How much variation would you tolerate in the door width of uppers

lori_inthenw_gwJanuary 7, 2014

We have a 20" upper to one side (left) of a window. Other cabs are in the range of 15" on the other side (2 at 15, then a 12 that combines with a 9 to make an easy-reach corner. I think the ones on the other side of the chimney hood are also 15."

Our architect really doesn't like this because the 20" cab is so different from the others. (We have not paid him to design the kitchen other than in outline form, but he's "on call" on an hourly basis, so we run things by him.

I get the impression he'd prefer to close off the corner and not use that space if it allowed evening out of the door sizes, but I think the kitchen is the one place that function trumps form, if it's up to me (which it ultimately is, I suppose, or at least halfway.) I don't think the difference is one that would have bothered me if it had not been pointed out, but maybe now it will! Thoughts?

The only think I can think of is to add a stack of wine cubbies to the left of it, then it could go down to closer to 15" like the other guys. (These are slabs, 42" to ceiling, stacked, top stack at 15.5, if that matters)

Not looking to redesign the whole kitchen, but we are giving the specs to our cabinetmaker this week, and after that, wood is getting cut.

I did not realize until I measured every last thing in my current kitchen that the cabs on one side of my stove are 21 inches and on the other side, they are 24" so maybe I have a high tolerance for variability?

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Lori - what are you storing in the 20" cabinet? Can you store those things in there if it's a smaller cabinet? If you can't and you can't (or don't) want to shift around where you store things, then that makes your decision really easy.

And the idea of adding a stack of wine cubbies - since they are smaller than the rest of the cabinets in width, is the architect not going to like that idea either?

A little (well known) secret - architects don't always make the best decision on functionality, in kitchens especially. They are helpful at many things...but I'm going to bet that the vast majority of them spend very limited time actually working in a kitchen.

IMO, if it doesn't make sense to change the cabinet size for your functionality, thank the architect for pointing out that area and continue on. :)

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 6:11AM
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To me the alignment of the uppers and lowers are more important than the uppers all being the same size. My eye is not going to pan your uppers from left to right to measure, it is going to take in the kitchen as a whole and those vertical dividers aligning will be pleasing. Lack of alignment can look discordant.
So what is beneath all those 15" uppers? I guess many 30" bases?
Depending on construction technique, a 15" upper can have a door opening significantly less than 15". If you have wide bowls,plates or platter, you need to think about where you will store them.
I would encourage you to post a detailed plan to get some detailed feedback.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 8:33AM
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I'd disagree localeater- the uppers are at eye leve. In most kitchens (particularly with islands) the relationship between uppers and lowers is: lost, insignificant, complicated by appliances windows and differing corner depths. In fact it is generally considered a mistake to line uppers and lowers.

As to the op's question-all equal sizes is not important in most cases. A decent rythm and pleasing proportions are.

I often attempt to at least make the doors on each side of a window equal (or very close). Naturally it depends on a kitchen.
I am also a dissenter about corner cabnets and in many many cases do not believe that an easy reach upper is more funtional than a blind, it is often an emotionally driven illusion. From the sounds of yours I would be seriously considering a blind upper corner.... but without a layout it is impossible to say if you will gain or lose storage by equalizing doors adjacent to the window. The only way to actually determine gain or loss is to calculate FULLY ACCESSIBLE shelf space and opening sizes.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 9:57AM
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Symmetry is of no concern to me, but balance and function are.

In order, our upper cabinet doors are 15" x 30" (below which is a 15" pull-out), 15" x 24" (2 - over hood), 18" x 30 (4)(over trash pull-out, sink cabinet, 6" pull-out and dishwasher) (then refrigerator). It doesn't look the slightest bit "off".

As far as alignment goes, the only thing that really matters to me is that adjacent drawers align horizontally.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 11:34AM
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Thanks for the input. The function of the 20" would work as well at 15 inches, otherwise it would be an easy decision. I don't worry about alignment with lowers, either-- although the kitchen is partly open to the LR/DR, it is only the uppers that you can see.

I know that some people hate the piano-hinged corner solutions. Some people despise lazy susans. I think I'm OK with both. The kitchen is only 10 x 14 and has a peninsula, so some of the views you see in elevations cannot really be seen that way in real life. (That is part of the problem with focusing on elevations, I think. If only I'd given myself time to learn Sketchup!)

We've really thought long and hard about what will work for us in this house at this point in our lives. I didn't post a layout because I didn't want to be one of those people not open to major do-over suggestions.

We have measured every last thing in our kitchen and mapped out where it will go, so when the architect suggested moving the cooktop and hood a few inches to the right and changing the drawer widths, it was all I could do not to put my hands over my ears like a third-grader! I would be willing to fine-tune the uppers for aesthetics only if I didn't think it would impact functionality.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 12:26PM
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> How much variation would you tolerate in the door width of uppers

A lot. In fact I wouldn't get hung up on it at all.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 12:28PM
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robo (z6a)

Blind corner is better than easy reach? Tell me more! That would let me have huge glass front cabs flanking the sink, which I would love.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 12:53PM
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robo (z6a)


This post was edited by robotropolis on Tue, Jan 7, 14 at 13:19

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 1:01PM
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robotropolis- sketch out both- and do some math.
It used to be we had to calculate openings and drawer width for NKBA layouts. The blind section would not count. If it were an easy reach it still didn't count but you gained the width of the corner fillers.
You can see that space better but it is only slightly more useful. You can't fit a big bowl there, any smaller items will have something behind them that is inaccessible without moving what is in front. Blind walls are the same- you can't get what is back there if you don't move what is in front.(I often am planning glasses or mugs for thereso a non issue)

If an easy reach, pie cut, or a diagonal wall cabinet starts to cut down the sizes of the adjacent cabinets in comparison to a blind then IMO the blind is better.

Attached is a quick example,Blind gives two 30" openings ; the alternative with two 21's and the pie cut .Total openings on the blind at 60 and on the alternate at 63, after accounting for the flexibility of the greater width to me the blind wins.

Added-those opening numbers are using 3"fillers in the corner. I most often use 2" on walls since all the brands I use let me do sizes or move stiles. With 2" fillers blind openings go to 62", only 1" less.

If you end up with smaller still (9's or 12's) the results are worse. The blind configuration also is less expensive.
Another consideration is IF you are trying to match cabinets on two sides of a window or a hood. Which corner lets you do that more effectively without sacrificing storage. (answer varies)
Note some brands allow for unequal doors on two door cabinets as a solution.

This post was edited by jakuvall on Tue, Jan 7, 14 at 14:06

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 1:38PM
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robo (z6a)

Interesting! I had blind corners in my small condo kitchen and didn't mind them. I mind diagonal the most but was thinking I'd love easy reach compared to blind. This could change everything, am going to get sketchbook.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 1:46PM
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robo (z6a)

Interesting! I had blind corners in my small condo kitchen and didn't mind them. I mind diagonal the most but was thinking I'd love easy reach compared to blind. This could change everything, am going to get sketchbook.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 2:20PM
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I like symmetry but that's just me. I think it also depends on the kitchen, obviously.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 5:28PM
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I must be missing something, or maybe my terminology is off. I see that your right-hand example above shows just a little rectangle that is "dead," or unreachable, but a smaller rectangle the same size that is available, but kind of tucked away ("blind"?).

I guess I was assuming both of those areas (forming a square in the corner) would be inaccessible. So your drawing is enlightening. I can imagine that if you are putting like items in there, that you don't need access to the "back row" until you need them. I know my need for more than 2 champagne flutes is sadly infrequent, for example.

But I do see what that configuration does for the adjacent cabinets. Although it still seems to me that the square inches of shelving available with the easy-reach are greater, are you saying you'd discount that volume some because of the hassle factor or that by the time you subtract the box thickness, it is mathematically a wash?

I think I see what you are getting at, jackuvall, and I will go home and play with it a bit tonight. (I'm trying to be more open-minded-- I had honestly thought my question was purely about aesthetics, but if it isn't, I want to know that!) If it were, I would leave the plan as is and move on to next week's obsession, whatever that turns out to be.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 5:34PM
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I did a blind corner for exactly the reasons jakuvall illustrates. It's great for storing paper towels.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 6:00PM
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Lori the little box nearest the wall has nothing at all. We typically "pull" corner cabinets (most often 3" but up to 6") both to take care of out of square and since access is less than ideal why go all the way back.

With a pie cut cabinet you DO have greater TOTAL shelf space assuming I don't count the blind area in the one and do count the corner for a pie cut.
A diagonal wall has even more square inches of shelf space but often that is an even poorer choice.
It just is not as useful as it appears at first glance.

Wider cabinets have more effective shelf space, fewer restrictions about what size items you place there. Shelf runs under 18" are more restrictive, under 12 severely limited. Hence blind walls become a viable option, we are talking about function- not just math.

The correct answer for any kitchen depends on what is being stored where and user preference. The point is not to have a knee jerk reaction, it requires some thought and analysis.
My own kitchen with two corners, the client (my wife) was presented with every possible corner solution, pros and cons. She settled on both wall corners blind- one tiny holds glasses and mugs very effectively. The other much larger access is a non issue, there has never been a complaint about either.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 6:25PM
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robo (z6a)

Thanks so much for the detailed info jakavuli, much appreciated!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 7:02PM
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"It just is not as useful as it appears at first glance."

Jackuval, that sums it up. Thank you so much for your insights on this. I really thought it was a form vs function choice, but you pointing out that the functional difference was not what I was assuming helped tremendously. We made this last-minute change last night and we both feel really good about it. Your drawing was what provided the lightbulb moment, so thanks so much for that! I would not choose symmetry if it compromised function, but I think what you drew on the right side in the illustration above will give us the best of both form and function. Thanks again for taking the time to explain this so clearly.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 12:51PM
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