Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The crowd of kitchen renovators at IKEA during the post-Christmas rush.
Today, after two false starts, we finally made it to Lee Valley Tools and IKEA to purchase some of the fixtures and all of the cabinets for kitchen renovation.

At Lee Valley, we picked up a fancy pull-out fixture that will make the best use of the one blind corner we will have in the kitchen.

Blind Corner Unit from Lee Valley

The Lee Valley stop was easy. From there, we went to IKEA and joined every single person in Ottawa who put "renovate kitchen" on their list of New Year's Resolutions. It was insane. It took three hours, and one of those hours was spent in the cash line-up and then the pick-up line-up.

But before we even got to this point, we had many decisions to make:

1. What are we hoping to achieve?

Both Stephen and I have project-management backgrounds, so it was important to establish the "why" of the whole project. Here it is:
  • Brighter room, for "mood" and for photography
  • Efficient layout of work surfaces (contiguous counter for cooking and baking)
  • Better traffic flow to dining room
  • Reuse as much of existing kitchen as possible (including appliances)
2. How much are we willing to spend?

We hope to do the whole thing for less than $5,000, but anticipate some over-runs and surprises. Having said that, if it comes in at $15,000 we will both be unhappy.

So far, we've spent:
IKEA          $1,097.20
Lee Valley       299.45

What's left to purchase:
Countertops (granite)  estimate: $2,000
Small microwave   estimate: $200
Vent hood   estimate $200
Faucet     estimate $150

Image from Hooked on Houses: 5 White Kitchens, 5 Different Looks: Got a Favorite?
3. Do we stick with the medium-brown finish?

I've been dreaming of an all-white kitchen for a few years now, but ultimately, I think the brown is classic enough and it will save us a bundle. (Even though the white cabinets are currently 50% off.)

Bins full of Scotch (and other things).
4. Are we willing to sacrifice some cabinet space in order to have a better workflow and traffic flow?

This was a biggie. I think part of our North American consumer culture drives us to acquire and keep things that we honestly don't use all that often. Like the crepe maker we held onto for years. Or the raclette we used about three times before selling it on Kijiji.

In order to test this, we:
  • emptied the cabinets that would not be making the transition 
  • donated some things right off the bat 
  • moved contents to "temporary" storage (the blue bins)
So far, the only things we've dug out of the temporary storage have been a few favourite mugs (there was still ample room in the designated coffee cupboard) and Stephen's Scotch collection. We have a plan for the Scotch, however: a cabinet in the dining room.

A new-to-us range. I wish the top weren't white, but I can live with it.
5. Do we want to invest in new appliances and fixtures?

Despite the fact that we're renovating a relatively new kitchen, we both ascribe to the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" maxim. In my opinion, the layout of our current kitchen was broken. With that in mind, there were a few changes:
  • A new sink, big enough to hold my roasting pan
  • A smaller "countertop" microwave -- we generally use ours only for defrosting meat and for heating up leftovers
That's it.

The rest of our decisions were cabinet-by-cabinet questions of configuration, and re-use versus new considerations. I'll address those as we go along. Stay tuned!


  1. I so want a new kitchen now. I have always loved the IDEA of a white kitchen, but worried about the keeping it white and fresh and clean part. since there are 3 kids here still.
    Or, like you said - I should go through my cupboards and get rid of stuff we don't use. Like the 3 different fondue sets I have. ????

    1. Three fondue sets! I think we had that at one time: one for cheese, one for oil, and one for chocolate. In theory, we could have a three-course all-fondue dinner party. Never did, though.


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