Friday, July 25, 2008

The Kitchen IDEA Takes Shape

Where Did You Get THAT Idea?

I get that a lot. I really don't know and can't tell you where all my ideas come from. I know that a lot of it has to do with looking at homes, pictures of rooms, flipping through magazines and occassionally surfing the net for ideas.

I think it's important to let your imagination run wild in the idea phase of any project. So many people want to jump right to the colors or material selection, and while that's important, I think there needs to be a period that I describe as the "Russ Feng Shui" period. That is, I live in the space and it tells me what it needs or is looking for - I know that's not what Feng Shui is, but I am a simple man trying to sound intelligent, humor me. To come into a home and immediately start ripping out cabinets or flooring because it's old or not your style only to be replaced with exactly the same thing isn't giving the space - or you - a chance to "feel" what's needed.

If I'm not explaining this so you understand, let me elaborate. When we bought the house we're currently in, Eann's first comment was the kitchen had to go. Dark oak cabinets, BLUE formica countertops, and cream linoleum flooring. It was a kitchen that was clean, nice and functional, but it had the look of being completed on a small budget and the colors were not Eann's or my taste. But we could certainly live in that space while we decided how to remodel it.

The more time we spent there, we realized how much we loved our island cooktop at our old house. This house had the sink in the island with the stove and oven against the wall. So the whole time you were preparing the meal, which is when the best conversation takes place, you were facing the wall instead of looking out over the lake. Immediately, we wanted an island cook top. Which led to the idea of an overhead suspended range exhaust hood.

The house is an A-frame Great Room Style, with 30 feet by 30 feet of floor space that has a 12:12 pitch ceiling overhead that comes to a peak at 21 feet above the floor in the middle of the room. It definitely has a very open feel. So much so that the kitchen often times felt cold and impersonal. At first I thought it was the colors, but it wasn't. It was the large volume of air overhead that made the space feel intimidating and lacking warmth. The idea of a copper hood sprung into my head when Eann was looking at and fell in love with some copper inlay cabinets at a kitchen store.

I started investigating a decorative copper exhaust hood for pricing, placement, mounting etc. I sketched a few ideas out. But I soon discoverd that the pricing on something like this would be extremely prohibitive. It was about $20,000 to just get a hood that had the ornate qualities I wanted made out of copper. Again, I was looking for the warm feeling and stainless steel just wasn't going to work.

I couldn't shake the copper idea as Eann was REALLY in love with the copper cabinets and said wouldn't it be nice to be able to hang copper cooking ware from something overhead. Then, an idea popped into my head for an overhead, hanging trellice with copper hardware and accents. I would use heavy copper wire to hang the trellice that I sketched out to be about 10'x10'. But I started running into problems trying to light the trellice with indirect lighting that would wash the ceiling in light and position it in a satisfactory way. That idea bounced around in my head until I finally decided that anchoring one side of the trellice to the wall would solve a lot of problems.

Attaching the trellice in my early drawings looked dumb. I knew that I would need to completely fill the space over the kitchen if I went to a wall attachment. I could still hang the trellice, but it would need to attach to both adjacent walls.

My early drawings looked like this. I added some 3-d drawings, but I am not an artist:

Eann, as most people I know, seem to have trouble in this area. I have the ability to "see things" in space and visualize in my mind's eye colors, textures, and lines of any idea. I can make the leap off a simple floor plan to the finished look with out the use of visual aids. Eann, while she sees and sort of "gets" what I am talking about, can't see the final product. IF you are an artist and can draw conceptual pictures or you have a program like 3-D architect that let's you see finished rooms, great. If not, build a model.

Start with simple materials. I like cardboard, popsicle sticks (Box of 1,000 at the craft store for $2.99) and a hot glue gun. You can use a razor blade knife and a pair of side cutters or snips to cut the popsice sticks and the knife to cut the cardboard. The results are instantaneous with the hot glue gun...and it's CHEAP. Build a scale model of your room and add whatever you want - studs, paper walls substituting for drywall, etc. Furniture, Cabinets, 1/2 walls, fixtures, etc. If you have kids, use some of their doll house furniture if you have girls. This gives you an idea of what you are facing when you start building and can give your significant other a better idea of what you're talking about.

My idea quickly changed from a trellice that was square to the short wall of the kitchen to the beginning of the end of the idea process. A Pergola with the long, supported beams extending out from the corner of the room at a 45 degree angle from the adjacent walls came into my vision and was stuck there.

We finally had our idea for adding warmth to the space. The planning phase, including budgeting, deciding on appliances, kitchen cabinet styles, flooring and countertops could now begin.

Here is the final Kitchen Layout With Pergola "Floor Plan"

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