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Old 03-31-2009, 07:28 PM   #1
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Help Re-Do My Kitchen

After years of renting, we are finally buying our own house in Costa Rica. It's a well-maintained older home with lots of character and possibilities. The current owners aren't really into cooking and entertaining and the kitchen isn't really set up the way I need it, since I do a lot of both. Mostly the problem is that there's not enough work space or storage.

With the cost of purchase and other necessary work (we have to add another bedroom and bath), I really don't have much money to spend on the kitchen. Fortunately, it's a great space and I have several ideas for re-doing it that aren't going to cost much. I'd love to have feedback on my current ideas as well as any other suggestions.

Here are the photos, along with my ideas:












As you can see, the kitchen is large, 12ftx20ft, with a vaulted exposed beam ceiling and an arched entry into the dining room. They use the rear part of the room (to the right of the arch) as an office but I plan to convert to informal family dining using the square wood table from the dining room.

I'll replace the refrigerator with mine, a large white side-by-side, and plan to move it down the wall to the left as much as necessary. To the right of the refrigerator, I'll put in a 30 inch double door pantry cabinet. It's one of the cheap white laminate storage cabinets like they sell in Walmart, Target, etc, but is in good condition and is "free" since I already have it. It the right of the pantry will be a 24in x 16 in ceramic topped kitchen cart with wire storage bins for produce. The garbage can will stay where it is.

No changes to be made to the wall with the sink and cabinets, except that I plan to refinish the cabinets and replace all the hardware.

The stove will be replaced with a white 30 inch GE electric range which I also already own. The ugly exhaust hood will remain, but I plan to install a wood shelf over it to give it more of a finished look.

To the right of the range, the bookcase will be replaced by a 3 or 4 ft wood work table, with an open storage shelf underneath and pot racks overhead (and perhaps on the wall behind it).

The rear of the kitchen, where the desk and printer are now, will become the informal family dining area.

I also have a 24 inch square butcher block table which I plan to use as a small work island in the center of the kitchen.

What do you think? Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions? How about colors? Should I refinish the cabinets with stain, paint or a combination of both?

Thanks for reading. I hope to hear some ideas.

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Old 03-31-2009, 07:56 PM   #2
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I think you need to add a bigger work island than 24". I would install a small work area in the middle, say 24 x 36 put your hanging pots over that. in the area you were putting the small work space by the stove.. move out a bit more towards the hallway and install peninsular bar with stools instead.

That area that can act as a light dining area, add entertainment possibilities and provide a bit of visual separation of the kitchen from the living room area. It also will have added storage beneath the bar. If desired you could put a top cabinet over that with wine glasses hanging beneath. It would also be a nice spot for the coffee pot/breakfast area.

Another option would be abandon the center work island, make the bar coming off the wall with the stove into an L shaped bar with the bottom of the L coming back towards the sink. That will create a "cooking" pit with plenty of work space, terrific serving possibilities. Add a partial cabinet over the first part near the wall and you have added a tremendous amount storage, leave the top cabinet off and it keeps the wide open feel, but with separation from the living area.
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:10 PM   #3
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Good suggestion, Jeff. I'm a little concerned, though, that it would crowd the space too much. I hate having people walk too close behind me when I'm cooking or prepping with knives. With the sink at the end of the kitchen, I'm concerned that would be a problem.

Also, that puts a fairly large island in the center of my work triangle. I have a 30x60 stainless work table that I was going to use elsewhere. Maybe I'll try it there and see how the space works out.

Thanks!
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:38 PM   #4
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I think you have good ideas and should live there awhile to get the feel of it and consider what changes you need/want to make. I think a bigger 'island/work bench table is a probably need but see how the flow goes with the butcher block first.

Safe and uneventful move! Blessings to your house and home.
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:25 PM   #5
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I see a "breakfast" bar/work space island kinda where the rug is...8' x 24" --- Drawers and cabinets on one side...4 bar stools on the other --- Or 6' x 24' and three stools...The book case by the stove goes bye-bye...Extend the counter out for work space on the right....Keep the lady in the jeans!!!!!
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Old 03-31-2009, 10:38 PM   #6
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Thanks, Uncle Bob. The "lady in the jeans" is our live-in housekeeper/cook Adelita. She's worked for us for six years, since she was 17, and is like another daughter. My wife is the one in the third photo in pink jeans with the bottle in her mouth - an unflattering photo of a truly beautiful woman.
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Old 04-01-2009, 10:09 AM   #7
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I love the windows and the skylight! The floor is also great!

I would put the butcher block next to the stove and put the work table in the center of the kitchen. You can still hang your pots next to the stove, but you'll have a spot where you can sit down and work, too.

In regard to the fridge, I would move it toward the right instead of the left. That way, you can reach the counter from the fridge.

I love your knotty pine, but I think white or creamy yellow enameled cabinets would set it off, be easier to clean, and brighten things up.

I wonder what kind of lighting you have besides the two hanging lights over the kitchen counter? I have a small, inexpensive florescent fixture mounted under my cabinets that really helps light up the dark corners...you might want one on either side of the sink.

An acquaintance of mine used to vacation in Costa Rica every year, and he loved it there. Congratulations on owning your own home!
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Old 04-01-2009, 11:16 AM   #8
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Your house looks very beautiful, Finca, and I love the gorgeous wood. Is it some special type of wood? Here in Mexico, we could never use that much wood unless it was parota/huanacaxtle or some other termite-resistant type. My own personal preference (not everyone's, I know) is for light and COLOR. The skylight and windows are wonderful, but the kitchen needs to be lightened up, I think. Finishing the cabinets in a lighter color would help, and maybe some colorful tile. Here is a picture of my own (very modest) little Mexican kitchen...I love it because it is colorful, and when we bought the house, there was no real kitchen - only a sink and a small counter.
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Old 04-01-2009, 12:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FincaPerlitas View Post
Good suggestion, Jeff. I'm a little concerned, though, that it would crowd the space too much. I hate having people walk too close behind me when I'm cooking or prepping with knives. With the sink at the end of the kitchen, I'm concerned that would be a problem.

Also, that puts a fairly large island in the center of my work triangle. I have a 30x60 stainless work table that I was going to use elsewhere. Maybe I'll try it there and see how the space works out.

Thanks!
Use low tack masking tape(the blue stuff) tape out different layouts and see what works. Also remember.. L and things don't have to be right angles...
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:00 PM   #10
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I love your kitchen, Karen. Thanks for posting the photo. Termites are a problem in Costa Rica but wood can still be sucessfully used for construction if it's done right. This house, for example, has a poured concrete foundation and all the exterior walls on the ground level are either stone or concrete block. You still have to inspect and treat periodically, but it's not too difficult to keep the termites out.

Here are a couple of exterior photos:

FRONT:


REAR:


I do need to work on my kitchen lighting and undercounter lights will be part of the solution.

Keep the comments coming on colors. I agree that the kitchen needs to be lightened up and painting the cabinets is an obvious strategy. The countertops are a mustard yellow ceramic tile and I don't want to replace them so I need to keep that in mind in choosing my colors.

I'm not great with colors though, so any ideas will be appreciated. What I'm thinking is perhaps to use a whitewashed paint or solid color stain, either all one color or with contrasting trim on the face frames of the cabinet doors and perhaps the drawer fronts.
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Old 04-01-2009, 04:48 PM   #11
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Well.. if you would like to go a bit radical...
Install double wall ovens by refrigerator. Install an permanent island in the middle with the stove top, counters on 3 sides that can also act as serving space for light fare..
Move the Refrigerator to where the stove is now, that gives you room to build in a nice pantry in that offset where the refrigerator is now. There should also be room for shelves near the ovens for the toaster oven/coffee pot what ever.

That will tighten up the kitchen making cooking very efficient. Everything is fairly close. It would also tend to keep people out of your way, but still close enough to converse.
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Old 04-01-2009, 05:20 PM   #12
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Finca, your house is gorgeous. You must be very excited...I see the wisdom of the wood usage. Your house is about the same color as ours on the outside. I love it, and I'm sure you and your family will spend many many happy years there.
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Old 04-02-2009, 08:17 AM   #13
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My kitchen is a similar size - as some have suggested for you, I have a peninsula that comes out around the center of the kitchen, with the sink behind me, where I do most of my prep. When I'm working there, others in the kitchen are (mostly ) required to stay on the other side of the peninsula. It works pretty well.

There's a whole lot of space between your three main kitchen necessities - the sink, stove and refrigerator. I think it would be a good idea to bring those closer together, if possible. Can you put the fridge near the stove, with a counter between them?

Here's mine:
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Old 04-02-2009, 11:56 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
My kitchen is a similar size - as some have suggested for you, I have a peninsula that comes out around the center of the kitchen, with the sink behind me, where I do most of my prep. When I'm working there, others in the kitchen are (mostly ) required to stay on the other side of the peninsula. It works pretty well.

There's a whole lot of space between your three main kitchen necessities - the sink, stove and refrigerator. I think it would be a good idea to bring those closer together, if possible. Can you put the fridge near the stove, with a counter between them?

Here's mine:
Your kitchen looks great. The idea of moving the refrigerator to the same wall as the stove is a good one but I'm afraid it won't work. Mine is a side by side, similar to yours and is 36" wide. That would only leave 12 to 18 inches separation from the stove, with not enough work space on either side.

The way the kitchen is arranged now, on opposite walls, the work triangle is only about 16 or 17 feet which is well-below the recommended maximum of 26 feet.

Also, I'm trying to do the best I can to not build or buy more cabinets and countertops, using what I already have as much as possible.

Here's what I have to work with:
36" side by side refrigerator, white
30" free-standing electric range, white
30"x16"x72" 2-door storage cabinet, white
24"x24" butcher block table
30"x60" stainless steel work table
42"x42" wood dining table

I plan to buy hanging pot racks, lighting, and perhaps one more work table.
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Old 04-02-2009, 12:16 PM   #15
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I really just want to say "my piece".....I like a very bright kitchen....happier to work in....also like to hide, but easy to get at things....e.g. toaster, food processor Like tidy counter tops....also if you're a baker, like to have slots for cookie sheets, roasting pans and the like......as I said, just wanted to have my say....LOL
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Old 04-02-2009, 05:22 PM   #16
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From a decorator's point of view, you need to lighten up the space a bit. The first thing to do is to dump the valances on the windows. They are drawing the windows down and preventing some much-need light from entering. You need to play up the wonderful high ceiling. Instead install a 1/4- to 3/8-inch thick glass shelf across the window expanse and add decorative objects or small pots of herbs.

Install inexpensive halogen lights under all the cabinets. Add strings of clear mini lights (like those used at Christmastime) on the exposed tops of the cabinets. You'll be surprised at how much brighter the room will appear.

Another trick is to mirror the wall area between the counter and the cabinets above. This reflects light and adds depth to the space.

I also endorse painting the cabinets a lighter color. Perhaps a light butterscotch or mustard. Add interest with colorful hardware.

That's all I can come up with at first thought. Congratulations on your new home.
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Old 04-02-2009, 05:36 PM   #17
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Beautiful house! I love the arches. As already suggestged, I would also put a large island with a stepped-up breakfast bar in front of the sink, as large as the space can handle. People always gravitate toward a bar, never fails. Back where the desk is, I would put a built-in planning/desk area (maybe some kind of built-in corner unit) with shelves for cookbooks, and counter area for a computer, calendar, phone, etc.
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:17 PM   #18
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I like Katie's idea about the mini-lights. Here in Mexico (don't know about the US or Costa Rica) we buy mini-lights encased in very flexible plastic tubing for about 25 pesos ($1.75-2.00US) a meter. They can be cut to any size and a plug-in adapter installed very easily. They are a bit brighter than the Christmas-type lights. We use them to light our back patio and they would look good in your kitchen. Hey, maybe I'll put some in my kitchen, too!
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:34 PM   #19
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I like Katie's idea about the mini-lights. Here in Mexico (don't know about the US or Costa Rica) we buy mini-lights encased in very flexible plastic tubing for about 25 pesos ($1.75-2.00US) a meter. They can be cut to any size and a plug-in adapter installed very easily. They are a bit brighter than the Christmas-type lights. We use them to light our back patio and they would look good in your kitchen. Hey, maybe I'll put some in my kitchen, too!
Yes, Karen, those lights are available here in the U.S., too. Actually they'd be a better choice for a kitchen application.
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:42 AM   #20
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The mini-light strings are a great idea and are available in Costa Rica. I'll look into them. I also like the idea of removing the valance and opening up the window.

Another lighting question - although its not very obvious in the photos, there's a support beam that's been boxed in with the same panelling as the walls and spans the room, parallel to the exterior wall and in line with the outside edge of the stove and inside edge of the refrigerator. I'm thinking I could put indirect flourescent lighting on the back side of it which would light the ceiling and reflect to light entire main work area of the kitchen. What do you think?

Also, what about putting in a colorful, full tile backsplash between the countertop and upper cabinets and running it around to include the stove area. I have to do something with the stove backsplash anyway because it's sized for a 24 inch range and mine is 30 inches.

I'm open to the possibility of painting the cabinets but would prefer not to, simply because I've had bad experiences in the past with the long term appearance and durability of painted cabinet finishes.
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