05 January 2009

Here's an awful kitchen

I got a note from a reader the other day and she told me that she likes my occasional looks back at old trends. Go with what you're good at I always say, and so I was trying to do just that. I want to write about renovating old stuff I was thinking. So I started Googling for blog topics and I entered the terms "'70s kitchen design."

I came across the online photo gallery of a woman who'd renovated her "1970's [sic] Kitchen" in 2005. She was very proud of the job she'd done when in fact, she ought to hang her head in shame. This was clearly a do-it-yourself project --I cannot imagine a professional of any kind coming up with this. Unless it was a professional hack that is. I'm not linking back to her site to try to give her a rest of the drubbing she's already taken, the poor thing. Let this be a lesson to one and all, be careful what you post on the Internet.

So here's where she started. She's calling this a '70s kitchen (actually, she keeps referring to it as a 70's kitchen but I can't bring myself to repeat her typos), but I question that vintage. I would call this more an '80s job, but the point remains that where she started is where a lot of people start. This is a dated room that's not a very efficient use of space. It's also a mess. "I hate my kitchen" is no excuse for slovenly housekeeping. Ever.



So there it is in all its dated ugliness. It has a tiny space for a fridge, the dishwasher's to the left of the sink and the range is at the end of a run --no counter on the right side of it. The lighting's terrible and that range/ microwave combo probably stopped working ten years ago. I get it, I get it. I see rooms that look like this on a weekly basis and what's cool about them is that they can be made to look any way I want them to. It's not as if they're jammed into a galley, and these folks could go in any direction they wanted to.

So they start tearing everything out.


Once torn out, they upgraded the electrical service, moved the plumbing, rebuilt the ceiling, etc.


As I was going through her photo gallery, my mind was reeling with all of the possibilities for this now-empty room. What would it be? What would it be!

All of hopes were dashed as soon as I saw her new cabinetry stacked in the garage.


I see standard overlay cabinets with a Roman arch and they're in honey oak. This is the very stuff of my nightmares. NEVER let anyone talk you into arched doors, standard overlays or heaven forbid, honey oak. This poor soul is ripping out an '80s throwback and replacing it with another awful '80s throwback. I don't care what this layout ends up looking like, already this job can't be salvaged.


So here it is going in. Note the position of her hood. It's hanging at the manufacturer's suggested height. Those kinds of hoods come with a low-power blower motor and they only work when they are hanging in the position shown above. They aren't strong enough to work effectively at height of a full-powered, pro-style hood.

Note too the three cabinets in the foreground. She's putting in what's called a bat wing island --that's an island with two, 45-degree angles in it. When you make a bat wing island out of square cabinets you end up with big dead zones in the corners of your island. You can see the tile setter's mud bucket sitting in one of these dead zones. When it's all said and done, what you get is an island that takes up a lot of room but one that gives you very little storage space. She would have been infinitely better served by a rectangle or a square. Beware the bat wing folks.

So here's the installed cabinetry, flooring, counters, lighting and appliances. Ewwww. All those efforts wasted on something that looks like a builder without a conscience is doing a flip property.


The third photo shows how the hood was jacked up to the point of uselessness to get it to the same height as the corner wall cabinet. This is the crime against the Rule of Three that prompted me to write about the Rule of Three yesterday. Anyhow, jacking up the hood has made this room further out of balance than it would have been had the corner wall cabinet been the tallest object in the room. Two, non-symmetrical, tall objects on the same wall look lopsided and make me uncomfortable. Guests will feel uneasy and get vertigo from standing in this room. 

This whole thing is just bad and it's a shame. She spent the same amount of money (probably $25K to $30K) should would have spent had she consulted with a professional. That money could have been spent adding to the value of her home but all she's succeeded in doing is throwing away $30K. A bad renovation adds no value to your home.

As if the bat wing island, the jacked up range hood, the white and black free-standing range and the counter microwave pretending to be a built-in weren't bad enough, here's a close of the wall tile on that back splash. Why not?


As a side note, the correct way to abbreviate a decade is to use a single open quote, the decade and then a lower case "s," set tight. Like this, '70s. That single open quote indicates an abbreviation, and in this case, we've left off the century, 19. When it's shown like this, 70's, it's indicating possession. You see that's what an apostrophe does. Apostrophe S indicates possession every time save one. The only exception to that rule is the word its. Its with no apostrophe means belonging to it. It's with an apostrophe is a contraction of it is. Remember this sort of thing. It will save you from looking like a fool later. Of all the arcane rules of English grammar, the distinctions between plurals, possessives and contractions are some of the easiest to master. Misplaced or unnecessary apostrophes top my list of grammatical pet-peeves by the way. I realize too that I'm tilting against a windmill at this point. Possessive, contraction and plural S distinctions are rapidly going the way of the dodo, the thank you note and the earned standing ovation. Argh!

21 comments:

  1. oy oy oy. You are tough, Paul! First off - never, ever look at my kitchen. It's (hope that is the correct use of an ') an abortion, but I know that. ha! What I hate about this kitchen is the color of the cabinets and the granite, there's (hope that's right, including that last one, too!) no contrast. It just blends together with no accent. Ugggh. And the appliances - what is with the black and white range? weird. OK - I do have a question - what is wrong with the arches on the doors? I use those. What's wrong with them? Let me know, ok? I want to learn from you!!!! OH and you need to take off the word verification - it really serves no purpose but make the commentor crazy! ok - let me know about the golden arches!!!!!

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  2. Your kitchen's lovely Joni, I drooled over your marble counters when you detailed it in Cote de Texas. And yes, this thing's an abortion. Ugh. Oh, arched doors are a kitchen designer's pet peeve. The ones she's using here are a cheap, mass-produced version of a good arched door. Where arches get problematic is that the radius of the arch is contingent on the width of the door. Arches only look good when either all of the arched doors in a room have the same width or if their placement adheres to some kind of a pattern. What's going on here is a whole lot of wall cabinet selections that were slapped together without any thought given to the differing radii of their arched doors. Does that make sense? In other words, a cabinet 36" wide with have two doors with the same arch as a single cabinet 18" wide. But when you take a 12" wide cabinet, a 30", a 27" and and then an 18" you get a really jarring pattern of radii. Arches aren't bad automatically, it's just that you have to pay attention to how they are going to play against one another. If you look at the last photo, the one that shows the microwave, the fridge and the pantry; you'll see what I mean.

    So no word modification huh? Your the second person to tell me that in the last 24 hours. Maybe it's a sign. Thanks for dropping by Joni!

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  3. Geesh...thanks for the belly aching laughs! I agree with you...honey oak, or as I refer to it, golden oak should be sentenced to death. At least use white oak or stain it dark if you must use it but this kitchen is sad. I have never heard of a bat wing island...I call this a "pregnant belly" island and it is horrid. I got a few emails from an interview I did on Bathonista.com when I bashed golden oak so guess there are a few diehard fans but really??? Does anyone really think this looks good? And you are right, they spent good money that could have been better allocated. The hood is hysterical...looks like the panels were glued on! --cheryl kitchendetails.wordpress.com

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  4. Cheryl, thanks for your comment. Even six months down the road, I'm glad to see that this post serves to enlighten and entertain. Out of all the affronts to good sense and good taste going on in there though, the back splash tile still takes the cake. I hate seeing people making bad choices with good money. I hate it. Thanks for your link to your interview on Bathonista, I will check it out.

    Paul

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  5. okay paul. the backsplash material...hanging garlic rope over split wood...maybe the client was flashing back to her childhood and, like me, heated the house with a wood stove and had to split and stack wood every weekend, and braid onions and garlic together...(i'm not kidding)i kinda like its nosttalgic kookiness...

    the oak cabinets...can't you please show us some good looks for oak? they're such noble trees--maybe stained to look like wenge, or bleached/white-washed? i hate to see all that oak function go to waste for lack of form.
    totally with you on the arches.

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  6. I do love the look of rift-cut oak with a dark, wenge-type stain. It's even more beautiful when it's quartersawn that's been stained in the same way. There's a German cabinetry company called Studio Becker that does some really interesting things with white oak. I'll see if I can't scare up some images. Oak's a legendary wood and those honey stains on rift cut white and red oak have dragged down the whole species. It's unfortunate.

    Thanks for your comment Sara and thanks too for your spirited defense of that otherwise indefensible tile. I'll give the owner of the tile the benefit of the doubt. You might be right.

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  7. This had to be professional--just look at the timeline.

    My parents put in a kitchen like this, though smaller, just five years ago. Now they're thinking about selling the house in a few years, and my mom's talking resale.

    I tell her, "Mom. You put honey oak cathedral-door cabinets in the kitchen. Worrying about what's in style for resale now is just a bit pointless. Do what you like, and some other older couple will probably think it's great or a younger family will rip it all out."

    Fortunately (for them), they live in a very stylistically conservative region of the US.

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  8. That kitchen looks like it was Home Depot-ed, and that's not professional in any sense of the word. I tell people all the time that they should get what they want and they should. However, if they want my help there are some things that will never make it into their job. An aesthetic sense like the one shown above is one of them.

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  9. Aaackk!!

    You know what makes me even crazier than these kinds of abortion kitchen hacks?

    It's when realtors gush on endlessly in their ads about how positively *gorgeous* the brand new "luxury" kitchen with "all new, all high end appliances" is.

    All I can think about when I see that kind of thing is that if I were to buy that house, that fabulous new kitchen would just have to immediately find its way to something like Habitat for Humanity, and that only because it would simply not be right to just throw it in the landfill. And I should want to pay a $30K premium on a new house just to tear out the "feature" for which they jacked the price up, and then go spend even more to redo it?

    (I'm just a bit behind on my reading, as you can see.)

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  10. It is a Realtor's special, although I think it would be referred to as a "gourmet" kitchen in the MLS. Hah!

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  11. Not all Realtor's are gushing idiots who cannot distinguish the difference between a high quality, well done "gourmet" kitchen of value, a complete waste of space and money and everything in between. Some of us actually spend time educating ourselves by tapping into the resources of talented kitchen designers... imagine that. Hah!

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  12. Ok you made a comment, in the original kitchen, about the dishwasher being to the left of the sink? Is that bad?

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  13. It's bad if you're right handed!

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  14. Clarifying: A___MEN, specifically, to this:
    Aaackk!!

    You know what makes me even crazier than these kinds of abortion kitchen hacks?

    It's when realtors gush on endlessly in their ads about how positively *gorgeous* the brand new "luxury" kitchen with "all new, all high end appliances" is.

    All I can think about when I see that kind of thing is that if I were to buy that house, that fabulous new kitchen would just have to immediately find its way to something like Habitat for Humanity, and that only because it would simply not be right to just throw it in the landfill. And I should want to pay a $30K premium on a new house just to tear out the "feature" for which they jacked the price up, and then go spend even more to redo it?

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  15. We're cut from the same cloth Suzanne. I stay away from the MLS for the sake of my blood pressure.

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  16. Hi Paul,

    I work at Triton Stone Group of Baton Rouge, a wholesaler of natural stone slabs and tiles, and plumbing products. We also have locations in New Orleans and throughout the southeast.

    I found your blog through the Granite Gurus blog, which I stumbled upon a while back. Love yall! I've been in the stone industry for 3 years, and a I still learn something new everyday!

    Personal opinion: I agree with you 100% on this kitchen. Opinion of the masses in my region: great kitchen remodel! Unfortunately most of the people in my area have or want golden oak cabinets, more often than not go with New Venetian Gold or St. Cecelia granite or something very similar, and use 4x4 travertine on the backsplash. I am so, so sick of seeing people choose this style day after day - their kitchen is outdated before they even put the finishes in! And a lot of our business is new construction - in my opinion there is no "new" in that style...

    Keep up the great work!
    Emy

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  17. Hey Emy, thanks for finding my blog and I'm glad you enjoyed this post. It makes me grimace to read it now, I'm never this mean anymore! Keep popping in from time to time.

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  18. I apparently, with the help of my elderly husband (52 years old), have totally destroyed our kitchen according to this posting and Emy's personal opinion. I really do regret our ignorance to what is hip and what young people want. It really is embarrassing to become old and lacking in style... Perhaps the next life we will do better. But, there is hope, when some young hip couple offers us a fair market price for our home then they can undo all the damage we have done. They really should take New Venetian Gold or St. Cecelia granite or something very similar, and 4x4 travertine off the market so that, we the elderly feeble masses, don’t tragically ruin kitchen of the future hip kids. Truly am embarrassed for my kitchen and the woman in this article.

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  19. I'm sorry to read you're so so threatened by an opinion. An opinion that seems to be pretty widely shared. If you're looking for young and hip, check out the dreck they serve up on Apartment Therapy. In the meantime, the writer of this blog and the majority of the people who read it are your age. Regardless, this is an ugly kitchen that's been poorly thought through and installed. A little more legwork and a little more care could have resulted in something that not only looked better, but worked better.

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  20. Hi! I just purchased a house with arched honey oak cabinets. I am afraid!!! I can't afford to rip 'em out and they are in very good condition (Merillat--roll out interiors) HELP!!! I can't stand them!!! What do you think of the RustOleum Product-Cabinet Transformations?

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