The Tale of Cindy’s Kitchen, Part I

Warning: For those of you NOT interested in my overblown design process and painful detailing, please skip this entry…

Kitchen that came with the house looking toward doors to back patio.

Kitchen as bought looking toward Entry.

Kitchen as bought looking toward Entry.

When we first viewed the house, the kitchen was my least favorite part. It was long and narrow, with dark wood ceilings lower than the rest of the house, walls painted in dark burgundy, dark-ish oak cabinets, and the shutter on the large window above the sink was swollen shut, so there never was much natural light. But given how perfect the rest of the property was, I was willing to compromise. Of course, I had visions of having an enormous French country kitchen with a big fireplace, a nice large stone sink, some gingham, replete with a long farm table for friends to cozy around. While we viewed many of these “dream” kitchens in listings, they never belonged with the house that was perfect for us. They were often in multi-level maison d’maitres or big drafty stone money pits (gorgeous architecture, but simply too much house for two people.)

And so I started making measurements and dreaming of how I could transform this kitchen into a space that could work well for us. The back part of the kitchen, the utility room, and the office were added onto the old barn at some point in time and have a different roof line than the rest, being a lean-to style (yellow section below).

Yellow: add-on with lean-to ceiling Green: where the arch would have gone Pink: Future 'breakfast room'

Yellow: add-on with lean-to ceiling
Green: where the arch would have gone
Pink: Future ‘breakfast room’

What I had in mind for the opening. Was married to doing something like this until I started slashing the budget, then decided it wasn't that great of and idea after all.

Something like this for the opening. But decided against the whole concept.

My first thought was to open up the big wall to the living room (green area on floor plan), adding some ‘flow’ and openness to the kitchen. We got quotes for making an arched opening with stone facings on both sides, but have decided against it in the meantime for several reasons.

I also explored stretching the kitchen along the three ‘rooms’ in the lean-to along the back of the house. The view to the back park would surely be inspiring, but it ended up just being another long skinny space. And opening up the old stone wall to make the kitchen part of the living room was unadvised.

The other little glitch was that we really didn’t have a place for the two of us to have breakfast in cool/wet weather, except at the large dining table in the living room. We thought (and are still thinking) about adding a veranda off the back of the kitchen on the current patio area. [We’re not proceeding with that work right now because we want to focus on our move-in deadline and will need to reassess the budget when we get to that point.]

I fuddled around with the idea of making the Entry into a breakfast room, as it is truly wasted space. We could shift the front entrance to the triple doors right into the living room. But after further consideration, we decided against it.

And now we’re back to the original footprint. I decided fairly early on to place my range in the niche that would be created by removing the wall of the built-in wall oven, microwave, and storage cabinets. By taking out the door to the utility room, we would gain tons of counter space and create some ‘presence’ for my, uh-hum, hear-it-comes, Lacanche range…ta da!!!

My new range, but probably not in red. (Of course, Theo can’t BELIEVE the thing doesn’t drive, as much as it costs! I guess this is my sports car.)

I also knew I wanted stained or painted cabinets. At first, we were planning to put in reclaimed terra cotta tiles throughout the house, so my plan was for creamy base cabinets and open shelving for the kitchen. Then when we flip-flopped to the stone tiles, I decided I would love black cabinets in the kitchen. At least for the lowers. Of course, I love doing things just a little off-center in my houses, so why not put the dark lowers with creamy uppers? And break it up with a stunning custom wood cabinet around the fridge?

New kitchen design looking toward Entry.

New kitchen design looking toward Entry.

Future home for my Lacanche.

Future home for my Lacanche.

Well, you’ve already seen the kitchen being gutted, but yesterday I got a wild hair and decided to proceed with tearing out the ceilings. I had planned to paint out the wood ceilings with their pretend beams. Here’s what the kitchen looks like today…

While the old beams are a thing of beauty (and Theo has a pipe-dream of keeping them exposed), my plan is to just move the ceiling up to the 3-meter height and marry it with the lean-to slope. These pics are after they cleaned up (did I mention how great this team is about cleaning up as they go along…it’s what one of the guys does all day!) It already feels so much bigger in there, and the vertical space will enable me to do a couple of knuckle-headed things I want.

The guys in action. Note the concrete beam behind them. Voila, now it's gone too!

The guys in action. Note the concrete beam behind them. Voila, now it’s gone too!


And if there was any doubt, this bin is almost full.

And if there was any doubt, this bin is almost full.

And so, now our journey continues. I have to reassess how tall I want the cabinets, what kind of lighting is going to work best with the higher ceilings, etc. Stay tuned.




(Input is welcomed, but don’t be too harsh on my computer-generated renderings—my talent in that area has room for improvement.)

This entry was posted in American Expats in France, Buying a House in France, Expat Blog, Renovating a Home in France, Southwest France American Expat Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Tale of Cindy’s Kitchen, Part I

  1. Yvonne says:

    Wow! What a great idea to get those fake beams out.
    What a difference that will make in the kitchen.
    Press on – keep is posted?

    • says:

      As the ceiling came down, it appeared to be very well made, albeit ugly like stink! The beams were solid wood, but puny and not the rustic Perigourdine style we love. Glad you agree. I had a moment of doubt along the way, but am loving it now. Hint: I promised Theo that by taking out the ceiling, it would add €50,000 value to the house!!! Heehee!!!

  2. Bracey says:

    It looks great, especially with that window opened up. And that stove is truly a sports car!

    • says:

      Thanks, Bracey. The natural lighting is much better now and I get to look out that window at the side of the pigeonnier and a delightful scent garden that someone in the past planted. Can’t wait to stand there doing dishes and inhale all the wonderfulness. There’s also the possibility of adding a skylight in the ceiling to tunnel down a little more light on the front side of the kitchen, but I’m hoping with the new taller ceilings and some clever lighting, we won’t really need to.

  3. Tracy says:

    Keep the pictures coming! We cannot wait to see you and the renovation!!

  4. Alida says:

    Is there such a thing as appliance envy?

    • Cindy Loevenich says:

      Indeed. I’ve had the symptoms for years. The Lacanche is a dream come true for me. Compared La Cornue and Lacanche and made my decision. Now I have to settle on a color!!! What do you think of the Provence Jaune with the blackish lowers? My daughter called it bumblebee syndrome… I like the contrast. A French kitchen designer in a showroom we visited wanted to throw up on my design!!! (the French prefer things nice and bland and straight and practical)

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