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The basement hatch

This blog chronicles my entire kitchen renovation from start to finish. Greentea Design has provided me with their solid wood kitchen cabinets, and I'm taking care of the rest.

If you'd like to be brought up to date, check out the archive in the sidebar for previous posts. I posted recently about the backsplash, dining table and yet more decorating. Now I thought I'd dedicate a post to the hatch door created for access to the basement - a GENIUS idea.

I cannot express the magnitude of how genius of an idea it was to take out part of the wall that sectioned off the basement stairs, and have a hatch door created. I have talked about this in previous posts, but OMG it turned out so swimmingly that I had to dedicate a post to it. This is such a great idea for folks out there who have really limited space, as I do. This house is 12' 2" wide - so that is the width of the kitchen, and the section where the wall to the basement was made that about 9.5' wide. Let me show you some before photos. Now, this decision was made partway through the demolition phase so I did not specifically take before photos of the area. Below are some I happened to have already (and one I snuck during demo when I was deciding what to do).

Leaving that wall meant the pantry unit would have had to have been placed closer to the door to my office and with the fridge there, that would have made the doorway very tight. Then with the dining table down the middle of the space, you would have had to shimmy sideways to get by the table, or I would have had to use a small 4 person table instead. Here are a couple photos I took during the reno.

Below, my completed hatch. Genius I tell you - GENIUS!! Worth every penny. And I love that my house, that was previously lacking any architectural feature WHATSOEVER, now has something slightly quirky, and isn't just a straight boring wall.

I am so excited about this new entry to my basement that I even made a little video to demonstrate how it works, and it even features moi (and Felix). I love it THAT MUCH.

The photo below was included in my last post, but I thought I'd show it again because this is what makes the hatch so effortless. We used shocks for the tonneau cover of a pickup truck. They were $50 a piece, but they are exactly what I wanted. It allows the door to almost spring open and closed (I keep a grasp on it so it doesn't do it too quickly) and this also means I don't need a latch like we initially thought. It just needs a little tug to open and slight pressure to close tightly. FABULOUS!!

And on a side note, I finally found time to find a frame and get the new artwork I decided on for the kitchen printed. A couple weeks ago a Flickr contact of mine, Maura Paoletti, posted a totally adorable photo of her cat, Dom Fuas, curled up in a cachepot. I fell in love with it and she agreed that I could print it and hang it in my kitchen. It's perfect - it's the right colours, it's got a bowl-like vessel so it looks kitchen-y, and a cat. I am so pleased with how it turned out (FYI: try Staples for printing in the exact size you need while you wait). Thank you Maura!!! (For Maura on Flickr see here and for her online portfolio see here, and to see a closer shot of the photo, click here).

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The hatch is super cool. I'm also extremely impressed with Felix's walk-on role.
Thanks siobhan - and I was not surprised Felix ended up in the video as he follows me everywhere. (I am embarassed by how much weight he's gained since I took him in, which clearly shows in the video. His gut SWAYS for crissakes).
By the way, this video was the first time Jo has ever heard my voice (and I find my voice to be really different on camera than in reality). She was highly amused.
I have a hatch similar to this to my basement. Alas no shocks. The thing weighs about 70 lbs.

I am stewing in jealousy.

And my back hurts. : )
OMG Lisa, you REALLY need to go pick up some of these shocks for your door. REALLY. Before they were installed I hated going in the basement because my door weighs a ton too - now it's nothing to open and close it.
Kim, your kitchen turned out to be stunning. :) congratulations! Adding shocks to your hatch it brilliant!!!

I don't know whether I am more excited by the hatch (yes Kim pure genius) or actually hearing your voice for the first time. Hey you have a Canadian accent!! DOH! :):):)
Thanks superbadfriend! And Jo, I'm glad you found so much amusement in my video. :) Maybe next time I'll do a kitchen tour...with my Canadian accent. LOL
I was excited to see the video - and it was just what I hoped for!

Such a cool hatch - one day I hope to have a house where I could have a hatch like that.

A video tour in general would be really cool I think.

Oh, and Felix doesn't seem that fat, though he is pretty chubby there are certainly much fatter cats about.
I have very much enjoyed your entire kitchen remodel! Thanks so much for blogging it. Your kitchen is stunning & as a cat lover--just have to say that the kitties appearing in pics thruout the whole process really made it feel like a loved, authentic, lived-in home that you have & that you are building upon!
Mike, I hope you too can have a cool hatch like mine. :D And I think a video tour is a great idea now that I know my bf's camera takes decent videos.

Felix was skin and bones when he first showed up in my yard, so he's doubled in size.

Thanks anon! This house is SMALL and there are 6 cats so there is no doubt always going to be 1 or 2 or 3 in my photos. And they're so damn cute why not? :)
Kim, your kitchen renovation is very inspiring!

I'd love to know the name of your contractor as we have a similar Ottawa kitchen that desperately needs renovation.

Hope your lovely new kitchen is as cosy as it looks now that winter has really set in ...
Thanks Cussot! My new kitchen is where I spend all of my time now as it's alot warmer than my office. Thank gawd for laptops!

Send me an email ( and I'll give you the contractor's info.
oh man that hatch is so cool!!
:-) thanks Pia!
Stunning! And that hatch...oooh! :) Congratulations on a well turned out project!

Thank you Sharon!
Hey Kim,
This is great! I have been "stair-ing" at my basement entrance for the past 3 years trying to figure out how to regain the wasted space around the stairway (right at an entrance way to the house).
I had been thinking about making a smaller hatch with a steep ladder as a trade-off, but with the shocks, this looks very accessible even with a large hatch.
How did you figure out the balance so well? Seems like it must have taken a little experimenting with the shock placement and weight, shock type to get it right.
Anyway, here are some other examples for people to see:

Thanks for the links Rick.

I left the hatch details up to my boyfriend as I had enough to deal with, and he emailed me a response to your comment and asked me to comment for him because blogger keeps crashing when he tries.

"Hi, this is Jeff, Kim's boyfriend, and I will try to explain the shocks.
We tried a couple of different shocks, but the problem wasn't so much the shock but how it attaches. I always thought that tonneau cover shocks would be the best because when they get half way, it opens right up and the reverse is the same, no latches needed to hold it up or down and I found them at a local truck/van parts store that carries tonneau covers. These shocks hold 60-70lb each and the hatch was made out of cedar to make it lighter so it only weighs about 60lbs in total. I didn't really test the positioning of the shocks, I put them where they fit on the hatch at the farthest extension. After that I did have to wittle away at the hatch to make the shocks fit when the hatch was closed. The whole thing worked out well, it is safe as the shocks hold the hatch up without latches and it is safe enough to stand on. I hope I answered your question, if you have any others, let me know.
Thanks, Jeff"
i didn't read any of the other comments but i absolutely love the transformation and i love the more-than-a-hint of east meeting west. really lovely. the only thing that is a 'negative,' and i have to say it stopped me in my tracks, is the picture of the cat. oh.. bad choice in my opinion - and i realize it is an opinion. just the wrong place. everything else is spartan, pristine, and then a big hairy tail.. nope. doesn't work for me and detracts from the beauty of all the rest.
Anon, you're the first person to be so against my kitty photo, which I thought was PERFECT since this is a house of MANY cats. And a cat in a bowl in a kitchen seems to make sense to me. I am glad you at least like my kitchen. :)
If anyone would like to outfit thier attic or floor hatch with gas springs like this feel free to contact us with your project. We are a suppier of custom gas springs and have done many of these projects. We can calculate the required length, force and provide you with instructions as to where to position the mounts.
We have gas springs in Black and Polished Stainless we also have a wide selection of mounting hardware. Our website is :
Nolan Fehr
LS Technologies Inc
Keep your Web page alive for a while....I have to do this in about 3 months from nom. It look fantastic !!! I will make one. Thank you very very much for sharing to people.
I def have to agree with Anon about the cat pic. I actually gasped when the lady pic was removed for the cat in a bowl. The one of the lady was SOOOO quirky and I adored it. It was really cool and now its just a cat pic.
Anyway, love the rest of the kitchen redo. And your eye for detail is amazing.
What are the dimensions of your door? Width and length Thanks
The door is about 2' x 7'. It all depends on the size of the stairs. My basement stairs are very narrow so the hatch had to match the opening.
I have a question about your basement door. How is it attatched? Are there hinges and if so what kind? Also is there any other hardware on it? I am redoing my floors but the basement door is giving us problems and this looks like the perfect solution.
CLV, all you need are hinges (what we used is seen here and tonneau cover shocks (otherwise it's WAY too heavy to open and close - and this way when you open the hatch it stays open).
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