Maybe - finally - picking a layout?

Kathy RiveraApril 9, 2013

I've posted some version of a layout a few times here. Quick background info: family of 4, 2 young kids, 1960s center hall colonial in the NYC subrubs (a relatively modest one, not the super affluent ones).

We currently have a U w/eat-in kitchen and we never 'eat-in' (don't actually have a table there after 2 years). I like to eat away from the prep. But the U part is so small (~27" of usable prep) that it doesn't function well. Especially as the kids get bigger and want to help. I can already tell what a difference (tighter) it is since we moved in (3 y.o. takes up way more room than a baby!).

This should be our 'forever' home, but I have a feeling we may make a move in about 5 years to be closer to family - so resale is a bit of a factor. Spoke to our realtor who says combining w/DR is fine as long as we have a place to stage a DR (e.g., one end of the LR). I don't really see that working well in this house. He also stressed the importance of an EIK. "A nice one, where 4 people can comfortably eat". OK, well, it isn't that now, so I'd rather compromise a bit on that, make more function and give the 'illusion' of nice EIK! So here are my 3 proposed layouts...

Peninsula seating:
Pros: I really like working in a U (and my corner sink!), long stretch of work area, keeps windows and doors
Cons: Dead space behind seating, stove close to the door (though already like this and have no issues)
[the grey thing on the fridge wall is my placeholder for a new wall that would be put in for a reach in pantry - I'm no architect!]

Pro: keeping the U, keeping windows/doors, gives a more 'EIK look'
Con: Reality is - very small table smooshed into corner, walkway between peninsula and fridge wall is tight

I don't really have the room...but it works with narrow clearances
Pro: An island! (cue the HGTV buyer), probably will make it feel more open, best layout for the two-tone cabinet look I really would like
Con: reality is it's a very small island and I doubt I'd use it for prep much - I prefer by the sink, narrow clearances, more construction with new window space and moving door

Opinions? I will probably take both the island and either the banquette or peninsula plans for cabinet quotes - just to see them in decent renderings and get a feel for price difference.


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Sophie Wheeler

I don't think that opening the kitchen to the DR precludes it from being used as a DR. There are ways of doing that can still shut off the kitchen if you need a more formal feel for the DR for special occasions. A sliding track in the ceiling for a folding screen, or bifold shutters, or even just a curtain panel can all screen the kitchen when you don't want to see it.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Kathy Rivera

Hmm, while a partition might solve my issue of not wanting to be with the prep aftermath while eating, I'm not sure how it solves having both a DR and EIK for resale? One of the items has to be removed from the listing if the room functions as both (as I understand it).

Also, I have tried layouts with taking the wall down, and it is't as advantageous as I'd hoped. The room is narrow, so it produces a longer island but still an awkward one - And there is a large picture window in the DR that I wouldn't change, so any sort of breakfast bar there really encroaches on the actual DR space - without gaining too much in terms of kitchen function (IMO, I'm obviously not a designer).

For instance - here's a stab I took at combining. Doesn't make prep much better IMO. And only gives two cramped seats at the island. I put some tall built-ins around the DR window that would have to be pantry b/c there doesn't seem to be any other room. Blowing the wall out a few feet would help as we could turn the island 90 degrees, but that's not in the budget.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 8:46AM
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The ability to have a functional space for both food prep and food consumption will outweigh any "loss" experienced by combining the spaces. On that issue, I think your real estate agent is batty for suggesting a too cramped kitchen with a crowded in table is "worth" more than a functional kitchen with some seating at a breakfast bar and additional dining space within sight.

There are other options. Like a peninsula separating the two spaces. With seating. And an island. Shallow pantry storage on the wall opposite the peninsula can make up for the loss of upper cabinets.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:39AM
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The island looks like the best option IMO -- big kitchen and would keep traffic from getting in the way of cooking. It would be the most expensive option, too. Meanwhile, the peninsula would be handy for breakfast or a quick meal for one. The banquette looks tiny but I can see it being a cozy place for homework. It will probably boil down to budget and whether your want/need for two eating areas outweighs the want/need for a bigger cooking area.

I don't want to hijack your thread but I am curious to see what the experts say. The house where I grew up, in which my parents still live, has almost the exact same layout. We never ate in the kitchen because it was too small for our family of five. Lots of doorways and traffic. I've been noodling on some ideas to help them spruce it up a bit. Here is one with an island that might fit your space.

Here are two more options with peninsula and table (the "window" in the existing EIK is actually a French door that would be converted to a single door or slider).

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:22AM
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Oh, I had a very similar U shape kitchen and I went through 73 different layouts to get what I wanted.

I made a G-shape (because I have a big brick fireplace where microwave/hallway currently is.
I love it and it totally works for me.
My kids love sitting at the peninsula.
I love my space: between sink/cooktop/peninsula.
DH loves his space: between Advantium/WO and sink.
Sink has 2 spouts so we can use it at the same time.

removing the old dividing peninsula was the best I did!
2nd are the 5 fabulous down-to-marble-countertop windows!

--> You need to know what works for YOUR family.
I got a lot of push-back for the long distance between the fridge and cooktop, but of all the sacrifices, this was the least of it. I went from ~2.5feet of usable countertop to 23+feet.
But this works for me because I have a walk-in pantry, a separate diningroom.
Where you have the hallway/door-to-basement is my new keeping room w/ comfortable seating for people to hang out in, while still near the kitchen.

good luck

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:30AM
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Kathy Rivera

Thanks, all!

GD: Isn't the peninsula seating encroaching too much on the DR seating? Though I've never understood that issue much since I can't imagine having people in both seats at the same time - unless it's a big party and then people expect a little cramping so I don't care! :) And what about on the wall you suggested shallow storage - what should be the clearance there? For the record, we aren't a dinner party crew anyway - 98% of the time it's just us.

And I maybe wasn't clear - the realtor didn't suggest a crammed EIK - he wants full on EIK. I'm the one who wants more counter/work space at the compromise of nice EIK space. It's the GW/TKO knowledge vs. average homebuyer who just wants an EIK and doesn't realize how crappy the actual work area is.

Janecat: thanks for some ideas. I didn't study them much yet, but I think your plans probably have more depth than mine. I've tried moving things to the wall opposite the basement stairs (which is how we come into the house 99% of the time) and it's like walking into a brick wall if there is anything of height there...

Amanda: Glad it's not just me, then!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Kathy, I lived with a tight banquette in a 5 foot space for ten years. If I am reading your banquette plan correctly, that is about what you will have (looks like 74" windows goes over peninsula, so I assume banquette area is at least a foot smaller than 74". My banquette was a cheap, temporary solution that served its purpose but was never comfortable. I had a 12" bench mounted to the right most wall for the kids. Then I had a 24" wide wall mounted table from ikea, mounted where you have the window wall. I used two chairs and it would not have fit if I had a peninsula.

In your layout, I don't think the corner sink is beneficial. Why not put it under the window?

My friend with a similar layout did the cabinetry as you show in your island plan with a small table against the bottom wall (wall where you have the fridge in banquette plan).

If it were my house, I'd seriously consider the plan by Greendesign. Everyone seems to want open floor plans these days and one comfortable eating area is so much better than 1.25 eating areas.

Take a look at littlefishes layout. She incorporated DR into kitchen. A table that is casual 355 days a year can be dressed up for the 10 formal uses a year with tablecloths, candles, etc. I'd recommend Sara Susanka's books. They helped me a lot.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Have you considered opening the kitchen to the family room instead of the dining room?

Lots of really great ideas on this thread.

Just a comment about my preference from your first post - the option 1 with the breakfast bar looks workable, and the space behind the seating doesn't have to be "dead." With a bit of a squeeze, this could be narrow storage (12" cabinets), floor to ceiling if you want. A great place for cookbooks, blenders, other equipment you don't need out every day.

Or you could keep your 42" clearance and make this wall your art wall. For the kids' projects, for your calendars and to-do lists, etc.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:02PM
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Kathy Rivera

I'm editing this message b/c I totally misunderstood what GD meant for the location of the shallow storage! I thought she meant over in the DR. And I went on and on about how it just wasn't enough storage. I posted below with something I think she might mean...which (of course!) makes a lot of sense.

This post was edited by KathyNY76 on Wed, Apr 10, 13 at 13:28

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:59PM
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Kathy Rivera

dilly: You are exactly right about the banquette - it would be a total smoosh into a little over 5 feet. Good to know you lived it and it doesn't work. It's hard to see things on paper and figure if you are just being overly cautious about something (clearances for instance).

Karen: I'd love to open it the other way and into the family room. Alas, that 5.5' wall on the right holds the plumbing stack for all three toilets and bathroom sinks. Not opening that up! :) But great idea on that wall for a 'command center'. I hadn't even thought of it and was trying to figure a way to do it on the end of the MW cab in that plan. Makes much more sense your way!

Again, thanks, all for your thoughts/ideas!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:05PM
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Kathy Rivera

Oh DUH! I just realized that GD meant opposite the END of the peninsula! Not opposite the seating side. So the storage would be int he kitchen space! Man, we need those emoticons with the "smacking head" smiley!!!

You mean something like this? This makes SO much more sense in terms of storage!!!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:24PM
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I took a stab at modifying GD's idea -- make the peninsula shorter and put the pantry/frig/mw on the LR wall like you had it in your non-island versions. If you made the peninsula bar-height it will hide dirty dishes. That's how the layout in my current house is set up and it works well.

BTW, my parents' kitchen is 16x11, give or take 6 inches in either direction.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:26PM
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Kristen Hallock

I had a kitchen that looks like it was about the size of yours. We remodeled and put in an island and knocked down a long wall. We also had about the same aisle widths as what you are showing - 42" on the traffic side and about 38" on the kitchen side. We loved the island. It was 8' long i think and just 24" wide. We used it for prepping. Here are some pictures

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Kathy Rivera

Janecat: Great minds - I was just working on the same type of thing!

I did a corner sink b/c then I might like a one level peninsula - this sounds appealing for spreading out homework or making Christmas cookies and people on all sides being able to access the 'action'.

However, I can also do it with a breakfast bar and the sink on the peninsula. Still gives me great symmetry on the range wall. And tons of lower cab storage. And snack center by the fridge. And the shallow pantry storage...this is sounding better and better...

Layout gurus - what is your take? Am I missing something?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 3:02PM
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Great, I like the symmetry on the range wall. It looks like you are leaving room for windows, too, which you will love. Keep us posted as you tweak the design. I think they're are a lot of 16 x 11 -ish kitchen/ breakfasts out there with the same issue.

Also keep an open mind about using a bar height counter behind the peninsula, especially if you are unsure about viewing kitchen mess from the DR.

I'm attempting to attach pictures of my counter, which is about 60" wide and 15" deep. Double trash pull out to the left and 4" pull-out to the right and then the dishwasher. Works for us. We used seating innovations built in seats to save space and -- bonus -- easy to clean around.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 8:46PM
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Kathy Rivera

Thanks for the pictures, janecat. And also good point about the raised bar - especially if I'm trying to maintain the option of having a more formal DR space when needed.

Any others what to weigh in on the newer layouts above? Especially the tweak of GD's design where we loose the island and move the fridge to the opposite wall and add a 'snack center' and shallow pantry space?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:31AM
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