When you live in a NYC co-op (similar to a condo for all of you non-New Yorkers), you go into any renovation prepared to make compromises. On sites like Brickunderground there are dozens of articles warning about what most co-op boards will just flat out say no to. You’ll be shocked when I tell you what most New Yorker’s can’t have.
I never even considered a pro range, because most boards won’t let you cut a hole in the building’s facade, which you would need to do in order to properly ventilate one. I’ve heard of stories where people tried to ventilate into an air shaft, but that’s not for me. The thought of all that greasy air stuck in ducts behind my walls… meh.
When seeking board approval, you choose your battles and I’m not going to fight with my board over a hood exhaust. I actually understand where the board is coming from: If 146 apartments start cutting holes in the facade, the building will be dealing with water leaks for the next 100 years. Consider, too, that board members are not paid staff, they are volunteers—and who wants to supervise 146 contractors cutting holes in the facade.
So, not having a pro range is a compromise that doesn’t bother me all that much. Our kitchen is going to have a fairly narrow aisle, so a cooktop and wall oven is actually the best combination for my workflow.
Now, when it came to removing the wall between the living room and the old galley kitchen, I really had hoped, as we’re on the top floor, we might be able to achieve this—my dream kitchen:
Now that the walls are down and I can see what’s behind them, I’m resigned to getting this instead:
Why? In short, the wall contains pipes, called risers, and they are water, waste, and gas pipes that affect the whole line of apartments under ours. Redirecting these lines would shut them down and affect neighboring units in the whole line, possibly even in all 146 apartments in our building, so most NYC co-op boards including ours will not approve this kind change.
The surprise to me is that the pipes are not clustered together; they’re spread out. End result: I’ve got about 52″ of wall that can’t be moved. And this creates a whole handful of design decisions that I need to make lickety-split about what to do with the other side of the wall.
￼Problem #1: What to do with the open space from end of island to wall?
I don’t need another pantry and in any case I don’t want anything tall on that wall that would block the line of sight to the window. I also don’t need an additional base cabinet and even if I did, it would run into the exposed steam pipe (behind the stool in the drawing), which also can’t be moved. More importantly, there’s a functionality issue in that the standard 24″ depth base cabinet would obstruct me from accessing the ovens on the opposite wall comfortably.
Problem #2: I suddenly need another backsplash.
When this was an island, I didn’t plan for a backsplash. Now that there will be wallboard again, I’ll need one at least behind the sink. I don’t want the busyness of tile and grout lines, so tile is out. Anyway, as the backsplash on the opposite wall will be marble slab, I’m considering marble, so the two sides look integrated. I’m considering a simple, cut-out marble slab rising just behind the sink paired with a 4-inch backsplash. Like this.
But what to do with that wall. I have a sudden whole expanse that needs to look intentional. I’m not a fan of using open shelves, because dust, but as a design element they would help pull things together.
Or, would it look better to mimic the slab on the other side?
Problem 3: Countertop material.
When I was dealing with a perimeter and island, it was fine to have two different materials. I wanted marble on the perimeter and pure white quartz on the island, where I I’ll be doing most food prep. Now that I have a galley kitchen again, I feel like I need to keep the countertop materials consistent.
Here’s the top elevation, to orient you.
If you have thoughts about any of this, please share in comments while I ponder. Thanks!
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