Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Casita Kitchen Cabinets!

One thing on my bucket list was to provide a nice place for my immigrant parents to live in their old age.  The stories they can tell you about growing up in WW2 is heart wrenching.  They made sacrifices they made for us growing up and this is a way for me to do something kind for my parents.  It is really for my dad, as my mom has dementia, and is quickly slipping away from us.  I've tried to select things in the casita that will make it a comfortable place for them to live.

The "kitchen" in my parent's casita is only 91" long, excluding pantry and refrigerator.  I chose to build in the pantry rather than cabinets because I thought it would provide more storage than a cabinet pantry.

Here is the design I worked up:

I spent hours designing this.  It seems simple enough, but it was quite a trick getting a symmetrical view which was important to me.   One kitchen designer offered to "help" me, and completely re-designed the 750+ SF space into about 4 rooms and it was all chopped up.   I had a couple of cad programs, and drew it myself.  I wanted some counter space, some drawers for silverware and a trash pull out.  I didn't feel I could give up what little counter space I had by building in a wall microwave.  The microwave will be a space-saver model that attaches under the cabinet.  I couldn't do a shelf, my parents are very short, and they would wind up dumping a bowl of soup on themselves.

 I contacted 3 cabinet companies because I liked their product pictured below.   The Woodmode cabinet caught my eye, and I located a dealer in the bay area.  I sent him a drawing, and I went to sign a contract--only he hadn't done a contract.  He didn't get back to me for a month, didn't seem too interested in my small project.  I really didn't like being put on the back burner, so I crossed him off my list.
Wood-Mode Ad
I then tried to find a Quality Custom Cabinetry dealer as I'd seen their cabinets in some of the shelter magazines.  It was the same trip to the bay area as the Wood-Mode dealer.  The showroom told me "I couldn't afford them" when I walked in and inquired about them.  I told them I would like an estimate anyway.    But they never called me.   Don't you think it is odd (and rude) in today's tough economy that I'm not even allowed to make a decision on what to splurge on?   I guess snotty people don't deserve to my business anyway.
Quality Custom Cabinetry
It seemed to me that the trend of full overlay doors is a new one (at least since I last remodeled). You will always know when the kitchen was remodeled with a full overlay door. A flush cabinet door is pretty timeless.   

I then started searching through the gamut of non-custom cabinets.  I sort of like a Schuler painted door at Lowes, but I am still waiting for a written quote of the paint job I requested: fully antiqued and distressed door.

So I went back to Vancouver, and found a great rep from a company in Washington.

We liked this door, but were worried green was "too avocado" and we might tire of it quickly.  It is more avocado than photos of cabinets we liked on the internet.  I did really like the way this company did the splits in the door for distressing.

I almost signed on the dotted line, but it was for full overlay doors, but my husband said if it's really not what I want, I should hold out for inset doors.  I felt bad because the rep really was great and a pleasure to deal with, would have loved to give him the business.  The next day Veranda had a new Woodmode ad:

Wood-Mode ad in April 2011 Veranda
I thought it was interesting that they decided to advertise a stained cabinet, but the key things I noticed was a slightly wider stile than 2 1/4", and the inset door.

I decided to try to find a custom cabinet-maker one last time.   I came up with 3 shops where they made real cabinets, not just fronts for a factory made cabinet. One person didn't want to bother with a small project, even though I was willing to go with a design he had on the internet.  The second shop showed me the one door style that he made, and that he only made part-overlay doors.  He had never even heard of full overlay doors.   I just saw staples, and wasn't happy with the quality at all. I stopped by a hole in the wall place that had a nicer website than showroom presence.  The work shown looked really nice.  Things were buzzing in the back room with a number of craftsmen working on various stages of cabinets.

They were actually working on the cabinets that we ultimately decided to go with.  Up until now, I was looking for a farmhouse look, painted cabinets, heavily antiqued and distressed.  However the casita only has one room.  It has dark beams in it, and my husband was concerned that putting in a painted cabinet would dictate decorating down the road.  It was a bit of an impulse, I picked this after about 10 minutes in the shop.  Was I sick of shopping for cabinets?  YES.    Did I make a decision before my head was going to explode?  YES.   Usually my vision comes together easily, this one was a struggle just because I couldn't seem to make anyone believe I was serious.
Sample Door
I will be going to work with the shop on Friday to determine the exact "level" of staining.  The piece is stained multiple shades of the yellow/orange light color, then a very dark, almost black stain is applied, and the wiped off.  I was thinking we'd leave a bit more dark that I'm seeing here for more of an old world look.  The goal is to look like years of wear and age.   Distressing can look contrived, but I am happy with the distressing done here.

I hope I'm not sorry that I didn't pick a painted cabinet.  I still love the looks of these kitchens.  If I've "borrowed" these photos from your website, please let me know and I'll give a link.  I just don't recall where I got them.

Grey painted cabinet
Below is a photo of the wall.  The tile is a Philadelphia Travertine, creamy with grey streaks in it.  We laid it in the Versailles pattern as it seemed like it would make the room seem bigger and have more of a "stone floor" feel to it.  The beams were stained to match the cabinets, and the beam company loved the staining shades I asked them to do so much so they're adding it to their offerings.

The lantern chandelier is a Pierre Deux--purchase on One Kings Lane.  My daughter sent me a text when she spotted it, and I quickly purchased it.  That was an easy decision because we'd seen it in the Carmel store over the xmas holidays, and I was thinking about purchasing it.  It's temporarily raised so we don't spear our heads on one of the corners.

The Next Decision:  Select  Counters!

I will admit I'm tired of granite.  I didn't want granite when we put it in the house in 2004.  I wanted Vermont Bluestone with subway backsplash.  However what we put in is pretty, and I got used to it.

If I was doing the painted white cabinet, I would choose a grey concrete counter.

The main reason is I thought concrete is I'd like to put in this egg and dart border.  

However, now that I've chosen a dark wood cabinet, I'm thinking the concrete blue grey color wouldn't look as good as a lighter color.

If I were to do a light color, what if I chose to do a counter out of travertine?

This is a pretty dark piece of travertine.  I can also get a very creamy with grey streaks from another location.  I know travertine stains, etc.  Who cares?  Would you notice in this piece?   What kind of edge would you do?  I was so intent on concrete, I didn't think this one through.  Perhaps I  will still do it, only a creamy color perhaps?  They can do any color I want.

I do like the look of the backsplash above, a curve over the sink with tile behind it.  I can get 2x4 matching tile to the floor, however, I should have a contrast with the cabinet don't you think?  I could run it all the way up the wall like the photo above.  I was having wood behind the shelves, but I could change that to be open against the wall.  I've also seen where they run it above the cabinets.  I have 42" tall cabs with a nice crown on top.  It woud match but there is a leathered piece of granite that looks like wood that I'd love to use.

Dark wood grain looking granite that would layer over the travertine brick tiles as a backsplash.
I'm back in Vancouver trying to recover from my tile-laying injuries.  We contracted the entire job out, but I knew I was too picky about the tile to risk this to an unknown contractor.  As it is, I'm extremely unhappy with the finish carpenter.  He didn't fill any of his nail holes, and put 36 nails in ONE piece of moulding on the side of a door.  Every single stud has at least 5 nail holes.  Terrible.  I'd go after him but I'm not into the negative energy that would take.

Let me know your opinions on the counter, I'm noodling this one to death.  I'd think about white marble, but I don't think it would look very good with the travertine floor, shouldn't it be a creamy color to contrast with the cabinets?

Have a great day!


  1. well now that I see the concrete with the egg and dart border I feel like you should have done white cabinets... but I don't know how well the concrete and white cabinets would match the travertine floor.

  2. Just a quick note--I wound up going with a dark black/brown counter. I will post photos in a later update.