New here: want to knock down walls! Help with kitchen layout!

Photomom3January 31, 2013

Hello! After finding the GW kitchen forum, I've spent several days looking back through the last few months of posts. I love your community for ideas, suggestions, reviews and general helpfulness to each other. I hope I have done my homework well, since I've been preparing this post for 2 days!

My husband and I agreed a few years ago that we need to do something to make our kitchen more user-friendly. The "how" has been the problem for us, mostly because the kitchen is narrow and sandwiched in the "inside" of the house: between the eating nook and dining room. Removing walls creates a looong (37ft) and narrow (12ft) space. I am open to any and all ideas and comments. I've put together the basics below:

FAMILY: We are a family of 5. Kids are 8-14 years old. We USE our kitchen-we rarely eat out. I cook meals daily, and I love to bake. During the week, it's mainly me in the kitchen, the kids hang out while I prep meals and do homework at the table or peninsula. On the weekends, my husband helps cook/clean up (kids too!) We are casual entertainers of friends, and larger family gatherings a few times a year. I shop frequently, a few times a week for fresh produce and dairy items.

TRAFFIC: Most of our traffic comes in from the garage to the mud room, then left into the kitchen. (this is also where groceries come in and trash goes out!) Between the kitchen and nook is the main 'road' through to the great room, basement, and upstairs. To the right of the mudroom is a walk in pantry and a laundry room. I am not lacking in storage space, as the pantry is large enough to hold our recycling bins, pantry items and small appliances. The pantry is a little out of the way, but I'm used to it.

PROBLEMS: Bottleneck where the current sink is in the peninsula, with the dishwasher and refrigerator. For one person, it's doable, but multiple people in the kitchen tend to get lost in the ''Bermuda Triangle'' where the sink and refrigerator are located, and bump into each other (or get in my way while I'm cooking!).
We have a dining room that is used once a year, and is taking up valuable real estate in our home. I would love to knock out some walls and open the current dining room to the kitchen and nook, and create one large space. There is one wall that is load bearing, and needs to have support where two ceiling beams come together. (Indicated on the plan: a column approximately 4'' x 16''). As much as I don't like it, this column is not optional: it must be there if we want to keep the second story of our home up where it belongs!

NEEDS: Better traffic flow, get refrigerator out of the main prep area of the kitchen. Would love an island with seating for 5.

WANTS: Want main sink on island, so I'm looking ''out'', would like a prep sink in addition, or just a really big sink! We have the unused dining room that we would love to put to work for our family. We have considered having only one eating area, or keeping two with a banquette around the window in the current dining room.

French door refrigerator--as big as I can get!, dishwasher,
trash compactor, stove/oven combo OR cooktop with one wall oven (whichever fits into space best), microwave.

OTHER: We have a plan we have been working on. It includes removing all dining room and hallway walls, (adding two columns) and having a one-wall kitchen with fridge, cooktop/range/oven/micro, and a large island (12' x 5' 6''). The dining room space is mostly open, we could have an eating area there, or built-in window seat and shelving for a sitting area. We like it, but are looking for some "outside the box" ideas, mostly because this is the best idea we can come up with after 2+ years of trying--we aren't getting anywhere! I will attach it, but from what I've read, I'm not supposed to repost after my first post so that I will stay on top and hopefully get lots of lookers and advice. So, I'll post it later!!

Thanks so much for reading my lengthy post and I hope to hear your brilliant ideas and suggestions so we can get this project movin'!!

don't know where the original layout went...trying again!

This post was edited by Photomom3 on Thu, Jan 31, 13 at 13:32

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Can you post a diagram of the kitchen and the surrounding rooms?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 12:00PM
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You should be able to edit your post to attach the floorplan. Look on the right hand side of your post, under the word "clippings"

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 1:10PM
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bumping for you (I'm no layout guru but hopefully someone else will come along)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 5:56PM
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Attached is the layout we have been working on...

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:24PM
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I like to take spaces apart but don't even know where to start here. With an island of 12' x 5'6" I'm not sure you'll be able to reach into the middle to clean it. And then you have this sink off to the right kinda hangin' out by itself in full view of your foyer. I think what you have to figure out is what is wrong with your current floorplan (wanting an island really isn't enough to tear apart a kitchen), and more specifically, it looks like you have quite a large home so what else could the DR be used for. What other space does your family need and for what purpose.

When guests are coming into your home from the front door do they have to walk through the DR to get into the kitchen? Besides your great room do you have an adult living room/sitting room/getting away from the kids as they become teenagers room?

Perhaps the DR could become that space? If so, that may give you a better idea on how you want the kitchen to function. Your kids are on the verge of becoming teenagers so look at your family at that age and how do you want their social life (and yours) to function during that stage over the next 10 years.

You could have the great room function as their hang-out while you and your spouse have a sitting area right by the front door. It means their friends have to stop and say hi and be introduced. With them in the great room and in the kitchen eavesdropping is really easy. (not that your kids don't need privacy but I'm just saying...) With a sitting area by the foyer near the kitchen it also gives your guests a place to hang out while you are cooking.

Anyway you need to figure out what spaces you need and where you want them before designing your kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:39PM
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Not an expert, but noticed you too were dealing with a long and narrow space. I've contemplated many ways I could move horizontally in my own place.

Did you consider actually moving the powder room to the area next to the dining room, and relocating the main side entrance to close to where the existing range is (a hard left from the entrance at the mudroom)? Then, you could expand the actual kitchen into the bay window and over into the powder room and pantry areas. The island could be parallel to the bank of windows.

Here is a link that might be useful: Like this, but wider and with island seating

This post was edited by gooster on Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 0:44

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:43AM
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You have great space, but like you, I don't care for the kitchen between the eating area and another dining area. If it was my house, I would be tempted to move the kitchen working area to the front of the house. In my neighborhood, some houses are designed like that. Then you could put a conversation area by the windows at the back of the house and the dining table in front of that. Not sure how the island looking into your family room would work, but if the spacing was right, you could put a prep sink on the island. Just an idea, layout is not my strong point.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:07AM
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Thank you for your observations. I love new perspectives on our old space!

Blfenton: We also have a finished basement, so we have plenty of 'living' space. The dining room is not used at all--that�s why our main goal was to add that unused space to our kitchen--it is the space that everyone gathers in.
From the front door, you can enter the kitchen through the dining room, or go straight through a hallway to enter the great room on the left, kitchen/nook area on the right. Our house is also 10 years old, and the appliances are showing signs of not lasting much longer. A leak in the kitchen faucet last spring stained a cabinet that needs sanded down/replaced...The kitchen has always been cramped, but now we've decided to try to use the space we already have to improve!

Gooster: At this point, I'm open to anything! I have considered combining the laundry room and mud room, and moving around the pantry, 12 feet just isn't enough space in width! Our main entrance for a family is the garage. The mudroom is where all shoes, coats, backpacks, etc live, so it must be located directly from the garage entrance. We live in a wooded area and frequently bring in mud, leaves, dirt, snow, etc. Love the pic you posted with the windows�lovely!

Dilly_NY: Moving the kitchen to the front of the house has been tossed around. If it's a nice enough looking kitchen, seeing it from the front door wouldn't be a problem. Then, the dining space would be in the middle and sitting area at the back?

Here's a photo of the kitchen, looking toward the door.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:49AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I don't know that spending 100K on knocking down the walls and moving all of the stuff gets you any better plan than just moving the fridge to the end of the run where the range is and putting the range on the back wall, and leave it there for the changes. In fact, I think your plan makes things much worse.

If you're gonna spend that kind of money, move the kitchen to the breakfast nook area and create a single eating area by enlarging the dining room in to part of the old kitchen. Then have a peninsula to separate the two spaces that can house bar stools for the casual eating. That way, your dining room becomes actually used, and the kitchen has a better connection with the family room.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:23AM
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As has already been mentioned, please analyze your family life now and, if this is your forever/long term home, how it will evolve over the next 10-15 years.

We are planning a kitchen remodel and while my DH would just as soon forego having a dining space (because we'd rarely use one RIGHT NOW), I'm thinking ahead 20 years when DS is 29 (probably married with kids) and DDs are 25ish (and maybe married). I'd need a dining space then to accommodate holidays, family gatherings etc.

That being said, maybe you can find use of the dining space for this stage in life that protects it so that it could be converted later on.

As for the kitchen, my MIL's kitchen is very similar to yours with the angled peninsula. That is most likely where your problem lies.

If I were you, I'd:
1) Straighten out the peninsula and add a prep sink to it
2) Move the fridge to the end next to the mudroom doorway
3) Move the cleanup sink where the range is currently located or slightly to the right of it depending on your refrigerator width
4) Move the range across the aisle to the wall adjacent to the foyer/support beam

Just my two cents....

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Again, continued thanks for taking the time to give me your opinions!

stacylh: Thanks for your "vision". I'm going to work your ideas out on paper tonight. I'm certain this isn't our "forever" house, it's a walk-out basement with steps going up into the house, and all the bedrooms are upstairs. It's more than we will need when the kids are gone, but the youngest is 8, so it will still be a while!

hollysprings: Our kitchen table expands nicely to seat 10, so we would definitely have space to spread out with the table in the middle (where the current kitchen is now.) To put the kitchen in the back, we will have to shorten windows and take away from our view. Not a deal-breaker, but a bigger project than removing walls for sure! Hmmm...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 4:44PM
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Have you looked into how much it would cost to remove one or more walls?

Have you looked into what it would cost to replace the windows?

You may find that replacing windows is actually cheaper than removing walls, moving whatever is in them (HVAC, water, waste pipes, etc.), and constructing beams and headers (b/c the wall is load bearing).

In our case, replacing a 7' wide x 1.5' deep bay window that was 22" off the floor to one that was 36" off the floor (same width & depth) was around $1,000. Taking down a non-loading-bearing wall and moving the HVAC cost around $2,700. Windows were cheaper and our wall was not load-bearing.

While your bay area is bigger, you also have to factor in the load-bearing wall's extra expenses.

What I'm saying is...don't write something off as too expensive if you don't know that for certain!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:21PM
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How about something like this as a first shot?

The doorway on the right is moved "down" so (1) there's more room on the "top" end of the wall and (2) so someone coming into the home through that doorway can go left and not get in the cook's way.

I'm sure we can improve on it, but it's something to consider....

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:43PM
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Hmmmm...the measurement disappeared for the depth of the Cleanup Zone counter in the bay window's 37.5" deep. Our bay is 45" deep and while it works for us b/c we're all tall with long arms, I think it would be too deep for most this one is approx 6" shallower.

Also, ignore that stray '18" Pantry' label behind the cooktop - I didn't see it to delete it!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:49PM
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Wow, I'm normally a huge tinkerer, but in this case, I think you're probably better off selling this house to someone who likes it as is and put the proceeds and your $100K of reno funds toward a house with better bones. Your house has multiple issues that are difficult to overcome: too narrow a kitchen/dining/nook space, and the foyer/stairwell/great room arrangement line up awkwardly with the kitchen/dining/nook areas.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 3:25AM
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