30 July 2009

This is a long post, sorry.

I haven’t mentioned it before now, but I’ve been busy planning the downstairs layout, specifically the kitchen. I think I’ve *finally* decided on the plan. Here’s how it will be divided (at least until I change my mind again):

Top to bottom: Mudroom, den, kitchen, half-bath under the main stairs.

There were a few things driving this design. First, the windows. Since our home was built in 1905 and is load-bearing masonry construction (with limestone headers and sills), we aren’t going to try to change any of the openings. Most of the windows are only about 20” off the floor, meaning we can’t put cabinets in front of them. The windows where I’ve located the sink are a bit higher off the floor and will accommodate cabinets.

The second consideration was the two sets of stairs at the back of the house. The set closer to the back door is a servant’s stair. Several steps are missing (I think the previous owner took them out to add a closet there), but we plan on restoring them. It will lead up to a study/guest bedroom on the second floor from a mudroom on the ground floor. The other staircase leads down to the basement.

The next challenge was the bump-out in the wall in the middle room in the plan. It was a chimney for the home’s boiler, which no longer exists. The brick has to stay, though, so we thought we’d turn it into an asset rather than a weird bump in the middle of the room. By framing it a little wider and deeper, we can install a gas fireplace insert. The extra bulk will make it look more like a traditional wood-burning fireplace structure and turn the whole area into a focal point. Plus, it’ll give us somewhere to hang the TV that isn’t visible from the front windows. Am I the only one who cringes at seeing people’s TVs in the front room?

As far as the kitchen design goes, I’ve been awfully picky. I cook nearly every day, so I want it to have form AND function. While I might love having a huge, million-dollar kitchen, I simply can’t justify it. Sure, I cook, but it’s certainly not gourmet meals every day, and right now, it’s just me and the husband. And whether I like it or not, I’m usually the only one doing the cooking, so I don’t need space for 13 cooks (actually, it kind of drives me crazy when other people want to help with dinner. Control freak much? Or maybe I‘m just ashamed at my amateurish techniques - like using scissors instead of knives to cut meat). I like to buy in bulk and have items on-hand, hence the large pantry. I’ve justified closing in the north window by planning for transom windows above, and possibly a French door to let through as much light as possible.

There are a couple of different things I can do with the area by the pantry, where I have a wall oven drawn. I plan on having an oven and microwave together and a separate cook top (by the doorway into the den). I could gain more countertop by installing a single wall oven at a standard range oven’s height and putting the microwave on a shelf above. Or, I could buy a microwave/oven combined unit and install it at the standard wall oven height. I’d be able to get cabinets underneath and shelves on either side and on top, giving it a more custom look.

Although I’m pretty satisfied with the general layout, there are still a lot of details I need to work out. I’ll post later about the finishes and materials I’m thinking about since this post is already out of control. Any suggestions or recommendations for the layout?

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