our slab in the yard at Arban Terrazzo Marble & Tile I knew that quartz wasn’t going to cut it. Our counter is black with specks of brown and gold and veins of white crystal. It’s like looking into outer space. I love it. It’s glossy, so it’s not the easiest to keep streak-free, but I finally found a way that works. I picked up some granite cleaning cloths at terra20. They come in a pair. You run one of them under warm water, squeeze it out, and wipe down the counter. Then you follow it up with the other cloth (it’s dry) to get a streak-free shine. These cloths are a minor miracle.
So here’s the big question: would I change anything about our kitchen design? There was a point in time when we weren’t sure whether they’d be enough space around the island, but when it all came together we realized the spacing was just fine. I am slightly annoyed by our exhaust fan. I’m glad we have one – it vents directly to the outdoors and has made a big difference – but it’s a bit too loud, especially on the higher settings. I also wish we’d planned for a broom closet exactly like this. Oh well. :)
Tomorrow I will share a few extra details about our breakfast bar. It’s gorgeous, and it’s become such a major part of our living space that I can’t believe we ever lived without it. Stay tuned!