During our last visit in May, we had made most of the decisions about the flooring and the bathroom designs and materials. This time, we had to clean up some details and then focus on settling on a kitchen.
In May, Angelo had proposed modern-looking vanities for the master and upstairs bedroom. We had agreed, but after we returned home, Anne rethought the topic and decided she’d prefer more traditional cabinet-like vanities.Angelo had forwarded drawings, so we just needed to confirm the new designs.
Another change we made was to the counter tops. Anne wanted stone, but had been talked into using tile, tile that matched the floor in the master and a bit of a funky design upstairs. Finally, I convinced her we should get what we want. There is a budget hit — isn’t there always? — but we settled on a stone counter top in the master and a more neutral porcelain in the upstairs bathroom.
Last time, we had just touched on the kitchen, choosing an island design and a basic look for the cabinetry and talking about how best to use the wall space between the kitchen door and utility room. This is where I wanted an ice machine and Anne wanted a coffee bar. This time, we needed to settle on the specific layout of cabinets and appliances and confirm all the colors and materials.
Angelo presented two kitchen layout options. They were essentially the same, except for what to do with that kitchen wall space by the laundry. One option was designed around a large, one-unit refrigerator/freezer that included both an ice maker and a wine fridge. The other used separate units, all with cabinet faces to match the kitchen, and included space for the wine fridge and a coffee and liquor bar.
The more appealing of the two solutions was the second one, both for design and functionality. Of course, it was about 10% higher in cost. We discussed it for awhile, with Kevin suggesting that we go with the cheaper option unless we saw ourselves using the house a lot. In the end, we decided to splurge and go for the one we wanted.
Specific appliances? Kevin and Angelo recommended Siemens, saying that they were high-quality and had the best repair service in Italy. Here, we spent little time deciding, so I hope we’ve spent our money wisely. (We will have another chance to review the appliance choices. Angelo will write it all up and sent us detailed descriptions.)
One topic that got a lot of attention was one I would have gone right past: counter top height. Angelo assumed that Anne was the primary cook, so he recommended that we go a bit lower. He seemed surprised when he learned that I was the cook, so we adjusted the work surface height back up just a few centimeters.
Then on to the island height. Here, as this surface is used both for food prep on one side and seating on the other, we got into a long discussion about counter top and stool heights. Anne doesn’t want bar stools, where your feet just hang, so we didn’t want a raised top on the seating side. Angelo proposed a counter height of 90cm, to match the counters on the other side. OK, so how high do the stools need to be to make it comfortable to eat at that height, have space for your legs below the counter, and have your feet on the floor?
We started searching the internet for example stools and had trouble finding stools that were available in Italy with the look Anne wanted at what seemed to be the right height. By doing some measuring, we decided that at a 90cm counter top, the height of the stool seat should be about 55-60cm. All we could find online were stools with heights of 67cm or higher.
We left without this height issue resolved.
After we returned home, we measured our current counter and stools: counter at 90cm (36in) and stool seats at 60cm (24in). Now we know the numbers; we just have to find the right design from an Italian supplier.
Also, Anne pointed out that we had never discussed the backsplash for the kitchen walls. She figured they’d want to run the counter top up the wall and she doesn’t like that look. She proposed subway tiles. Both Angelo and Kevin thought they’d be out-of-place, so counter top up-the-wall is what it will be.
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