Remodeling my kitchen - where to start?

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by french fries, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. french fries

    french fries

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    Hey all,

    I want to remodel my kitchen. Possibly take down one exterior wall and making the kitchen bigger too. If anyone knows of a good contractor in the L.A. area, please by all means share with me.

    Now where do I start? Should I first pick the oven and fridge? And how do I do that? What brands are good? I don't really know prices, I'm willing to put the price if it's worth it.

    I know I'm being really vague, but I just made that decision a couple of days ago after my oven died, and I don't really know where to start. I was hoping you guys could help me with a few guidelines, maybe some dos and some don'ts, and hopefully some brand recommendation for a new range and a new fridge? 
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Go talk to some different kitchen remodel businesses. They'll come take a look, take measurements and come back give you ideas. You'll know the right guy when you see him at work. Bounce ideas off them.

    It will start to be obvious really quickly who knows what they're doing.You don't want yes men who just agree with your ideas.

    The good ones start explaining ramifications of your wants or questions. They take more than just basic measurements of length and width.

    Go to an independent high end appliance sales house. Get recommendations from them for who to hire. It was one of their recommendations that impressed me in the measurment and QA meeting. Don't have your demands set in stone. Recognize that once they start, there are ALWAYS surprises that WILL COST MORE. You'll need some flexibility.
     
  3. french fries

    french fries

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    Great, thanks a lot phatch! There are a couple of high end appliance stores around here so I will visit them and ask for recommendations, great idea.
     
  4. web monkey

    web monkey

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    First, buy stuff that actually does what it's supposed to, and doesn't just look cool.

    A big self-cleaning electric double oven is nice, however make sure it's actually big enough to hold whatever you plan on putting in it and is "self-cleaning", not "continuous cleaning or anything else.

    A big cooktop is also nice (I like gas). Make sure it has enough real-estate to actually hold all your big pots and pans at once. Just because it has 4 burners doesn't necessarily mean you can actually fit 4 useful cooking vessels on it. 5 burners is better, 6 is really nice. Make sure you check the individual output (BTUs) of all the burners. You want at least one really high output burner (14,000 BTU minimum), 16,000 or more is even better, although it's a balancing game, since home-use cooktops have a total BTU output limit of around 40,000 BTUs (I beleive this is a UL or AGA limit), so anything built for home use that gives you one really big burner probably also has 3 wimpy burners.

    You can get into an actual commercial cooktop, but you'll need to make special arrangements for hea/fireproofing the area around it as well as installing a high-capacity ventilation system.

    Also, there's a big difference between something that actually has high output burners and something that just looks like it. Make sure you see the actual specifications.

    Be sure you get a designer who understands how to design usable kitchens, and not just places that look cool. A lot of kitchens are strictly for looks. The stove, refrigerator, oven and sink need to be close enough together that you can travel between them without a lot of walking, and you'll need a bunch of open counter space near the sink for cleaning/prepping veggies, etc.

    Believe it or not, it's hard to get a bad refrigerator these days, although I'd skip the ice maker and ice/water in the door, since they all start tasting funky in very short order.

    Get sliding shelves everywhere. Any base cabinet that doesn't have one will immediately fill with stuff you'll never see again.

    Some "nice to have" things I've seen:
    • A pot-filling faucet right over the cooktop
    • Two dishwashers (not for keeping kosher, but for making the dirty dishes go away faster during/after a party)
    • A ceiling exhaust fan for when you open the oven and something has gone "way past golden brown"
    • A "solid surface" or welded stainless counter-top where the sink is an actual part of the counter-top, and not bolted/screwed/glued/whatever. Anything except a 1 piece sink/counter-top will collect disgusting mung in the crack and you'll spend the rest of your life cleaning it.
    Have fun!

    Terry
     
  5. kcz

    kcz

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    --List of things you need, and things you want.
    --Budget

    Then you need a designer for:
    --Layout (Beware: designers are often terrible with ergonomics)
    --Materials, e.g. cabinets, countertops, flooring, sink(s) and faucet, backsplash, lighting

    Decide on your appliance wants.

    Contractor for:
    --Infrastructure requirements, i.e. plumbing, electrical, HVAC
    --Code compliance
    --Get bids  (allow 20-25% for cost overruns)
    --Check references and ask to see their work before hiring.
     
  6. french fries

    french fries

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    Excellent advice. Thanks for the guidelines guys!

    I definitely want a gas cooktop. Big enough, yes, with possibly one big burner centered so it can fit a large skillet, a paella dish, or a roasting pan.

    The sliding shelves are an amazing idea, I wouldn't have thought about it!

    The oven I don't know whether I want gas or electric, convection or not. 

    The fridge... I was thinking of the water/ice dispenser. Seemed like a good idea. I didn't know they started tasting funny after a while :(

    Aside from that I know I want a lot of counter space, a lot of closet space, and a small wall to hang my most used pans & utensils.
     
  7. web monkey

    web monkey

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    I'd definitely go electric on the oven. Burning gas produces moisture, which makes it more difficult to get a really nice crisp pizza.

    OTOH, if that isn't a factor, get whatever you like. :cool:

    The ice-maker produces ice, which drops by gravity into a bucket. However the ice augur that sends it out through the door takes the oldest ice, which is on the bottom of the bucket and has been happily soaking up smells and tastes from everything that's been in the fridge during the lifetime of that cube (the freezer and refrigerator share the same air-flow).

    The water-through-the-door will always be stale because it's fed though about 25' of 1/4" copper or plastic tubing, and has then been sitting in a plastic reservoir in the back of the fridge. Since the tubing and the reservoir hold somewhere between a couple of quarts and a gallon (depends on the model), you're always drinking water that's been sitting around, possibly for days or weeks. And sometimes it grows slime. Some models contain a water filter, which traps things like bacteria, however nobody ever changes them, so they just sit there and get more disgusting every year.

    Also, you lose about 1/5 of the freezer space to the ice making/dispensing system. if you use it a lot (like if you live in a hot climate), it works OK. If not, i'd skip it.

    Also, while I'm thinking about it, you can have the contractor take 1x12x(length of wall) oak, router a nice edge into it and make a great bookshelf about 1 1/2 feet from the ceiling, all the way along a wall. you can hang 1/2 stainless steel rod under it with a bunch of S-hooks for hanging utensils. You'll also want one or two really sturdy, big pot racks.

    I'll take pictures later and post them if I remember it when I get home.

    Terry
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  8. french fries

    french fries

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    Terry, pictures would be amazing, thanks!! I like some of your ideas a lot. Electric oven is fine. I was looking into kitchen aid ovens but am not a big fan of the touch-tronic kinda control panel, I'd rather have big old knobs, even if there's also some electronic next to it. I'm looking at a separate built-in oven and separate cooktop so the oven can be higher up so my kid can't open its door.

    Cooktop I'll go gas, probably 5 burners with a big center burner.

    As for the fridge water/ice system, I was looking at LG fridges, and they have a filter system, so I suppose if I change the filter on a regular basis I should be ok? We live in L.A. which is a hot climate, and drink quite a lot of water. We don't use much ice however, but the problem of stale ice is still present with our regular ice maker inside the fridge: unless we throw away the old ice every week or two to allow the freezer to make new ice, we're stuck with stale, smelly ice cubes. If the water/ice door system doesn't solve that problem, what's a good alternative for ice making? 

    Thanks a lot for sharing all your ideas, and I look forward to your pictures!
     
  9. web monkey

    web monkey

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    Here you go! The bookshelf is nice because it uses otherwise wasted space and you can make it as long as you want (wrap it around the whole room if you like).

    The shelf is 1"x12" oak. (it's actually something like 1 1/4" at the store but due to "marketing magic" it's really just about an inch thick.

    There's a strip of 3/4" x 1 1/2" oak along the wall supporting the back edge of the shelf, attached to the wall studs with  #14 x3" brass screws and finishing washers.

    The chains are about every 4' and are anchored to the ceiling with 1/2" x 2 1/2" lag eye hooks. This sounds like a lot, but I'm allergic to dropping a couple of hundred pounds of wood, steel and books on my guests. If you don't like the chains, you can use rods, but if you don't support the oak, it will eventually bow in the middle.

    The bar along the back is 3/8" Stainless Steel rod with Stainless Steel "S" hooks to hang the utensils. They're cheap, easy to find and you can have as many as you want.

    Note that some of the cookbooks (like "eat and lose weight" and "make it in minutes") aren't mine, but "in the interest of maintaining peace" in the home, I can't get rid of them. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    Hope this helps.

    Terry


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2010
  10. french fries

    french fries

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    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    Thanks a lot for the pic and the description, that's a great idea.
     
  11. nichole

    nichole

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    I prefer to work on the sink first coz i always use it.  next the cabinets and then the floor. 
     
  12. mikelm

    mikelm

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    FF-

    Planning, planning, planning!

    Restrain your enthusiasm and figure out exactly what you are going to do. Then, execute with care.  We sold our house seven years ago and prepared to move into the condo we'd bought ten years or so previously, and rented out. We had enough money from the sale to do pretty much what we wanted for the kitchen and baths.

    The kitchen is just 8' by 13', so the first move was to hire an architect who specializes in kitchens and baths; she had done a great job when my son made a very successful addition to his house in a neighboring town. We wound up with a tiny kitchen packed with drawers, slide-out shelves, and a three-shelf bookshelf to breaak the sameness of maple doors and drawer-fronts. A really good idea.

    All the drawers and slide-out shelves in the undercounter cabinets use AccuRide Undermount Full-extension Drawer Slides which look really cool (well, actually, you can't see them at all.) Check these out, especially if you're planning to have nice drawer boxes with full dovetail joints.

    Go to high-end appliance dealers and look at their exhibits: many custom cabinet shops will furnish kitchen-cabinet setups for them to showcase their work. These are contractors you may want to talk to. They are, mostly, not cheap contractors.

    I was able to cheat on my kitchen... my son owned a custom cabinet shop nearby, so I got his work fairly cheap and I also did a good deal of the cabinetry myself, using his shop.   What the he!l - I taught him everything he knows!  (He's out of cabinets now, where he didn't make much money, anthough he built a lot of beautiful cabinets and furniture, and back into something he's good at - selling heavy industrial valves.) If anybody on the forum is doing any seafloor drilling for oil or gas, I can get you in touch with him. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

    Also, expect your project to take two or three times as much time as you expect.  I figured our extensive remodel would take two months. It took eight... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif

    Mike
     
  13. french fries

    french fries

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    Thanks MikeLM, great advice. I'll keep the AccuRide suggestion, looks like a great idea. I also like the idea of the bookshelf to break the monotony of the cabinets.

    But.... 8 months? Wow now that really scares the (*&% out of me. I mean I must be really, really naive, but I was planning on being without a kitchen for about a month. I mean a contractor came and updated all the plumbing to copper, and changed all the fixture in 1/2 day. OK not by himself, there was a team of 10 plumbers in the house. Another time a team of painters refinished the ceilings, and primed and painted 2 rooms, 1 hallway and 3 closets using 5 different colors in 2 days. So I was hoping to find those kind of contractors who send you bigger teams of workers and get things done fast.

    Does one or two months for a kitchen still sound completely ridiculous? 
     
  14. abefroman

    abefroman

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    1-2 months would be very doable, especially if the cabinets counters, etc were ready to do and the appliances were in stock, etc.
     
  15. french fries

    french fries

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    Great, thanks abefroman!
     
  16. chefedb

    chefedb

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     BY CONSUMMER AFFAIRS Magazine including their annual reviews.
     
  17. kcz

    kcz

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    Re:  your time frame.  I would allow at least 6-8 months for researching and planning, and 2-3 months for the actual construction (more if you are moving an exterior wall).  Your contractor should be able to advise you about the time required for permits, inspections, etc.  The coordination of subs (plumbers, electricians, flooring installers, etc) takes time.  And I would NOT start any demolition until everything you need to install is in boxes in your garage/basement/etc., otherwise you are at the mercy of your suppliers and asking for problems with your completion date.

    Agree with Mike for allowing for time over-runs.  My 3 week bathroom remodel took 4 months.  My contractor said he can do my upcoming kitchen remodel in a week...well the cabinetmaker can't start anything until his supplier sends him oak beadboard, and the granite countertop guy says he needs 3 days minimum, and the tile guy needs 4 days, and the electrician 2 days, and the plumber, blah, blah, blah.  The appliance delivery people can only come on Tuesdays.  The company I ordered lights from says they're backordered until ? hell freezes over.  The code inspector is on vacation for the month of July.  Do the math.  It's also going to take time to pack up and move things out of the kitchen, and clean up and move things back in when they're done.  Make a plan for a temporary kitchen somewhere with refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven, or whatever, and provisions for washing dishes, for the duration.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  18. mikelm

    mikelm

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    KCZ-
    "The code inspector is on vacation for the month of July." 

    I
    thought New Hampshire was the "Live Free or Die" state. What the he!l are you doing with building permits?  They're against my religious principles.

    Just kind of kidding. We did NO plumbing modifications and no basic electrical changes. We did, though, hire the licensed remodel contractor who worked with my son the then-cabinetmaker to use his insurance and his licensed plumbing and electrical subs.

    Are all of you sure you don't need any valves for your seafloor oil or gas drilling? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/bounce.gif

    Mike
     
  19. kcz

    kcz

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    Quote:
    The state could care less but some towns are very restrictive.  The town next to mine just passed a law  that requires that all new residential construction have a sprinkler system, which necessitates a 500 gallon cistern in the basement as well as an auxillary power source and adds $$$ to the cost of construction.

    But you bring up a good point.  It's important to use contractors who are properly licensed and insured so you are not liable for their mistakes and injuries.
     
  20. mikelm

    mikelm

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    I've mentioned, in a lighthearted way,  my son's connection  with deepwater-exploration oil and gas drilling  valves and safety equipment.

    NONE of this equipment was involved in the DeepWater Horizon disaster in the Gulf.. If it had  been installed there, this probably would have been controlled and completely contained. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/frown.gif

    Just a note.

    Mike