1970 kitchen renovation | more demo & a wrinkle

by | Apr 18, 2023 | 1970 home renovation, Kitchen, My House | 49 comments

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Let’s go a little check-in on the kitchen!  I hope you enjoy kitchen renovation posts because you’re going to get a lot of them.  If you’ve missed any kitchen renovation posts, you can catch up HERE.  It is getting really exciting seeing all of the open space.  This space that was hacked up is so big and bright.  I want to be transparent, though, and share that the excitement is tempered a little bit by second-guessing.  Just a tiny bit.  I’m comforted by the fact that I’ve watched friends and even veteran designers go through renovations and have witnessed that a little bit of second-guessing is very normal.

I’ve learned from experience and observation that you just need to push through the process until the vision fully comes to life.  Usually, those gut instincts, the research, the sketches, and the hours spent picking and planning are honest and the second-guessing is just the critical voice that rears whenever you’re doing things that are new, big, or a little intimidating.  When you see second-guessing as a part of the process, it isn’t such a big deal.

One thing I’m not second-guessing, though, is moving the staircase to open this room up.  It really is amazing what it’s done for this space and I am just bursting to see warm wood floors, good lighting, and finished walls.  I thought it would be fun to look at a few before & after pictures at this point to show the dramatic difference.  I took the before photos with my DSLR camera and the current pictures with my iPhone, so the perspective and lenses are different, but I’ll take the final photos with the same lens from the same angles for full effect.

Here is the before view of the kitchen from the family room…

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

And here it was on Monday morning.  The contractor spent Monday adding floor joists and a subfloor to the space where the stairs used to be.  In the photo below, there is just a piece of plywood placed over the opening so curious cats didn’t explore the basement and so people didn’t inadvertently fall in.

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

Here is another view of the basement steps…

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

And how it looked Monday morning…

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

The thing that made me happiest was seeing the light flooding into the entire room.

Here is the view looking from the dining room toward the stove wall…

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

…and now…

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

The fridge is just hanging out where it was before, but all of the walls have been removed.

And here is the view looking from the stove wall to the dining room…

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

…and now…

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

So, let’s talk about the wrinkle.  Thankfully, it’s a small wrinkle with two options and either could work.

In my floor plan drawing below, you’ll notice that I put the door to the basement stairs right next to the dining room opening and I based my measurements on that.  And, let me say, that measuring a space with a bunch of walls through it was a bit of a challenge.  The wrinkle is that my estimate for the placement of the staircase was off by about a foot.  This means that the fridge and pantry would be shifted closer to the doorway to the hallway.

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

With the contractor walking through the accurate measurements, I put tape on the floor to mark the end of the pantry.  As you can see in the photo below, it’s pretty close to the hallway.  It’s a reasonable measurement in theory, but in reality, it feels tight.


1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

When I was working on the kitchen layout, I debated putting the fridge and pantry over on the “eating nook” wall but decided it would flow better to have the fridge and pantry closer to the sink and stove.  But now, that might be the best option.  I’m still thinking through what option would be best, but I’m leaning towards putting the pantry and fridge on the “eating nook” wall in order to keep things more open.  There would be enough space to build some open shelving, which I like.  It would be a nice place to keep cookbooks, flour/sugar canisters, and my mixer, and tuck a footstool underneath.  There will be a table close by for setting things on when we’re putting groceries away.

It will be a bit of a walk to get to the pantry and fridge, but I had to remind myself that I have been walking around the basement staircase to get to the pantry to use the microwave and to get dry goods since we moved in.  While I think efficiency and creating a good workflow is important for a kitchen, reducing the number of steps while preparing a meal has been put on too high of a pedestal in my mind.  Walking five steps to get something from the fridge or pantry will be just fine.

The other consideration for me is the sightlines from other rooms.  Looking down the hallway and having a view of the side of a floor-to-ceiling pantry won’t be as attractive as looking at the side of an antique hutch with a chair tucked next to it.  The view from the family room will be better as well.

1970 kitchen renovation | miss mustard seed

So, it’s all under consideration, but I have to figure it out by the time the electricians come on Thursday.  They’ll have to install dedicated plugs for the fridge and microwave and the lighting plan has to make sense with the cabinet arrangement as well.  Jeff and I will tape things on the floor later today and make a final decision.

The crew is building the staircase and taking one more wall out today.  The wall between the old pantry and the closet behind it is being moved so the storage space from the old pantry is absorbed into a hall closet for now.  We’re hoping to make that a half bathroom eventually, but it’ll be great storage until then…

UPDATE: Thank you so much for all of your wonderful suggestions!  I looked at several of the options and, after giving the space another look, I realized that the issue wasn’t where the staircase started but where the wall ended.  I asked the contractor if we could extend the wall so it would be located where I planned.  That was a very small extension since he was still working on framing and drywall around the basement door area, so that’s what we’re going to do.  I can have the fridge and pantry exactly where I planned.

As a side note, writing about the kitchen through the process has helped me think through decisions in a way that I might not have done if I was working on the space in a bubble. Writing about my ideas, taking pictures, and hearing your feedback has been a valuable part of the process.  It’ll be our kitchen when it’s done.

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    1. Kim

      How about making the pantry a foot smaller? I wouldn’t like the fridge farther away.

      • Marian Parsons

        The pantry is a built-in cabinet that has been ordered, so that’s not an option.

      • Jenny

        Or, could the fridge stay where it is in the original plan, and just the pantry be moved to the eating nook? It could possibly be reconfigured as to space/depth. I don’t see why the fridge and pantry are required to be side by side. Or, could the old pantry become the new pantry with a differently placed door? Sorry, I haven’t got the original floor plan sketch in front of me to look at so that idea may be totally unworkable. I have a total gut kitchen renovation just ahead of me and I feel a sense of dread (as well as enthusiasm.) So it’s fun to mentally engage in your plans in a virtual way. History proves whatever you decide will be just right!

      • Karla Staver


        We just moved this week into our retirement home this week. Originally it was to be completed in April of 2022! Well a lot of water under that bridge and I learned so much on a custom build. Keep your vision, remain positive and push for the end kitchen you desire. My kitchen design is very similar to yours. I have ordered the panels for my refrigerator three times. First was the designer error, second was the incorrect measurements from the appliance supplier and the third is totally me. Hope third time is a charm. My husband often reminds me that our home may not be perfect but perfectly us. How could I want for anything more. ‘
        Thank you for the open share of your life. I understand that isn’t always easy but
        I sincerely appreciate your talent and I look forward to your message every day.

        Be well, the remodel will be beautiful!

    2. Jean Konieczny Heideman

      I am just curious, why didn’t the kitchen designer or building contractor catch the measurement error? When I had our kitchen remodeled, the contractor was responsible for the measurements. Unfortunately, he made several mistakes and had to reorder several cabinets due to his errors. It delayed the completion of our project by months, but in the end it was worth the wait. I think if I were you, I’d bite the bullet and order a smaller pantry cabinet.

      • Marian Parsons

        They both did measurements and, when I looked back at the designer’s layout, she had the stairs in the proper place. The reason why they didn’t say anything is that it does work. It fits with a 41″ walkway, which is completely reasonable. It’s just not where I thought it would be! I am just thankful that it’s the kind of mistake that doesn’t involve needing to reorder cabinets or make any major changes to the plan. I just have to decide if I want to keep it as it is or make an adjustment.

    3. Tori

      Hi, Marian! Wow. So many decisions! I’m sure it can sometimes feel like 🤯🤯🤯.
      I had a thought, can you not just shift your dining room doorway over a foot? Then (I think) you could keep your original layout, and have things stay the way that you put so much thought into.🙂

      • Monica in Littlestown

        That would be my option! Thinking about where to set things as you take them out of or put them in the fridge and pantry would be much more efficient if they’re closer to the island.

      • Marian Parsons

        It actually has more to do with where the staircase has to go than the doorway. I had thought I could extend the wall past the basement door to see how that feels. That would give me the wall space I planned for without being too involved. They are rebuilding that wall, anyway. Jeff really likes the idea of having the fridge over on the other wall, though, so I want to keep that in mind.

    4. Ruby

      I don’t know if you’ve found your island piece yet (I know it will be awesome!) but moving your fridge and pantry to the other side of the kitchen might give you more flexibility in the size/measurements that you will need to keep in mind as you search for one. I have to walk through my eating space and into the laundry room to get to my pantry and I never mind the extra steps. Gives me more exercise I say!!

    5. Tracy W

      Could you widen the hallway opening to give more space around the pantry or even move the opening a foot or so towards the eating nook?

      • Kristen Iverson

        I agree regarding how important sight lines are from the other rooms. With the fridge moved to the eating nook wall, it would be handy to access beverages while in your family room.

        • Marian Parsons

          Yes, that’s true! There are some benefits to having it on that wall, even if it’s not the way I initially planned it.

      • Marian Parsons

        No, the hallway opening is fixed. it will have the new basement staircase on one side and Marshall’s bedroom is on the other.

      • Teresa Sivey

        One thing to consider is resale value. I know that is far from your mind right now, but who knows. The house is a great ranch style that appeals to those of us of a certain age. But I think having the frig so far away from rest of the kitchen would give me second thoughts. Could you put the frig by the stairs and the pantry on the other wall?

    6. Sheri

      Have you considered moving the pantry to the other side of the family room doorway? You would have cabinets running all along the range wall that way. You could then move the refrigerator down and add another cabinet or even a freestanding antique cabinet next to fridge. Excited to see finished kitchen.

    7. Kim

      Could you keep the current plan but substitute a different pantry cupboard, perhaps order another cabinet in the correct size, or an antique piece? Relocate the pantry cabinet you’ve purchased to the corner dining area and add to it to create a larger pantry and display area with open shelves on top and closed cabinets on the bottom – something like you had in Minnesota. A pretty place for your collections. Add an outlet for cabinet lighting?

      • Marian Parsons

        The pantry cabinet we ordered is exactly like the one we had in Minnesota. Yes, it is possible to separate the two and maybe even order another cabinet or two. It’s something to consider!

        Oh, I just realized you meant the butler’s pantry. Something like that would be pretty. I’d have to look at the space and what would fit.

    8. sandi m

      Good comments. I would not want to relocate the fridge. Visually, it’s in the best spot now. I like Sheri’s comment to move the 4 foot pantry to other side of the family room door, move fridge down and add another smaller piece next to it. Or perhaps order a 2-3 foot matching cabinet to put next to it? Decisions, decisions, I know you’ll make the right one for YOU.

      • Marian Parsons

        Yes, I had considered splitting them up, so that is a possibility. Since we are getting an integrated fridge, I really like the idea of having it next to a cabinet. Another consideration, though!

    9. Shari

      Marion, I cut out cardboard when I designed my bathroom. It helped me visualize how large the tub, shower, and sink would be, and if I would have enough space for walkways. It made it easier to try different layouts than tape on the floor. There might even be a third choice you haven’t thought about yet.

      • Marian Parsons

        yes, I’ve done that before, too, and it is so helpful!

    10. Sandy

      Sorry you’re having a hiccup but don’t doubt that whatever way y’all choose to arrange will work out well and be beautiful!

    11. Karen

      It’s a personal choice. Whatever works best for you is the way to go. If you are looking for out-of-the-box idea to consider – what about putting the wall back to create a separate boot / mud room for that back entrance? If I had my druthers, I would want a separate space for all that “chaos” that comes in from the outside before entering into the kitchen space. Love me a good British boot rack / storage / wall hooks. Then you would have a wall for the fridge and pantry right where they work best in a kitchen triangle set up. But I bet this would mess with your long run of already-ordered cabinets making my suggestion a moot point. No doubt the end result is going to be smashing no matter how you work the new layout ☺️

      • Marian Parsons

        I had considered the idea of leaving just the wall, but I really don’t want to block any light. I’d rather figure out the organization (which I’ve done in the past with other homes.) In our PA house, the front door went right into the living room and the side door went right into the family room, so we didn’t have a landing place by either door. We just figured out solutions that worked.

    12. JoAnn Lener

      I suggest moving the opening to the dining room closer towards the corner with the door to the outside, and then move the wall (w/ door) of the newly built basement stair to give you the room for your refrigerator and pantry. This will accomplish two things, the door to the basement won’t open against the opening to the dining room and you can leave your kitchen just the way you want it. I would slide the opening of the dining room so that neither the door to the outside or the new door to the basement would be opening against it. It would be an added cost to the construction because a new opening with a new header would be involved, but you would get the kitchen you want and not always wonder “what if”.

    13. Pamela Bold, CKD (retired)

      Rule #1: When taking dimensions, ALWAYS make them cumulative across the entire space (vs. segmented dimensions) in both directions, including center lines of windows. If no one is available to hold the dummy end of the measuring tape, tap a small brad into the hole of the “finger pull gadget” on the end of the tape to secure it to the wall at about countertop height. Then measure any structural elements that jut out as you measure cumulatively across the opposite direction of the room. Same with ceiling heights: Put the “finger pull gadget” on the floor, hold it with a brad or your shoe, flip the tape so you can create a loop to feed all the way to the top of the ceiling for an overall height. Do the same to measure window sill heights, window header heights, and any knee walls to remain, also in the “cumulative loop” fashion. (It takes practice to not have the tape loop flop over and hit you in the head). Include centerlines of any plumbing or electrical elements that will remain. Rule #2: Food Flow – If you are right handed, you work from left to right on every function from bill paying to cooking. Refrigerator goes to the Left of the sink, to a landing spot, adjacent, if possible to avoid traffic flow. If not, no more that 36″ to the landing spot. From food storage center to the sink is 72% of the relationship function (trips) of the kitchen, then to the sink where you add or drain water. Then on to the food prep center to the cooking center (always moving in one direction from left to right) to staging area/serving area/buffet area (Island). One sweep though the kitchen without crossing major traffic flow is the goal. Clean-up is “as you prepare/cook,”or one giant sweep back thru the kitchen to rinse/load the dishwasher. I love your idea to move the pantry into the corner with the refrigerator next to it, closer to the sink, with a finished paneled end on the refrigerator right side. The table is great space for sorting and storing groceries, freeing up your entire prep area. If you were going to make one mistake in your own kitchen design, you are going to LOVE the new Food Flow Function and the Food Prep Function (into specific areas) of your new kitchen. BRAVO to you, Marion!

    14. Sharon W.

      I love love love the kitchen renovation posts (and all your other update ones, too!) So exciting to follow along!

    15. Cathy

      Do the pantry and the fridge have to be side by side? Did I miss that somehow? The pantry in the upper corner and the fridge where it is currently would be very workable. My pantry is on the other side of my island and “kitchen work triangle” and it functions very well. I unload on the island and gather whatever I need out of the pantry before I cook. I grab more out of the fridge than the pantry at various times during food preparation so I am glad it is closer. Thank you for sharing the process – I love watching renovations happen!

    16. Becky

      I recommend doing the 1/2 bath now while you have plumbers and electricians. Less expensive to do and more likely to get done. «  small » jobs are very hard to source now especially when you need multiple trades.

      • Marian Parsons

        Well, that’s easier said than done! We already have a pool and kitchen reno happening, so we need to keep it at that for now.

    17. Vicki Carver

      My heart raced when you mentioned the plywood to keep the cats from the hole in the floor. We had a small reno a few years ago. The workers pulled out a heating grate that led to the ductwork buried in our concrete slab. We were unaware of that exposure until we were awakened by cat crying in the night. Our beloved curious boy had explored the ductwork below ground, ending up at a grate in the kick plate under the kitchen cabinets. Horrified, my husband pulled the grate, but because of its location, it was smaller than the others and smaller than the cat’s head. My husband began to just tear things up, breaking chunks of wood out until our “baby” could be saved. It was a tough night for all concerned. Our reno workers the next day said there was nothing that couldn’t be repaired and put it all back together.

    18. Ann

      I think that is a loooong way to frig and pantry. At least for the frig anyway. Have you considered putting the frig between the sink and the door going outside – right next to the door. This would create a “working triangle” with your appliances. Then put panty cabinet where frig was to be or on eating nook wall. You can always adjust what items you store in pantry for frequency of traveling to retrieve but frig things will always be frig things. Or place pantry cabinet next to door going out and keep frig where you originally planned to have it, but I will say it is nice to have a little counter space to set things on when removing from or placing in frig.

    19. Jane

      I think the whole work triangle is over-rated, too. In our kitchen renovation, we took out a walk-in pantry to create a place for the fridge to be recessed into. No landing pad other than a nearby countertop. Plus, it’s across the room from the sink. Not a problem at all!

      • Michele M.

        We are thinking of doing the same thing if I ever get to re-do my kitchen. To be completely honest I think having everything so close together is more a hinderance when we both cook – seems like everything is too close together and we have the entire huge rest of the kitchen housing pretty much lots of space and the kitchen table.

        I’d love to space things out more so we aren’t constantly dancing around one another. (Pet peeve: oh dear Lord I soooooo want to move the microwave away from our stovetop!!!!)

    20. Mary

      A wrinkle almost always happens! I had to send my beautiful footed tub back due to a huge plumbing problem that was not anticipated when we gutted our bathroom Now I have a beautiful old buffet with wonderful storage instead. I love it…thank God for wrinkles😉. I feel quite confident you will figure out a suitable solution.

    21. Susan

      When we renovated our kitchen, the refrigerator ended up further away from the stove and sink. I worried about not having the frig closer. It has been a non issues. Truly, walking 6 or 7 steps is no big deal. Having the refrigerator in it current location kept the room open.

    22. Kari

      Oh, things are really coming along! Unexpected challenges are part of every project, and once you settle them and move on to the next step you hardly remember what the fuss was about anyway. Thank goodness for a little renovation amnesia!
      Have you considered leaving the fridge where it is as adding a bookcase to the side of its frame so the shelves are facing the hallway opening? It would be a lovely place to display your treasures, cookbooks, and such and would make the sightline from the hallway interesting and cute. Your pantry over by the family room opening is a great idea.
      It’s hard enough to work it all out when you are standing in the room, much less with photos, but it sure is fun to join you on the adventure!

    23. Crystal

      I love the light coming in now! Moving that staircase was the best decision! As for how far away the frig and pantry are, if that’s the best option, so be it. I walk farther than 5 steps to get to our pantry and frig, and it’s no biggie. We have an island for a landing spot, Would it have been nice to have more space in our kitchen? Well, yes. But given the space constraints, having the pantry and frig a bit farther away made the most sense for us. Ordering another pantry cabinet seems like an additional unneeded expense, and would add not only to your budget but also your over-all time line … I did read a comment that had some good ideas and I know you’ll figure out what works best for you, your budget, and the kitchen in the long term. If you can reconfigure a cabinet or two and order some additional ones, it may be worth the expense, you’re gonna be in this kitchen a lot and for a long time, so bite any bullets you need to in order to make it work. That’s all the advice I have. But the light coming in!!! Joyful!

    24. Shari Alexander

      You are amazingly talented/gifted. Thank you so much for letting us follow your adventures!

    25. Elena M.

      Does it matter that the air duct or heating duct (to the left of your brown hutch) will possibly be in the way of the fridge or the pantry, or will your contractor move it without it being a big expense? My kitchen is basically what you will have if you move the fridge and pantry to the eating nook wall, but instead of an island, I wanted a big table with chairs, so we could eat in the kitchen. I did not have space for both, because I also wanted a giant wall of cabinets for storage of my large collection of dishes and drinkware. Anyway, I have to walk around my table to get from the fridge to the sink, but I really don’t mind it, maybe I have gotten used to it, but it really is nice to have everything spread out in the kitchen, not have it all in one corner, and it’s also better so other people in the kitchen aren’t in each other’s way. Will you still have room to put a breakfast type table in the nook?

    26. KathieB

      It will work out fine how do I know because you are a wizard at this stuff. I thought maybe you could put the fridge where you planned and order a narrower pantry (a ‘landing’pantry for things frequently used). Then you could use the preordered pantry over by the table to store the bulky things & those used less frequently. You could put built in shelving beside it. Looking forward to seeing the finished room.

    27. Linda Scott

      It’s going to be beautiful! Not sure if this was already mentioned or not but leave it all the way you have it and just add small drawer refrigerator in your cabinetry so you can store items you need to use for cooking like milk, butter, eggs and vegetables. Enjoy the process!!

    28. Debbie

      That’s a great solution for your problem! I was worried that you would forever regret moving the fridge away from the heart of the kitchen. . Amazing such a simple solution was available. I’m so happy for you that you didn’t think of the solution as you were falling asleep at night in a month or two…..you know that old Sonny and Cher song? “It’s the little things that mean a lot…”

    29. Mona Ellison

      Something that is confusing to me (and I apologize if you have already covered this in another post) — where is the entry into the house directly from the garage?

      • Marian Parsons

        That is in the foyer between the front door and the dining room.

        • Mona Ellison

          Ahhhh…I see. Thanks. So odd that it wouldn’t have opened into that mudroom, but I can also see the functionality of it opening into the foyer.

    30. Bonnie

      Thanks so much for the update! I’m so happy for you that your wrinkle got solved easily.

    31. Kara

      Workflow: When I was your age, I thought a big kitchen was the end of the rainbow… so I had a big kitchen. I loved my huge island, pantry, and work triangle. I love cooking and did big dinner parties in addition to the usual family occasions. Time passed. Children gone, dinner parties became a chore, the smaller house came about of necessity.

      We now have a small kitchen, a bijou kitchen really, and I absolutely LOVE not having to walk miles to the pantry, or the extra fridge, or hunt for things in the big pantry.

      I have made big dinners for friends and family in the small kitchen, EASILY, because it is EFFICIENT; it is not large, but is efficient, so that I can work quickly and happily, the arrangement is for less stooping and bending, appliances work ready, at hand on just enough counter space to be useful. Julia Child had a small, efficient kitchen in her French house. She managed!

      I know you will enjoy your new, larger kitchen space, especially while your boys are at home, but my experience was that I GREW into a much happier smaller space, and much sooner than I’d imagined wanting it!

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