You Choose! - Layout Dilemma (Window/Range Thread)

dljmthFebruary 1, 2012

Thanks again to everyone that has provided advice regarding the range/window placement. A thread I posted in Appliances brought up layout issues, which I could use some advice on.

Here is the summary:

- We enjoy cooking and baking. We make full breakfasts before school daily: waffles, eggs, pancakes, etc. (This is our main family mealtime).

- We don't own a TV so don't watch too much, but kids can't wait to do this remodel so I suspect we will use it more!

- We all play the piano enthusiastically and informally.

- We live in a moderate climate and like to entertain indoor/outdoor and spouse is an "performance cook" so wants plenty of place for guests to eat (or really be able to watch/talk to him while he cooks :))

Here are the constraints/notes:

- We CAN NOT change any exterior walls. We can adjust window placement to the extent they fit the walls but we CAN NOT put French doors on the dining room exterior wall.

- The "formal" dining room is really more casual as it opens to a slightly more formal living area with a fireplace. That area leads to the front entry way.

Please, please wise ones, I would love your opinion on the options. Which do you think would work best given our profile? (Yes, I know most of this is poor Feng Shui :)).

The exterior:

Option A: This is the one I *thought* I had settled on but had second thoughts from a hood/range thread. (note: we can easily swap range/sink if we decide not to have window over range but that is an entirely different thread:


-Feels like a good use of all the space - no dead space

-Piano is on an interior wall

-TV is located toward the darker side of the room for good TV viewing, yet there are windows flanking it far enough away so at least there is a view to the outside (although that side of the house will require some landscaping)

-Kitchen is centrally located to all eating areas

-Don't really need to worry about carrying trays or food, BBQ, etc. through a living space to get


-Guests seated at the island (likely bar height) will have a view outside past the food prep person (me!) or can swivel their chair to watch TV. They will not be staring into a wall.


-The "inside-outside" feel is lost by having the entertainment facing West instead of East.

-Feeling of isolation if sitting and not watching TV. Not really having a good feel for the outdoors if you are just lounging on the sofa because of limited view to the outdoors.

-Facing opposite the "action" when there is an outdoor party/entertainment.

- sub-optimal placement of refrig/oven - landing space about 5ft away.

- awkward back corner upper cabinet config

Option B and C are a flipped version of Option A but with different TV and window placements. Note that the layout of the refrig area would be: oven, cabinet, refrig so there is a shared landing zone.


-The "inside-outside" feel of having the entertainment area facing East to the deck area - and particularly in C, it makes it feel like one large room. Very open feel.


-Overall, it feels like the space isn't used efficiently. It feels very broken up - especially in B where there seems to be little consistency in window placement.

-Piano against exterior wall. In option C, it's nice that the piano would bridge the two rooms, but could easily become the dumping zone as daily entry is through the garage.

-Smaller island - smaller working area and prep sink.

Here is a link that might be useful: Window over Range Thread

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I really don't think you'll like B or C because the fridge and ovens are not in the kitchen. They're in the family room. And that's pretty far from the dining room, too.

One way to deal with the oven landing space problem is to go with a range instead of a cooktop, and find another under-counter space for a 2nd oven. It's a little pricier to do it that way, but you would not be the first to make this choice. That would give you a little landing space for your fridge, too.

You can also rotate your family room in plan A and put the TV opposite the breakfast table, move the couch so the back is to the breakfast table, and that way folks sitting on the couch will at least have a view of the kitchen and outside.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 10:18AM
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C looks like the best bet to me.

I don't like A for the following reasons:
--The kitchen cabinets would block off the wonderful S & E orientation that would be ideal for the FR seating area, as well as the other reasons you stated.
--I much prefer having the eating area and kitchen together as they are in B & C, and it seems like that would allow both family and friends who gravitate to the island and kitchen table seating to be together for breakfast and your DH's audience, while there could be a separate conversation area in the FR seating area.
--The area around the fridge would be less congested, especially when guests were there, and guests would be seeing, and easily accessing the FR first, not the (messy?) kitchen.

A few questions:
1. When someone plays the piano, do others gather around it, or do they stay seated elsewhere?
2. When you entertain, about how many people are there?
3. How/when is the DR used? Would some guests sit around the DR table if you moved the piano to where you have it in C?
4. If you move the piano as you have it in C, are you comfortable with not having the view of the deck/garden through the French doors as you come in from the garage?
5. Can I assume that the daily entry includes a mudroom, closets, cabinets of some sort?

Using C, I would suggest the following possible changes:
--Where it says, "open to LR", extend the wall to the right of that about 3' toward the piano and make that the pantry. You could put your groceries on the wine table, and have a place near the entry to put things down and away.
--Get rid of the wall between the wine table and the 36" cabinet, and make that an L-shaped continuous counter going around the corner. Put a decent sized bar/prep sink in the corner cab or in the first rectangular cab facing the FR; the corner cab could be angled to match the wall behind the piano.
--Put the MW where the ovens are, and move the ovens to where you had the pantry, away from this "guest" L area.
--Move the cooktop to the right so it's centered on upper cabs.
--Put a Super Lazy Susan in the corner
--Move double sink to the right and put the DW on its left.
--Even the end of the cabinet run (where I put the ovens) with the island.
--Put a base cabinet with normal top drawer(s) and 2 other deep drawers as part of your island configuration for your everyday dishes.
--You wouldn't need a raised counter for the island (hard to tell if that's what you have there).

In the FR, put a single French door in place of the left window, and replace the double French doors with windows, so you have 3 windows to the right of the singleFrench door. Center the furniture on this 12' glass area, (shifting the furniture about 1' north), and put a couple of swivel recliners on each side of the TV. Be sure to get a TV that can be viewed from an angle and from not too far away.

So, some food for thought--hope some of it helps clarify what you want. I love your space!


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 10:26AM
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Option C with modifications.

What about taking over the guest room as your formal dining space? Your formal dining space isn't close enough to the kitchen to really work on any of the plans. Shift your formal living space to the DR, where you have the views, and close off a portion of the former living area for an office/guest room.

Put a prep sink on that island, and you've got show and tell central right there facing your guests and family for 70% of the time you're in the kitchen. Turning to the side to quickly check on an item in the stove only leaves you with 10% of the time facing sideways to your guests. You won't have your back to them.

Take that wine table area and make that a "command center" with bulletin board and cubbies above for mail and keys and a trash can (for incoming trash) and a bench below with shoe storage underneath. You can put a wine area in the more formal living space or nix it alltogether. What you can't do is make that space be anything but the "dumping ground" for the family entry unless you organize it. You probably also want to address the garage area itself for adding cubbies for backpacks and hooks for jackets, etc. Don't try to change habits here. Just try to manage them into better organization with the same habits.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 10:31AM
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C. A good relationship with the outdoors and with the rest of the house for the cooks and others is very important to you, and this one has it. The whole house is looking really nice.

(A simply won't do--you have a list of important ways it falls short that being closer to the DRM won't begin to offset. B is nice but blocks the kitchen unnecessarily from the life on the patio.)

Regarding C, people trying to dump stuff on the piano just isn't much of a problem compared to, say, isolating the cook alone in the kitchen, right? As for fixing some of your dissatisfactions, how about stealing that extra foot from the guest room in favor of a much more important space? IMO, if a room has to fall a bit short, an extra room is a good one for it.

BTW, I'd suggest installing your flooring over the entire space, then placing the island and banquette. That way, if you want to make changes in a decade or two, you won't be constrained by holes in the flooring.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 11:19AM
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I like the idea of moving the DR to the guest room in order to get your other living space to have good window access!

Option D Do you prefer to have your kitchen or your eating space to have window access? This puts the range in between the two windows and the cleanup sink under the windows. It also gives you room for a door to the potentially swapped dining space.

Option E (which I forgot to label E) This gives you a HUGE pantrhy space in exchange for using the now very close by dining space as your everyday dining.

Make the pantry a reach in wall pantry and the island can become long and seat more people, and the opening between the DR can KIT can become larger and make everyday access easier.

Option F

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 1:01PM
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Move the fridge and wall ovens where the wall pantry was for better access to the cook while still maintaining good access to snacking, and the piano can go in the alcove with a pantry cabinet.

Option G

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 1:18PM
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Thank you, thank you for all the comments. Here’s another picture that might be helpful. The living room/dining room is a combo space.

The living room/dining room is more casual and the furniture faces South to the back yard. When sitting on the couch, you can see straight through to the back. On a day-to-day basis the dining room table is much smaller. We use the current dining table fairly often as we only have a very tiny table in the kitchen, but when we have guests we put in a leaf. The dining room/living room furniture are centered nicely.

We viewed the area near the angled wall (where the piano is in this picture) as a roundabout so to speak. All paths cross there so we wanted it as open as possible - hence the reason for wanting to place French doors there. Easy access to the deck from all directions. (Note: we have no basement and kids run in and out through the garage. This gives them a bath to get their baseballs, bathroom pit stop and head straight back outside without traipsing through the house).

The garage, guest room and bathroom are pretty much fixed. One thing I am giving up is a large mudroom. I would love to have one but I will be fine with a shoe closet and bench. The reason it is designed that way is that the kids currently come into that space from the garage, hang on to the door knob while kicking off their shoes. Only THEN do they close the door and “dump” their belongings.

About the piano: We might just have to give in on that one and put it in another room. I think the main reason why the kids actually play so much is because it was originally placed in the “playroom” so they viewed it as a toy and just wanted to learn. It’s never been in a place that you have to “go to practice”. But maybe it’s time. We tried next to the fireplace but it looks really strange because they compete size wise.

Live_wire_oak - Yes, you are right, if we make that wine bar area command central we will have to keep it very organized. We were thinking it would be a nice place to put a table with art work above or a wine bar of sorts. It will be the main thing people see when they enter through the font door and head to the kitchen/FR.

Rosie - We’ve considered breaking into that guest room, but we really need to keep it at 12x12. It will substitute as a playroom when people aren’t visiting as there is a very large closet in there , and I suspect will be used even more with grandparents coming for extended visits.

Jimandanne_mi - Appreciate your detailed suggestions! I’m going to give it a try and see what I can come up with. The more I look at it though, the more I think it’s really important to have the French doors on the angle. Also, I don’t think I can extend that wall (currently the bench/backpack) any more as it would make the “roundabout” more congested.

I’ll wait a little to see if there are any other suggestions and post another rev. later today.

Thank you!!

Other views to consider:

(Please ignore color details as I'm not super-skilled in the program).

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 1:41PM
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GreenDesigns - Thank you! Unfortunately, I really need to keep the guest room (else inlaws will be sleeping underneath that dining table :)). But option D is very interesting. I'd like to keep it 12x12, but maybe I can steal 2 ft and do what you suggest.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 2:33PM
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One more note: Since we are not a very formal family and since I want to maximize usage of space, that existing "formal" dining room will most likely be transformed into a study area or den of sorts (kid office) with the solid wall on the left/West wall containing a long table for 2 workstations and books. The table that is shown in the drawings will likely be smaller and round that we can open up when we need it for eating, but that will serve as a project table for school. If they need to read, they can move to the couches and chairs in front of the fireplace and still look out the window if they'd like.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 3:07PM
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I tweaked GD's ideas a bit and came up with this. A round table would work fine in the corner or add leaves to become room for 8 with no problem. Giving up seating on the island seemed like a good trade for better traffic flow to the fridge from the outside door, especially since the banquette is right there in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 3:15PM
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OK. I had some time to play around with this after looking at the feedback. Thank you again as this has proven enormously helpful!

The main thing that has to be sacrificed is the piano. I put it in the formal dining room in the location that I had earmarked for a long desk for computer stations (and the table would become a homework table). The downside of putting the piano here instead of the workstations is that it's likely the room will be used less frequently overall. The kids play the piano, but like it when they are entertaining others.

We sacrificed 1ft of the guest room to get a larger island. The guest room is 12' 6" x 11' which is still fine. The island is now 7ft. I know to fit 4 people we need 8ft but we can likely squeeze in a child. There is enough room for a prep sink, but I don't think I'd really need one in this config as we'd end up using the main sink more. Microwave could not go against back wall in the upper cabinet next to double oven.

The odd thing about the kitchen is the placement of the refrig. It makes functional sense, but I'm concerned it will stick out like a sore thumb even though we plan on getting a CD one. It's height is awkward on that wall since there are no other upper cabinets and it's sandwiched/framed between 2 windows. I suppose I could swap the pantry/frig and make the pantry shallower so it feels less bulky or just do uppers/lowers cabinets for a split pantry.

In Option C, I can make all the windows line up exactly as in the original 3D build picture I posted earlier. They are just longer and one is removed on the South wall. In Option B, I will need to reconfigure slightly but it will still work.

The TV placement in B is strange. Seems like we are framing the TV by windows. It competes with the deck view. By putting the TV on the South wall, I'm sacrificing Southern light exposure in the house.

Interestingly, the original plan (Option A) has more kitchen counter and cabinet space and the main feel of the room is KITCHEN (and I think it's actually more functional). In these plans much more space is devoted to rec/family living. Since the kids are older and we don't even own a TV (yet), and the toys are starting to decrease, maybe we should put more focus on the kitchen/office/workstation space. I'm guessing that's why our architect suggested putting the kitchen where it was in Option A. It would make better use of the "formal" dining area. These revised options are CLEARLY better for entertaining, but I'm not so sure if they are better for everyday life. The good news is I think either way will work just fine.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 2:28AM
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It was asked above if you value kitchen space near the windows more than dining space near the windows. Have you really thought about that question? Because you were really set on the plan to be putting the cooktop in front of the window. (Because I really liked the idea of the cleanup sink in front of those windows.) Is the tradeoff really just between the family room or kitchen in front of the window? With the homework stations in the DR, and your breakfast at the island, you'll mainly be doing dinner at the table. And, you won't get as much benefit of those windows after dark. It IS a cozier feel to place the dining space in the windowless section of the room. Would you rather have an interactive family activity like food prep take place in an area with no windows, or a more sedentary family gathering like dining take place where there are no windows. There's no right or wrong answer, but since you can only have two out of the three spaces have good window access I'm just giving you something to challenge your thinking on this to be able to get you the most functional layout for your family.

I also think you would really like your piano in the family room space, so with the current plan, what about shortening your pantry by 6" (two 15" pullouts will hold just about anything) shortening the 36" cabinet next to the range by 6", and then giving that 12" to the piano instead of the desk. Do what you had planned originally and keep the desk in the old DR area.

Even with the sink right there, your island needs a source of water to make this more than just a single cook kitchen. As it's set up, the food will go from the fridge to the sink to prepping in that corner to the cooktop. THe island will not be a primary prep zone. It might be a kid zone, with stuff spread out on it, but that's not a good habit to encourage with a family table so close by and homework space elsewhere.

If you want the island to be functional as kitchen prep space then it needs a source of water on it. Even a small 14x14 prep sink on that corner will allow one user on the short side and another on the long side to work to prepare meals or bake and another user can load the DW and yet another can tend to the stir fry that the two others are cutting up veggies for. Without a water source on the island, people that try to help the main cook prepping in the corner will be back and forth to the sink in the way and in the cleanup zone as well. Everything stops while someone waits on the person at the sink to finish what they are doing so they can have access.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:19AM
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In these revised plans, where are you keeping all of the dining room tablewear? Not on top of the piano, right?

The "work triangles" in your revised plans still have problems IMO, with your pantry in the family room and your fridge up pretty close to the sink. Mentally walk through mealtime - you're pulling items from the pantry and fridge to prep on the island, you're walking back to the stove to cook, you're walking back across the kitchen to serve food at the table. These plans both look problematic to me and I'm back to plan A with a rotation of your family room so the TV is on the north, interior wall.

In plan A you can relocate the ovens (by getting a range, for example) and put a pantry next to the fridge to keep all the food in one general area.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:23AM
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Just as a note on the functionality critique as far as time/motion recommendations.

Remote pantries are just fine for everyday kitchen use. Many people have a separate pantry located elsewhere. It's not a big deal at all if the pantry is some distance from the kitchen as long as it's attractive. Pantries, by definition are not for the most often used food items. Those things, like cereal and peanut butter and coffee fixings, go in the actual kitchen space.

The ideal location for a kitchen fridge is on the perimeter of the kitchen space so that it is easily accessed by those who want drinks or snacks without coming through the cook's path. I don't see too big of an issue with the fridge in your latest proposed layout other than I'd want a MW on the island end towards the table area. That keeps kids out of the way.

You might also want to locate a beverage fridge in your wine area and place bottled water in it to further reduce intrusion into the cook's space. That would be a great location for a "bar" setup with small sink, beverage fridge and small microwave, maybe a built in coffee system, etc. I will depend on what your family drinks.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 12:05PM
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I think you need to make a big level decision before committing to a floor plan. It seems as if you are not sure how you want the southern light to affect the interior space of your house. I would commit to that decision before thinking about other issues. Do you want that for the kitchen or the family room? There is no right answer. You have to analyze your lifestyle and commit. Don't let others pursuade you to the perfect 'kitchen' design until you have committed to the light first. This seems like an exceptional house with an abudance of natural light.

Natural light decision is the fundamentally the MOST important decision for your house, much more important than the kitchen decision, IMHO. The way the house interacts with natural light sets the tone for your mood and feeling immediately upon entering the house.

Breakfast area is nice facing out east for obvious reasons...

Another big level decision is the TV viewing and noise in general. Depending on how you will use the TV, there maybe way too much light for TV and media in the options B and C revised. My kids use the TV more for gaming than TV viewing and we have it in the basement. There are families that manage to raise their kids without any gaming consoles. My hat is truly off to them!

We have made our TV room double as a guest room because we don't have guests often enough. I also don't want the noise to bleed into the rest of the house. You need to make a high level decision about the 'noise' associated with 'TV and media'.

We have a completely open floor plan with a grand piano. There is no way TV and piano can compete for noise in the same open space. In my house, someone is at the piano quite often throughout the day (much like yours, it seems). Again, you have not addressed that issue. If you have multiple kids and one has a friend over playing a console game/watching a movie and the other wants to play the piano.... (Do you have a digital piano that the practice can be done with a headphone?) To me, the house has not solved the essential question of separation and togetherness; noise and quiet with many of your plans....

I am not good enough of a parent where I can limit TV/media viewing to only night time and only when it will not interfere with anything else in the house, hence the TV's banishment to the basement.

I wish you the best. I have a 12 yo and a 9yo. I have TV/media room in the basement and piano on the second floor. Our LR/DR/K is on the top floor to maximize the light and view.

Having said all of the above, I like the original plan the best.
This is why.
1. The kitchen has the most amount of light. You will spend the mose of your time in the kitchen as a family. The breastfast island is facing East if you eat on the island. This is a nice way to eat breakfast. We see the sunrise nearly every morning with our breakfast.

2. If you will keep the TV where it is (NW interior corner), it is the most isolating of the noise. You have essentially relegated the least desirable area to the kids to watch TV and hang out. IMHO, this will create the adult zone in the formal LR/DR when you have company. When we go to people's houses and when we have families over, this is essential: separation of adults from kids. As your kids become more independent, they do not want adult interference. Basements work exceptionally well. You do not have that option.... In the absence of that, this is the best option for kid/adult separation. (can you make your guest room into the media/kid zone? That seems not to be an option for you)

3. With the original plan, I see your family using the DR regularly to eat and the banquet as the kids school work zone. You will use the DR more because it will be quite pleasant and easy to use due to the window placement and the proximity to the kitchen. IHMO, DRs are not necessarily formal rooms. It is just another room in your house. If you have it, you should use it. I only have 2 eating areas. The island and the DR which is open to the kitchen. Many families have 3 eating areas. The time that is handy is when you entertain. In your house, you put the kids meals (banquet) separate from the adults (DR).

4. The kids will sit at the island preferenctially because of the view out the garden (over the other plans where they look at the wall of cabinets.) If you were sitting, do you want to look at a wall of cabinets or out the window? In other plans the kids may prefer the banquet because of more light... Again, what you do want? Do you want the kids at the banquet or the island? Even children instinctively gravitate toward light.

I like your house's abundance of natural light and easy access to the outdoors. I also like the open floor concept very much. I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 2:09PM
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I kinda like A actually. I think I'd trade out the banquette for a sofa and the rest of the furniture for the long dining table. Keep all the leaves in it all the time.

I like the relationship of kitchen to dining/kitchen to deck /beer to deck. I feel it would be easy to entertain lots of people.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 2:29PM
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Sophie Wheeler

If you aren't formal people who will really use a formal dining space, then will you really use the formal living space either? Why not make that the TV viewing space and leave that out of the equation when trying to arrange the family space. Me personally, I would want to sit and stare at a pretty yard forever, forget the TV.

If you want a small TV in the room where you can check weather or news while doing breakfast, then a flat screen can go on the side of the fridge cabinet or on top of the fridge (for viewing from an island) or any one of a dozen spaces that a flat screen can fit if it doesn't have to be large enough that people on it are triple life size. Even the guest room can double as another TV/game space by simply utilizing a pull out couch rather than a dedicated guest bed.

Also, with island seating, are you really sure you need the table and chairs there? Or vice versa? If you have the kitchen table and chairs, do you really need island seating?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Thank you everyone again!

live_wire_oak - I love that you are challenging my thinking! That is what my architect is doing too. He asks me to sit and stare and analyze the space and challenge my own thinking so that I feel really good about the direction.

karen_belle - good question about the piano and probably not the best location because of possible proximity to food. There is a small buffet that sits right next to the fireplace right now. Thanks for the comment about a range. We may actually do that - have an all gas complete range and then use the wall for an electric oven and micro combo.

kaismom - Thank you for taking the time to read and post. You sound exactly like our architect. While he thinks either way will work, he feels Option A would work better for many of the reasons you stated. That said, he wants me to think every aspect through to make sure it's what *I* want.

He is focused on where the natural light is and said to stand in the different places at different times of the day to get a good sense of how the light comes in. He pointed out many of the same things you did - especially with respect to the TV, light glare, the noise and the separation of the kid/adult zone. We do plan on having the guest room double as a media room with a pull out couch so that is something to consider as well and we are also getting a couple trees cut down next week so he suggested waiting to make a final decision until then just to be sure about the light. A couple doors away a new house is being built and they chose to put the kitchen as in Option C with skylights so the area wasn't so dark. I guess that is one way to bring more light in. But I do take your points to heart - facing East for breakfast at the island is a nice way to start the day.

I stood out in the yard today at different times and confirmed that I prefer the SWest corner for the banquet. It will be especially nice in the Spring I think and I love the "kid escape" door - sliding out from the table to the outside. The banquet stays as planned.

You are also right about the piano. It can't compete with the TV noise. Don't know what I was thinking. Plus there are the lessons too. I don't want to give up the entire room when a lesson is going on. I think we'll have to put it in the living room opposite the fireplace.

As for my original concern - feeling like I was isolated and in a dark place if I were sitting in the living area near the TV - that still holds true a bit. But I could always move to the living room and peer into the yard that way.

If we go with the original plan, I think I may switch the range with the sink as it would allow me to flank the range with two windows on the South wall bringing in more Southern light. It might cause some appliance rearranging but I'm sure it could be achieved.

One other note on entertaining - our architect wants us to consider putting a counter on the outside of the East wall where the range is currently placed effectively making an inside/outside island onto the deck. If we get the same granite/soapstone for inside as outside and open the windows all the way on a summer day we'd have an indoor/outdoor kitchen. Not sure if we'd do it, but it's an interesting idea!

I will consider all the options carefully and pick something in the next week as we have to break ground soon!! The good news is that really either option will work and as so many of you pointed out, it's really a matter of what we find most important.

Our master bed/bath was designed by the same arch about 10 years ago for which he won an award and for which we are very pleased. Here are some pics. The room frames the deck with French doors out to the main deck (shown in the layout diagrams) on one side and out to a hot tub on the other side. We are very excited to start this next phase of remodel! Thanks again for all the help. Will post with pictures when the process starts!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 8:51PM
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Option c revised is my vote.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 9:07PM
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