I have been writing about kitchen design for over three years now, but what I most want to do is to begin building my own kitchen. There are still a few projects between now and then, but I find myself thinking about it a lot and doing lots and lots of research. I've never made a kitchen before, and my one fear is that it will end up as a repeat of my back yard. That was a project that consumed nine summers of my life, but the worst is that it continues to eat up inordinate amounts of my time with maintenance issues that could have been avoided, had I simply known then what I know now.
I read everything I could get my hands on, then one fine day I grabbed a pick and shovel and began excavating to lay the first of what became 3289 bricks, five permanent structures, and four benches. No one ever said that the only sure way to avoid dry rot and termites is to use pressure-treated lumber or that wood benches that get more than four hours of sun a day cannot be varnished, because the sun's ultraviolet rays break the bond between wood and varnish, and do it no matter how many coats of varnish you apply or how faithfully you do it every spring.
What I most wanted to find for my upcoming kitchen, then, was a source that would enable me to avoid that kind of mistake. Well, I'm happy to report that I have honestly found just such a thing in a book by Kelly Morisseau entitled, "Kelly's Kitchen Sync." I, along with the many fans of her blog site at [...] have known for some time that this book was to come out, but I found myself especially eager to obtain a copy of the book because of what I'd already learned from her blog site.
To cite just one example, Kelly wrote a column on dishwashers in which she pointed out that they make them deeper now, so the standard 24" deep counter results in the dishwasher door being a bit proud of the countertop. As it turns out, I have a dishwasher that is doing just that in my kitchen. It's a cheapie that we bought a couple of years ago to replace the one that died. We just wanted something to tide us over until we made the final choice for our new kitchen yet to come, but after it was installed, it always bothered me that the thing was sticking out a bit. I personally thought it simply had not been installed correctly, but I was reluctant to start rooting around under the counter, because being a cabinetmaker does not make one a plumber. Better to leave well enough alone. And it's well I did... well nothing, actually, but in this case nothing was the proper course of action. In the end, the dishwasher, because it was deeper than the base cabinets, would have continued to obtrude. It was that kind of information from a kitchen design expert that had me excited about the possibilities of this book.
"Kelly's Kitchen Sync" has no color pictures of "dream kitchens" or color pictures at all, for that matter, because it was never intended to be that kind of read. I have an entire shelf devoted to that kind of book (I've been researching this for quite a while) and with the exception of the cabinetmaking books, very few of them are of any value. It's because they speak in generalities. "Be sure of your budget; make a list of what you want and don't want; here are ten types of countertop material." I'm sure the authors of these books meant well and will, if asked about it, hasten to add that they spoke in generalities because they have no idea of what kind of kitchen their readers will eventually make. But when it is so broad, it loses all definition, like an Olympic weightlifter who's given it up and now drinks lots of beer.
There are so many wonderful bits of information in these 210 pages that it's hard to know where to begin. One of the fun chapter headings was "Faucet wedgies and other plumbing oversights," but since it had so much information that I will definitely apply to my own kitchen plans, I thought I'd share that with you.
A faucet wedgie, as Kelly explains, occurs when the faucets that used to fit just fine behind the sink are now pretty much wedged into a greatly truncated space. It's because the sinks are deeper now. I won't go through the math with you--although Kelly does!--but those deeper sinks are playing hob with the standard 24" deep cabinet because they don't leave enough room to install faucets without, well, wedging them in somehow. Her solution is simple, a 27" sink cabinet. Now there is plenty of room for the sinks and the faucets. When I read this chapter, I immediately thought about the sink I've grown to love, which is every bit as deep as the ones she talks about, and I knew that I could save myself a lot of grief by simply taking her advice.
But her advice, paradoxically enough, creates another problem. Our kitchen is so hopelessly small that a breakfront countertop will simply add to the congestion. I must change out the sink for something smaller or widen the full run of that particular countertop. Well, I really want that sink, man, so that's the course I'll take. I'll be building my own countertops, so there's no extra expense, but here's the thing. The kitchen space inside the U is already much too small. If I bump out that back counter two or three inches, I will have to bump out the rest of the U-shaped kitchen to accommodate it, because we have a space that is only 42" now, so making it 39" is very much a No-Go Zone. But that means, in turn, that the counter at the other end of the kitchen is going to have to be three inches longer, but if I do that the refrigerator must be three inches LESS (it butts to a wall that will not be moved) or, more likely, that particular counter must be three inches shorter.
And that in turn, brings us to what Kelly said in her introduction to the book: "Designing the kitchen of today is like stacking dominoes. Every choice, every product, and every finish you add to your kitchen impacts the design, simple or not. One piece can send the rest tumbling if not thought out--and there are a lot of pieces!"
And with that we have revealed the reasoning behind her book's title, which I have to confess is a wonderful play on words that I missed completely, and that my wife got instantly. For the life of me I could not figure out what she meant with it. Christine saw the title and immediately said, "Oh, that's clever, kitchen sink, but spelled s-y-n-c because it's short for synchronize."
I deliberately purchased this book, although I'm sure I could have obtained a reviewer's copy, but I did it because I wanted to read it in my own time and not feel the slightest pressure to say anything but what I honestly thought about it, should I decide to review it. Truthfully, I cannot recommend it too highly. There are any number of other pictures books out there that surely have their place when it comes time to do your homework for that new kitchen. This little black-and-white book deals with the brass tacks of what is actually involved in designing a working kitchen, and I honestly think that anyone who has an upcoming kitchen remodeling would benefit from reading it.
You don't have to build and install your own cabinets, but it is important to know what goes into well-made cabinetry, so you can choose accordingly. In just the same way, Kelly will show you how to separate expectations from the reality of what will work for specific kitchens, which is a generalized statement for a book that contains an incredible amount of very specific, very valuable information. You will spend anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 or more to remodel your kitchen. Pop for her book, man. That $19.95 will be the smallest part of your budget and the best money you've ever spent.