help with kitchen layout needed

countertopsurpriseApril 28, 2013


we are planning a complete makeover of the kitchen in our house. I start this post with some answers to questions listed by buehl. Further down I posted some pictures and layouts.

What are your goals?
- Our goals are to have an open concept for kitchen and DR. We also want more countertop space and more storage. We are open to all kind of kitchen layouts but prefer a modern look.

What is your family composition? Adults? Children? Age ranges of children? Current? Future?
- Our current composition is two adults, one infant and a dog. In the future one or two more kids are a possibility.

How many kitchen workers are there? Cook(s)? Cleanup? Helpers? Now? Future?
- Mostly we have one person working in the kitchen, but sometimes we like to prepare meals together.

Do you or anyone in your home cook?
- Yes, we do.

How do you see your kitchen used? Just for cooking/cleaning up? Children doing homework while you cook? Party place?
- cooking and cleanup
- children doing homework
- occasional party (not so important)

Do you entertain a lot? If so, formal? Informal?
- When we entertain, then mostly informal.

Do you want your kitchen to be a "hang out" place? Parties only? Everyday?
- Everyday hangout place for family and friends.

Do you have a separate DR? Do you use it frequently? Infrequently? If infrequently, do you want to begin using it more frequently (e.g., for daily/nightly family meals)?
- The DR is directly attached to the Kitchen and we want to take down the wall between DR and Kitchen.

Would you like to open up the kitchen to adjacent areas? Close it up?
- We want to open the kitchen up towards the DR.

Do you plan to merge two rooms/areas (e.g., Nook and Kitchen into a Kitchen only)
Where are you flexible?
- We are flexible with the location of the Kitchen. We could imagine that Kitchen and DR swap positions if it makes sense. In the current DR there is a small nook under a staircase with a ceiling height of about 66 inches, which might be used better if there is a smart Kitchen concept that makes use of this nook.

Can windows or doorways change size?
- No, we don't plan to do any changes like that.

Can they be moved or eliminated?
- No

Can windows be raised/lowered?
- No

Can any walls come down?
- The wall between Kitchen and DR is coming down. Due to plumbing in that wall there will have to be some kind of a bulkhead in the new opening.

Does the sink have to be centered under a window?
- It currently is, but it doesn't have to be.

Does it have to be under a window at all?
- Not necessarily. A sink on an Island or on an peninsula might be nice as well.

Do you bake a lot and do you want a Baking Center?
- We need an oven, but not a dedicated baking center.

Do you want a coffee/tea/beverage center?
- My wife uses a french press for coffee and we also make sparkling water with a Sodastream. So these items need a dedicated space on the countertop.

Do you want a snack center?
- We are hoping to create some kind of a breakfast bar between Kitchen and DR.

What appliances do you plan on having (helps to figure out work flow, work zones, and types of cabinets...upper/lower vs full height, etc.)
Range or Cooktop or Rangetop?
- We will be satisfied with a max. 30" cooktop.

Single or Double or no Wall Oven?
- One oven, it doesn't matter to us if it is under the cooktop or some place separate.

Warming Drawer?
- Not required

MW? (Advantium, MW Drawer, OTR MW/Hood, countertop, built-in, shelf?)
- Yes, but please not on the countertop.

DW? Standard or drawers? If drawers, 1 or 2?
- Standard DW 24"

Refrigerator (Top/bottom freezer, SxS, or all-fridge/freezer? Counter-depth (CD), standard-depth, or built-in?)
- We prefer a CD Refrigerator 30" to 36", with a bottom freezer.

Ventilation Hood?
- Yes please, we are OK with a ventilation ho0d over an island as well.

- no

Pantry: Walk-in or cabinets? In the Kitchen or outside the Kitchen (e.g., Mudroom or hall)?
- Storage has to take place in the cabinets of the kitchen, there is no separate room for storage available.

Actual layout:

The first picture shows the actual layout of the kitchen. It is not very functional, especially with the DW right on the corner to the sink.

Please also see the following photo of the kitchen.

The third picture shows the existing floor plan of the main floor. The entrance into the house is trough a small mud room into the living room. Travelling between rooms happens on the right side of the floorplan. It is possible to walk all the way from the mud room to the deck, which is attached to the kitchen. The existing wall between DR and Kitchen is not drawn in that layout.

We now want to remove the wall between Kitchen and Dining room. This gives us the folowing space to play with:

Please keep in mind, that the wall that we want to remove contains some plumbing and some ducts. Therefore we will need some kind of a bulkhead on the left side of the layout.
The ceiling height is 95.5 inches. It is a dropped ceiling, so any duct for a ventilation hood can be hidden in the dropped ceiling. To get a better idea of the empty room and of the window layout, please see the following two renderings of the empty DR and Kitchen.

View towards the garden and deck:

View towards the staircase:

In the following there are a couple renderings of possible layouts. Please feel free to comment your opinion on the several layouts. We aim for a layout that increases storage in a way that is as open as possible. But we don't want to loose a designated dining area.




The next design moves the kitchen to the other wall of the room. However, I found it very difficult to use the existing nook under the staircase in the kitchen design. If anyone has a brilliant idea I would like to know about it.

Other wall:

Thank you very much for all your help. Please feel free to post any comments that cross your mind. This is the first time we are doing such a process and we hope to benefit from your experience.

I can also easily supply additional information on measurings etc.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Interesting layout! What's the deal with the not square corners?

First impressions - I can see the appeal of moving the dining room near the nice, bright patio door - but you would then lose all that light in the kitchen. I would leave the kitchen where it is, partly because of the light, and partly because of the problem you pointed out with accessing the space under the stairs.

I would eliminate the U from consideration - I would quickly tire of having to walk around the peninsula to get anything out of the kitchen. And the rest of your plans have your stovetop on the island/peninsula. You show venting, but this is a really expensive option. But the window seems to call for a sink, so putting the range on the outside wall would require a lineup of stove, sink, fridge. Unless you had open counter under the window, and moved the sink to the island.

This is a tough one!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 2:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think all the designs could work pretty well depending on how you feel about walking around the peninsula as annkh said. If it were my kitchen there'd be no doubt I would want the peninsula to get in more countertop space for prep/cooking, as well as being able to be turned toward the "action" when I had friends over. The only other thing i'd say is for the galley style, it flows very nicely to the outside patio, so if that's a place you could use for dining 3 seasons of the year you might not need a big dining table inside. good luck!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 2:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We really need a full set of dimensions...the width/length of each wall/window/door/opening and the distances b/w each wall/window/door/opening.

See below for the missing measurements.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Does the nook have any windows?

I can't tell for certain if the nook goes all the way through to the LR....if it does, does it have to?

It might make a great pantry - no more being forced to store all your food in cabinets. But, it depends on the the rest of the dimensions and the answers to the above questions.

[Edited to ask add'l question]

This post was edited by buehl on Sun, Apr 28, 13 at 15:27

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Thank you for the feedback so far. Here some answers:

@annkh: The house is more than a hundred years old, I have no idea why those walls are like that. But we have to deal with it...
And yes, we will probably won't consider the U-layout, although it provides a lot of storage. I think venting over the island is required if you want to open a working triangle. And I don't think the cook top in front of the window would be a better solution.

@armada: My wife really likes the galley island layout. We live in Canada (Ottawa Area) so there are not necessarily 3 seasons of patio weather. The winter can be quite long. I am worried that this layout wouldn't supply us with enough storage. Maybe we could put another pantry next to the bulkhead.


Please find some more dimensions below:

The nook doesn't have windows and it doesn't go through to the LR. I will post additional information about the nook dimension later.

@All: Thanks you so much for the feedback so far!!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 4:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


so here is some more information about the nook:

And also a picture, if the sketch is not clear enough:

I already tried to come up with some smart layouts there, but nothing really convinced me...

Please let me now, if additional information is needed.

I will work a little bit more on the Galley-island design.

Thanks again!!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 5:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

the L with island is where I would take it.Probably must look closely at the details. First I liked the galley, but I live in the Northern Great Lakes and have patio doors in both homes in proximity of kitchen/and/or living areas. Depends on the exposure but many days the sheer curtains and side panels stay across due to wind/snow/rain/sleet/and as well glaring sun which can be long days of it with intense heat in the summer. views are nice but be careful with large expanses of glass directly in your kitchen zone and especially if the orientation of the glass has anything to do with giving you weather up close and personal. the L and island is flexible and the user of the space has a choice of where they wish to position themselves in relation to those at the seating area or those that may be coming/in/out the patio door/and conditions around the patio door in general.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 5:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What's the distance b/w the nook opening and the doorway? That's a crucial piece of information! (Dimension "N" in my pic.) It looks like it's flush with DR wall on the right (looking at the pic you posted). If it is, then I assume that measurement is approx 80-3/4". If it's not flush, then we need more information.

It sounds like you really want to keep the nook? Why? It's pretty short so I would think you would have to stoop to get inside least I would have to at 5'10".

Could the nook be opened from the LR side? Maybe add some built-in book cases or make it an "entertainment center".

This post was edited by buehl on Sun, Apr 28, 13 at 22:42

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi buehl,

sorry I forgot to add that measurement.
Dimension N is 81.5" and you are right, dimension L is 0".

The nook cannot be accessed from the LR, because there are actually two staircases, one that goes upstairs and another one that goes downstairs. The nook could be accessed from the staircase that goes into the basement.

I know, the ceiling height in that nook is terrible. I don't really want to keep the nook, I just didn't find a useful role for it in a kitchen design. If the area around the nook is used as a DR, we could put a desk in there with a custom bookshelf, a bar or some other kind of storage.

When I tried to model the kitchen next to the staircase the best use for the nook I came up with was to have some additional storage in there (accessible from the counter top) or a MW inside the wall...


    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

L+island looks most promising imo.

For nook maybe one of the below can be applied.

Here is a link that might be useful: See

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 6:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh... that pullout storage is crazy cool! Could end up being a great solution for pantry storage.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 7:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Someday I want to build a 2-story house on our family lake property. The lot is small, so efficient use of space is a must. I have long envisioned drawers under the lower stairs (for things like blankets and beach towels), but this is the first time I've seen a photo of something similar.

What a great use of space!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 9:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Those are pullouts!

What a great project, Countertop, I'm not seeing a compelling desire in you guys to have the dining at the far end; and lacking that, everything seems to argue in favor of having your new kitchen right where it is.

The area under the stairs is extremely valuable square footage. One thing it does is open up your kitchen options because you have a ton of potential kitchen storage right there, even if it is on the other side of the dining table -- Like the galley design your wife really likes. Note that it's hardly farther away than some of the storage in many of the larger kitchens posted here. You'll have all the room you need for point-of-use items, like all your common pans, spatulas, everyday condiments, in the work area. The bundt pan, turkey roaster, and cases of canned tomatoes and green beans can go elsewhere. You could even tuck a small freezer in there,

The other thing it does, of course, is create potential for a really special additional space, function, feature. That desk or bar area you mentioned could be a wonderfully charming, or something like the niche in the image below.

Any direction you go, IMO potentially too great an asset not to help drive a decision.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 2:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Forgot to toss in. Could you by any chance use an extra guest bed? After all, looks like there's room. :)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can't see the pictures. it maybe because I am at work.

1. Sodastream and French Press for coffee.
I use both. My soda stream is in the walk in pantry. We use it about 1 x per day. It was not worth the trouble of keeping it on the counter.
I use the electric kettle to boil water. I use the kettle 2 plus times per day. I keep the kettle on the counter. The french press goes in the drawer when not used. I keep the kettle close to the faucet so that I can fill it easily. I find that the electric kettle boils faster than the gas range top kettle. I have high power gas range. Even so, the electric is easier/faster. It is also easier for the kids to use.

I have a large island. that is where I do most of my prep work. So I can afford to leave some stuff out on the perimeter counter.

2. I have a 30 inch range plus a Miele speed oven which is a combined MW and regular oven. It was expensive but it gives me the second oven that bakes well and allows us to have a MW and saves space. We only use the MW to heat stuff. I only put glass or ceramic in the MW. So even if i have already started to preheat my oven to bake cookies and I forgot to melt the butter, I switch the hot oven to MW setting, put the butter in a pyrex, melt the butter and switch the oven back to preheat mode. It works fine...

3. I have a L plus island configuration. Ref/range on one leg and sink/DW on the other leg of L. I put the speed oven under counter on the island. I opted to not have a second sink. Sometimes i wish I had one. When my kids are doing home work for hours on the island and the paper doesn't get splashed by the water or I need the large surface to layout stuff, I am glad that I did not put the sink in the island. there are pros and cons to every decision you make.

Another thing about the L + island versus a galley is how the room feels when you are in it. The L has a more open feel since there are multiple ways out of the working space. So you don't feel as locked in. This is an important concept in design. How does the space feel when you are in it?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Thank you for all the help. I think we boiled down the options to either

- the L-peninsula with an additional island or
- the galley layout.

I will no longer pursue the option of moving the kitchen to the other end. A relative of us is a contractor out east and he recommended to move the kitchen to the other side because of the nice and bright seating area and because the distance to bring in the groceries is smaller... I at least wanted to consider it and get other people's opinions on that.

Not moving the kitchen will also safe some money because we don't have to move as much plumbing and wiring. And we can also keep the existing floor in the dining room and only have to change the floor in the kitchen.

We also like rosie's suggestion of just using the nook as a pantry. We have some bulky appliances that we don't use as frequently :-) And my wife also liked the first picture provided by sena01. we have never seen a solution like that before.

So I guess I will focus on a more detailed layout of the two above mentioned options now. My plan is to leave the fridge and sink where I have it and to play with the cabinet layout and the position of the cook top/stove.

How much distance should I leave between an Island and the cabinets on the wall? NKBA recommends 42" for a single cook and 48" for multiple cooks. Is us using the kitchen as a family considered multiple cooks? What are your experiences?

Do you think we could survive with a MW/stove combination as suggested by kaismom? We currently don't even own a MW, because we don't really like to use it. But sometimes it can be quite useful. I think I would consider it more if I had a high cabinet to put it in. Currently both of the layouts don't really have room for a high pantry that could accommodate a stove like that...

Back to you! And keep up the great support ;-)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 6:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I actually kind of liked the idea of moving the kitchen....less traffic through the kitchen itself, potential pantry under the stairs, and, as you mentioned, closer for bringing groceries into the home.

If two or more of you are in the kitchen at the same time (cooking, prepping, cleaning up), then it's a multi-worker kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Buehl,

Thanks for being honest. I know, it has some advantages, but I was never able to come up with a layout that I liked. I always ended up having the fridge next to the entrance door and that has a very bulky feel to it. We would also have to close the triangle window to the staircase, which brings in some additional light we have from a skylight upstairs.

If you have a good idea for a better layout, please let me know.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 10:38PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Norcraft vs. Marsh cabinets - is one better?
We have been working with a large local cabinet company....
Question on size of wall cabinets flanking cooktop
I'm planning 45" wall cabinets for my uppers....
Sexist or Fun?
Trouble from young feminists over this billboard.
Joseph Corlett, LLC
"Ledge" sinks and accessories -- do you use them?
I'm considering an undermount stainless sink that has...
Please help with Kitchen floorplan
Hello everyone, My husband and I are building a new...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™