25 August 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White/ Farmhouse/ Mid-Century-Modern Kitchen

When it comes to home improvements, one of the most taxing and substantial projects you can take on outside of a full-on addition is a kitchen renovation.  A kitchen reno poses numerous challenges:
  1. It often tops the list of most expensive projects (particularly for those like me, with champagne tastes on a beer budget)
  2. It's highly inconvenient, if not impossible, to live on-site during the reno process without the basic tools for meal prep (unless you have your local Chinese restaurant on speed dial)
  3. There are a million decisions to make, from the large items (how do you create a functioning work triangle?) to the small (knobs or pulls?) and all points in between, and each one critical to a successful outcome.  And just when you think you've reached your million-question limit, there will be one more
  4. More than any other space in your home, a kitchen reno forces you to think critically about how you currently live and more importantly, how you WANT to live.  Focusing on functionality is detailed and time-consuming work
For those who subscribe to the philosophy that the kitchen is the heart of the home - where not just bellies but relationships are nourished on a daily basis - ripping out and replacing an existing footprint is also challenging on an emotional level.  You might not get worked up to tears over your flooring options in the foyer or whether you should have single- or double-hung windows in your living room, but throwing out bar stools that your son's bum has worn smooth over time, or the counter-top your daughter scarred when helping you make preserves last summer is a loaded experience.

One issue that you rarely hear about, though, is the one I'm struggling with right now: MDP.

MDP, or Multiple Design Personality, is a problem that surfaces when you're looking a huge change straight in the eye, and that change represents a proverbial fork in the road, either of whose options are more than acceptable. 
Here's my situation:

Even though we're not even remotely out of the woods on the bathroom projects yet (yes, project
S), thanks to a carpenter friend of ours I have already started shifting my focus to our next huge reno, the kitchen.  In our preliminary discussions, this friend recommended that I surf through magazines and online to find samples of kitchens that I like, to use as inspiration pieces in our own custom design.  Loving nothing more than spending an evening curled up on the couch with an icy-cold beverage and a stack of shelter mags I've started to do just that, and much to my dismay I've discovered that unlike most people who have one or maybe two kitchen "types", I have no "type" at all!

When I am equally in love with kitchen designs that range from mid-century modern to country farmhouse to bistro chic, how do I determine what I love most?  And more to the point, how do I then make that specific kitchen style work in my house?

As I've mentioned before, our home is a rather small 1950's bungalow that is distinguished more for the architectural interest it
doesn't have rather than any it does.  I won't lie to you, it's bland.  The best we have going for it is a pretty pressed-plaster crown moulding in the office and dining areas (originally the formal living and dining rooms) but even that could be purchased off the shelf nowadays at any big box store.

Our dream is to blow out the wall between existing kitchen and office and create one huge kitchen with centre island, floor-to-ceiling pantry and office workspace.  Doing so will open up the kitchen from it's current dark little nook where it exists in relative obscurity, and expose it to the rest of the house in which each space is decorated (or in the process of being decorated) in different styles.  Ideally our kitchen will become the showpiece of our home but for a room so important, how do I choose a specific style?  If I move one way on the kitchen (say, modern farmhouse, for example) am I then on the hook for redecorating the rest of our spaces to follow suit?

When is a kitchen renovation not just a kitchen renovation, and how does one person consolidate her 19 different design aesthetics into one perfect room?

Is there a cure for MDP?