Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Unfitting For a Kitchen


The bathroom is almost done.  Almost.  I still have to hang the towel rods,
the mirror, find a few accessories and artwork and it will be ready for a reveal.

In the meantime, I'm looking ahead to the renovation of
the kitchen that will expand into the old bathroom and pantry, replacement
of several windows and a French door. Oh, and appliances and new cabinets.  

I was anticipating having cabinets custom made.



Something like these.
 


...or these.  Have you looked at the Plain English website?

 But when I saw the line item estimate for those, I was stunned.
It's like buying a new car....and I can't afford a new car.

I thought I would check out a local cabinet business for a reality check.


There were some beautiful options.  I was immediately attracted to this
cabinet door with a rope detail.  Beautiful.  Apparently it's also THE most
expensive door available too.  Funny how I can do that.
 


So maybe I could do something a little simpler...


...but use hardware with a rope detail to get the same feel.

We went through the showroom and discussed a million details.
Raised panel/flat panel, overlay/inset--did you know inset doors and drawers
add about 30 percent to the cost of cabinets?-- lazy susan/blind corner, 
square edge/eased edge, apron sink/undermount, range hoods,
on and on for about an hour chosing every last detail.
I handed over a copy of my blueprints with the kitchen layout
and they'll work up a plan and an estimate.   

And I left feeling disappointed.
Shouldn't redoing a kitchen be exciting?

When I got home, I checked my reading list a there was this post by Camille.
She also links to a post by Joni Webb from Cote de Texas if you're so inclined.


Go ahead and check it out.
Take your time.  I'll wait here.
 
 

Okay.  Ready to go?
 
 


I find this unfitted kitchen much more interesting:  "Unfitted" meaning not not
necessary corner to corner....made from parts.
 


Another image I've had on my Pinterest kitchen boards.
 


And this kitchen from the movie "Message in a Bottle" has been in file for years.
 
 

Even Steven Gambrel uses large furniture pieces for an unfitted look.

So why can't I find a few pieces of furniture and cobble something together
with some larger lengths of countertop, a nice new sink and new appliances?

Just "make it work."

So I hopped in the car to hit a few antique furniture stores.

My karma must me good this week.  Check this out:


An 1880s, probably Danish, pine store counter with amazing details.



It's over 11 feet long.  I can't even fit the whole thing in one photo.



Has eight of these columns.


They almost feel like something from a Viking ship where the oars would go.
 


Eleven feet of thick walnut on the top that could be repurposed.



The back side has two eight-drawer sets of cabinets.
The drawers move like butter!
 
I don't love the color and it definitely needs a little love but there are a lot
of really great details.  Broken down and reworked, it's piece that could
be given a new life and used for another 100 years.
 
Suddenly I'm excited about a new kitchen!
 

79 comments:

  1. I'm so excited about your Danish pine counter as you already well know - and I am sure you can work it out. And BTW, almost every single one of your inspiration photos were cued for my post tomorrow. I'm also referencing your's and Camille's kitchens in my post tonight!
    :-)))) Jacqueline

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  2. Moving into my first home 22 years ago I found that it didn't have ANY built in cabinets at all. We were expecting our first child and buying the house at the same time and there was no budget for cabinets. Being an anglophile anyway, I went to the local auction house and bought the most beautiful cherry hutch with glass doors above for a song. We are now in the middle of a "refresh" and the cherry hutch and the chests of drawers we purchased later are staying but I will finally get the apron sink I've wanted since we moved in. So excited for you!

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    1. It sounds like you chose something that stood the test of time. It sounds great, Niisei!

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  3. Now "that's what I'm talkin about"...a kitchen that doesn't have to look like a kitchen!! I do love that rope detail, though! franki

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  4. Just like you I couldn't stand to look at yet another Box Store kitchen. My log cabin is done now and I am in the same process as you are, deciding how to arrange elements in a useful and attractive way. My kitchen is 24' wide and 18' from stem to stern. An island seem a good solution because that way I could face the glass curtain wall in the end of the cabin. So island it is with stove, sink, dishwasher and plenty of electric outlets. On the wall behind the island is a cupboard made from two antique french doors that are 109" tall. They go nearly to the ridge beam, quite wonderful. Frig is at the end of the island against the wall. My only extravagance was a triple articulated faucet that bends to deliver water everywhere in the 36" farm sink. The kitchen works, its pretty and visitors are open mouthed about it. I'll send you a snapshot if you like.

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  5. I recently redid my kitchen and used an armoire that I had modified as an entertainment center in the 1980s, now rendered obsolete It is now my bar/pantry/microwave/dish storage cabinet. I love it. The armoire adds character to my 1924 home. I also raised the ceiling to expose the origional joists of the 2nd floor. the armoire was pine which I painted white on the outside with a teal interior plays well off modern cabinetry and mid century bertoia bar stools and industrial influenced lighting.

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    1. That sounds awesome! Traditional-modern-Bertoia-industrial sounds like a great mix.

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  6. Gah! I'm dying. I can't wait to live vicariously through your unfitted kitchen reno. If you get a chance, during your reno, would you say something about functionality and ergonomics in one of your posts? I know you said the drawers work nicely in the piece you found (which is gorgeous BTW) but would love to hear more details about this as you progress and find other pieces (height, inserts, costs associated with making a piece more functional, etc).

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Lane! I'll keep that in mind, that's a good point. There seems to be a spectrum of "unfitted" and I'd like to unite some odd pieces with countertop so there will definitely need to be some tweaking on the heights anyway.

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  7. You had me at Danish. I think that piece is amazing, and so fitting for an unfitted look. I would fight you for it if I were starting my kitchen, as I would love it as an island to create a galley. I keep telling my husband that when we actually do get to our kitchen, I definitely don't want what everyone else has. I've always wanted a huge gorgeous old hutch for plates and dishes. Sigh...

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    1. That's a big addition you'd be putting on to use an 11-foot island, but it would be awesome to keep on one piece! I'm still looking for that big old armoire for plates and dishes.

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  8. My husband & I are only 2 years in with fixing up our 100+ Farmhouse, so we still have serious saving to do before we can even think kitchen, but I like the direction you are going! I've always loved unfitted kitchens myself, and that store counter is going to look amazing! I'm not a fan of the color either, so I look forward to seeing what you go with...but still...what a find!!

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    1. Tiffany,
      I'm five years in and hear you about the saving. I've put this off because it's such a major expense but I think it's time. I'm definitely dreaming big when it comes to appliances so I think using old furniture is one place I can save some money and cash in big on style....er, hopefully.

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  9. Love the idea of the free standing pieces. Will you use the counter as an island?

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    1. Probably not as an island but reworked as a few smaller pieces.

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  10. oh my.....do it!! that piece is just amazing! I cannot wait to find out what you do....love your ideas!!

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  11. I love unfitted kitchens and wish I'd had the time to put one together when we did our house in the country. I would love to get some of those big old painted cabinets. I saw several reasonable priced at Brimfield that I was dying over.

    That Danish pine counter is stunning.

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  12. i so wish i'd had the time to do an unfitted kitchen here. i love the look. i'm so excited for you b/c i know you are gonna make sooooo gooood.

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  13. Thanks for 2 reasons.
    Ironically I've spent the day dragging furniture around my house and up and down stairs into my kitchen. I finally got it to a point where I felt HAPPY and now I discover that it's "Unfitted"! How Cool!
    That's one reason and the other is Camille's blog. Love it and now Following.

    I really like the store counter that you found but when you showed the back with the drawers...I want it!!! How very cool.
    I'm excited to see both your bathroom reveal AND to see what you do to the kitchen! It's sure to be fabulous.

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    1. Yes, Camille's blog is great. She's got a great analytic eye that really helps reveal why certain things work. And she's a great person too!

      Good for you for creating your own unfitted kitchen!

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  14. You will repurpose the top of that fabulous cabinet? A shame......You couldn't oil and polish it and put a piece of marble on the top for pastry making? Sorry, my vision has no business in your business......LOL

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    1. I'll totally be using that walnut. Either as countertop or for shelves. I'd love to have some marble too. Perhaps on an island. My vision changes by the hour.

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  15. love the first two inspirations and of course the unfitted examples. kudo's on the shop counter steve!

    when we did our kitchen i did not want to spend a lot on cabinets as i had my heart set on a pricey stove. my husband built plain "boxes", doors, fittings, fronts, etc. were ordered from a company in wisconsin that offers these items inexpensively. you pick out your style and your wood. since we were painting them i chose a lower grade wood. this method resulted in the desired look for a fraction of the cost

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  16. So much excitement! The many decisions to be made can be daunting, but I know whatever you choose will be classy and beautiful. I wish I could have gone with an unfitted kitchen as I think it's more historically appropriate but I had such a tiny space I figured a seamless look would be better. I can't wait to see the results of both bath & kitchen.

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  17. Your karma must be off the charts -- love the piece you found!

    Now go out and buy a lottery ticket while your karma this good.

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  18. Though I still love my built in custom cabinetry, if I ever have the chance to design another kitchen (god help me for even saying that!), it will be an unfitted one. I love the look, and the pieces you found will make for one heck of a kitchen!!!

    Kat

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  19. Sooo...I'm guessing you called Sam to see if he could work his magic...I totally know the sticker shock you felt...a big box store gave us a quote of $15,000 for laminate cabinets...we're going with unfinished...crown molding...all painted...under $1000...who says they have to cost an arm and a leg :) However...you know your kitchen is going to be spectacular...you'll need a great little table for an island...something like this...

    http://anurbancottage.blogspot.com/2010/04/kitchen-dreaming.html

    great shopping juju! Can't wait for the bathroom reveal.. :)

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  20. Stunning piece! I'm sure it will look amazing in your kitchen! Were you thinking of cutting it into sections or using it as an island?

    When looking for marble, remember to look at the remnants. We found a piece of carrara for a dresser we converted into a server for our dining room. It was 5 feet long & cost $150.00, we had it finished with a simple pencil edge.

    Enjoy the hunt!

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    1. Mary,
      It's HUGE so I do have to break it down into small pieces. I'm thinking the island will be an old table with a marble top.

      That was a great price for a marble remnant!

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  21. Oh...I have pinned that first cobbled together kitchen long ago and love it. I love the piece you found and know you will create a fabulous kitchen perfect for your house. It is funny...when you first show the expensive cabinets with the rope design..I wrinkled my nose. I was so disappointed...that you were thinking of getting those. Though expensive and pretty....that design is very very popular around here. It's in all the new houses and being put in old houses too. I think you would have quickly regretted it because it is everywhere. Can't wait to see the bathroom and the plans for the kitchen.

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    1. No kidding! I'm glad I'm not using it then. I'd really like to make something that's unique.

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  22. I'm having mixed feelings here. First, if you don't buy that drop-dead GORGEOUS antique counter, I'll never speak to you again. And, I fear you'll be cursing my name for ever bringing up the subject if you do.

    Camille

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    1. No cursing necessary, Camille. Although it's not an easy choice, it's a choice I'm happy with.

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    2. If any one can pull it off with grace and style, you can. This one's gonna be really good, I think.

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  23. You have what it takes - you're brave and you have wicked taste. If anyone can pull off an unfitted kitchen, you can! That piece is utterly stunning. It's got such character! You have that certain je ne sais quoi about your decorating and this project suddenly sounds very YOU.

    :)
    xo T.

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    1. Thanks, Terri! I appreciate your confidence in me. I'm not feeling brave at the moment.

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  24. LOVE the concept of the unfitted kitchen. So unique and personal. Who wants a kitchen that looks like a laboratory? Camille's post provides some beautiful examples and loads of inspiration. You -- of all people -- most definitely can pull this off, Steve. Can't wait to see the results!

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    1. Thanks. I'm definitely a little outside my circle of comfort but I think it will be fun to plan.

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  25. I think the unfitted kitchen is a great idea. We're just wrapping our design up. Other than a drawer microwave, admittedly I've not had a lot of say in it (I know better than to stick my finger in that socket). However, we have a closet being built where a glass cabinet like the one in your picture would be perfect. Thanks for the ideas.

    As an aside, I'm not a fan of knobs or handles that have an open end in the kitchen at counter level. I caught a belt loop at a friend's house once and managed to rip a pair of pants. Just a design thought.

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    1. Where to the put microwave is another real problem for me. Not above the stove, not on the counter. Undercounter, unless totally hidden, seems like a good option.

      That's interesting you say that about the handles. When I posted that photo on instagram, someone else had the same exact experience.

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    2. I don’t like over the stove microwaves for the simple reason of having to reach up to pull out hot dishes. The opportunity for me to be a klutz and burn myself is too high. So I’ve picked out a drawer microwave. A little pricey so you have to hunt around for a good price.

      Here’s the link: http://www.sharpusa.com/ForHome/HomeAppliances/Microwaves/Models/KB6524PS.aspx

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  26. so excited for you and so much fun to think about doing one for myself. my kitchen needs a re-do and as standard kitchens, go, I hate them. I so long for a put-together feel. I am sure I will dream of a new "old" kitchen space all day.

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    1. That's a biggest challenge, Donna. Unfitted and put-together seem like they could easily be at odds.

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  27. I sure hope you purchased it! Wow! It will be amazing.

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  28. Unfitted kitchen. Now you're talking! I got excited just thinking about it. Now go hang those towel rods so we can see the new bathroom.

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  29. I would buy that counter in a heart beat, strip it, save the top, don't put some water repellent surface on it just lay down urethane and put cutting boards over that. It would be so pretty. I fell in love with some tile that were not at all scratch proof but they were just what I needed to use on a kitchen counter so I bought them and installed them to the tune of $3000 in a rental of all risky places. That was eight years ago and I just saw that counter last night and it looks great. I bought glass cutting boards to cover all the surface near the working edge and even after having 3 different tenants in that house the surface of those tiles looks nearly as good as the day they were installed.

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  30. I sure hope you bought it! It would look gorgeous in your home. Getting a new kitchen is exciting and you SHOULD feel excited about it.

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  31. What an amazing find at the right time!! Looking very forward to watching your kitchen come together.

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  32. I'm always shocked at what modern kitchen remodels cost. I'm anxious to see what you decide to do.

    Avoid cabinet handles that can snag things. I hated mine (apartment) so much I replaced them with an inexpensive handle package from a home supply store.

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  33. Hi, Steve -
    For our next kitchen, I'd love an unfitted one with reclaimed elements. I've been stashing away little vintage goodies for this future kitchen :) That Danish counter is charming! Can't wait to see what you select. And look forward to the bathroom reveal!
    x Loi

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  34. Steve,
    So happy to read this post; an 'unfitted' kitchen seems much more in keeping with your house (and more interesting, too).

    I like what you have done with your kitchen in the mean time; it just goes to show that with paint, work, and imagination, you don't have to sink $30,000 into every kitchen.

    Now can't wait to see what you are going to do with that fabulous Danish counter!

    Hope you are well and perhaps you have some time to check out The Garden Conservancy's Open Gardens - there are a bunch open in Massachusetts this Saturday. I will be checking out Connecticut gardens on Sunday.

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  35. My kitchen had just been remodeled before we bought our house. Luckily they went the simple route, if I see one more ugly granite counter I'll run for the hills, which made our old farmhouse table fit right in as an island, eating, chopping, all purpose piece. I love that piece you found and your unfitted kitchen will look so much nicer than all those cookie cuter renovations...and won't break the bank either. Fun time!

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  36. I like the plot of this posting — hope, disappointment, challenge, inspiration, excitement. (And I do believe that an unfitted kitchen is more appropriate to the age of your house.)

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  37. Gather you courage to the sticking point and just say yes! In my kitchen to be, I'm going unfitted but more industrial. I'm making an island of 4 Gladiator tool drawers covered with a stainless steel top. Put your money where it loves you back!

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  38. Is this how Daryl Carter started?

    You have such and eye and an enviable attention to detail.

    Still on pins and needles over the bathroom and we're moving right on to the kitchen?

    This is like two Broadway hits in a row.

    Will anything be open for viewing the end of August?

    I'd like to but a ticket please.

    xo Jane

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  39. The unfitted kitchen is perfect for your home. I only wish I had done more of that when we redid ours a few years back. Now I just keep tinkering with what I have to make it more unfitted looking. Hindsight is bliss...

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  40. Hi...would love to send you a picture of a fantastic 'island' made from an antique English buffet that I saw recently at a neighborhood open house tour. Also, my husband made me a 'unfitted' piece for our kitchen; we have a combo of custom made cabinets (hubby made them) and one major piece that is different but works for the space and function.

    Any way to send file attachments?

    Love your blog and am always inspired!

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    1. Sounds great. My e-mail address is urbancottageblog at gmail dot com. There's also a little envelope icon just about the "About Me" on the blog that will send an e-mail.

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  41. You have GOT to get that 11 ft. antique counter, it is SPECTACULAR and will make your whole space, even with new cabinets look so unique and collected!!!! Refinished maybe or a marble top? Will it even fit? I'd have to knock out a wall to make it fit, but it looks so good... have fun!
    xo Nancy

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  42. that is a must have for sure!!! love the idea of the rope hardware vs. the rope detail...almost the same!

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  43. I have an "unfitted" kitchen in an 1890s house--and I love it. This is all very low-cost. The first thing we did was tear out the 1950s cabinets, and strip off the layers of flooring. Up went the beadboard wainscoting, to match the original still in the bathroom. Then we put in a long butcher-block counter made from recycled bowling alley flooring. (Too good, huh?) The island is my grandfather's workbench, and the main cabinet in the room is an antique pie safe. All very workable, very "green," and pretty. Happy unfitting with yours....

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  44. Ok, Mr Unfitted. Did'ja buy it? I was playing around with an old european buffet cabinet in our guest house to use in the kitchen. Never did it. Sad silly me. You, Sir, will pull this off splendidly!

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  45. Steve,
    I have no doubt your kitchen will be fabulous. You have certainly done your homework! Every detail is wonderful. Speaking of kitchen re-dos, we start on Monday at 8am. I hope I'm ready. After seeing this post, I'm starting to question myself. Wish me luck.
    annie

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  46. Late to the party Steve, but bet my bottom dollar your kitchen will be amazing. You've got the touch man!

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    1. It's never too late to come to the party!

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  47. Whatever you end up doing, Steve, it will be gorgeous and I can't wait to see it! The Danish store counter with drawers is amazing. Will the size of it work in your kitchen? I can't wait to see your bathroom reveal, too.

    Oh, and here's a tip: when you link to another blog, you can select an option to have it open in a new window. When your readers are done looking at that blog, they just close the window and your blog is still open where they left off -- no hitting the back button, or worse yet, losing visitors altogether. I learned this trick through work and have suggested it to several bloggers.
    Claudia

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  48. I think that sounds way more interesting than a traditional kitchen. I am going through the same motions...my kitchen is so outdated and so expensive to redo!

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  49. The unfitted-ness will be awesome. I may have to steal an idea or two for our NEXT place--

    b/c we SOLD OUR HOUSE !!!!!

    ( can you believe it? I still can't. I'll believe it when we go to closing and the $$$ changes hands, lol)

    This weekend we are reroofing the vestibule roof before an inspector gets here in a week or so and asks us to do it. Hubby likes to err on the side of caution. Our last "big" reno of our Peony Palace. YEA :)

    Cannot wait to see your bathroom and kitchen renos. Happy hunting for all your kitchen pieces!

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  50. Hi Steve, just catching up with you. I'm so glad you had this epiphany, and aren't settling...you're really very good about waiting for what you want, and I admire that. When we did our kitchen we couldn't afford the custom cabinets we wanted either, so we did a mix of painted big-box cabinets with unique hardware found online, antique pieces for an island and a buffet, and a little handmade spice cabinet that's painted a different color than the rest of the cabinets. I love the personal feel of it all. You will not regret the unfitted look. Can't wait to see what you come up with! - Cheryl

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  51. my heart actually palpitated when I saw your new find!

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  52. Love love love this, these kitchens are amazing! Tonsa luck being sent your way on an amazing kitchen.

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  53. Holy F.....if you get the kitchen of your dreams then I know it will be freaking unbelievable and I might hate you forever. Just sayin. Cause I'm kind of liking this whole situation.

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  54. I slurged on inset cabinetry for our house, and I love it. To offset the cost I went with a shaker style door (less expensive than raised panel). The flush/inset cabinetry does really make my kitchen feel complete.

    I work as a designer at a custom cabinetry shop, so the employee discount didn't hurt either :)

    Good luck kitchen planning!

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