Feedback on kitchen layout

efeuerMarch 12, 2013

Hello forum,

I am in the planning stage of renovation of my 25-year-old kitchen. I would like some feedback on a proposed layout I have worked out. It is just a tweak on my current layout, but I don't think I want to radically redesign things. The U-shaped kitchen I have been using for the last 30 years suits me fine. I cannot imagine a more convenient workspace. The main change I would like to make is to eliminate the overhanging cabinets above the peninsula to open up the room and give a nice sight line into the adjacent family room. I also want to update from the country style we now have to a more contemporary look.

The first floorplan shown is the current one. The second is my revision.

The adjacent family room was recently redone. It is a little more contemporary than the rest of the house, with cherrywood paneling in a natural stain. The sofa and chairs are new and generally transitional/contemporary, and the occasional tables are Danish modern from the 1960s, in teakwood, bought used on eBay. The colors are all shades of brown and beige, with some accents in the burnt orange/red color range.

My new design encroaches about 6 inches on the existing dinette. This still allows us to put a table and chairs in there, and gives enough clearance to be able to get into and out of the chairs. Having a proper, sit down table is very important to me. My current table seats six, which is ideal for when my grown children visit. I do not want to trade the table for an island or bar seating. I really like being able to have a family meal or informal get-together in the kitchen rather than the dining room.

Having said all that, I really am trying to remain open-minded at this stage. If anyone has other suggestions, I would be glad to hear them. Thanks to all.
Liz Feuer

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I feel like I am looking into my in-laws kitchen. Seriously, even the hardware on the cabinets is the same. :)

They DID remove the cabs over the peninsula a few years ago. It made a big difference. And they already had room for the DW next to the sink - so what their kitchen looks like now will be almost identical to what you will be getting. What they DON'T have is a wall between the dinette area and the family room (what I assume is past the dinette area?) Would you be open to taking that half wall down to help with the cramped space for your table? I think it would make a huge difference.

Otherwise, if you are happy with the way the kitchen works for you I think it looks just fine. Do you plan on removing the soffits? You can gain the storage lost over the peninsula by taking your cabinets to the ceiling. Also, use drawers in as many base cabinets as possible. (3 drawer bases are good for pots and pans, 4 drawer for other items) They are much more efficient and easier on the back.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:33PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Think about swapping the DW and the sink if you ever have help (or want help) in the kitchen. If you swap the DW and sink, one person can load the DW while another preps on the peninsula. The depth of the stove front to back and the DW door's movement should be checked to make sure they don't interfere with each other before making the change.

Or another option would be to eliminate the peninsula and continue the counter down to the current corner. Then you could do a narow 18" island with minimal aisles. That would give you two paths to reach the table and you'd feel less closed in by the pinch point access. However, it would be narrow clearances on both sides of the island.

Consider removing the soffits to gain additional storage space, even if it's for seldom used items.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 9:56PM
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Hollysprings always has good ideas but in this one I will have to disagree with her. I would not switch the DW to the left side of the sink. I don't think clearances will work but the other problem is just simply zone-crossing. The cook can't be cleaning up as they are cooking as you will have to stand aside to put a dirty utensil or whatever into the DW. If someone is cleaning up at the end of a meal it becomes a one-person chore. You can't have one person filling the DW and then someone else cleaning the pots and pans off the stove and putting leftovers away. It just won't work.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Hi Liz! Do you think you will miss the storage you are losing by taking out the corner cabinet and the one above the peninsula? If you do need some of that storage, you can think about putting a counter-to-soffit wall cabinet next to the window, but have it just be a straight cab, flush against the wall. You can store glassware, dessert plates, or other dishes needed at table there. If it will be pretty things, you could put a glass door on it. Since it is accessible from the dinnette or kitchen, it is a handy place for plates needed there, for salt and pepper, napkins, morning pills.

With the slightly smaller dinette area, you may find that making a banquette bench for the seating on the half-wall side of the table makes sense. You can do both seat and back padding, to make it very comfortable. You won't be using it every day with just you and DH, but it will be comfortable enough for the kids to slide into when they come to visit, and it allows you to have the table move a little toward the half-wall. Then it won't feel crowded at all, losing the 6 inches to the kitchen!

If you or DH have carpentry skills, a simple banquette can be made box-style. Or have your carpenter do it. Make the seat on a piano hinge, and you have a lot of storage space inside, too. Or many companies make beautiful grown-up banquette seating (not like the little corner sets in the naked furniture stores!).

You can also consider taking out soffits. Sometimes there are ducts or pipes in them, though. Without soffits, you can go with taller cabinets and gain a lot of cabinet space. In your kitchen, though, you probably need to leave soffit above the window. If you do leave the soffits, you may want to have a can light put in the newly empty soffit above the peninsula to replace the under-cabinet light you will be losing.

A lot, if not most, kitchen people here have found that having drawer base cabinets is much more useful than base cabs with shelves. You have two 24" base drawers on the peninsula, and they can be good for holding dishes. I would suggest that the 36" base by the fridge also be a drawer base. It can hold your pots and pans. If you have not seen base drawers used this way, check out the finished kitchens blog.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nice grown-up dining bench

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 11:49PM
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Thank you to all for the feedback. We also were considering a banquette in the eat-in kitchen. We cannot remove the half wall because there is a step down to the adjacent family room. How much space would it save to install the banquette? One drawback of the idea is that it would only be open on one end, sort of like diner seating. We could wrap it around the back wall as well, but I'm not sure that would be an improvement. To be honest, I think it is already rather cramped. Initially I thought it was a good idea to move the peninsula slightly, but now I am having misgivings.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 9:16AM
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Liz, how about taking out the wall, then creating a new wall by making a built in banquette? The seating will ensure that no one falls off the step down to the family room, and removing the wall gives you back space that you lost by moving the peninsula out. Any cabinetmaker can do the banquette seating. The same cabinetmaker could probably do the kitchen cabs custom, for about the same price as a big box store. Then the peninsula can be made a smidge narrower than 24" and you will have a more spacious feel than you have now.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 3:45PM
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Would you consider a corner sink? Placed to the left of the current dishwasher, to the right of the window, a corner sink would give you a bigger stretch of prep counter space between the sink and the stove. You would likely want something as a backstop, just in that corner, but if you remove the cabinets and soffits over the pennisula, the kitchen will still feel open to the eating area.

Between the sink and dishwasher you would have a landing area for dirty dishes, separate from where you prep. A cleaner-helper-second-cook could work there.

I know some folks don't like them, but in my first kitchen redo--a small NYC apartment--the corner sink gave me a stretch of prep space I really needed.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 4:13PM
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Look at that...I managed to dig up a (blurry--sorry) picture of my old corner sink. It worked well for me.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 4:26PM
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