One of my favorite things to hatewatch are episodes of House Hunters that feature a young couple who are buying in a reasonably-priced area (read: they can afford to have “must haves” that go beyond a roof, a semi-solid foundation, and running water) and who go into homes and complain about the kitchen because it’s not “updated.” They always say things like “this has got to go”; “a total cut job”‘ or my personal favorite, “I could never cook in here.” Every time I hear someone say that, I always want to yell back, “yes you can!”
Because the truth is you can cook almost anywhere. Contrary to what HGTV will try and tell you, food can still be cooked on non-commercial grade ranges, non-stainless steel refrigerators still keep food cold, and non-granite counters are still counters. Now don’t get me wrong, if you’ve seen my Pinterest page, you know I love me some kitchen porn, but I will be the first to tell you that no one needs to have a gourmet kitchen to cook good food. I really love the food blog Smitten Kitchen, because Deb always reminds me that space is not a limiting factor in what you can cook.
We’re renovating the kitchen. Not because we have to, but because we think it will add value to our house. Home values in our neighborhood and area are going up and we now have enough equity in our house to safely make a large investment in an area of the house that usually sees the highest return for your money.
I am not saying my kitchen doesn’t have some issues. The semi-broken and super leaky faucet, non-venting range hood, and a layout that doesn’t maximize space are not ideal so I am certainly more than excited to be upgrading. But I am glad that we waited and lived in our house for 4 years first, and I am glad that we waited until both our finances and the value of the house were in a strong place so that we have the piece of mind that we are making a good financial decision.
What we will not be getting, however, is a bigger kitchen. While we are making tweaks to the current layout, there’s no real feasible way to increase the size to anything beyond the current 10 x 10′ footprint. Here’s a floor plan of the lower level of the house so that you can see what I mean.
Before we embarked on the sun room project, we talked about our long-term goals for the kitchen and the house in general and decided that we likely wouldn’t be living in the house long enough (read: forever) to justify the type of full-scale renovation/add-on that would be required to increase the size of the kitchen by extending it out towards the backyard. And we didn’t want to lose the main floor bathroom, especially since it wouldn’t yield very much more square footage, so we decided to live with the kitchen’s current size and went ahead with the sun room since it was in such bad shape.
Last fall, as we put the finishing touches on the sun room, I began to think seriously about our options for the kitchen. We met with a couple of kitchen designers, consulted friends and family, and spent countless hours playing around on Ikea and Lowe’s free kitchen design software. Working with a kitchen designer from a local kitchen and bath renovation company, we finally came up with a layout that we think will give us the best functionality within the constraints of our current size and layout.
This was both a fun and frustrating process. Fun because you can start to see what the options are and frustrating because you realize that you can’t get everything that you really want. It took about 3 months of serious back and forth with the kitchen designer before we settled on a final layout. Then it took another 2 months to get the installer out to our house to discuss the few structural changes we wanted to make including the addition of an outside-venting range hood, some better task lighting, and a little bit of HVAC shuffling. That finally happened this week and we are ready to move forward with the ordering of the cabinets and generally making this renovation happen.
I have lots more details for you about the final layout we decided on, what materials we are going to use, costs, timeline, etc. but I will save those details for the next post. See you soon!