Someone Else’s House: The Blessing of a Great Disaster!
A friend of mine had a disaster. Her dishwasher flooded her kitchen, ruining a couple of base cabinets and the floor. It seemed terrible, but was it really so terrible? Maybe the timing and lack of preparation was horrible, but I think there was a huge blessing inside that flood. Let me explain why with pictures.
Even though this picture was taken after the floor had to be removed, you can still see how horrible the kitchen layout was. That’s the sink just to your left. The range is squished up against that wall to the right, very bad! The counter is full of the ‘appliance garage’. However, overall her cabinets were good quality, too good to just throw them all away.
The open doorway leads to the front entry and main living room. The door to the left of the fridge is a closet with tons of wasted space. The fridge is apparently the ‘welcome sign’ for this kitchen space, it’s the first thing people coming in the front door see.
From the ‘welcoming’ fridge there is a pantry and a HUGE desk area, not being used except offering a tempting ‘clutter’ space.
And this is to the left of the sink, the dishwasher and peninsula have been removed now, but it was awful. The peninsula jutted out into the room, cutting the space in half, and above it there was this big ‘soffit’ coming down from the already only 8’ ceilings making it feel like you were in a cave.
So the blessing? Well since some of this got wrecked and insurance would pay for that part, did it make sense to just re-build it in the same awful way it was? Absolutely NOT!! We (a design friend and me) strongly encouraged our flooded friend to let us help her re-think her kitchen plan. We felt we could use most of the existing cabinets, only in a different layout, add some new cabinets to match, and after they were all painted, no one would be the wiser. And she would have a wonderful space to cook up all the great goodies she loves to make. Plus, their house value would certainly get a boost too.
The key was for our flooded friend to have a GOOD carpenter that was competent to deconstruct and reconstruct her kitchen. She found that so off we go!
Here is the same kitchen space with the new plan starting:
Sorry, it’s kind of, (kind of? Really!) blurry, but you get the picture. We removed the range and put a base cabinet from the fridge wall in it’s place, and had a new upper built above it. The empty cavity will be the new home for the dishwasher. Then instead of the peninsula jutting out into the room, we had a cabinet base and upper built, the shelf above the base will house her microwave, (previously she had it on an unattractive cart all the way past the ‘desk’ area).
Oh and a big change in here too was that we cut that door way from the front entry as big as we could. There is a coat closet on the other side of this kitchen wall, so we made the doorway flush with that. It ended up being only about a 6” difference, but that difference made a huge impact!
Just to show you, the carpenter removed all the cabinets in order to re-fit them. This is the old fridge/pantry/huge desk wall after everything was removed.
Ta-Da! This is the same wall! It’s the new home for the range. We put the fridge all the way to the right, now it’s still accessible for the cook, but also for the dining table which is on that end of the kitchen. The tall pantry on the left of this picture was put basically in the place where the fridge used to sit.
Notice that cute little arch detail above the stove? She didn’t want a fan but for sure needed under-cabinet lighting. Her wonderful carpenter built this little trim piece to cover up the simple lighting mounted under the cabinet.
Can you tell which cabinets are are new and which are re purposed? Even in person, you can’t tell the difference.
Look at that new improved wide doorway. In person, it’s such a difference from the previous narrow doorway. And remember that icky ‘hollow-core’ closet door to the left? Well it’s gone, and our friend’s carpenter built this very smart, usable space.
Pull out pantry drawers, above, and garbage/recycling drawer below.
Now our friend has so much counter space to work on she doesn’t know what to do with it all. The nice neat home for the microwave is located conveniently for both the cook and for diners, as the table is just behind me from where I was standing when I took this picture. Here I’ll turn around and show you:
So now you can see the fridge to your left, the microwave is back behind my right. I didn’t have a before picture of the stairwell opening, straight ahead, but it was filled with 1975 style wood dowels. None of them were load bearing, just ‘decorative’ (ha ha, so to speak). So the carpenter removed them and installed a single column at the corner with an inset panel detail on it. (Eventually our friend will be changing all the trim in her home from the 1975’s ranch to a wider painted wood, but for now, it blends in totally fine.)
Also, she had her carpenter install this incredible floor:
It’s actually a laminate from Shaw, but even in person you’d swear it was hand planed wood planks. So durable and gorgeous to boot! Great choice.