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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Need help with design ideas for kitchen remodel.

linda boydDecember 2, 2012
I have a 1925 Georgian colonial in Chicago that I have been remodeling (again) since 2008. All is done except kitchen, which is a galley-style and has an L formed by a butler's pantry. We invested in expensive Corian counters @7 years ago and would like to keep. Counters in kitchen are white with snowflakes and pale green in pantry. Have always thought I wanted white cabinets and white marble backsplash. Contractor is being very flexible which is actually mailing decisions more difficult. Have been looking at lots of photos but need help. Most of remodel has been toward strictly contemporary given that doing so might result in true Transitional given age and style of house. Have used color in various ways in rest of house but want kitchen to be clean, modern and using few elements repeatedly for subtle wow factor since house is near front entrance. Love whimsy in general, but as surprises, not constantly. Kitchen also need new floors to replace original hard maple that cannot be sanded again. Like maple and it feels original, but very willing to change, probably to a very dark stain. Will send photos, but would appreciate immediate feedback, especially reading trends. Open even to most forward thinking ideas. Thanks so much. I LOVE this community and am grateful for all input. LRCB
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Here is one example of white colonial kitchen which has lots of character but contemporary as well.

1920 Colonial Kitchen · More Info
2 Likes    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 6:20AM
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You'll get more responses if you post photos of the rooms. Daylight photos are best. Turn on the lights, too, and take photos showing each wall. If you want to keep the Corian counters, include a photo up close, too. Include measurements on a floor plan to get the kitchen designers really interested.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 6:29AM
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linda boyd
Thanks for the advice. I haven't attached any photos yet because I noticed that all of the photos for the other discussions show scenes that are clutter free. I am working on that now. Coming soon! Can't wait for lots of input.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 7:46PM
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If you have other hardwood floors, match them for kitchen, don't start a new trend of dark stain flooring in the kitchen. Many designers feel white kitchen cabinets are the best. Most other choices look dated in a few years.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 9:02PM
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I agree with olldj22: white kitchen cabinets are classic. The cabinet door design shown by Dytecture above is also classic. The farmhouse sink and heavy wood molding on hood structure are trends that have been around for five or ten years and will look dated in another five or ten years. Elongated door pulls are trendy; round knobs are classic.

If you plan to put the bulk of your money into the kitchen's permanent and semi-permanent structures such as cabinetry, plumbing, flooring and wiring, you can allocate (say) 1-5% of your budget to easily replaced trendy things such as window treatments, lighting, door pulls and faucets. Then in five or ten years, spend another 1-5% on replacing the outdated trendy things with new fashions.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 9:54PM
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linda boyd
Thanks for the heads up to you both. Regarding the floors, my entire first floor has golden oak hardwood floors that have turned lighter over the years. They abut the original maple on the kitchen floor and are very close In color. Do you think that it makes most sense just replace the original kitchen maple with new maple? I really like the contrast in the photos I see that have contemporary/modern, basically all white kitchens playing off of dark floors. But I am persuaded that a patchwork approach is not a good look. Also, I am already pushing the envelope with more edgy, contemporary design in my old house. I have seen many such attempts go very wrong (by removing crown and door moldings, bamboo floors where they don't make sense, etc.). I want to be careful, but not overly cautious. I clearly want it to be very stylish in a very 2013 and forward modern way.

Glad for warning about fading trends. What are newer and newest trends in kitchen designs, colors, surfaces, etc. that you know of that you think will have longest life over next decade?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 5:42AM
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I would stick to the oak floor. Were the 2 different woods, maple & oak flooring original to the house? I think a flooring professional will be able to match the new oak tone to the old oak tone. It would be impossible for me to say what newer or newest trends will become classic. The frenzy for ORB fixtures, seems to be fading in some areas of the country. Some trends can vanish quickly. I think today you might have been advised to buy the same color Corian for the kitchen & butler's pantry.
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:35AM
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Old and new wood floors that abut can be made to look better together if one has a contrasting border, say, a darker wood inlay (walnut was poplular) for one or two floorboards' worth. Inlays were popular in the 1920's and '30's.

Since you are trying to meld two styles, traditional and contemporary, in an old house, I suggest you consult an interior designer to avoid the mistakes you describe. Not everyone wants I.M. Pei's glass pyramid at the Louvre. The interior designer will know what is new and trendy and what looks like it is stabilizing as a new classic. You can also post the question in a separate discussion- but use a photo to get more responses.
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:41AM
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Many old houses used different woods on the floor in different rooms for different purposes (we lived in a house from about 1918 that had ash in the kitchen, white oak in living and dining rooms, and wide plank pine upstairs, but they were all finished in the same tone so it produced a consistent, uniform effect). So given the age of your house, you could certainly get away with replacing the maple kitchen floor with another maple floor. But I would prefer an even more consistent effect by using oak throughout. And I probably wouldn't use a dark wood in the kitchen unless you are refinishing your current oak floors elsewhere to a dark stain as well.
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:49AM
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If you want your new floor to match up to the old floor, try to find wood of a comparable quality. If you have quarter sawn in existing, you'll need to find that same type for the kitchen. Reclaimed vintage wood might work really well t if you really want the floors to match because it will have the same tight even grain and years of light exposure. The Rebuilding Exchange has reclaimed flooring at a reasonable price...you'll save money on the material but you'll spend more to install it
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 7:01AM
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linda boyd
Thanks everyone. Yes, there were various woods in the original floors: LR, DR, BRs upstairs are all golden oak; maple in kitchen, curved staircase to second floor has stairs that are American cherry and a railing is walnut; and a powder room actually had red oak! All are uncovered except the red oak. I have added a Brazilian cherry inlay (before i realized that the stairs going upstairs were American cherry or else i would have used the American cherry) near perimeter of main entry and at edge of the one step that goes down from foyer into the LR (to make it visible to adults). All except Brazilian cherry inlays are original and close in color.
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 7:44PM
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linda boyd
Here are some photos of my current kitchen and adjacent floors. I have others that I will attach to another comment. Thanks. LRCB
    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 2:10PM
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linda boyd
I am not sure where the first photos went, but here are some others
    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 2:19PM
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lrcb: the photos didn't arrive.
    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 2:23PM
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linda boyd
Here are some of the drawings for new kitchen. Will try again to send photos..
    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 4:57PM
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linda boyd
More drawings. LRCB
    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 4:59PM
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linda boyd
I figured out how to submit photos! Yayy! LRCB
    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 5:09PM
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linda boyd
More photos.
    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 5:11PM
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linda boyd
More photos, again.

Send feedback based on prior posting, PLEASE.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 5:19PM
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linda boyd
Photos show different flooring colors: maple in kitchen, golden oak throughout first floor and abutting kitchen, Brazilian cherry inlay in foyer and step down into LRCB, and American cherry stairs leading upstairs. Is the dark Brazilian cherry enough dark flooring to be taken into kitchen if I want dark floors as contrast if i go with white cabinets?
    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 5:25PM
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Kitchen looks good. Do you think the recycle and garbage would be better near the sink area?

I would not change to dark floors in kitchen. Can you paint some paper dark and place paper on floor to see if you like it (you have to please yourself). Another thought is dark floors might be a trend like the espresso cabinets.

A diagonal floor sometimes looks good in a galley kitchen
Galley Kitchen · More Info

Here's an idea of tile with the dark cherry trim:
Wyndmoor Residence Kitchen · More Info

Dark cherry inlaid in kitchen
Craftsman Kitchen · More Info

I like this white cabinets with kitchen floor (not dark)
2 Likes    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 9:02PM
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May I make a suggestion about cabinet door styles for your house? You might want to go with a very simple, stark Shaker door frame and possibly no framing on the drawers. Not only is this a timeless look (which is always a good thing), but it can be made to look either very modern or more classic depending on the hardware. So you could fulfill your desire for a more modern, updated look in your kitchen by pairing Shaker cabinets with very modern hardware designs and SS appliances, but future owners could switch to more old fashioned hardware (cup pulls, for example) if they wanted the kitchen to blend with the historic details of the house.
2 Likes    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 4:45AM
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linda boyd
I really like both sets of ideas. Thank you for being so specific. I have a follow up question about laying the new wood floor on the diagonal. Should the diagonal continue in same unbroken direction in both galley and the pantry L? They are 2 spaces, of course, but I want to unify them as much as possible.

I think you are right about nixing the dark floor idea. I think the contrast I want can be achieved through lay the light colored floor on the diagonal and by using some other tricks.

Yes, the drawings call for two garbage pullouts next to the sink.

I was thinking about moving the refrigerator to the far left corner of the pantry. I thought that would be a good way to bring kitchen into the L. I am not too worried that fridge not close to sink. I wld love to remove fridge from being visible from foyer. Same area in pantry where fridge would go could be best place for a new small seating area. I guess I could leave fridge where it is and camouflage it. Are fridge panels considered timeless or trendy?

Are there any photos of really small eating bars in kitchens that you can share with me?

I guess that's enough for now.
    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 10:06PM
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I would keep the original upper cabinets in the butler's pantry and use them as a clue for the style of the lower cabinets, or refinish the whole thing, adding nicer knobs (those are probably from the 40s or so), maybe traditional bin pulls on the drawers. It you replace the whole works, I would keep the glass doors on top and the supporting brackets and the simple cabinet style.

If you could keep the butler's pantry--perhaps stripping and repainting over time, then you could focus your money on the kitchen portion and get higher quality finishes and drawer organizers and such to make the most of your limited space.. The ceilings look to be quite high, so maybe you could go for upper storage cabinets, or glass-fronted cabinets on top for storage and display, esp. if they could be internally lit when you flip the light switch. The big window above the sink looks like the ideal place to have a deeper sill to accomodate pots of herbs and such.

Since the kitchen is tight and the ceiling is high, perhaps some ceiling interest, like crown molding or coffers, or perhaps some color or tongue and groove would be nice up there.

It is cheaper to box a fridge in with storage or panels than to get the counter depth. My neighbors have a counter depth fridge and they hate it because it takes up a lot of wall space and you can't put a pizza box or anything deep in there.

Here are some pics of 1920s kitchens to inspire you. They tended to be rather utilitarian and the cabinet style was most like what we call a Shaker cabinet, rather simple, but buil in small banquettes, color and fitted cupboards (usually one wall) were making an appearance. I know you are going more contemporary, but a touch of the original style in the butler's pantry could be nice, maybe even a secondary sink and small fridge (not sure what you had in mind in drawing). A plate rack in the window above a new sink in the butler's pantry could be pretty and useful, if you have a budget for that. Then the main fridge could stay in the cooking area, and you would have room for a small bistro table or something in the pantry.

I have a somewhat similar situation, and I plan on eventually putting a sort of coffee hutch with small sink, fridge, microwave and dishwasher right next to where we eat all our meals in the dining room, which is down a hallway from the kitchen. My kitchen is too small for a dishwasher or table unless I give up most of my cupboard space,

Note the grey cupboards with the white counter in pic4, and the industrial style lighting. I've read that grey/greige is the new color for kitchens--just like it has been for walls. Sort of an interesting spin on vintage that dates to the late 20's actually. Farmhouse industrial is another way to bridge the gap between contemporary and traditional.

http://1912bungalow.com/ (good info on historic kitchens and baths, plus inspiration pics of grey and white kitchens)

(Note, most kitchens of this era were similar, whether it was a Bungalow or a Colonial Revival.)
    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 12:02AM
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linda boyd
Thanks, Victorianbungalowranch, for so much info.

I have kept the pantry cabinets to save money through 2 other renovations of my kitchen. I have even reconfigured them when I opened up original doorway between kitchen and pantry many years ago. I believe they are original from 1925. Much of my current desire to remodel my kitchen is focused on replacing them. They have served well, but it is time for them to go.
The photo shows the area where I will either relocate the fridge or build a small eating bar. I have even seen some great photos of tiny eating islands that may fit. Both plans entail removing the upper and lower cabinets in corner of pantry to right of window. Eating bar could go beneath pantry window, but then our backs would be to rest of room (and view to backyard is great in summer, but pretty depressing in middle of Chicago winters). Photo also shows small fridge we use for condiments and beverages. It would move to nearby corner near telephone shown in second photo. We need it because our counter fridge is so small inside. I hate it. My husband is not happy about replacing it because it is relatively new. Same for Corian countertops, though I would love marble counters and backsplashes. I think I could add marble backsplashes above Corian, though, and be happy. What do you think? I love the BM Galveston Gray color for cabinets. My entire LR and it's sunroom are painted and furnished in various shades of gray; and my DR is milk chocolate. They are so very close to kitchen that tying in those tones would make sense. My kitchen colors are now pastels, which I love--lavender ceiling, mint green walls, deeper lilac in back of glass front cabinets on pantry--- they make me happy.a little worried about resale value of darker gray cabinets, though.

I love all of your suggestions a d had not thought of enlarging sill in kitchen, though have often wished it were bigger! Thanks. How do I keep it from interfering with using sink?

Thanks so much.
    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 6:27AM
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Not sure about diagonal floor in pantry, too. Maybe stick to non-diagonal in both. Do U have a floor plan?

The drawings above seem to show garbage/recycle pullouts next to oven.

I think I'd wait a few years for a kitchen re-do and at that time re-do the counters/backsplash & discard the small fridge or have a built-in replacement. You can be planning in the interim. I agree with Vbungalow try to keep some "original" parts to house. How much: to have someone refinish the butler's pantry cabinets or other "original" cabinets?

Here are some "tiny island" ideas http://www.houzz.com/tiny-islands
1 Like    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 10:13AM
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linda boyd
Hmmm. You guys average given me much food for thought. I am beginning to think I need more planning time, more money, and a designer!

Thank you all.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 7:39PM
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Dark floors will show dust constantly -especially if your concept is quite open. I would embrace the age of your house, but update it subtly to a more contemporary look. Some of the quirky touches could be garage sale finds (maybe even repurposed, for e.g.). Back to the floor: have you conspired tile?
    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 12:16PM
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Oops! You have answered re the floor...also I didn't mean "conspired", but "considered".
    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Cancork Floor Inc.
You have some beautiful flooring! You can do what you want in the kitchen for flooring - but I would stay "light". If you are remodeling, you might want to think about a cork floor in the kitchen. We can produce floors that look like wood, marble, even tile. We can produce light wood, medium wood (we have a beautiful maple looking floor), even a white/black parquet! As you said, these wonderful old houses always like to produce rooms that were autonomous = each room had its own theme/feel. You can use that to your advantage. You could put down a marble-like floor that would go with the theme of the old house = each room unique.
    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 12:54PM
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linda boyd
I love, love the idea of marble floors in the kitchen. Should I be worried about maintenance, and comfort? Should I decide between either marble floors or marble for back splashes and counters; or can all be marble?
    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 8:20PM
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