By Steven V. Philips.
The condo is in Back Bay Boston. It is a fourth floor walk-up. It is 720 square feet, a generous two-car garage size. When I first saw it, the Samagainian Army had evidently occupied it for the 20 years prior. With their livestock. Severe work was needed before the Health Department moved to condemn. The cost of this dream condo was a gynormus multiple of my first car’s cost. Plus another $50,000.
The condo building was built for a wealthy merchant in 1888, and judging by today’s pricing, built with solid gold bricks. Now covered with ivy – probably as a theft-deterrent.
Our only daughter and son-in-law win the bidding lotto and own this bargain. But the Samagainians evidently ordered-in and these kids really like to cook. Time for a well-priced kitchen designer. One guess as to who and at what price. You are correct!
“Daaad-dee?” Oh, do I know that tone. Very well. For 29 years very well. You, with daughters, also know that tone. Anyway, a question/request is coming next from my daughter. Guaranteed. First, the warm up: “Brett and I really appreciate your financial help on the condo.”
Let me say here that my measure for surprise gift-giving cost goes back 40 years to my first car, a 1955 Ford, cost $200, given to me by parents. Since then I calculate major expenses as a multiple of that number. OK, it’s odd. And despite the Ford-multiple we did help a little. Our only daughter, you know.
So now the question: “Daaad-dee, we’ve priced kitchens from three different kitchen firms. The cheapest quote is $14,000. And that’s really high for our budget” You do understand that we’re talking about 173 square feet here, maybe! And Brett’s father is a licensed plumber so zero cost for plumbing.
Plus this: “And Dad, no upper cabinets. Gives an illusion of more space. It’s the thing to do these days.” Oh, please shoot me and in a 173-square-foot kitchen my body wouldn’t hit the floor.
OK. I have design experience in maximizing small spaces. But this is a post office box. It is severely challenged for a walk-in closet.
Maybe I slept through the class Kitchens in Miniature. So I look at shelter magazine articles: The Barn Decor Your Big Kitchen Demands and Space For A Boat In Your Kitchen and How To Make Your Kitchen Weigh More and Will Psychic Damage Occur If You Cook In Your Kitchen? and Simplify Cleaning – Eliminate Cabinets and Big Appliance Anxiety Can Be Overcome With Therapy. Lots of help here. Guess I’m on my own.
Phillippe, down at the Kitchen Emporium, has moved to measuring counters in yards, not feet. Of granite, yet! Evidently since more people are electing cremation, the cemetery and granite industries have found a big new market.
I learn that Baby Boomers don’t want to reach high? Eliminate pesky upper cabinets and store those dishes in the garage. Move the the cars into the kitchen. Very chic too.
The final kitchen is from Ikea and with largest upper cabinets available! In light beech, Shaker design with stainless hardware. Daddy designed layout. Kids brought components home in six trips. Each cabinet, plus 73 pieces of clever hardware, is flat in a box. Sixty-plus pounds per box and the kids carried 16 boxes up the four flights. Youth. Design Daddy put each cabinet together and installed. Plumber Daddy plumbed. A professional installed the Corian counters.
Cost of everything? Equal to 17 of my 1955 Fords in 1970! Including Daddy labor.
And it works in the 173 square feet perfectly. Space for everything. Two people can cook, really cook, in it. Just like in 1970.
Tips for maximizing a small kitchen:
• Unless you have a pantry (ah, the luxury) or a basement or garage, resist the trend to eliminate upper cabinets. You need them and, further blasphemy, go for the tallest available. The twice-a-year stuff goes way up there but stays clean.
• Consider an apartment-size dishwasher.
• Lighting. Under-cabinet fixtures are a must so you don’t work in your own shadow. Suspend pendant lights over open counters, not fixtures up in the ceiling – remember the shadows? Just be careful on design selection so lights don’t glare in your eyes and make sure they hang just high enough so you don’t have to look around them.
• Light colors on cabinets. The space looks more open. You knew that!
• Use semi-gloss paint wherever you paint in the kitchen. Grease washes off!
• If you’re in an open-concept space where the kitchen faces the living area, opt for simple, clean lines. The kitchen can be a major visual part of the living space but shouldn’t be the focal point.