Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ranch Renovation Diary # 3

The home remodeling process reminds me of a turtle. 
This slow-moving critter has a hard shell on her back, and if she gets frightened, or just needs to think, she can retreat, safe and snug, hidden from the scary world. She can spend renovation dollars in her mind. However, there's a downside: self-preservation can cause delays. The turtle might tuck herself inside the shell and have a pity party. Worse, she might try to make up for lost time, moving uncharacteristically fast, and the reckless speed could result in unwise decisions and more setbacks.

In true turtle style, I took my time with the ranchburger's kitchen. I withdrew into my shell a time or two, but I wasn't hiding: I asked hard questions. [I pondered frivolous matters, too.] Sometimes what we want isn't what we need, right? The trick is knowing the difference. 
This can be difficult for hard core foodies, those special beings who dream about drawer dividers, pull-out spice racks, and steam convection ovens. Foodies may be obsessed with Williams-Sonoma catalogs, and many are attracted to gadgets. I myself own dozens and dozens of cookie cutters and stamps. I also hoard cupcake wrappers, not to mention pots, pans, dishes, and small appliances.

Initially, I wondered if I should keep the current cabinets; they wouldn't hold all of my stuff, but I could stash the overflow in the dish room. That said, I'd kept most of the original cabinets during the reno of a 1990s Georgian, and the process had set off all of my turtle tendencies, along with self-induced headaches and delays. 
Or I could gut the kitchen and start over. Since the cabinets dated back to the 70s, and many were wonky, I chose the latter.
After the kitchen was semi-gutted, I had to make critical design decisions. You can read about that 
process HERE. (And if you're new to Rattlebridge, you can catch up on the ranchburger's story.)

One thing was clear from the beginning: the windows would be replaced with French doors, mainly to take advantage of the hillside view.

I mapped out a plan.

Since I was losing a whole wall of cabinets and drawers, space would be a challenge.
I went back and forth about this, discussing the pros/cons with my GC and architect. We decided the view trumped the storage. I'd just have to find space where I could. 

A knotty pine hutch will go on the breakfast room wall, a little below the 8' ceiling.
The hutch is purely whimsical and decorative, but it will hold many dishes. (My cabinet maker didn't want to use reclaimed wood but promised he'd "rough up" the wood, using medieval methods.)

At the other end of the breakfast (this is part of the kitchen, too), electrical outlets were already there, perfect for my warming drawer and a second 30" oven. A 25" TV will go in the cabinet above the oven, and the doors will be retractable. The "pantry side" of this cabinet will have beadboard sides. A large pantry (lots of drawers!) goes beside the oven cabinet.

At first, Jimmy sketched two separate cabinets to give me the unfitted look, but I hated to waste space. Storage trumped the Bespoke gorgeousness. Jimmy will make the pantry section look unfitted as possible. (For one thing, it's not the full length of the wall, so it will have a "freestanding" vibe.) Inside, the upper cabinets will have pull out shelves and slotted storage for baking pans, staples, and cooking stuff. Maybe dishes, too.

Moving to the left, we see the refrigerator wall. I'd tried to add my beverage center in the right lower cabinet, but it threw off the dimensions. So the beverage center will go in the man cave's humongous bar, where it will work much better, and my cabinets will be symmetrical. 

The farm island will be a whopping 126" long, and it will have a small dining area on one side.
(Note: After mulling pros/cons, I decided to put the dining side on the "pretty" side of the island, so my guests could enjoy the view. The sink is on the "cooking/working" side of the island.)
To read about my inspiration for a "Bespoke" style island, click HERE.

An open shelf will go at each end of the island, and the bottom part will be slatted--very English.
My copper pots may go there. 

Now let's look at the other side of the island--the cooking side. Jimmy's design had an off-center sink. He couldn't come up with a pleasing way (to him, not me) to center the sink. While it would give a larger workspace, the asymmetry would mess with my mind, which is very matchy and a little Noah's Ark-ish. I made a few revisions, but nothing worked.

I called a math genius friend (he works calculus problems for FUN), and he figured it out on the back of an envelope. I emailed a photo to Jimmy, and within an hour, he'd centered the sink. We tweaked the island a little. Rather than putting small drawers on the "cooking" side, I opted for long drawers at each end of the island. One drawer will be across from the range, because I needed a handy place to store utensils; the other drawer will be near the dishwasher to store flatware.

If you stand in front of the "working/cooking" side of the island and look left, you'll see the "range wall." A 48-inch range goes in the middle. Above will be a mantel hood. I hadn't wanted to add upper cabinets, but when I imagined myself preparing a meal, I changed my mind. I needed a place to store oils, vinegar, herbs, and spices. We designed small, somewhat shallow unfitted cabinets. Below, on the drawing, they aren't centered, as Jimmy was trying to show details.

I'm painting the cabinets white, but I'm thinking of adding a wooden counter to the pantry cabinets; it depends on the wood and the cost. The wooden slats on each (bottom) end of the island may be stained, too. I would love a wooden counter on the island, but it just won't work for Bandwidth and me. We need something for slobs, something impervious and forgiving.

The French doors and bay window will arrive in three weeks; and the
cabinets will take 4 to 6 weeks, unless the turtle causes problems. 

In the meantime, I'm looking for hardware (I love plain, round wooden knobs) and granite (or whatever is durable).

But mostly, I'm waiting for spring. 

I'll see you tomorrow for our Sunday home tour.


  1. love the hutch concept. Just wondering what Medieval methods he will use to abuse the wood. ha!
    Your choice of the word Medieval conjures all sorts of mental images for me...having studied Medieval French history. ha! I wish I had your feeling for word choice. :-) But then you are a novelist. You have quite a talent as a wordsmith!
    Love it.

    1. I just finished reading a non-fiction book about Medieval England. Do you have any recommendations about (non-fiction) Medieval France? As for my cabinet maker's unorthodox methods, Jimmy gets many requests to "age" his brand spanking new cabinets, and he left me a note that he would "put the chain to it." LOL My friend Allison (who had the first Bespoke kitchen in the South, if not the whole US) roughed up beams with chains--and maybe she did this to her built-in coffee station? It looks like an antique--when she built her beautiful home.

  2. Since the biggest remodeling I've done to my kitchen is paint the cabinets, I live vicariously through you.

    1. Painting cabinets isn't easy--I'm the Queen of Streaks.

  3. I am so loving the drawings of the hutch...I have a simlar one in my dining room; however the lower portion is open...
    I am so excited to be reading about your new journey of the remarkable home!

  4. I'm so glad you decided to gut the kitchen and I love your hutch idea. You'll really find it useful and decorative as well. Your analogy of the turtle to remodeling is perfect for the experiences one goes through during a major remodel such as this. We locked the door and ran off to the Keys during the condo remodel just to escape turtle-style to regain our wits.Now we're looking at a total gut job on our current kitchen and laundry room. I'm keeping your diaries for inspiration.

    1. Let me know how your renovation goes, Sam!

  5. Always dream of an unfitted kitchen..maybe you should go buy an old hutch...the methods he uses may not be that great!

  6. I love the drawing of the hutch, Michael Lee. It will add such a homey feel to your kitchen. It will be exciting going through this remodeling process with you. We can live vicariously through you.

  7. I have serious hutch envy, you are going to have so much fun with that!

  8. I'm behind on my visits, so am enjoying catching up this afternoon. What better way to spend a day inside by a "crackling" fire? Just stole your description. '-)

  9. Oh, forgot to say. Love, love, love the hutch. What fun to have this piece to fill with dishes. My kind of furniture!