Floor to ceiling island??? Seen anything like this?

dp1404January 21, 2012

Hello all,

Working on kitchen layout ideas and was mulling the concept over of an island but not an ordinary island. If fact not sure you should call it an island.


Basically it would be roughly a 4x5 island extending floor to ceiling.

The face towards the kitchen work area would anchor one leg of the triangle by housing the refrigerator.

The opposite back side would face the dining area and perhaps have a buffet or bar area

The third face would also be in the work area and house a pantry or storage.

The fourth face would be towards the living room and would have something decorative.

In essence you could walk all the way around it.

It seems it might work for what i am trying accomplish but I don't know if it will end up looking like a huge monolith in the middle of the kitchen dining area. Like something out of 2001 a Space Odyssey

What do you think, seen anything like this, any pictures perhaps?

Here's a rough sketch of what I am thinking From kitch

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Sophie Wheeler

In a very large very open space, like a loft, yes this can work by providing visual boundaries to where one space begins and another ends. In a smaller less open space, monolith is a good description. You might as well put in a wall. You will get the same closed in feeling but have room for electrical and HVAC.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 4:18PM
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I don't think it will look like a monolith, I think it will look like a wall with doorways on either side. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It is a step away from the contemporary trend toward open floor plans, since it will restrict views into and out of the kitchen. But whether you want those views is a matter of preference, and it looks like being able to put the fridge there will solve some design issues for you.

Generations of homes were built with enclosed kitchens, and no one thought it was strange. Some people like an open floor plan, some don't.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 4:20PM
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It's not a bad idea, except that you have no landing area, by the fridge. Also, your bar might look better if it went side to side, but that would make the pantry smaller.

If you want to block some space between the kitchen and dining room (and don't have to have that little table and two chairs) why not move the narrow pantry/fridge to that wall and have a peninsula that extends, between the two rooms? You'd have a lot more storage and if you want a wall, you could make it one...but I'd have the bar sink with glass uppers above (see through) and leave an opening in between, to let the light through.

I don't think you need to walk between the 'island' and this wall, since you have access from the living room to the kitchen, through the door at the bottom of the space. You also can walk around the peninsula. If you decide you'd rather have some stools...then you can always take out the pantry, leave a small spacer (to get the fridge doors open for cleaning) and put the fridge on that wall, with the bar sink on the peninsula (kitchen side) and stools on the dining side. Have it all open or have a few glasses stored above...your choice :)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 4:28PM
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I agree with the above that it will look fine, and will read as simply a closed kitchen with 2 doorways on each side of a wall between the dining room and kitchen.

I don't think you'll really have the room you're thinking of to put a table and two chairs in the bottom doorway though.

If you want to play with some alternatives you could consider fridge and pantry on the wall where you show the bistro table now. Or you can look at an island with sink & dw in it, moving the range to the window wall and fridge where you currently have the range. Or put cooktop in island and fridge/ovens on back wall. I'd be tempted to play with island layouts since they give you the casual seating I think you want (judging from the bistro table) without closing off the kitchen as a separate room.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 4:29PM
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I think it will work, reading as a piece of cabinetry or a stub wall, essentially.

I agree you won't have room for the small table and chairs, but you would have room for counterpace which could be used for set down space for the fridge.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 4:46PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I've been around this layout seems like a hundred times.

This idea just for the monolith came to me today

I've attached some more drawings showing current layout and what had been the leading contender until now

Drawings are one square=foot. North is the right edge of the drawing

Current layout From kitch

Leading contender From kitch

Inspiration photo with out the peninsula From kitch

As you can see we are trending towards an open layout with two areas, kitchen and dining combined. In the current layout we don't use the dinette as it's too small and the dining room is ok but a little small too.

SO right now we have dinette - kitchen - dining and would like to get to kitchen - dining

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 5:37PM
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Check out Susan Susanka's book Creating the not so big house. There is a section on something just like it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 6:23PM
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Oooh I like the 'leading contender' a lot. It looks perfect to me with just one exception -- I'd make the island regular instead of with the bumpouts so you'll have better prep space on the front side and clearance on the back.

What don't you like about it?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 6:25PM
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This greatly expands your pantry because you really don't have any wall cabinets. There is a shallow dish storage next to the pantry, but that's it. You'll unload stuff to the peninsula, prep there, and step across the aisle to stir and cook. Most of your time will be spent facing the family room and dining room and any guests who might occupy the stools. You could give up the windows flanking the range in favor of a glass block window under the uppers and behind the range. That would give you natural light into the kitchen but it would require some steel for headers to accomplish.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 6:53PM
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This looks like a remodel of a space similar to yours. (Actually, I'm hoping to do this to the first-floor of my split-level!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Removing Kitchen Walls

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 7:19PM
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Green- That's a really nice plan! :)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 8:03PM
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Sabjimata has an island room divider with a floor to ceiling backsplash, but it's only a wall wide.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 12:08AM
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thanks again,

Taggie, we do like it but seems like we are always second guessing. The current leading contender does not have the bump outs on the island.

dccurlygirl, thanks for the link, I've had the idea but could not picture it, this helps a lot. I like the whole idea where the living room side looks like living room and not kitchen.

greendesign, not sure i really grasp what is going on in the dining room, is that a corner booth? Also, one issue is the placement of the patio door leading to deck, the deck does not extend that far down and would be complicated to do so.

thanks sabjimata, that's a helpful link as well

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 8:17AM
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I did a variation of this here:

And here:(The fridge is also like this but this is a better picture. They balance each other in the floor plan)

The difference with yours is that it will be faced with cabinetry or panels. You will need some kind of wall in the middle for utilities and support.

A local company Pappajohn Woodworking, fabricated this. Although it doesn't go to the ceiling, it's the same idea. To the ceiling will actually be easier for stability.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 11:24AM
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Yes, it's a corner banquette with a window over it next to a single patio door. The range is also flanked by two windows for additional light. There's plenty of room for prep and cleanup to occur around the sink, as well as plenty of room for a secondary prep zone by the range. The fridge is on the perimeter next to the patio door so it is accessible from outside and the family room without interfering with the cook's prep.

Extending a deck would be a relatively inexpensive choice after the expense of taking down two walls and moving plumbing, electicity and HVAC. :) In for a penny, in for a pound, right? :)

If you would prefer to minimize costs on this reno, then I would suggest only opening up the wall to the dining area and leaving the wall to the living room intact. Your sink can shift over a bit and that would be pretty much it for the plumbing changes unless the range is also gas. Venitilation uctwork is straight up and out and the range location can be tweaked a bit to work with where the ducts might need to go. This will be the less expensive choice compared to the other proposed layouts.

If you would narrow the patio door to a single door plus a counter height window, you could use more of the "dead space" in the former breakfast area and still get in plenty of light. You would also have room for the leg of the U to shift to the DR for a better built in banquette (no room for stools) and then have room for a small island. If the fridge shifted locations as well, then it would be accessible from both the patio door and the hall. You could run the banquette seating from the DR all the way to the living room to serve as additional seating there as well. You could possibly extend the counter a bit and add in a bar sink close to the DR and LR, but that is additional $$ for plumbing. If you again up the budget, you could take out the wall between the family room and kitchen and install an island hood, but you'd be talking about 10K more for that. Or just do a passthrough to the right of the range. That would be cheaper and still provide connection with the LR from the KIT.

I think this is my favorite because I really like the cozy banquette right there next to the kitchen. It would be even better with more windows in the dining space.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I really like that last one with the cozy banquette and the straight shot from the entry out to the deck. You only need a single 36" door to access a deck anyway and this leaves you with a window for the loss of the other door. You could always add more windows to have the sink be in front of one, but that's really a non issue if the layout makes the space work better, and this one does. If you did the partial wall removal like your previous posts have suggested that you want to, then the area with the bar sink could have a couple of stools but Green is right that keeping all the wall moving and services moving to a minimum would help to keep down costs, There's probably got around 15K+ worth of structural changes at least if you remove all of those walls and start in making major moves with plumbing etc., and that's if you DIY some of this.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 2:05PM
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My concern with the floor-to-ceiling version is that you might actually feel hemmed in. However, I might be biased... when we built our house 36 years ago, I thought it was so clever to have the double ovens at the end of the peninsula, creating the impression of a wall. Now, that big box is the primary reason we (okay, I) want to start over. That wall has become the main focus in the room:-(

I agree that moving the fridge will give you lots of nice options. Maybe you could hang a sheet from a ceiling to get a real sense of how large this island would be??

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 3:02PM
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thanks again for all the considerations. I apologize, attached is a more complete drawing of the existing layout showing locations of all the windows.

Where the deck is and where the big tree is that would inhibit moving the door from to the deck into the dining room.

The windows in the dining room are 50" high by 72" wide (I know the drawing shows 60" that is a typo) so they are roughly 27" off the floor.

There are two counter top windows in the kitchen both 32" wide.

Also, the wall between the pantry and the broom closet is the back side of the chimney

Not too worried about cost, we have a good carpenter, plumber and electrician we work with often and preliminary estimates to remove walls, reconfigure doors, windows, etc. are well within what we expected.

So, if you look at it as almost a blank canvas, except the windows in the dining room remain as is(outside is brick I don't want to mess with) and the tree stays, what do you think. From kitch

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 3:52PM
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I think that sacrificing some of the patio door space to another counter height window is the key to getting this space to be more functional. I would not want to give up that pantry! I really dislike that fridge bisecting the counter run. A fridge should be on the perimeter of a kitchen so that it is accessible from other spaces easily and yet not have those folks enter into the prep path of the cook.

I really like the suggestion to run the banquette all the way from the dining room to the fireplace. It gives it a coffee house lounge like vibe. It would also be great to add extra seating for times when you want to host more than will fit at the banquette. Just add a couple of fold out tables and you could seat double the amount of folks!

Overall GreenDesigns last plan is a pretty good one. It gives you the open feeling that you were looking for but doesn't sacrifice function. (Sorry, I really didn't like the monolith in the middle of everything plan) My suggested tweaks would involve making sure that the counter next to the banquette had a backsplash to keep the diners from having cake batter in their hair. The overall length of the fridge and stove run might need tweaking and I'm not sure about extending it into the traffic flow between the DR and LR unless there really is lots of room there. The island would be a single cabinet width, which could be quite useful, but it's in the way between the sink and stove and with the second sink added, I'm not sure that an island is the best choice for this space. Maybe an U shape plus the other cabinet run would have better utilization of space? (Exactly like it is, but expanded on the inside of the U to be able to utilize the breakfast area space better.)

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 4:15PM
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    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 4:52PM
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