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Galley kitchen needs lots of help
Lori Wallace-Roberts
February 25, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I am planning on making some changes to a dated kitchen that is not my style. I haven't done any updates since moving in.

I recently posted a question about landscape for the front of my house, which I will be working on in the spring. I considered updating the patio door to French doors, but if I'm planning to update the kitchen that might not be necessary.

I have a small galley kitchen with very little counterspace. The first picture is looking into the kitchen from the dining room.

The second picture is on the other side of the counter. You can just see a little of the sliding door. Along the back wall is a built in banquette made from an old wagon wheel table. My backsplash is slate salvaged from an old schoolhouse, which I actually like and appreciate. But, I love glass tile, too!

The third pic is taken from a room off our back entry where everyone comes in (I live on 3 acres and the back entry is nearest the parking.). The door to the right is a broom closet and the door to the left goes to a laundry room and pantry area.

Finally, pic 4 shows built in flourescent lighting that I despise!

I hate the cabinets, awful fluorescent lighting, white tile, counters, appliances and lack of space. I've considered a host of options but go back and forth. I'm looking for others who might be able to think outside my box, especially in terms of layout.

My style is very eclectic. I have a neutral tan palette in my living and dining area with a rusty orange accent wall. I like a little modern, a little MCM, a little traditional. Toss in a few antique treasures and I'm happy!

As much as I'd like to bump the space out to enlarge the kitchen, my budget just won't allow it.

I'm thankful for any thoughts. And usually my table and counter aren't cluttered, getting rid of some stuff :)
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bdennison
I know there is a lot of this going on, but paint those cabinets. It may be the pictures but your kitchen seems awful dark. I do like your backsplash, Nice that it has a story behind it, Perhaps a narrow shelf between the counter and upper cabs would get things off the counter and give you more room. Good luck with your project
February 25, 2013 at 3:31pm     
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@bdennison - it's not the pictures...the kitchen is really dark and the only natural light is the sliding door. I've held off painting until I figure out what I want to do, but believe me something is getting done. A shelf under the cabinet is a great idea. Thanks!
February 25, 2013 at 3:34pm   
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onthefence
Lori, I LOVE the color that bdennison showed in the pic above. So much more than another painted white kitchen. Perhaps too you'd be able to do some small LED puck lights on the underside of a narrow shelf?
February 25, 2013 at 3:36pm   
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carole
and maybe some glass top doors?
February 25, 2013 at 3:55pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@onthefence...great thought on luck lighting under the shelf. Hopefully I can figure out how to get rid of those awful fluorescents,

@carole...I had been thinking about using some frosted panels, as well. I think they would help the light issue.

Now on to more counters! I cook and entertain a lot and this is a nightmare :)
February 25, 2013 at 4:13pm   
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bdennison
What is to the left of your Fridge? If you remove the center section, you would have counter space there. Maybe take off the upper doors in that area for open storage.
February 25, 2013 at 4:16pm   
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carole
i used to have a fold out table i used as extra workarea!!now that you have had a bit of a clear out,do you need the tall cabinet next to the fridge or could that be halved,its a litlle more workspace. dont suppose you want to do without the banquette? ?
February 25, 2013 at 4:20pm     
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@bdennison...there is a floor to almost ceiling unit to the left of the fridge. It contains drawers, and cabinetry and an open space on the other side facing the table that used to contain an old tv. I had considered removing it along with the built in seating and sliding door for additional counter space on the other side. Only problem is that if I remove the sliding door and replace it with a window it will reduce my light.
February 25, 2013 at 4:21pm   
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bdennison
If the sliding door is not necessary for an exit/entrance, consider cabinetry and a 6' x 4' sliding window. I have one over my sink and the light is plenty. (Mine is 6x3 over the sink and 6x4 in the dining area)
February 25, 2013 at 4:26pm     
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@bednnison...the slider isn't really necessary. I have a front door thAt no one uses, a side door and a back door. Plenty of egress routes in my house. A slider is a good idea. Thanks for your thoughts!
February 25, 2013 at 4:30pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@carole...a fold out might be an option. I like the functionality of the banquette, but it takes up so much room. I considered running a full counter on the fridge wall and maybe leaving part of the counter open for seating. Thoughts? Thanks!
February 25, 2013 at 7:07pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
On another note, I was considering changing out the door to the laundry room for a slider that would go along the wall. The two doors to the laundry and closet open into one another and it's a bad configuration. I'm looking to modernize, but I've seen the sliders in old barn door styles, but I'm sure there's a modern option.
February 25, 2013 at 7:59pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
I continue to have thoughts! If I would remove the slider and put in a window and remove the banquette, could I add a counters and cabinets along the wall that turn at the corner into a narrow area for a few bar seats. I'm looking for pictures of what I'm thinking, but haven't yet found it. Thanks!
February 26, 2013 at 2:57pm   
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mike9
Not only painting cabinets is a great idea; as we are doing now, but it would give you an idea of a future kitchen. You could also have a under cabinet valance and then put the new strip led lighting that is available at the home improvement stores instead of the puck lights. Don't worry about the slider being removed. With cabinets that are lightened up, under cabinet lighting and lighter counter, you will amazed. Its all about storage and decluttering. Good luck
February 26, 2013 at 3:31pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@mike9...thanks for your thoughts. I do have a small budget (think Ikea) to update the cabinets. I'm really trying to figure out a layout to help me gain counter space and still maintain a few seats in the kitchen :)
February 26, 2013 at 3:37pm   
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carole
.
February 26, 2013 at 4:05pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@carole...thanks. Maybe a little more modern for me, but that's exactly what I was thinking.
February 26, 2013 at 4:38pm   
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PRO
JWinteriors
I would remove the banquette as it juts out into the patio door. I would install upper cabinets with a snack counter below with 2 stools. This gives you more workable counter space and more needed storage along with seating for 2. Remove that soffit and do drywall repairs adding recessed cans in its stead. Paint those cabinets, and update counters and sink. Add under cabinet lighting? This is the hub of the home. Squeeze as much as you can out of the budget to make it right.
February 26, 2013 at 4:53pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@JWinteriors...yes, that banquette jutting in front of the door drives me crazy! Can you give me a reference as to what you mean by snack counter? I think I know, but want to be sure. And I definitely want the soffit to come down...the fluorescents are depressing. Thanks!
February 26, 2013 at 5:17pm   
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yvonnecmartin
You could put narrow shelves or cabinets above the banquette to store decorative things and replace the benches with something that has storage space. That way you could convert the area next to the refrigerator into more counter space. Of course, you also have the kitchen table to use as counter space when pressed--as in rolling out cookies or pie crust.
February 26, 2013 at 5:27pm   
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apple_pie_order
That is not a lot of counter space, I agree. If you do replace it with new laminate, a straight piece like this would be very inexpensive.

Would you post a floor plan with measurements and some more photos, especially of the soffit? It looks like it just sticks out far enough to contain the fluorescent fixture and does not go all the way to the ceiling. Is there just the one fluorescent fixture over the sink?

What is the wall surface near the banquette? Panelling or wallpaper?
February 26, 2013 at 6:17pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@applepie...I plan to replace with granite or a similar surface...no more laminate! Yuck!!

The soffits run the length of the wall up to the door opening. There are three fixtures. The whole unit comes out into the room right about the width of the counters. There is shelf above.

The room itself is 14'10" long and about 8'8' wide. I'm not at home now, but I will post additional soffit pics and a floor plan sketch.

And yes, the wall by the banquette is some type of paneling.

I'm slowly working my way through the house, and the kitchen is right at the top of my list :)

Btw...does anyone know how to post a pic from your idea to a post?
February 26, 2013 at 6:35pm   
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carole
have not found a good picture to your configuration,but a breakfast bar can easily be utilised as extra workspace,like i said these are noy the best examples for your space....
February 27, 2013 at 6:32am     
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apple_pie_order
If you remove the broom closet, you'll have an entryway with more room; it'll look less like the back entry from the garage. Paint the odd panelling or wallpaper over it when you pain the cabinets. I suggest replacing the banquette with four chairs. Add some large bright colored artwork over the table (on same wall as the slider) so that you see it directly when you enter the room.

You might consider adding a huge horizontal window across the back to replace the unused slider door. If the new window has the same square footage as the old slider, you will not lose light. No upper cabinets, just base cabinets, perhaps with an area for three or four chairs/stools to look out the window.

What are your ideas for new lighting? There are attractive MCM-style fixtures. Also, if you like the tremendous energy efficiency and bright light of fluorescents, the new 48" ones are much more attractive than the soffit ones you dislike. Good old incandescents are effective, too, if you use enough of them. Adding can lighting is a possibility, too. Ohio winters are dark.

When you take off the soffit, you will have electrical connections up there above the cabinets you can reuse for uplighting.
February 27, 2013 at 6:58am   
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PRO
CMR Interiors & Design Consultations Inc.
bdennison is right on. Its a dark space and you can keep that paneling but go with a brown based creamy white on the cabinets and the nice subway brick. Get a better surface mount lighting with 200-300 watts. Nice a nice drum light hugger on the ceiling. You need white clear light too so don't do any glass that has a yellow cast to it. If you have the extra money, a more updated modern banquet would be great.
February 27, 2013 at 7:03am   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@CMR...I found a few pics of more modern banquettes...do you think something similar would work?

I was also looking at photo 3 and thinking perhaps I could do something like that if I remove my unused slider and put in a window? Thoughts?

@applepie...I'm still sourcing light fixtures and I do like a bit of MCM. I don't think I could get by with just the lower cabinets, but I was considering shorter horizontal ones to help give the illusion of more space.
February 27, 2013 at 2:32pm     
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bdennison
Love the idea of pic#3. Still all the light with so much more counterspace/seating. Would you use it for seating? Alsoove pic#2. Can you fit both?
February 27, 2013 at 2:43pm   
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carole
i think that would work!!!will you put a seating or a bar in with this??
February 27, 2013 at 2:44pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@bdennison & @carole...I'm essentially thinking to keep to layout similar for electrical and plumbing purposes, remove the built in banquette and sliding door. From there, add a bench similar to pic three below the new window where the slider currently is.

My fridge is already along the same wall like in pic three so I think it just might work.

I've bee toying with the Ikea kitchen design software to see if it might work.

On one more note, any recommendations on the black radiator...paint it, hide it?
February 27, 2013 at 2:54pm   
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carole
i do likeradiatorcovers!!if it does not take up to much from your walkspace than,yes!!
February 27, 2013 at 4:58pm   
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apple_pie_order
Soffit photos and floor plan coming soon?
February 27, 2013 at 5:31pm     
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Connie
We actually bought a secondhand kitchen that looked much like this, on ebay. We painted the cabinets white, then scruffed them up just a little, to still look old. Handyman hubby built new wooden benchtops, using salvaged 100 year old floorboards, which he screwed onto a secondhand length of laminate benchtop. Sanded and polished using natural orangeoil. (7 years ago, and it still looks pretty good - just a little problem near the tap, which will sand out) The counters actually look quite shallow, the way the stove juts out? If so, consider making the bench 600mm deep. No need to replace the cupboards.If the budget allows, I would replace the old stove with an underbench, and a cooktop which has a drop down cover, giving you extra bench space (I actually have a large bread board, which cover 3 of the 5 burners on my gas cooktop, and most of the time it just stays in place. Its just now and then that I have to take it off for a big cookup) I would also consider moving the stove, to next to the fridge. this would give you a nice streamlined look along that wall. Are the walls woodpannelled or wallpaper? Either case, I would paint them, and add a huge mirror above your seating area. I like the seating nook - assuming you use it most of the time? It does seem like too many entry points into that room. I would either close of into the laundry (if there is another way to access it? or the sliding door. Obviosly closing of the sliding door is going to give you heaps more options. i am currently doing a slight remodel on my kitchen and have found floorplanner.com to be really useful. good luck
February 27, 2013 at 6:04pm   
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Connie
what about a skylight? Or putting a new window above the nook (if you did close of the sliding door?) although I think you will be amazed what a diffence just some paint, as a starting point, will make to the entire room.
February 27, 2013 at 6:05pm     
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@applepie...sorry for the delay! Running with my son to basketball games has kept me busy. Anyway, I've attached a drawing and soffit pics. Thanks.
March 3, 2013 at 11:18am   
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apple_pie_order
@Lori, thanks for posting the floor plan and photos of the unique soffits.

1) Do the soffits go all the way to the ceiling or stop short with the trim wood covering the whole thing? Perhaps the trim wood on top could be recycled as a new shelf under the old cabinets. That soffit structure was a labor of love for someone to install. It is really not rinky dink; it looks quite sturdy. Since you have radiator heat, it seems less likely there's ductwork in the soffits behind the panelling. My guess is the panelling is that 1/4 inch thick kind that matches the banquette's wall.

2) Also, can you tell if the cabinets were built in place ("stick built") or are they a series of boxes that can be unscrewed and moved around? I'm guessing the former; look inside to see if there is a wood backing.

3) Could you also post a photo of the view out the back window? Do you like that view enough to make a wide row of windows or would you prefer to keep a new window the same width as the slider doors? How about extending a new window all the way to the corner, or adding one to the 8'8" wall, too?

4) Have you settled on a budget yet or are you in the idea-gathering phase?
March 3, 2013 at 12:07pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@applepie

I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can.

1. The soffits go to the ceiling and their is no ductwork anywhere in the house. They were built by my ex husbands grandfather and were a labor of love for sure. Unfortunately, I just have a different style and find it hard to live with something so rustic. I like touches mixed in with a more transitional and modern look.

2. I believe the cabinets were stick built.

3. The slider in the kitchen actually looks into my front yard. That area is being fully updated this spring. I'm open to what happens with the slider...my goal is to keep plenty of light and somehow gain more counter space.

4. I don't plan on a full scale remodel, but am open to new cabinets, counters, flooring and such. I'm a definite DIYer and my boyfriend installs windows and doors, so I can cut labor costs in certain areas. Guess I'm in the idea gathering phase.

Thanks.
March 3, 2013 at 12:24pm   
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apple_pie_order
Thanks for answers. How about an additional new window on the 8-foot short wall side?

I noticed your ideabook has a lot of sleek contemporary kitchens with long empty counters. Very attractive for someone who's living with a small galley kitchen!
March 3, 2013 at 12:27pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
Can't put a window there. There is a laundry room and other rooms behind that wall. Older house so everything is very disjointed and broken up! I've just started playing with the Ikea software for some visual ideas of the space.
March 3, 2013 at 12:33pm     
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apple_pie_order
While you are collecting ideas for a big remodel, here is a plan for a $600 facelift, assuming you do all the work yourselves. I suggest the facelift first because you've indicated: "I hate the cabinets, awful fluorescent lighting, white tile, counters, appliances and lack of space." A big remodel should be planned by a real kitchen designer to get your money's worth out of it.

Choose large (36" or larger) canvas art print for wall. $50.

Choose new light fixtures to replace ceiling fan and pendant light. $200.

Remove soffits. Keep wood trim for re-use (perhaps for great-grandson of installer?)

Remove all knicknacks and wall decorations. Remove mirrored cabinet.

Remove wood shelving on wall above slider door.

Remove wood panelling on walls.

Remove brick trim if possible, if not, paint it off white.

Paint radiator off white.

Paint all walls off white. Total paint cost $200.

Donate or sell: wagon wheel table and banquette. If you don't want to replace them just yet, paint them a bright color. $20.

De-clutter contents of cabinets. Buy wood insert for knives for one drawer $30. Buy spice drawer insert or lazy susan for spices $20. Tune up drawers by applying candlewax to sliding surfaces or oil any ball-bearing drawer slides. Buy new cabinet knobs in matte black finish or oiled bronze or brushed nickel at $2 each, total $50.

Have home center cut new plastic panels for fluorescent lights (the old ones are yellowed with age): $12.
March 3, 2013 at 1:14pm   
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libradesigneye
Here's a few things to build on the many good ideas.

If you paint out the entire soffit - and take out the lenses for the old fluorescents, the electricity will emerge to support surface mounted light. You can replace them with one of the linear ikea fixtures and they will operate well. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S89874606/ kind of thing off the switch since there is now a recess. You might have to face it out -

Paint the top and bottom trim of the soffit not the new cabinet color but the trim color of windows doors baseboards and so forth. Paint the ledge backing plywood in an accent color. Imagine taupe cabinets everywhere and a mid-tone rosy coral there on the ledge. Sarah's House did a kitchen in these colors once adjacent to a living room with pink accents - I'm adjusting yours for your colors.

Rework your existing backsplash stone behind the stove in the new scheme, but try off-white ceramic pennyrounds everywhere else for light. Add undercabinet lighting. Consider leaving the banquet across the end only (tear out and rework without the whole corner return / boosting it to counter height so you can use a stainless / galvinized counter height table on locking casters.

Narrow ones are out there - instead of taking out the slider altogether, change it to a 30" exterior french door that outswings, and window next to it at 42" - so you still have the light, and air so important to a healthy kitchen, and the egress for clean up that is useful (composting to trash removal, party supplies and so on). This new 42" wide counter space with no upper cabinet - maybe an open shelf hung across the window. You can use uppers, so the cabinets are 12" deep and the counter is 18" and you can round it off near the door. It will be comfortable for a stool opposite the banquet and widen your area in front of the stove. A narrower counter height table will do a lot for you as well as it can be pushed into the banquet for parties as a serving station or rolled outside onto the adjacent exterior space.
March 3, 2013 at 1:15pm   
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apple_pie_order
Just a comment overall- when an owner is unhappy with every single thing in the kitchen, she is best off with a complete remodel when she is ready. Things can be done in the meantime to make it nicer and more liveable. Eventually, starting with a clean slate is best. I've heard the Ikea software and Google sketch-up are both good.
March 3, 2013 at 2:37pm   
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@applepie... Thanks for your wonderful insight. I will definitely do a full remodel soon, but you've definitely given me some great ideas to start with. If I can lighten, update and declutter some right now, I might be a bit happier with the space for a while.

@libra...great thoughts. I love Ikea so I will definitely check there to see how I could possibly update the lighting.

I'll post some updates after I perform a bit of cosmetic magic :)
March 3, 2013 at 3:01pm   
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apple_pie_order
Glad to help you think it through. Please do post updates as you go along.
March 3, 2013 at 3:08pm   
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PRO
CMR Interiors & Design Consultations Inc.
Its not so functional to have a dark cornered kitchen. You will need some nice 4" cans in your kitchen or if its a ranch, go velux and do a few powered sunroofs so you get a wash of natural light.
March 3, 2013 at 3:12pm   
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Connie
If the slider is a "maybe keep/maybe lose" can i suggest in the short term, invest in a cheap but sturdy trestle table/workbench. (something that you would always have a use for later, even if just for parties outside, or a bench in hubby's shed) and just place that across the slider for now. (We have a 6 x 2 1/2 ft trestle i bought at bunnings, for $50. We use it camping, and its amazing how much we can do on it. One end hgolds our wasjing up area, and the other end is food prep. I will be using this as our "island" whilst my real kitchen is being remodelled! ) See how it affects the flow of daily living. Perhaps even block of thebase of the window with some boards, and see how much it reduces the light, if you were to swap it to a window over a bench.You will gain a good insight as to what benefits the cook most. If you decide its a necessity to keep the door, you have not spent /lost any great amount of money. Personally, I imagine that the bench area will win out.
March 3, 2013 at 4:05pm     
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Lori Wallace-Roberts
@conniefrancis...great ideas. I will pick up a table and try it out to see how we'll I like. And covering the window bottoms to get a feel for the light is genius. Thanks so much.
March 3, 2013 at 4:52pm   
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Connie
so how did it go? any progress so far?
May 13, 2013 at 12:12am     
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