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Can I get some feedback on cabinet ideas for 1908 home?

6 years ago

I apologize in advance if this is TMI, but I want to make sure I include all of the needed info. I have a pdf of the floor plan, but I don't know how to load it here. I have lurked here for some time researching my kitchen options, and I think I’m ready for someone to critique my tentative plans before I move on. Thank you for all the help I’ve already received by researching here and thank you in advance for any advice you can give.

My husband and I are remodelling the kitchen in our 1908 house. The house has been stripped of character by former owners, and we would like to get some old house style back, leaning toward a craftsman-like style but not too strictly. I want a timeless design, a look that will last. We like to do the work, including the design, ourselves as much as possible. We are both super detail-oriented and are happier when we do the micro-managing together. We currently have two kids (8 and 15) and plan to stay in this house for the long term. I cook a few times a week with help from my husband and have a holiday party one time a year...might want to to increase entertaining to a couple of times a year once the house is in more of a state to be shared. I bake only occasionally. We have a separate dining room that we eat in.

When we moved in two years ago, the kitchen had torn vinyl flooring, poorly made homemade cabinets and an 8’ popcorn textured ceiling. It’s a large space with a large double window and lots of potential. We discovered that the ceiling had been lowered in order to install large can lights, so my husband tore it out. We now have a 10’ ceiling of the original beadboard, painted off white. My husband reran all of the wiring to have small inset lights and a ceiling fan, plus under cabinet lighting and pendant lights in front of the windows. He is putting sheetrock on the tops of the walls where there was none because of the lowered ceiling. When we bought our scaffolding off of craigslist, the seller offered us a free oak Putnam rolling library ladder (minus the hardware which we will replace), and I’d like to incorporate this into the kitchen design.

Here are our things we already have that won’t be changed:

Montauk black 12x12 slate tile floor to be installed

Samsung french door refrigerator, stainless, 36” wide

Samsung gas/gas slide in range, stainless, 30” wide

Frigidaire DW, stainless, 24” wide

Hahn double bowl stainless undermount sink, 32” wide

We have a smallish (maybe 30” x 60”?) cabinet with an old enamel white/black top we plan to use as a rolling island. It will be painted.

Our current kitchen has a large doorway into a smaller part of the kitchen. I’m not sure what the old owners were using it for, but we plan to divide the area into a walk through wet bar/butler’s pantry (leading to the dining room) with a food pantry behind it where we’ll keep our food and extra freezer. These walls haven’t been built yet, so plans for this area can be changed if needed. The kitchen is a main walk through area from our back door (in the laundry/mud room) to the dining room. This can’t be changed.

My budget is quite low, but we are prepared to do all of the work ourselves. I’d like to stay at around $10k total for cabinets and countertops. I already have my appliances and flooring. I’m willing to have plywood counters for a few months if I need to save up for nicer countertops when needed. The same goes for a nice range hood, I’m willing to go with something less for the time being but want to upgrade to what I want when I have the money.


I’ve tentatively decided to go with Barker cabinets. I’m waiting on sample doors now. Besides being in my price range, I like that they seem to be well made and are customizable to so many sizes. My husband should have no problem assembling them and installing them. I intend to order them unfinished, and I’d like to paint the uppers and pantry cabinets the same color as the ceiling and trim (off white). I want to order these in either unfinished alder/mdf or unfinished maple/maple. For the lower cabinets, I’m leaning towards splurging on unfinished quartersawn white oak and giving them a Stickley-like finish. I like the idea of different uppers and lowers since it seems more of a pulled together over time look. I also like the idea of a light colored upper cabinet so that the room doesn’t feel so dark since I want the uppers and pantries to go to the 10’ ceiling, including super high uppers over the window. And I also like the idea of the crown moulding in the room trimming out the cabinets seamlessly because they will be the same color...I don’t like the idea of stained crown moulding from cabinets meeting up with painted crown moulding from walls. I also like the warmth of wood without having an overwhelming room of wood, and the idea that the stained lowers will be more forgiving of spills and splatters if needed. I want to stain them myself because none of the finishes at Barker’s seems to be exactly what I’m looking for, although I have ordered a cherry door with clear coat to see it in person. Cherry with a clear coat doesn’t work out to be much more expensive than unfinished quartersawn oak, but I really prefer the look of oak.

To throw a kink in this plan, I purchased a set of used painted cabinets, thinking that I could piece a kitchen together out of them. Nope. However, I intend to use them in the wet bar/butler’s pantry, and I’d also like to reuse the corner cabinet with lazy susan in the corner of my kitchen. I’m thinking I can order new quarter sawn oak doors from Barker door and then apply an oak veneer edging on the tiny area of the frame that might show. These cabinets show ¼” around the frame when the doors are closed, but I’m thinking that the doors could be ordered to be sized as a full overlay to match the Barker cabinets. My husband thinks he can reuse the hardware for the new doors, even with the change in sizing/overlay. This set of cabinets seems to be sturdy, but the shell is made of mdf. Will this be an issue trying to use it between Barker cabinets? I’m sure my husband can reinforce it if needed. Reusing this cabinet will save me at least $800, which is a significant amount on my super small budget. I’ve drawn out my tentative plans reusing this cabinet. If I can’t reuse it for some reason, all of my other cabinets need to change because the Barker corner cabinet is larger...36” maybe? I’ve priced out my cabinets on Barker, and it looks like I’m hovering around $7k-8k, depending on options.

To accommodate the ladder rail, I’m thinking of ordering 41-42” uppers and 15” uppers. I’m thinking that if we install a sturdy frame screwed into the studs between the two layers of cabinets and attach a 1x6 to the front to hold the ladder brackets and rail. It will be a lift off ladder system, so the ladder can be stored in the corner of the kitchen when not in use. I’m thinking the same idea on the pantry cabinets, with a combination of stacked cabinets to about 92”, then the frame and ladder rail, then 15” uppers on top. As far as the pantries, I’m thinking of ordering 24” deep cabinets and framing behind them to make them even to hide the fridge case they will surround. Then I will cover the exposed bumped out

So my cabinets questions:

Any thoughts on mixing finishes on uppers (painted), pantries (painted) and lowers (stained)? Any advice on using Barker unfinished?

Am I foolish to attempt to paint them and stain them myself? I have painting and staining experience, and I have more time than money at this point.

Is it a bad idea reusing the corner cabinet from another set?

Any foreseeable problems with this idea for ladder rail? Or for bumping out pantry cabinets to fridge depth?

I’m considering ordering the lower cabinets on their own (about $3000...enough to qualify for free shipping). That way, we can get them assembled and installed without being overwhelmed with a huge cabinet order. Once installed, I can begin staining the doors and can order the uppers and pantries. From what I see, the only thing I’ll lose is the 5% discount you get from Barker when orders are above $7500. And of course, it will take longer to finish the remodel, but since we’re working on our own timeline this can be worked around.

I will include my drawings of what I envision. I have the floor plan in a pdf, but I don't know how to include it? I'll add a photo or two to show you what I'm dealing with now. I think I want granite countertops (river white?) and a copper or copper-look range hood, but I’m not to that point of decision making yet. I’m open to any and all advice. Thank you!

Some recent photos (don't be horrified):

looking from the doorway to the laundry room toward the area that will be butler's pantry and food pantry, with door into dining room. Door to the sewing room is on the left here. I'm thinking the ladder will store nicely in that corner where we demolished a small built in cabinet. Instead of one large opening as seen here, there will be a door and doorway on the left to the food pantry and a doorway with no door on the right, going into the butler's pantry and then to dining room.

Another view:

Looking from future pantry area to window wall, before the dropped ceiling was removed. The doorway goes to the laundry room/mud room, where the back door to the house is. I'm envisioning the fridge surrounded by pantries on the wall on the left in this photo, with the range and lower cabinets on the wall opposite that you can't see in this photo.

Here is the wall where I'm thinking the range should go. That doorway you see goes to the sewing room. The little cabinet to the right of that doorway has been demolished already. You can see part of the large opening on the left where I envision pantry and butler's pantry area:

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