Renovation of a small kitchen

atlantic123June 18, 2010

This forum has been a help in so many ways!

Anyone think they can help us design the layout of our kitchen? It is small 10" x 86", has two doorways, and two large windows (nearly to the ceiling). The house is nearly 100 years old. We had to tear down the old plaster - it crumbled when we removed the previous ownerÂs paneling.

We are starting from scratch. Our plumbing can be moved easily.

I created a Flickr set for our kitchen renovations. There is a before photo and now (gutted room). I also included a few from the adjacent dining room.

Thing to consider:

-Ceilings are 9Â high

-We cook a lot. Thus we would like to maximize functionality. This means as much counter space as possible and shelves + lower cabinets for storage.

Walls - We plan to keep "Side C" exposed brick. The remaining three walls will have a plaster veneer finish.

Appliances  Dishwasher, Stove, Refrigerator. All our appliances are standard size. We arenÂt opposed to going smaller (if we can find it used aka affordable). While I donÂt mind going smaller, I donÂt want under the counter refrigerator. Unfortunately, we donÂt have a pantry to put our refrigerator in. We would also like to have a space for our small 19" microwave, but I doubt we would miss it that much.

Radiator-20" We can move it where it will fit.

Problems: Many people suggest we take out our door that leads to our deck. It is suggested that we remove the window in the dining room and make a door out to the deck. While I love the idea of having a kitchen I can move and cook in, I donÂt want to lose the large window in the dining room.

ANY ideas on how we can maximize what we have would be great!

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Can your gas line be moved too, or does the stove need to stay more or less where it is in the photos?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 11:44PM
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Probably not an option due to door/window change, and accessibility to deck, BUT FWIW:

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 12:08AM
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Now that I think about it, I should have placed the range where the refrig is. The range, especially with a nice range hood, would be more attractive to see from the dining room, and it wouldn't block light from the window. The refrig could go in corner closest to dining room, with some counter space next to it.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 9:53PM
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Charming!!! Love it - small as it is. LOVE the exposed brick, too. Something about the fan and the brick makes it feel really...I don't know. Makes me want some fried green tomatoes! ;)

Meanwhile, I love the idea of being able to see the nice range from the dining room (you can also turn and chat w/ people in the dining room a little more easily - though obviously not as well as if your back weren't to them). Also, this may not be as good but you could keep the door and window where they are originally and then turn the door to the kind that has a window in it for more light, and have the sink go under the window opposite the dining room and the dishwasher to its left (if the door wouldn't hit it when opened. You might have to get one of those thinner kind - or else the kind that goes under the sink which I've seen pics of and is also pretty cool). That way the stove could be put in between the two windows on the left wall so that you could chat w/ people in dining room better while cooking, plus you'd have at least some counter space to its left if not a smidgeon to its right too (?). And friends could still see a lot of the stove from a distance cause the sides of hoods are also nice. I also love the look of that skinny window - forget the name - that goes above old doors. If you change places, I'd be sure to move that as well and keep it! Lets in lots of light, too and draws the eye up which is good in a small room - plus it's period-appropriate.

Have you thought of keeping that wall opposite the dining room brick? I think if you end up putting the range there, if there's any room left for it, it would look great...or if you don't put the range there, open shelving would look amazing over that brick. Just a thought and obviously I can't see how good the brick is on that whole wall. Also, a couple of other thoughts I had were: though it would mess w/ the integrity, you *could* in theory have one of the windows' bottoms raised enough to allow for something underneath...though it looks like they're not so low that you couldn't do it as-is and fudge it a little maybe.

I was also thinking that to keep the room from feeling as small, you might consider doing - like you said - as much counter space and lower cabinetry as you can - but open shelving above (the kind that's not encased) as I was alluding to before. That would make the room feel much bigger and would still provide space though granted you'd have to look at what's up there. That would mean you buy really nice dishes and cups and everything else, and then use the lower cabinets for stuff that you really don't want to see so much e.g. food storage. You can always find nice little crannies for hanging coffee cups on those old-fashioned screw thingies (dangling) which is kind of a look that's back in style and fun to see.

I was told people assume removing a chimney is much more money than it is. Do you still have to use that chimney? I heard it's about $500 per floor or less (and you can leave it in the basement of course) which may or may not include repairing the roof after removal but probably doesn't include that. It sounds like that's not in the budget now but just food for thought. That would give you a lot more space in a much-needed room. We'll do that ourselves sometime in the next 5 or so years, if all else works out.

I have a family of 5 with also a smaller kitchen though a bit bigger at 11 x 12'. We have 4 doors to the kitchen, 2 windows, plus the chimney sticking out (1913 house), and one wall is all floor-to-ceiling original built-in pantry cupboards (and ironing board cupboard and spice rack cupboard, etc.) - which does not include a built-in counter there - so we have very little space options as well. We can't gut everything cause the cupboards are all original and beautiful except the lowers on either side of the sink which weren't original.

We just got a new fridge - not a nice Sub-zero but just a Samsung however it's a high-rated counter-depth. It's almost 23 cubic feet big w/ amazing efficient layout and that's quite a bit more cu. ft. than our older NON-counter-depth fridge. And we never lose food in the back anymore. I HIGHLY recommend you get counter-depth, even used. :)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 5:46PM
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Unless I'm misreading, I think side D has some measurement error. By my math, side D is shorter than the total of your dimensions by 8-inches. Just mention because kitchen counters, etc. are standard depths, so the 8-inches could cause you problems.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 7:14PM
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Love the house. The built ins & fireplace in the DR are just gorgeous. I think the biggest challenge in this space is the 'cross current' traffic pattern, and how that severely restricts cabinet placement & flow.

Without putting pad to paper (in actuality, dragging out my design software), I have an idea for a less invasive option. Can you swap the door & window on the 10 feet wall? It seems they both lead to the porch, and because they both already have headers, it would be a very easy switch.

By having the DR & deck doors close together, you would minimize cross traffic and you could easily have a "U" shape running from the new door (near "Side A" graphic), all the way 'round. This would also allow you to have the stove and fridge flank what I assume is the chimney, and by having both of those on the same wall, make visual sense to have exposed brick & no upper cabinets.

Adding a corner batwing sink (under the door converted to a window) would visually balance the opposite wall. Uppers might be a design challenge, given that largest expanse is the one wall you want to keep exposed. If you want uppers, that's the wall, IMHO. Can you expose another wall? Or go without uppers altogether and perhaps have a large 'built in' between the DR door and the new door to the deck?

Good luck...

Jen in Boston
Who is undergoing similar kitchen design brain ticklers...

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 7:37PM
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Your kitchen is small, but with some good planning I think you can make it work.

I love Jen's idea of swapping the door and window to the deck (Side A). That would really improve the traffic flow and you'd gain a lot of usable space. Even if you have to extend your deck, I think it would be worth it. (Easy for me to say -- I can't afford to remodel my own dysfunctional kitchen.)

I assume you'll replace the window on Side B with a shorter window, so it won't be blocked by cabinetry. Could you post pictures of the outside walls. It might be possible to do a bumpout or garden window on Side B, which might gain you some space (or the illusion of space) and more light (although it looks like you've got excellent natural light right now, with windows on 2 sides, a door with transom, and high ceilings). Also, I'd replace the door to the deck with one that has some glass for even more light (can't have too much, IMO).

If at all possible, avoid choosing undersized appliances. You may not be satisfied with them, since you cook a lot, and if your layout depends on using smaller appliances, you'd have limited choices when replacing them down the road. Definitely consider a counter-depth refrigerator, and whatever you do, don't put the refrigerator in a corner. You won't be able to open the doors wide enough and the counterspace next to it will become unusable. If you can live without an ice-maker, you'll gain some refrigerator space. As for the microwave, they're nice to have even if you don't use them much for cooking. You could have an over-the-range microwave/exhaust fan combo (admittedly not my first choice if I had plenty of space) or a microwave under-the-counter drawer instead of a countertop microwave.

Are your radiators steam or hot water? (I know they're usually steam, but I have a hot water radiator in my old house.) If you have a hot water system, you could eliminate the radiator altogether if you install hydronic radiant floor heat. (I'm planning to do this eventually in my kitchen to eliminate my baseboard heaters.)

I'd avoid a batwing or corner sink. Also, a single large sink is better than a double sink with small bowls. If you swap the window and door to the deck, you could put the sink under that window so you'd be able to watch the action on the deck and in your backyard.

Since you have such high ceilings, you could install extra tall upper cabinets, or, better yet, double cabinets (regular on the bottom, shorter on top). You could stash a stepstool in a toekick drawer (someone on the Kitchens forum did that), and use other toekick drawers for cookie sheets, flat pans, lids, and rarely used objects. Someone on the Kitchens forum uses one for her appliance manuals - a great idea that I intend to steal some day.

Finally, ask for help on the Kitchens forum. The folks there take their kitchens seriously and have terrific ideas. Your biggest obstacle is limited space, and that's a problem in homes of all ages.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 1:09PM
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You can also look at IKEA for what they call HIGH CABINETS. The depth can be 12 or 24 inches. The width can be 18, 24, 30, and maybe 36, but I wasn't interested in that width so did not check. Other cabinet makers also sell these high or tall cabinets, which make great pantries, and you can custom install drawers as close one above the other as you like. The heights go up 80, 88, and some even make them 96 inches tall, but not IKEA.

Going vertical if your old home has high ceilings can greatly expand your usable space. Building a stacked looking storage beside your fridge, with glass doors would allow you to light up the interiors and maybe leave backs off the cabs to show off the brick--which I'd SEAL to keep down the dust and cleaning problems--because any kitchen becomes layered with atomized cooking greases.

Also, I think the door to the deck can be taken out totally, perhaps converting it to a window. Do you NEED a back door? Can you build in some trash collection which is accessible from outside on the deck? If security is an issue, that can be solved.

In your dining room, convert the window you do not want to lose into a single french door with side lights, or maybe a pair of french doors.

Definitely a counter depth fridge. If you want a smaller range, Bertazzoni makes a 24 inch model. A smaller footprint than the larger stoves. You can even get 18" wide dishwashers, but for my money, the 24" wide is nicer to have if at all possible.

The microwave ovens built into the range hoods are still popular, but I don't like obstructing the open space above my range any more than necessary.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 1:24PM
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So many great ideas here! I'm waiting to hear (read) what the latest decision is!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 4:18PM
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What ever happened here?? Bump!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 11:43PM
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Bump again. Still wondering...

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 3:26AM
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We only a have a few finishing touches on our kitchen! I cannot wait to share photos. It was a long process, but so worth it!

We decided not to switch any of our windows with the door to the deck for various reasons. Instead we installed an outswing door with a large window.

We moved the radiator to the front of the chimney.

I made an updated edit to the original layout I had posted here.

Thank you all sooo much for your suggestions. I love hearing feedback!!!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 1:44PM
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Ugh - don't know why I've never forgotten this kitchen but I still think of it every once in a while (isn't that strange?) and I want to know if perhaps the original poster would share some current pics with us?!! I just love that brick and the limitations - so fun challenges - re. such a small kitchen!

More pics more pics! :)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 1:40PM
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