Kitchen layout help please!

isixpackuJanuary 24, 2014

Hi everyone. I have been lurking for a couple of weeks on the kitchen forum after making may way here from lurking on the appliance forum. I have seen how helpful you all are, and I would love some feedback on three layouts we received from our KD.

To give you some background, we are a family of six (4 kids - 17, 5, 2.5, 8 months), and we moved into this house this summer. I cook 6-7 nights a week. I am a good cook, and I enjoy cooking when I don't have kids crying while I am cooking dinner, which seems to be rare the past several years since right before dinner time is the witching hour. ;-)

The kitchen in this house has a terrible layout - the refrigerator opens into the island, the wall ovens open into the island and you have to stand to the side of the oven to put things in and take things out of the oven, the dishwasher opens into the island, and we are constantly walking circles around the island to get where we need to go when we are working in the kitchen. It seems like there is alway something or someone blocking a walk path. I also despise the granite color, the electric cooktop with recirculating hood that is 22" off the cooktop, and the cabinet color isn't my favorite. We had planned on just living with the kitchen the way it is for 10 years or so until we were ready to remodel.

However, right before Christmas my husband won a $10,000 gift certificate to a local appliance place through a contest. My husband thought it was joke when he got he phone call, but it wasn't! In the past month I have been feverishly looking into appliances and our installation options. We have to make appliance decisions by the end of January or we forfeit the value of the certificate. Talk about pressure.

We had plumbers and hvac guys come out to see what it would take to install a gas cooktop and proper vent hood ($3500+ appliances), and an electrician to look at running a 220 volt circuit for an induction cooktop ($3000+appliances). I also discovered that our cabinets are too close to where the gas cooktop would be and we would have to do cabinet work to be able to install one. Instead of throwing a little bit of money at the kitchen to slightly improve it, we have decided that we are going to do our remodel now, and take advantage of being able to live with a new and improved kitchen for the next 20+ years.

Our kitchen is kind of difficult because there are lots of doors and hallways that break up the kitchen. There is a door to the outside, a door to a very short hallway that leads to a powder bath and under stair storage, a door that leads into the dining room and living room, and an opening that leads to the back stairs, double door closet pantry, garage, and laundry room.

We hired a KD to help us come up with a better layout, and she came up with three options. I have included these layouts and pictures of what the kitchen currently looks like.

Option A

Option B

Option C

View of kitchen from family room

View of kitchen from breakfast nook (dining/living room in background)

View towards back of the house

View towards family room

View towards pantry/garage/laundry room/back stairs

We like the layout labelled "A" the best. I really want to have a place for the kids to sit and do homework, projects, or color while I am working in the kitchen. This option give the most room to do that and I like how the range top is on the wall by itself.

However, I feel like there might be some improvements to this design or one of the other designs that will make them better. Plus I am not sure what I think of the refrigerator (we have an LG french door fridge we plan on keeping) being next to the double oven. I am contemplating closing the door to the dining room to have more wall space and be able to split up the refrigerator and ovens but there are some definite negatives to that option. We are able to access the dining room by walking around the curved wall on which the double oven and refrigerator are located but it would be a little out of the way. Also, the dining room and living room are really one giant playroom right now, and I wouldn't have line of sight with the kids while I was in the kitchen. The other negative is that the back of our house is darker than the front of the house due to tree coverage and a large pergola at the back of the house so we would be losing some natural light by closing that doorway.

I would love to hear any feedback you all have on the layouts. This all has been an extreme whirlwind, and I am normally the over researcher and planner type. Some outside perspective would be very helpful!

This post was edited by isixpacku on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 0:45

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I may be getting squinty but your drawings and the scale of the pics seem somehow off to me. The drawings look larger than the pics.

I prefer Option C. I think the island in the other plan is unworkably too-big. And I'm not fond of diagonal islands.

But in C, I am not happy with the distance you have between wall oven and range top. I constantly use both appliances to cook things moving a pot from one to the other and I don't like traipsing across my kitchen holding a hot pan. May I suggest a range with an oven - with a broiler - for this reason? The other advantage is that you will keep any smelly, smokey, greasy cooking in that oven directly under your vent hood.

If you bake a lot a second oven over on the fridge wall could be mainly devoted to baking stuff. I have never been offended by the smell of gingerbread baking, though garlicky shrimp cooked under my broiler is not something I want to smell the next morning. You could have a single wall oven, or even one under the counter for extra counter top space for a baking station above.

My second reason for suggesting this is that I think you should always have convenient, very close by plunk space at an oven. I can't tell you the number times I've grabbed something from the oven and found it was hotter than I thought, or the towel was wet, or something and I needed to set that puppy down immediately. Having to reach around the fridge is too far, IMO. Yet, the frdge also needs convenient counter space for easy taking stuff out and reloading it..

I'm sure you'll get more useful and excellent advice from others. Lucky you to win 10K of appliances - it's everybody's dream come true.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 12:08AM
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Liriodendron - thanks for the feedback. I agree the drawings and the scale of the pictures seem off somehow. The drawings are to scale though.

We have double ovens that are probably about 5-7 years old that we plan on keeping because they work okay. I had looked at a range and a wall oven in case we decided to replace the ovens and were okay with a range and our KD steered us away from that option. Plus with little kids I am not wild about low ovens.

Your comment about having counter space near the oven is a great one. I definitely have needed to plunk something down a lot more quickly that I expected in the past. We will take that into consideration.

What makes you think the island is too big in the other options? I was playing around with the drawings today and would definitely prefer to have a rectangular island. I think if the island was smaller and the door to the outside was changed so that it opens out instead of in, a rectangular island could work.

Thanks again for the feedback.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 11:06PM
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I don't really care for any of the options. Option A has a poorly placed dishwasher and cleanup sink. When cleanup is opposite the main cooking area, it works ok WHEN the aisle is about 60". People on both sides can carryout what they need to do without running into each other too much. When the aisle is smaller, it doesn't work well for a larger family. The dishwasher should never be placed where the door opens into a narrower aisle between the sink and refrigerator.

Plus when seating is in a inward circle like that, all of the stools run into each other. You can try this on paper by cutting out paper doll chairs that are about 2' by 2'-2'6" I'm not sure where you'd keep the dishes.

Option "C" is a lotta walking (except to the dining room) for most tasks + there's that dishwasher again. Sometimes, people call that a roller skate kitchen because it's a bit over 14' for a cuppa milk from the prep area, and a bit over 16' to the ovens. Surprisingly, this doesn't bother highly organized cooks, but it may bother you. It would bother me.

Also people coming in from the garage are channeled into the dining room or around Cape Horn and into the family room.

And then there's B. The problem here is the aisle between cleanup and cooktop doubles as a traffic hallway for people going to/from the garage/family room/dining room and likely also those heading for the refrigerator. The aisles aren't big enough for the traffic and the two opposing work areas.

It's also running traffic by the cooktop - widely considered to be a layout sin.

And still the dishwasher is poorly placed.

They all use weirdly shaped islands for no particular reason. The odd shapes aren't adding to the usefulness and don't seem to be pretty.

Drawing is just for example. It started off being "B".

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:17AM
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bmorepanic - I think we were somewhat blinded by how much better the layouts were than our current kitchen that we didn't realize how big of a deal some of the issues you brought up are.

I think the reason the KD made some funky shaped islands is because currently the door to outside opens inward. We she showed us these plans we discussed changing the door so that it opens outwards. That should help make a rectangular island, which I definitely prefer, work better.

In option A the KD has said we needed 48" between the countertop and island to have enough work room. I went and measured our current set up and we have 41" in between them and I don't think another 7" would make that much of a difference. Like you suggested, 60" sounds much better. You made a good point about the seats bumping into each other. Also, for that plan we had discussed putting the dishes in the upper cabinets near the range top, opposite the DW.

We definitely weren't a fan of option C and I think your reference to Cape Horn is fabulous.

For option B you have great points again.

I like the changes you made to plan B. I think it would be a lot more functional. One of my concerns with B and C was prep space away from clean up and this definitely addresses that issue in addition to the traffic problems you discussed. Right now we have a french door LG refrigerator we bought this summer so we couldn't have it next to the wall because it would limit the door opening. Where do you think you would put the refrigerator instead?

Thanks again for the feedback.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 9:59AM
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I think I'd put a 12" wide tall cabinet beside the wall and then the refrigerator. Keep gear in it - would fit most electric appliances. Or a 9-12" works well as a tiny cleaning closet. Or use 12" wide shallow bookshelves that are padded out to be even with the front of the refrigerator enclosure.

Any of those could take the place of one of the sides for the refrigerator enclosure.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 10:46AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Leave well enough alone for the most part. Move the fridge down to be directly across the aisle between the island and cooktop and put the oven next to it. What exists is far more functional than what you are trying to shoehorn into the space inappropriately, to great expense. Save your money for the kids college fund.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:03AM
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What would you all think if the refrigerator and ovens were flip flopped in the plan bmorepanic drew? The range top wall is not as deep so the refrigerator could open fine. Also, it would be close to the main eating areas and the prep area.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:17AM
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bmorepanic - I just saw your comment about the 12" wide cabinet. I think that could work well.

hoillysprings - Are you suggesting that we scoot the fridge over in the plan bmorepanic drew or are you talking about moving it in the existing layout? Why do you say we are trying to shoehorn things into the space inappropriately?

If we were starting from scratch there is no way we would design the house the way it is but since we plan on staying here for the long haul (20+ years), we were hoping to make the place where we spend most of our time significantly more functional. We are definitely going to evaluate the best plan that we can come up with and then decide at that point that it will be worth it to go through with the renovation.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:28AM
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Other things you could do is flip the ref for the ovens. You can also reverse the entire order of a run - the ref ends up at the weird angle wall (got plans? maybe look at straightening that out too). Or go ahead swap the oven for the ref, but locate the ref near the garage/pantry door end of the run.

One of the horrible things is that even in an oddly designed space - there are always about 5 or 6 plans that would work well.

If you want to try and stay in low cost - try to envision your current kitchen without the island. Then think about moving the ref to one side of the cabinet run it's on today and then move the ovens to the other end with a small counter between them. Removing the barrier island or reducing it to a fragment of its current self should help by eliminating ring-around-the-island. Adding more working space beside the cooktop should help also. They are two different things that have two different potential payoffs.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 1:09PM
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If you don't use the cooktop and range together as linodendron mentioned' I'd go with bmorepanic's suggestions and keep the kitchen as is w/o the island and move ovens to the fridge wall. I wouldn't want the sink and cooktop on different counters with 3 very young kids.

If there are or will be multiple cooks/helpers, you can try the Cape Horn model at the fridge wall (in case you can extend the wall 10").

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 6:38PM
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