One of the biggest parts of planning our major DIY kitchen remodel was step 3 in the How To Process – to start dreaming and drawing to figure out what we wanted to accomplish in our renovation. Since the whole process took us months to accomplish, we want to lay out what we came up with before we start buying anything or any construction. Then when it’s all done we’ll be able to see how close we end up to that dream ideal.
Where Did We Start?
We already knew the big things we didn’t like about our kitchen:
- the ugly, worn, poorly installed tile,
- the aging cabinetry and countertops in a poor layout, and
- the fact that the lowered ceilings made it feel like an especially small space.
With those in mind, we started talking about what we liked in other peoples’ homes, not hindered by much. We both like spanish tile and polished concrete flooring, but neither seemed to fit with the feel of our little Florida home. So we did what our elementary and middle school teachers diligently trained us to do and headed to the local library.
There we found books on historical architecture in our area and realized that what we really wanted was to make our little 1980’s hodgepodge home more true to the styles that parts of the design had been taken from, namely the 19th century Florida Cracker dwellings, and the mid-twentieth century Florida beach cottages that are now historic in our area.
Our house has many of these elements in the design – simple (without being stark), with lots of natural light and letting the natural surroundings shine through – but too much was lost in the cheap 1980s finishing work done when the house was built. Seriously, drop ceilings with fluorescent light felt natural? I don’t believe it.
After learning more about these homes, we knew what we wanted to aim for. Luckily, Cracker dwellings and traditional Florida beach cottages have a lot in common, decor-wise, so we started there. Here’s where the styles overlap in the kitchens:
- wood floors (dominant for Cracker style and very common in beach cottages)
- white or colored cabinetry, with open shelving up top (common to both)
- high ceilings (Cracker style mostly)
- lots of windows (mostly beach cottage)
- long/thin tables for dining (Cracker)
- built in bench seating under windows (beach cottage)
- butcher block counters (Cracker and common to cottage too)
Where Did We End Up?
We like most of these elements and then threw in a few more that we think will go well, too. But we did need to make some compromises for what makes sense when it comes to maintenance and upkeep. Here’s a run down of what we’re aiming for:
- Wood-look tile instead of wood floors. Wood-look tile has come a long way and for us feels like a good compromise between the authenticity of wood plank flooring while avoiding the PITA that maintenance of such floors can be.
- White or off-white cabinetry, though open shelving is out thanks to Kitty PoP who really likes to test gravity. But having glass fronts on a few cabinets as a substitute to the traditional open shelving is still under debate. (Mr PoP votes no, Mrs votes yes. Who will win???)
- Butcher block countertops, though rather than strictly adhering to the traditional unfinished butcher block (ie cutting board) style in cracker dwellings, we’re going to finish and seal them so they are watertight.
- Higher ceiling. We are raising the ceiling from its current 7′ dropped location and want it to go up as high as the 12′ peak in the adjacent living room. As part of this, we’re also moving a wall by 3.5′ and incorporating the location of the current laundry closet in the garage as interior square footage*. It’ll increase our interior square footage by ~30sqft (or about 3%!). With these two changes combined, it should be a pretty dramatic change in terms of space.
- More windows. We’ll be increasing the size of the windows in the dining area by doubling the width of them and then adding…
- Built in seating below the new windows. Built out of cabinetry, we expect this to provide storage and compact seating for the…
- Long and thin table that we will custom build to match the space and sit in front of the bench seating. We want it to seat 6 comfortably.
Here’s part of our dreaming process where we sketched out some of the structural changes. (Admire my MS paint skillz!)
Going through this dreaming process for a few months (and it really did take months) certainly expanded the scope of our project. At first, we were only thinking of raising the ceiling drop to get a standard 8′ ceiling in the kitchen. This would have been a relatively easy way to get a little more height in the room. But the idea to change the ceiling line to match the living room peak (and the idea to shift the wall that followed pretty naturally from that idea) really only happened because we gave ourselves enough time to pick the brains of others and dream big.
When it comes right down to it, we only want to do this project once. The last thing we wanted was to get everything else done and regret that we hadn’t opened the space up even more while we still had the chance.
So we’re glad we took the time (months, really) to dream and explore, and stretch our minds as to what this space can become. Here’s hoping execution is half as good as we’ve dreamed it can be.
* In hindsight, it would have been great to have realized we were going to do with before we went to all the trouble to renovate this area during last year’s garage renovation.