Had to find new builder and design new kitchen. Thoughts?

CamGFebruary 27, 2013

Hi everyone,
We were within a few weeks of breaking ground the custom home I slaved over for the last year when we had to find a new builder (for reasons too complicated to discuss here). We are simply burned out at the prospect of getting new bids on our custom house, and we found a great new builder whose stock plan, with some modifications, is quite similar and really quite nice. I'm ready to get on with my life, and we will soon have 2 little ones under 2 in our 900 sf house, so it's time to get moving forward on this.

Below is the result of my changes to the new builder's kitchen. The island is 60" x 37" with a 15" overhang facing the broom closet. We haven't planned out all the cabinets yet, but were thinking on having an 18" drawer base to the right of the dishwasher, and a 18" pull-out trash to the left of the sink. We should have right about 4' clearance on all sides of the island. The door to the stairs leads to the basement. The door to the bottom goes into a front living room.

My primary concern about this set up is that it is a long and weird path to get utensils out of the drawer base next to the dishwasher, get food out of the microwave, and then sit at the island. I don't really see any other place to put the microwave. I thought about putting the fridge where the broom closet is, but then I've got an island right between the fridge and sink.

Kitchen gurus, please any thoughts? Thanks so much everyone.

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I guess it depends on how flexible you are. If you don't mind losing part of an upper cab, you can have a microwave shelf put in the end wall cab to the right of the dishwasher. I would not place it anywhere in the triangle between the sink, stove, and fridge.

Others place a microwave just below the counter in an island. I would not do this because I hate standing on my head to read things. There is also a drawer-style microwave that you should look into that could go in the island or in the base cab next to the dishwasher.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 3:33PM
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Thanks nancy. I think we will want to use the uppers above the dishwasher for plates, bowls, and glasses. With silverware in the drawer base on the end, my thought was that 90% of the dishes we use could be accessed without entering the work triangle--and would all be within reaching distance of the dishwasher. Good point about keeping the micro out of the work triangle, too. I don't think we want to spring the extra money for a microwave drawer, and we definitely agree about not having to bend over to see a micro in the island.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 4:17PM
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I have the MW on the island below the counter. I am fine with it. My kitchen is a similar L and island that you have. I have the MW near the range side on the island. Everything is within easy reach. My kids sit at the island and I give them snacks. I don't mind the MW under the counter. Each to his/her own.

The space seems a little pinched (visually and functionally) between the corner of the island and the front of the pantry door. If you go in and out of the pantry a lot and there is alot of traffic from the LR, this will be a choke point.

Would you consider creating a pantry cabinet and straightening out that wall? This will give you slightly more counter space where it will be welcome, between the range and ref. I don't think you will lack for storage. You have another wall cabinets designated MW and broom, which will get larger if you move the door slightly to the left to line up with the end of cabinets. It really feels as if the walk-in pantry compromises the counter space in the kitchen.

This will make is so that the door from the LR will not be centered on the wall. (everything has its repercussions.)

All of my everyday dishes and glasses are stored in the 3ft drawers to the right of DW and 3ft drawers to the DR side of the island. Granted that these are bigger drawers, I do not have uppers. You will be surprised how much can be stored in large drawers.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:35PM
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I would square that pantry off, put the fridge where the MW broom closet is, and the MW either next to the door or the island. The kitchen will feel MUCH bigger without the corner pantry, and really be more useful, I think.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:48PM
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My about to be finished kitchen has a similar layout. Until now, I never considered this particular issue. I don't think it will be that big of a deal to take the food from fridge to microwave, then, while waiting for the food to cook, walk over to get silverware from the drawer, leave the silverware on the island, walk back to microwave to grab the heated food, sit down and eat. Unless you have a really small kitchen, you can't store everything next to everything else.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:56PM
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So sorry you have to go through this. I spent a year on my building plan, and would not have wanted to start over.

I feel like your kitchen is too squished in the top left corner. It's a big kitchen but the corner pantry makes it seem small. I'm not a design guru, and I hope some will chime in, but my first thought is something more like this:

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:40PM
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Thanks for the thoughts everyone!

Getting rid of the pantry might not be an option. My wife really likes it rather than a cabinet pantry, and it is much cheaper, too. Is that really too tight? I think we would have 3'8" at the tightest point between the corner of the island and the pantry. If that was really tight, we could loose 6" from the island.

If we are low on counter space, we could make the broom closet into base/uppers with a counter there, I just thought that would be a convenient place for brooms and our handheld dyson.

I had thought about putting the fridge where the MW is, then centering the range on its current wall. That could give us room for the MW in an upper there. But I figured we didn't want the island between the fridge and sink?

Kaysd, I've seen your layout--saying we have similar layouts is very generous (to our kitchen)! Can't wait to see your finished pics.

Some great suggestions to think hard about... thanks folks.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:09PM
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Thanks mpagmom (didn't see your post when responding above). Yeah, it has been a frustrating experience, but we're excited to be getting into a pretty comparable situation and start focusing on living again (isn't that what houses are for, after all?).

Thanks for the drawing, that's helpful to visualize what we could do if we eliminated the pantry, but I'm really hoping I can make this work without doing that. But you're right that its very cramped near the range... having only 15" between range and fridge freaks me out a bit. Maybe putting the fridge on the bottom area wouldn't be the end of the world?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:23PM
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It's pretty cramped. You don't need to lose the pantry though. Just move the fridge. I'd also shorten up the island a bit and put seating on two sides for it to be easier to converse and to have better traffic flow.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:45PM
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Greendesigns, I appreciate your draft. I don't think that will work for us, thought, we were liking the idea of easily putting dirty dishes on the counter above the dishwasher. If we put the fridge there would mean we'd have to reach around it, and putting away left over and busing the dishes would all occur right in the same place.

I agree with everyone above that this is a bit crowded. The pantry in my original sketch is 4'6" x 5'6" or so. What if I reduced it to 4'6" x 4'6"? That would give me an extra foot, and I could probably fit a 24" cabinet between the range and fridge. How about that solution?

The problem I see with this is that with a 4'6" x 4'6" corner pantry, I might not be able to have the 24" door swing in... it looks like I could if the shelves were 1' deep each? Anyone have experience with this?

Thanks again everyone.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 12:14PM
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Or maybe just make the pantry door swing out, with the hinge on the same side, so it swings towards the door to the front living room? I don't think we'd want it swinging the other away, into the fridge, where we couldn't have the fridge and pantry door open at the same time...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 12:29PM
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Put the brooms in the pantry. And put the MW where the fridge is currently. Then the fridge can go where the MW and broom closet currently is located. But, you'll need to add a sink to the island, and seating at the island will be really tight. Maybe too tight.

Honestly, I think you are overthinking moving the fridge where GD suggested. It's an easy solution that works. It also helps to screen the dishes from the eating area, which is a big bonus if you ask me! You wouldn't be putting anything on top of the DW post meal. You're forgetting about using the island space to corral the leftovers while the cleanup occurs at the sink. Dishes go straight into the DW, no rinsing needed.

Another alternative might be a reach in pantry instead. (Not a cabinet pantry, a drywalled reach in one.) Those can be really efficient. You could put that where the broom and MW is located. And I'd do another one where the desk is located. People are ripping desks out, not putting them in. They become cluttered dumping zones in most kitchens. Especially in the age of the tablet computer. Your desk is whatever chair you sit at wherever you are.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 1:04PM
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I guess it just seems weird to me to put the fridge there? As in, fridges never go right there. We'll have to think about it... I found the pictures below, but it just seems odd. I can see it being handy, having the fridge so close to the table, keeping people who need in the fridge out of the kitchen altogether. But still, it just seems strange.

(Also, I'd love to have a dishwasher that didn't need rinsing, but I'm skeptical...)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:53PM
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I always find the corner doors like you have shown cheapens the look of house because it looks out of kilter from the design elements in the rest of the house. I am not fan of cornered doors and hallways. That is just me. It looks like something that builders do to save money. Here I said it and I will get lots of replies telling me I am quite wrong. (sorry if I offended anyone.)

Having said that, a small cornered pantry actually is not as efficient as well laid out linear pantry. The corners are difficult to use storage.

You even limited yourself by saying that you will make your shelf 1 ft deep. That means that your useful storage is 1/2 as much as 24 inch deep pantry cabinet.

My mother had a straight linear reach-in pantry which was about 6 to 8 ft wide (?). She had large sliding doors on it which made it extremely easy to pull things in and out. The shelves were deep but enough to give you some floor storage. That thing was FULL and well used.

I have a kitchen desk because I need separate storage for kid and office stuff. I don't have another office on the same floor. I have a basement office which is too far to use efficiently. This is where I have the stapler, tape, paper for projects, post-its, small file cabinet, paper clips, computer cables, cookbooks, pens/pencils, markers, etc and MOSTLY all important printer. We use the printer A LOT in my house. I have a color laser printer for my kids' school projects. That needed to be somewhere central in the house. So think where you will put that. Going to Kinkos to print 'stuff' to turn into school is not an option on weekly basis. Too much hassle. We got tired of clogged ink. So we bit the bullet and got a color laser. It seems to go nearly non-stop.

We have multiple tablets and laptops in the house. The desk is not where the computer gets used necessarily. it is where we find our supplies. You can probably do the same by using a free standing furniture somewhere else as long as you figure out the printer situation that works for you. My kids do much of their work on the computer and my little guy still prefers the desk top. My older son has his own laptop and works on his bed :) I prefer the keyboard on the desktop. I am too old to type well and fast on the laptop.

I have written here a lot because designing house means that you examine how you will live in your house. Please think about your life when your kids will be 10 and 15 and 20 and how that house will be used...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 3:28PM
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I can ruin your glassware if you rinse first. Our Bosch (which I love) has specific instructions about not rinsing. If detergents don't have enough food to attack they go after your glassware. This applies to any working dishwasher.

Try to have an open mind about the layout. Just because you are used to doing something a certain way doesn't mean it is the best way.

This post was edited by debrak_2008 on Thu, Feb 28, 13 at 15:35

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Kaismom, I understand. In our previous plans that we had to abandon, we had a walk-through, not a corner one like this. I could see eliminating the corner pantry and making a 6' wide drywalled closet type pantry as shown below. But what would we use as doors for the pantry? We could do normal, double doors, but that would seem pretty unseemly and would swing wide out into the kitchen... we could do bypass sliding doors, but then only half the pantry would be visible at a time. We really can't pay to have 6' of cabinet pantry, which I've priced out and is really expensive.

debrak, I am trying to keep an open mind, certainly--I'm not thrilled with these other options but am definitely playing around with them. I know that I'm bad at designing kitchens, so I'm grateful for everyone's help here.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 4:03PM
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Why would you just have 2 big doors? Divide the space and use 4 doors. Or be more creative ....going to try to find some pics of what I am thinking of.

I like the kitchen photos you posted above. You may not have seen layouts like that (refrigertors at the end) but they are certaining are not unusual.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 4:25PM
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That island is about the size of our peninsula, and only two can sit there with comfort. We could fit three CHAIRS in there, but with people in them, it would be uncomfortable unless they were just going to sit there, without laptops or homework or whatever people do in your house! Also, that looks like the best place to do prep work, and in our house, that usually takes up much of our 3' x 5' island - there'd be no place for people sitting there to put their stuff. Sure, we spread out some on this island, but it would bug me beyond measure to have anyone sitting at it.

Oh, and our island is between our fridge and sink. The way we cook, that is not a problem, but you might be different! We try to get every ingredient out for a recipe before starting anything, so we rarely need to go to the fridge to/from the sink.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 4:38PM
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If you use swing out doors on the pantry you can also build storage on the doors of the pantry. My neighbors did this and it seems like a great function to have.

Swinging a door out for a pantry isn't much worse than having an open cabinet door. Although your door is likely deeper than a pantry door. How many people do you expect to be walking through that area when you are accessing the pantry?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 5:14PM
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I have 5' wide double (so 30" wide each) swing out doors on my drywalled pantry. I usually only open one door at a time, but sometimes I open both. There's a table as near to it as your island is to your proposed pantry. it's also a major traffic path.

It's not an issue at all.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 7:49PM
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I didn't have time to read all the comments...but
I have a corner pantry. And, they are good enough. Though, my door swings out. I'd want the pantry door in your design to swing out too.

One advantage to a small corner pantry is that it can function as a reach in with little "frontage" space. But, having the door swing in means that that floor space is lost, as is any space "behind" the door.

In mine, with an outswing door, I can put some larger/heavier Costco items on the floor where your door swing would be. AND, my brooms sit against the wall that would be behind your door.

Food for thought.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:17PM
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You need to take GreenDesign's recommendation for fridge location more seriously. I actually am not sure why you think it is weird at all, it is very common, IMO. It is a much better location than hidden back in a corner where anyone you wants something will likely just get in your way.

Even more importantly, it completes the natural flow of kitchen prep work. You work much more efficiently if you can take things from fridge to sink (for washing, rinsing) then to a prep area (usually between water and range, you can use space to left of sink, or island behind you) then to the range. I don't think you will be using the space over the DW to set things down. Especially if you are using a french door style fridge, the island will be your landing zone (which you may want to extend, to make more convenient).

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:39PM
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Thank you very much Kirkhall. You've continually been a major source of help and inspiration, and when we very reluctantly made the decision to shift directions, one of the things I regretted deeply was letting the great help of you, LL, and some of the other folks here go to waste.

I'm glad to hear that a small corner pantry is "good enough." My wife agrees. You all are quite right, an outswing makes a lot more sense, and once again I'm glad I brought this here, even if we aren't adopting the other good advice given above. We meet with the new builder in the a.m. to iron out the last details of the contract.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:54PM
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Sorry, didn't see your post. We're definitely considering the fridge idea. I was surprised that my wife was okay with it--I don't know why I'm struggling with the idea. You guys know what you're talking about, I just need to get with the program! Your point about work zones certainly makes sense.

I doubt we'll get a french door fridge with a bottom freezer, but your point is probably true of a side-by-side (looks like a french door is an extra grand or so).

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:18PM
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The biggest negative about leaving the fridge in it's current spot is that it almost makes it imperative to add a prep sink to the island for the best work flow. Though, if you did that, it would really make the kitchen work a lot harder for multiple users. Right now, it's pretty much a single cook's kitchen and not that great for family involvement in cooking.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 10:29AM
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It sounds like you want to put dishes in the cabinets above the dishwasher. I used to have that arrangement and now I keep the dishes, flatware and cookware in drawers that are across from the dishwasher. You might want to consider having drawers in your island for that purpose. It would be easier and more convenient put the dishes there. If you have children it is also easier for them to access the dinnerware for chores such as setting the table, unloading the dishwasher. Just a thought, and then you could move the refrigerator over to sink/dishwasher run without concerns about losing dish storage.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 10:53AM
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CamG, we have a reach in pantry (55" wide by 90 " high) with double-doors. Here's a link to my pantry thread:


Ours just has flat, hollow core doors. Each door is 24 inches wide by 80 inches high. I am looking to replace them with something more attractive or do something to make them more interesting, but I love our pantry!

Here is a link that might be useful: Details of How Reach In Pantry is Organized

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Cam- So sorry about your change in plans...but also excited to see your new one!

Can you show us the entire first floor? I have a few ideas, but I don't know if they'll work, without seeing a little more of your layout. Congrats on moving forward with your new home :)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 2:31PM
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(I'm with LL, I'd love to see your new plan... And, keep us on Build posted. I'm not over here on Kitchen all that often).

FWIW, my corner pantry is only 4x4. So your "smaller" corner will still be larger than mine.

French Door fridges are worth the extra money, imo, compared to side-by-side. I can't ever get what I need to into a side-by-side. The french door was a winner for us. (I found mine on CL for much less than new in the store. And, I could buy, if I wanted to, an original manufacturer's warranty since it was still new). Also, if you plan to finish out your fridge with cabinetry panels on the side, then also consider scratch and dent. So long as the front face is unaffected, that might a great option. I'd never give up my french door fridge-drawer freezer for a side-by-side again.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 2:55PM
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Actually had a few minutes, so I thought I'd sketch out a quick idea. This is very similar to Mpagmom's version, but I scooted the fridge over a few inches and have the microwave between the fridge and the range.

I made the pantry a little deeper...what do you think about pantry cabinets with pull out shelves? With drawers on the bottom? Just an idea...

As for the desk, I know how much your wife loves having one...but you might want to leave that area for last and actually try a mock up. If the desk isn't all she wants, then it would also be a very nice place for a hutch (is this your only dining area?) or even a coffee bar!

From Cottage house plans

Oh, also...do you know what type of counter you want on the island? These are two of my favorites :)

From Kitchen plans

From [Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures](https://picasaweb.google.com/113704953485102437421/LavenderLassFarmhousePictures?authuser=0&feat=embedwebsite)
    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 3:24PM
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Thanks everyone. We met with the builder this morning and I told him I wanted to move the fridge as Greendesigns mentioned. Thinking more about that, I'm really warming to the idea. I do like the idea of big drawers in the island. When we get to the point of meeting with the cabinet folks, we'll talk to them about prices for this.

Hopefully we will have the contract signed on Monday and start moving forward for real!

Kirkhall, that's a good point about french doors, we'll look into that. I was concerned about frozen pizzas fitting in a side-by-side... I think we probably will keep the side of the fridge open--we're excited to have magnets and kids drawings and such covering the front and side of the fridge!

Kirkhall and LL, I haven't brought up the new plan on Build for a couple of reasons: 1) I'm pretty happy with it; 2) changes are much more difficult when they have to modify a stock plan, so playing around with layouts for a marginally-improved setup is not worth it. I'll post something this weekend, hopefully, when I get a chance to put everything together so it looks right and can give an explanation that I'm not exactly looking for feedback but am wanting to share with the great community that has helped me so much.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 4:20PM
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Cam- The fridge will work really well by the sink, especially if you want to keep it closer to the table. My mom has a very similar set up...and she has a tall, pull out drawer for foils, wraps, etc. between the dishwasher and the fridge. It's been great for cleaning up after parties :)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 6:58PM
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