​My kitchen remodel – one phase of a single-family house reconstruction

You have decided to remodel your kitchen. You found some inspirational projects, you read about basic rules for kitchen design, you set the budget. You thought about your habits – which you will not change for your lovely new kitchen, and you thought about what is bothering you in this kitchen and what would you like to change.

Great start! That’s exactly what I did.

Then I measured the room for the kitchen and realized it’s a bit smaller than I expected, and none of the principles from the projects I admired couldn’t fit the way I hoped. Afterward, I noticed that it is hard to include a refrigerator in the perfectly designed kitchen – if you choose to have only base cabinets.

If you think about it, there is never a refrigerator in the most photographs of kitchen designs – unless it’s Smeg, of course. I find it frustrating because I think it’s okay to admit that some things are purely utilitarian and there’s no need to hide them in the high cabinets (unless the concept includes high cabinets) or behind the camera. That being said, I agree that the photograph is more attractive when showing only the best of, but it would be interesting to eventually see those less attractive parts of the interior.

Upgradesign - Kitchen remodel: existing floor planIf you read our previous posts about functional kitchen layouts and getting the most out of a small space you can easily detect some of the issues in my old kitchen.

1. There was no functional triangle. There was a triangle, but I had to do five or six steps from the refrigerator to the sink across the room, so it really wasn’t the functional triangle.

2. The stove was too close to the wall, I had only 25 cm of the worktop on the right side of the stove – 40 cm is the functional minimum and 60 cm is the optimal minimum.

3. Worktop was too small and the dining table, that had to be in the same room, was out of hand and wasn’t really useful during cooking time.

Here is what I did:
Upgradesign - Kitchen remodel: floor planSince plumbing system had to be renovated no matter what, I used that fact to shift the kitchen on the other side of the room to get extra 140 cm of the kitchen length (width of the entrance 120 cm plus the width of the wall 20 cm).

I tore down the small part of the wall to enlarge the surface area of the kitchen for one square meter. Previously, that space was a useless part of a long hallway. It wasn’t a load-bearing wall so it was easy to remove it.
When you are trying to decide is something worth doing, try to think of two problems that one action could solve and make sure it doesn’t create any new problems. Tearing that wall down enlarged my kitchen and gave my hallway a better proportion.

Bigger dining table replaced the old, small one. Placed liked this, the table works as kitchen island most of the time.

There is a clear refrigerator-sink- stove order, with optimal (but not ideal) distances between elements. The kitchen could be bigger if I settled for an L-shaped kitchen layout, but a linear kitchen was what I really wanted.

My kitchen remodel – one phase of a single-family house reconstruction | upgradesign

My kitchen remodel – one phase of a single-family house reconstruction | upgradesign
One wall kitchen plan // photos: © upgradesign

Some of the Ikea elements I chose:

What bothered me the most in the previous kitchen/living room layout was the fact that the rooms were small and completely divided. We have a big family and often host family reunions, so it was frustrating to have two groups of people, who would like to talk to each other, in separate rooms.

Again, thinking about the borders of the space and not just space itself, I decided to connect two rooms with sliding doors which mainly remain open, still keeping the opportunity for a guest to sleep over on the couch if necessary. Another reason for not tearing the entire wall between two rooms down is because that wall is the load-bearing wall and that would be, constructively and financially, much bigger project.

Still, there is one thing I wish I had done. Just outside my kitchen is our terrace and garden with home-grown vegetables. Remember how we talked about the outdoor space as an extension of the interior? Garden and terrace for dining are great outdoor space for the kitchen extension. However, we get there from the kitchen, through a hallway, then through entrance door and around the house. I could’ve easily replaced kitchen window with balcony door but I missed that opportunity because of a small financial difference.

When considering budget, the wise decision is to pay more for the work and materials that cannot be changed or are hard and expensive to change – like windows and floors. In most cases, furniture can wait. Don’t save on those elements only to have more money to spend on furniture. That’s what I did and I’ll always regret it.

To make sure you won’t have any regrets after you remodel, here is our simple worksheet about what to think about before hiring a contractor.

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