So far, you’ve seen the living room, dining room, entryway and bathroom in my apartment, but did you know that I haven’t shown you the entire back half of the apartment? Yep, there’s two whole rooms I haven’t shown you – the kitchen and the sunroom. (Okay, well there’s the bedrooms too, but they’re not too exciting.)
You’re probably wondering, why haven’t we seen these areas? Well, in short, it’s because the kitchen is really bloody complicated and it’s taken us two years to figure out something close to a plan of action for it. And no, I don’t mean that it’s just ugly – although that too! It’s more that it’s a hot mess of load-bearing walls, miniscule counter space, wall-mounted radiators, freezing cold stone tile, electrical panels and windows that go below counter height. So not only is it ugly, it’s inefficient and impossible to reorganize in an smart way without major. major. changes.
So here is what we’re dealing with.
The sunroom was previously an uninsulated cold storage area, I believe. About 10 years ago, the three owners in the building (it’s a triplex) pitched in to put a foundation under the sunroom and connect it to the rest of the building, allowing the neighbours upstairs to build patios facing the back garden. I would imagine that the fridge and stove were once against the wall between the sunroom and the kitchen, meaning this was probably originally a galley layout. There have been a few retrofits over the years – the dishwasher, the range hood, new windows and flooring in the sunroom, and those 80’s-fantastic rippled glass cabinets – but it’s never been truly gutted to make an efficient kitchen.
As you can see, our “improvements” to this area have consisted in us adding our junk to it. Sigh. Our tiny countertop in the kitchen is constantly jammed, and the cold sunroom has become the dumping ground for all the things that have no home in the house.
After trying every configuration possible of the appliances in the Ikea Planner, we came to the conclusion that to make a functional, efficient kitchen, we’d need to do one of two things:
- Remove the wall mounted radiators, install another heat source and replace the single window with one that starts above the counterline; OR
- Remove the pantry.
Of those two options, it seemed like the second would have better results and possibly cost less. No exterior masonry work, and we’d keep the practically-new turn-and-tilt windows. So with that in mind, we started talking to our contractor about what it would take to remove the pantry, and started poking holes here and there to see what was behind.
So it turns out that the pantry is hugely load bearing. It’s built on giant thick cement cinder blocks that go all the way up to the third floor. Some jobs can by DIYed, and this is not even close to being one of them. So we started talking to an engineer, and we’re now at the stage where we’re getting permits from the city for the work to have it removed. Permits + engineers + the city = more money, and more time. But we’re inching forward.
Enough depressing before shots. Let’s look at the future plan, shall we?
So the plan for now is to move most of the kitchen to the back wall, with a small island and a banquette under the low windows. We’d also like to build in a desk where the current kitchen counters are now. We currently have our computers in the second bedroom, but we’d like to put some small people in there at some point, and we’ve got enough computers in this house that we need a dedicated desk space.
Want to see some (amateur) elevations?
I originally wanted to do all open shelving on the North Wall, but for a couple reasons I don’t think I will. We’ll need to pass the ductwork out of the east wall so that it doesn’t exit into our neighbour’s yard, and we would need a soffit to go underneath the beams. So my plan is to hide the ductwork in the square stacked cabinets on top. Sneaky! I’m also not quite sure we have enough beautiful dishes to go on miles of open shelving. Don’t those people have a collection of ugly mugs?? So a combo of open and closed might be best.
So that’s what’s been keeping me really busy the last few months. This is by far the biggest change we can do to the apartment, but also the one with the biggest impact. We love to cook and entertain, and we live just a block from the biggest open-air farmer’s market in North America! So a functional kitchen will really transform how we use the space. Lastly, given how big of an undertaking this is, we’d like to do it before those aforementioned small people arrive on the scene. I’m not quite certain but I imagine small infants and construction zones don’t mix.
I have about a zillion ideas for style (to get a sneak peak, check out my kitchen pinboard). But first I have to focus on functionality before I can do fun things like picking finishes and flooring. The next post won’t be quite so lengthy, promised – I really wanted to give the full story on the challenges of this space. But for now – onward!