Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weird Ass Kitchen Window

I have a weird ass kitchen window and I thought you crafty/creative ladies could help me out with what to do here. My house was born in 1981 and so it’s bit dated. It has VERY WHITE walls, dark trim, and a kitchen with oak cabinets (*shudder). I really have to level with you here. For those of you who are long time readers, you should already know I can get shit done when I need to. But, I have no creativity. None. At. All. Really. I could look at a picture and copy it. I can embellish with the best of them but only as long as I have  a photo to copy. I’m horrible at coming up with anything on my own. Hence my problem here. I recently bought this house and am trying to figure out how to un-80’s-fy it. We are starting by painting. The walls will be tan and the trim will be painted white. The brass fixtures (*shudder again) will go. The almond outlet covers will go. Here’s a basic layout of my house. It’s very poorly drawn. I did it freehand in It would have looked better if I had just drawn it with a pencil and taken a picture of it. Anyhoo, I’ve got this window that opens between the kitchen and the main living area. To put it bluntly, it’s just weird. People always look at it with this strange look on their faces when they first come to my house. It’s in a weird spot and it’s just plain weird to have it there.

I was going to add “Front door” to my drawing but forgot. Oopsie. It’s the darker squiggly mark at the bottom of the picture.


When I moved in, they had a fabric curtain that hung on the kitchen side of the window to cover the back of the microwave. It sort of looked like this. Still weird. window_1


I’ve tried to take pictures from far back in the room so you can see just how weird it is. I hung wine glasses in the top and I like that. The other shelves always look cluttered though and I’m not sure that’s the first thing I want people to see when they walk in my house.



Do I add a full length curtain? Still weird.



Do I hang a large piece of art over it? It’s a good option but it’s in a weird place in the room for a large piece of art. I should also mention the ceilings in this room are tall, like 20’ tall in this particular spot. Having something so close to the floor with just a tall space seems weird. 



This is just to give you a idea how the new wall paint and trim will look. Although it kind of presents a problem. The other side is in the kitchen with all the oak cabinets. I can’t really have white trim and oak shelves on one side and oak cabinets on the other side. The shelves would have to be half white (to match the outside wall) and oak (to match the kitchen). 



This is what it looks like now. I added to picasso painting a long time ago to be funny. It makes me laugh anyway. You can see the hated oak cabinets through the window.



Here’s what it looks like from the kitchen side. Here you can see the cabinets. Not only are they the 80s oak cabinets but they are the oak cabinets with the arch on the top. Ugh! I need to figure out what to do there too. I don’t want an expensive remodel but I might try painting them or something. That’s another project for another day. Today, I want to figure out what to do with this weird opening.

If I can figure something out, I think I’d like to keep the area somewhat open. It actually lets quite a bit of light in the kitchen (the other side faces the door and it’s facing south) and I like to be able to peek out of it when someone is at the door.

So? Ladies? Any thoughts? Ideas??


Karen Baking Soda said...

How about a tall (as in really tall) mirror? Seems like the perfect place to check your hair/lipstick/make funny faces when you walk in/out the door. It will cover, reflect light and be practical at the same time.

Kelley said...

Is it an option to cover up the hole altogether? I'd be tempted to just remove the trim, 'patch' the wall and paint the whole lot in your beautiful new colour. That way you get to hang some fabulous art wherever YOU want.

Other than that, can you move the microwave to a different spot in the kitchen and create more of a cohesive display on the shelves? I think it will improve a lot when you change the wall and trim colours.

Lene said...

I would go all in with the weirdness. Keep the glasses hanging up top - LOOVE the way light sparkles in hanging glasses.
Remove the other shelves and if possible the bottom part of that weird cabinet-thingy as well as the glass. Paint the 'inside'of the opening the same color as the walls.

That way you get rid of the in-between-cabinet-and-window-status of the thing and can turn it into a practical part of the counter - it could also become an easy way of having foodstuffs ready at hand for kids playing in the living area :-)

Maura said...

What about a gallery wall? Like this: or this: or this: You can put as many pieces as needed to balance it all out and fill the space up higher. You could use an art piece over the opening that will let the light pass through a bit, like stretched fabric or frosted glass.

frifris said...

Weird to be commenting on a non-sewing related topic first (since I always read your blog because of the sewing, but never comment).

I would open it up completely - no glass, no wood (and no woodwork around the edges) no shelves, no microwave, no cupboard - just a simple white "hole in the wall".
You can pass food through it, decorate it a little (candles) and it will give you light.
You can chat with your guests/children/... while their NOT in the kitchen...

That would be what I would do...

I would paint all the cabinets white. But then again, I like white ;)

waikikimum said...

I am with Kelley, I would cover the hole altogether. Remove the trim and put in some gyprock(what we call it in Australia), smooth the edges and paint. You could then add a really cool mirror which would reflect any light.

Ursula said...

You could paint it with blackboard paint. Then you could either write "welcome" etc, as you see it when you enter the house, or use it as a handy place to write lists of things you need to do/get as it's one of the last things you see before leaving!

Sew-4-Fun said...

From one non-creative soul to another I'm sorry I can't help with the weird window but I did want to say I'm in the middle of doing exactly what you want to do. Turning a dated 80's house into something more modern. Glad I'm not the only one with wood trim and oak kitchen cupboards with that arch, but not for much longer. :) Who'd have thought they could build the same house on two opposite ends of the earth. :)

It's a lot of work but so worth it as I see things slowly transform into something from this century. Unfortunately it really eats into my sewing time. :( Good luck with your re-model.

Elissa said...

Turn up the weirdness and make an alpine style window: remove the shelves, put up a little lamp, remove the trim or paint it white, cute checkered curtains and a flower box. :)

Lori said...

I would remove the shelves totally and open it up (also remove the trim). Then if you don't use it as a pass-through, get an old window and hang it over the hole. In addition, go with Maura's idea of a gallery wall. Maybe add some vinyl to the old window, add pictures, letters, etc and make it part of the grouping.

You still get the light but the hole isn't the focal point of the wall. Good luck

Sew Lady Sew! said...

An unusual feature. It sounds as if you like it more than you hate it. Me, too! It's fun and a little zany. If you don't enjoy the odd window, then I'd gyprock over it, as Kelley and Waikkimum suggested. Problem gone.

The glass is probably to keep the kitchen smells and noises from filtering through the rest of the house. If you don't mind if they do, then I'd remove the glass. The glass barricade takes away half the functional use.

If there is any other place the mircowave could go, I'd move it. It's plain ugly. And it is a barricade to a pass-through.

If you would like to hide your kitchen sometimes, what about shutters of some kind?

If your cupboards are standard widths, you can probably buy new doors for them at a fraction of the cost of replacing the whole cupboard. That way you'd get rid of the oak *and* the arch.

Good luck with the house redo!

Lisette M said...

My first thought was stained glass. It can be expensive to have it custom made but then you could choose which part of the window to block with colored glass and which part to have it clear so you could still peek through it.

Nikki said...

I would have it drywalled over. Or have it cut bigger with no glass. As for the cabinets, I just saw a pic on pinterest where they painted theirs gray and it looked nice.

Anonymous said...

I would close it up completely on the one side so no one could see from the hall and keep it as is on the kitchen side to be used as it is now. That way you can still use the shelfs on the kitchen side

Linda said...

I am with Kelley as well - drywall over it on the stair side but keep the shelves on the kitchen side.

You can also paint the kitchen cabinets quite easily - white, cream, whatever colour strikes your fancy. It will make a HUGE difference in how much you like the kitchen without the need for a complete remodel!

Vix said...

Ah, weird-ass house features...gotta figure out how much love-to-hate there is for them and then how much money one is willing to spend to ditch them!

Lots of ideas upthread to get you started. A couple more:

* If you don't need the kitchen side to be super-functional, move everything but the glasses away and fill up with more glass items -- bistro glasses, glass beer steins, punchbowl/serving bowls etc.

* Replace clear glass with mirror that reflects hall *or* reeded/frosted glass that will still let some light into kitchen while softening outlines of whatever is on the shelves.

As you hate the cabinets but aren't ready to deal with them yet, you may want to check out this fun "design around" thread on ye olde golden oak kitchens. [Hypothetical makeovers]

Steph A said...

When I looked at your sketch my first thought was that the window opening is in the perfect spot for a doorway between the kitchen and hallway. Could it have been a door in the early years, and someone closed it up after the fact?

I agree with Lisette M. about replacing the existing glass with stained glass, and like she said, it could be custom made to your style. It sounds like the window helps to let light in, and it would be a shame to block it out. I've seen houses with inner windows like this. I also like the other ideas about making that huge wall an art wall, which could work nicely with a stained glass over the opening.

Linda made a good point about the cabinet doors; if they are standard sizes you should be able to find replacements. This is exactly why my neighbour put in an IKEA kitchen last year, so when the doors look too worn or dated, she can easily replace them instead of the whole cabinet.

Raquel from J.C. said...

I agree with the ladies: close the window! It is a very unusual feature. I would paint the cabinets and buy a nice IKEA cabinet for the wine glasses. I hope you post pictures after the remodeling!

Beangirl said...

I'd close it up too, but if that's too much of a project maybe you can put in some kind of textured/frosted glass that's fairly opaque? It's cheaper than stained glass, you can buy it in panes just like regular window glass. (You can also, if you're feelin' super-crafty, buy glass etching paste and use stencils to make your own design on a regular pane of glass... I actually did this in a bathroom in my old house and it was surprisingly easy.)

Still, blocking it in or knocking it through as a door would probably be the best plan.

(PS, we did that whole "destroy the 70's vibe" thing at our house too... it's AMAZING what white trim, tonal walls and updated hardware will achieve. Good luck!)

Anonymous said...

This may be adding eighties fuel to the eighties bonfire but you could put some plants in there.

Claire S. said...

Ack ! We've got those cupboards too - and DH LOVES them, and WILL NOT paint them, he MAY consider restaining them…but only with the same oak stain - ergo, I'm stuck with them. I'll enjoy your new look, I'm sure LOL
We've also got an unusual opening. In one of our bedrooms, there's a hole in the wall at the ceiling level - about 2ft x 2ft x 2ft. It's our conversation piece. In 12 years, not one person has any idea of WHY it exists. When we moved in there was a horizontal blind covering it up - in the middle of a wall right at the ceiling ! Like your opening, it's not in the best place for a picture or anything to cover it without looking funny.
As for your opening, my first thought was clean it all out, move the microwave and hang a piece of stained glass in it. A friend of mine did this between her kitchen and her sunroom. It wasn't an opening that HAD to be dealt with so the glass is just used as hanging artwork but it does look great.
Good luck - looking forward to seeing pics.

Amy Bailes said...

Is there another place for the microwave? If so, I think that I'd take out the center shelves and maybe put a wine rack. The center shelves are what create the cluttered look (to me).

Digs said...

Since you find it weird, I vote with those who say, cover it up permanently, ie, with drywall on both sides. It's a small area, and an easy and quick job for any competent carpenter, and you'll gain a blank wall for whatever your heart desires (picture, bookcase, sideboard, etc).

Digs said...

On second thought.... if you won't miss the space in the kitchen, why not turn the hole into a door?! It would make the traffic flow through the house more efficient, and help with the lighting issue.

rosanne said...

My first thought as I was reading was installing stained glass - I know others have said the same. But as I was reading, my thoughts evolved to hanging a stained glass panel like a picture, so it's inset from both sides. Depending on your overall decor, something like this might work:

Good luck and you'll have to post pics once you're done!

SueV said...

2 way mirror, you can see yourself in the mirror as you come in, and when you're in the kitchen you can see what's going on in the other room/who's entering, what the kids think they're getting away with.

Dana said...

I say put a toy cash register where the microwave is, keep one shelf to put the plate when the food is ready, and turn it into a walk/drive-through window! You can say things like "Betty, order up!" :)

Kelli said...

What about etching the glass so that the kitchen side is not visible, but the light still comes through. I'm not terribly crafty when left to my own devices, but I'm sure there's some quick and dirty version to be found somewhere.

P.S. If they're looking, then hopefully "they" will see the virtual finger I am nonchalantly waving at them!

Jodie said...

Wow....your cabinets are my cabinets..My plan is to paint mine this summer as I cannot stand them any longer. Check out the blog, "Girls in the Garden", she did it and it looks pretty good.
As for your window, I'd be tempted to patch it in with a piece of drywall. It's not hard (I'm not terribly handy, but I can do that) and then you don't have the issue.
Good luck!

Sew-4-Fun said...

I was thinking about your weird window last night. The things we think about. :) I agree with others that my first choice would be to drywall over it, but you said it lets a lot of light into your kitchen. So what about removing the glass and replacing it with glass bricks instead? Like this -
Just a thought.

debbie said...

My first thought is do not paint the trim around it white! That will just make it stand out more. Get a quart of paint in the wall color in a semi gloss finish. That will at least make it blend in a bit better.

Move the microwave and remove all the shelves and wine glasses, leaving it empty on the kitchen side. Add stained or etched glass over the opening. Create a gallery wall incorporating the window.Use all the same color frames. Then I might possibly paint the trim to match the frames or in the instance of stained/etched glass frame it to match the frames on the gallery wall leaving the wall color on the original frame.

I'm really creative but it's hard to give good ideas without a full wall shot! If you want to post one I'll give it a better try.

Anonymous said...

1st- be careful painting trim white- it can be a very strange contrast with the wall paint (we rent but have the same tan wall/ white trim) Plus getting a perfect edge is a bitch.

2nd- agree with cover the hole- no need to exist

3rd- if you are not on too much of a budget, have you thought of replacing the doors of the cabinets? that is a cheap-ish, quick fix for ugly cabinets.

Anonymous said...

Like others have said stained glass is good, as is a one-way mirror.

I like the idea of just drywalling over the hole on the living room side. In order to keep the light on the kitchen side, you can stick a mirror to the drywall - it will really reflect the light back into the kitchen.

Lisa S said...

A one way mirror/window? From the outside it can be a mirror, but it'll still let you look through to see who's at the door.

Marie said...

i would paint it the wall color take off the trim,remove the shelving and then find a gorgeous piece of flat glass art to hang in there. Something that would reflect the light into both spaces if the sun hit it. If you hung three large pieces of colored glass from the top of the opening on the inside, different lengths of glass it would be a statement piece and look like you planned it. I realize you have small kids so I don't know if this would work but it sounds good. (As do many things until you try them!!!)

KellysSewing said...

How about a beautiful piece of old stained glass? One that blocks view and lets in light

AnniinBC said...

I have an almost identical situation. I would paint the trim the same colour as your wall and hang a framed stained glassed hanging in the opening. I find the stained glass adds a nice light element and at the same time it blocks seeing straight into the kitchen and because there are a few inches clearance around the peremeter I can still peek through to the living room and see what's going on.

Jodi said...

Thanks for the comments on my kitchen! It's funny, I have seen alot of kitchens like mine!

I used Benjamin Moore Cabinet Coat paint. It has the primer and color all in one. I lightly sanded the cabinets to scuff them a bit and then wiped them down and paint! It took atleast 2 coats. Here is a link to the post

I really love my painted cabinets it really brightened up the room and refreshed them! :)


Anonymous said...

Photo on 2012-03-04 at 12.02.jpg
Photo on 2012-03-04 at 12.00.jpg

I have never commented on a blog before so I hope the pictures come through. I used a (very) cheap option instead of frosted glass, as I still wanted the light.

Glue rice paper or tissue paper over the window with egg whites. Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, paint the window, lay the tissue paper, than paint over it again with the egg whites to make it transparent. I added a bird detail or flowers. It doesn't last forever...but mine are easily 6 months old. And if you want to get rid of it just wash off with water. Maybe this might be an option.

Love your blog.

jandkturnbull said...

I've recently moved into an 80s style house with walls in strange places. We're going to be getting rid of lots of the walls and opening the whole place up. It's currently very dark because of the walls but will be much lighter once it's done. If yours isn't a load bearing wall, you could consider getting rid of it all together and opening up a open-plan kitchen/dining/living area- I can't wait for ours to be done!

angie.a said...

But...what is it for?? I can't come up with any solution because I'm stuck on a damn window in the middle of the house! It's like that house in California that the crazy Winchester lady made with stairways to nowhere. :P

Petra Stu said...

Drywall it or cover it with a piece of plywood and paint with blackboard paint - it seem a nice place for message board and kids will love writing and drawing on it!

Myrna said...

I didn't read all these comments to see if this was already suggested but I'd knock a door opening into that area and make it easier to get from the front door to the kitchen.

I also didn't read the entire posting so that may be impossible - LOL.

I've painted oak cabinets - once in green rubbed with blue for a weathered look and in my current house in a deep dark purple and it looks fabulous.

Anonymous said...

I would make a roman shade with a small valance in the same fabric as the the rest of the windows in the large area. You can lift it up or lower it down depending on kids, parties, etc.

Then when I did a larger remodel, I would sheetrock it in.


Anonymous said...

Was this some time of servery? Our house build about in the 1970s and a shrine to the paint colour "mission brown" had one (a hole from the kitchen to the dining area in which to pass through food). We closed the hole with gyprock. This is a job for a qualified tradesperson as you need a smooth, seamless finish. On the kitchen side you need to rebuild the kitchen cupboard (which incidently looks the same as the original kitchen in our house). Cat 1 (from Australia)

DanainDFW said...

In my previous home - circa 1980 - I had a similar hole between the dining room and the front door on a angled corner. Back then I had a hanging plant in it. Back then I wanted stained glass but couldn't afford one the right size. I think I'd still like stained glass there now - suspended by chains.

Kitchen Cabinet Doors said...

The suggestions are really good here.

Paulette said...

so,I'm a tad late to this party so might have meaningless input.

Make it BIGGER!! make it a pass-thru so you get more light unless that means losing precious cabinet space and or counter space.

need more pics to help ya out, lady.


Arthurs Enkelin said...

I like the idea of hanging a two way mirror there. You will still have light coming in and a mirror you can use.
If you don't need any light, an inexpensive solution would be to mount Marimekko type fabric on an artist's canvas frame and hang it on the wall. Since you have high ceilings you could stack fabric frames. I like this Marimekko fabric:
It's not cheap for fabric, but it is cheap for 8 vertical feet of wall art. Architects love to use this fabric. I've seen it hung stacked in 25 foot stair wells and it looks great. You can often find copies, but the original is so nice and would look great hanging on a tall wall. Here's the link for a big selection of Marimekko.
My daughter has floor pillows in these fabrics in an all black and white room and they look great.

Gail D. said...

I have 2 ideas: Call in a carpenter and have him take out the hole, fill it in with drywall, and then paint, making the hole disappear. My second idea is to get a big piece of furniture to cover it up. Then you could hang an old window in the hole on the kitchen side and make it a decor feature.

Gail D.