Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Introducing...our dream kitchen!

It's been seven weeks since we moved in. Unpacking has been slow with an active, newly-dairy allergic 3-year-old and my own ongoing health issues, but I have been focusing on getting the kitchen in order. It truly is the heart of our home, and especially now that we've needed to really watch what D eats, I've had to push to get the kitchen (sort of) done.

All along, our goal was to create a kitchen that put function over form, was energy-efficient, earth-friendly and fully accessible, comfortable for multiple cooks, and practical for our everyday life. Since I cook our dinners from scratch most every night, I wanted to have everything I needed to make most any dinner I wanted without having to make a run to the store (hello, pantry!) We knew it would have a Euro bent, with some nods to Niels' Dutch heritage. Because I need order to function with my brain injury, we knew it would be practical and organized. We are thrilled with how it turned out, and unless our friends are shamelessly nice (totally possible), we were successful with our goals. 

With that, welcome to the perfectly practical, beautiful kitchen of my forever home dreams.

The dream is reality!
  • Cabinets: Custom made by our amazing Amish cabinet maker, Joe Yoder. All drawers are full extension and soft close with Blumotion. We loved working with Joe, and he will be making the custom cabinetry in my pantry eventually, after we catch our financial breath! 
  • Touch Activated Recycling Center: Custom made by Joe Yoder. Power by Blum Servodrive
  • Counters: Hanstone Specchio White quartz, with a small slab of marble on the baking center. (saved $$ by buying a marble remnant. Otherwise the baking center would have been quartz as well).
  • Floors: US Floors Marcas Areia planks 
  • Backsplash: Solistone Mardi Gras in Carrollton
  • Paint: Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay (Harmony No-VOC)
  • Main Sink: Blanco Stellar Single Bowl with grid (441024) 
  • Main Faucet: Delta Touch 2.0 Pilar 
  • Main Disposal: Waste King model 8000 1 HP 
  • Prep Sink: Blanco Stellar Single Bowl (441026) 
  • Prep Faucet: Delta Touch 2.0 Pilar 
  • Prep Disposal: Waste King model 8000 1 HP 
  • Insta-Hot: Insinkerator
  • Cooktop: Dacor PGM365-1S (saved $$$ by buying a floor model) 
  • Venthood: Vent-a-Hood SLDH14-136SS (saved $$$ by buying a floor model) 
  • Double Wall Oven: Jenn-Air JJW9830DD (saved $$$ by buying a floor model) 
  • Microwave: Sharp KB6425PS Microwave Drawer (saved $$ by buying a dent and scratch) 
  • Fridge: Whirlpool GSS26C4XXY 
  • Dishwasher: Bosch SHE68E05UC 
  • Freezer (in pantry): Frigidaire FKFH21F7HW 
  • Island Pendants: ET2 Fizz 
  • Under Cabinet Lighting: Task Lighting Sempria LED UC Series 
  • Under Cabinet Outlets: Task Lighting Angle Power Strips TR Series 
  • Pantry Light: Maxim Malibu 
  • Hardware: Generic pull bars that available everywhere.
Favorite Things (in no particular order): 
  • cork floors. So soft. So quiet. So easy to clean. LOVE LOVE LOVE them. 
  • quartz counters. Love the recycled glass and mirror. Easy to clean, no staining, despite my leaving turmeric and juice on it over night! eep! 
  • instahot. We drink a lot of tea. Now we drink more. 
  • backsplash. It stopped me in my tracks when I saw it in a display and if possible, I like it even more in my own kitchen. 
  • vacupan under the prep sink. I put it to good use! 
  • pantry. I love having everything I need to make anything I want. 
  • recycling center. I love that we have taken all the thinking out of recycling, and now most weeks we are able to make our goal of one bag of trash per week.
More big picture views:

Energy-efficient: all of our appliances are Energy-Star rated, and our faucets are Water Sense labeled.
View from the dinette.
Earth-friendly: the floors are cork, which is a sustainable resource, the counters have recycled materials, the maple cabinets were made about 30 miles away and LED lights.
View from the back corner.
Universally Designed: Extra wide aisles, handles instead of knobs, drawers instead of cabinets, dual height oven, microwave drawer, raised dishwasher, touch-activated faucets, touch-activated recycling center, and lowered baking center and command center counters.
View from the command center.
Hanstone Specchio White quartz made of 24% recycled glass and mirror.
Solistone Mardi Gras glass tiles in Carrollton. I wanted something subtle to avoid triggering vertigo, but also with a little variance to create visual interest, not visual noise.
ET2 Fizz pendants.
They are hard to photograph, but the lights have "frozen" bubbles in them
The craftsmanship of our cabinets is unmatched. Here you can see how smoothly the frame of the cabinet meets the shelf. Completely seamless.
Cork floor. Love, love, LOVE this floor. In fact, the head of the flooring company like it so much when he came over to see it in our house, he ordered it for his own house. It's wonderful.
Zone: Baking

The idea for the baking center, was to be able to have a lowered space so I wouldn't have to knead dough on my tippy toes (I'm short). Originally, it was a few inches longer so a wheel chair could fit underneath, but when I saw this remnant with the same width we needed, I jumped at it. (And there are other places where a person in a chair can sit and still be in on the action). The other reason I kept it open underneath was to store a stool for my son when he helps me bake. However, he has decided the stool is better placed next to the bar so he can get up and down at well.
I wanted a long counter space for working, but also had room for my new Kitchen Aid mixer to have a permanent home. I had no plans to move that beast around! And of course, I wanted lots of storage space for my baking toys.
The Baking Zone
My marble slab. I was really blown away by the customer service at Canton Cut Stone. The remnant that we bought was cut wrong. They replaced it for us, at no extra charge. I loved the original marble, but I love this slab, too. 

I'm still playing around with layout, but for now, this nice long shallow drawer works will with my papers, foils, bags, and baking accouterments.
The middle drawer holds all my toys, including cookie cutters, molds, funnels, and baking sheets.
The bottom drawer currently holds storage containers. We are making the switch to glass slowly but surely, and as these containers get filled with leftovers and moved to the freezer, I may move what's left to a currently empty drawer, and use this drawer (or the one above it) to store my flours, sugars, and other baking dried goods.
ZONE: Cooking 

The idea in the cooking zone was to have everything I needed within a step or two of arm's reach. We wanted a big kitchen, but the "work" part of the kitchen was separate from the "entertainment" part of the kitchen. With my brain injury, I can't multi-task, so I needed a cooktop on a wall to command my concentration. The prep island faces out so I can be social during my prep work, and it also makes team cooking interactive.
The double oven allows me to finally make big batches of cookies or multiple courses for dinner.  We saved a lot of money by buying a used floor model, but I was able to get the features I was really drooling over, and didn't expect to get: dehydrating function, internal probe, and proofing function.
Above the oven are slots for storing cooling racks, cooking sheets, and cutting boards.
Below the oven is plenty of space for my baking dishes.
This is our back corner. The microwave drawer, of course, with cups above for tea (the instant hot is on the prep island just to the right) and Tea Central in the upper corner cabinet. Below the microwave is another drawer. There's a super susan in the corner which only has a few odd items in it so far, like my strainer and hand juicer. The crockpot is usually in the pantry, but dinner was in progress.

We have a LOT of glasses and mugs for some reason. They're like rabbits. 
The drawer holds more baking dishes and Corning Ware.
We opted to hide our outlets under the cabinets. It works out really well for potlucks (we hope!) and saved us from breaking up the pretty backsplash. 
Short person's view of the corner. I can barely seen the outlets. If you're taller than 5'4", you don't see them at all.
This upper cabinet is mostly used for our tea caddy and the vat of coconut oil I know use instead of butter. 
Our tea caddy holds our favorite teas, hot cocoa mix, honey and sugar. We have a whole big cabinet of tea, but this is what we use right here.
In the corner I have my first attempt at making homemade vanilla extract. The bottle needs to be shaken every day for a month. Seeing it out reminds me to give it a good shake.
We chose a cooktop because it's easier to retrofit if needed later if I'm in a chair. The drawers could be removed and the cooktop lowered. For now, I love all the space, and especially the fact that our cabinet maker gave me three drawers when the other shops said it couldn't be done. 

The upper left cabinet has my other oils and sprays, like canola oil, sesame oil and non-stick spray,  as well as my salt and pepper grinders. I find it's easier to take the whole basket down that rummage through the bottles. Above that shelf is my mortar and pestle for crushing herbs, and the top shelf currently holds extras and duplicates.
My wine and oil cubbies hold my olive oil, balsamic vinegar and cooking wines. Again, so impressed with Joe. Everyone else had a piece of filler here. 
We saved a lot of money buying a floor model, and the blue light is kind of fun.
Cooking on this cooktop is like learning to cook again, but everything turns out!
The drawer they said couldn't be done. I LOVE having all my spice right at the cooktop.

My lovely spice drawer.

I used tension rods to separate the rows.
The middle drawers holds my most frequently used cookware. Another tension rod holds the lids.
The bottom drawer holds the lesser used cookware, like my new Dutch oven, the extra stock pot and additional skillets. I will start weeding some of these out soon. Because of the larger lid, the tension rod needed more space. 
The top right cabinet holds my prep and mixing bowls and liquid measuring cups.
I try not to have too much on the countertops, but I do like having my menu board there. My goal this year is to eat more seasonally, so I write the list of each month's seasonal foods on the left. We also have a goal of having friends over for dinner once a week, so I note when we have company, too.
The top drawer holds my knives, essential oils, can opener, and bare essential cooking equipment.

The middle drawer is our dedicated bread drawer, because my Dutch hubby eats a LOT of bread. We also keep our nutella and peanut butter in there. 
We put the frig on the outside so if I'm in the cooking or prep zone, anyone get access the frig for a drink or snack without getting in our way. We stayed with the side by side because it works well for how we use our frig and freezer. We tend only to have in our frig what we will use in the next week, mostly, except for condiments. The freezer mostly holds frozen leftovers in lunch size portions for Niels. We didn't put any cabinets doorsabove because I'm too short to use that space anyway.
ZONE: Prep
The prep island is the center island. It has storage on both sides. We knew we wanted it to house the recycling center and a prep sink, have a flat working surface and be large enough that two people could work comfortable on either side. I have visions of getting together with a friend or two and prepping some freezer meals together.
The prep island, from the corner.
The prep island, front view.
We splurged to get the Instahot installed, and we are so happy we did. Tea is so easy to make now. This model gurgles a little bit, but it's becoming the sound of home. The faucet is touch activated, which is great when your hands are sticky with  dough or icky from chicken. 
Underneath the sink, I used a tension rod to hold my cleaning supplies. I've started to make my own as I run out of traditional cleaners. It saves a lot of money and space. You can see the lonely paper towel roll. I think that guy is about two years old. We just don't use paper products much anymore.
These shelves are another way our cabinet maker maximized storage space. These three adjustable shelves use up the last bit of space behind the deep dish drawers on the other side. I'm not totally sure how I'm going to end up using them, but for now they hold my scale, measuring spoons and cups, wooden spoons and spatulas. Anyone have any great ideas for me?
This is the vacupan. Since the prep area gets the messiest, we installed this little guy to eat up all the scraps that fall on the floor. (Another reason I miss my puppy!). All you have to do is hit the switch with your foot, and it'll swoop up everything near it and send it into our central vac container.
ZONE: Recycling
Five years with Niels has definitely brought me over to the green side, but I know that recycling isn't second nature for a lot of people. We wanted to make sorting our waste as easy as could be, so we designed this recycling center to hold trash, glass/cans, paper and odd recycling (like batteries and bulbs). We put on the end of the prep island, so it could easily be used for prep waste, but it's also next to the command center, so I can sort through all the mail immediately. It's touch activated, which is really handy when your hands are filled with sticky things. 
The top left bin holds odd recycling like batteries and bulbs. The top right bin holds paper recycling. The bottom left bin holds glass, cans, and plastic, along with the occasional large paper recycling (in our city all recyclables go in the same tub).  The bottom right bin is for regular trash.

ZONE: Command Center:
I made a whole post about our command center already, but here's a picture to show how it fits into the kitchen plan. It's perpendicular to the recycling center, and nestled into its own little alcove, which means clutter is tucked away from the great room.

Ground Zero of home organization.
ZONE: Clean Up

No big surprise here, but the area between the outer island and the inner island is meant for cleaning up and storing dishes. I already showed the inner island's drawer side. Here's what's inside:
Top drawer: serving utensils, mostly.
Middle drawer: our every day dishes.
Bottom drawer: D is responsible for getting his dishes and putting them away. Not up to mommy's normal standard, but pretty good for a 3-year-old. 
Top drawer in the center of island: cutlery and serving utensils.
Middle drawer: My mom and dad's china--all 12 place settings. These are BIG drawers.
Bottom drawer: Silverware and chargers. 
Across from the dish drawers is the outer island. We raised the dishwasher to go easy on aging backs. Niels really likes how it gives the upper counter more of a bar feel with the wraparound.
We chose this Bosch dishwasher because it's VERY quiet, and quiet is this brain-injured girl's best friend. The third tray for silverware is pretty fun, too.
Niels' one request in the kitchen was a large single bowl sink. Since he's in charge of cleaning pots and pans, I was quick to agree. The grid that sits on the bottom prevents the sink from getting scratched and is also a good place to lay out a wet rag since we no longer have the sink divide for that.
Both sinks have tip out trays.
I'm still working out the best way to store our cloth. For the time being, I have my eco cloths in the top drawer, my "good" dish towels in middle drawer, and my rags and stained clean up cloths on the bottom.
ZONE: Entertainment
We need to buy a three stool set so all three of us can sit at the counter, but for now, we're still using our old ones, which match well. 
See D's little step stool from Hobby Lobby? He LOVES that thing.
ZONE: Pantry
My wishlist for the pantry was it was large enough for a full upright freezer to store more bulk meats and dry goods, had an appliance shelf to store less-often used appliances at waist level, and was wide enough that a wheelchair could move around in there. The pantry is 9'x9'10" and the door is 36" wide with door-activated lighting.
Update: You can now take a pantry tour.
Here on the door jamb, you can see how the light sensor works. As the door is opened, the button is pushed in, turning on the light.

We will have custom shelve put in eventually, but for now I'm borrowing my bookcases and some bedroom furniture to make it work.
If you look closely on the frig, you can get an idea of what it'll look like with the shelving installed.
Here is my temporary appliance shelf. Still sorting things out here. Out of sight, out of mind!
Whew! That's the tour! I look forward to sharing many healthful meals with friends and family in my new dream kitchen.

If you'd like to read more about universal design and aging in place, specifically for the kitchen, please check out these previous posts:
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  1. Fabulous kitchen, so well planned out, love it!
    Thanks for linking.

    1. Thanks for hosting! We're new to the whole linky party thing. We have so much to learn about blogging!

  2. This kitchen is awesome. I love everything about it, especially the dark cabinets.

    1. Thank you! We sure love it and are thrilled that it's anything like the dark dungeon we feared it could be.

  3. Can you forgive me that I perhaps didn't read each and every word because I was so drawn in by the amazing pictures and details ...?

    Functional. Yes. Gorgeous. Absolutely!

    And I have quartz counters too in my kitchen and just love and adore them. I've been know to hug them. At least once a day ... (and sometimes more when my family isn't looking)!



    1. lol, all is forgiven. :-) We started this blog as a way to remember how and why we came to the decision we did as we built our house. I thought this post would be especially useful for posterity as I come back 20 years from now and look at my dated kitchen and say, "What were we thinking!?"

      Isn't quartz fantastic? I love just cleaning with a bit of water and dish soap and everything comes out shiny and beautiful! (And yes, I did give them a hug when they were installed!)

  4. Jen- I feel like we are long-lost-kitchen-sisters! Instahot? check. Dishes in drawers? check. Command center in the kitchen? check. Baking station? check. Design and built your dream house? Check. It's amazing, I love your entire kitchen, and (I know this sounds self-serving but it totally isn't) I love seeing the same things that I chose for our kitchen, it makes me feel good to see someone else doing it too. Oh, coconut oil? check.

    I'm now following you, and once I'm no longer on vacation with spotty wifi, I look forward to poking around and reading more about your amazing process!


  5. Jessica! Too funny, I've had your blog open for the last week catching up as I can. I showed it to my husband this weekend and said, "I love our house, but if we HAD to move, this is the one I'd want." And yes, I totally get what you mean when you see someone else gaga over the same things you love. We're in the midwest, so it was pretty hard finding traditional and modern homes to tour. One of my favorite IRL compliments came from one of the guys on our building team. He said, "Modern really isn't my thing, but I really love how warm and inviting your house turned out."

  6. Amazing! I'm definitely pining this for if we ever get to build a house again. Thank you for sharing at the Weekend Warrior Link Party! :)


    1. aw, thanks! We're really loving it. We were going for function over form, but it's beautiful to us, too. Thanks for hosting the party!

  7. Your kitchen is awesome, it's easy to tell you put a lot of thought into every detail. I'm a new follower and would if you could follow me back.

  8. Wow. I'm in awe. As a very right brained person, your organization and attention to detail just blew me away. We are doing a partial kitchen renovation - new cabinets, countertop, backsplash, sink, stove top and wall ovens. You have such wonderful storage ideas! I love the use of the tension rods - how clever. Thank you for the time and effort you put in detailing everything you did.

    1. You are so welcome! I got a lot of ideas from GardenWeb forums, Pinterst, and home blogs. I hoped to pay it forward to help future builders and renovators. Good luck with your renovation! It's fun, and stressful, and well-worth it endeavor!

  9. Your cork floors are lovely, and I was glad to see it was the kitchen you put them in. We didn't really consider cork for our kitchen in this house (again, future resale was a big consideration and we don't live in a place that values eco-friendly or "different," unfortunately!), but would love to have cork flooring in a future kitchen. In our research on cork floors, we kept seeing conflicting advice about putting it in kitchens or baths - some said it stands up great to areas with moisture, others said the opposite. And we wondered about the durability over time (again, some reported it can withstand heavy traffic for decades, others said it dents and cuts easily). I'm glad to hear you love yours, and hope that continues to be the case over many years! I think it's such a wonderful flooring material!

    By the way, I'm impressed with all your great storage - I've never heard anyone say, "I love this house, except that there's just too much storage." :-)

  10. Wow! I ran across your blog from the Houzz webpage, and I love all of the details you've noted about your kitchen. We're at the beginning stages of a remodel. Although our kitchen will be smaller, you have some great ideas and input I'll be looking at in more detail. Thank you for posting!! I'm sure you're absolutely loving your new dream kitchen!

    1. Thank you! We are certainly enjoying our new home. We found so much inspiration from Houzz, as I'm sure you are, too!

  11. Brilliant design! Many thanks the photos, commentary, and intricate detail -- your hours of work have generated much inspiration for our design discussions. May all your meals be joyful! :-)

    1. Wonderful! I'm glad you found some inspiration. We are certainly thrilled with how everything turned out.

  12. Brilliant design! Many thanks for the photos, commentary, and intricate details -- your hours of work have provided us with many interesting design discussions as we plan our new kitchen. Best wishes and may all your meals be joyful!

  13. I think even beyond the kitchen is the warmth and love that emanates from seeing the things that are important to you described and how each family member's needs are taken into account.

  14. What stands out is the love in your home and reflected in your choices. May you live all the days of your life. Enjoy.

  15. Love the warmth, function and beauty of your kitchen. Very clever organizing ! What is the substance in the knife drawer that holds the sharp blades? Thanks!

  16. I love the warmth, function and beauty of your kitchen! I am equally impressed with the thoughtful organizing details! What is the substance in the knife drawer which holds the sharp blades?

    1. Thank you! Two years later, the kitchen is still one of our favorite--and most used--rooms. The knife drawer has sheets of bamboo to hold the knives.

  17. This is a very beautiful kitchen!! Love the cabinets, counter and back splash......and lets not forget the under cabinet vacuum. In my dreams! I have to say I don't understand the layout though. Wouldn't your cooking utensils go by the stove? And the large sink and dishwasher close to the stove where you dirty most of the dishes? I guess people use things differently. On another note......those 3 little shelves with the scales and what look like bamboo baskets would be a nice spot to display some nice or decorative plates on plate stands. ....but I'm sure you have found a use for that space by now lol.

    1. After living in our house for more than two years, I can enthusiastically proclaim that I love the layout of our kitchen. To answer your question about the placement of the sink and dishwasher, the idea was to have a cooking area and a clean up area because I cook and the boys clean up. It works really well because as I cook, I either put the dirty dishes on the big island, or over to the dishwasher. It's very easy then for the boy, who are by the big sink, to grab the dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher or handwash. It works our perfectly for us because everyone is able to work without bumping into each other.

      As for the little shelves, it's a great little spot for my measuring cups, spoons, wooden spoons, spatulas and all the utensils I use when cooking. The drawer on the other side (facing the dishwasher) holds all the serving utensils. Works out great!


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