Updating a 60′s kitchen

December 29th, 2008 § 6 Comments

This year one of my projects was a kitchen remodel in a 1961 ranch style home.
Poorly planned, and then updated once in the ’70′s, this kitchen was stuck in a time warp.

Sink and cook top location in tight quarters.

A peninsula partition, anchored between a double oven and a desk cuts the kitchen in half.

An energy efficient refrigerator will replace this one.

Booth seating remodel from the 70′s. Homeowner added seating in the kitchen in place of the washer and dryer. Everything about this kitchen was cramped.

The jog in the wall behind the bench seating is the water heater room.

View of the kitchen window, exterior door to side yard, and water heater room. Budget was cost prohibitive to expand the kitchen footprint out another 6 ft. Next best plan was to frame out the bay window.

One of the goals of the project was to make this kitchen pet friendly. The design changed slightly from the original concept to include a doggy door direct to the side yard for the family dog, Angel. Another feature added to the project was the inclusion of a desk and a doggy diner. The water heater was jettisoned to the garage to gain a desk.

Selection of the new cabinet color is discussed. None of these colors were selected. Cherry wood in Nutmeg stain by Dynasty by Omega in the Brookside door was ultimately selected.

The slabs are selected and the deposit is paid.

View into the kitchen. This door will be closed off in order to get a better floor plan. The doggy door access was included again in a new door.

Demolition begins. The water heater accessed from the outside will be relocated to the garage.

Water heater gone. The footprint for the water heater closet now part of kitchen. Sheer wall framed. Electrical wiring underway.

The bay window wall framing begins. Gas meter relocated. Framing for side door in place.

Door to garage is framed.

Red flag up on mail box. Message from Lead Carpenter to Homeowner.

Bay window in framing.

Renewal by Anderson Windows are in.

The kitchen was very small, apartment sized, due to the peninsula wall holding the double oven and awkward counter space.

Arched opening enhanced with double wall framing.

Peninsula gone, drywall in, kitchen beginning to take shape. Temporary sink left on site for homeowner’s convenience.

Cabinets are being installed.

The cabinets are measured for granite and the fabrication of the counters begins by All Natural Stone Design.

The completed kitchen. Cabinets from Dynasty by Omega in Brookside Raised, Cherry Nutmeg. GE Appliances from Warehouse Discount Center.


Furniture selection, upholstery and window coverings by Interior Designer Holly Higbee Jansen, of Higbee Jansen Design.


The exterior door to side yard and to the garage is in place. Notice the clever repetition shown in the detail of the window curtain duplicating the arch of the adjacent door. Your eye is distracted from the rectangular shape of the glass insert. A creative way of handling obstacles.

Client’s wishes accomplished: Desk, Banquette, Dog Diner, Dog door, Island, Double ovens, 36″ cook top.

Project complete.

Neutral Pallet for Artwork Collection

October 13th, 2007 § Leave a Comment

How do you design for a museum art curator and a graphic artist? The key was that the viewers eyes had to be drawn up towards the walls and what was to be displayed on the walls. My client’s are art collectors. One of the key factors in their kitchen remodel was to keep a neutral pallet to let the art collection become the focus. A simple clean sensibility was in order for the cabinet design.

I love this space. It is flooded with light.
We opened the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Kept the peninsula counter at 48″ high to keep the view of the sink counters out of view from the dining room table.
Concrete troweled fireplace. The Eurostone Counters in Anis play off the color of the fireplace.

New doors and Bay window open up the space to the outdoors and make the space appear larger than it really is. The before kitchen: (I wished I had a picture of it) there was a little breakfast table that used to occupy the space in front of the bay window. That used to be a standard window too.

Even the crown molding was kept subdued. We used a simple double stack stock with a beveled edge.
DCS 48 Range and Hood.42″ Sub Zero.
Fiesta ware in Red, Yellow, Blue & Green.

A bench and colorful Dhurri Rug from India.


“Downtown Interchange” by Frank Romero, 2006.

Art collection: by Frank Romero. http://www.romerostudio.net/frank-romero-artwork.asp


Alta Dena, just north of Pasadena, CA is bordered on the north by the Angeles National Forest. A unique position. High enough up that in some areas you can see the ocean on a clear day…

…and also views of downtown LA on any given smoggy day.!

Neutral Pallet for Artwork Collection

October 13th, 2007 § Leave a Comment

How do you design for a museum art curator and a graphic artist? The key was that the viewers eyes had to be drawn up towards the walls and what was to be displayed on the walls. My client’s are art collectors. One of the key factors in their kitchen remodel was to keep a neutral pallet to let the art collection become the focus. A simple clean sensibility was in order for the cabinet design.

I love this space. It is flooded with light.
We opened the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Kept the peninsula counter at 48″ high to keep the view of the sink counters out of view from the dining room table.
Concrete troweled fireplace. The Eurostone Counters in Anis play off the color of the fireplace.

New doors and Bay window open up the space to the outdoors and make the space appear larger than it really is. The before kitchen: (I wished I had a picture of it) there was a little breakfast table that used to occupy the space in front of the bay window. That used to be a standard window too.

Even the crown molding was kept subdued. We used a simple double stack stock with a beveled edge.
DCS 48 Range and Hood.42″ Sub Zero.
Fiesta ware in Red, Yellow, Blue & Green.

A bench and colorful Dhurri Rug from India.


“Downtown Interchange” by Frank Romero, 2006.

Art collection: by Frank Romero. http://www.romerostudio.net/frank-romero-artwork.asp


Alta Dena, just north of Pasadena, CA is bordered on the north by the Angeles National Forest. A unique position. High enough up that in some areas you can see the ocean on a clear day…

…and also views of downtown LA on any given smoggy day.!

Special Delivery: And I Don’t Mean Cabinets

September 27th, 2007 § Leave a Comment

Last time I talked about Purchase Orders, I showed you a couple of my 3″ ring binders from jobs in progress.

The crunch is on today. I just completed faxing my purchase orders through for a whole house full of cabinetry for one client. Went out to inspect a warranty replacement for another job, went to meet a contractor on another job and then hopped back on another long and detailed purchase order for another client. My deadline is tomorrow to fax the order, make sure it is perfect, items are finished, quantities are calculated correctly. TONS OF DETAILS TO GET IT RIGHT. The one hold up I had on this order was that my clients were not certain they chose the right color. As we waited for a new door sample to be over nighted, the clock is ticking on the construction schedule. We are supposed to be done by Thanksgiving. Anymore delays and we wont make our goal.

The door sample arrives and is gorgeous! Just in time, they have one day left to commit to the color. I am happy they loved the color, a dark Cherry Nutmeg Onyx Glaze.

I stayed late to prepare the change order documents. So when my client showed up with a fully prepared gourmet meal of Salmon and Asparagus Almondine with lovely steamed vegetable, I felt like I got a shot of B-Vitamins! Boy, what a treat! It was really a wonderful surprise and I think I will start scheduling my meetings with her closer to dinner time for now on or at least until tear out date! Just kidding! What a great cook my client is!

But seriously when a purchase order is ready for faxing, you hope to never get that call from a client asking to change the color. Once an order is in production, it is a huge ordeal to change it, not to mention costly. I am so glad we waited to get that sample! It took an additional week,
and as I have told other clients, don’t stress yourself out by trying to get a remodel done in time for the holidays or (insert whatever major holiday or personal event) that is pressing down on a time commitment. Let the work be done in a timely manner. Trying to meet deadlines around a remodel is torture for you and the stress you will put on your contractor could result in poor workmanship.

Special Delivery: And I Don’t Mean Cabinets

September 27th, 2007 § Leave a Comment

Last time I talked about Purchase Orders, I showed you a couple of my 3″ ring binders from jobs in progress.

The crunch is on today. I just completed faxing my purchase orders through for a whole house full of cabinetry for one client. Went out to inspect a warranty replacement for another job, went to meet a contractor on another job and then hopped back on another long and detailed purchase order for another client. My deadline is tomorrow to fax the order, make sure it is perfect, items are finished, quantities are calculated correctly. TONS OF DETAILS TO GET IT RIGHT. The one hold up I had on this order was that my clients were not certain they chose the right color. As we waited for a new door sample to be over nighted, the clock is ticking on the construction schedule. We are supposed to be done by Thanksgiving. Anymore delays and we wont make our goal.

The door sample arrives and is gorgeous! Just in time, they have one day left to commit to the color. I am happy they loved the color, a dark Cherry Nutmeg Onyx Glaze.

I stayed late to prepare the change order documents. So when my client showed up with a fully prepared gourmet meal of Salmon and Asparagus Almondine with lovely steamed vegetable, I felt like I got a shot of B-Vitamins! Boy, what a treat! It was really a wonderful surprise and I think I will start scheduling my meetings with her closer to dinner time for now on or at least until tear out date! Just kidding! What a great cook my client is!

But seriously when a purchase order is ready for faxing, you hope to never get that call from a client asking to change the color. Once an order is in production, it is a huge ordeal to change it, not to mention costly. I am so glad we waited to get that sample! It took an additional week,
and as I have told other clients, don’t stress yourself out by trying to get a remodel done in time for the holidays or (insert whatever major holiday or personal event) that is pressing down on a time commitment. Let the work be done in a timely manner. Trying to meet deadlines around a remodel is torture for you and the stress you will put on your contractor could result in poor workmanship.

Projects in progress

September 16th, 2007 § 3 Comments

Here is one of the projects that I am currently working on.
The before photo shows the typical oak kitchen from the 1970′s. 6 x 6 tan ceramic tiles with wide brown grout lines. This was very popular once upon a time.

This old kitchen is really a “one person kitchen”. It is a small kitchen. My client is a fantastic cook, her daughters are great bakers. The challenge was to make this kitchen accessible for two or three people to prepare food in a small space.

This peninsula says “do not enter”.

The goal was to open up the plan with an island to make it easy for more than one person to be in the kitchen.


The new island welcomes you into the space.

The island is placed but not anchored until the hard wood floors are installed. The island serves as the second work service accessible from the oven wall, cook top or sink. Now, unlike the old kitchen, two cooks can work together comfortably in a small space without bumping into each.


The appliances are installed. We selected an under cabinet oven under the cook top in one area and a separate wall oven and convection/ microwave on the adjacent wall for ease of two people using the appliances in this kitchen.


When my client couldn’t find a hood she liked in the manufacturer catalog, we had them custom build one for her. The curves are just what she wanted to see in her dream kitchen.

Every detail was thought out down to the rope that hides a seam. No one will ever see this seam as it sits at the top of the valance. But this manufacturer thought of every detail.

Different profiles were presented and rejected.


The tile splash was not an easy decision for the homeowner. Many styles were considered. The final selection was a porcelain carved plaque with a simple pewter border. Personally, I wanted to see something with a little more “oomph”. But this is my client’s kitchen not mine. Her taste is more subdued and she did not want anything to fight with the design of the hood.

Still to be added here is the light rail, wall paint and door casing.

Another important aspect to the design, was to minimize the light rail (I took these photos before they installed it). The homeowners wanted only a 3/4″ profile for the light rail. However the under cabinet lights are 1″ thick. They would stick out from underneath the frameless cabinet. So I had the bottom of the cabinet recessed 1 1/4″ to conceal the lighting.

Once the 3/4″ light rail is attached, the bottom of the cabinet will have a very simple clean profile.

The old kitchen had very large windows but still appeared dark and small. Also the kitchen lacked enough storage for plates and glasses in wall cabinets.


The old sink and base cabinet configuration didn’t allow for a trash base or dishwasher near the sink. The window gets moved to accommodate a better layout for wall cabinets and for the positioning of the sink, allowing for a dishwasher on the right and a double trash can to the left.

An extra bonus for the mullions on the wall cabinets: they line up with the shelves!

The dishwasher will have an integrated false drawer and door panel. I prefer to wait till the appliances are installed to measure for panels as appliances specs are subject to change.

Also changed: the window at the breakfast table. Once covered with heavy draperies is now an informal bay window with seating. The bay makes the room appear bigger than it really is. I typically would not recommend reducing the size of the kitchen window. However in this design, the square footage of the window that was reduced was replaced with the addition of a bay window. We solved several issues by moving and reducing the kitchen window. 1. We achieved a kitchen that is light and bright by adding a bay. 2. We solved the problem of lack of storage. We gained better function on the sink wall with more wall cabinet storage and base counter storage. 3. Additional storage will be built below the bay window seat.

For even more storage, we are building custom cabinets between the split level den and breakfast area. The storage has to be accessible from both rooms. We will get rid of the posts shown here. On the den side will be the new buffet cabinets.

Artistic rendering of the new “buffet” two sided cabinets. The engineering of this cabinet was no easy feat. The paper work alone for writing the purchase order and the subsequent faxes back and forth to the factory engineers and order editors was enough to cover two of my desk surfaces. I am anxious to see the product finally installed. It’s almost here! I’ll post more photos of the completed project soon.

Contrasting Custom Interiors

August 23rd, 2007 § Leave a Comment

I have a client who found the most beautiful shade of green for her walls. She asked:

“Can we use this color in the interior bead board back of my glass door cabinets?”

When selecting a custom contrasting interior paint color for your cabinet order keep in mind these pre- planning points.
1. Plan in advance of your cabinet order placement. A special color matched sample will have to be generated and submitted back for your approval. Custom color matched samples should be arranged before a cabinet order is submitted so that the order is not delayed while the color match and approval are pending.

2. Test your paint color on a solid wood sample. Preferably on the same wood species you are planning for your cabinet order.

3. Plan on additional fees to your order. Paint premium fees from the factory usually rate 10%- 25% more to an order. When submitting your own custom color, add to your costs the following: Development fees, Custom Color Fees, Custom Multi Step Fees which can add 5 or 12% to your order.

4. Before going to the additional expense of custom color, check with your cabinet sales person to see if there is a close match that would suit your needs for the project.

When I see a custom color request, it is usually done as a paint request, not a stain. Stains are easier to match with the range of stain colors available through cabinet manufacturers. Paint colors with cabinet manufacturers are limited. They may offer Forrest Green and Pistachio Green which are few and far between that perfect shade you are trying to achieve. “Contrasting interior color” is usually requested in a wall cabinet with doors routed for glass, or bead board interior backs to complement or go along with a paint color being carried through on the walls.

Why go to the expense of having the factory paint it? If very careful, “Do-it-your-selfers” can attempt painting small portions of interior back walls of cabinets or loose bead board back and install into the cabinet. Be careful though, if painting over already painted material, you could wind up with a mess, if you don’t pre plan by priming before painting. What a mess! You do not want to wind up with a painted surface that peels right off. Painting is not for the faint of heart. If you say you want the interior unfinished, manufacturers will not warranty unfinished cabinets, nor ship isolated unfinished parts of a cabinet.

Mostly, the reason that most are willing to pay the fee is that there is no better finish than a professional factory finish. No hassle, no mess, no re-do’s with local painters. It is done, and ready for installation!

If a homeowner hands the paint can to the unsuspecting cabinet installer, be prepared. Cabinet installers do not paint unless a pre-arrangement has been made in advanced. Most will want you to make arrangements with professional painters for finish work.

Contrasting Custom Interiors

August 23rd, 2007 § Leave a Comment

I have a client who found the most beautiful shade of green for her walls. She asked:

“Can we use this color in the interior bead board back of my glass door cabinets?”

When selecting a custom contrasting interior paint color for your cabinet order keep in mind these pre- planning points.
1. Plan in advance of your cabinet order placement. A special color matched sample will have to be generated and submitted back for your approval. Custom color matched samples should be arranged before a cabinet order is submitted so that the order is not delayed while the color match and approval are pending.

2. Test your paint color on a solid wood sample. Preferably on the same wood species you are planning for your cabinet order.

3. Plan on additional fees to your order. Paint premium fees from the factory usually rate 10%- 25% more to an order. When submitting your own custom color, add to your costs the following: Development fees, Custom Color Fees, Custom Multi Step Fees which can add 5 or 12% to your order.

4. Before going to the additional expense of custom color, check with your cabinet sales person to see if there is a close match that would suit your needs for the project.

When I see a custom color request, it is usually done as a paint request, not a stain. Stains are easier to match with the range of stain colors available through cabinet manufacturers. Paint colors with cabinet manufacturers are limited. They may offer Forrest Green and Pistachio Green which are few and far between that perfect shade you are trying to achieve. “Contrasting interior color” is usually requested in a wall cabinet with doors routed for glass, or bead board interior backs to complement or go along with a paint color being carried through on the walls.

Why go to the expense of having the factory paint it? If very careful, “Do-it-your-selfers” can attempt painting small portions of interior back walls of cabinets or loose bead board back and install into the cabinet. Be careful though, if painting over already painted material, you could wind up with a mess, if you don’t pre plan by priming before painting. What a mess! You do not want to wind up with a painted surface that peels right off. Painting is not for the faint of heart. If you say you want the interior unfinished, manufacturers will not warranty unfinished cabinets, nor ship isolated unfinished parts of a cabinet.

Mostly, the reason that most are willing to pay the fee is that there is no better finish than a professional factory finish. No hassle, no mess, no re-do’s with local painters. It is done, and ready for installation!

If a homeowner hands the paint can to the unsuspecting cabinet installer, be prepared. Cabinet installers do not paint unless a pre-arrangement has been made in advanced. Most will want you to make arrangements with professional painters for finish work.

Custom Built

August 16th, 2007 § 6 Comments

Here is a picture of a sink base my client and I created to solve the corner sink problem of too much wasted space.

The typical corner sink base the client had before was angled in such a way that it pushed the sink base farther into the room wasting a lot of space in front of and behind the sink.


The redesign I worked on with the homeowner, allowed for a 46″ base cabinet, two sets of bifold doors allowing for the sink to be set back further into the corner than before. Hoping for the largest sink possible, we used a fairly large Blancowave 37″ stainless Steel Sink.

One glitch was minor; the doors arrived with piano hinges.


We replaced them with concealed hinges. The outcome was successful and the customer is enjoying her corner sink now more thank before.

We also got rid of the 15″ trash compactor and replaced it with 18″ double trash cans to the left of the sink, thus making more usable counter space between the cook top and the sink.

Can you guess? The 18″ three drawer base is disguising the 18″ trash base. The top drawer is operable. The two drawers false panels hiding the pull out trash cans. That was a clever trick we used to give the appearance of drawers to match the drawers to the left of the cook top. The client is big on symmetry.

This project is an example of how ideas evolve as we work our way through the design. When the client first came to see me, the idea was to remove huge wasted space of the corner sink. Too much unusable space behind the sink and too much space projecting into the room. The client was so tired of this space that they were willing to place half of the sink into an L shape corner in order to reclaim the inches for usable counter and base cabinet use. The problem I saw in their initial concept is that we are replacing one awkward configuration for another. Another aspect of the design; originally the idea was to keep the 20 year old Thermador oven that still worked great! The problem: it was in a spot in the kitchen that would not work well with the new peninsula we wanted to add for more counter space. Leaving the oven in the original location would create a barrier or “walk a around” from the dining room. Not a good idea. We placed a movable cart in front of the pantry to show a possible location of the peninsula. We rejected this and placed the peninsula off the opposite wall.

We decided to move the oven to the opposite wall of the cook top, but because the oven was vented, Mrs. R. finally warmed up to the idea of a new Thermador when we found out moving the old Thermador meant additional costs with a new roof jack to vent the old oven. The second concept we decided to nix, was the placement of the refrigerator in the corner. As with the old corner sink, the refrigerator was decidedly too big to be placed on an angle. Instead we jettisoned the pantry to the old desk area in the kitchen, which was not used as a desk at all by the client. We found the depth of the desk area worked well so that we could place a pantry on one side and a glass fronted curio cabinet accessible from the hallway. Voila! A space that gave us a bonus storage.

In the redesigned space: oven and pantry moved, refrigerator inched over; the sink stayed in the corner with a more tailored fit with a custom cabinet. We also custom built the space to house the GE Profile Refrigerator.

It was important we put back simple key features inside the cabinets. Tray dividers are essential.

The “Tray Stay” is a Omega National Product, made in maple veneer. Installed in u channel brackets with screws. Fastened into multiple locations. Great feature. You decide what span you need between the dividers.


Notice in the “after photo” the bump out in the side panels and cabinet above the refer. to allow for a 28″ case depth refrigerator. The before shot shows the massiveness of the old refrigerator. The new refrigerator is still 25.5 cu. ft.

Before: After:

We also liked the idea of “side lights” on the glass door cabinet.


Custom Built

August 16th, 2007 § 6 Comments

Here is a picture of a sink base my client and I created to solve the corner sink problem of too much wasted space.

The typical corner sink base the client had before was angled in such a way that it pushed the sink base farther into the room wasting a lot of space in front of and behind the sink.


The redesign I worked on with the homeowner, allowed for a 46″ base cabinet, two sets of bifold doors allowing for the sink to be set back further into the corner than before. Hoping for the largest sink possible, we used a fairly large Blancowave 37″ stainless Steel Sink.

One glitch was minor; the doors arrived with piano hinges.


We replaced them with concealed hinges. The outcome was successful and the customer is enjoying her corner sink now more thank before.

We also got rid of the 15″ trash compactor and replaced it with 18″ double trash cans to the left of the sink, thus making more usable counter space between the cook top and the sink.

Can you guess? The 18″ three drawer base is disguising the 18″ trash base. The top drawer is operable. The two drawers false panels hiding the pull out trash cans. That was a clever trick we used to give the appearance of drawers to match the drawers to the left of the cook top. The client is big on symmetry.

This project is an example of how ideas evolve as we work our way through the design. When the client first came to see me, the idea was to remove huge wasted space of the corner sink. Too much unusable space behind the sink and too much space projecting into the room. The client was so tired of this space that they were willing to place half of the sink into an L shape corner in order to reclaim the inches for usable counter and base cabinet use. The problem I saw in their initial concept is that we are replacing one awkward configuration for another. Another aspect of the design; originally the idea was to keep the 20 year old Thermador oven that still worked great! The problem: it was in a spot in the kitchen that would not work well with the new peninsula we wanted to add for more counter space. Leaving the oven in the original location would create a barrier or “walk a around” from the dining room. Not a good idea. We placed a movable cart in front of the pantry to show a possible location of the peninsula. We rejected this and placed the peninsula off the opposite wall.

We decided to move the oven to the opposite wall of the cook top, but because the oven was vented, Mrs. R. finally warmed up to the idea of a new Thermador when we found out moving the old Thermador meant additional costs with a new roof jack to vent the old oven. The second concept we decided to nix, was the placement of the refrigerator in the corner. As with the old corner sink, the refrigerator was decidedly too big to be placed on an angle. Instead we jettisoned the pantry to the old desk area in the kitchen, which was not used as a desk at all by the client. We found the depth of the desk area worked well so that we could place a pantry on one side and a glass fronted curio cabinet accessible from the hallway. Voila! A space that gave us a bonus storage.

In the redesigned space: oven and pantry moved, refrigerator inched over; the sink stayed in the corner with a more tailored fit with a custom cabinet. We also custom built the space to house the GE Profile Refrigerator.

It was important we put back simple key features inside the cabinets. Tray dividers are essential.

The “Tray Stay” is a Omega National Product, made in maple veneer. Installed in u channel brackets with screws. Fastened into multiple locations. Great feature. You decide what span you need between the dividers.


Notice in the “after photo” the bump out in the side panels and cabinet above the refer. to allow for a 28″ case depth refrigerator. The before shot shows the massiveness of the old refrigerator. The new refrigerator is still 25.5 cu. ft.

Before: After:

We also liked the idea of “side lights” on the glass door cabinet.


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