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Updating kitchen; need ideas for countertop, backsplash,etc. Please suggest something I haven't thought of yet
fuzinav
February 13, 2013 in Design Dilemma
The cabinets in my kitchenare hickory. I like traditional, but I never liked the colonial blue formica countertop so I am ready to change. I am an avid cook. The room sees a lot of use and there doesn't seem to be any way to make it any bigger! White surfaces are out because I think they are too hard to keep clean. I don't like tile for the same reason. Elsewhere I have a lot of blue and white with red and yellow as well. I like black lacquer as well. My design dilemma: countertop color,is black too severe?, is a mid tone better? Backsplash; same as counter and just a few inches (sim. to current) or higher and contrasting? Any ideas for the over the sink span? The wavy board conceals the light but I don't like it. What about phone and electric cords, any ideas how to hide them?
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fuzinav
the other wall
February 13, 2013 at 10:05AM   
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PRO
Liza Jane Interiors
Because you have black appliances, I would not use a black countertop. Perhaps a granite with black/tan/white in it. I would remove the wavy board and have the proper underlighting pucks installed. Depending upon the granite you choose, will determine the type of back splash tile. I always prefer using neutral colors in tile and punching up a space with color on walls or accessories. A lot less expensive that way!
February 13, 2013 at 10:11AM     
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PRO
Liza Jane Interiors
Also, if you are going to have new counter tops installed have them take the counter all the way to the edge. You can always have a pull-out installed for your trash cans.
February 13, 2013 at 10:12AM     
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PRO
Design Find
I'd paint your cabinets white, and change out the hardware (oil ribbed bronze knobs and pulls on the drawers). Continue the subway tile backsplash throughout. Then you could get a solid black granite or soapstone countertop and the contrast with the white cabinets would be pretty. Black and white are neutral, so you could paint whichever color you'd like in the rest of the room. Other than the countertops , it would be a relatively inexpensive but dramatic makeover.
February 13, 2013 at 10:19AM     
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PRO
Design Find
If you wanted a hint of color, I think the turquoise/green glass subway tiles are so pretty with black countertops and white cabinetry, too. Here's an example, below. Good luck, I think you have a lot of possibilities and a fun project ahead of you!
February 13, 2013 at 10:27AM     
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fuzinav
LizaJane, there is not enough space for a full counter because of the doorway. Wish there was! Thanks for other ideas.
February 13, 2013 at 10:57AM   
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fuzinav
I am not planning to have any cabinetry painted. I like the warmth of the wood and feel it is much more durable as well.
February 13, 2013 at 11:00AM     
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dianahb
I think a mid-tone grey, or even a charcoal grey would be nice. I don't know what you mean about tiles too hard to keep clean. I think you could get a lovely porcelain tile for that countertop-- easy to keep clean, non-porous, and really tough stuff with regard to stains and water.

If you're keeping the cabinets, you might want to think about replacing some of those upper doors with glass fronted doors-- or you could have someone replace all the fronts, which would give it a new look. I'm also sure a good carpenter could easily replace that wavy board. It looks like a separate piece. I'd change out the cabinet hardware.

One other thought-- it's nice to have a light over your sink/work area, but have you thought about changing out those middle cabinets and changing where you have the light?
February 13, 2013 at 11:05AM   
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fuzinav
We've had two tiled kitchens, one Mexican tiles the other ceramic. The grout was a hassle to keep clean and the surface was murder on glassware. Cherry juice from cocktail prep and grease from sautéing were both issues. The slight uneveness is also not appealing. I'd love glass fronts, but those cabinets are really full. I cook a lot and have tons of pans and china, hard to make a nice display! The overflow is already in the basement and dining room china cabinet. I like the grey suggestion, thank you.
February 13, 2013 at 11:19AM     
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dianahb
Well, your Mexican tiles were probably hand-made-- which would have an uneven surface. Ceramic is not as strong as porcelain. You can find a rectified porcelain (with straighter than straight edges and flat as a pancake), and a good tiler can run those grout lines very very tight. Porcelain is close to bullet-proof when it comes to stains and water.
February 13, 2013 at 11:25AM   
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fuzinav
It seems counter intuitive to remove cabinets when I feel as though I don't have enough, but I think removing the over sink cupboards is a great idea. Perhaps they could be remounted over the refigerator.
February 13, 2013 at 11:26AM     
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redheadedwmn
I think that black counter-tops would look very nice and would tie together the appliances. I would opt for an under mount sink, just to help have a cleaner look. Are you thinking of laminate, solid surface, stone? Also, you mention you don't like tile backsplash bc it's hard to clean? I have tile both kitchen and bathroom and it's probably one of the areas I actually have to clean the least. I would hope you would re-consider. A tile backsplash could really bring some life into your space!

For the light above the sink, could you switch it out for some low profile LED (kind of like rope lighting but designed for under-mount). This was you could remove the wavy trim.

As for the cords, if you are looking for a inexpensive solution, you could use a plastic raceway (see picture below). They have an adhesive back and you tuck the cord in. This was you have a straight line (to hide in the corner or along a baseboard) and you can paint them the same as the wall color to help blend in.
February 13, 2013 at 11:31AM   
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onthefence
I do like the glass idea. I get what you're saying about stuffed cupboards though. I followed a link I saw earlier on a different thread for architectural glass and think that one of the heavily obscured glasses could work. It would give a visual lightness but still hide the stuff ;-)
http://www.architecturalglass.com/heavy_obscurity_glass.php
February 13, 2013 at 11:31AM     
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dianahb
Yes; I agree with onthefence. That's what I was thinking-- sort of like privacy glass, I guess. It would offer a lightness and perhaps a fresher look, without really seeing anything inside the cabinets. I have glass-fronted cabinets (not privacy), and I cook a lot-- but I love being able to see what's in there, and plates and glasses look pretty through the glass, too.
February 13, 2013 at 11:35AM     
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Elise
Black countertops would be too dark. With a darker cabinet, keep the countertops and backsplash lighter to reflect more light back into the space.

Depending on your budget, high quality laminates are fantastic and more affordable.

3420 Dolce Vita 180fx® by Formica Group with Bullnose IdealEdge™

Check out the new quartz countertops. They are the lowest maintenance countertops on the market and come in a variety of colors and looks. They also look great with a variety of tile backsplashes.

Also consider both butcherblock and stainless steel countertops as they work everywhere and look very modern also.

Remove the wavy board, install puck lighting and an electrician can also install undercabinet plug strips as well.
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/catalog/servlet/ContentView?pn=SF_KB_Quartz_Countertops&langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

Space for kids!

kitchen

Kitchen

ANGLED POWER STRIPS
February 13, 2013 at 11:39AM     
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onthefence
For countertops - I don't think black would be too severe at all for your kitchen. Have you considered soapstone? There are a lot of colors in the different varieties - anywhere from a deep black to a greenish gray. Some is more heavily veined than others. Oiling it will give you a brighter shinier finish - but oiling isn't mandatory. From everything I've read, it's a pretty bulletproof material. Stands heat really well and doesn't stain.

I'd love to have it but I'm shooting for a lighter color counter. If soapstone was available in cream or tan I'd be there in a heartbeat.
February 13, 2013 at 11:41AM     
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onthefence
February 13, 2013 at 11:47AM     
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fuzinav
My under cabinets lights are the low profile halogens shown in Elise's power strip photo. They are hard wired in, so the underside of he cabinet is really what is not very attractive. Redheadedwmn, I used those cord covers for the cable tv cord but they wouldn't stay adhered to the baseboard because the cable was stiff. Just FYI
February 13, 2013 at 11:56AM   
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fuzinav
Thank you all for the photo links. I appreciate your input.
February 13, 2013 at 2:02PM   
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PRO
MarbleWarehousecom
My choice will be black and beige granite slab with glass backsplash.
February 13, 2013 at 2:26PM     
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dianahb
MarbleWarehouse: Very nice.
February 13, 2013 at 2:29PM     
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bprince300
Your cabs are beautiful - Seeing your other room details, I say go for the dark countertops. Granite or soapstone would be beautiful. The soapstone, if polished/finished would give you a soft, deep, charcoal (almost zinc-like) look with more texture than a polished granite. Seems that it would go with your nice antique table and black windsor chairs.

Over the sink - remove the wavy and install a nice piece of straight edged molding to shield direct view of the essential over sink lighting.

One other thought for a tool and serving piece obsessed cook (such as myself : ) Is it possible to open those soffits above the sink cabinets (and any others) and add some strategically placed glass front doors up there ? and/or solid in other areas as needed ? It looks like they may have been built just to close in the over-cabinet space to begin with ...........
February 13, 2013 at 2:40PM     
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gingerclaire
Are you planning to keep the units where they are? Can you do a sketch layout of your space? I'm having trouble working out how the different views in the photos fit together!

How many people live in your house and how do you use the dining/breakfast area?
February 13, 2013 at 2:43PM   
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Victoria Pierce
I had black granite counter tops... .they show everything EVERYTHING.. every finger print, cup mark etc... go with a gray, even dark gray but BLACK... wow.. I was surprised... good luck
February 13, 2013 at 4:40PM     
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fuzinav
Bprince300, thanks for the input, I like your ideas. Marble warehouse 's marble is really pretty, but I'm leaning towards the soapstone. I will go to the stone mason and look in person. I like a plainer look so am not ready to commit to a multi colored tile backsplash. Gingerclair, I'll work up a sketch of my layout, there aren't a lot of options because there are three doors which limit me. The kitchen was redone before we purchased the house. The original kitchen had a wall oven in the brick wall and a separate stovetop.
February 13, 2013 at 4:42PM   
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dianahb
Victoria: Did you use 'absolute black' granite, or . . . ? I agree that I'd never use 'absolute black' on a counter, but there are other black granites that have something additional in them, so you're not dealing with the problems you mention.
February 13, 2013 at 4:43PM   
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fuzinav
Gingerclaire, the two of us eat dinner during the week in the kitchen as well as breakfast. We can expand the table to seat six and move it into the center of the kitchen and have done so for messy food (crab feast) that we don't want in the dining room. I use the table to stage and clear from when entertaining, and occasionally as a bar. When giving a cooking class, it provides another work surface. When entertaining a big group, I move it out of the kitchen and put it at the end of my dining room table to seat up to 14. I move the hunt board from the dining room to under the kitchen windows which gives me more space in the dining room and serves as a buffet space .
February 13, 2013 at 4:58PM   
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onthefence
fuzi, if your stone mason doesn't have soapstone, check online for a seller. Soapstone used to be rare as hens teeth in certain parts of the country. A lot more companies seem to distribute it though and many specialize. Soapstone is ALL they do. In a way it's nice because they really understand the properties of soapstone and how it differs from granite, quartz, etc.

BTW - meant to mention that I adore your table. I love that it gets such serious use.
February 13, 2013 at 5:08PM     
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Victoria Pierce
BLACK BLACK... it had a copper fleck in it.. beautiful!!! but wow...
February 13, 2013 at 5:10PM   
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onthefence
Just had another random thought -- that little strip of real estate where your trash cans are now - would it be possible to install a floor to ceiling cupboard that is only as deep as your upper cabs/soffit? I'm thinking that would give you a lot of storage and still allow your door clearance to open.

If that were to work, do you have any lower cabinet you could unload to a wall pantry and make use of the lower for a pull out trash? I've seen the pullouts w/ 2 bins that fit cabs as narrow as 15". Yes, you have to take trash out a little more often - but I really hate devoting useable kitchen real estate to garbage ;-)
February 13, 2013 at 5:16PM     
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PRO
lara leigh designs llc
I think the AIRSTONE TILES at Lowes would make an awesome backsplash, and please rid yourself of the dummy pc. over sink (very dated) for counters a real or faux granite in a sleek grey with lots of black and brown flecks - CESAR STONE WILL ALWAYS BE MY NO.1 PICK IF U HV THE $
AND PAINT CAN GO FROM HOT GRAYS TO NEVER WRONG KHAKIS
Good Luck and have fun with it!
February 13, 2013 at 5:29PM   
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fuzinav
Here is a floor plan. The counters on the right are only 20" deep to correspond with the wall which backs up to a chimney, with the nook, which runs behind the counter, that was previously a wall oven boxed in to make a space for my toaster oven. Almost anything will block the entrance door to the right of the stove. It is very tight. Thanks again for so many great suggestions. One idea that I did have was to install a floor to ceiling pantry style cupboard on the right end of the 20" deep side, it would use some of my limited counter space, but conceal the 20" piece of soffit that is above that corner. My concern is that the hole in the brick would be even more off center. It is currently 24" from the right side and 17.5" from the left, opening itself is 20.5".
February 13, 2013 at 6:35PM   
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fuzinav
Somehow I lost the bottom of the drawing. Let me try again
February 13, 2013 at 6:42PM   
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Victoria Pierce
How about closing off the Hallway door.. ? or do you have another entrance to the back porch? One less door and you would have a very different kitchen.
February 13, 2013 at 7:05PM     
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PRO
CMR Interiors & Design Consultations Inc.
Definitely a removal of the soffet.
February 13, 2013 at 7:08PM     
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fuzinav
I know and I wish! That is the only door to the back yard on the ground floor and the doorway to the hall is also the entrance to the kitchen from the upstairs bedrooms and the downstairs tv room as well as the front door and living room. I'm thinking it would take major constuction to put the exit to the patio somewhere else,
February 13, 2013 at 7:12PM   
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onthefence
Oh boy, that IS tricky. I see what you mean about covering the soffet on the toaster oven side and about the offset of the toaster oven cubby. I'd hate to see you lose counter space though since it looks like you don't have a great deal of it now.

Question though - is there any usable space on the other side of the wall to the right of the brick? (the wall where your 4 pieces of art are currently hanging) It looks like your fridge and old oven cut out alread protrude into that room. Would it work to use the rest of that space on that wall in the other room? I realize this gets into a realm that is WAY beyond changing countertops but if you're looking for space, now might be the time to do something like this.

I like Victoria Pierce's idea as well. We have multiple entries into our kitchen as well and I know it can really limit where things can go.
February 13, 2013 at 7:20PM   
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Darzy
Ditto soapstone. It will look fabulous with your cabinets.
February 13, 2013 at 7:25PM     
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PRO
Creatively Yours Custom Inc.
I see that your cabinets mount up to a wall overhang at the top. What is inside that? If it is hollow, it could be used to gain you some kitchen cabinet space by knocking it out on the front and putting in accent door cabinets-glass front- for display and storage. If you can do that, it would make the kitchen appear larger.
I would not do a black quartz countertop as it shows every watermark, spot, dust and you would be constantly working to keep it clean. However quartz is a very durable surface, pick one without a lot of big wavy lines as those tend to be a softer surface.
As for the phone cords, I think you need to move the phone off the countertop and mount it on the wall near where the wire comes through the wall. Not the best choice because there is no "desk" type area there to take messages, phone numbers etc. If possible, I would move the phone wire to another room in the house where you can keep a pen and paper and it can be quieter than the kitchen.
February 13, 2013 at 7:36PM   
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Darzy
Or, check out Silestone Quartz in "black galaxy". There is a "copper/gold" flake look in it and it is indestructible (hot pans even!), no maintenance and doesn't show "everything" like black granite.
February 13, 2013 at 7:36PM   
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Victoria Pierce
Try closing the hallway door and having everyone walk around and enter thru the Dinning room.. just give it a try and see if you really miss that door..
February 13, 2013 at 7:37PM   
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fuzinav
The house is a four story split and that wall is the end of that piece of house! This side of the house , which is one story has the ground floor with a full basement under it. The other half of the house which is to the right of the kitchen is bedrooms and baths up and TV room, bedrooms and bath down. The 'fridge space is actually in the stairwell and intrudes into the downstairs, the old oven was in the chimney for the downstairs fireplace. The dropped ceiling (doesn't really show in my photos) over the table is actually the roofline.The kitchen is the only room that protrudes that far. [does that make any sense at all?]
February 13, 2013 at 7:39PM   
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fuzinav
Creatively Yours Custom, Thanks for the ideas and suggestions. The real problem with the phone is that it needs electricity and a phone line. You are right, somewhere else might be better!
February 13, 2013 at 7:44PM   
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fuzinav
Victoria Pierce, easy enough to test the door; hadn't really thought of it. I'm afraid we won't be able to live without it, but we'll see.
February 13, 2013 at 7:47PM   
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onthefence
Yes, it kind of does. In short, it looks like without major structural changes, you're pretty limited. I'll be really curious to see what suggestions others have!

That said, I think soapstone, an undermount sink and obscure glass would make a visual world of difference. Won't get you additional storage or prep space and I'm really crossing my fingers someone else has a vision to make that possible for you.
February 13, 2013 at 7:52PM   
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Victoria Pierce
Just block it for a month or so .... both sides ... you might be surprised...
February 13, 2013 at 7:53PM   
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PRO
Hansgrohe District Sales Manager/Long Island
If you looking for low maintenance and a solid tone Caesarstone has a number of colors to choose from. Our surfaces are totally non porous and come with a transferable lifetime warranty.
February 13, 2013 at 8:38PM   
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gingerclaire
Since most of the time there are only two of you, could you manage a smaller fridge? I know these enormous fridge freezers are a pretty much a standard fixture in the States, but here in the UK we usually have much smaller models (standard width and depth 24") and often just have an under-counter fridge, with the freezer located elsewhere (in the basement?) as you don't need to get into it so frequently. If you were bold enough to go for this as an option, it would allow you to add an extra wall unit above the built in fridge, a slim cabinet next to it and bring a whole additional work-surface to your kitchen.

On work surfaces, I agree on the soapstone option, I think one of the gentler greenish grey shades would look good with your lovely cabinets. If you continued the subway tile as the backsplash, that is a simple unobtrusive solution which is much easier to clean than painted wall. There are sealants that you can paint onto your grout after installation which improve their stain-resistance.

I agree that the soffits are wasted space at the moment, if you can bear the mess whilst it is happening, removing them and either installing taller wall cabinets or additional cabinetry above the existing wall units would bring you some additional storage space. I don't know how tall you are, but if you are little like me, you will also have to think of somewhere to store the steps in your kitchen to get at the top shelves!

Your under-cabinet lighting could also do with an upgrade at the same time. Halogen lights produce a much better light for working than fluorescent strips, but they also can get quite warm if you are working close to them, I have used LED lights in a warm-white colour as an alternative in my kitchen. You can use a strip that tucks in neatly under the wall units and goes all the way along - they're great! They use much less electricity, don't get nearly as warm.

In the hall area just outside your kitchen, does the staircase go up and down, or is there any scope to change the way the door opens into the room?
February 14, 2013 at 1:08AM   
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fuzinav
GingerClaire, thank you for all the thought you have put into solving my issues. The door opens out into the two way stairwell.
February 14, 2013 at 8:02AM   
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gingerclaire
What would you think of moving the kitchen door so that it is in line with the wall behind the cooker, you could then put a pocket door to your cellar stairs inside the kitchen, and free up a whole chunk of extra space for units and work surfaces?
February 15, 2013 at 4:13AM     
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fuzinav
A year later, I want to thank all of you for your advice. We've made some changes that I am very happy with and have moved toward a more modern space. bprince300, the wavy board was really easy to remove, just 4 screws and makes a huge difference. Creatively Yours Custom Inc., the cords are gone!; genius idea to move the telephone base unit out of the kitchen, in addition I had a new outlet installed behind the toaster oven. Uba Tuba granite was used for countertops and full backspash, actually helping the kitchen look larger. It is not black, but very dark. We removed the massive microwave from over the range and are still shopping for an exhaust hood. A smaller microwave sits on the counter. We would like to mount it, but that is stage 2...when the soffits get removed. Probably not soon! Thanks again.
February 25, 2014 at 1:32PM     
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Elise
Nice progress. Take your time and enjoy your beautiful granite countertops!
February 25, 2014 at 4:53PM        Thanked by fuzinav
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gingerclaire
Wow, that makes a real difference!
February 25, 2014 at 9:23PM        Thanked by fuzinav
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cajhtx
I have seen this kitchen. Very few options, but it turned out great.
March 17, 2014 at 6:13PM        Thanked by fuzinav
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