The Cabinet War

We are meeting with the custom cabinet maker next week to start designing our kitchen!!! He’ll come take measurements and we’ll start talking about details like wood species, general cabinet layout, types of cabinets (upper, lower, pantry, corner) and general feeling were going for. We knew though, that we needed to agree on what we want before this meeting so we don’t waste time trying to find a middle ground. Aka: We don’t want to argue in front of a sweet Amish man! We have been on complete opposite sides of the spectrum in most of our design opinions. And yes, my husband has an opinion!!

My husband likes cabinets (and furniture) that are suuuuuper intricate and carved and detailed and decked out in trim. He wants our home to look like the Palace of Versailles. I like clean lines, simple design, and more modern shapes. I want our home to look like a cute little bungalow built in the 1920s and updated to the 2020s. We haven’t been able to find a style that we both like. We’ve been looking for MONTHS. Here’s an example using a room designer from one of the big box home improvement store. The cabinet options were limited, but it gives you an idea of how far apart we are.

We have been looking online at cabinet maker websites and Pinterest and kitchen renovation store sites and Google images–anywhere we could possibly find a cabinet door that we both liked. We wanted one we were both actually happy with and not just one we both tolerated. I will be the first to admit, it was not a highlight moment of our marriage. He’d find one that he thought I’d like and I’d make a puke face. I’d find one that I thought he’d like and he’d stare blankly at me til I huffed and walked away. I’m sure you can picture this. We sometimes had to agree to not talk about cabinets.

When we were first married, my aunt generously offered to buy us a bed. This proved to be a TASK and I’m sure she regretted it after the 3rd or 4th or 5th store we went to. He wanted something stately. I wanted something simple. He wanted something with wood carved details. I wanted something that I wouldn’t get tired of. He wanted something that was the centerpiece of our room. I wanted something that fit in our small room. Neither one of us bad ideas. I can honestly look at the pieces he likes and see their beauty. He can see the practicality of what I like. But we needed to find a middle ground. We ended up with a beautiful dark wood sleigh bed. It has detailed trim along the bottom edge and a wood inlay on the headboard that meets his criteria. It also has smooth curves and edges and wasn’t oversized–which fit my criteria. It was a happy middle ground.

I kept trying to view choosing our cabinets like we approached choosing our bed. Find a middle ground. It wasn’t working. Nothing totally fit into either box. I got overwhelmed by detailing and he got bored with simplicity. I finally had the idea that we didn’t need to pick ONE cabinet door that we both loved. Why not pick two different doors and combine them in an interesting way?! I could have my shaker style (with a little bit of beveling added on the interior panel to make them more appealing to him) and he could pick a style that complements the shaker but is more intricate. I told him to look for one that had the shaker edges but then added something to the middle. Drumroll……

It worked!!! Combining two styles of doors totally fits into my eclectic style. Plus it keeps it clean looking while still having intricate detail.

So, I got out my trusty sketch book and drew some plans to show our cabinet maker. We’re willing to make some tweaks as needed, but I think the design is perfectly “us.” Here’s a reminder of the layout of our house. The kitchen is a sort of a circle shape. One row of cabinets along the back of the house and a U in the middle with a walkway in between. The cabinets come out past the center wall to create a cabinet peninsula (it’s a much better use of square footage compared to an island!). The fridge is the largest item and will sit to the right of the doorway to the mudroom.

This is the back wall. It has a window in the middle, floating shelves on either side, and a glass tall cabinet to the left. I’d like this cabinet to sit on the countertop, but be the same depth as the upper cabinets. It has the most amount of detailing. There are two purposes for this cabinet:

  1. It is the first thing you see in the kitchen from the front door. It’s nearly straight ahead from the door and it should be a statement.
  2. I HATE when a tiled backsplash ends in the middle of a wall. H.A.T.E. I see it in so many kitchen designs and it’s accepted as normal. I don’t think it should be normal. Tile should end when the wall ends OR when it runs into a cabinet. This cabinet will cap off my backsplash space perfectly.

Ideally, I’d also like this section of cabinetry to have a slight bump out around the sink. This is, again, for two purposes:

  1. It looks pretty!! It will give the sink a little bit of grandeur and make it stand out. I like when cabinets look more like furniture and giving it an extra inch or so of depth and little feet will help. Ideally, it would also be a different color from the rest of the cabinets, but I can’t get hubby to budge on that one. So it’ll be the same at the other cabinets, but just bumped out.
  2. It will give an extra inch or so behind the faucet, which will make it easier to clean. I’ve always had a hard time cleaning behind the faucet because my fingers don’t bend backwards enough to really scrub back there. An extra inch will make a difference!

This is the fridge wall. The doorway leads to the mudroom. My only unique thing on this wall is that I decided I wanted a shallow cabinet on the side of the fridge. I’ve seen these used to store brooms or cleaning supplies. I’ve also seen them used as shallow pantries. It could be either of those things in the future. I want it to put our cups and glasses in. Our water filter will sit in the mudroom and having glasses over by the sink just doesn’t make sense. I think having them right by the mudroom door is genius! Maybe I’ll hate it and end up using it for canned goods, but either way, I hope it’s something our builder can accommodate.

This is the same view as the last picture, except it’s viewed from the dining room, so you can see the back of the peninsula and the side of the glass cabinet. The peninsula will feature the arch design. The cabinet under the glass cabinet will also have a side access cabinet with a door. This is to store leashes for the dogs next to the back door and probably a pair of binoculars for watching the neighbor’s cows. It could also be used for a step stool. I like flexibility.

The cabinet over the microwave will mirror the cabinet over the fridge in height. The corner cabinet will (fingers crossed!!) NOT be an angled cabinet that stuff goes into the back depths of to die. I’m hoping he can make it a L shaped shelf just like lower cabinets. No Lazy Susan required.

Now, you may be questioning my decision to put the microwave over the stove. It’s not what all the cool kids are doing. Vent hoods are in. Microwaves are out. I have many reasons for deciding this (believe me, I debated!), but here are a few:

  1. I don’t plan to have a glass top stove. I despise them. If I had a glass top, I would move the microwave to eliminate fear of dropping a plate and breaking the glass top. No glass top for me. I’m sure I’ll write more about that later.
  2. Lifting something above my shoulders doesn’t hurt as much as lifting something from below my waist. This is my RA talking again, but something about the pressure on my fingers lifting from below my waist hurts more than lifting it higher. Maybe I grab it differently. But I think having the microwave above the stove will be less painful. I still end up using grippy oven mitts for most things anyway because oven mitts are better than pot holders and oven mitts that help me not drop things are even better!
  3. Most important reason: A hood is an extra item. So that’s one more thing to buy and one less cabinet that can hold my grandma’s pie plate or my mom’s casserole dish. It’s really important to me, for sanity and for pain levels, for things to be easily accessible within cabinets and not blocked by other things. I don’t want to have to move three things to get the one thing I need. I decluttered my kitchen in 2018 and I’m never going back!! This house will have more cabinets than my current home, but I plan to utilize them to their fullest, most spacious potential.

The side of the fridge cabinet will, hopefully, mimic the glass cabinet design. I think it would be fun to replicate that pattern in another place and the side of fridge is the perfect spot. These will be two solid doors (not glass) that come together to form the pattern.

This picture also shows the peninsula in more detail. I wanted room under the cabinet for the trash can. We have a really nice stainless steel motion-activated trash can. We have to have a lid on our can because of our dogs. And we had a step pedal model for a while but it became too painful on my toes to open all the time and I kept propping the lid open. Now, you just wave your hand over it and it opens. Love it!! I DO NOT want to have to open a cabinet to find the trash can, even though that’s the most aesthetically pleasing way to hide your rubbish. I also don’t want to have to go into the mudroom or have it sitting next to the cabinets in the walkway. The only other place is next to the sliding glass door, which would mean that when you come in my house and look around you would see that beautiful glass cabinet door straight ahead in the kitchen, and then a trash can sitting next to it. Nope. Not happening. So I measured and remeasured and looked up more models of similar trash cans and I am confident that it can go under the countertop and even if it breaks, we can buy another that fits too. And if, in the future, we are unable to find one that fits, that nook can become a spot for cookbooks or something.

The last drawing on this picture is of a small cabinet that I’d like to add in the mudroom. We need a spot for our water filter AND we need a spot for the dog dishes. This little nook can offer both if we install a floating cabinet. Floating cabinet in the middle, dog bowls below, floating shelf above, and a pot filler faucet installed to make filling the filter easier (and maybe the coffee maker too). 🙂

So that’s your sneak peak! We’ll find out more next week about whether or not our cabinet maker can make all our dreams come true. But I’m pretty confident that he can. 😉 Plus, no matter what, I feel relieved that we’re going into that meeting as a unified couple and not a couple at war!

Bye for now!

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