Kitchen Design Opinions Wanted

matt92174February 26, 2014

First off a big THANK YOU to all the folks who post on here. My wife and I are in the process of building a new home and it seems that nearly everything I search for keeps leading me to this site - so I joined! I've gained so much knowledge from this site and I truly appreciate it!

So we are focused on the kitchen right now and we've met with several kitchen designers in the hopes of finding the right one but so far the search continues. We have a construction "allowance" of $6,500 for all cabinetry - kitchen and bathroom, however our goal was to try and get decent kitchen cabinetry for that price and pay for the bathroom cabinetry out-of-pocket. We're quickly learning that isn't likely.

We have an approximately 19' x 13 1/2' kitchen including the breakfast area and the ceilings are 9' tall (link to photos and plans below). We tend to be minimalists which we hoped would keep the cost down and thought one way to do that with our L shaped kitchen would be to do only base cabinets along the long/outside wall and then base and upper cabinets along the short/inside wall. We even eliminated a cabinet in the corner and opted for 3 shelves instead. We also like the look of this so it wasn't strictly for cost reasons.

We've gotten quotes ranging from $6,750 to $11,000 for this and before we go back for our second meetings with these designers I wanted to see what I could get for feedback on this design and the pricing. We've told each designer to keep it simple - no extra features other than a couple super susans in the corner and a slide out trash can thingamajig. I haven't drawn in anything around the refrigerator as I am stuck between cabinetry or just asking the builder to create a space above it with doors.

The style cabinets we are looking for are white painted with either a shaker style recessed panel or with a wainscoting panel. I've read just about every opinion on the MDF vs. no MDF debate and while I don't want to start that up again I will say I'd like to avoid MDF but it seems in doing so I'll be limiting my choices. While I've read plenty of complaints about door frame and cabinet MDF failure I haven't heard of many complaints about the panel being MDF. Is this still something to avoid?

We are VERY new to this and VERY open to suggestions! I truly appreciate any advice you can offer.

Thanks

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Design Pictures & Plans

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buehl

Welcome Matt!

This is helpful as well - the entire first floor:

What is "set in stone" and cannot be moved? Where are you flexible?

For example:

  1. Can the window be moved?

  2. Can the doorway to the Family Room be moved?

  3. Do you really need 3 different types of seating (island, Breakfast Nook, Dining Room with the Nook and island so close to each other)?

My thoughts based on what the picture in your original post shows:

  • Move the DW to the left of the sink and put dish storage in either the base cabinet to the left of the DW and/or in the island across from the DW. It gets the DW out of your Primary Prep Zone and allows someone to be cleaning up (or loading/unloading the DW) while someone else is prepping and/or cooking.

    This will also place your dishes close to the Breakfast Nook. I assume most meals will be eaten there...otherwise I don't think you need the Nook.

Move the trash pullout to the right of the sink so it's in the Prep Zone, near the Cooking Zone, and near/in the Cleanup Zone.

Your Primary Prep Zone will most likely end up b/w the sink and the range b/c that's where your only water source is in the kitchen and it's very convenient to the range.

The island will be useful as a Secondary Prep Zone for preparing items that don't need water - but it won't be as convenient to the range as the Primary Prep Zone. Consider a single-bowl sink since you don't have a lot of counter space in general. This will allow you to have large single bowl rather than 2 smaller bowls. 36" is a lot of room to devote to a sink and anything smaller than 36" is really too narrow for a double-bowl sink (b/c the bowls are usually too small).
You really do not have enough room for a table and chairs in that 7' space b/w the entrance to the FR and the kitchen counters (perimeter and island). Instead, consider:

  • Moving the FR doorway down to the bottom of the kitchen

  • Then, put in a banquette in the left corner with seating on three sides - the top, bottom, and left side. That will give you space for 4. In a pinch, you could slip in 2 more chairs on the right side - but only in a pinch as there won't be enough space b/w the table and island for traffic to pass b/w them.

Refrigerator...You should be able to fit a regular refrigerator in that alcove. A regular refrigerator will cost much less than a standard depth. However, the 12" deep cabinet your layout shows is useless. Instead, get a full-depth (24") cabinet so you can actually reach the cabinet. It can be used for "tray" storage: cookie sheets, cooling racks, roasting pan, etc. In a kitchen with limited storage, this can be very useful space!
Island...you don't have room for seating on two sides. Besides, do you really need a lot of island seating if you have the...

    Bookmark   December 2, 0002 at 12:07AM
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buehl

Welcome Matt!

This is helpful as well - the entire first floor:

What is "set in stone" and cannot be moved? Where are you flexible?

For example:

  1. Can the window be moved?

  2. Can the doorway to the Family Room be moved?

  3. Do you really need 3 different types of seating (island, Breakfast Nook, Dining Room with the Nook and island so close to each other)?

My thoughts based on what the picture in your original post shows:

  • Move the DW to the left of the sink and put dish storage in either the base cabinet to the left of the DW and/or in the island across from the DW. It gets the DW out of your Primary Prep Zone and allows someone to be cleaning up (or loading/unloading the DW) while someone else is prepping and/or cooking.

    This will also place your dishes close to the Breakfast Nook. I assume most meals will be eaten there...otherwise I don't think you need the Nook.

Move the trash pullout to the right of the sink so it's in the Prep Zone, near the Cooking Zone, and near/in the Cleanup Zone.

Your Primary Prep Zone will most likely end up b/w the sink and the range b/c that's where your only water source is in the kitchen and it's very convenient to the range.

The island will be useful as a Secondary Prep Zone for preparing items that don't need water - but it won't be as convenient to the range as the Primary Prep Zone. Consider a single-bowl sink since you don't have a lot of counter space in general. This will allow you to have large single bowl rather than 2 smaller bowls. 36" is a lot of room to devote to a sink and anything smaller than 36" is really too narrow for a double-bowl sink (b/c the bowls are usually too small).
You really do not have enough room for a table and chairs in that 7' space b/w the entrance to the FR and the kitchen counters (perimeter and island). Instead, consider:

  • Moving the FR doorway down to the bottom of the kitchen

  • Then, put in a banquette in the left corner with seating on three sides - the top, bottom, and left side. That will give you space for 4. In a pinch, you could slip in 2 more chairs on the right side - but only in a pinch as there won't be enough space b/w the table and island for traffic to pass b/w them.

Refrigerator...You should be able to fit a regular refrigerator in that alcove. A regular refrigerator will cost much less than a standard depth. However, the 12" deep cabinet your layout shows is useless. Instead, get a full-depth (24") cabinet so you can actually reach the cabinet. It can be used for "tray" storage: cookie sheets, cooling racks, roasting pan, etc. In a kitchen with limited storage, this can be very useful space!
Island...you don't have room for seating on two sides. Besides, do you really need a lot of island seating if you have the...

    Bookmark   December 2, 0002 at 12:07AM
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buehl

Welcome Matt!

This is helpful as well - the entire first floor:

What is "set in stone" and cannot be moved? Where are you flexible?

For example:

  1. Can the window be moved?

  2. Can the doorway to the Family Room be moved?

  3. Do you really need 3 different types of seating (island, Breakfast Nook, Dining Room with the Nook and island so close to each other)?

My thoughts based on what the picture in your original post shows:

  • Move the DW to the left of the sink and put dish storage in either the base cabinet to the left of the DW and/or in the island across from the DW. It gets the DW out of your Primary Prep Zone and allows someone to be cleaning up (or loading/unloading the DW) while someone else is prepping and/or cooking.

    This will also place your dishes close to the Breakfast Nook. I assume most meals will be eaten there...otherwise I don't think you need the Nook.

Move the trash pullout to the right of the sink so it's in the Prep Zone, near the Cooking Zone, and near/in the Cleanup Zone.

Your Primary Prep Zone will most likely end up b/w the sink and the range b/c that's where your only water source is in the kitchen and it's very convenient to the range.

The island will be useful as a Secondary Prep Zone for preparing items that don't need water - but it won't be as convenient to the range as the Primary Prep Zone. Consider a single-bowl sink since you don't have a lot of counter space in general. This will allow you to have large single bowl rather than 2 smaller bowls. 36" is a lot of room to devote to a sink and anything smaller than 36" is really too narrow for a double-bowl sink (b/c the bowls are usually too small).
You really do not have enough room for a table and chairs in that 7' space b/w the entrance to the FR and the kitchen counters (perimeter and island). Instead, consider:

  • Moving the FR doorway down to the bottom of the kitchen

  • Then, put in a banquette in the left corner with seating on three sides - the top, bottom, and left side. That will give you space for 4. In a pinch, you could slip in 2 more chairs on the right side - but only in a pinch as there won't be enough space b/w the table and island for traffic to pass b/w them.

Refrigerator...You should be able to fit a regular refrigerator in that alcove. A regular refrigerator will cost much less than a standard depth. However, the 12" deep cabinet your layout shows is useless. Instead, get a full-depth (24") cabinet so you can actually reach the cabinet. It can be used for "tray" storage: cookie sheets, cooling racks, roasting pan, etc. In a kitchen with limited storage, this can be very useful space!
Island...you don't have room for seating on two sides. Besides, do you really need a lot of island seating if you have the...

    Bookmark   December 2, 0002 at 12:07AM
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buehl

Welcome Matt!

This is helpful as well - the entire first floor:

What is "set in stone" and cannot be moved? Where are you flexible?

For example:

  1. Can the window be moved?

  2. Can the doorway to the Family Room be moved?

  3. Do you really need 3 different types of seating (island, Breakfast Nook, Dining Room with the Nook and island so close to each other)?

My thoughts based on what the picture in your original post shows:

  • Move the DW to the left of the sink and put dish storage in either the base cabinet to the left of the DW and/or in the island across from the DW. It gets the DW out of your Primary Prep Zone and allows someone to be cleaning up (or loading/unloading the DW) while someone else is prepping and/or cooking.

    This will also place your dishes close to the Breakfast Nook. I assume most meals will be eaten there...otherwise I don't think you need the Nook.

Move the trash pullout to the right of the sink so it's in the Prep Zone, near the Cooking Zone, and near/in the Cleanup Zone.

Your Primary Prep Zone will most likely end up b/w the sink and the range b/c that's where your only water source is in the kitchen and it's very convenient to the range.

The island will be useful as a Secondary Prep Zone for preparing items that don't need water - but it won't be as convenient to the range as the Primary Prep Zone. Consider a single-bowl sink since you don't have a lot of counter space in general. This will allow you to have large single bowl rather than 2 smaller bowls. 36" is a lot of room to devote to a sink and anything smaller than 36" is really too narrow for a double-bowl sink (b/c the bowls are usually too small).
You really do not have enough room for a table and chairs in that 7' space b/w the entrance to the FR and the kitchen counters (perimeter and island). Instead, consider:

  • Moving the FR doorway down to the bottom of the kitchen

  • Then, put in a banquette in the left corner with seating on three sides - the top, bottom, and left side. That will give you space for 4. In a pinch, you could slip in 2 more chairs on the right side - but only in a pinch as there won't be enough space b/w the table and island for traffic to pass b/w them.

Refrigerator...You should be able to fit a regular refrigerator in that alcove. A regular refrigerator will cost much less than a standard depth. However, the 12" deep cabinet your layout shows is useless. Instead, get a full-depth (24") cabinet so you can actually reach the cabinet. It can be used for "tray" storage: cookie sheets, cooling racks, roasting pan, etc. In a kitchen with limited storage, this can be very useful space!
Island...you don't have room for seating on two sides. Besides, do you really need a lot of island seating if you have the...

    Bookmark   December 2, 0002 at 12:07AM
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canuckplayer

I can see the range and sink, but where is the fridge? Is it beside the pantry? If so, you have no landing area for it. Where are the glasses for drinks to be stored?
What are the dimensions of your island? What is the current distance from the island overhang to the entry door? Are you putting stools at the island?
What are the two closets behind the range? Can you steal their space? Then you could put the fridge on the sink wall where the cabinet to the left of the window is and shift everything right, then move the island to 54" from the sink, instead of 48" if depth allows.
Sorry about all the questions, but it's easier with all the dimensions.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 2:07AM
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PRO
Sophie Wheeler

+1001 buell

And i'd expect a decent mid grade line would run between 10-15K for that kitchen with all of the proper ends finished off and at least 42'' cabinets. Islands are double expensive real estate because they need to be finished 360 and corbels are i sanely expensive. Your builder's allowance is a joke. Better check the rest of them. They are all gonna be equally ludicrous. It's a famous low ball technique to make the house appear to be cheaper than it will really be.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 7:45AM
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deedles

Agree with moving the DW left of sink. Buehl's layout has much better flow with the doorway moved, too.

You have exactly my layout except the stove and sink are swapped and I don't have an island. The only thing I could add is to maybe squinch your DW down enough that the sink could be centered on the window (and this may not be important to you at all) making the end cab a little smaller but maybe then the trash could get bigger and you could have a trash/recycling pull-out.

To cut costs now, save the island for down the road a bit, go really cheap on the counter for now and consider Ikea if you are anywhere near to one. I agree the cab allowance is not at all reasonable for a kitchen much less adding the bathroom. Yikes

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 8:16AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I really like the built in seating idea and moving the family room door. I was concerned that you were giving up a lot of storage space with that blank outside wall, but I see you have a pantry. Will you have enough storage for dishes, glasses, bowls, etc?

I have an upper cabinet over the refrigerator that comes out to the front of the refrigerator and I use it for trays and cookie sheets etc and we use it a lot. Happy we did that.

My main concern with your design is where the refrigerator is. It appears to not have a landing zone of any kind next to it. Nowhere to put down items. I would find that annoying very quickly. I know you can land on the island but I still think that is going to become an issue on a daily basis. Don't know what to suggest though. I don't see another place to put it in your design.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 9:22AM
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deedles

I couldn't get a landing zone per se into my kitchen layout, but the table and counter is just a step either way, so it really isn't an issue. You can get 10# in a 5# bag with the help of GW and good old ingenuity, but 15# isn't probably going to happen.

signed,
moving into a 5# bag

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:48AM
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canuckplayer

Instead of moving the family room door, why not just remove the wall and make the whole thing open concept. It will appear larger..unfortunately, it still won't help with the layout.
I do agree with behul about the dw. With that door open, you won't be able to reach any of the cabinets to the right of it. The space is too tight to get into. Or, even better, move the dw to the island.
I still don't care for the fridge location, though. If you have small children, that fridge will be used many times a day for drinks and snacks.

If the builder is "allowing" $6500 for kitchen and bathrooms (ludicrous), what do his stock cabinets look like? Is it something you can live with for a few years until you can get the kitchen of your dreams down the road?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:45PM
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matt92174

Hi Buel and company

Thanks for such a detailed response! Nothing is set in stone yet, ground will be broken very soon but still plenty of time to make changes. To answer your questions:

1. The window can be moved. It was drawn in by the builder before he knew we werenâÂÂt doing upper cabinets so I know we need to do something more with that wall as thereâÂÂs a lot of empty space. Not sure if itâÂÂs adding more windows or what but that wall doesnâÂÂt look âÂÂrightâ to me. My wife has an idea of putting some shelves there (aftermarket so to speak not shelves that match the cabinetry per se but it definitely needs something.

2. The âÂÂdoorwayâ can be moved however itâÂÂs actually an opening in a half-wall as the original plan had it wide open to the Family Room which we were not a fan of (not into the open concept). We like some openness but not wide open. While I see where youâÂÂre going which is trying to get the Breakfast Area tables and chairs away from that opening we purposely had that half wall extended a bit towards the rear wall leaving only a 5â opening (I believe it was a 7â when we first added the ý wall). The reason we extended it and shortened the opening is we wanted there to be enough ý wall in the Family Room to put a couch up against and still have it centered on the fireplace. WeâÂÂre a family of 3 so we wonâÂÂt need a big table to fit in the Breakfast Area space and it is 7â 4â across so I feel like we could fit a smaller size table and chairs there but I could be wrong. Maybe I need to do a virtual design of that space to get a feel for what would fit there comfortably. One thing my wife did that does help the cause is she moved the slider (and patio of course) to be off the Family Room rather than the Breakfast Area which is where it typically is so we could put a table right against the window if we wanted (not sure how that would look though) rather than blocking a slider. I guess I have some more work/thinking to do around this. I like your idea of moving the entrance I just really want to keep the wall there to allow the couch to be in line with the fireplace.

3. IâÂÂm not sure weâÂÂll actually do an overhang on the island itâÂÂs just drawn that way in case we wanted to. I didnâÂÂt get into it with my initial post but if we are able to come up with a cabinet design at a reasonable cost my wife would like to add some additional cabinetry along the stair wall opposite the island. SheâÂÂs thinking of something using matching cabinetry that would form a hutch ��" some shallow base cabinets with a shallow countertop that then some upper cabinets rest upon. I donâÂÂt know what to call this when itâÂÂs done with cabinetry but itâÂÂs essentially a hutch. WeâÂÂve asked the kitchen designers to price this separately and itâÂÂs...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:06AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I hate MDF too. Especially since it used to have formaldehyde in it that out gasses into the air. Not sure if it still does, or if they replaced that with some equally unhealthy substance.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 2:49AM
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deedles

OP: we cut costs by building in a space for our fridge instead of going with a cabinetry box and I really like it. DH built the walls with 2x4 studs turned on the skinny side to save a bit of space. I'll bet there are plenty of pics out there (try Houzz.com) of drywall enclosure for fridges. I can't seem to locate a pic of mine right now.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 11:12AM
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lawjedi

completely off-topic... buehl!! as one who has lurked on and off over the past 5 years... it's great seeing one of your awesome layouts again! There is something almost calming about seeing laid out so nicely with your color-coded work areas.

guess it speaks to the organizational geek in me. ;-)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 4:05PM
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buehl

Thank you LawJedi! (Like the name, btw!) I haven't had much time to more than stop by for a few minutes over the past 6 months or more! We've had some family medical issues and with this being my daughter's senior year in HS, lots of activities (including all her final year of varsity volleyball & basketball - I didn't want to miss any of her games!) I probably will still only be here on & off - but I do try to stop by occasionally as I find it a nice break from the "routine".

=============================================

To address earlier concerns about the layout (prior to Matt's response):

The landing space for the refrigerator is across the aisle on the 22" counter next to the range. It's 49" or so away - close enough, IMHO, to the 48" max recommended by the NKBA. The island isn't that far away either.

As to the location other than the landing space - it's out of the main work area so any children, guests, etc. who want to get something out of the refrigerator will not be underfoot of those working in the kitchen. There really isn't any other place for it b/c the other two walls of cabinets aren't long enough to accommodate the refrigerator + other appliances and/or fixtures and adequate landing/work space for them.

That's also why I show the MW opening to the right - anyone using it for snacks won't be the way of those prepping (70% or more of the time spent in the kitchen is spent prepping).

The 45" aisle b/w the range wall and the island should be enough to have someone working at the range while someone is using the MW. Also, the MW and refrigerator are close to each other - useful b/c most MW'd foods come from the refrigerator/freezer.

If the representation of the window is correct - with a center "stile" down the middle (or two windows slid together w/frame b/w them), then I wouldn't want the sink centered on the window b/c they you would be staring at the "stile".

If centering the sink bowl on the window is important, then I'd either line it up with the left edge of the sink at the "center" point or center the sink on the window on the right.

With the sink as I show, if you offset the faucet to the right, it is centered on the right window. The faucet is the "visible" fixture when looking at the window so the sink will appear centered.

As for the cabinet "allowance"...most likely the builder is using a cabinetmaker s/he has an agreement with - the builder buys all cabinets from the cabinetmaker at the lowest level of quality/functionality offered by the cabinetmaker - so the builder is getting a "bulk" cost. If you don't get the cabinets, s/he will only offer the "cost" of the cabinets. IF the builder offers upgrades, you might be able to use the allowance on upgraded cabinets in the bathroom(s) or as, someone else mentioned, don't get the island and use the island allowance to pay for some upgrades to the rest of the cabinets. Then, get your island later with different...

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 1:25PM
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buehl

(I'm working on it - I haven't forgotten you Matt!)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 8:07PM
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matt92174

I know you haven't forgotten me Buehl! Your posts continue to open up my thinking. WeâÂÂve met with no less than 5 KDs and not one has mentioned the fact that centering the window has you staring at the frame as you so accurately mentioned (it is 2 windows together). IâÂÂve been feeling like one more window would look awesome. I wonder if thatâÂÂs the best way to fix it ��" by adding a window and centering the middle window on the sink. I have added several windows up until now and the builder hasnâÂÂt charged me for any (yet) so it might not cost anything/much. My OCD might get the best of me if itâÂÂs not on center or if the frame is!

The good news is I lucked out and stumbled upon a GREAT kitchen designer/supplier this past Friday. I had taken the day off so the wife and I could do some browsing for kitchen and bathroom "stuff" and we decided to drop into a local kitchen and bath gallery we recently saw on TV. Our timing was perfect as the designer we met with was in-between appointments and had plenty of time for us without us even having made an appointment.

It looked like a high-end gallery so I was up front about wanting to stay as close to my builder's contribution of $6,500 for cabinetry but while still wanting quality. The designer came up with the KraftMaid Sedona in Dove White with all plywood boxes for the L shape kitchen area and the cabinet over the refrigerator for $9,491 +tax (layout attached). (WeâÂÂre heavily leaning to not building a hutch and buying one down the road instead). This is with his suggestion of upgrading the tall upper cabinets to âÂÂfurniture endsâ so theyâÂÂll be flush for two reasons. One is because grease and grime will accumulate on the ends against the hood/above the range. The other is because the left hand one will be up against the floating shelves and should be flush. This made sense to me. This is also with a double trash can pull-out to the right of the sink and a dish drawer in the island diagonally across from the newly relocated dishwasher. After we left the showroom I realized we hadnâÂÂt accounted for super susans for the corner cabinet but it got me wondering if they have to come from KraftMaid or if itâÂÂs something that can be bought elsewhere for a savings?.

IâÂÂve asked the builder for ideas on how to eliminate or replace the need for a cabinet above the refrigerator. That cabinet alone with associated trim pieces was around $850 and thatâÂÂs money I could spend on something IâÂÂd enjoy much more than just a matching cabinet so if I eliminate it my number is down to $8,641 ��" not that bad against the $6,500 contribution.

One other thing youâÂÂll see on this KDâÂÂs plan is he pulled the island 6â closer to the counters from 48â to 42âÂÂ. He feels it helps with the flow through the outside area of the kitchen...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:57AM
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