Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More Light for a Dark Kitchen

My nickname for the house when we first visited it during an open house was The Cave. The house has some nice light, but the lot is heavily wooded and flat, beige or cream paint doesn't do much to bounce light around. The kitchen was especially dark despite huge sliding doors that led to a sunroom off the "eat in" area.


When our realty, Jim Duncan, asked me what our first project would be, I told him I was taking cabinets down. I think Marc thought I was joking.

Eventually, we'll completely renovate the kitchen in the house. With new appliances and counters, albeit ugly ones, that are only five years old, the kitchen functions well and I'm fine with spending our time in other rooms for now. I also think that living in the house for a while will give us some ideas about how to use our space better.

While the kitchen functions, I didn't see myself spending much time there in its condition. A few projects would help a lot.

On our second day of ownership, I was cleaning the cabinets and decided to just get what was in my mind done. I started by taking the doors off the cabinet that was cutting the kitchen in half. After that, I slid the shelves out and was left with a hulking cabinet frame. I'm kind of glad to have cut down on my cleaning just a little bit.


Once Marc showed up with a load of boxes, I didn't give him any time to question what was happening. One of our stools fit almost perfectly between the counter and the bottom of the cabinet, so we slid that in place just in case the whole thing came crashing down as we worked. After unscrewing what seemed like at least two dozen screws, the cabinet base came down with a thud.



Marc was SO happy that we were able to get the entire bank of them down without destroying them. One of our pet peeves is when the people on HGTV take a sledgehammer to perfectly functioning cabinets. Marc's going to put them on Craigslist for free or take them to the Habitat store unless someone who is reading this could use them for a garage or workshop. Want a big bank of cabinets? Let me know in the comments.


 You guys are great, but put the sledgehammers down!

By the weight of them and solid construction, these cabinets were pretty good quality when the house was built back in 1974.


 


We were left with a big break in the plaster work on the ceiling, but the kitchen felt much less cave-like than before. Marc immediately commented on the amazing difference in how the room felt. 




My next task to extend the life of this kitchen will be painting the cabinets. Amazingly, it's hard to find many examples of kitchens with the same quartz counters, so I'm left to do what we did in the pre-Pinterest days. I'm working through my fan decks to zero in on the colors that I'll eventually sample. So primitive, I know.
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21 comments:

  1. Yes! No problem! I will find extra pieces if needed!

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  2. Makes sense to me! :-) Like I said, definitely looks better, and if you don't have much stuff right now, that's even better!

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  3. I hate kitchen cabinets that block the light or block a clear view across the room. What a perfect first project! I could believe how much brighter our kitchen got when we took down the wall cabinets on either side of the window.

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  4. Oh, I guess I meant, do people do that in "real life" when they're not in front of cameras? Or is that just some gimmick HGTV invented as a shock factor?

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  5. *kitchen. also note that the construction of the old cabinets is a lot better than many new construction homes, much more solid and durable.

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  6. my parent's took those cabinets out of their as well many years ago. they lost some storage space but nothing crazy. it opens up the kitchen so much! my dad took the cabinet and installed it in their garage for use as storage. now there are things like paint buckets and such in there. i don't think using them in the garage was completely necessary but it did re-purpose them instead of sending them off to the dump (this was a time before craigslist and getting rid of them wasn't as easy). i'll probably end up taking them down one day and end up using them in my studio for storage because i'm sentimental like that. good luck! the kitchen is already looking better!

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  7. It looks so much better! And, I love that you didn't destroy the cabinets, someone else will get some great use out of them. I haaaate when HGTV shows destroy perfectly good things, it breaks my little recycling loving heart.

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  8. @Kelsey // It Takes Two I've been following your kitchen project!



    I painted the cabinets in the condo a few years ago and it took forever! I was convinced to use a very good enamel paint, but it required so many thin coats to cover. I think I did 7-8 coats on the doors!



    This time, I'm just sticking with my tried and true Aura paint. It doesn't have to be indestructible. It just has to get us through a few years.



    The ceiling stuff is coming! :)

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  9. @Dama Seriously? You can have them! The only catch is that you'll need screws to attach the cabinets to the ceiling/wall and a bunch of little ones to put the doors back on. I foolishly swept them into a box when I took the doors off and I think that box might have gone to the curb.

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  10. @Anne Marie I did! I love the look, but I worried that it would throw the balance off in the room. When we are ready for a real renovation, I think we'll revisit that idea.

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  11. @jennithib Maybe it's because we moved from a 785 square foot condo, but there's more than enough space for us! There are cabinets wrapped around the rest of the room and thus far (the blog is about a week behind "real time", but I'm hoping to get to present day soon) we have only used the first two shelves in each cabinet except for the ones over the fridge, which are empty. We aren't using any of the lower cabinets yet (just the drawers).


    Reading that back, it's definitely because we lived in the condo. We don't have much stuff! There's a lot of empty space in the house. :)

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  12. @Mariel C. I wanted to take them down on day 1, but I needed Marc. Poor Marc...he showed up and I just sprung the whole thing on him. He's such a good sport!

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  13. @Dana @ Style Forth HGTV is notorious for it! It's almost a ritual for the homeowner to take the first swing. It's crazy!

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  14. Ugh, I hate it when those HGTV shows sledgehammer perfectly good items too. My biggest pet peeve is when they do it to toilets/sinks/bathtubs. Such a waste, and such a bigger mess for them to clean up! They probably have production crew that does the actual clean-up so they don't have to worry about it, but still.

    We're in the midst of painting our kitchen cabinets right now, and it is a HUGE undertaking. What a pain in the butt. But it's making such a huge difference in the way our dark, cavernous kitchen feels already that I know I'll be glad we did it when it's all over. I bet yours will look lovely painted!

    I'll be interested to see how you patch that area in the ceiling. We have the same swirly texture on ours, and there's a doorway between rooms we're considering opening up, but doing so would create a similar spot on the ceiling that would need patched. I'm worried about being able to match the texture on the patch to the rest of the ceiling.

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  15. I would love those for my basement art room! Loving reading the progress of your move!

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  16. Did you consider taking all of the cabinets on that side down and putting up shelves? I think that would make the room so much brighter.

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  17. Amazing what a small change does for that kitchen. Nice work!

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  18. It looks better down, but I can't help but think of the storage that you lost. I know someone who replaced the solid doors on that type of cabinet with glass doors. It gave her the needed storage but let the light through... It's hard to not "do it all" or at least want to do it all right away. Good luck! I look forward to more pictures and updates!

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  19. Yay! I was waiting to see when you were going to take them down. Can't wait to see what's next!

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  20. Good idea! That really did open up the space.
    Does anyone really take a sledgehammer to that stuff?!? Old cabinets do work pretty well in garages. There was an old water-damaged bathroom vanity sitting in the garage when I bought my old house and I decided to keep it. Just slapped a big piece of plywood on top, and it because a work area plus extra storage.

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