Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pre-Move In Kitchen Tour and Inspiration

Our kitchen was a big hit at our open house (and on Facebook, as well). I've had a lot of questions about the design and layout and special features so that seemed like a good idea for a blog post.

When we first started dreaming of our kitchen, we had a few ideas we were trying to pull together:
  • large pantry. I love to cook, and make most of my food from scratch. We like to buy in bulk, and a large pantry means we can take advantage of bulk buys. It had to be large enough for a full size freezer, an appliance shelf for less frequently used appliances, and lots of shallow shelves for my bulk bins.
My original inspiration kitchen: Other People's Pantries #7 via The Perfect Panty. This site is a wealthy of fabulous pantry ideas.
Our current pantry inspiration from JenGrantMorris. Eventually our shelving will look more like this.
lowered baking counter. I'm only 5'4" and until I opened the box yesterday, I didn't have a stand mixer so I made all my breads and doughs by hand. I already have balance issues due to my TBI, so kneading dough on my tippy toes was not an ideal situation.
Baking center inspiration. This is me at a kitchen design store in Helmond, NL, Niels' hometown.
  • a "Jen zone" and an "entertainment/clean up zone." Living with a traumatic brain injury has informed many of our choices in our new house, especially the kitchen. Preparing meals for my family is a way that I feel I can contribute to our family in a tangible, beneficial way. But concentration can be challenging to me. In our old kitchen, the stove was on the island, which meant I could easily be distracted. I wanted a cooktop facing a wall and an island separating the appliances from the rest of the kitchen so that family and friends could be close and access what they need, without breaking my concentration.
original kitchen inspiration from a Drees model.
Our original inspiration kitchen, from a Drees Home Yardley model. This link shows a different home with the same kitchen layout.
Inspiration Kitchen from the Cleveland Parade of Homes. After seeing this, we decide to go with dual islands instead of a U with an island. Of course, our take will be much more modern than traditional
Our ultimate kitchen inspiration. Seeing this Parade of Homes kitchen from Otero Homes with dual islands convinced us that two islands provided a better flow for us than a U-shaped kitchen with an island.
  • Recycling Center. We really wanted to make recycling easy and convenient. I saw this recycling center at Ikea in Europe, but haven't been able to find a similar one in the States. 
My original inspiration for the recycling center (Ikea):
  • Accessibility. Since I am keenly aware of how quickly life can change after an accident, I wanted a kitchen that could be used at all ages and abilities. This included things like all drawers for the lower cabinets (except under the sinks and in the corner), a microwave drawer, a double oven, raised dishwasher, pulls instead of knobs on the drawers, rockers instead of switches, lots of layers of light, wide aisles, multiple counter heights, cork floors, and touch controlled faucets.
  • Earth friendly. As much as possible, we wanted to make selections based on quality, value and environmentally "green." Our counters are quartz, which we chose for the easy maintenance--no sealing!--and chose a style that is made of 24% recycled glass and mirror. Our cabinetry was made by a local Amish wood worker to reduce transportation emissions. The cork floor is not only soft and sound-buffering, but it's made of a completely renewable resource. Unlike hardwood, which requires cutting down the source, cork floors are made of the bark of the cork oak tree, which is stripped every nine years without harming the tree in any way. 
  • Energy-Efficient. All of our appliances are energy-star rated, and all of our faucets are Water Sense labeled.
  • Organized. I was pretty organized before my TBI, now I depend on order to improve the quality of my days. I needed a kitchen that had a place for everything, and space to do our household planning (meals, bill-paying, scheduling, etc)
So, given all those criteria, this is what we created.

Moving around the kitchen from the left. 

First, the baking zone. The lowered baking center, as I mentioned above, was designed for ease of kneading dough. Originally, it was 32" long to accommodate a wheelchair, but when we found this marble remnant (fantastic for baking), I made the decision to customize the support to the size of the remnant. A wheelchair can still fit under the dining table, as well as under the command center on the other side of the kitchen, and in the great room, so friends who use chairs can still be part of the kitchen action.

The interiors of these full extension (see bottom drawer), soft-close drawers are a very generous 39". Plenty of room for cookie cutters, candy molds, my rolling pin and other baking accouterments. The outlet is dedicated to my new Kitchen Aid mixer! Originally, we had open shelves on the wall above the drawers, but we made it into a half wall to let the gorgeous sunlight into the kitchen.

Underneath the baking center, I have this great stool/step ladder I found at Hobby Lobby. I'd actually like to get another one for D's bathroom.

Next, the cooking corner. The double ovens are not only nice for holiday cooking and baking bonanzas, but also provides greater access for users of all heights. 

The microwave drawer is accessible for users of all abilities. There is a lock function for curious youngsters, and the open top makes melting chocolate a breeze. 

Joe Yoder installed the vertical slots to house cutting boards, cookie sheets and other baking pans. The space above the microwave will be our beverage station, with glasses and cups and tea. The insta-hot at the prep island has already been put to good use. There's great storage below the oven and microwave for baking dishes. I'm not sure yet what we'll use the super susan and corner cabinet, but it will likely be less-frequently used items.

Underneath the kitchen cabinets, we had LED lights and outlets installed. We saw the under cabinet outlets installed on a GardenWeb kitchen and were sold on the idea of having them out of site. Plus, I love my backsplash and didn't want it broken up. 

The cooktop was designed so that I could have everything I need to make dinner within arms reach.  To the left and right of the cooktop are frosted glass upper cabinets will hold my mortle and pestle, bowls, liquid measuring cups and smaller liquids. The hood is a Vent-a-Hood. We chose it because it's powerful, but quiet. 

The cooktop itself is a Decor. 

Both the hood and cooktop are former floor models, so we got a great deal on them. 

One of my (many) favorite things about the kitchen is the backsplash. 

I saw this tile on a kitchen display at The Great Indoors. Niels was off with D in another part of the store. I called him and said, "This is it!" I wanted something subtle, but with variance. I like the look of mosaic glass tile, but it's too busy for me and I would fear it would trigger my vertigo. This tile is called Mardi Gras from Solistone. Carrollton is the color and it's pretty greenish-gray. It goes great with the Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay paint. There are little black lines in the tile, which cause the very subtle color changes. I just love it.

Joe put a shallow drawer under the cooktop for my spices. The two deep drawers under that will house my pots and pans. To the left of the cooktop, Joe built me five narrow shelves for my cooking oils and wines. This was a great use of space that would have otherwise been a simple filler to make room for the corner super susan. To the right of the cooktop is a stack of drawers. The top drawer will house my wood and bamboo spoons, measuring cups and spoons, knives, and other cooking utensil, the middle drawer is a dedicated bread drawer (my hubby eats a LOT of bread!) with ventilation, and the bottom drawer will house sandwich bags and wraps.

The frig is a Whirlpool side-by-side with satina finish so it's magnetic and fingerprint-resistant-ish. We like the side-by-side because Niels eats leftovers for lunch, and he can easily see what's available. We also wanted an icemaker, with the mechanism in the door, not the freezer area.

I wanted a flat island for the prep island. And there's plenty of room on the other side for a second person to work as well. From left in the photo below, there's the recycling center, then a shelf with my vacupan underneath it, and the prep sink with tilt out drawer from cleaning supplies. I'll talk about the recycling center in a moment. The shelves were another way to use space that would be lost other wise. The other side of the island is all drawers, so Joe put these shelves in instead of closing off the last 8" or so. I'm not sure yet if how I'll use it yet, either a few cleaning towels or maybe some prep supplies in baskets. 

We have central vacuum in the house for better indoor air quality. I really wanted to have something in the kitchen to make cleaning up the prep area as easy as possible. So had this vacupan installed under the shelves.
Instead of dragging out the central vac hose, all I have to do is sweep in the general direction of the vacupan. When you press on the white button, it creates a pretty strong vacuum and swoops everything up. LOVE that!

Both sinks are Delta Touch 2.0 faucets in Pilar style. You can set the touch function on and off. It's a nice addition if your hands are full of bread dough, for example. We also added soap dispensers at both sinks, and we added the instahot here at the prep sink.

Here's a close up of the Hanstone Specchio White quartz.

The Command Center is tucked into a little alcove off the side of the kitchen. Joe Yoder hit another home run. For most of the kitchen, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted. I turned Joe loose in this area. I told him I wanted lots of storage to hide my clutter and shredder, a big work space, some open shelves and a magnetic/dry erase board. This is what he came up.

All of the drawers are full extension and soft close. And here's the space for my shredder. There's an outlet in the wall inside the drawer.

The recycling center is a thing of beauty! Joe blew us away with this one. It's located at the end of the prep island, perpendicular to the command center. This is a very central location for going through mail, unloading groceries, getting to the frig and prepping meals.

The recycling center itself is touch activate. You can apply pressure with your hips and the door will open automatically, saving the handle from sticky germs. 

There's a bin for trash, a bin for plastic and glass (which can be recycled together in our community), and the top drawer is for paper and small recyclables like batteries and bulbs. I will get a two baskets for that drawer. Another tip of the hip closes the drawer.

View of the kitchen from the dining room.

The other side of the prep island is all drawers to house our dishes and silverware. We spaced the two islands so that the dishwasher and drawers could be fully open and you can put everything away easily.

The entertainment/clean-up island is separate from the prep island to make multi-cook cooking easier. We don't entertain a lot, mostly because of my health, but we do gather with our small group Bible study, and now I can have play dates with my son's friends because the house is so much quieter than our old one. 

The bank of drawers will be used for cloth towels, primarily as we don't use very many disposable products. The large single bowl sink was my husband's one request, since he often cleans the pots and pans. (He's a good man!) We also bought the grid for easy draining and cleaning.

The raised dishwasher takes the strain off aging backs. And the third drawer for silverware allows more room for bowls and plates when needed.

 Above the entertainment/clean up kitchen, we have three fun pendant lights from the ET2 Fizz collection. 

To the right of the outer island is the pantry door. It's 9'x9'10, which is huge, but has the added benefit that it is accessible from a wheelchair, if needed.

We decided to repurpose mostly existing furniture for the first few months as we think through how to best use this space. Here's where I was at by the time I called it quits last night. In addition to the shelves with my green and white bins, there is a full freezer to the right, and three pieces of furniture with shelves and drawers.

And's back to unpacking...

Materials list:
Cabinetry: Espresso Stained Maple in Shaker Style made by Joe Yoder Cabinetry. All drawers are full extension and soft-close.
Kitchen Counters: Hanstone Specchio White Quartz
Baking Center Counter: Carrara Marble
Floors: Marcas Areia cork floors from US Floors

**Update: We've moved in! Come see how it looks now!**

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  1. Beautiful! The touch-open recycling center is genius; i've never heard of one. Can you tell me who makes the opening mechanism? Thanks:)

  2. The opening mechanism is the Sevo-Drive made by Blum hardware. We got it online at Richeleu.

  3. URLs:
    - Blum:
    - Richelieu: and search for Blum Servodrive

  4. Love your well thought out and executed kitchen. I especially like your recycling solution. My only question is how do you transport your recyclables to the curb for pickup? In my town we all have large blue and green bins that we need to place on the curb once a week. Since they get dirty I leave them by my back door creating an eye sore.

    1. Thank you! We are fortunate that we don't have to sort our recyclables, so we just take the bin out of the kitchen and empty it into our pickup bin on trash day. We keep the big bin in the garage next to the mudroom door.

  5. 8 month build, is that correct?

    1. It was 8 months for us. I had some health issues during our build, which slowed down our ability to make some decisions. Six-seven months is more typical. Charis is a fantastic builder, we can't say enough wonderful things about them. After more than 3 years, we still love our home and are so happy we chose Charis!

  6. This kitchen could absolutely fit inside the backrooms of a high class restaurant! There are areas for preparation f almost everything! It's going to be so exciting when home removals brings in your appliances to fill up those shelves!

  7. This kitchen could absolutely fit inside the backrooms of a high class restaurant! There are areas for preparation f almost everything! It's going to be so exciting when home removals brings in your appliances to fill up those shelves!


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