We live in a city where real estate churns at a rapid pace. And buyers with deep pockets don't hesitate to rip out new kitchens in favor of newer kitchens that suit their personal taste. A growing trend is to not demolish the old kitchens but to donate them (tax write off). Likewise, manufacturers and showrooms increasingly donate discontinued products and lines to make way for the new (tax write off). The practice has spawned a whole recycled-kitchens industry, with the result that high-end cabinetry and appliances can be found at sometimes steep discounts.
How to tell if one of these recycled kitchens may be right for you? Here's what I ask myself:
- Are the materials in good shape?
- Do I like the cabinetry style and color?
- Is the layout a good match for mine? Or if not, is there enough of it that it can be reconfigured to be a match?
- Do I love, love, love the countertop material? (Important in an open concept plan.)
- Are the appliances included? And if so, are they brands I desire? In dimensions that I can really use?
- Is the amount of the markdown worth the risk and hassle?
Our kitchen shares a wall with our living room.
The kitchen and adjacent dining area are both on a raised platform – a common practice in midcentury design and very common in homes in our neighborhood. Ours is a very narrow galley, with 29" aisle, which is much narrower than the standard minimum of 32" and way narrower than the more common 36-42" that you see in kitchens today. It's a problem, as it just barely allows clearance for the oven door, dishwasher door and refrigerator doors to open. It's definitely a one-cook kitchen and a continual frustration to me.
Were I to open the wall and annex the dining area, I could create an open concept floor plan with enough space for a better functioning layout that would look quite nice. I've seen it done in other renovated co-ops in our neighborhood.
As was done in this kitchen, I'd very likely have to retain some portion of the wall, as waste disposal, water, electric and gas lines are in there. I'd need to keep the sink in the island but we could extend the gas line to the wall span and relocate the cooking zone. In what's now our dining area I could run a span of pantries wall ovens and refrigerator. Relocating the oven to a place where the doors can be easily opened without obstruction would make cooking in our kitchen a whole lot more efficient. Adding an island would make this a two-cook kitchen. Ideally, I'd have an entrance at either end.
This kitchen that's for sale at Green Demolitions for $6,900 might work. And it's an incredible bargain; the appliances alone would retail for more than that:
- Viking 30″ gas 4-burner cooktop
- Viking 30″ wall oven
- Viking 36″ paneled refrigerator
- Bosch paneled dishwasher
The appliances are new and the dimensions are right. Hood and microwave are excluded, but that would be okay for my purposes. I love the sleek modern style of the very high-end Poggenpohl cabinets. Though they're a bit darker wood than I'd ordinarily look for, they'd be a good fit for the midcentury architecture of our home. The "stone" countertops look like honed slate, which I had in my old home in Brooklyn and loved. And Green Demolitions, nearby in Fairfield, NJ, is one of the companies that offers white glove demo and nationwide delivery.
The one big drawback that I can see: The island houses the cooking zone. Ideally, we need the cooking zone along the wall and the sink in the island. So, the hunt continues.