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Everybody’s Working For the Weekend

I’m totally jazzed, brimming with a new found sense of hope and purpose, so I’ve been cleaning and rearranging furniture like a crazy lady and — oh, talented readers — I find that I need your help once again. Yes, you did such an AMAZING job commenting on my dining room woes that I thought I’d enlist your help with an even more dangerous mission, one fraught with peril and certain death at every twist and turn. Ok, just kidding about the death thing. But seriously, I have been putting off redoing the kitchen for nearly a year and a half because I want to make sure I get it right. Do you think you can help me? Great! Let’s get to work!

Here’s a panorama of the dining/kitchen area. If you click on the link, you can look at it in a more useful size:

kitchen panorama

Hopefully it’s pretty apparent how this wonky house is put together, but basically, the two red window walls face each other. There are lots of beams everwhere, and 500,000 cabinets. Yes, that many.

kitchen

Note the gigantic pantry with hideous dental molding. And there are even more drawers behind the refrigerator… So, anyway, the problem is that there might be too many cabinets. At eye level. Which would be swell if they were on a wall, but they’re not. They’re floating over the bar like a levitating forest.

kitchen

This is the view to the living room if I duck my head down six inches, and I’m only five foot one. Poor Karly and Hunny Bunny practically have to get onto their knees if they want to see into the living room.

kitchen

Here I am with my chin on the counter, calling over the Great Divide. I feel like I’m at a peep show.

So, I don’t really like all those cabinets getting up in my face, calling me short and telling me what a messy cook I am. Oh, and wait until you see what they look like on the other side.

cabinets

That’s as good as they’re ever going to look. I got sick of looking at the acres of wood grain, so I hung some Ikea fabric over the built in shelves (read: crap repository) and lined the glass shelves with the same fabric. Half that junk is getting sold in our upcoming garage sale extravaganza, and I am truly loathe to buy stuff just to fill a dead space. Speaking of dead spaces, how about the end of the bar? This is the first time that side of the formica sea has seen the light of day in quite a while. Usually it’s just a landing pad for junk mail and keys. Also, what good is a GINORMOUS bar if you can’t sit at it? If you tried to sit here and eat, your nose would touch glass. So, if I rip the cabinets out, we can take the undermounted shelves out (which go back a ways) and carve out space for an eat in bar. Easy huh?

No. There’s another problem. The Beam:

kitchen

The one that goes all the way down to the bar (carefully crapoflaged by wine bottles) is load bearing, so it has to stay. Yep. The janky one at the end of the bar that goes to the ceiling is just to keep the cabinets from collapsing under their own fat ass wood weight. I’ve really got to stop feeding them so much! Anyway, if I rip the cabinets out, will The Beam look weird, just floating there?

And what do I do about the wall space?

kitchen

This is the window wall with potentially salvageable cabinets. The ugly corner could be fixed by using some surplus doors… but do I really want to do that?

kitchen

Because I can’t save the cabinets over the stove (and Santa better be bringing me a new stove because this one is a health hazard). They don’t end at the wall, so there’s really no graceful way to keep any cabinets but the pair that flank either side of the window.

I was thinking I’d rip out all the uppers anyway, and do some kind of shelving. My plan was to keep the lower cabinets oak, re-oil them and get some new hardware, buy matching oak shelving for the wall space, and maybe throw in a few stainless rails here and there for spices and whatnot. But I have to have something to mount my hood underneath (no, I cannot afford a freestanding hood).

Down to the brass tacks: My budget is $1000. I know many of you will think it can’t be done, but it has to be. I’m keeping the formica for now. (Even though I want soapstone, I have 75 square feet of countertops, so it’s gonna be formica for a while.) I’m not buying new cabinets, but I could paint them if everyone thinks they’re truly hideous. I’m getting a new range and dishwasher in stainless, and they won’t be included in the budget. But I need a new faucet, shelves, hood and labor, which will be provided by Hunny Bunny and Karly’s hubby (for a fee).

So, what do you think? Should I rip everything out? Should I paint, or leave the cabinets natural? What kind of hardware would you recommend? What kind of shelving and where should it go? Am I crazy for even thinking about this because it’s going to destroy the resale value?

Here are some kitchen images for inspiration (and also just for pornographic purposes):

alyson fox kitchen

Fellow Austinite Alyson Fox’s newly renovated kitchen featured at Design Sponge is a definite source of inspiration. She even has some similar Beam issues:

alyson fox kitchen

Habitually Chic did a post on open shelving and featured these kitchens:

habitually chic kitchens

Here’s a lovely open bar and no upper cabinets seen at If The Lampshade Fits (in another drool worthy kitchen post!)

if the lampshade fits

Some lovely and simple pictures via Domino:

domino kitchens

I found this one at Door Sixteen, in a great post on unfussy kitchens (and you can also see Anna’s own kitchen renovation over there):

door sixteen

So that’s it for the roundup. I hope each any every one of you is formulating a master plan to save my kitchen from its hulking wooditude!

Whew! I’m tired from all this what iffing. But tune in next week for an interview with my Benjamin Moore paint buddy, Sanders, and all his colorful wisdom. Won’t it be nice to have someone give information — instead of me taking it  — for a change?

But I really appreciate all your commenting love, so thanks in advance!

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