Friday, October 5, 2012

Kitchen Remodel: Prep Stage Continues

While we were excited to purchase a new range and refrigerator, those were just baby steps to the prep work ahead of us to remodel our kitchen area.
A very big and important element was figuring out what we wanted our new kitchen to look like. We knew we wanted a bit more counter area, an island/bar to provide more prep and storage space, and have all the cabinetry in white to brighten up the room. After a bunch of brainstorming, David went to work designing a layout. 

Here's what we came up with:

Overhead view of new kitchen layout

Upper/lower cabinet specs for run left of the range
Upper/lower cabinet area to the right of the range

Island/bar detail; bar top to be in glass (we hope)

Cabinet door design

The next question was how much of this redesign did we want to tackle versus having someone else do it. We've remodeled two kitchens before this move, so we felt confident that we have the skills. But getting access to the materials we would need, well, that would be a real challenge. You're not going to find a Home Depot here in Belize, and there are few lumber yards in the Corozal area. The places that do sell wood often offer un-planed planks; mostly mahogany. And if you're in need of 2x4's, that is exactly what you will get -- honest to God 2x4's, un-planed. And more than likely, all of the hinges and pull-out extensions would need to be special ordered. Clearly, we needed to work with someone who had the resources and tools to pull this project off.

We heard really good things about Kim Longsworth of Bessa Decor. We got in touch with him and reviewed our plans over a couple of different sessions.  

It was during these discussions that we also needed to figure out what to do about countertops. We knew we didn't want marble, granite, or tile. A suggestion was made about considering concrete. I was initially leery of the idea, but did some research and was amazed at all the different finishes that could be had. Unfortunately, they can't be had here, plus there are no concrete masons in the area skilled to make the molds. We tossed out the idea of stainless steel counters, thinking it would make the area look too industrial.  Friends of ours, who also had their kitchen made by Mr. Kim, have wood counters like this:


We liked the warmth it brings to the white cabinets, so we ended up going down that road. What we ultimately decided to do was eliminate the light and blond wood elements and stick with darker pieces of varying lengths; no shorter than 24 inches, no longer than 40 inches. With a couple of coats of a poly finish, the counters should be uber-durable.

With those big decisions out of the way, we gave Mr. Kim the go-ahead (not to mention a down payment) to start the job. In the meantime, we had our own work to do including finding a single-basin kitchen sink and range hood, removing all the existing cupboards and backsplash tiles, tidying up the kitchen sink plumbing, moving electrical outlets, and the list goes on.

In upcoming posts, we'll provide more details on some of the diagrams you've seen here, the quest for our new sink and range hood, the compromises needed for the glass bar top, plus take you on our journey through semi-organized kitchen chaos. 

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