Small eat-in space in kitchen - need inspiration please!

spartans99January 19, 2014

I heard back from one of the KD's this weekend that our eat-in space in our proposed layout may be too small. I was originally hoping to fit a 42" or 48" round table to seat four of us. However, the KD was concerned with walk around room - especially if we have the 12" d hutch on the one wall across from the sliding doors to the deck. Another idea she suggested was to put a banquette along the lower wall instead of the hutch with the back of the banquette facing the family room (to the right), but I am concerned about loosing that storage space.

Note on the right side of the drawing is the entry into the family room. The kitchen is completely open to the family room across the entire length; however, there is a very small step down into the family room. So, I cannot have a table and chairs that backs up too far - being cautious of the step down situation.

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How about a pony wall (approx. 7.5 ft. long?) to fill in the space of the step down area where the eat-in seating needs to go? This would let you put a banquette in against the pony wall, and might also give you more options for furniture arrangement in the family room.

The pony wall could also house bookshelves or some other storage space on the family room side, if needed.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:07PM
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I like Laughable's idea! I was going to suggest something similar, but I think she's explained it perfectly :)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:11PM
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Deleted accidental double post.

This post was edited by laughable on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 14:33

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:32PM
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Here's a quick sketch (watching football LOL) but you get the idea. Plenty of room for a round table and seating for four :) From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 3:35PM
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Thanks for the great idea! I think a pony wall and banquette type seating would work perfect in that location!

Is there a standard height for pony walls in this scenario?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 5:29PM
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You're going to need to do exact inches on something like this (not criticizing ll - it's football).

The wall could be in place of the step or on top of the existing step where ever it is - to maximize the room in the kitchen. You could also do something like make the wall "read" as a bookcase in the family room by the amazingly simple expedient of building a built-in bookcase there with a solid plywood back that faced into the kitchen. Cover the kitchen side with nice looking stuff like beadboard that matched the cabinets. It can around 36"-42" tall from the kitchen point of view and about 48" tall from the family room.

A banquette is typically 24" deep and is overlapped a bit by the table. It extends further than the table to allow people to get into or out of it beside the table.

You need to keep a minimum of about 34" from the end of the table to a wall if you intend on placing a chair there (and no, you can't cheat it at all to a glass door). If you want people to be get into and out of the banquette behind a seated person, think more like 40-44".

People can not occupy every inch of table surface. People seated at or near one side of a corner will "use up" both the surface of the table and the leg space underneath the table. Each person needs to have 24" of table edge to call their own. And that space extends back about 12-18".

Again, not knocking ll, but in the drawing above, the table is about 27" wide by about 48" long, This will not work for seating for 6 people. A table 36" wide by about 66" would be the minimum size needed.

For four, consider just using the two long sides of a table about 48-54" long by 32-36" wide. This size was really popular up to about the 1960's.

For planning purposes, when no one is sitting there, it makes a box about 76-84" wide by about 78" long (table is offset about 24" from the sliding door). With people seated, it becomes about 84" to 96" wide - pretty much what you have at the sliders.

If you live in a place requiring permits, remember this needs outlets.

So, another thought is a railing (in place of pony wall) and a petite dining setup for 3, 30" bench on the slider wall, 30-32" square table against the railing, another bench seat perpendicular to the railing, and one loose chair.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 7:50PM
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You know, I think this is one of those things that would be good to mock up and see which way you'd prefer to go.

If you have little people playing in the family room while you're working in the kitchen, or even if you want to keep very open sight lines and communication between the kitchen and family room, you might be better off with the idea of the railing that Bmore suggested.

Because of the step down, I think it might be difficult to see past the bench of the banquette/pony wall down into the family room from the kitchen. Would this be a good or a bad thing for you? (It would hide the kitchen "mess" from the family room, but it might also inhibit communication. Hmmmm....)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 9:39PM
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My kitchen is also small and includes a breakfast table. The eating area is only 7' 5" wide with a longer area for the length. In order to fit a 42" round table in this space, the answer was to place the table on the diagonal so that the chairs pull out toward the corners. Seating works well using this approach. I suggest you try this strategy when you do your mock-up.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 1:21AM
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Thank you all for the feedback and advice on what might work. We played around with some mock ups last night and unfortunately, both my DH and I realized that the pony wall setup will not work for the open space we were trying to achieve. We currently have a railing that we plan to take down and after the mock up, we are concerned that having a pony wall in the space just closes off the view between the rooms too much. It was a rough night of moving painters tape and two different tables around trying to see if we could position a 42" round or a rectangular table in a way that would work.

We knew we would have to make some sacrifices in this kitchen, but I wish I would have done the mockup on the eat-in space earlier in the process! Oh well.

So, after speaking with the KD this morning, she has proposed the following options:

1. Replace sliding doors with a window (possibly of reduced size). This would mean all access to the deck and backyard would go through the family room sliding doors instead. DH is not a fan of this plan at all. I am not sure how I feel about it either.

2. Reduce the long portion of the L and possibly the island to accommodate more space in the eat-in area. This will impact the total amount of storage and countertop space and I think this is my least desirable option.

3. Go back to the current U-shape layout of the existing kitchen. We are comfortable with amount of eat in space in this scenario, but I just can't get comfortable with any u-shape setup that has been presented.

I guess DH and I just need to decide what is going to take priority.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:24AM
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Google table attached to island or visit for ideas. I would do this in a heartbeat if I had a do over.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:52AM
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i have a kitchen that is almost exactly the same except i have the pony wall and no step down into family room. if you have a 60" doorway, i dont see why a round table wouldn't work. we have a too large 60" rectangle in the slider space and we are swapping it for a round. we have had the rectangle for years and it has been ok but i would like something smaller since we do have a dining room. we just ordered a 42" round. we thought about the banquette route too but i like the idea of being able to remove it at some point since we won't live here forever. also we got a drop leaf round so that we can drop the sides if we needed to.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 11:20AM
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ardcp, would you happen to have any measurements of the distance between your counters and table? I guess that is what we are most concerned about right now. Even with a 42" table, it seems there will only be around 36" space between the table and island or perimeter counters. Depending on table placement we could get as much as 40" but it still seems tight. We would also only have about 37" between table and hutch.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 1:49PM
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A 42" round table needs approximately a 9 foot square box of space + a little extra clearance in front of the slider. Diagonally placed seating isn't going to help a whole lot because
(1) it exceeds the width available by about 1/2 foot
(2) its not including aisle way clearances.
(3) Extra clearance in needed in front of the door.
(4) Lots clearance is needed behind the chairs to the steps - like 5 feet to be safe. It's one thing to have a slight squish up to a wall or other barrier and it's another for grandma to fall down a step or two into the next room.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 3:06PM
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Make your island longer or move it toward eating area and either T off of or a rounder addition of the counter for seating for 4.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 3:38PM
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Can you sketch the rest of the first floor? I'm trying to understand the room flow and see if there are other possibilities.

@eandhl - I tried one of those. Blocks the back door, doesn't permit desired hutch, aisle to walk through kitchen to family room would be non-existent. Rats!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:20PM
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I like the L-shape layout! What if you turn the island 90 degrees and move it against the back wall? It could be a great snack area (close to pantry) and you could keep it mobile....or add a prep sink or under counter oven. So handy and it gives you room for a couple of stools, too.

That makes the kitchen less of a 'walkway' between what I assume is the dining room on the left and breakfast/family area to the right. Moving the island should also make space for a nice round table and seating for 4...and access to the slider.

Another gray day, so I got a little happy with color! LOL Hope you don't mind...and the blue on the wall above the peninsula is a plate rack. Just a few ideas :) From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:56PM
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Thank you all for your feedback! Here is a diagram of the current setup of the first floor. A couple of things to note:

1. We plan to switch the living room and dining room in order to accommodate a larger dining room table to seat 12 people. (the current living room is actually 4 feet longer than the current dining room although my awful drawing doesn't show it)

2. The new living room space (which will be next to the kitchen) will become more of an entertaining room. It will house a large wet bar along with 4 oversized club chairs plus ottoman. When we have larger than normal dinner parties or social events at the house, we would have enough room to put another table in this space so that all guests are seated between the combined dining room and living room spaces.

3. We had considered knocking the wall down between the kitchen and the existing dining room; however, all of the plans that we drew up made the kitchen too large and so much of the space seemed awkward / wasted. Plus, DH and I didn't love it enough for the significant added cost due to extra cabinetry/countertops/load bearing wall issues.

4. You may notice in our current footprint the opening to the dining room is slightly different than my latest layout. Also, the sliding door to the deck is almost 80". In conversations with the contractor, it was reasonable to move the opening between the dining room and kitchen down further in order to gain more wall space on the short end of the L. Also, it was reasonable to close up a portion of the exterior wall and shorten the doorwall / slider to deck to 60" - again, allowing for more wall space on the longer side of the L.

I had really hoped the layout would work with the L and island allowing for passage from one end of the house to another without even coming through the main triangle. But I am not sure that is feasible given that we also need an eat-in space.

(Also, I hope I have not committed a GW no-no - as I did post this layout in another thread last week to get some input on the overall layout. I thought I was pretty good until I got the feedback from the KD on the eat in space, which is why I started another thread! Link below...Aye!)

Here is a link that might be useful: original post

This post was edited by spartans99 on Mon, Jan 20, 14 at 18:19

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:16PM
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If you decide to do a pony wall, make it a peninsula~I haven't seen a free-standing pony wall in a new build for years. I would check out newer homes in your area.

Like texasgal, I have the table on the diagonal. There's a bank of windows on one side, and definitely didn't want to worry about someone crashing thru. When I put in the leaf, I pull the table out even more. It works, but still wish the eat in area were bigger.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:32PM
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Would a banquette in this area work better? I know I would lose the hutch storage, but we could consider storage under the benches in the banquette and increasing storage for hutch items in the other rooms (i.e. dining room). This position seems to give more adequate space between the end of the island and table (48" walkway) and plenty of space between the table and slider.

Also, DH asked me to swap the placement of the refrigerator + oven/micro with the range.

Thoughts on this setup? Thank you again for your feedback! The support on this forum is tremendous and I feel like I am going to get the absolute best plan for our family because of all the wonderful feedback!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:47AM
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I like your banquette set up. We had a banquette in a corner similar to this in our old kitchen. It had low windows so we couldn't run counters here. We configured the banquette to have storage underneath the seating. Our table was much smaller (only 30 in diameter) but this was very well used in our old kitchen - we loved the set up.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 2:07PM
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Thanks pipdog! Your kitchen and banquette are beautiful and I am glad to hear it was well used.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 2:51PM
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I am meeting with the KD tomorrow morning to go over the revised plan with the new positioning of the eat-in space / banquette. Any further considerations? Thanks again!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 8:04PM
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I think that banquette, in the proposed location, is a winner for your situation.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 4:51AM
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This is almost my kitchen and family room setup! We currently have the "U" . You have one extra foot in depth which allows the island, Also less doors along the inside wall. I am envious;.

With the banquette opposite the outside wall, you could still have a slim bookcase or hutch next to the sliding doors in the eating area.. Your traffic may go through your main work area, however. That idea by lavenderlass to move the island into a peninsula is super-creative but again you have to assess traffic patterns.

What about reducing your eating area door size to 32" from 60""? That would allow your 60 inch hutch against the outside wall.

I also have an eating are 8" wide with a 38" x 54" table and surrounding chairs (with a window where your door is) alongside my eating area window (where your door is) and could not see getting around that to a door. I think that the second banquette drawing (spartan99) is much more realistic in scale and shows how the chairs could block the entrance if closer to the outside wall.

We have only a single entrance to the patio through the Family room sliders. Our family room is in the same location as your. While not ideal, it is a very common setup and works well only if the sliders work well (ours do not, that is a situation to be remedied this year).

Best wishes.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 9:30AM
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Also I would not swap the fridge with the oven. Although more convenient to the snackers, it is a large mass which would obstruct views and light from the sliders or window (whatever you decide) in the eating area to the rest of the kitchen. It is also the first thing you see when entering the kitchen. I am generally a function person but here I would choose form.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 9:42AM
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Thanks texasgal47 and scrappy25! I had a very interesting meeting this morning where we discussed the updated layout and banquette. Overall, it sounds like we have something that will work well. We actually discussed an option of building a "peninsula" vs. narrow pony wall behind the banquette so we could have 2 bar stools in the family room. DH isn't sold on this setup yet - he is really concerned it will take away from the open feeling between the two rooms. We also discussed the doorwall/sliders and whether we want to decrease that size any further to put something else along that wall or just leave it as is.

Thanks again to everyone for the feedback and input!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 1:02PM
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Spartans99, isn't it a relief when you've FINALLY arrived at a decision to solve a vexing layout problem? Oh joy,oh joy!!! I well remember when that moment arrived for me during my little kitchen remodel. Thanks for sharing the good news.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 10:14PM
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Now that you've made your decision, I will throw out my 2 cents because your FP looks very similar to mine and we fit a 42" table and a big island (7x3) so I'll show you how. Our GC thought it might be too crowded and while it looked crowded on paper, it isn't. We do not have an open floor plan. We decreased the island size a bit to allow the table and a pantry wall for storage.

This floorplan isn't exactly what we ended up with but it gives you the dimensions

The finished product

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen reveal

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 1:14PM
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threegraces, thank you for sharing your space and feedback! I love how your new space turned out! Your kitchen is beautiful and it is so helpful to see similar floor plans.

Just a quick update - we did go back to having the range on the sink run / exterior wall, with the refrigerator on the shorter end of the L. As you suggested, scrappy25, DH does understand now how that would impact the overall views and lighting. Plus I have shown him so many pictures of this same setup, he gets it now. :)

We are so excited that the basic layout is done! yes, texasgal7 - you are correct that it is such a relief to finally be at this stage! Now, I am just trying to get the cabinet door style and color selection correct for final pricing on the cabinetry.

Thanks again everyone! I cannot wait for construction to start!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 2:44PM
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