Kitchen/Living Layout Advice?

ajbaker324April 11, 2013


First time poster, long time reader/lurker!

My wife and I are finally ready to renovate our main living space/kitchen and would appreciate any guidance/advice you can provide. This is our first home and we’ve never taken on a renovation of this size. I've attached a picture of our current layout in this post. I've taken a shot in re-designing the space and will follow with another post containing that file.

We do not have a family yet, but we hope to start one very soon and would like to take this into our design considerations. Right now, I feel like we have a disproportionate amount of "dining space." What you see in the current layout is our entire public living space. We live in a Ranch home with no basement (on slab). The hallway leads to 3 bedrooms and additional bathrooms.

My re-design incorporates taking down what we believe to be a load bearing wall. We have not heard back from the engineer on the plan or if a column will be needed yet.

The new plan reduces the plan to one dining room with a larger table and island which frees up space for additional living space. Our current fireplace is a see-through wood burning which we’ve never used. I’d like to fill in the dining room side and install a gas insert facing the living room to create additional usable space in the dining room.

The gas feed to the house is just on the other side of the exterior wall from the new range placement so that should be easy to hook up. I know moving the sink is going to be a little tougher seeing that we are on a slab but I think it’s necessary in my current plans.

In the proposed plan, I kind of like the idea of entering the house through the front door and looking through the French doors on the left. I think the space will draw your eyes across the dining room table and up the range/hood on the far wall. I think it would have a nice visual impact.

So, some of my concerns…

The exterior wall in my proposed plan becomes very crowded with the fridge, range and hood. These appliances basically eliminate any upper wall cabinets so everything would be below in drawers on the wall and island. My wife has had her hopes on a BS RNB 36” with hood thanks to this forum! I’ve also moved the CD fridge placement to that wall as well to provide us with space for a small “mudroom” (Bench/shelves/hooks). Currently, we enter through the garage 98% of the time and all of our stuff lands on chairs, counter tops, etc in the kitchen. This has also turned our small ½ bath into a closet of sorts!

With no uppers and the placement of the appliances and window, would this layout work? It almost seems like it would make sense to switch the prep/window area with the range if it’s cost effective to improve the flow.

With this being our only living space, am I trying too hard to make it open? Or, would I be better served to keep some of these separate? My wife liked the idea of having some living space next to the kitchen so that she can keep an eye on young children.

Any suggestions or comments you can provide would be very much appreciated! Thank you!!


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Follow-up to my first post containing my proposed layout for the space.



    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 12:34PM
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I think the proposal looks great if you're determined to have a super open living space. However, I think you could probably make do quite well with what you have.

It's nice to have open sightlines for the kids, but honestly, having walls is NICE especially when they get older. My parents' downstairs living space is pretty much all open and it's maddening if more than a couple of people are in there, cooking + watching TV + having a conversation. It gets very loud, very quickly. I'm a big advocate of keeping walls, even though the "open concept" is super trendy.

Do you need to keep your formal dining room as a dining room? Once you have kids, you could turn the dining room into a playroom so you can keep an eye on them while you're in the kitchen and keep your eat-in kitchen as the eating space. Because, a) once you have kids, having a separate spot for their "stuff" will be VERY useful, and b) once you have kids, it's going to be awhile until you're in the mood for any kind of formal dining room. Once they get older you can transfer it back.

That said, even if you keep your basic layout as-is, could you fit in an island or a more usable peninsula? It would be great to have more counter space/storage in there...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 7:18PM
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I'd put a wall between the desk and the sectional L to make a clear demarcation, and also to contain noise better. A pocket door in the wall would work well for those times when you want a little more separation..

Maybe you should have "informal" dining room while the kids are little and eat all your meals there. Once they get a bit older, you can make it more formal (whatever that means to you.) What I suggest (And your new plan does that) is to not waste space having two sit-down eating spaces, unless you're house is HUGE. Eat your meals at the (one and only) dining table. It's ok to have counter seating for those quick meals in busy lives, but try to avoid having all your meals there as I think you lose something when all lined up like at a diner counter.

And I don;t the the backs of diner stools are a good decorative pairing for a "formal" dining room. They're fine, though with your everyday eating table. But be sure youre thinking of it in those terms.

Two-sided fireplaces are neat because the maximise the pleasures of fire-viewing in more than one room. Though while you have rug-rat sized littles, they double the safety issues. But you won't have toddlers for long.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:54PM
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Your current plan would work GREAT if you had a basement rec room or a above garage bonus room. If you don't, you will grow out of your house when your kids are school age/early teen years, IMHO. If you are planning to move to a bigger house when the kids are older, then this would not be a long term house for you so disregard what I say.

liriodendron is also referring to the same issues that I am raising. I am writing it in a slightly different way...

Since you do not have a basement, it is essential that you have a room where someone can go to be either noisy or quiet. It does not matter how it is used. Either way, you need a room which allows the person to be separated for noise, if needed.

1. One kid plays a musical instrument for school, where to practice? Where does the other kid do homework? where does the adult read the paper/book, watch the news?
2. Kids are playing on the Xbox (or the new thing yet to come).. where does the other kid/adult go? Are you and your wife willing to hear the endless noise while making dinner, doing the extra work that you brought home? I guess you can force your kid to wear the head phone or you go to your bedroom with the laptop...

You can use the kids bedroom/adult bedroom for some of these functions. But it does not work that great if you make their bedrooms into communal rooms. For example, you can't really put the Xbox in a kid's bedroom. (many families do and you maybe one of those.)

Since you do NOT have a basement, if this was my house, I would close off one of the rooms and get rid of one of the eating tables. The closed-off room with a door will be used as either a quite room or a noisy room, however way it works best for your family. At different phases of your life, it maybe used differently. Either way, you have the option of a room that has walls/door.

Personally, I like enclosing the noise producing elements so that everyone else can have peace and quiet. Because of this, I would close off the media.

In your current space, if someone is watching TV, then everyone else has to go to their bedrooms to be able to have a bit of quiet. Not everyone wants to watch the same show or play the same game.

In your minds' eye, try to live in this house when your kids are 3(preschool), 10(school age), 15(teenager), 20(coming back and forth from college).

You are designing your house first. Then the kitchen fits in that house.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:05PM
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