Now that you have seen the meticulous planning that Jillian did, I bet you have been looking forward to what happens next! Fret not, I now bring you Part 2 of her story, as recounted by Jillian herself 🙂
Part 2: The Kitchen
The kitchen is indeed the heart of the home. So a lot of time and planning was spent on conceptualising my perfect kitchen. As mentioned in Part 1, we did not engage any interior designers or external design help, so everything was done ourselves. Basically from the ideas in my head, on to the software or paper and transformed into reality!
When I originally lived in the house as a child, the kitchen was a rather small space with a ‘bar’ table overlooking the dining area:
Our modest little kitchen back in the late 1980s/early 1990s: Kitchen sink was facing the window and there was a moveable stove next to the sink. L-shaped Bar table where my parents and I used to eat most of our meals
From the other angle: a better view of the L-Shaped bar table, and dining area
As you can see, it was only a very small dining area, where we squeezed a 6 seater dining table. There was not much light in this area, only a door on the left to exit to the garden, and it could get rather dim in the evenings.
Post 1995 Renovations, my parents knocked off the bar table to turn the kitchen into an open-concept kitchen.
As talked about previously, the backyard area used to be an open air area for clothes-washing, my parents had enclosed and grilled this area (but still open air) to become a washing cum wet kitchen area (as shown later). As pictured below is the backyard area post 1995 Renovations.
My mum had a portable cooking stove to cook out here, if doing major cooking/frying.
My mum cutting my brother’s hair in the backyard, sometime in near year 2000
Kitchen remodel in 2014
While the 1995 Renovations did a good job to the kitchen area in opening up the space, there were a few things we wanted out of our kitchen remodel when we bought over the house:-
(1) More light; easier access to the garden.
I found our dining area too dark, especially in the evenings. I also wanted the dining area to be able to spill out into a patio in the garden for parties
(2) Segregation yet seamless
My mum largely cooked inside the dry kitchen though we had a portable stove at the back yard. One would also have to walk around on the left to access the back yard- and access to the wet kitchen was not seamless
I wanted a proper wet kitchen, segregated from the rest of the house as I wanted to ensure that I could keep cooking fumes out (imagine your house smelling of garlic or curry after a big cook-out!). Also as we have young kids, the wet kitchen had to have a ‘barrier’ to keep my kids from entering the kitchen especially when the stove was on.
I also was not keen to have too large a wet kitchen as it would mean more cleaning up to do.
(3) An island
My husband definitely wanted a large island in our dry kitchen, for us and our guests to lounge around while having casual conversation. 2 years on, I can vouch that the island has been the ‘main attraction’ in our home, and most guests just love to stand around it (as opposed to sitting at the dining table chairs).
(4) More space for kitchen appliances
There was no big working space for baking projects. There was also not much cabinet space to keep our kitchen items, nor space for a big oven.
Initially I did not manage to work out a seamless access to the wet kitchen and was almost resigned to the fact that the wet kitchen would be quite cut off from the dry kitchen. As such in my initial plan, the structure was kept largely similar except with the inclusion of an island in the dry kitchen.
One night I had an epiphany and thought- why don’t I break through the wall here as marked in red:
This would give me seamless access to the wet kitchen and I could get to the fridge more easily. My husband was less than enthusiastic and did not want to ‘give the contractor more trouble’- but I felt that this was a fantastic idea. Which led to the following drawing being sent to my contractor with urgency (it was probably past midnight).
Last minute change to the kitchen flow
As you can see – I had asked for the existing backyard door to be closed off, and for a hole to be knocked through where the windows used to be. The wet kitchen would be separated by a glass sliding door with wooden frame.
This also led to the following mock ups on SweetHome 3D in the following days as I had new found inspiration on how to add additional cabinetry. This really helped me to visualise how the final kitchen would look like.
Conceptualising the open-concept kitchen done by using SweetHome 3D app. Glass door to separate the wet from dry kitchen
Conceptualising the wet kitchen
This was finally penned down on sketch done by my carpenter. The comments in red were mine!
Sketch of dry kitchen and island
Sketch of wet kitchen, you will see that I had quite specific instructions on measurements for my old oven which I wanted to place below the stove area
Dining area – Blessing in disguise
I had also not planned to extend the dining area, only to break down the wall as shown in the blue box below, to put in folding French windows that would open up to a patio in the garden.
However my contractor had misunderstood me and thought that we had wanted to extend the whole dining area out by a couple of feet! Anyhow, since it was already done, we decided to keep it and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we really did need the extra space with a growing family!
Work in Progress
Works in the dry kitchen
Access through to the wet kitchen as seen. Island in progress
Through into the wet kitchen
Wet kitchen in progress
The mistake to the dining area- Contractor misunderstood and thought we wanted to extend when we in fact did not! Turned out to be a blessing in disguise
Any resemblance? Sketch to reality with some modifications of course.
The countertop on the left was a new addition in 2016. This photo is to give a glimpse of the top-hung cabinets for more storage. (Yes I have lots of kitchen stuff!)
Panoramic view of the wet kitchen once entering from the sliding door. Compact but functional
The mistaken extension- made way for an all new dining area
For parties, we turn the table around this way for more space Extendable Ikea dining table is also really useful for parties! From a table of 6 to a table of 12!
The folding french windows at the dining area also opens up to this…
Unfortunately we did not take many ‘before’ shots, so you’ll need to use some imagination. Nevertheless I hope you enjoyed this kitchen ‘transformation’ of mine.
Tips when planning a kitchen
Just for some parting words, a few tips to share on kitchen planning:-
- Visualise where you are going to put all your kitchen appliances. This helps a lot in planning where your plug points would be, how many you would need and at what height. For instance, we wanted plug points on our island so that we can use appliances such as mixers or the induction cooker (for steamboats). We made it clear to our contractor/carpenter and electrician exactly where the island would be and where we wanted the plug points to be located.
Here you can see my specific instructions on the plug point for the island (in red)
- Measure up your appliances. I knew that I wanted my ovenette and toaster to be within reach and easily accessible in our dry kitchen. I measured them and provided them to the contractor so that I could be sure that they would fit in an open shelf (with some extra leeway in case we have to replace those appliances)
See my notes about sizing of my microwave, and the hanging open shelf (on the right) which I had indicated “at least 10” in height
- Do a stock take of all your crockery. Make sure you have budgeted enough space to keep all your plates/cups/pots/pans away from sight and insects. You will see that I had put in lots of top-hung cabinets in the wet kitchen to stow away my occasional use items. Our island also has in-built storage for utensils and plates we use on a daily basis.
- Power up appropriately. Ensure that large consumption appliances such as a built in ovens have a higher amp plug point (I believe it is 15 amp that most built-in ovens require).
This ensures easy access when cooking, to your ingredients, washing them and into the frying pan! I have observed this concept loosely in my wet kitchen- only that my fridge is a little far out of the ‘triangle’ (mainly due to space constraints in my wet kitchen).
I suppose some of these tips also apply to house renovation planning in general.
There you have it, an epic kitchen transformation, full with tips and inspiration! Hope you have enjoyed Jillian’s story, if you have any questions, or have a story to share too, do give me a shout! Have a good weekend everyone!