If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice (alternate title: adventures in kitchen renovation)

by DaniGirl on March 17, 2016 · 8 comments

in The ongoing saga of the house

One of the boys has a peculiar but charming personality quirk: he abhors making decisions. Not only is he stressed by big decisions, but he actively avoids making even such minor decisions as milk or water with dinner. In general, he would prefer to be served with a decision made than to take an active role in decision-making.

I am beginning to think this might be a latent personality quirk he inherited from me as I die a death of a thousand paper cuts in the endless number of decisions involved in our pending kitchen renovation. From the fundamental “should we or should we not renovate the kitchen” to the minutiae of 3/8″ difference in sink depth, I am feeling completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of options at every turn.

We’ve narrowed down the options somewhat. We’re going with Ikea’s SEKTION design (it’s specified in some sort of international treaty that we need to capitalize Ikea product names, right?) sitting in pretty much the exact footprint of the existing kitchen, minimizing both cost and trauma to the change-averse members of the family. We’ve had a kitchen reno in our sights since we moved in almost six years ago, if for no other reason than to replace the spectacular bio-hazard that is the 1960s vintage faux brick backsplash wall behind the oven, and to do something with the gaping hole left when we had to tear out the over-fridge cabinets to accommodate our monstrosity of a fridge. (I have never in six years regretted investing in the biggest fridge we could afford at the time.) And over the years we’ve lost three full cupboard doors, with two more hanging at drunken angles, the brace holding the sink up has snapped, and the laminate on the counter has started to peel up. I’m pretty sure the previous homeowner invested just enough in upgrading the kitchen to last the length of the building inspection and not much more. TL;DR: we have some maintenance issues to address.

And, I have a wildly covetous desire for pot drawers. I swear, the real reason we are spending tens of thousands of dollars on this kitchen renovation is so I no longer have to lose my ever-loving mind every time I shift my way through eight nested stacks of pots and colanders because I am reaching for a pot lid or I send a precariously stacked Jenga game of plastic sandwich containers crashing across the kitchen floor in my search for the salad spinner.



So, a record of decisions made to this point: yes, we will renovate the kitchen. We will renovate the kitchen this year. We talked to the bank and worked out a budget, over which I choked and balked and raged and finally made an uneasy sort of peace. (Seriously, people spend HOW MUCH on kitchen renovations?! I spoke to more than one company that wouldn’t take on our project because it was just too small.) We decided on a white-on-white colour scheme in a country-modern, clean and simple style. We decided to build Ikea components into the existing footprint and to retain our original appliances. And we decided to put in a pot drawer every time the option became available.

Phew, that was a LOT of decisions. So, we’re done now, right? Someone will come over and wave a magic wand and we can has kitchen?


I think I’m probably nearing 20 hours invested on the Ikea website and with the Kitchen Planner, alternately known as The Most Aggravating Piece of Software on the Internet(TM). (Oops, there goes the potential Ikea sponsorship.) It actually works beautifully in store, and is a fascinating tool — if you can get it to load. The Ikea associate to whom I kvetched said it may have been because I was trying to run it on a MacBook, but I find it just as cantankerous and difficult to load on the boys’ PC. Every now and then I hit my kitchen-designing stride and started to have delusions about actually executing at least the design portion of the project ourselves, and then we hit a snag like a 38″ footprint for a 36″ cabinet, or confusion over MAXIMARA versus FORVARA, or the idea of not just finding and engaging but managing multiple subcontractors comes up, and we realize that we are in way, WAY over our depth. And also, I remember that I am pretty much completely lacking in mechanical aptitude, and the ability to assemble an Ikea wall unit over 16 hours does not make me a master cabinetmaker.

So, we’ve thrown in the (FRÄJEN) towel and have contracted the job out. Oh joy, there are MOAR DECISIONS. Finding someone to do the job has been painful. You don’t need to know the details, but suffice to say the story is long. We’ve decided to go all in, with a company that will design, purchase, manage and install the entire kitchen from start to finish. It will be four times the price than if we did it ourselves, but we will have an actual kitchen at the end of the process, which is a dubious outcome if we took on the project ourselves. And neither Beloved nor I will be facing felony charges for assault on a FINTORP.

All this to say, strap yourselves in and get ready for the next great bloggy series, “Remember that time DaniGirl lost her everloving shit over the kitchen reno?” Good times indeed.

Today’s question, my bloggy pretties, is about exhaust hoods. (There is a delicious irony in me reaching the breaking “exhaust” point and finally moving to crowdsource over an “exhaust” hood, yes?) We are not currently equipped to vent our kitchen exhaust outside, and while I don’t see it as being an insurmountable task, I am leery about punching a hole in the building envelope for any reason. Also, truthfully? I’d love to trim that item from the budget. I’m quite sure that our existing microwave/exhaust hood combo does nothing more than coat my forehead in aerosolized food particulate, but I am still leaning on investing in a recirculating new hood rather than upgrading to a ducted venting one. (And eep, did you know you were supposed to clean those filters? Did I mention six years? *cringe*)

Share your vast knowledge on the subject of range hoods, will you? Save me at least this one decision from the otherwise random and capricious impulses that have governed most of the key decisions to date!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sasha March 17, 2016 at 8:52 am

Sorry, I’m not going to be much help as I’ve never cleaned the filters in our range hood either. Oops. But still – tens of thousands when you’re not changing the fundamental footprint? Eeek. Kitchen reno has been in the plans since we moved in (about the same time frame as you), and I’d really hoped that by keeping all the appliances (given we’ve now replaced each one – the final hold out was the stove top which finally bit the bucket once a pot was dropped on it – thankfully not by me) and not moving the plumbing we might be able to keep it under just a single ten. Gah. I shudder to think what you COULD spend.

2 Sasha March 17, 2016 at 8:54 am

P.S. I can’t decide whether to follow your reno lest it scare me away from doing one ourselves, or to follow closely for the very same reason…

3 DaniGirl March 17, 2016 at 9:30 am

The cost is crazy Sasha. I’d started out thinking maybe we’d get away for $8K to 10K, now I’m realizing that we’re going super-lowball-budget at $20K, and will probably have to creep closer to $25K by the time we sign off on the final budget. Just running our uninspired design through the Ikea planner came out to a materials-only cost of nearly $6K, and that doesn’t include installation, poking a hole in the wall for a hood fan, lighting, and whatever other perils may come. One company I spoke to early in the process said they don’t take on kitchen renos less than $40K and I may have wept.

4 Madeleine March 17, 2016 at 10:33 am

I would absolutely install a real venting fan. Even with mine running I regularly set off smoke detectors when I roast vegetables. I know making a hole seems scary, but I think you’ll be glad you did it the next time you’ve got smoke in the kitchen!

5 TD March 17, 2016 at 11:46 am

Definitely put in the exhaust fan. It also exhaust the excess moisture when boiling water. If I forget to turn it on, my smoke alarm will almost always go off when I open the oven door. If it is turned on, my alarm only goes off when I have cooked bacon in the oven, or my oven needs to be cleaned.

The filters can generally be run through the dishwasher nowadays, for easy cleaning.

Good luck

6 Kev March 17, 2016 at 3:26 pm

You probably don’t have a choice for the exhaust fan if you’re doing the reno with permits. Code now requires exhaust intakes in the kitchen and bathrooms, and renovating usually obligates you to bring that room up to requirements. Best to check with permit office, and the code article is

Irrespective of that, yes, put one in. Condensation is bad, as is stinky fish smell.

7 cinnamon gurl March 17, 2016 at 7:59 pm

I know range hoods! I wanted to try to avoid it too, because our stove is on a peninsula and island mount hoods are $$$$$ but code requires it. Plus we have a gas stove, so it’s really a safety thing too. And now I love it. It’s come in SO handy!

Island mount hoods are super expensive because they have to look nice on both sides… this was the cheapest one I found. http://www.kitchenhoods.ca/shop/sv400b2-i36-stainless-steel-island-hood.html I was a bit wary buying off the internet but some way more expensive ones that I tested at appliance stores sounded like a friggin airplane taking off.

We’ve had the one we bought for nearly two years now and we love it. It’s super quiet at the lower speeds but can get super powerful. It has great extra lighting over the stove, which I didn’t even know I wanted until we got it, and now I love it. And I’ve cleaned the filters twice in the last year and I didn’t even mind. Like my sink (we got a white farmhouse sink from Ikea), I just remember Chandler on Friends and how he liked maintaining high-maintenance Monica.

It’s not a big deal to have a vent run through your roof… we already had one over the stove, and it once leaked because the previous person had put the wrong sort of vent on the roof and also the thing on the ceiling over the stove was more like a bathroom fan than anything that should be in a kitchen… but those issues were easily remedied.

8 Lynn March 21, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Just commenting to lend remote support. I’m sure we will be looking at this in about 5 years so I want to hear EVERY detail. Seriously, no detail is too small!

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