Questions about range/cooktop with windows on each side

lavender_lassApril 12, 2012

I know having a range or cooktop, with windows on each side is a popular look...and I'd like to ask a few questions.

First, how wide are the windows? Second, do you miss the upper cabinet storage? Third, do you still have window(s) over the sink?

Thank you in advance :)

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Something to bear in mind with regard to window sizes is not only how it looks from inside the kitchen, but also how these same windows look from the outside.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Actually, these windows would overlook the sunporch. Here's a layout, I think it's #143 LOL.

From [Fairy tale cottage](
    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 6:25PM
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That sunporch is going to make your kitchen very dark. I suggest you make a scaled model out of cardboard and then peek into it outside on a sunny day. Looking from "interior" windows into a space with a normal height ceiling and windows beyond, even if it is a direct southern exposure still has the feel of being in a dark tunnel. Even though a pitched roof and skylights will help, it's still going to be very dark. Your kitchen will have only one functional exterior window.

One solution is a very narrow sunporch, perhaps less than 4 or 5 feet, but I don't think that's what you have in mind.

I have a similar set-up along my southern exposure. The first floor rooms are gloomy even though they have nerly floor to ceiling windows; it's depressing to walk down the stairs from the sunny second floor into "the morgue". Hence the much-admired, period Greek Revival - with wonderful columns - full-facade front porch is so outta here!

(Historic preservationists, fret not, the porch will be moved en masse to the northern side of the house, now the formal entry point anyway, where its shadiness won't deepen the gloom of the interior spaces.)

I know you admire one of those TV kitchen/household maven's kitchens with windows and a "greenhouse" beyond. I expect that's a set designed for TV production, with lighting equipment set up beyond, probably on the sides and floor to make for good production values. I know this because I have worked in production and on-camera in similar shows. What you can't see off-camera would really surprise you.

You can easily make a scale model using foam board, or even corrogated cardoard; take it outside and orient it like the building and then open up a peep hole on the kitchen side as if you were in the actual room. That will tell you if you have enough light to make you happy.

Renew, again, my suggestion to check out the book, A Pattern for Living by Alexander. It gives specific measurements for massing in buildings to allow lovely light to penetrate completely inside, which is both energy-efficient and massively improves the perceived living quality of the spaces. This is one of the book's best ideas, carefully spelled out and measured for rooms of all heights and exposures. In a nut shell: big, thick, bulked-up buildings make for less desirable interior spaces than thinner, more eccentric shapes. It's more complicated than that, of course, but that's the bare bones of that particular design observation.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 7:13PM
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Will yours be a range or a cooktop? I ask because our range is between two windows. I had the choice of going for a 48" range whose hood would have taken up the entire space between the windows, or a 36" which would allow for small upper cabinets on either side of the hood. I went for the 36". I lined up everything that I like to have at hand when I am cooking (oven mit, spices, utensils . . .) and realized that without some upper storage, I just didn't have enough drawer space on either side of the range to have everything I need handy. However, if I had chosen a cooktop, rather than a range, I would have had storage in drawers below the cooktop.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 7:46PM
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L- That's why I moved the sink to the outside window and put the range, on the wall to the sunporch. So that there would be more direct sunlight, coming through the southeast windows over the sink. I just thought it might be better to balance that light (since both kitchen/dining windows face the same direction) with a few smaller windows...and french door, into the sunporch.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 7:49PM
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My fenestration pattern:

24" non-operable windows flanking rangetop
72" window with side-sliders above the sink

I do not miss the upper cab space. I have plenty of drawer storage and step-in pantry. I happily enjoy the flood of natural light those windows provide. Thank you GW for talking me into the flanking windows!!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 3:33AM
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you sure you want those 2 windows to NOT open? I think I'd want them to open. I think it'd be great on a nice spring day or early fall - and if you're eating out there or someone is out there 'visiting' with you then you could still communicate if you are in the kitchen fixing tea or snacks.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 5:07AM
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I passed on buying a house with an amazing architectural detail from 1904. The house would have been a dream except for the fact that there was no natural light coming into the house except for one window on the south side. We currently live in a house where there are large windows on three sides of a large open space. This makes the house amazingly pleasant to be in.

LavendarLass, large porches are not something that really works in the Pacific NW. Everytime I spend sometime in people's houses with a large porch or a house that does not get any natural light, I find myself kind of down after a few days.

We have very short days for 6 months of the year due to being at 48th paralle. We need all the natural light that we can get during our winter.

You need the South wall to have as many windows as possible for the interior heat gain in the winter and for the natural light. If you use the south wall for the porch, which will not be used in the winter, your interior in the winter will be awful. (I don't know how your house is sited on the lot.)

If you must have a porch, I would put the porch on the North and West side of the house. West side porch will shield the strong afternoon sun from the house in the summer. Since the winter days are short, it will not impact the interior as much. You need the East side and South side to have as many windows as possible. I like having East light into the kitchen for breakfast.

To repeat liriodendron, in the PNW where the sun really matter (and more northern parts of USA), the long rectangular shape with the house facing S/N on the long axis is the best shape to let light into the house. This is why the newer modern houses are often long rectangular shaped rather than square. I like well done modern architecture because it really pays attention to the light and its relationship to how we live. Most houses do not do this.

I am currently looking for a house. The first thing I look at is how the house is sited on the lot and how much natural light gets. Other things maybe able to be changed somewhat... Unfortunately, how much light that the house gets is NOT easily fixed. Your house is one of those that I would find too gloomy to be in due to the large porches covering many of the exterior windows. You have to remember that the house has to work first, then you add the porch where it will not detract from the house, not the other way around...

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 11:22AM
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Kai- Sorry the house didn't work out...but I'm sure you'll find another one. I'd be looking for a house with a gorgeous view of the Olympic Mountains, if I lived in Seattle. What a beautiful sunset!

The front of the house, with the window seat, the kitchen sink windows and one side of the sunporch...faces southeast. The other side of the sunporch faces southwest. Unlike the west side of the state...we have a lot more sun (and snow) in the winter.

For us, it's about maximizing the sun all year round, by being able to enjoy it...even with 3' of snow on the ground! LOL The sunporch is a cheerful, sunny place to keep the plants in the winter, sit out and read a book or have a cup of tea. Since the angle of the sun is lower in the winter, more light reaches into the room, when we need it. In the summer (when it's 95 degrees outside) it's nice that the sun's angle is higher and the porch is more shaded.

Steph- My windows, on each side of the range, will open...but Breezy's do not.

Breezy- Thanks for the dimensions. Your kitchen turned out so beautifully!

Lilly- Sorry I missed your post, last night. Do you have any pictures of your windows and upper cabinets? I'd like to see them :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 12:10PM
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Kai- I forgot to add that I did rearrange the house a bit, but the only porches are the sunporch (shown in the plan) and the screened porch with the hot on the west corner. The little pergola over the front living room window is for a place to grow wisteria and to shade the TV a bit, from the sun.

One thing about our winters...with all that snow, we have a lot of glare. It's often so bright, you have to close the curtains to watch TV. Not that we do that all the time, but when the Seahawks are husband is watching! LOL

Steph- Excellent point, about visiting with people on the porch :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 12:18PM
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I'm a sunshine and natural light lover, but any one space need not be a sunshiny room as long as another is.

Done well, the coziness of interior-focused space and the bright sparkle of a room with a strong relationship to the outdoors will play off and enhance the best of what each has to offer.

In this case, since Lavender's always wanted a keeping-room kitchen--an intrinsically sheltering room, so having less natural light there should actually be a plus, set off by the excellent relationship with the sun porch just steps away.

I said nothing about her versions with lots of windows as her design process continued, but homes with keeping rooms were specifically and notably very short on natural light by current standards. To the point that anyone wanting to at least suggest that atmosphere has to consider how much window is enough and how much too much.

Whoops! I actually forgot your initial post.
1. I have a set of 2 doublehungs on the left, for about 65" of glass and a single on the right at about 32".
2. I SO don't miss uppers; but then I'm 5'2" and always hated them anyway. I'd get rid of them where I worked even if I couldn't have windows.
3. Yes, 3 more doublehungs over the cleanup counter, like yours the short end of the L.
4. My custom wood hood is narrower and lighter than the more massive ones in style now, a bit more "colonial" in scale, which I like. However, at 42" over a 36" stovetop, I find I wouldn't want it any narrower visually juxtaposed against the considerably wider window expanses.
5. I forgot to add proper space between the stove hood and the windows for curtains (!), but the curtain are hung totally within the fairly deep window frames, and fortunately the frames and the sides of the hood will not allow the fabric to blow over the cooktop when the windows are open. Having failed to account for this need, though, I won't ever be hanging curtains to cover the frames.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 12:58PM
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If the kitchen does end up too dark, is there a possibility of putting a Solatube-type skylight on each side of the range? I don't remember if you have a second floor or not.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Lavendar, heating and cooling of spaces become extremely complicated in houses like this.

Do you intend to heat/cool the sunporch? Can you use the sunporch in the winter without heating it? My DH and I are not the types to have a coffee in the sunporch that is not heated in the winter even though it maybe sun drenched. You two must be very hardy. We would use the space only if the temperature of the space was above 60F or so. What will be the temperature of the porch that is not heated in the winter? If you have to heat and cool the space to use it effectively, then it is no longer a porch. (by definition, the porches are not conditioned spaces.) If you are cooling and heating the porch, then this becomes an expensive space because you have to insulate it and follow all proper building codes. You see the complications....

This is where you really have to do the soul searching to ask yourself how useful these spaces are without proper HVAC.

Do you have an air conditioner for the rest of the house? (most of us in Seattle do not, I don't know if you do in the Eastern part of the state.)

Do you have operable (opening) windows in the sunporch or fixed windows? Operable windows will help with the cooling but are more costly. If you need an air conditioner, the sunporch will add a huge cooling burden to the house due to the green house effect unless you have a really large fan that pulls out the heated air from the enclosed sun porch.

Are the soffit/attic space continuous with the house attic space? If so, you will need to cool the entire attic space effectively.

Make sure you have accounted for that in your cooling/heating load calculations.

I think you need to find some people in your region that have large sun porches and see how they are used. If you are essentially using these spaces as green houses, it will be WAY cheaper and better for your house's efficiency to just build a detached green houses, IMHO.

I wish you the best in your house design. There is a reason why good professionals charge what they do. You only get to build the house once. If you make mistakes, these are costly and cannot be correctly easily.

I have been there. We have SPENT a huge amount of money. Somethings worked out great and other things did not work our as well even though we spent alot of money.

If you already have a large porch and know all this, I am sorry that I am butting in. I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 2:52PM
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Kai- Thank you for the thoughtful response! We would love to have a greenhouse, but that has moved to the detached garage...partially because of the heathing/cooling concerns you just mentioned...partially because the southeast light will be so much better for the plants, than the west corner of the house.

The sunporch will be an unheated space (well, not heated by HVAC) and the windows will have screens that can be added, in the summer. We're thinking about baseboard heating (separtate thermostat) for having enough heat, to keep the plants going, in the winter.

Our climate is indeed a challenge! It can get down to -27 F. in the winter and up to 105 F. in the summer. This is one advantage of the old house...the insulation is so much better than newer homes. It stays cool all summer over there (we use it for storage and overflow entertaining, right now) and the fireplace heats it up quickly, in the winter.

Mtnfever- Solartubes are always another option! I hope the kitchen will be plenty light enough, since we moved the main window (over the sink) to the outside wall. I'm just trying to figure out advantage/disadvantage of having windows, rather than upper cabinets, on each side of the range. I'd like to see more of the porch, so windows are winning, right now :)

Rosie- Excellent point about the keeping room! In the winter, it's so nice to have the fire going and a place to sit, while watching the snow fall. I do like the contrast, between light, sunny spaces and more cozy spaces. Thanks for another vote for the windows!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Athensmom gave me a link, on the Building forum, with this picture on it. I really like these windows, and the range hood, and the beams...and the chairs! LOL From Fairy tale cottage

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 4:37PM
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Beautiful! OK, now I'm thinking about flanking my hood with windows... lol

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 7:27PM
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Fishies- LOL! I'm so glad Athensmom gave me the link, with this picture. I saw it a while back, but couldn't find it again.

That would look beautiful, since you're already thinking about the yellow hood and you could use your pretty fabric, for the valances :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 8:50PM
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Looking at my pics, I don't think there's much room... the windows would be pretty small... I'll check into it though! : )

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 9:21PM
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I found the article and it says this kitchen is 16' I'm guessing the windows are only about 24" to 30" wide. Here's another picture, too :) From Fairy tale cottage

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 9:48PM
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My kitchen area has no windows with all work surfaces lit with dimmed lv MR16 50w floods. It makes it quiet and easy to focus on a task without regard to time of day. I think LEDs will be a good update soon. The rest of the room has four 4x8 south facing windows with an overhang for summer. It's brighter in mid winter on sunny days. So, a properly lit work area can be a calm retreat if the rest of your space is bright.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 10:48PM
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Dan- Thank you for the response. I hadn't considered that, but you make a good point. I guess my kitchen will be bright and my seating area (by the wood stove) will be a calm retreat :)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 1:12PM
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