Help me with this awkward island please!

juleecatFebruary 3, 2013

Time for a kitchen facelift. DH and I are newly retired. We both enjoy cooking- especially family holiday meals, which are served in separate dining room. Four grandchildren ( oldest is 3yrs), 2 of whom visit quite often. (Yay!!!) When we did custom build 10 yrs ago, we swapped island cooktop and main sink placement- I did not want cooktop on island, and still don't. However, the island is cumbersome and the seating is rarely used. Ideally, I would like to replace island with 4'x8' rectangular , one-level island. But this will necessatate lots of changes-electrical outlets/switches, tile flooring, repositioning pendants,etc. There is unfinished basement below, so perhaps these issues aren't as complicated as I think? I am also considering moving the frig to the left of the stove (at the far end of the counter-that counter run is 73" long) and putting a planning desk where the frig is currently located- would be a nice place for ipad and phone charging. There is doorway to dining room to the right of frig, laundry room is on other side of stove wall. There is a large pantry on the end of the stove wall as well. Storage is not an issue at all. Will be replacing frig with SS french door unit, but stove,mw and dishwasher are still functioning fine, so we can't justify replacing them.....yet! Considering dark granite counters, silgranite single bowl sink- we have well water which requires kinetico softener-I drive myself crazy keeping the ss sinks clean (salt spots)! So. Here are a few pix. Would like to stay under $10k.......which may mean new counters and keep current layout and island! The raised breakfast bar is 21" deep-so perhaps just a 12" wide ledge all the way around? What do you think?

I can't seem to post multiple photos, will add below.....

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Looking out to open family room

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 1:08PM
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Eating area

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Post an overhead measured drawing will get you more usable suggestions. And the adjacent rooms and traffic patterns.

How much surgery are you wanting to pay for here? As a first glance, it's going to involve moving plumbing and electrical and replacing flooring and cabinets to do any changes. That's not inconsiderable, even if you don't plan to change the perimeter at all.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 1:17PM
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Can you post an overhead plan of what you have now and what you desire? Is the sink staying on the island? Single sink sounds great. Your kitchen is actually quite lovely right now! But I don't live in it so I don't know how awkward it may be.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:14PM
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Does this help at all? After we swapped the cooktop and sink, we decided to reposition the frig. In hindsight, not the best decision, as it is a bit tight to walk through there. But frig and dishwasher can be open completely. Yes, sink will stay on island-will be replaced with single bowl. Pull- down faucet. The other spout is RO water. The island just seems to overwhelm the area and since we don't actually use the breakfast bar I would like to eliminate it. I find myself doing my prep work next to the sink, and there just isn't enough counter space.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:03PM
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Another look

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:07PM
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Not sure exactly how much you can do for $10,000 but if you just remove and replace the island you can probably stay within budget. Assuming the flooring runs completely under the island cabinets, that is. I don't think you'll be able to move the fridge and change cabinets to add a desk in addition to the island for that price.

If you were to keep roughly the same island footprint but with a little more clearance between the fridge aisle, and changed it to a single level island with outlets in the back, and maybe small niches to hold your power cords, you may find it a comfortable location to use your ipads instead of needing a separate desk. We use our laptops and ipads at the island all the time (in fact I'm doing so now!) and it's very comfortable.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:47PM
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Agree. Keep the same general footprint of the island you have now and lower it to one level. I would definitely leave an overhang for seating at the counter. Ideal depth for seating at a counter is 15" overhang. For granite, anything over 6" overhang for 3cm granite needs support underneath. Anything over 10" overhang for 2cm granite needs support underneath. Or maybe I have those backwards ? At least you have the general idea ... You will need support (like corbels) underneath because 15" is more than both 6" and 10". : )

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 7:23AM
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I don't agree with keeping the shape. Angles waste space and are inefficient. A giant rectangle is your friend in this case. Make the island one large square with at least 44" clearance between it and the fridge. Move the cleanup sink off of it and onto the other leg of the perimeter. Then put a prep sink on the large flat island. You now have one giant space to prep and a separate zone for someone else to clean up.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 7:33AM
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Interesting idea,GreenD. Do you think we will be able to move (rearrange) some of the base cabinet units after the counters are removed to reuse? Cab's are stained hickory and we really like them! Not sure our budget will allow a lot of redesigning, but sure would love to explore all options!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 8:30AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Large flat and square is the way to go. Even if you can't create a separate cleanup zone by moving the main sink to the perimeter, just having that large flat and un-angled space will make a huge improvement to how the kitchen functions. Angles are "interesting" visually. Logistically, they are a huge PIA. If you're about function over form, then get rid of all of those angles. You're already living with form over function, and I think that's been frustrating enough that you might be ready to change that emphasis.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:31AM
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Concur with large flat square. Also recommend an overhang - once the grandbabies are a bit older, super place for them to perch and visit.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:17PM
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I agree completely with MaggieQ....having a flat island invites people to sit down and talk, and you have tons of room to spread out. I did this in my new kitchen and I was surprised at how often my teenagers would sit down and talk to me. (I'm always in my kitchen!) Keep the overhang, you may be surprised at how much more useful it is in the new arrangement.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 1:22PM
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I like the large flat rectangle/square better too and agree its way more functional than what you have now. I have the main sink and dw in my island and prefer that since I clean as I go. If you keep the sink in the island just make sure you have a good overhang behind it so that you can spread out at the island without being crowded into the sink. Good luck with your remodel.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 1:53PM
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I think a rectangle would be better. But, to stay within the budget, I still think keep the current island shape. Either way, you will get much more use out of your island if it was one level and I think people would be more likely to sit there. Also, the angle allows for better conversation of the people sitting at the island rather than having the stools lined up in a straight line. If you go with a rectangle, have overhang on the side and on one end.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:14PM
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I like the rectangle island much better too. It may be a bit more expensive than keeping the current footprint, but if you're going to be spending anything you may as well get something really functional. You can see about reusing things like cabinet doors, drawer fronts and end panels even if you need some new base cabinet boxes. I also like where GreenD shows the fridge (near the dining area). As mentioned above, you can use a laptop anywhere so I'd also skip the desk (they tend to be clutter magnets) and just make sure you have some outlets in your island.

Regarding the floor: if you like the current tile but can't find an exact match to fill in any new spaces, you could consider doing a nicely coordinating pattern just in the space between your island and the permimeter cabinets. (And around the far side of the island if necessary but it doesn't look like you would need any new tile and that side.) I know tiles can get expensive even for a small area, but if you shop around and get creative you create something you like for a great price. One GW member found a beautiful mosaic tile 'rug' on eBay.

Some examples:

This is a bathroom but shows the idea:

Traditional Bathroom design by San Francisco Architect Gast Architects

Traditional Kitchen design by Phoenix Design-build Homework Remodels ~ Tri-Lite Builders

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Thank you for all of the input! And the tile pix, Chicagoan! Very pretty! I am convinced that we should keep the overhang-just need the island to be one level. I have nixed moving the sink-there just isn't room on that wall for the sink and the dishwasher. Will get some quotes for new rectangular island, and also using the current base. We are going to stick firmly within our budget, whatever we do! Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 4:19PM
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One more vote in the large flat rectangular island.

Don't worry too much about the electrical, as the existing outlet can be moved and Romex extended with a J-box if needed. Yes, pendants will need to be moved, but that shouldn't be too expensive either as long as it's just a few inches. Drywall patch is a couple of hundred dollars. Assuming tile is complete under the island, plumbing may be your biggest hurdle, as those pipes do take up space and have to either maneuver through the new cabinet location to the old floor penetration or break the tile and move the drain location, but still shouldn't break the bank. The granite slab counter could be cheap ($500-600 installed) if you're in a major metropolitan area with prefab granite places. You may even be able to get new cabinets with a contrasting color furniture-look island if your bids on the above don't come out too high!

Get a few bids. The electrical and plumbing may be simple enough for a GC or cabinet contractor to do all with his own crew, and hopefully he passes the savings on to you. :)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 4:57PM
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