Friday, September 28, 2012

Live and Learn #2 - The Kitchen

We've wanted a great kitchen for years.  When we started looking at houses in Aurora that was one of the first things we focused on.  The kitchen there was a pretty good kitchen and functioned well, but it was a little tight to work in and had a few quirks that we didn't like so when it came time to design this kitchen we took the parts we liked from that kitchen and carried them over to this one.

Then, it was time to design the actual cabinet fronts.  We didn't want to go traditional with raised panels or arches.  We didn't want the front panels to be too fussy or complicated but we didn't want to go all slab front either as we felt that was too contemporary.  So, we worked with Dave (the owner of the cabinet shop), who totally caught our vision, and came up with something that I think looks really good.  I love the 5-piece cabinet and drawer front design.  I love the soft white color of the cabinets and the soft gray glaze.  I love the care and quality that was taken into building the cabinets and putting them together.

But when I walked in the first day I realized that something was very off and needed to be fixed.

In designing the drawer layout I had seen some images in magazines and online (I love and used it A LOT!) that had a slab front drawer as the top drawer in the stack.  I really liked that look and thought it seemed to be the perfect way to balance out the transitional look we were trying to achieve so asked Dave to include that feature.

When we were drawing up the final kitchen design I was told that the four drawer stack wouldn't really work with the 5-piece front because the drawers were too narrow and it would end up looking funny (kind of like the top of a toaster).  So I agreed that the four drawers would be all slab front.  Then in a stroke of genius I said let's have only the drawers below the cooktop be built with the 5-piece front.  I thought that would set them off and make them look special.  I also said I didn't want the end panel to have the 5-piece design but just wanted to be flat.  In my defense, I was afraid it would make the kitchen look too busy and would save us some money.  Win, Win (in my mind).

Can you see what was bothering me?  It took me a little while to figure out what it was that was throwing me off from totally and completely loving my kitchen cabinets.  Looking at the picture it doesn't look quite as stark as it does in real life.  

The first change that obviously needed to be made was to have the end panel changed out to a 5-piece design.  Tex tried to tell me that and I discounted his opinion.  The style needs to be carried from the wall cabinets through the whole kitchen.  MAYBE if I'd put in a cabinet with doors there instead of the slab front drawers it wouldn't have been soooo obvious, but we'll never know.  Lesson learned.   Listen to the guy who's been doing this for years and years.
Now, on to the second change that needs to happen.

Because I included a three drawer stack right next to the cooktop the difference in the drawer fronts was too stark.  They were the exact same height so there was no visual reason for them to not have the same design on the front drawer panel.  The only way that my concept of having the cooktop drawers "stand out" would have been to have both drawer stacks flanking it be a four drawer stack and I would have needed to pull out the spice cabinet pullouts a couple of inches to really create the sense of a cooking niche.

Well, it was too late to make a new four drawer stack and I wasn't going to pay for that either (and I really wanted the deeper drawers here --- I have an idea that I hope will work just fabulously for these drawers) so I asked Tex to make some new drawer fronts so they would match the lines of the drawers below the cooktop.  Lesson learned.  Don't just assume the design in your head is going to translate well into real life.  Get a drawing of the whole design before you approve it.

And here's another mistake, but luckily this one wasn't my responsibility.  The cabinet shop goofed and made the posts to support the countertop overhang in white instead of stained wood.  They tried to convince me that it would look good and that they have seen it done before so I should just leave them white and be all funky and trendy.  I said, "No! Thank you for the very kind suggestion.  PLEASE make them again in the stained finish."  (In this picture I think it looks a bit like a cartoon)  
Noah was cracking me up - he saw the broom and piles of sawdust and immediately got to work cleaning

Disclaimer - I could have lived with the kitchen the way it was.  It wasn't the end of the world, and we actually slept on it for two nights before we made the final decision to pay for the changes and we waited for the drawer pulls and cabinet knobs to go up to see if that made a difference.  Yes....having the handles put on helped a lot and once the countertops go on that will help even more, but it would have bugged me every single time I walked into the kitchen, so we bit the bullet and asked for those four panels to be remade.    

The funny thing is I'd spent so much time drawing out the function of the kitchen...measuring the distance from here to there, imagining where I was going to store things for easy and appropriate access but I forgot to draw out the form (or actual cabinet and drawer front design) of the entire kitchen.  Form and function are both important to me and I know that, but in my haste to meet a deadline, I skipped a step in the design process.  

First world problems.  I know.  And I feel a little guilty about making a big deal out of these issues, but we are going to live here for a long, long time and I do not want to be focused on "should haves and could haves".  I want to move in and move on.  

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