Christine and Pierre's Kitchen: Firming Up The Design

Renovation Diary

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Name: Christine & Pierre
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Type of building: Ground floor apartment of a triplex, 1,100 square feet

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

This was our official pause week. We had always planned to take a moment at this stage to firm up the design, now that the beams are installed and we can really get a sense of the space. Our kitchen is still functional, so we can afford to take a step back here without feeling too rushed.

I've been working on the design of the space for months. Because the space is so long, it seems like anything should be possible. But even with the pantry gone, there are a number of obstacles in that affect the layout. The wall-mounted radiators and low windows prevent us from putting cabinets on one wall, and the space is pretty narrow – too narrow for an island. The beams represented the latest design challenge, and I was just too close to the design to see clearly. 

We are doing the design for the space mostly ourselves, but I wanted an expert second opinion, so we worked with our talented friend Annika Krausz to firm up the design. I can't overstate how useful it was to work with a pro, even just for a few hours, and I would encourage people embarking on major kitchen rearrangements to put aside some money in their budget for this. I had convinced myself the layout needed to be a certain way after starting too long at the floorplan, and Annika was able to come in and give me a fresh look at how the space (particularly the beams) should be influencing the plan. It also helped a lot with decision paralysis, which I suffer from!

I had become too attached to the idea of an island, even a tiny one, and because it would really only fit at one end comfortably, I was designing the entire space around it rather than letting the space dictate something more logical. But the installation of the beams really meant that putting tall objects on that back wall would create a cavernous, awkward space in the ceiling between the tall item and the back of the beam. So we moved all the tall items to a full-height pantry wall, and kept the space under the beams without uppers entirely. It seems obvious in retrospect, but a mental block was preventing me from considering this option.

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Our electrical plan (drawn by me). Harder than I thought it would be. Yellow is recessed lighting, the red is for outlets, and the orange dots represent pendant lights. 

I was also able to go over a proposed lighting and electrical plan with Annika. I've never done one before, and she was able to give really valuable advice about light placement and alignment. This had a ton of details that were way more challenging than I would have imagined, like switch placement and the spacing of lights.

Being able to consult a pro had a few additional benefits I didn't foresee. I could run certain ideas by her to see if they seemed smart or crazy, like running the new section of floor in the other direction to emphasize rather than hide the visual difference between the floors, given it wouldn't be an exact match (Annika suggested the same thing so that was a relief). There were also ideas that Pierre and I weren't in agreement on — like the possibility of a counter-height desk instead of a lowered one — that all of a sudden seemed okay when the pro suggested it. Heheh.

We also made the call this week to push back the final demo by a week. There are still details to be finalized and we didn't want to start the momentum of the final demolition until they're a little more firmed up. Disappointing, but this way our demo will fall over a long weekend, and I have a feeling we'll need it.

Estimated time for project: 12 weeks
Time remaining: 10 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for #7 of Christine and Pierre's Diary.

(Images and diary text: Christine Zoltok)

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Renovation Diary: Christine & Pierre's Kitchen

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