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Kitchens - how to know when to update or replace?

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

I have a mid century modern bungalow in Canada. I've lived here for
17 years and have managed to keep most of the character intact. The most important feature of my home are the walls of glass, and the ceiling beams. I have replaced the glass, but kept the original window frames,
so the final result looks identical to the original.

My kitchen is the original, but I painted the cabinets white. They were originally birch ply veneer, but had darkened over the years and I got
tired of them. I wouldn't mind just painting them a funky colour and removing the upper cabinets and replacing with horizontal cabinets in
aluminum and glass, and maybe adding a chimney style ventahood for the cooktop.

My question is, how many feel it's important to keep the original design
of the kitchen intact? I'm amazed at how current this kitchen looks after
40 years! Every time I think about ripping these cabinets out and replacing I start to have a panic attack. Any advice or suggestions?

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

hey midcenturymadam

post up your kitchen questions at http://www.lottaliving.com/bb/ in the residential forum. You'll get lots of friendly feedback from friendly architects, designers and mid-century modern home owners restoring their lovely home. It's gets a little more traffic too.

While I love the Eichler Network, this board tends to be a little Eichler-centric ;-)

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Joined: Dec 14 2003

Period kitchens are always kind of controversial. Unfortunately, we use kitchens a lot differently than they were used even 20 years ago. We're going through the same discussion at my house. DH is leaning more toward museum piece and I'm leaning in the direction of making the kitchen more useable.

Right now we have very limited storage. 50's houses didn't need to store an espresso machine, a George Foreman grill, a food processor, a coffee roaster, a microwave, a hand blender, a pizza stone, and so on and so forth (and that's just the stuff I use, not the stuff that is a relic of a certain husband's bachelor days). Back then housewives didn't stock up on canned tomatoes at Costco. I just don't live the way I would have lived in the 1950s. We don't have original appliances or cabinets, so I can replace the battered 1980s appliances with new stuff without much guilt, but some people do go as far as installing coil cooktops and cabinets with sliders. I don't think that's going to work for me.

My view is that if you aren't changing the structure of the house or trying to graft a "Tuscan kitchen" on a mid-century modern, you're doing okay. When we were house shopping we saw one kitchen that had arched raised panel oak doors. That, frankly, just looked stupid. I'm probably going to go with early 21st century modern for my kitchen and hope it works okay.

P.S. Somebody said that MCM houses don't look right with granite counters. I think that the nature loving FLW would have loved slab granite counters and old Joe would have cheerfully installed less expensive granite tile in a heart-beat, had it been around at the time.

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Joined: Sep 8 2003

We installed a new kitchen when we purchased our Eichler in 2001. Fortunately the question for us was a bit different, since someone had already committed the sin to install oak cabinetry with beige formica countertops. We pretty much stuck to the original layout, and converted back to a more contemporary look. I agree that things have changed in the past 40 years, but it is in my mind still possible to combine today's convenience, contemporary/modern design within the constraints of the kitchen layout. The Eichler archictecure actually makes it fairly easy to design and install kitchen cabinetry. We purchased our kitchen through a local designer, anf the (pre-assembled) cabinetry actually came from Germany (probably an expensive proposition these days, given the USD/EURO exchange rate). We did the installation ourselves. IKEA offers similar concepts if one is looking for a contemporary but affordable solution.

Cheers
raoulschuh

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

Actually, I was going to ask for opinions about Ikea cabinets. I think it is
possible to copy the look of expensive (Poggenpohl, Cuccina, etc.) cabinets with the Ikea slab door cabinets and especially with large islands
on legs rather than with a plinth.

I feel that for resale value, you almost have to do new cabinets and stone
countertops or some other high end counter. With only a slight alteration
to my floorplan I will be able to fit an L shaped counter with a large island
(6 x 3 l/2 feet). The existing floorplan is U-shaped and functional.

I go back and forth on whether or not I should remove those cabinets. They are original. An architect who I consulted with many years ago
complimented me on the fact that I had not removed them. He said that
most people would have. As I think about this now, I think he probably just meant that most would replace it with something inappropriate. I
don't think he would object to upgrading the cabinets with appropriate design.

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Joined: Dec 14 2003

Ikea cabinets are sturdier than a lot of Ikea stuff. They are certainly nicely priced and attractively styled. They come in fewer modular sizes, so I haven't tried them (I've partially or completely remodeled a handful of kitchens). You can also buy Ikea boxes and add doors from other sources. See:

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/kitchbath/

In the non-Eichler that I'm about to sell, I used Kraftmaid slab doors from HD with stainless bar pulls for a contemporary look. I'm probably going to buy cabinets with slab doors from Scherr's for the Eichler kitchen so that I can get the exact sizes that I need. Cabinets are a high mark-up item and you can certainly Google around and save several $K vs. a kitchen store, if you have the time and trust yourself to measure and plan accurately.

I don't think about resale value. You'd make yourself crazy trying to decide what the style will be when you go to sell it. Just remodel it to please yourself. You can always change out a counter or flooring, if you panic at re-sale time. Every house that I have ever purchased has had laminate counters which I don't care for. If the house is good, I buy it even if the decorating isn't to my taste. I suspect that there are a lot of potential buyers out there like me.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

I agree with all of the above. just wanted to add that before you buy modular premade cabinetry, you still migh do a little research and get estimates for custom cabinetry (unless the prefabs are exactly what you want). I was surprised that custom cabinetry can be less expensive than most think.

When we remodeled our previous house (MCM in LA) we had custom cabinetry done for the entire kitchen at about $6000. That's really not that bad to get exactly what you want. That also included a large center island that was on wheels so it could be moved to the side when there were larger parties. We were inspired by a Snaidero kitchen that we could in no way afford! Eventually we gutted and replaced the entire kitchen with all stainless steel appliances and a solid walnut countertop (gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous!), all for about $25K.

I'm torn between remodeling an Eichler that is pretty much all original and fixing it to better suit my needs. The 40 year old oven still works pretty darn well but I'm still burning dinner on the electric cooktop even after 2 years!

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Joined: Aug 28 2003

When we were getting estimates for cabinetry we had considered using IKEA. However, the estimate for the installation made IKEA cabinets about the same price as the bid we got for custom cabinetry with beautiful vertical grain fir. Our cabinet maker also installed the island, stainless backsplash and toe kicks--all of which were included in the cabinet design fee.

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Joined: Dec 14 2003

The advantage of the Ikea is that it is easily installed, so it can be quite a savings if you DIY. I just got an estimate of $8K for custom maple cabinets from Scherr's. However, the original Zolotone was gray so my sweetie has decided that he wants gray stained cabinets which substantially limits my choices of manufacturers. Bother.

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

An Eichler neighbor who is very handy did an IKEA kitchen with custom concrete countertops and it is lovely.

Cathye

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

Has anyone tried to build their own upper cabinets that replicate the original "box with sliding door" type cabinets that are original? Or are there some off-the-shelf cabinets that are reasonable facsimiles of the original UPPER/Hanging cabinets seen in most Eichlers?

Thanks.

Greg

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

geichlersv wrote:
Has anyone tried to build their own upper cabinets that replicate the original "box with sliding door" type cabinets that are original? Or are there some off-the-shelf cabinets that are reasonable facsimiles of the original UPPER/Hanging cabinets seen in most Eichlers?

Thanks.

Greg

I think Ikea has some upper horizontal style cabinets with recessed circular grabs on the doors which slide left and right. They are in a dark cherry finish with aluminum and frosted glass doors.

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

Hi,

Thanks for that. Yes, we've seen the Ikea cabinets and think for renovation, they'd be a great option. We were hoping to try 'restoration' first. This might entail having someone rebuild a replica of the original uppper cabinets that have been removed.

Greg

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Joined: Apr 25 2005

Hello :) ,

After reading that someone was looking for upper cabinets for a Kitchen redo, I decided I could let go of the one I removed. I was going to use it in the house elsewhere, but would be willing to let go of it.

You can let me know if you are interested. I also have all of the original doors that go with it, although we did paint them before we decided to replace the entire cabinet.

Learning more about Eichlers....

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Greg:

When we remodeled, we had all of our existing original cabs refaced with new formica, but I did not like the inconvenience of the sliders, since you can only get into on half of the cupboard at a time. So we had our cabinet guy make new, 100% flat doors with hidden finger pulls. Other than not sliding, they look close, almost identical, to the originals, since they maintain the same geometry and the insides are all original.

What you might find interesting is that we were so pleased with the results that we had a matching set built from scratch and placed on the opposite wall. Ours is the large kitchen/multi purpose room combination and we decided to make the entire space one large kitchen. The new bank of cabinets are used as a pantry.

Cathye

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

Thanks for the suggestion Cathye.

And thanks to WJRemodel for the offer on the upper cabinets. I actually found the missing flying coffin' upper cabinets in the garage.

In any event, we've decided that we'll probably live without an upper cabinet over our kitchen island because it would make the kitchen area feel very small and cramped.

Thanks!

Greg

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