We have one of those supposedly rare center kitchen models that I have seen so many of.
The real down side of this floor plan is an almost total lack of storage. It is far worse then any of the other GMC models,. Even the shorter 23 footer that we recently purchased has lots more storage.
After living with this inconvenience for almost 23 years We decided to remedy the situation and also fix another problem we found with the coveted dry bath that we hated so much (see Bath conversion).
The original kitchen had a single drawer in front of the sink that was barley large enough for our silverware, the area under the sink was almost totally taken up with the plumbing but we were able to store a couple of pots and a frying pan. There were also two small storage spaces in front of the wheel well behind the doors below the sink and a little door below the microwave. All in all a minimal amount of storage.
The counter top had 9 inches of space between the double sink and the four burner stove and the back half of that 9 inches was taken up with the built in blender that we never used. This was about enough space to put together a sandwich if you staked all the fixings in the sink while you were doing it. There was a very small microwave under the stove.
To do the renovation I totally removed the lower kitchen cabinet and counter top and started from scratch. This began with in insulation of the wheel well and walls with 1" of foil backed urethane insulation. New dividers were built for the cabinet using a hollow panel design similar to hollow core door construction to minimize weight. These panels were 3/4 " thick but only had 1/8" skins on the outside with 1/2" cedar spacers in the middle.
Insulation and new hollow core panels
I chose to use more of a European design without face frames which allows for better use of space. I also chose to totally avoid standard cupboards and use only full extension drawers which gives better access to all the space. This did add some weight because good quality full extension drawer slides weigh quit a bit. The final drawer configuration provided 8 full extension drawers in a very usable configuration. The top two drawers are about 5 inches deep 22 inches front to back and about 20 inches wide. The second row consists of 3 drawers about 11 inches deep 22 inches front to back with one that is about 9" wide and the other two about 20 inches wide. The third row is about 14 inches deep but only about 9 inches from front to back and having widths corresponding to the second row.
All the drawers were built with hollow core sides just like the dividers but were only 3/8" thick. This avoids a lot of weight associated with drawers, but they may be a little fragile, only time will tell. All drawers are assembled using dove tail joints which are probably overkill but I enjoyed putting in quality that you do not even find in the very high end motorhomes.
The counter top was made from a solid surface material and was really a salvaged table top for a large motorhome such as a large Marathon or Country coach that I picked up at our local RV salvage company in Eugene Oregon. This was built with thin solid surface material over a balsa core substrate to keep the weight at a minimum. I had to do a little cutting a gluing to make it long enough for a countertop. Also from the RV salvage store I got a solid surface sink and installed that instead of the stainless sink, another $50. We then installed a two burner Gaggenau stove, again from the RV salvage store. The end result was a 30" working space between the sink and the stove which really made a lot of points with the wife.
One of the big challenges was putting in the microwave. We really wanted a Sharp convection unit but did not want it over the stove since it made accessing the stove for us tall people almost impossible and it would really stick out in the room because of the window valance behind it. My wife did not want it under the stove top as it would take away a good chunk of the storage that I had just promised her and would be hard to see in. We had almost given up when we came up with the idea of putting it in the side wall of the kitchen. this did take some space out of the closet that we had already converted to shelving but we decided that that was a good trade off. While procrastinating on the purchase of the microwave we ended up saving ourselves almost $80 when we found the unit at a local Wall-Mart for considerably less then any units at the local appliance stores or even on the internet.
Here is a picture of the finished Kitchen.
Here are some pictures that show the kitchen drawers. The bottom drawers were a real surprise, they are in space that was originally almost unusable but with this upgrade the space became invaluable. All the bottom drawers have filleted corners and sealed with epoxy so they can be used to store things that might spill without causing damage. The one on the left is perfect for the garbage container and with the touch latches is really convenient since a gentle push with your foot opens the drawer to drop in garbage and then another gentle push closes it.
Storage in a total of eight drawers
An interesting design issue was how to open and close the drawers. We wanted to avoid any hardware that stuck out into the hall, but because of the European styling of the cabinet there was no way to access the edge of the drawers like most motorhomes to put recessed pulls and catches. Another GMC owner that had previously owned a Beaver suggested some touch latches that had been used on high end Beavers that only required pushing the drawer in 1/8" and the drawer would release and pop out. This was the ideal solution or so we though until our first trip. On the first curve we heard the multitude of clicks from the kitchen area and on the next curve in the opposite direction all the drawers rolled out into the hall. On the next corner they rolled closed, only to repeat the process on every corner. I then had to go back to the drawing board to design a lock system that would keep the drawers in their places while traveling. There is now a single lever that locks all the drawers when traveling.
Touch latch to keep drawers closed
Lever that locks all the drawers for traveling
Across the hall in the space vacated by the removal of the shower we installed two pantry slide outs. Each is about 9" wide by 22" deep and over 30" high. These provide an incredible amount of storage for food stuff though the top tray on the bottom slide out is reserved for table service including plates and glasses.
Pantry slide outs across from kitchen in Open positon
Pantry from front when closed.
These also use a touch latch system and a single sliding lock was added that locks both pullouts for traveling. Due to the weight of the slide outs when loaded the touch latch did not provide enough push to get them out when released so I had to develop an additional pusher system to help the latch.
Travel lock for both Pantry slid outs
Two computer fans were used for stove ventilation through a wall vent. When the vent is opened the fans come on.
Lever that opens vent and turns on fans
The flooring is a Wilson Art snap together composite that is similar to Pergo but looks like granite.
How do we like our new kitchen? After completing our first 6 week trip to the GMSWS Rally in Albuquerque and touring many Utah and Arizona National parks we could not be happier.
Did it add weight to the coach? since I did not weigh before and after I can't give a definitive answer but I did take a lot of effort to keep weight addition to a minimum and replaced a lot of particle board with hollow core panels however the additional storage probably added considerably to our loaded weight.
What was the biggest challenge? Overcoming the fear of building the raised panel drawer fronts. As it turned out this was a groundless fear and I was able to build all the drawer fronts in about 2 days and I will have to say they came out better then the originals.
What was the total cost? Since I did not keep good records and parts were collected over a period of time I don't have an exact figure but it would be safe to say the whole project was done for less the $1600 including the $200 spent on the router bits to do the drawer fronts, the Sharp microwave oven and the Gaggenau stove. There was a considerable savings due to the purchases I made from Northwest RV Supply in Eugene for the counter top, the sink and stove. Also every bit of the work was done by me with the exception of the metal box that I had fabricated to enclose the microwave.
How long did it take? This again is a difficult question since it was done over a period of time and we were trying to use the coach during that time as well as do projects around the house. Elapsed time was about 3 months, actual work time would have been about a month of 10 hour days.
If anyone wants more detail on specifics please feel free to contact me.