Moving around some walls... what do you think?

michey1st_gw Zone 7January 20, 2014

Hi Friends!

I'm in the early early planning phase of remodeling my kitchen/dining space and would like to get a little feedback. I am not quite in the cabinet layout phase (well, i have already done it in my head, but that is not what this post is about =)

I'm a planner, and want to establish my long-term vision so I can make smart updates that all work towards an end goal. This post is to try and figure out what that end goal should look like ;-)

Background: This house is a modest single story '60s ranch (with basement). Including the existing addition on the back, it's about 1500 sf above grade.

Here's the overall floor plan, to give you the context of the existing kitchen to the rest of the house (note that the spaces in question are in the top right corner of the diagram):

Here's more of a closeup of the kitchen and family room area, as it currently exists:

Currently, from the front door, you have a lovely view of the kitchen garbage can, as my limited cabinets have no room to stash it away. The current layout has a dead corner, 1 base cabinet of drawers, and 1 sink base and a base cabinet door where all of my pots are crammed into. We have overflow storage in a pantry closet located on the left side of the family room (the pantry closet is visible in the whole-house layout I posted, but I left it out of the close-up layout. Oopsies!

We don't use our dining room all that often, preferring instead to eat at the family room table (we spend most of our home time in this one big room (13' x 21') and when we hosted Thanksgiving, we shuffled furniture around and brought in the dining room table to seat 12 people in this one room).

There's a fluted column (not load bearing) that borders the entrance into the kitchen from the living room (that's that black square you see between the kitchen/dining room doorway). I hate it!I love columns, but it's just so odd sitting there, all by itself.

At first had plans to block that 3 foot kitchen passageway in with a pony wall (to give more room for base cabinets in the kitchen and to hide the trash from the front door) and redo the column to be more of a shaker/craftsman style. And then do the same pony wall/column treatment on the other side of the dining room doorway to frame it out all pretty-like.

The pro's of the pony wall approach is it gives me more base cabinet room in the kitchen, and gives the kitchen sight lines to the bay window in the front living room. We have boxed off that area to see what it does to our traffic flow, and it hasn't caused any major problems. The con in this scenario is that the open area above the pony wall means I will be more limited in my upper cabinet layout options once a full kitchen remodel comes along.

A little about us: We are a household of 2, no plans for kids. We both enjoy cooking and in the current layout above, there is VERY LITTLE prep space. Usable counter space is limited to a 21" stretch between the stove and sink and maybe a 18" stretch between stove and fridge. If one person is prepping, good luck getting to the sink! We host 12 or so people once per year for thanksgiving, otherwise we like to entertain with smaller number of friends a few times per month.

As I started getting down and dirty with the different free floorplanning tools out there, I stumbled upon something like this:

In essence, traffic is moved out from the kitchen proper. The old doorway into the family room (that is a 12" wide wall since it used to be the outside of the house pre-addition) would serve to nestle the fridge in a bit so it doesn't stick out into the room as much. In this scenario, the column wall is completely closed in, and the door to the family room is shifted over into the dining room, giving a u-shaped kitchen. In this layout, the little 24" stretch of base and wall cabinets between the fridge and dining room is where I would plan to store my dishes and glasses, and perhaps have a coffee station set up on the counter.

My concerns with this layout is you lose the sight lines to the front living room (which we don't use too often, admittedly, but it's a great bay window with wonderful light). I'm also worried about being cut off from the "action" in the family room when working in the kitchen, as that is where we mostly hang out. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the prospect of the counter space that this layout offers, however. This layout would also cut the kitchen off from the additional storage of the pantry closet in the family room, but with all the extra cabinets I would gain, I don't anticipate this as being an issue.

I have also toyed with keeping the entrance to the family room as is, and take down the wall between the kitchen and dining room and replace with a peninsula. The cabinets on that wall are only 15 inch deep, so if I was to replace with a peninsula and countertop, it would really cut into the dining room and I would lose the overhead cabinets that currently house all of my dishes.

So, here I am looking for feedback! As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I want to have a final plan and then gradually phase in changes as I can before the kitchen is ripped out. Budget is a concern, and the mr. and I are not afraid of DIY, so we want to tackle what we can for incremental changes before calling in the pros to tackle the heavy lifting.

Your thoughts on these options, or something I perhaps haven't thought of is greatly appreciated!

Kindest regards,

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michey1st_gw Zone 7

I should also mention that we're ok with making the dining room a little less formal with the u-shaped option presented above. It's not going to be decorated/designed as a true "eat-in kitchen" and i'd like to keep the original wood floors in the dining area if at all possibly to help delineate the kitchen from the dining area, but the table and built-ins I am envisioning will definitely lean more towards the more casual -- white painted furniture, perhaps a built-in window seat, etc.

We plan on being in this house a long time, as it is a premium lot that backs to a preserved forest - a rarity in this area! I do want to keep a slight nod towards resale, but I also want to make the space as practical for us as I can.

We are also ok with losing the 2nd dining space in the family room, although we can be flexible with the room - the furniture in the floor plans is really just a mockup -- anything is possible!

When it comes to hosting thanksgiving once a year, we will figure out what to do when the time comes ;-)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:38PM
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It's definitely wise to consolidate dining and I think you're on the right track.

Have you seen the 31 kitchen design rules (link below)? One thing that I notice is the space between the dining table and wall - the minimum recommended is 36", but 44" is more comfortable, and it looks like less than 30" in your picture. So you might have to shift the table left, would would might crowd the main walkway to/fro the family room. Might you consider a bench seat on that wall? I'm not a fan of bench seats, but many folks like them.

Another thing that jumps out to me is the apparent lack of an entry or foyer of any kind. There should be something to separate the entry from the rest of the public living space, even if it's just furniture or decorations.

Here is a link that might be useful: 31 kitchen design rules

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:58PM
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michey1st_gw Zone 7

Thanks for chiming in, GauchoGordo! I didn't go all out with laying out my current living room furniture setup in the whole house floorplan. In reality, I have a foyer table, some comfy chairs, and actually, NOT a couch, lol! The way we use the front living room, it's really just one big foyer/entrance area that is nicely decorated and kept clean in case company stops by. Then we all move to the family room where "life happens" ;-)

It's funny you mention the bench seating -- i've been mocking something up on Ikea's website over the last few days. Some built-in seating under the window (that window in the dining room, by the way, is one of those short and wide jobbers that start about 5 feet off the floor... ugh, 60's ranches!) with possibly some shallow cabinets on either end to frame it all in. I'm thinking built-in bench seating for 2 against the wall, then 4 other chairs to fill in the rest of the table.

Now i'm off to learn about the 31 kitchen design rules... thank you for the link!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Do you want to be able to interact and see more of the family room when in the kitchen?

In general I like what you did, but what about putting the sink/dw so you have a view to the family room. Ie use the existing opening and maybe enlarge a bit to have a pass through and also a view to the back nature preserve you mentioned. I know the windows aren't perfectly aligned, but I would rather see some than have my back towards it.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:52PM
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I like Lyfia's suggestion! Changing the orientation to the family room (and maybe closing the opening to the living room) would give you a beautiful view and take care of your sight line issues, from the front door. I like combining the dining areas, too :)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:27PM
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michey1st_gw Zone 7

Thanks, Lyfia and LavenderLass! At first I nixed the idea of relocating the sink to the opposite end of the kitchen, largely due to cost reasons (I'm ok with shimmying the sink over a few feet, but wasn't sure what the costs are associated with moving it across the room. Still, though, I started mocking something up in my software and I kind of like how it's evolving!

My concerns are:
1. if the fridge moves to the opposite wall (where we fill in that pesky column), when you round the corner from the living/dining room, it sticks out right in your face. I thought nestling it into the old doorway was clever, and I lose that with this layout. Also, it puts the fridge a few more steps away from people hanging out in the family room (admittedly, not a huge deal, but something to consider).
2. Keeping a window cutout in the old doorway means I lose some upper cabinets. I think I can squeeze more continuous prep space out of this one, though, and my base cabinet storage potential increases, which is a HUGE plus.

Here's what I have so far (please disregard what is going on in the dining room with these pics ;-). In both cases, the microwave is next to the fridge (shown as an OTR that isn't located over a range):

Layout 1: Nestles the fridge into the old doorway. Note the extra 5 foot run of upper cabinets above the sink. My corners aren't very functional in this one, but I'm totally open to suggestions. Garbage pullout is "south" of the stove in this layout, in the middle of prep space.

Layout 2: Keeps a cutout to the family room (reflected as a window above the sink), moves the sink to the opposite wall. Really like how the fridge wall is shaping up with this and that I can get a susan in without sacrificing drawer space. Garbage pullout is just "north" of stove, on the edge of the slightly more expansive prep space.

In either case, with the 24 inch sink base (which is what I have now), I'd try to squeeze in as large a sink as possible, hopefully a d-bowl with the faucet off in a back corner. With Layout 2, I could probably go up to a 30 inch sink base and shorten the bank of drawers next door from a 30 to a 24. That base cabinet is where I was thinking of storing dishes, and I think it can all squeeze in.

I should mention that due to cost, I'm probably going with Ikea cabinets or Barker depending on cost, or perhaps a combination of the two if i'm finding I need a lot of special sizes.

What do you think?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 8:51AM
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I'm a newbie with regard to layout, so I don't have anything to offer you there - sorry! :-) BUT, I was wondering what software you used for the layouts in your original post, and in the follow up posts that show just the kitchen. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 9:32AM
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michey1st_gw Zone 7

Hi Madtown!

For the pictures in my original thread, I used Accounts are free (but you can also pay to have more than one "project"). I have a free account and have been able to use the multiple floors in my "house" to mock up the same spaces with different layouts ;-)

For the kitchen cabinet layouts, I have been using the Ikea planner. I also use the lowes layout planner (it's the same software engine as ikea, but has more cabinet size/decor options and the 3d rendering is nicer, but i've been trying to stick with Ikea wherever possible to force me to standard sizes (and lower costs ;-).

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 9:41AM
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Cool, thanks! That is a good tip about using multiple floors to get more than one layout - thanks!

Good luck with your plans! :-) For what it's worth, I like Layout #2 in your follow up post!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 10:32AM
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What's the motivation to keep that piece of wall between the kitchen and family room? From an purely aesthetic standpoint, I think passthrus look dated and awkward. So I think it would look better with just a peninsula there, and if you needed a structural support column, then I'd integrate it into the peninsula.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:44PM
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Is your basement ceiling finished? If not, moving the plumbing might not be that big a deal.

I like Layout 2 as well. I have a U-shaped kitchen, 10' x 10' (but open to the dining room, as yours would be). Keeping the fridge at the end of the run maximized counter space.

There has been a lot of discussion on this board about corner cabinets. In my kitchen, I have a super susan in one corner, and I closed off the other corner, with drawers on each side (I am thrilled with the way that worked out!). I also replaced diagonal upper cabinets with easy reach uppers, and I love those too.

I'm impressed with the different ideas you've had so far - you are obviously not stuck on anything specific yet, which is wonderful. I'm sure you'll get lots of good ideas here.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Another idea.

Move (and maybe shorten) the wall b/w dining and kitchen towards the DR a little (leave 9' for DR) and have the fridge + a small cab for landing there, and have an L at the left and bottom wall. Have 2 doorways to the FR.

I think 9' section of the DR would be fine with a bench/window seat.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 2:09PM
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michey1st_gw Zone 7

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of opening up that wall entirely, GauchoGordo! I've even mocked it up and the sight lines would be AMAZING. I am quite smitten! Now, the trick will be to figure out how to phase a change like that in little by little because otherwise, it will be years before we can afford to tackle it in one fell swoop, and the kitchen in its current state is very challenging to work in. I'll have a chat with my contractor to see what he thinks costs may look like with a few different scenarios.

Annkh, we will have access to the ceiling from the basement (right now, it's those weird 60's tiles that are cobbled together like a puzzle), but i have hopes to replace them with removable drop ceiling tiles, so i'm there with you! And thank you for your insight on corner cabinets. At first I was a nonbeliever, but after doing some plans and seeing how much there is to gain by going all drawers, I'm sold. I just wish Ikea had better corner upper cabinet options (Sena, thank you for taking the time to mock that up for me! I don't think there is space to put a normal fridge on that wall -- what is there currently is only 15" deep, and that would have to double to keep the kitchen walkway clear, which means the dining room shrinks accordingly =( I love my house, but oh, how I wish I had an extra foot or 2 in any one direction, lol!

I think the new plan is to work towards something close to Layout 2 with an eye towards eventually opening up the wall to get a peninsula. The good part about this is, if my 33" fridge conks out between now and when we're getting down to remodel business, I know I can just get rid of that dumb column, block off that wall, run some electrical and and get my 36" wide fancy dancy french door fridge with very little impact to the existing cabinetry! It won't be pretty, but to anyone other than you guys, nobody will probably notice, lol. That's actually quite a relief!

Now I get to come up with 39487293487 more cabinet permutations for you to put through the ringer (in a good way!) and help me get to my final final vision! Thank you sooooo much!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 9:36PM
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