Brownstone Kitchen Layout: Feedback Requested

sethaminFebruary 5, 2013

We are redoing the kitchen in the back garden level of our 1880s brownstone. DW and I have come up with a couple of layouts. First, the "normal" kitchen layout:

And here's what DW and I are calling the "mega" kitchen:

So the "mega" kitchen obviously has a lot more storage, counter space, larger range, etc. It also has some nice symmetry - the base and wall cabinets flanking the range and sink are exactly the same on both sides. It also puts the pantry on the right side of the kitchen, which is nice. However, it also feels like the refrigerator is just a bit too far away, and that the eat-in kitchen area is just a bit cramped.

On the other hand, if we go with the "normal" layout, we will have to run a soffit between the end of the kitchen (on the right wall) and the exterior wall (on the bottom). Since this is a townhouse and the left and right walls are adjoining other homes, we are planning on venting the hood through a 3.5"x15" rectangular duct that will run between the upper cabinets and the ceiling and be covered up by the crown molding. With the "mega" kitchen, those would be hidden by cabinets the whole run; but with the "normal" kitchen, we'd have to see the soffit. That, and the pantry then gets moved to the left side of the kitchen, which is a bit far.

We're mainly trying to decide between these two variants, though we're of course open to other constructive feedback as well. For the sake of completeness, here are some panoramic pictures of the demo'd space:

As you can see, we taped off the floors to visualize the "mega" kitchen. The doors you see on the interior side of the kitchen are the back of the formal dining room. DW is firm on not opening those up to create an open floor plan, as she really wants a separate, formal dining room. On the opposite wall are the two windows that will eventually be taken out and replaced with bifold doors. That's obviously not happened yet.

Any and all help appreciated.

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I think if you really like Mega Kitchen (Kitchenzilla?), I think adding a small prep sink on the island would make the fridge and pantry feel less distant because the prep area would be closer. It also puts the main sink as a clearly seperate cleanup space. I'd then move the DW to the right side of the sink, which would probably accidentally nearly center the sink on the island, and use the area to the right by the DR as a built in dish hutch space.

I'm absolutely not an expert with this, so I might be crazy. I love that great big space! I hope you can share more pics as it shapes up.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 8:52PM
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That brings up a good point. Do you think it's better to center the sink on the island, or have symmetry on the wall cabinets above the sink? We obviously can't do both. I think we did it this way because we thought symmetry of the wall cabinets would look better visually, but centering on the island may arguably be just as good.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:12PM
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Lots of great space to work with! Where do you park/bring in groceries? Where is the living/family rooms? If those are all accessed via the hall, I'd suggest the Kitchenzilla fridge is way too far away from the action. Generally cooking workflow goes fridge-water-heat, and in Kitchenzilla, you have to cross the cooking zone to get fresh food to the sink. Either put in a prep sink to make your prep/cook zone closer together, or move the fridge closer to the water. I'm not a big fan of desks in a kitchen (we use wireless so the laptop is more often at the table or on the counter, and all the kitchen desks I've seen turn into a pile of mail), so I'd repurpose the desk as the beverage/guest/morning area with coffee, booze, cereal, all the essentials not needed in the cooking zone. A little beverage fridge and bar sink in that area can keep loads of people out of the cooking area, but if the fridge is way over in the corner by the kitchen table, cooks and guests will forever be banging into each other.

Draw a set of lines for your work pattern on each zone (prep, cook, clean, bake, snack/guests/beverages)-- and try to keep guests/snacks/beverages out of prep/cook/clean/bake zones.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:10PM
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I think the sink placement is purely preference. But centering on the island with dish storage to the left will be different enough that I don't think you will be getting the "night quite right" feeling.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:24PM
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Our layout is larger, but similar. All open from dining to kitchen, but our sink and range are reversed. Consider rotating your island 90 degrees and wrapping it around your brick pillar. I've never been a fan of islands that run parallel to the long axis of the kitchen; looking across the island should give you a long, open view to the next room rather than a short distance to walls.

One thing I believe is going to work out well for us (we're nearly done installing) is contiguous lower cabinets from kitchen to the dining room's built-in buffet cabinets that can be used to serve foods, and lots of china and serving dish storage, as well as a display case for whatever you want to display over the counter surrounding a window.

This post was edited by davidahn on Wed, Feb 6, 13 at 17:04

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:55AM
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Kathy Rivera

I'm concerned in Kitchenzilla about the clearance from the table to the fridge. Unless it's totally flush, it looks to be about 36". Though maybe you don't expect anyone to be sitting in that end spot much? It is a brownstone, after all, and some compromises must be made - especially when it comes to aisles. But I also feel the fridge seems too far away from the action in Kitchenzilla...

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Kathy, you're right, if there's a chair at the end of that table, it'll be awfully close to the fridge!

Here's an illustration of what I propose. You now have a 7'3" x 4'6" island rather than 6' x 3'6", which will leave you plenty of room for 1 more bar stool (2, in a pinch) and a roomier dining room. I also experimented with putting the sink in the island (island doubles as prep), range opposite the island, and refrigerator closer to the kitchen and out of the way of the dining table. Looking at the kitchen from the dining room and from the garden gives you a much more pleasant full wide view of the island along with the focal point of the kitchen, the range and range hood, rather than a sideways view of the island in profile and a crooked, askance view of the range and hood.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 6:24PM
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Thanks for all the feedback everyone! We are taking it to heart, but are now more confused. We really like the idea of an island with seating area that's facing the stove so that friends/family can sit and chat with us while we cook. But it does seem like it throws off the rest of the kitchen.

So there are two things we should mention. First, we already have a separate formal dining room (behind the top interior wall), so this space is just intended to be a casual eat in kitchen and entertaining space. We don't need a large table or tons of seating here; I drew the kitchen table at 42" wide, but we could easily bring it down to 36" or 30" if it's too cramped. And there's no need for anyone to sit on the end; I agree that it would be too cramped between the fridge and the end of the table for anyone to be there.

Another thing I didn't mention initially is that there's an exposed ceiling beam running from the brick pillar down to the exterior wall, and it forms a natural partition in the room. You can see it in the photos I posted above. It would be weird to place a table underneath that, both because it infringes on the walkway on the left just wouldn't feel right.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:06PM
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Where is this in relation to the rest of your house? Where is the living room and where are the bedrooms?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:48PM
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This floor plan is for the back of the garden floor (bottom level) of the house. Above the floor plan is a large formal dining room and the front door.
The second level has a living room and a TV room.
The third and fourth level have bedrooms.

With regard to rotating the island 90 degrees and incorporating the brick pillar, it's not a bad idea, but that would leave less than 3' (34" or 35") between the island and range. That's definitely too narrow; 36" is really the minimum, and 42"-48" is ideal. We could push the island out a bit further, but then it wouldn't be flush with the brick pillar, and that might look strange.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:16PM
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