At this point in our build we were still waiting for the second story to be framed. The kitchen wouldn’t be delivered for another, oh, six months or so. Usually, kitchen lead times are something measured in weeks, rather than months. However, “usually” didn’t seem to really apply in late 2020 anymore. So Shaun suggested that we start working up a game plan for our kitchen design. What we had in our current plans was essentially a placeholder.
First Stop: Interior Designer
The first step in the process was to work with our interior designer, Ellen, on an overall look and feel for the kitchen. For reference, our kitchen pinterest board looked a little something like this. The general layout of the kitchen (with the island just as a placeholder) looked like this:
Our first batch of options from Ellen looked like this:
For countertops, we generally liked CTL-1 and CTL-5 the most, though we also figured it would be worth the money to look at engineered stone in favor of laminate. It hadn’t occurred to us to seriously consider butcher block for the north wall of our kitchen, but the idea of a butcher block wall and a stone (or stone look-alike) island grew on us. As for blacksplashes, we liked BS-2 and 5/6/7; BS-4 felt a little to “glam.”
Round 2 looked like this:
Our favorites were BS-D; BS-J; BS-M (depends on size of tile probably), CTW-A, CTL-1, CTL-5 (it’d be nice to see larger examples of the countertops) CTS-A. No real favorites on cabinet colors yet, since it would depend on the tile.
As for the backsplash, we liked BS-A; BS-E; BS-F; BS-J; BS-2; BS-7; BS-5; BS-M; BS-NCTS-D; CTS-B; CTS-E, CTL-5(all of the other Cabinet colors)
Didn’t like: BS-B; CAB-C; BS-H; BS-L; BS-G, BS-I, BS-K, BS-O, BS-P, BS-Q
Home Depot Kitchen Design Consult
We also scheduled a design consultation with Home Depot. Since we were in the age of COVID-19, the consultation was virtual. And ultimately, it wasn’t actually with a Home Depot representative. Apparently they had so many people requesting consultations that they asked their vendors to help out. So our consultation was actually with a rep from one of the cabinet companies, American Woodmark. If we liked what we saw, they would steer us back to Home Depot to do the actual purchasing.
The consultation went pretty well. We had a fairly clear idea of what we wanted, so that helped move things along. This was the first draft that they got back to us:
Generally, they were in the ballpark. We wanted stools to wrap around the left (west) end of the counter so that they would be near the out-of-view fireplace. That setup would also allow the chef to sit down sometimes, and it would allow people on the counter to take in views. We had some tweaks – make the top cabinets solid rather than glass, it’s a gas cooktop and not a range/oven under the hood, drop the crown moulding, trim down the stool overhang, but generally it was on track. The main issue was that these cabinetmakers couldn’t do much for color – any color as long as it’s white or beige. So they couldn’t do the blue kitchen we wanted. Overall, they came in at $10,400 for cabinets (no countertops or appliances).
Lowe’s Kitchen Design Consultation
We also tried this process with Lowe’s. It didn’t go well. We exchanged some emails with the “kitchen designer” assigned to our process, who basically wanted us to decide all of the things, like what line of cabinets we wanted from what manufacturer, without giving us any assistance beyond “read their website.” So we gave up.
Ikea Kitchen Design Consultation
We did a similar consultation with an Ikea kitchen designer. Again, since we had a good idea of what we wanted things to look like, things went pretty smoothly. Their mockup looked like this:
The Ikea setup gave us more storage with twin 24″ cabinet bases under the right side of the island and 15″ bases under some of the stools. It came at the cost of a wider island (4′) and less legroom for some of the stools (as narrow as 9″). Cost was awfully reasonable: $9700, and that was including a cooktop that was just as a placeholder (we had our own), and the countertops, which were a separate line item (though we may keep the Ikea butcher block for the north wall).
The only downside with Ikea was that color options were very limited: no blues unless we went with their ultra high-gloss cabinets, which we didn’t like. One possible solution was to reach out to a variety of different manufacturers who specialized in making cabinet faces for Ikea cabinet carcasses. So we reached out to some of them to start the process. In that vein, we found options with Kokeena, Semi Handmade, DCabinets, and Scherrs. Stay tuned.