Dan's Kitchen: Decisions, Decisions

Renovation Diary

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Name: Dan Bailey
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: East Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Type of building: 2nd Floor Condo in a Greek-Revival Row House

The Renovation Diaries are a 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 is my first major home renovation project. But in spite of this almost complete lack of experience, I really want to make sure I get it right, and don’t make any hasty decisions that I’ll come to regret later. With this in mind, I decided to take a break this week to reassess the kitchen’s layout and my overall plans for the space.

The revised layout from IKEA's kitchen planner software. I've left out filler pieces, and a cut-down cabinet, which will fill the gap next to the range. I'm also planning to modify the upper cabinets to make a blind corner. The fridge will go in that alcove in the lower right corner.
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My plan all along has been to install an L-shaped kitchen. I think this layout is the most efficient way to use the available space. Because of the current location of the plumbing and a number of other factors, it makes most sense to put the range along the short end of the L. But this wall is just under six feet long and is bookended by two other perpendicular walls. It’s a tight fit no matter how you look at it.

So I’ve decided to go with a 24 inch range to free up some space. I really want to avoid the situation I originally had in this kitchen, where the range was stuffed in a corner with no counter space around it. The 24 inch range will allow me to have some counter space on either side, giving me a place to put down hot pans and baking sheets. I think 24 inch ranges tend to get a bad rap, partly because a lot of 24 inch ranges are inexpensive, lower-quality ranges meant for use in tiny rental apartments or vacation homes. Apparently, it’s only been within the past few years that range manufacturers have begun to introduce higher-quality 24 inch models to the American market. Some people are also turned off by the limitations of a smaller oven and cooktop. While I was looking into smaller range options, I came across a lot of online reviews that cited the inability to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner with a 24 inch range as a deal breaker. But I’m not planning to roast a turkey anytime soon, and I generally cook for two on a day-to-day basis, so I think the smaller size will suit me well.

I originally planned to put the range next to a blind corner cabinet, which would center it along the short wall. But when I visited IKEA this past weekend and showed my layout to a salesperson in the kitchen department, he advised against this setup. He was worried that the drawer on the blind corner cabinet would hit the handle on the range, preventing the drawer from opening fully. After some careful measuring, I later decided that the range would fit in this location, but I began to question whether it would be comfortable to cook while standing in a corner up against another cabinet. So I began looking into another option using IKEA’s lazy susan corner cabinet. This layout allows for 12 inches of counter space between the corner and range, but leaves an awkward 10 inch gap on the other side of the range. I’m currently planning to go with this lazy susan corner cabinet layout. I’ll cut down a 12 inch cabinet to fill the 10 inch gap next to the range. I’m probably doing a terrible job explaining these layouts, so if none of this made sense, I’ve drawn close-ups of this corner of the kitchen showing the two layouts (which are shown above).

I also went appliance shopping this week. If you’ve been following along, you might remember that I already got a great deal on a dishwasher on Craigslist, but I still needed a fridge and a range. Before I visited the appliance store, I had narrowed my options down to three gas ranges – the 24 inch models from Fisher & Paykel, Verona, and Bertazzoni, all of which seem to be high-quality, good-looking ranges. But I was sold on the Bertazzoni when I found out that they’re currently offering a free range hood with the purchase of a range. As for the fridge, I decided on a french door, counter-depth model from Fisher & Paykel. In order to fit the fridge in the small alcove space I’ve set aside for it, I needed to buy a 32-inch-wide counter depth model, so my options were fairly limited, and fairly expensive. In fact, I ended up spending a little more on the fridge and the range than I had hoped. But having high quality appliances will pay off in the long run in terms of energy savings, durability, and an improved cooking experience. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway. The next order of business is a trip to IKEA to pick up the cabinets, and then back to actual work on the kitchen.

Before and after pictures of a section of repaired plaster. Top: After I removed some wallpaper, I was left with a mess. Bottom: After reattaching the plaster to the lathe, skim coating the surface with joint compound, priming, and painting, the wall looks presentable.
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I didn’t want to end this post without showing you any real progress, so I’ll take this opportunity to share some of the work I’ve done in the dining room. The kitchen opens into the dining room, and I’m hoping to better integrate the two spaces during this renovation. So far I’ve repaired the plaster walls and painted 3/4 of the room pale gray (Moonshine from Benjamin Moore). There's some ugly textured plaster around the fireplace, so I'm planning to skim coat that to a smooth surface before I paint that wall.

The current view of the dining room from the kitchen.
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Estimated time for project: 12 weeks
Time remaining: 8 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for installment #8 of Dan's Kitchen Renovation.

(Images and diary text: Dan Bailey)

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