unused living room to dining room

luv2renovateJanuary 5, 2011

I am a long time lurker, first time poster, please forgive my mess ups.

This is our current layout, and we hate it.

We would like to turn our unused formal living room (we have an enormous family room) into a much needed dining room.

Would it be weird to enter the front door, and be in the dining room? ( the house is a ranch style,or rambler)

Our plans are: Change the doorway to the family room (from kitchen)to the living room, and give back the space to the kitchen.

This way when you enter the front door you are in the future dining room, but it leads you to the family room.

We want to remove the load bearing wall That seperates kitchen and unused living room make the kitchen and future dining room open.

I have seen soooo many wonderful kitchens on here, and I see potential in our home, but am struggling with plans. My husband is nervous about resale, me... not so much. I have a couple of plans to post, but i really need feedback on this unused space becoming a dining room. Thanks!!!!

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Could you repost the floor plan after darkening the lines and words?

Is it possible to move the front door to the other end of the porch so that you can move people into the non-food rooms more efficiently? And can you make a really welcoming proper entry there, perhaps stealing from old kitchen or old living room? If not, you need to work out a good, efficient route from existing front door to back of house that doesn't interrupt kitchen activities. You don't want the kitchen to continue to be a corridor to everywhere else.

Your conundrum reminds me of our house, a 1954 tract house with screwy floorplan of kitchen at front and living room at back. Years ago I shut down the old tiny living room-dining room (at back of original house) and turned it into a proper dining room and have always loved it and never regretted it. The room is always ready for guests or a meal with just family and there is display space for my stuff, since I'm the queen of the table settings. Meals in that room define our lives in this house--gracious, separated from the bustle of outside life, special, and unhurried. We added a wing onto the back behind garage for a non-formal living room, perhaps something like your family room.

We have now added a front lobby where there's a new coat closet [hooray!]. Then the main route skims to back of house along opening to dining room, then you go up half flight of stairs to living room. Odd, but then, a view of a lake and park is in back yard so the living room is very pleasant. We've expanded the old cramped kitchen by going forward--new kitchen rides alongside new entry area, so I suppose you could say you enter into our kitchen, if you take a left from the closet area.

Yes, it's odd. Not sure how it affects resale but then, the twice-remodeled house is much better than it was originally, since the thing was clearly designed by a drunken committee. Of men.
No matter what you decide, I'm cheering for you. Glad to meet another person who has a use for a real dining room.--F

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 9:16PM
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I changed my living room into a dining room, and then combined my dining room and kitchen with a small garage into a greatroom/kitchen. The new dining room has plenty of space for the normal table and hutch, but also space for quiet sitting and bookshelves. We used it for the holidays and love it.

If the unused room that you have is large enough, you can position the table so that it is not directly in front of the door and then it might not feel like you entered right into the dining room. You also could change the flooring so that a narrow strip of wood or carpet makes it feel like a hallway.

I wouldn't hesitate to convert the space. I would suggest going cautiously into removing the supporting wall though. We removed one and it was very painful (after months of construction they found vents everywhere in that wall). We also ended up with lower headers and a larger column than we had anticipated. This might not be as big a concern with a ranch style house, but make sure you know what is in those walls and how they plan to support the roof before they begin anything. Our contractor "changed course" on us - ugh.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 9:43PM
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Thanks for the reply. I really really want a large dining room for everyday dinners, and the special occasion dinners.

I do believe our house is also a tract home, every other one in the hood resembles the same floorplan. How boring!!!
Our family generally eats dinner at the dinner table together, and I am greatful for that. WE both grew up that way, and want to continue this with our kids. It is nice to hear other kids say, "wow you eat at the table... together?!" I will repost my current layout and the layout I wish for.
Please let me hear it all!! the good and bad. Thank you!!!!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 9:45PM
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hope this works!! I tried to darken the lines.
This is what we have

and this is what I am dreaming of

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 10:50PM
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Whoops, forgot to resize, I really need to learn how to use design software.
Couple of things... The windows and doors are new, as is the siding. DH says, avoid these things and all will be good. Whatever... The front porch is stacked stone or something that is attractive and different than all the other homes. I like different.
So, if possible I would like to leave the front door in place, but would a foyer or some sort of entryway be useful as a buffer to the future dining room? the rooms are fairly large for a ranch style and I think I could create a foyer and still have a decent size dining room.
I believe it would be a big enough room, that if the room had to return to formal living status, it could.
Wow, this is so hard to wrap my brain around, and DH is not helpful with design, but can swing a mean hammer.
He thought the house was fine when we bought it. Is that normal?? I walk into any house and immediately see things that I would change to make it mine. We have lived here 3 years, and are 1 1/2 years before this remodel. I want to do it right and make it all work together. Thank you!!!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 11:08PM
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My niece had an under used living room and a beautiful dining room set that didn't fit well into her small dining room. With our urging, she turned the living room into a dining room and the dining room into a cozy library. She and her family use their large family room for everything. It works well for them.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 11:14PM
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Wow...you are describing my house...we also have a family room off to the side (although ours runs lengthwise from the kitchen and is not also off the living room (our garage is to the right side of our living room). We even have our front door, front window, hallway to bedrooms, kitchen, backyard slider and backyard as you describe yours. The only differences is that when you enter the front door, you are in an entry way. There is a wide door like opening separating this entryway from our living room. The entry way leads to the kitchen dining area and kitchen very similar to yours (or you can take a left into the rest of the house). Also, you can walk through our living room and go thru another doorway to the family room. (So you can run circles thru the living room, into the family room, into the kitchen, into the entryway, and back into the living room. And we have a fireplace against the far wall in the living room (next to the garage).

Anyway, our kitchen dining area (like yours) is too small for a dining area. We moved our 8 foot dining table into our unused living room. I think it works well since we can easily get to the kitchen too. We use our dining room table for meals and homework. We love it. It is a very large festive room to host holiday dinners and is not full of the day to day family room clutter and tv. We love it!

We are remodeling our kitchen now, adding more cabinetry along the right side of the kitchen dining area, putting a proper overhang on our kitchen peninsula for breakfast dining. We are leaving our kitchen layout pretty much as is.

Your plan to make the kitchen/dining room into a "great room" is also a wonderful idea. People tend to always end up in the kitchen/dining area whether for parties or a casual cup of coffee so I don't see any problem with this being the first thing you see when you walk into a house.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 11:21PM
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I've seen many upscale homes with the dining room in front...you can separate the "foyer" with a piece of furniture, or a long, counter-height cabinet that doesn't block the view of the room, but adds beauty and storage!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 11:54PM
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I was going to say that I know people who have that setup and yes, it's weird, but given your plan, you just need to relabel it.

Call the room you enter the Great Room and the one that's two steps down the Media Room (I'm assuming that's where the TV is). Because the rooms don't look weird.

Add a little soft seating. A couple of small arm chairs or a bench under the front window. That proves it's a "great room"

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 11:55PM
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I don't think it would be weird especially if you add an architectural feature that sets the room off from your entryway. I actually have a similar set up with my front entry. We do not have a foyer so our front door opens directly into the front room of our house, which originally was designed to be the one and only living space. We chose to add a family room onto the back of our house and turn that front room into a formal dining room (we have an informal dining space to the side of our kitchen). Our front room is similar in length to yours (23') but ours is wider - it's about 15' deep. However, yours would probably feel cozier. I feel like ours is too big with a bit of wasted space.

While we haven't ever added any architectural features to the front entry to make any sort of foyer space, I would like to in the future. Here are a couple of inspirational pictures I saved to give me some ideas as to how we could do that. While two of the pictures don't show entry ways, they do show half walls with columns that would look nice as a divider b/w the dining area and your entry way. You could even do shelving w/baskets to store items like shoes, hats, gloves, umbrellas, etc if needed.

Your living room is bigger than this so it wouldn't look as crowded but here is a half-wall.

I like the moulding at the top in this one - if you are taking out the wall in the kitchen b/w the two rooms, you could just have one of these walls but have it extend further into the room from the front door to create the entryway.

And here is another - I love this one with the arch but you could just have one of the walls and have the column extended up to the ceiling.

FWIW, I have ample "walkway" space when entering the house from the door to the back of the house where my kitchen is such that the table is pretty far over to the side when you enter the house. Even when I have both leaves in the table, it still doesn't crowd the "entry area" at all - in fact, the room is so big that I actually use part of it as a makeshift office (I use an armoire so keep it all closed up when not in use) as well as two upholstered conversation chairs. However, as I said, my room is 15' deep so it works, but I just wanted to give you an idea that b/c your room is 23' wide, I think you can easily set the space off to the right as a dining area and still create an entryway that isn't intrusive.

Hope some of this information is helpful (I normally just lurk here!).

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 9:06AM
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Thank you all for posting replies, and the pictures help DH understand what I am taling about. I had a vision just come to life with all your pictures.

To katsmah... I love the library idea, we are avid readers, and the collection is huge. Great idea!!

To Itsallaboutthefood... could you post some pics of what you are doing to your kitchen? I am really wanting to open it up, but if I saw the right design, I might change my mind.

To dar5... I thought i had seen the same in many newer homes, and then my DB and DSIL built a home with a dining room in the front, actually it looks more like a den because it is closed in from the rest of the house, and has french doors. I love their house, but I don't like the closed in feeling of 3 walls and french doors. But I like the idea of comparing my home to an upscale home. hehehe!!

To plllog.... Thank you! I think that is exactly what i would change the room names to, and yes the family room is where the tv is and will stay. I love the idea of seating under the window. The list keeps getting longer!!!!

To fourkids.... Thank you for the pics!!!! this helps tremendously, I love the entryway idea of something to seperate the front door from the actual dining room. I do think that I can make a 6 foot wide entryway, and still have a super size dining room. The space is 23 feet x almost 12 feet. What do you think? I really have never had a formal dining area, always just a space at the end of a kitchen for a table. We moved our table into this space, and we love it!!!!

Please keep posting, the more my DH sees, the more he will want to make these changes!!!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 10:50AM
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I have seen many homes where you enter through/past the dining area. This is particularly true with a ranch setup.

I also agree it is a matter of labels. I would perhaps not build in anything that screams "dining room" like a wall-sized server. But that doesn't sound like what you plan anyway.

It is true that the trend is to phase out a formal separate "dining room" in the latest house plans. But what you're planning looks to be taking down the wall and putting a dining table in the now-unlabeled adjoining space you've opened up. That's not the same as a "dining room".

If you are concerned about resale, think of how you could "stage" or decorate the space back to look like a living room/great room before you sold it. It's probably not that hard. A big sofa, back turned toward the kitchen, a couple of chairs, backs toward the door, and you've reclaimed the space again. The kids play, watch TV, work on the computer in that room while the parents cook -- I think that's very appealing to people. It's not wasted. It might even make the house more desirable.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 11:14AM
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Thank you gowlery!! I guess your right, it wouldn't really be a dining room, more of an area. I do agree that most families now a days like open concept, due to the busy lifestyle, ours included.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 11:28AM
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I love formal dining rooms, and see nothing wrong with repurposing a space for that use.

Looking at your plan, I did have one concern. I would make little cut-outs to scale of your dining room furniture and put it in place to see how traffic would flow around it from the new family room door to the kitchen. I would assume there will be lots of traveling between those spaces and I would just want to make sure it isn't awkward. I would consider playing around with other layouts that give an open feel to your new dining space, but still keep the entrance in or closer to the kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 11:46AM
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I think whatever you do, it wouldn't hurt to define the entryway if you think it suits your lifestyle. Whether you use that space for dining, as a library, as a great room, having the door way set off from the space in the type of home you have will be a nice feature. I have always hated that when you enter my house, boom, you are in the living space of the house. Fortunately, we live in a neighborhood where the houses are all completely different so not having a foyer isn't necessarily strange like it would be in a subdivision where all the houses have similar architecture w/foyers, etc.

That being said, yes, if the room is 23 x 12, I think you would have plenty of room for a dining table. Like I said, my space is 23 x 15, on on side of the room (where the front door is), there is an L-shaped bump out into the room that houses the coat closet and stairs to basement so the usable space is actually smaller. I just measured and the side of the room where our table is 10 x 15, but there is a bay window on the side that is about 2 x 3. I have a china cabinet on one wall and the table runs parallel to the front of the house. Running parallel to the table, there is about 5' of space on one side of the table and 4' on the other, making it more than adequate to move around. Even with your width being 3' less, I think you would still have plenty of room.

The downside I see with you closing off the door in the kitchen and using the one in the living space is that you will constantly have to walk around the table to get to the family room. If it were me, I think I'd prefer having the entry to the family room closer to the kitchen space. If you could redesign the functionality of your kitchen such you are using the space on the left side of your kitchen (where your table currently is), that would be preferable to me. But hey, I'm not a designer so what do I know? I just know that for me personally (I have four young kids), I'd rather have quick access to and from the family room. My kids are constantly coming into the kitchen for a drink or trying to talk to me while I'm cooking, and it would be much harder with the door so far away from the prep area of the kitchen. THat furnace/attic closet are in the way darn it - that would be the perfect spot for the door to the family room!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 12:01PM
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If this were mine I would do it. But I would arrange the kitchen a little differently.

I would make the island deeper and move the sink and dishwasher to the island. You can have cabinets under the seating side with roll out shelves to store stuff you don't use daily.

I would leave the stove on the outside wall and have that run of cabinets end at the wall like it is now. (No cabinets on the family room wall.) You will have full access to the last cabinet by the wall (that was a corner cabinet) to make up for cabinets I removed. :)

I would move the fridge over to the laundry room wall and the rest of that wall would be a sheetrocked reach-in pantry with regular doors (not wood like your cabinets). Take it all the way to the end of laundry room wall. Maybe you could even recess the back of the fridge into the laundry room (can't tell how big that room is) so you don't have to block the view to the patio doors because of the depth of the fridge/pantry.

I would leave the doorway to the family room in the kitchen as well as the one you added in the new dining room.

You are going to be surprised how much larger your new dining room feels once you remove the wall to the kitchen so you will definitely have room for a larger island.

It's your kitchen so do what works for you but like I said, if it was mine that's what I would do.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 12:05PM
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It took me forever to write and post mine because I'm working too but it seems like others thought about losing the door from the kitchen to the family room.

Have you thought about moving the furnace? It's kind of the elephant in the room. My sister remodeled her kitchen and hers was right between the stove and pantry in her galley kitchen and kept her from having a stunning remodel. She ended up moving it. I can't remember now how much it cost but it was worth it to her.

I also remember my dad having the outside unit of his air conditioner moved because it was right next to the patio area and made so much noise and heat that it was difficult to entertain out there.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 12:19PM
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There are a lot of homes in my subdivision where the dining room is right off the front door. If it was my house, I would move the DR to the front of the house too.

Fourkids4us beat me to it - I was going to suggest putting a half wall to define the entryway better. Depending on what kind of flooring you are going to do, you can have different flooring in the entryway space to further define it.

I also agree with sundownr about moving the furnace if you can. Perhaps it can be moved over by the laundry room?

I also am not keen on the stove, dishwasher and sink right in a row. I like putting the refrigerator on the wall where the laundry room is. I would then move the stove to where the refrigerator was. Leave the sink and dishwasher where they are, with the sink under the window. Or, put the stove on the same wall as the refrigerator.

And FWIW, my DH also never sees the reason to change anything. We've lived in our house nearly 9 years and we have never done anything to the kitchen. The layout is fine for us fortunately, just needs some updating. DH sees no reason to do any updating, so maybe leaving well enough alone is just one of those testosterone things I will never understand. I, like you, always see the possibilities on how to make things better and more functional.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 12:31PM
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Here is a kitchen plan...it's not the best since it does not have dimensions or details. It is also "upside down" in that the backyard is at the bottom of the page and the opening to the front door entry is at the top right. The kitchen space is 12.5 feet by 19 feet. The sliding door is 7 feet. We have an existing pantry closet shown at the middle top with the fridge to the left of it. The sink and dishwasher is front of the backyard window to the left of the sliding door.

You can see the counter top overhang which we are adding to the peninsula which is 24" away from the sliding door. I think I will have room for 3 stools. We are putting an undercounter wine cooler in the 24" space between the slider and the overhang. Easily accessible from the backyard and when sitting and hanging out in the kitchen keeping the cook company.

There is a lot of unused space in the old "breakfast dining area" but this is a main thoroughfare in our house from the front door to our backyard so we wanted to keep it clear. We are adding cabinets on the right side...a 12" deep x36" wide bookcase, two 36" x 18" pantry cabinets (we are using vanity cabinets actually since the come in 18" deep...kitchen cabinets normally come 12" deep or 24" deep standard), and another 12" x 36" bookcase next to the backyard slider (this one has a cupboard on the bottom).

We are keeping our layout pretty much the same and not knocking down walls etc to save expense.

I'll see if I can post a better picture of my layout tonight.

Here is a link that might be useful: my kitchen plan

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 12:38PM
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I think 4kids hit it with a short half height entry wall by the front door. It would be pretty and help set the stage.

I'd leave the door to the family room from the kitchen and eliminate the corner cab by running that wall of cabs to the end and not turning the corner. You could make the doorway narrower, but I would not take it out completely. If you need more cabs, make your island 9 feet instead.

I think the new plan would work great and I love my last house's open concept so much, we are currently doing it to the one we are in. It makes entertaining so much nicer and the feel of the house bigger and lighter.

Your dh will love it when he sees it come to life!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 2:19PM
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My dining room is 10' x 15' and it is a great size. It will fit a table for 10-12 and still has room for a buffet. So by those measurements you have plenty of room for a dining room and a seperate front entrance which would be 8' wide. The idea of a half wall that you could make maybe 6'long and 2'wide would allow a place for keys, mail etc and would also be wide enough that you could put storage it in either from the DR side or the front entry side or a combination of the two. In our area, we have a lot of $1.5 million homes (I don't live in one) and many of them have DR at the front entrance. I think that it's an upscale look. Go for it.

I will echo the others concerns about moving the entry from the family room into the kitchen and moving it down to be off of the dining room. If moving the furnace is an option -great - but failing that I would shorten the counter run and put the entry right where the closet/furnace is (at the kitchen end) and make your island longer to give more storage. It looks like you are trying to line up your island with the end of the counter but I wouldn't worry about that as the other side is open to an open area. You have 6' (I think) between the island as currently designed and the storage along the wall and so the island can easily be extended. The entry doesn't have to be 4' as previously, you could just do 3' if you wanted. You have lots of space and lots of ideas now and I think you will wind up a great looking living area.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 2:56PM
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Thank you!! Thank you!! such great info and ideas.

So, I will definitely be looking at more entryway ideas!!!

Next on the list.. the doorway
The problems with the doorway in kitchen to family room staying in the same place, is my kids and husband invading my cooking space. Maybe its just the current plan, but i don't like the stove being so far from the sink (picture a very messy person when cooking).
However, I too, agree that it is a valuable assest to have access to both spaces.
Definitely going to play with making the current doorway smaller, and still adding a second in the front room. Hey 2 is always better than 1, right?!

Would a 9 foot long island be too intrusive to a patio sliding door? or not... since that area is going to remain very open. We too use that area as a main travel path from front door to back deck and pool.

A couple of the suggestions were to move the fridge to the laundry room wall, would that be a long stretch from one side of kitchen to other (the distance is 21 feet end to end)

I will have to agree with you all about the furnace being an elephant! but it was just installed, and I would hate to see the look on my DH face when I say, ''but the folks at gardenweb said it has to go'', he would then tell me where to go, or how to get a new husband, and all the other pleasant comments that go along with marriage and remodels.
So... for now... let's pretend it cant move.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 3:24PM
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We had a very similar layout (post-remodel) in our last home, a 1960 rancher tract home. The room you entered from the front door was a 15' deep x 20' long rectangle, with the front door in the lower left corner, same as yours. Our hall was also in the same spot as yours. Across from the front door, the wall extended about 5' from where the hall started, then there was a standard 36" door opening into the kitchen, then a very narrow strip of wall before a 5' wide pass-thru between the kitchen and the front room. Our kitchen was 12'x12' (part of a bedroom took up the space you have as the far left side of your kitchen). That front room was the only public room when we bought the house, and was supposed to hold both living room furniture and a small dinette! We added on a 22'x14' family room in the same spot where you have yours, and turned the front room into the formal dining room, with a large 10'x4' table, china hutch and low buffet (placed under the pass-thru window). The layout worked very well for us, and our house had two offers within 1 week of listing it. (What buyers cared about was the fully remodeled kitchen and baths and nice flooring; they could always re-purpose the rooms as they desired.)

We had a 4' wide arched opening between kitchen and dining room and a 6' arched opening between dining room and family room (replacing a slider from when the family room was a patio). We loved that you could enter any of the 3 rooms directly from the other 2. The opening from kitchen to family room was so convenient for grabbing a snack or keeping track of our daughter while DH and I cooked. Our new house has no opening between the kitchen and the living/family room and I hate it. We are taking down a wall when we re-do the kitchen this year.

I worried about having the front door in the dining room, but it turned out fine. We found some great looking dining room furniture on clearance, so it made a good first impression. We placed a sofa table that matched our dining room furniture on the wall directly opposite the front door with a framed mirror above it, to try to create an entry-way feel. The table and chairs started about 5-6' from the left side of the room, so they did not crowd the entry.

Our kitchen was set up as an L, with the corner where you have your slider to the patio. We left the load bearing wall between the kitchen and front room in place to cut costs, and because we liked having a bit of separation (with easy access) between the kitchen and dining room. We had a 7' long counter on that wall under the pass-thru, which housed an UC wine fridge and room for 2 stools.

As others have advised, I would recommend leaving a doorway between kitchen and family room. I would end the run of cabinets on the top wall at the wall to the family room to avoid a corner, then a doorway to the family room just past the corner, and then another short run of cabinets on the wall between kitchen and family room. Alternatively, instead of a completely free-standing island, you could have a longer and wider peninsula come out from the lower right wall of the kitchen, with stools on the dining room side and storage and standing work space on the other two sides. You could also leave the load bearing wall like we did and put standard counters and cabinets on that wall and skip the island.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 6:07PM
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Don't measure the distance of the fridge from one side of the kitchen to the other. Measure it from where you are going to be doing most of your prep work from and the stove. Can you, if you were to make your island a little longer, put a prep sink in the island ? If you did that, the fridge would be really close to your prep area and then that would be right across from your stove. - a nice little cooking area. If you were going to prep on the right side of the sink then yes, it might be a little far.

Having said that - how busy a thorough fare is that aisle to the sliding glass doors? Maybe having your fridge there might cause you some trouble with people walking through a prep zone. Also, analyzing how busy that aisle is will show you how long you can make your island. Maybe set up some chairs with their backs creating an aisle, taking into account the depth of your storage (or fridge) on the laundry room wall and different lengths of the island and see what is comfortable.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 6:11PM
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luv2renovate, I think the traffic pattern will change once you open up the kitchen. They may still use the same door but they will walk on the seating side of the island and in front of where you have the fridge on your plans. Or through the new dining room.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 6:31PM
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Luv2- I think your idea is wonderful, putting the dining room in front and removing the wall, to open up your space :)

I just have a couple of questions. Do you need to put a wall at the end of the kitchen (by the pantry/storage) for the other end of the beam, to replace the load bearing wall?

Can you change the sliding door or window? Is this in the budget? You'd have a lot more space in the kitchen, if you could replace the slider with a single french door. It would also make better use of that storage wall, against the laundry.

If you open up the stairs to the front (while keeping the kitchen stairs) you'll have a great flow through the rooms...and not as much traffic through your kitchen. You're also rearranging your appliances, so people won't be walking through your work area.

You've received some wonderful advice, but I think if you let us know what you can change and what you cannot, it will give everyone a better idea of the possibilities :)

While this may not work...this is one idea. It's a little shaky (new at Paint program) but hopefully you can see it's the pantry and fridge behind the french door, to the deck. The microwave and a prep sink could go on this wall, too, making it a great snack area for the kids.

The range is between two 32" windows (great focal point from the dining room) with storage and prep along the wall to the stairs. As suggested earlier, the dishwasher, sink and trash are now in the island. I added a little more depth to the island, for the stools, with the sink and other cabinetry.

On the other side of the stairs, is a small desk area. This could be many other things, but a message area/work space is always nice, in the kitchen. The full wall, opposite the entry, is a nice place for a small table with mirror above.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 8:22PM
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luv2renovate - You really got alot of good post here, good luck with your project. I have a setup almost like yours, especially thinking of using front room as a dining room.
I will start a post about Dining Rooms at Front Entrance & maybe we could get some ideas and maybe some pics.

lavender - I really like the layout plan that you posted.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 10:21PM
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I'm sure that you have noticed/considered this so you know that when you open your front door for guests etc. that your kitchen will now be open to all who enter your house. Not everyone is comfortable with that. (the homeowner not the guest)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 10:45PM
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I would hesitate to open the kitchen to the front door. However, almost every house here in Phoenix has a foyer with a dining room on side and then either a living room or a study on the other.

What about something like this?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 8:25AM
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This is really long. So thanks for reading.

Ok what I thought was going to be a simple '' oh, we'll just nock out this wall and open it up"" has turned into soooo many FABULOUS ideas, I don't know how to chose.

You all are AMAZING at what you do. Thank you!! I have plenty of time to think about it, we aren't going to renovate this until we know exactly what we want.
This is a total diy job. We are very experienced diy'ers. (I don't think that is always a good thing) So, if something needs moved to gain better flow, then unfortunately, we will do it. Except that dang furnace!! p.s my DH is an HVAC guy!!! he did that!!

He asked me what I thought of closing the kitchen entrance and putting in cabinetry on the family room side, with a sink and small fridge for drinks and such. That idea is growing on me.
We live in our family room, except to eat and homework at the dining room table, which is always a family affair. (I am a full-time nursing student, daughter is in high school, and son is 2nd grader.)
That would remedy the ""I just want to get a drink!!"" problem I have with the walkway to the kitchen, while I'm cooking.

I am greatful for all of the advice, and choices that are being presented!!!!
Here is what I think I know I want: some type of entry seperation, I love this!
(I forgot to put it in my drawing that there is a smallish coat closet by the front door, I will repost a picture including that closet.It's location(the wall behind opened front door at top by hallway to bedrooms) wont affect any type of entry,thank goodness) Except lavender lass idea.

I would love a massive island, that doubles as and eating area for kids on holidays, or a buffet for cookouts,but not sure how big I can go. I loved the big island in my last house. I miss it dearly. It had no sink or anything, just an island with cabinetry.

I have stewed over the problem of entering the front door and being able to see a mess in the kitchen, and I realized that isn't going to be a problem for me, but what about the next gal, right?! My father suggesting a tiered island or 2 level island, I don't like'em. So that means I MUST keep my kitchen clean. whatever...

My current table (i plan to keep) is 72''x42'' fully extended, seats 6, can squeeze 8. I don't have any other furniture for the dining room, we've never had any space for it. This might just change. YAH!!!!

We are an eat at home every meal family of 4, (every other weekend we add 1 teenage garbage disposal). As well as our very large extended families, that I would love to be able to include for birthday dinners and holidays.
The DH loves to experiment healthy ways of cooking, (which we don't always enjoy, hehehe) I like to cook, especially bake cakes, (my weakeness), And our teenage daughter likes to dabble. The youngest is 7 and he pretty much just thinks it a fast food joint. We insist that our kids set the table for dinner and also help to completely clean up after dinner. They are wonderful about this. But it becomes so crazy in our smallish footprint (it's not really smallish, I'm just a person who has to drag out everything I need and have it handy) and I really need to make it a great environment to keep everyone wanting to cook, just not in my area. If you know what i mean.

As for the load wall, we aren't 100% sure on which way we are going to do it yet. I kinda like the idea of a skinny wall and a header running to the other side, for the decorating aspect ( i have read way to many threads searching for help on this subject of open concept rooms.) This way I can paint each room differently if I choose.
But there is always the possiblity my DH may want to go up in the attic and do it that way.

As for the windows and exterior doors, they are all new, as is the siding on the house, but I won't say that they cant be changed yet. Except the 8' window in the future dining room, it matches the front windows in the family room and these are all street side.
Thank you all again for your time and ideas!!!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 12:04PM
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I also like your idea of allowing the front door to open into an open dining area. It's a good one. For me, though, having the kitchen in full view beyond would be a deal breaker.

I do like Houseful's design, including the chair in the corner, hopefully nice and cushy, to make it into good living space too. (Although, definitely your new doorway into the FR and the great busy-living circulation it'll create is a must.)

The thought I had, though, keeping the nice island layout of Lavender Lass's design, would be to keep the middle portion of the bearing wall, roughly island long, to screen the messy work area and allow traffic to flow in a circle between rooms. Plus, also keep the end pieces of wall from LL's design, which would extend barely past the cabinets on those walls to frame limited views into the kitchen space beyond.

We have a similar wall between dining and living rooms, which keeps that nice open feeling, making each space feel large and yet allowing each its own mood and functions.

With this design, I just wouldn't see a need to break up the space with a little knee wall or divider to designate an entry area. One would enter a pretty, spacious room with dining to the side (easy to keep looking nice), maybe a good piece of art on the wall ahead, and inviting but discrete glimpses into the family room and kitchen and on out into the garden. Replacing the slider with a French door would probably be a good idea for the reasons mentioned, as well.

Hope something here helps set off or firm up some notions. :)

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 12:36PM
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Angel- Thanks! I wish I was more talented with the paint program, but I'm glad the plan was readable :)

Luv2- Without seeing the layout of your family room, this is just a 'wild idea' but, given some of the concerns about the open kitchen from the front door...and other layout factors...have you ever considered...

Switching the kitchen/dining areas with the family room? I like the idea of the two sets of stairs...what if they were on either side of a huge fireplace, maybe with a flat screen TV over it? You have the lovely 8' window (which is also in the family room, now, correct?) and the sliders to the deck. You'd have plenty of room for lots of comfortable furniture, maybe some bookcases, a bigger window where the sink is now...maybe a window seat? It's a great space!

The front stairs would lead to the dining room, the back stairs to the kitchen. No more walking through the kitchen to get to the family room. It would be easy to incorporate the furnace room into the kitchen layout (I'm assuming similar dimensions to the current kitchen/dining area) and you still have access to the back. I also like that the door to the back and the stairs are on the same side of the room, so less traveling through the kitchen to reach these two areas.

You would now have a front door that leads into the family room (with fireplace?) great for resale and a lovely kitchen/dining room, just a few steps away. Would this work? Is it even a possibility? :)

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 1:36PM
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I really like Houseful's design, except I think you need an entry to the family room from the dining room so people do not need to go through the kitchen to get to the FM. You could still do shelves or benches, or shelves above benches on each side of the doorway. The room divider is optional, depending on if you feel you need that separation. You could hang nice artwork on each side of it, or maybe do an in-wall fountain or fireplace visible from both sides.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 1:54PM
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luv2renovate - I moved my dining room to the front entrance this weekend. I'm going to try it this way for awhile to see how I like it. I will try to post pic. Good luck with yours.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 5:13PM
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