Monday, January 07, 2008

Kitchen renovation progress to date

Of course, it was all very well to come back to Paris and see my dear husband, but obviously I was far far more anxious to see what had been done to my kitchen. I have to admit that I was a teeny bit disappointed because in my head, I imagined it looking far more finished. When B described it to me over the telephone, it seemed like there had been legions of builders slaving away on 24 hour shifts, going as fast as possible to have it all perfect for my arrival. Granted, the change was pretty dramatic, but it is far from complete. Obviously, we can't have a sink til the countertops are installed (we are having an underhung sink) and the stone cutter just got back from holiday today so I think we have to wait atleast another week for that. These photos were taken a few days after I had arrived, and I had the chance to put some boards on the top of the cabinets so that we could actually have a place to work and set stuff down. B then installed the extraction hood. I also had B put the induction cooker on the temporary countertop (after the photos were taken) because it was getting impossible to think up healthy meals (that Ella would eat) that could be prepared using nothing more than a microwave and the kettle.

Anyways, my verdict? I love the floor tiles, which have a very discreet leather look to them and are the same format as our old tiles, that is to say, large rectangles laid out like brickwork. The finish on the cabinets is very nice and it looks great with the long steel door handles. I definitely wish that we had decided to cap each of the doors top and bottem with the thin metal plates. I thought it might be too much, since the handles make quite a dramatic visual statement but I think it would have given the kitchen a slightly more expensive look and it actually would have been very useful for maintaining the door and easy for cleaning. Oh well. Live and learn. I also am thinking that instead of leaving a spotlight in the corner near the window I'll ask the electrician to set it up so that I can hang a pendant light over the sink. It would be a nice design touch and that spot is a bit useless where it is. In any case, all the ceiling spots will be replaced with positionable inox spots. The only real problem that came up during the renovation had to do with the fact that we didn't have enough electricity coming into the kitchen to support the induction cooktop, the electric oven, plus all the new ceiling lights and plugs. They actually had to add a new switch box to the electric board in order to get up to an acceptable level so some of the fancy lighting things I asked them to do (like separate inside lights on the glass cupboards, a plug inside the niche) had to be nixed for safety reasons.

Now, on to the bad. I also do not like the glass in the upper cabinets. We weren't able to see the actual product before ordering, but in the catalog, they did not look this green. I think it looks like cheap Ikea glass. What the hell is up with that? And since they have frames on the exterior, the glass is glued on, and I can't paint the interiour or replace it with clear glass. Now that I am trying to pick out the backsplash tile, I am really confused about how to deal with this. Its such a huge block of color, I can't just ignore it. I feel like I have to somehow tie it in the rest of the kitchen, but aqua blue is definitely not top of my color preferences. I think that the best solution will be to have a multicolored backsplash using the Ann Sacks Metro tiles (or maybe Metro Crisp?) I'm starting to like the idea of using a mix of whites and creams, maybe even in an etched finish.
We chose all Siemens appliances, mainly because we liked the look but I am overall really disappointed with the stuff. They do look nice but there is no functionality. Compared to the Smeg appliances in our old kitchen, these are terrible. The oven is overcomplicated and I can't cook anything without getting out the instruction manual. The microwave is the same. The dishwasher is practically useless. Even the induction cooktop seems to have more buttons than necessary, all the while being incapable of doing half the jobs I want to do. Would never recommend this brand to anyone else- unless it is someone who doesn't actually use their kitchen.
The other problem that came up, that you can't quite see in these photos is that the island ended up far closer to the doorway between the kitchen and dining room than I had expected. I had asked B to be there when they were installing it to verify the distance and ask them to remove a small element on the adjoining wall if necessary. This would have moved the island 15 cm closer to the window wall and I think it would have worked out perfectly. He wasn't there that day and didn't think it was a problem, but when I pointed out that the counters would extend another 20 cm beyond the edge of the cabinet, he saw what I was worried about. We had the builder come and have decided to take out the entire door frame between the two rooms and knock out the 15 cm of wall on one side. Unfortunately, because the heating vent is just above this door frame, we can't make a clean line with the ceiling (atleast, the builder was pretty doubtful). It would have looked great, and really unified the space if we could have done that, but already taking out the door frame will be an improvement. I had asked for this to be done originally and B made an executive decision to leave the door, to make it easier on the builders. When will he learn that his wife is always right- even if he doesn't know why?

After the door is knocked out, the plasterer will come and finish up the walls. I am already leaning pretty heavily towards a dark brown Farrow and Ball Paint for the two walls around the eating area. I think that it will look really cozy and make a nice contrast with the cabinets and countertops. Of course, its just paint, so why not give it a try, right?

Overall, things are going along very nicely, no bad surprises, just a bit slower than I would have liked.

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