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Kitchen Renovation

I'm not sure where this belongs but I don't see a better topic...

I'm gutting my kitchen and starting again. It was probably 50 years old so I guess it was time.

My head *hurts* from the amount of information I need to weigh and the number of decisions I need to begin making. I could use some help.

Does anyone have experience with design, materials and appliances they'd care to share? Does someone know of another forum, perhaps, where I could get unbiased information?

The only thing I know is that I want to start with a Kitchen Aid oven that has steam injection for baking bread. That, and I want a seamless surface but think granite and all those polished surfaces are entirely too Las Vegas for the 50s-style-cum-funky-country that I'm aiming at.

Help. Please. And thanks!

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  1. I want to use wood counterops above whitewashed cabinets. I know the wood will be tough to maintain, so we might intersperse some other materials. We have a big slab of marble from a local governtment building that we also want to incorporate. Does anyone have wood countertops? How does it compare in price?

    1 Reply
    1. re: nosey

      I have wooden countertops that the previous owners put in and I love them. The area behind the sink should have been sealed differently and is starting to degrade a bit but that is the only real problem we have had after five years. Some areas are a bit rougher than others, but we don't mind a more rustic look. This is not the surface for someone who wants gleaming, perfect countertops but for real cooking, they are great.

    2. I read an article that someone wrote about using Marble instead of granite as it wasn't as shiny. She said some warned her that it stained more easily, but that she hadn't (at the time) had any problems. Please let me know about the steam injection oven. I plan to renovate in a yr or 2 and am curious.I got a lot of info (pics and advice) about appliances, etc on my new fav spot gardenweb.com .It's not just gardening has everything about home going on. And they don't "moderate" your posts so closely.

      1. There is an excellent, website where you should be able to find answers to all your questions, as well as great information from people who have done renovations, called gardenweb.com(Sorry, but, for some reason I am unable to insert a link)Anyhow, once you get to the site, click on "home forums" and you will see a section for kitchen renovations. It is massive, and has an incredible wealth of useful, practical info from REAL people.
        Good luck, and I hope this helps.

        1. I contracted my kitchen renovation..and it was a worthwhile headache. Learned a lot. Saved a lot. I wouldn't consider any countertop but granite or marble. You will love the surface and can select a granite that skips 'Las Vegas look.' Marble will stain but is a nice look.
          The miele dishwasher I chose is excellent. I priced cabinets all over the place and chose solid maple and think I got an excellent price - with legwork.

          1. I renovated my kitchen about 10 years ago, and am generally happy with the design. I have a large work table with a butcher block top that I love. I used to use cutting boards to keep it looking new, but now I just cut directly on it. Sure, it gets dings, but I think it looks better now than when it was new. I scrub it with salt and lemon, and occasionally use butcher's wax. Every few years, I have it sanded down a bit to smooth the bigger gouges out. It's getting a lovely patina.

            I've also made a few terrible (and costly) mistakes:

            1) The marble-topped pastry workbench. It looked lovely, and was quite useful at first. It's a few inches lower than the counter, for better leverage when kneading dough, and the marble keeps the dough cool, but I wish I had used granite. Over the years, the surface has become pitted from acidic solutions and too much wine. I will replace it with granite one of these days.

            2) Concrete countertops. My husband and the contractor talked me into these monstrosities. I guess it's a man thing, but they look terrible. Even with the sealant, they stain, and are not very smooth. They snag everthing from sponges to my clothes. Hate them! If you don't want shiny, take a look at soapstone. I'm thinking about it to replace my concrete.

            3) Kitchen-Aid built in refrigerator. Had to replace the compressor twice, luckily under warranty. The drawers and door shelves are very flimsy, and very expensive to replace. I'm told that model year was contracted to another manufacturer, but they didn't tell me that when I bought the unit. Now I'll never buy another Kitchen-Aid product.

            Good luck with your renovation.

            15 Replies
            1. re: phofiend

              i chose soapstone when i renovated my kitchen 3 years ago and have not regretted my choice. it does scratch, but surface scratches come out with a bit of sandpaper. deep scratches will not. you need to treat it with mineral oil at first every week [or so] so it turns dark, but once it does, the look is great. i now treat them with mineral oil once every 3 months.

              1. re: ericalloyd

                I've read about the benefits of soapstone, but have only seen it in pictures and a few cookware pieces. Is it always so gray, or is it available in some other shades?

                1. re: phofiend

                  take a look at this website for good pictures of soapstone, untreated [bluish gray] and treated with mineral oil.


                2. re: ericalloyd

                  Soapstone was my first choice but the designer and all the showroom people say I'm NUTZ because it's soft and stains. I'm in the "bring it on" school when it comes to stain. I'll call it patina and feel like I'm in a real working kitchen. But it's an expensive mistake if they're right. So I'm grateful for your input.

                  How does the cost of soapstone compare to Corian and granite?

                  1. re: rainey

                    i think that by complying with the recommended number of mineral oil treatments when it was first installed it darkened enough so i have had no problems with staining. i think i paid $80 a square, 3 years ago, which was cost comparable with granite. because i'm not the most careful person in a kitchen, i have scratched it lightly. but, like you, i like the patina.

                    1. re: rainey

                      Soapstone really shouldn't stain--it's non-porous. That and it's heat resistance made it one of the original surfaces for lab worktops.

                      It's not cheap, though--here in New England, it seems to run $100 a square foot or so, installed. That's probably more expensive than all but the most costly granites, and more expensive than Corian, too.

                      I'm looking into going with phenolic resin lab worktops for my kitchen--they're resin like Corian, but phenolic also includes layers of kraft paper, which provides alot of strength for things like big undermount sinks. You can screw into it, and work it with carbide tipped wood tools. You can rout in things like an intetgrated drain board. It is resistant to scratching, bacteria, acids, bases, and temps up to 350 degrees. Cost for the fabricated material is around $25-$30 sq ft.

                      The bad news--no matter what pattern you get on the top layer, the core of the material is black. And it's not common for home use, so you'd have to find a lab furniture fabricator who would do it for you, and find somebody who was willing to install it.

                      But if you want matte black, and something that's pretty much impervious to anything, it could work for you.

                      1. re: rainey

                        I have friends with a soapstone kitchen and all I can say is that its REALLY a fussy surface (I have marble and its a picnic by comparison) They always have pieces of paper towel scattered over the surface to deal with various issues, and the particular sort of variability the surface has looks like its marred. not recommended.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          My wife and I didn't want granite originally, and looked at soapstone but also were worried about its softness. Kinda by accident, we discovered a granite called Pietra Cardoza, which looks a lot like soapstone, has the hardness of granite, and can be finished matte so it looks very unassuming and nice. We have absolutely loved this stuff-- it doesn't look like granite, no "vegas-y" feel to it--more country kitchen.

                          1. re: newhound

                            Dear newhound, I am interested in your experience with honed granite worktops. How do you care for it? Does it need special cleaners or sealers? I'm looking for something simple and plain that will weather and look natural, but soapstone seems too soft.

                            1. re: dingamagoo

                              Hi Dinga-- So far (18 months plus) we've found it pretty easy. Every six months we have a rub on/wipe off sealant to apply, but that's no big deal. A water glass can leave a temporary ring, but you put a damp sponge or folded paper towel on it for a few hours and the ring is gone. We are really happy with the Pietra Cardoza-- we love the natural and low-key honed look and the durability. I'm a pan-banging, clang-around the kitchen, klutzy-type cook, and the counter has taken it well. A few chips from falling glasses, but the solution to that is simple-- don't drop any heavy jelly-jar type glasses when retrieving them from the top shelf! Happy to answer any more questions you have--

                              1. re: newhound

                                Today my husband and "flipped" over Pietra Cardoza (honed). But I am reading some real horror stories. I love to cook. If I drop some olive oil and wipe it up immediately, what will happen? LesleyK

                                1. re: LesleyK

                                  If you wipe it up immediately, nothing. If it sits a little, a wet paper towel resting on the spot overnight gets it out. We have one little spot that is slightly darker because we missed a wipe-up, but one thing to keep in mind is that the honed surface, in my opinion, is more forgiving of blemishes.

                                  We love it, and I'm a messy cook. Be sure to seal it per installer's instructions.

                                  1. re: newhound

                                    We are loving the honed look of the "granite" (? verde karzai) sample we had, and it has passed the lemon/oil/wine tests. My concern revolves around baking - specifically getting dried flour pastes/dough off of the slightly bumpy surface. Will the bench scraper scratch the granite? Who here bakes with granite? Do you love it?

                      2. re: ericalloyd

                        It is so nice to hear positve feedback on soapstone. We are interested in it and do not like granite. We are happy to deal with it for the first year. How hard can it be to put mineral oil on it. does it inhance the look of your home? We realize it scratches and they can be removed with sandpaper. But Staining? We were told it was nonporus( sp) and didn't stain. Is this true?

                        1. re: ericalloyd


                          First time on chowhound... Saw your post on the soapstone counters.... Having a tough time deciding between granite and soapstone. I love the look of soapstone, but wondering if my 3 teen boys would be too hard on it. I do not have much in countertop space so the maintenance would be easy. Your post is from 2006 and am hoping you still like them. Any other posts would be welcome also.

                      3. I am in the minority here but I am always concerned about breaking things. I am really anti marble, grainte, soapstone, tile, or other really hard surfaced countertops. I really prefer something with some resiliance.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Candy

                          Believe me..if it can be broken, I'll break it. I can't imagine
                          what you'd have to do to break granite. Of course I don't know if
                          some corner cutting contractor can slice it thin enough. But I've
                          never seen that.

                          1. re: serious

                            We renovated the kitchen last year. A week after putting our cooktop in, the granite counter edge (the bullnose in front of the cooktop) cracked. We called the counter people in to repair and we hate it -- although they "fixed" the crack you can still see a line and you can feel it when running your hand across it. We are very careful people so the crack was not caused by us... make sure you see previous work done by the professionals before hiring.

                            1. re: S U

                              Clearly the crack was not made by you and the piece may have
                              well been defective. I don't know if counter work comes with
                              guarentee, or what energy would have been required to have whole piece
                              replaced. This is a bad story.

                              1. re: S U

                                That is truly unfortunate and is probably not the fault of the stone guys. If the crack occured in front of your installed sink or cooktop, the installer for the sink or cooktop probably caused the problem. If nowhere near the sink or cooktop you just got very unlucky by having a fissure at that point in the stone. DW has installed numerous countertops and never heard of this happening. The counter guys should have been able to smooth almost to perfection in the house.

                                1. re: S U

                                  stone is a natural material. it has color variations, imperfections, and flaws (just like us). That is part of its beauty, and part of its drawbacks. It may have been the installers, it may have been other workers, or it may have been a natural flaw that was unnoticeable until after installation. Many contractors agree to replace the piece, others repair it. Keep a sharp eye out for places where similar conditions may be developing elsewhere. If it was a flawed piece of stone, the same problem could be evident and you would have a better case to get the entire piece replaced.

                                2. re: serious

                                  No, it is not the granite I'm worried about breaking, china and crystal do not bounce when they hit a hard surface like that. Wet and slippery or even greasy things are a kitchen hazzard. I have a lot invested in table top and cringe at the thought of something slipping out of my hands and hitting one of those surfaces.

                                  1. re: Candy

                                    It seems like more of a conceptual than actual problem - In 20 years with marble there is really surprisingly little thats been broken on the marble surface. Many more breaks dropping stuff on our oak kitchen floor.

                              2. We just finished our remodel. Hubby did the work with the exception of electric upgrade (and don't neglect good lighting in a workspace) and cutting countertops/sink hole. We went with cash & carry cabinets (with the exception of 2-door over microwave/vent appliance that needed to be special ordered to fit). We selected formica counters that looks like granite and spent the $$$ on all new appliances (including double oven, wine cooler, Trio bottom freeze refrig, wall set microwave and sink disposal) We also had a custom island made and hired an artist to apply Venetian plaster on the walls with custom colors. We had a kitchen stuck in the 50's for 10 years and although we didn't go way overboard (so easy to do) we feel the dollars spent on items other than cabinets/counters gave us a one of a kind family space for a reasonable cost. We did save a bundle with hubby as contractor and did not suffer the six months without a kitchen angst so many go thru. Electrican installed pot lights, under/over cabinet lighting and fans. My contribution :) I found press n place tiles in colors that compliment the room and created a checkerboard pattern on the floor. Cooking in this kitchen is a whole new lease on culinary creativity.

                                Enjoy your remodel!

                                1. We have an old farmhouse, and the kitchen was revolting - harvest gold tile with black grout that fell out in chunks every time the oven door shut. We'll add a new kitchen when we expand the house, but in the mean time, I ripped out the tile and put down galvanized sheet metal. I had them formed with a 4" splash and a front edge, $75 for the whole kitchen. I love them so much, I'm planning on doing the same thing in the new addition. It's very rustic, practically bulletproof, gets more character with time, and is quite patina'd from acids, etc. Not for everyone, but in the right setting, it's great.

                                  1. Renovated (complete gutting, new everything) two years ago. Choices we made:

                                    Hired a single contractor to do all the work. One person to track down/complain to. Don't just look at price when interviewing contractors. It helps to have someone who shows interest in what you're doing.

                                    Kraft Maid cabinets. Had an intial design done at Home Depot, purchased them for the same price with some redesign at a local place. Great cabinets for a decent price. Don't skimp on cabinets.

                                    Countertop - Corian. It's not trendy now, but you can get it with an integrated sink and coved backsplash for easy cleanups. Be prepared to pay through the nose (like $5 a linear inch) for the backsplash but it's worth it.

                                    Ceramic tile floor - from Home Depot. Looks great and cleans up easily but we've already broken one coffeepot on it (probably would have broken anyway).

                                    Lighting - halogen undercounter (though I'm told argon is better - halogens tend to heat up the insides of your cabinets), halogens over the ends of the room that are set up to reflect off the ceiling, two spots over the sink. We have a cathedral ceiling so we added skylights (electric, r/c) and put big windows in. You can't have enough light in a kitchen.

                                    Get some home design books from Home Depot and your library. There is a ton of information available. Consumer Reports did an issue on kitchen remodeling a couple of months ago.

                                    Good luck.

                                    1. Rainey, Before even starting, have a professional electrician check your kitchen wiring and its load capacity. Modern ranges, microwaves, etc have much more power and need more current. Also, old wiring no longer meets safety codes. Then check the condition of your sink drains. There's a 90% chance that 50 year old plumbing will need to be replaced all the way to the main connection. You can save a ton of money on sinks, faucets, etc at www.designerplumbing.com. Make sure your gas grill is up to speed as it may become your only source for cooking during the rennovation. Finally, find a good marriage counselor you both agree on and add office visits to your construction schedule. You'll need them.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Leper

                                        Thanks. You're right on the nose when it comes to the plumbing. We've already replaced the mainline to the street and just yesterday had to have a bathroom completely repiped to that new mainline. The kitchen's at the other end of the house so there will probably be some nasty surprises coming from that direction.

                                        I think you're also right that we'll be having smoked turkey from the grill for Thanksgiving. ;>

                                        I hope, however, that you're *not* so on the nose about the marital stresses. At least my husband and I have been together for 30+ years. So we've got that working for us.

                                      2. We went with Legacy countertops (black, with silver sparkles) and love them for the contrast with the lighter wood cabinets (KraftMaid) and the ease of cleaning.

                                        But if you don't like the shiny look, you can have granite with a "honed" surface, which is smooth and non-shiny.

                                        We wanted a nice gas rangetop, but we were also doing a major renovation that included an entirely new kitchen, so it was becoming a cost consideration. We found a SS 6 burner GE Monogram (made by DCS - what I wanted if cost was no object) as a floor model at Great Indoors, and we also bought our double oven (electric Jenn-Air SS, one oven may be used as a convection) as a floor model from the previous year at an appliance showroom. The ovens were in like new condiiton, the rangetop had some scratches but we knew it would get scratched anyway.
                                        When you decide on your cabinet brand, sit down with the catalog and plan where you want your utensils, pots and pans, appliance storage, etc. It's so worth getting it right, try different layouts and imagine cooking in them. And figure out where to put your spices!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: MsDiPesto

                                          I think you're completely right about imagining cooking in layouts. It's just so hard, though, when walls are coming out. I'm going to get some masking tape and lay out the appliances on the floor and do my best to imagine where appropriate storage can go.

                                          At least removing baking to an entirely different area where I can actually *add* storage will allow me to pare down some of my batterie de cuisine.

                                          1. re: rainey

                                            rainey, you're much better off dropping a few bucks on a designer or letting someone at Home Depot or one of those kitchen places suggest a layout. They have computer programs that let you see what the kitchen will look like with different configurations of appliances, cabinets, etc.

                                            1. re: rainey

                                              I hear ya! But Home Depot and Lowes are kind of limitied, I think. And I'm going to have a 3-ring circus of a wall being removed, a whole area being repurposed, and a new laundry room being created on the other side of the house. I think that's beyond the abilities or interest of the DIY warehouses.

                                              I've talked to an independent designer, but she wants to steer me toward high-end cabinets that are more than twice what the top priced warehouse cabinets are. That's where her real income is. She'll write her fee off against the cabinet sale but probably gets a very nice commission from them.

                                              She came to us highly recommended but she's the one who doesn't like my choices.

                                              I'll meet with her once again to see how she deals with the fact that I really want to go in another direction. Maybe she'll come on board or maybe I'll have to move on.

                                          2. Having done a total gut and replacement of my kitchen 4 years ago, let me chime in:

                                            I went to several different design places, including both HD as well as some recommended local independent kitchen shops. All of them came up with the same basic design. My kitchen is small and a challenging space, but I wasn't happy with the designs I was getting. So I went home and started drawing my own designs on grid paper -- this after having read just about every kitchen/home improvement magazine I could get my hands on over the previous year. With that as background, after about a dozen tries I got a much better design than i would have if I had accepted what the professionals tried to sell me.

                                            I'm basically happy with the choices I made. I wanted a small second sink (really a bar sink) adjacent to the stove for filling and draining pots, and that has been a great choice. I went with a smoothtop electric range and it has worked out well (with the added benefit of acting almost like some additional counter space at times). Because my kitchen is small, I want with upper cabinetry all the way to the ceiling and that was also smart -- the stuff on the upper shelves I use maybe once a year and it isn't a hassle to step on a chair to retrieve it so infrequently.

                                            My only disappointments are the over the range microwave/hood (the hood part is loud and ineffective, and the microwave is a Frigidaire that is made by LG and seems cheap), and my choice of flooring. I went with engineered hardwood in a very attractive color of hickory, and while it looks absolutely fabulous, I think hardwood in a kitchen is a mistake. I have dropped utensils and jars and dented it, and you have to be very vigilant about not scratching it when you move appliances, etc. In truth, it's a pain. For counters, I went with laminate for budget reasons, but it's a nice Wilsonart mock-granite that is fine by me. If I could have afforded it, I would have gone with stone of some sort. I looked at Corian but was turned off by the artificial/plastic look of the stuff and it is really expensive.

                                            One of the best things I did was not skimp on the lighting and it is what draws the most compliments. I have a central fixture that is where the original light was, but I never use that. I went with lots of undercounter halogen lights that look very good at night and are practical too, and about 10 heads of compact halogen low-voltage track lghting basically around the perimeter of the kitchen. Those are incredible -- the highlight the cabinetry almost like art lights but also provide great countertop and generral illumination as well. Don't skimp on the lighting!

                                            1. Thanks for your ideas, Greg.

                                              I have hardwood floors in my kitchen now. They're pretty (when I can keep them sealed) but I agree that they're not the right choice for high/hard traffic areas. I'm thinking of saving on the flooring since we won't be using the kitchen all that long and laying down vinyl sheeting on top of the wood. That way I'll have the resilience of vinyl, a wide variety of looks to choose from, and the hardwood can stay intact in case the next owner wants to restore it.

                                              1. For countertop material, consider Caesarstone. They have a website. The stuff doesn't look plastic-y like Corian. It is a composite stone (meaning that it is real stone, ground up, and bound together with some sort of polymer).

                                                I have Corian now, and I love the smoothness of it, but I don't like the plastic look. I personally plan to go with Caesarstone when I get my countertops redone. I love granite, but most granite I've seen is too dark or too busy of a pattern for the look I'm trying to achieve in my house. Still, a lot of people have it, and if you love it, go for it.

                                                Another recommendation: Vent-a-hood for over the stove. I've had mine for 10 years, never a problem.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: La Dolce Vita

                                                  i would second the recommendation for Caesarstone. We gutted and redid our kitchen a few years ago, and went with a dark green granite with violet spots, which I'm extremely happy with. But Caesarstone (which is engineered granite) gives you a more uniform look and texture -- more like formica -- along with the hardness of granite, which is a big plus as far as I'm concerned. Our countertops need sealing only once or twice a year and show no stains whatsoever after four years of heavy use.

                                                2. We put in marble countertops (with a big oval marble topped table, too) 15-20 years ago and have really enjoyed it. Our surface was polished but not sealed and while it is slightly reactive (if you leave lemon juice pooled on it for a while, you will get a rough spot which you will need to polish)its worked out just fine. It works well with our modernish wood cabinets, and we have friends who lived in a mellow 150+ year old farmhouse with one of those early GE refrigerators with a monitor top, wooden cabinets of a similar vintage and the same type of grey-white marble counters we have, which had been installed and used forever, looked great. If you go with marble, just make sure that it is measured and cut absolutely right to fit your space - it cant be adjusted easily!

                                                  I do not recommend wood countertypes - think it would be a constant maintenance project - a contrasting surface material looks nice with wood cabinets. Good luck!

                                                  1. I did my kitchen about 4 years ago and absolutely love, love, love it! We went with a kitchen designer who came up with a design that I would never of thought of. I had asked for several things, one being a book shelf for all my cookbooks. She turned this into an island with a wet bar on one side and the refrig/microwave on the other. One of the things that helped with my communication with the designer was I brought pictures from magazines of kitchens I liked and she said this was huge in helping her draft her design.

                                                    I agree with many of the comments and suggestions above, but if you haven't considered silestone for your countertops, please do. We have silestone counter tops and red birch cabinets. Almost everyone thinks these are granite counter tops. Silestone is a manufactured stone, 97% guartz. But the biggest pluses are no sealing, resists stains and scratching. It isn't that much cheaper than granite (pennies really), but you get the look without the maintenance.

                                                    I also put in a hardwood floor and again, while I love the look, water is a huge problem - warping and staining. I did read recently that putting 4 or 5 coats of poly on a kitchen wooden floor is a good idea and I'm thinking of doing that when I have to have the floors redone.

                                                    Appliances, I went hi-end on the dishwasher because we opened the kitchen to the living room (Bosch dishwaher) and love the dishwasher. Also have a Thermador convention oven and love that. Refrig is the one that we brought with us 10 years ago. Hate it, but it works.

                                                    Good luck and have patience. It is generally a much longer process than you think it is going to be.

                                                    1. Have renovated three kitchens in 15 year and DW does many high ends for customers so here are some suggestions:

                                                      Countertops - Have sandstone and granite. If you do not like shiny just have the counter people hone it to reduce the shine. Granite the hardest, then marble then sandstone. You need to "seal" it every 6-12 months, very important. BIGGEST suggestion if you go this route is to pick your own slab. If you choose from the showroom the stone that is delivered will NOT be the same as the one you looked at in the showroom unless you go with a standard Ubatuba or basic stuff. There are SO MANY choices and if you can see the slab and mark with your name you will not be disappointed. This is the centerpiece of the kitchen so choose accordingly.

                                                      Cooktop - have the viking 6-burner propane with downdraft in the island and love it. Careful when choosing cooktop. Simmer is the most difficult to get. Some just can;t get there. Downdraft is VERY noisy and you need to get the vent outside somehow through the basement.

                                                      MV - We placed ours UNDER the counter in the island with a drop down versus side drawer. Safer for the kids not having it over the heads for hot stuff. GE makes one. Make sure the wiring is separate from the other stuff as when this cycles on and off can cause issues if on the same circuit as the cooktop.

                                                      Fridge - If the budget allows have this flush with the front of the cabinets. Subzero, wolf, GE make them and it takes up counter space (wider) but much prettier.

                                                      DW - Like the fridge, if the budget allows buy one that can have the same front panels as the cabinets, just like the fridge. For quiet, go with Miele or Braun. You can have a conversation right in front of it when n and you do not notice. We have the Miele and sometimes i need to put my ear to the door to see if it is working. LOVE IT

                                                      Compactor - All made by one manufacturer. Takes some under counter space but well worth it.

                                                      Floors - This time we went hardwood because i have bad knees and ceramic really hard on them. The get beat up pretty bad and need refinishing frequently. If you go ceramic think a persian runner on top. They can handle any spill (whole pot of red sauce in my case) and they are like the duracell bunny.

                                                      Ovens - The one bit of advice is to see how it vents. Some vent from the bottom (I think Dacor) and others from the top (GE Monos). DW is 5' and hates the GE since it blows in her face every time she goes by it.

                                                      Lights - Can not have too many. Place pocket lights under the cabinets. Great for prep work. Also place electric strips under the upper cabinets, great for lots of stuff.

                                                      Cabinet finish - If you have kids do NOT go for painted go for finished. They will chip.

                                                      Most important advise is be patient. It is a hell of a process and lots of quick decisions need to be made. Remember it's only a kitchen.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        Thank you. That was a lot of useful advice.

                                                        Here's where it doesn't fit into my plans and limitations:
                                                        • Our footprint is a galley kitchen. No island existing and no possibility of including one. OTOH, I really *like* the efficiency of a galley. I may be the only one but I've done some yeoman cooking in the space and it floats my boat.
                                                        • I am already (theororetically) sold on the Kitchen Aid free standing electric oven with steam assist for my bread. I can't find anyone with practical experience with it but it's the only approximation of steam injection I've found for a home oven. And I've wrecked the electronics on two ovens trying to produce my own steam within the oven cavity. So it will be *lovely* to get to blame it on a manufacturer if theirs gums up. ::evil grin::
                                                        • I have hardwood and wanted to replace it because of the constant refinishing but will now keep it for its resiliency and to keep my costs down. Do you think 6 coats of urethane is enough? How much time do you think it will give us (we'll probably sell in 4-6 years)?

                                                        And small exceptions:
                                                        • I currently have a mid-priced Frigidaire dishwasher and I don't know when it's on. I'll replace it because I'm replacing all the other appliances, but I really couldn't hope for much more performance than it's given us for 4 years.
                                                        • I've heard that downdraft ventilation is very noisy and actually draws heat away from the cooktop. That's kinda counterproductive... I have downdraft on a Jenn-Air indoor grill. It's practically useless but then it's old and the technology could have improved markedly.

                                                        Thanks again for a lot of practical advise to consider! I'll look forward to what you have to add to my situation. Do you happen to know of any design resources for galley kitchens. No one seems to even remember that there's such an option.

                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                          Cooking in a galley is fun but if you do with partner it's a great way to get to know your partner. My last kitchen was a galley and loved it as well.

                                                          Oven - IMO choosing an oven because it makes good bread at the expense of other features would not be my choice, but every customer chooses what's best for them
                                                          Poly - Six coats is a lot. Will look like a gym floor is you are not careful and you better have a good floor guy who takes care to screen the floor in between coats. Be careful of bubbles after each coat. If you have one in layer 2 and then place four more coats on top of it, you own it.
                                                          DW - Given galley and unless you have at least 44" of through space I would strongly recommend all appliances flush so you don;t bump into the corner sticking out with a hot pot od something. My Miele has two heat settings and the dishes sparkle when removed.
                                                          Downdraft - U r right, VERY noisy. But there are four speed settings. "1" is not so bad and "4" is very loud. I normally keep on "2" and it ain;t so bad. It does draw some heat away but the Viking has more than enough to compensate.

                                                          Design resources. Sorry but I have my DW as a resourse and she and I bounce all ideas off each other as I cook for a hobby. My one suggestion is that people always want the sink and cooktop directly oppoite each other. This causes bumping of tushes when one is sauteing and the other is washing.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            Thanks again. My husband has no interest whatsoever in cooking and I'm really happier alone in the kitchen anyway. Maybe that's why I've found my perfect match in a galley.

                                                          2. re: rainey

                                                            I used moisture cure finish on my hardwood floors..much more of
                                                            nuisance because you need two coats and full day or two drying
                                                            between. Many floor guys don't want to use this or say it's
                                                            not necessary. It is!

                                                            1. re: serious

                                                              We have wood floors curremtly in our kitchen that are in bad shape. We plan on sanding them and then sealing them. Is mositure cure the answer?

                                                        2. I see nobody has mentioned a Charbroil? Chargrill? An indoor BBQ that used lava rocks. I am not sure exactly the brand anymore, or if this is even still made, and even though I live in an area where outdoor BBQing is easy for most of the year, I LOVED this (don't live in the house anymore) and used it almost daily. Of course, this kitchen required some major venting, but worth it.

                                                          I had a six burner Viking cooktop (no griddle, too messy for me, just used a stove top griddle)....as there are so many new appliances on the market today I won't mention them. The indoor BBQ was gas and lava type or lava rocks, and it's the only thing I would absolutely do again in a heart beat.

                                                          1. There's lots of good advice on gardenweb.com under the Kitchen Forum.

                                                            Thing I'm happy with:
                                                            *Wood floor--looks great and feels great!
                                                            *Single undercounter duct-less front-loader clothes washer/dryer combo unit by LG--it's integrated into the kitchen design so I can fold laundry on the kitchen counter. Yes, it's one box that does everything. My place is way too small to have a dedicated room just for laundry.
                                                            *Electrical upgrade--the kitchen renovation forced us to upgrade the entire fuse box, which was a good thing after all
                                                            *Faucet by Grohe--I believe Grohe, Hans Grohe, and Kohler are built to last (bought this on-line for cheap)
                                                            *T5 5/8" inch diameter undercabinet fluorescent by Pegasus (I would not use xenon undercabinet again, they got too hot). Also purchased on-line for cheap
                                                            *I also gained a precious 6" of cabinet length to fit a giant 36" single sink cabinet, by choosing an 18" wide compact dishwasher instead of a full 24" DW. One of many compromises in life.

                                                            Hope your project is underway! Good luck with your renovation!!!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: vicki_vale

                                                              Thanks for all the helpful thougts!

                                                              No, not underway yet so no Thanksgiving at our house and maybe no Christmas. But we've established that we're not going to have any trouble taking out a load-bearing walls and I hope to have the first set of drawings to review soon.

                                                              All the materials decisions are still up for grabs. Oooooooh, my head hurts from soooo many possibilities!

                                                            2. The more I hear about soapstone countertops the more I'm convinced I'm going to use them in my next project. I have a good friend who just installed them in his house about 2 months ago and so far he loves them. I don't really see this changing much. If you can spend a little cash, I think they are the way to go. Just my 2 cents.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: bralynn

                                                                Ah, I found this website by mistake, what a nice mistake. My two cents worth, I too are going through kitchen renovation, actually the old stove made me want to start.... over the week-end I bought the Electrolux Dual Fuel.... Can't wait until it is delivered at home. I really loved the Wolf except I could not phantom spending that much money for that range. Anyway my girlfriend has the Wolf and say's it the best, for the amount of cooking she does, it didn't warrent the price she paid for it. Ah, maybe when she returns to our hometown, she can bring the Wolf and I'll trade with her....