Need help with layout of brownstone parlor kitchen

dreamojeanApril 19, 2013

I'd like help with the layout of our brownstone Parlor (high 2nd floor) kitchen particularly with some design issues we have ��"

1. We have about 18â of pipes to our bathroom coming off the utility wall at the bottom of what could be a nice clean L-shaped kitchen, so we could put a fridge or stove or a pantry next to the pipes but IâÂÂm worried about a fridge opening right into the cabinets/countertop; unless we put the fridge on the end of the 10-foot utility wall and just use the opened up airshaft for a pantry.

2. Whether to put the sink in the island to create a better triangle.

3. ThereâÂÂs a soffit along the main utility wall thatâÂÂs decorative and needs to remain if weâÂÂre keeping the tin ceiling (which we want to do)

4. Needing to convert a window to a door to a new deck/stairs, our options are to convert the only kitchen window which is 31â wide, which will mean we can't have a sink in front of a window OR to convert a 29â wide dining room window which might compromise a gorgeous symmetrical trim around 3 dining room windows and require widening the window on a bend in the house, all potential contractors say door off the kitchen will be much easier and cleaner

5. can't really make the dining room area the kitchen since it's a 2nd floor with a future rental below (which itself has tin ceilings that are worth saving), the little kitchen area is a legacy of the 100+ year old houses with tiny kitchens closed off with walls, but we could put built-in pantry areas next to the "fireplace" part of the dining room area

IâÂÂd love any suggestions (see pics of the current raw space and drawings)

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Annie Deighnaugh

It's such a small there anyway you can make the right window of the bay into the door to the patio and not have the traffic through the kitchen?

Or can you relocate the island so the traffic flow isn't going through what is already a fairly narrow kitchen?

That way you can potentially get in a corner lazy susan, which is a must have IMO, esp in a tight space, because of the fabulous storage they offer.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 8:04AM
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I'd turn the fridge 90 degrees so it faces the new door, even if that meant reduced-depth cabinets for a space allowing the fridge doors their 90* opening allotment.
Like the space very much, great details. Keep them.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 8:09AM
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Put the door where the window is. THe kitchen is too small to have through traffi and seating. So, eliminate both. The table is right there, so you don't need seating on the peninsula, and it does nothing but crowd the space. The through traffic should be avoided at all costs as it's a safety hazard.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:19AM
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Greendesigns, are you saying put the door off the dining room not the kitchen? Right now there are windows at both places until we convert one of them

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:28AM
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I second converting a window in the dining room to a door to the deck. If the opening needs to be widened to 30, the trim could be carefully removed and the lintel reproduced, preserving the original verticals. You could also get a door that complements the window opposite by having a large light on the top and panels at the bottom. I used a company called Maiman to make some custom doors that I was very happy with.

You are talking a certain amount of custom work, but in the scheme of such a large project I think it would be worth the additional expense

I would not worry so much about the asymmetry of a few inches from one side to the next: There already appears to be a slight asymmetry as to how the bay joins the room.

I also agree with trying to turn the fridge and eliminating the peninsula seating. I think it's redundant seating with the table right there.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:48AM
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Talk to a plumber and see if they can clean up the piping so you have more space in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 12:30PM
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I second talking to a plumber about moving the pipes. We did this because we had bathroom piping taking up space in our kitchen as well. We were about to move it all just around a foot back, and it made all the difference in the world in our narrow kitchen. Don'
t know if you can tell much from the picture below, but maybe it will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 3:41PM
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I would have an island, not peninsula. Keep it the same size you have it now, just shift it towards the center of the house so there is direct access to the deck door in the kitchen from the dining room instead of through the middle of the kitchen.

You don't need counter seating unless it fits easily and it doesn't look like it does.

I would make the door outswing - not optimal but doable and you don't have room for inswing.

For sure, whatever you do, move the bathroom pipes. Now is the time. That floor is trash so you don't have to disturb your tin ceiling below.

Be sure to do a counter depth or better a built in fridge.

Great space. Go with it's flow and don't try to do a suburban kitchen; shallow cabinets hold a lot and can go in many places - they don't have to match your kitchen cabs and if in the dining room, they shouldn't match.

I've patched my tin ceilings several times. My local supplier folded but here's a link to one that I would try if you need to. Looks like they have a lot of old styles.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tin Ceilings

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:51PM
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I agree with the suggestions to convert dining room window to a door and turning the fridge 90 degrees.

You can place the sink in front of the kitchen window and may also have a small island w/o seating.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:07AM
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Thanks all for your thoughts - after much reflection I finally decided to

1. get the pipes moved so we can have the fridge flush against the main wall (which has to be built out a bit anyway)

2. make all the appliances go along that wall - fridge facing dining room (can be deeper that way), then landing then sink then dishwasher (covered by a panel) then landing, stove, landing, wall near exterior

3. peninsula not island (could change) - otherwise I just can't find a good space for our too many small appliances, which could go on the peninsula near the exterior wall quite nicely (we have 2 coffee makers for example - one cheap one nice, one for my half-caf etc.). will be a 3'x 5.5' long one, a powerhouse with garbage/recycling, pot/pan storage, drawer for utensils and silverware, bookshelf for cookbooks, and an overhang for 2-3 stools (whether or not we use them and we might not)

4. door off the kitchen not dining room (most controversial even for me) - makes it easier for us to come and go daily, harder with company I realize, but with a peninsula having the door off the dining room would be a total pain other than when guests are in.

5. temporary kitchen with final appliances but no cabinets yet (open shelving until we live with it for a few weeks etc.), and temp island acting as peninsula to see how we like it, so we can change as needed. we need to get a tenant situated anyway and apply for a renovation loan, so getting to temp kitchen solves those problems.

Sink in front of the kitchen window only worked with 24" dishwasher to the left of it kind of floating, and meant a smaller island (under 4' long), and could only be a 24" single basin and I really prefer a double basin - so it just started to be a pain to make work.

Sink in the island or peninsula would cost more in plumbing (a lot more) and I like an island that's also a good serving space.

I took a close look at kitchens in my neighborhood, including a neighbor with a layout like the one we are coming around to - it's new york city and these crazy cramped powerhouse kitchens are par for the course, there's a lot of getting around each other and making it work, a lot of "no triangle" kitchens and a lot of people doing great cooking in them. I hope that my choices end up working for us.

Any thoughts? I realize there are challenges with this approach but with this size kitchen and my priorities every approach presents challenges, so I picked ones I think I could live with.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 1:35PM
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I know NYC has special challenges that are unique to that one place. I stayed with a friend who still had the raised bathtub with the counter that closed over it in the kitchen. (converted into a shower with plywood and plastic)

Is it in the budget to put a door in Both windows that were discussed?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 1:59PM
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Palimpsest, I definitely want doors off both kitchen and dining room but figure that we have to choose one now - and we can add a 2nd door when money allows if we want or need to, and the deck layout allows for it.

We still have a claw-footed tub in the bathroom that has been turned into a shower with a wire circle over it and a shower curtain, it's a great cast-iron tub but certainly old. I love it now but it took me a year to use it in the first place, I originally preferred our other shower that is in a renovated bathtub/stall.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 2:16PM
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It sounds like a highly functional kitchen. I agree the traffic through the kitchen is not ideal, but you know how you live the best and sounds like you've thought it through. One thing I was wondering is why you feel the need to keep a decorative soffet? It your cabinets go all the way to the ceiling, perhaps a custom cabinet maker could build out your crown such that it meets the existing tin ceiling if you are unable to get salvage (which I would look into). It looks like you have high ceilings so that would be extra storage. You could do stacked upper cabinets with the upper cabinets having glass fronts.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 2:30PM
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Please, please please do not put a door in the dining room window. It would look terrible and ruin the flow of those beautiful architectural elements.

Many old houses have doors in the kitchen and flow thru traffic. Both my 1900 condo and my 1928 house have the same. Not ideal, certainly when compared to huge modern kitchen, but absolutely normal in an old house. Heck, in NYC, it's not uncommon to walk thru bedrooms to get to bathrooms, or have a bedroom with no closet. Unless you have a buffalo heard of teenage boys going thru every hour, I don't see the big deal. You are absolutely right to move the plumbing, is the time.

If you can put a door with stained glass in the kitchen, that would help with the loss of the window....but stained glass would help ensure privacy from intruders. If you could find some stained glass that picks up the DR motif, even better.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 3:41PM
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Navi jen, you're one of the few people who have said not to put the door off the dining room for aesthetic reasons. My first take on it was, great now we have an easy point of access to the outside; my second take was, that it was only an option if the trim stays "as is", which I've been told is an option especially if we put a door that matches the interior in terms of panels (but I'd want glass panels, for light). But I'm tending to agree with you that we should do that in the kitchen instead, if we can make it work.

I don't mind non-stained glass on the door, for light, since windows would also mean no privacy (although with windows we would have blinds). Perhaps mottled or tinted glass to let in light only? Then again I want people to be able to see in from the deck - on our ground floor we have a swing-in inside door off the dining room to that deck, with a panel on the bottom half and glass panels on the top half and no shades or blinds (no privacy), and the swing-out screen door is all screen panels, so when we open the inside door, we get better light. But I think a swing-in door on the 2nd/parlor floor will get more in the way of the kitchen. (the ground floor is going to be a rental once we get the parlor floor done and clear off the ground floor, I'll miss it but it's small so makes sense to go up a floor)

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 5:38AM
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