Layout help please! Am I sacrificing too much function for style?

alermarFebruary 1, 2014

I am new to this forum and have been surfing non-stop since I found it last week. I think I'm ready for some input, but please forgive any errors in posting, as this is all new to me. The advice I have been reading here has been outstanding, and I am in awe of the talent and experience you all have.

Our architect is a dear friend and is incredibly talented. He is helping us renovate a new home. We will be empty-nesters by the time we move in. I LOVE to cook (by no means am I a gourmet cook, but I am trying), and I do all of the family holidays, cook for bunches of teens etc., but between kids and job, I haven't done too much entertaining. Now that we are moving and will have more time, I'd like to start having people over, and I can't wait to cook in my new kitchen. The new house is on a lovely canal, and the kitchen is open to the pool with a view of the canal, sailboats, etc. The architect has designed the kitchen to take the most advantage of the view, but in doing that, his plans eliminate walls that I presumed I would have for cabinets. We are still in the planning stages, so I can still put the walls back if needed. I'm incredibly excited to move into this neighborhood, so I also want to take advantage of the view.

Right now, I have a double oven and electric cooktop. In the new kitchen, I think I'll use induction and instead of a double oven, I'll have one oven and a steam/convection combo. I've never cooked with anything other than a regular oven, so I'm a little nervous about giving up an oven for a steam oven, so I'm still on the fence about that. The design currently shows two stacks of ovens (double oven in one and microwave, steam, and warming drawer in the other). I think that's probably overkill, and I don't want the microwave so far inside the kitchen. The microwave can either go into the beverage center/bar or the pantry. Also, we are still deciding on whether to do a built-in frig, so I'm still flexible with some of the measurements.

I can't move walls, but I can reclaim walls by eliminating some of the glass sliding doors (although I hate to do that). Our style will be modern/contemporary but with some eclectic accents. The design is a first try by a kitchen cabinet planner (owner is a friend, so we are getting a good deal), but neither he nor our architect cook, so I'm a little wary. I have never planned a kitchen and I welcome all comments -- the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The dimensions of the kitchen are 25 x 15 feet. The island is 12 feet with another foot overhang on one end so I can push a couple of stools under/out of sight (the stools are not really intended to be an eating area). The clearance between the island and the frig/cooktop area is approx 4.5. feet. There is a blank wall at the end of the kitchen next to the sliding door. Originally, there were low cabinets there, but the cabinet maker thought the look would be cleaner if we took that out. We plan on putting a large painting there but I could add back the low counter if needed. There are 2 entrances to the kitchen -- one through the laundry room from the garage (so not much traffic from there), and one from the living/dining area. The clean-up sink on the island isn't ideal because it can be seen from the dining room, but it's the best we came up with. I'm debating whether a small prep sink at the other end of the island would be helpful or too close to the clean up sink to make a difference. The eat-in table is approximately 4.5 feet on the inside of the sliding glass door, and another 4.5 feet on the outside. So if we're having a casual family dinner and the weather is good (S.Fla), we can open the doors and have a longer table near the pool.

Please let me know if I can provide any additional information. I spent all morning trying to do a 3D rendering using an online program, but honestly, it's beyond me! I hope the attached drawing will suffice.

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Just some preliminary thoughts: Where are you planning on keeping your dishes? Somewhere handy to the DW?
That buffet counter looks impossibly huge but if you could re-draw this on graph paper, it would be helpful. I can't make out the numbers on the cabinets in this rendering.

Love your idea for the table split by the sliding doors... very cool.
Outdoor bathroom... nice!

Bl's idea to move the stools to the other end makes sense... nearer to the beverage center and away from the traffic of the outside area.

This post was edited by deedles on Sat, Feb 1, 14 at 14:45

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 2:44PM
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I just have a quick first question - when you are grilling I assume that you will bring whatever you are grilling into the kitchen to be put on plates. Where will you put the grilled food?

I would put it on the end of the island but you can't do that because you have stools there. That end of the island would be the place to plate (for me) your food. Can you put the stools on the other end of the island?

There are others who are much better at this and they will chime in.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 2:44PM
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I feel like a little kid! It's so much fun having others look at my kitchen plans :)

The stools will push all the way under the island, and I'll probably only have 2 -- the purpose is really just for me (and possibly a helper) to have somewhere to perch while prepping food. So I should be able to bring the grilled food in and place it either on the end of the counter above the stools or on the far side of the island closest to the pool.

The buffet counter will end at some point (although an endless buffet full of food sounds lovely :D). I can't tell on the plans how long that is either.

I am concerned about where to put dishes, glasses too. There is a drawer next to the DW that I could use for everyday dishes, or I could use the drawers, wall cabinets across from the DW next to the frig.

There are upper cabinets between the frig and ovens as well as above the bar/beverage center.

This post was edited by alermar on Sat, Feb 1, 14 at 15:33

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 3:20PM
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I was thinking that I might try moving the bar/beverage area into the living room as a real bar and putting my clean up sink where the beverage center is now. That would move the dirty dishes out of sight from the dining room and leave the island available for a big prep area with a prep sink. But that means that the clean up sink will be facing a wall. Improvement, or mistake?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 5:39AM
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robo (z6a)

Are those full depth drawer stacks on the other side of your huge island? If so it looks to me like you have lots of storage.

Where do you think the main traffic and hangouts are going to be based on the photo above? Thru the doors to the pool, at the bottom near the split table, or at the top near the living and dining room? I would keep the beverage center, bar, and snacks handy to whereever you think people are going to congregate.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:29AM
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Across from the island are 3-drawer base cabinets on either side of the cooktop and upper cabinets above each. If I get rid of one of the stacks of ovens, I'll gain additional storage space there. I know that I have lots of storage on the far side of the island, but that area won't be conveniently accessable while cooking. I have a full kitchen of upper cabinets now, so only having a few is making me nervous about storage. The island is huge -- hopefully not so much that it'll be an eyesore. I think the main traffic will be from the living/dining room.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:47AM
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I think you need to spend some time thinking about where you will put things. If plates and glasses go to the right of the cooktop, you can put pots and pans below and to the left of the cooktop; you need space for flatware, utensils, knives, potholders, spices convenient to their point of use. It may work out for you to store dishes on the far side of the bar - less convenient to the DW, but very handy to set the table.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 10:31AM
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My sink in my current kitchen faces a wall. In my previous home, the sink faced the family room. Before that, I looked out a window that overlooked the driveway. I think the sink-window combination is highly overrated. I don't spend a lot of time at the sink, and when I am there, I'm doing something that needs to be done -- washing veggies or loading the dishwasher, not looking out the window and day-dreaming. If I had the choice, I'd have the PREP area with a view, not a cleanup area.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 12:01PM
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I can't contribute to your layout, no vision on my part.
We have a Wolfe steam/convection oven & it's interior is fairly small. Our kitchen isn't up & running so I haven't used it but was impressed at a Wolfe cooking demonstration. You might add additional oven space by replacing your microwave with a Miele Speed Oven. It microwaves & convects. We are empty nesters also and I believe we'll be using the steam and speed oven for our daily oven needs. We stacked those 2 ovens (24", no room for trim packages or a larger wall oven) and they match well. I'd prefer either of those ovens over a warming drawer.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 12:34PM
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Not sure if I missed this but do you already live in s fl? We find that we spend a great deal of time with the doors open making one expansive living space. Make sure you leave room for venting the gets smokey. A big tv outside and possibly a refrig. I would find the refrig more helpful than the sink...IMHO the sinks end up just getting kind of yucky and not used much. It looks like your dr will have a great view of the canal and lanai area. One of the favorite floor plans I have seen in Florida had a big square island for kitchen seating and the formal dining room in place of the casual kitchen was awesome. We find as empty nesters we do not use our kitchen table much.
Is the living room aka the family room? I think if it was me I would consider removing that wall some how.
I totally agree with what sjhockeyfan wrote about having the prep facing out. I do all my prep on the counter next to the sink which looks out and also toward the fr tv.
Good luck with your sounds exciting.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Thank you so much for all of your comments �" the different perspectives and focus is very helpful.
I think it’s a good idea to separate my dining room dishes from my everyday dishes, putting the former in the dining room cabinets and the everyday dishes next to the dishwasher. I suppose whether I move the clean up sink to the beverage area will depend a lot on whether I can get the bar in the living room. That’s still under consideration. If I don’t do that, given the position of the sink in the 12 foot island, does it make sense to add a prep sink?

I’m considering a steam oven in addition to a regular oven, but the comment about adding a speed oven instead of a warming drawer is interesting. I’ll have to look into that more.
We are already in SFla, so the patio opening to the pool is something that we have always considered to be very important, especially now that we will have a view 

The everyday grill will likely be a small portable grill outside the kitchen that I can use just to grill for weeknight dinners. The sink near the grill doubles as the sink for the outdoor bathroom and will be a barrel and faucet type sink.

The patio grill is on the other side of the patio from the kitchen by the family room �" mostly because of the location of the pool, but also because it will be near the TV in the family room �" I’m envisioning grilling with friends/family while watching football etc. Hopefully, we can have a small frig there as well, but the outdoor kitchen isn’t in the budget right now.

There is a separate family room on the far side of the house (you walk through the living/dining to get there. Not ideal placement, but we can make it work. I’ll try to upload plans of the downstairs tonight.

Thank you all again for your time and help!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 7:06PM
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Here is the ground floor layout which shows the flow of the house. This shows the original kitchen design, which we revised as pictured above. The layout is not ideal -- I don't love the family room being so far from the kitchen, but it's the best we can do. There will be an outdoor kitchen by the family room when funds permit. Because it will be so far from the kitchen, I have the small outdoor grill next to the kitchen. As before, all comments are welcome :)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 9:20AM
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Bump...I think your drawing might be difficult to see. You may want to do as deedles suggested to get more responses.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 6:53PM
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I hope this drawing helps with the measurements. I tried to do it to scale, but . . .

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 6:30PM
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Did you post in the building forum? You may get great suggestions there for the whole house, maybe you'll find a solution for your far away FR..

It's a fixation of mine, but when I see a big kitchen with no sink on the range wall I can't stop myself from commenting. Would it be possible to move the DW and main sink to that empty wall on the right? I guess you can or already have a window there. I don't know how that can work with the outside grill and ovens. Maybe you can consider utc ovens. There can be a prep sink on the island and since you plan on doing more entertaining, having another sink would be useful imo.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 5:40AM
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Thank you sena01 -- I agree that a sink near the cooktop would be a good idea! I didn't want to put the clean-up sink so far from the dining room, so I'm not sure that the blank wall would work well for entertaining (although it would be close to the kitchen table). We were with the architect yesterday and he suggested putting the clean up sink in the island since the island is double wide (4 feet -- but could be wider if i want -- it could also be a couple feet longer). It means that the person washing dishes loses (spouse) the view, but the person cooking (me) would gain it. I know there are issues with the cooktop in the island, but at least we won't have seating there. The other downside is that the person cleaning will be visible from the dining/living room, which isn't ideal. Think this is an improvement?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 7:06AM
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Another option -- this would keep the dirty dishes out of sight of the living/dining room

This post was edited by alermar on Fri, Feb 7, 14 at 7:41

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 7:40AM
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Question: the wall marked "blank wall". Is that wall glass or ? Why don't the kitchen cabinets turn the corner on that wall? It seems if you could turn the corner it would help alleviate some of the congestion. I mean, you've got a big space but so much of it is earmarked for glass (understandable) that you are trying to now fit 10 pounds in the corner of a twenty pound bag. I think the answer to the title you chose for this thread is "just about". I'm not even sure that an island is a good feature. Wondering if a modified galley would serve better while keeping the space more visually open?

Just throwing this out there for the sake of pondering the possibilities, it would certainly require the reworking of elements:

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:12AM
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The "blank wall" is solid, and the plans originally turned the corner as a low counter with no overhead cabinets. What if I add that back in. I think part of the problem is caused by my poor drawings (sorry about that!) I redrew the island, positioning it more as it is planned. The edge of the island closest to the pool should line up with the end of the bar counter (that turns the corner into the living room). If I do it this way, where would I put the sink and the ovens?

This post was edited by alermar on Fri, Feb 7, 14 at 10:06

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 9:26AM
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So, let's say you turn the corner again with base cabs. Could the oven stack be on the end of that leg with the cooktop to the right of it or even in the corner? Is that wall 7'5" to the corner of the other cabinets or to the wall?

Honestly and amazingly... every inch matters which is why it's so important to get the dimensions of the room exact on graph paper. I had lots of ideas about my kitchen that when I really got to the inches of it... couldn't make it work the way that I envisioned. I went through oh, so much graph paper.

My gut feeling is that no matter if you turn the corner or not, that island is too long. And especially so if you turn the corner with cabs again, (which might be a good answer to some of your appliance placement issues.) I read that the architect thinks it's a 'cleaner' look without that, but it might be borking the functionality... hence your title, right? :)

As it is drawn now, you've got a real pinch point between the end of the island where you want your stool and the end of the table and chairs by the sliding door. But, I'm going by what may be inexact drawings so I could be all wet on this.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 12:57PM
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I have a long (10') island in a galley-ish kitchen (basically one 13' wall and one 10' island). However, the table we eat at is on the other side of that island, so it's easy to plate on the island and serve from there, and also to return dirty dishes to the kitchen. All that said, the one very negative I see in your picture (but it may be because the scale is "off") is how cramped your table looks. If the scale is right, I'd downsize the island to about 10' and spread the table out (the upside of this is that you are more likely to get a slab for the island countertop that will not require a seam - we were using Ceasarstone so we designed the island size to accommodate a single slab top).

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 1:18PM
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You're right -- I'm not quite sure of the measurements of the table or exactly how much space it will take up on the sliding glass door part of the wall. I had extended the island by a foot in order to get a place for a stool, but I could probably work the stool into the corner of the island and get rid of that extra foot. I think I have some wiggle room there. Or, I could cut one of the drawer units from the island since I would be gaining space in the wrap around cabinets, so the island would be 9 feet plus 1 foot for the stool overhang. I agree that I need to iron out the spacing a little more.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 1:26PM
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Ok, I think I've got it -- I went back to the cabinet guy's drawing and used it for the exact measurements. I definitely was off scale -- there is certainly a learning curve to all of this. Here's an attempt at a layout. The placement of the sink is not ideal because of how far it is from the dining room, and the ovens crowd the sink a little. I could move them to the baking center, but I liked the look of that wall being fairly clean. I also could move the ovens next to the frig and move the sink further over, but then I have even more problem with having to travel so far from the dining room. I suppose another option would be to shorten the island so there is less travel to the sink. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 5:29PM
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The beverage/bar area on the left, is it included in the 24,5' kitchen width?

As far as I can remember, at table height, recommended depth is 18 or 19" and width 24" for each diner. So I think a 42x24 table may be too small, maybe a 42x36 or 48x36 can be better.

Here's something I came up with. I have the cleanup sink on the beverage area (so moved that to DR), and added a passthrough high enough to hide the dirty dishes, but still giving you an opening in front of the sink. Although you have a lot of cabs in the kitchen, there aren't any easily assessable near the cleanup, so I moved the fridge and added a tall cab for dishes etc. Your dining room plates can be kept in that cab or easily be moved to the DR thru the opening.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:13PM
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Sena - thank you so much for the mock-up! It definitely helps to visualize the space. I love the layout and I agree that the sink makes sense where you have it. But, my husband won't give up the bar where it is - I've tried. But seeing it this way makes me feel better about the sink on the back wall. On a daily basis, we will be eating at the kitchen table, and the sink is perfectly placed for that. When we have parties, it will be a little annoying to have the sink in the back, having to go around the island. Perhaps I can play with shortening the island a little. I could swap the tall cabinet and the frig, so now the tall cabinet will be next to the sink. I think I can have narrow uppers above the sink too.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 9:17AM
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