Layout Critique

pbowensApril 2, 2014

New to this site, it kept showing up with every kitchen search I did and I have been impressed with all really great advice and info here.
A little house history - I have a 1920's bungalow that has over the years been added on to at different points in time, and then divided into a triplex, used as a rental property and mistreated for a while etc... We bought it a few years back now my wife and I are trying to get it back in good shape, combine it back to a single family home and bring out all the charm that's hidden here. (slowly.. room by room)
We are now on to the kitchen, and it needs to be gutted. And getting the layout right has proven to be tricky.
Iv been through at least 5 different layouts already and cant seem to really nail it down. I have posted my most current favorite. (the drawing is lacking details, but I hope it works)
Please take a look and let me know your thoughts. I really appreciate the help and the great info I have already gotten from this site.

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I think it looks like a real workable layout, considering the restrictions of doorways, etc. The only thing I question is the 3 ft. space between island and stove and dishwasher. I'm sure that's a workable space, but what kind of space will you need if those appliance have to be replaced in the future? In other words, is 3 ft. enough space to get them out? Our previous owner didn't allow for enough space, and had to remove a countertop in order to remove fridge. Not something you want to do if you want to keep the counter. Can you move the island to the right about 4 to 6 in.? It may make a world of difference. And have you checked how far the door to dishwasher comes out when it's opened? How close is it to island? The only other suggestion I have is, can you widen the doorway to the "utility room, so you could turn the fridge to face into kitchen? It may be more convienent. Can you add photos so we have a better understanding of the entire space? Good luck. Are you sticking with an Arts and Crafts motif?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 1:20AM
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How wonderful that you're bringing your home back to its former glory!

On to the layout critique you requested.

The fridge seems an awfully long way from the prep area, plus you need to go around the island to get items from fridge to range. That's inconvenient. Additionally, with the fridge up against the side wall, you may not be able to open the door wide enough to pull out fridge drawers.

The other thing I notice is that there is a lot of underused space in the fridge room. Are the windows in that side room counter height? Can the shallow walls on either side of this room be removed?

Is this a two-butt kitchen or a one-butt kitchen (how many cooks)? Even as a one-butt kitchen, 36" aisles are on the meager side.

If you want lay-out suggestions, we need more information from you, including complete measurements. Tell us more about you and your family and how you plan to use the kitchen. Is that the eat-in kitchen area to the right in your drawing? Where is the dining room? Are you planning to have seating at the island? For how many people?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 4:27AM
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Thank you for your replies!
I'm currently planning on using a john boos butcher block top table with 2 under shelves for the island, so it will be easily moveable. I could go to a 30x60 rather than 36x72 to allow larger isles, but I really like the idea of the larger island (I do most of my prep on my current 30x48 s/a island table I had a 36x108 there at one point, but was too weird to have to walk around it to the living room).
The dishwasher door opens up 24" which leaves only 12" between the island and dw door.
I would love to take out the wing walls between the kitchen and utility room, but that was originally part of the porch that was built out, this means the walls are part of the main load bearing wall of the back of the house. It is doable with new piers and a new beam under the house, and a strong beam in the wall major major work, would love to, but that may be a budget buster tho...
There are 2 windows in the utility room that look out on the porch and back yard. These windows go down to 18" AFF, I really don't want to change these as they are old (window weights and all) and look good from the outside...
I agree and it is a long way to the ref. I had the ref. to the left of the sink in one layout, but it left only 12" between the sink and ref. and that just seemed to skinny, also left no good place for my coffee machine.
I wanted to center the ref. on the wall where I currently have it shown, but that left only skinny skinny cabs on either side of it. Might work for the mops and brooms, but not sure...
For the most part out kitchen will be a 1 butt at the range and multiple butts at the ref., pantry and coffee side.
The area to the right is the eat-in dinning part of the kitchen. I would absolutely love to have it really feel like 1 singular space, but the pathway from the back door to the living room makes it really difficult to extend the kitchen to that side of the space (any and all ideas welcome on this)
Currently I'm planning for the island to be just work space and no seating, but a couple stools is possibly in the future...
(Sorry if there are typos and such, typing on my phone...)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 11:17AM
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I agree more background info would be helpful.

I think that 36" clearance is realistic in many small kitchens - designer Sarah Richardson (who does Sarah's House on HGTV in Canada and Fine Living Network in the US) says:

"Minimize allowances
The rules say you need 42 to 48 inches to open the refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, or to get around a counter, but I tend to push the limits by reducing the clearance (usually not more than 36 inches) in favour of achieving more counter and storage space. Lets face it, preparing meals is not a group effort in most homes, and there doesn't need to be enough space to choreograph a dance routine. In all my years of pushing the limits, no one has ever complained after their kitchen went in (it only seemed to be a problem on paper)."

My kitchen is smaller than yours, but the L-shaped portion of my kitchen is similar to yours. What I did is shrink the sink cabinet to 24" - with a 25" undermount single bowl sink which is pretty large. Then the dishwasher is left of the sink, then the fridge is to the left of the dishwasher, followed by a partition wall like you have. The dimensions come down to inches - especially to allow for fridge door swing - but I find having the fridge right there really practical. I can't tell from your layout but it looks like you don't even have any countertop beside your fridge to put grocery bags on, or pull out ingredients?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Can you move the fixtures around? If this were my kitchen, I'd want the refrigerator where the "3 drawers" are, then I'd move the sink to the right of where it now is (same wall) and move the range to the same wall as the sink but down near the wall between the pantry and the kitchen (with landing space to the left). I'd use the space vacated by the refrigerator as a pantry and utility area. I'd much rather have my coffee station in the pantry than my refrigerator.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 12:04PM
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I just realized after looking at feisty's picture that mine would work just as well if you move the refrigerator to where the coffee is and leave the range where it is. you might want to scoot the sink down some if you need more room between the fridge and the sink.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 12:26PM
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I completely agree with having the coffee station in the pantry rather than the fridge, especially if you do not use the stove to make coffee. (I use a french press and boiled water on the stove until I bought an electric kettle.)

However, dealing with similar run-lengths in my own kitchen, I would opt to put the fridge where the "coffee" is, put in a more narrow sink base, and a more narrow drawer stack to the right of the sink. It is far better to be "in the corner" on the sink side than the stove side.

You could also gain some inches by putting in an 18" DW instead of a 24".

As stated, this frees up a lot of counter space in your work area, better utilizes your utility room space and even creates a place for you to put a MW in the utility room. Unless you are heavy users of a microwave it is a great place to keep it where it does not take up space anywhere in your kitchen but is still readily accessible.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 12:47PM
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The big bummers to me are the ref location and the island. I wonder if you do not have any prep space now and if that is why you're lusting for 6 feet when 5 feet would be a better fit.

So these are technical comments...

If you put a sxs ref or a french door ref when it's shown, you are likely to run into a problem with the small side wall. Most refrigerator doors open out to the side (the door is completely on the outside of the refrigerator frame plus the doors now have deeper bins for things like gallons of milk built into the doors). Most of the side by side and french door units need to have the door completely open to be able to fully use the drawers or bins. They sometimes require a goodly amount of space to a wall - like 15" or so for door storage, to be able to clean the drawers. It could be bad enough that you wouldn't get into the left side of the ref enough to be able to use it.

The island is making those clearances really small. My problem with the way people like Ms. Richardson think is really two-pronged. If you have kids, its just not enough room to have them help with dishes while you work. But also, the doors on both tall tub dishwashers and ranges are bigger than they used to be.

A tall tub dishwasher can easily be 30" tall and stick into the aisle 28". That makes is tough to fit any other anything into that possible 8" that remain. I'm saying possible because I'm thinking you haven't allowed for the range being deeper than cabinets and counter (they are generally 28" or more deep with the doors shut - so that start out pretty far when opening the doors) and also the 1.5" of counter overhang on the sink wall.

The bigger the oven capacity, the taller the oven door is and the smaller the storage drawer. The taller the oven door, the more it would stick out when open. I just don't want you to be surprised later.

So, the 2-4-1 drawing is possibilities with number 2 completely dependant on personal taste and whacha got for budget as it would be more expensive. And I'm also not thinking either is a complete solution as they each have other issues. But they might help as being a new perspective.

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 1:22PM
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To clarify, I already do have the layout installed of the "L" part of my kitchen and it feels really practical. I've actually had the "L" part for 12 years and I liked it - the only difference was that the range was closer to the corner and the base cabinets didn't extend as far on the range wall.

My fridge is a bottom mount (not french) door fridge with freezer pullout drawers inside doors. It's Samsung 32" wide, counter depth (door sticks out a bit further). Works great for my family of 4 and it only needs 2" filler between the hinge side and the partition wall for the doors to open enough to easily pull out the drawers inside. So I would definitely investigate doing - from left to right - fridge, dishwasher, sink (centered on window). I have picked appliances that work for my kitchen layout - a Miele dishwasher, a fridge that doesn't stick out and doesn't need a lot of clearance on the hinge side.

This post was edited by feisty68 on Thu, Apr 3, 14 at 13:47

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 1:42PM
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I had a similar idea as bmorepanic posted, turning the island into a peninsula and making the side room a scullery of sorts. Then I read what you wrote about the windows in that side room. They sound lovely so I can see why you'd want to keep them.

Because of those windows, I'd like to see the wall opened up a bit so that they are more visible Perhaps a post placed where the right wall ends would be sufficient replacement for the support that wall provides. It's highly likely that that there's a support post below that spot already.

Anyhoo, here's what I came up with to open that area up a bit and make it feel like a part of the kitchen, and to create a shorter work path from fridge to sink to range.

The pantry wall stays as it was. The fridge moves to the left of the sink. DW and sink shift down (need to enlarge the window, or just move it). A 36" corner Susan takes the place of the blind corner cabinet. I shifted the range down slightly to give a bit more room between sink and range.

I turned the island, made with a 30" x 97" John Boos top, 90 degrees from how you had your island and butted it up against the support post. I added space for two stools at the end (need to plan for this now so you have leg room and a place to store the stools when not in use). The island serves as a handy landing zone for pantry goods, something your current plan was lacking. You can keep the island open, with 2 shelves below the top, as you currently plan or you can add some behind-doors storage to it. Are you planning to add electric outlets? I would definitely do that.

What I don't know are the clearances between island and pantry wall and between post and right wall. My rough estimate is that this space is about 10' but that's not enough information to know how well or if this suggestion would work.

I also didn't include a utility cab. I didn't know if that cab was intentional or if it was simply to fill up the space next to the fridge.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 7:44PM
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I think he said those partial walls cannot come down, as they are part of a load-bearing wall.

Pretty cool perspective, though, if they can! Then that space between the support post and remaining wall could be a built-in hutch or pantry or something.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 8:06PM
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I only removed a portion of the right wall and added a support post. I didn't open the wall completely up. This change may not require a new beam and its costs.

Not sure what you mean by "that space between the support post and remaining wall could be a built-in hutch or pantry or something." What space? The wall where the OP had the fridge and utility cab? That wouldn't be possible, not without severely impacting the aisles around the island.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 9:21PM
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Yup, that space, lol! And of course you are right. I was not reading carefully!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 10:17PM
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I really like your idea Lisa. You are correct and the pier/post is right under the end of that wing wall and opening that and leaving a support column would mean only something like a 2x8 header rather than a full engineered beam and changing and structure underneath the house. If I can fudge the column over just a hair I can have a 36" opening, time to crawl under the house and open the wall to take a closer look. I am planning on adding a couple convenience outlets in the island.
I am also a bit hesitant to move/replace the window over the sink, it's an original box head window (think pocket door, but a window that slides up in to the wall) it is in rough shape, and would change it if I need to in order to get the layout right....(don't know where you can get those from now?...)
I'm thinking maybe if I used the suggestion of the 25" single comp undermount sink in a smaller base cabinet and maybe add a prep sink to the island? But the island is prob too small for that. If I did that tho I could pick up more space between the sink and refrigerator. Maybe have to move the dw to the right of the sink.. I'm going to have to play with all these ideas a bit, you all have given me some great stuff.

Couple more details: to the right of the range and cab. That is the old brick chimney for a stove.
Also, the pantry area that was once part of the porch has a lower ceiling height... The main kitchen is 10'-6" and that area drops to a little shy of 9', don't want to end up with it looking off and I'm not sure about how things should be dressed up to avoid that.

I did have another idea of making a u shaped layout with the sink in the peninsula section. The u would go, from the pantry along the outside wall, 12" tall cabinet - refrigerator - open counter under window - corner - range - corner cabinet incorporating the bottom of the brick chimney - then peninsula with sink and dw... Not sure if that makes sense or will work. I'll draw it up and test it out. ( can't use my CAD computer at the moment)
Again, I really appreciate all the help and advice.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 11:37PM
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Try using Lowes' virtual design program on their website. Free, easy, and lots of rendered dimensions.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 9:42AM
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From your first layout, if you want the fridge right up against the wall like that, it needs to be swapped with the pantry wall so the doors can fully open and you can get into the drawers of it. Not as pretty for sightline purposes, but way more functional. Or, I'd center it on the wall it's currently on and forget the utility cabs.

Alternatively and also using your first layout, I'd consider putting the DW in the island facing the sink, the fridge between sink and bottom wall, and a 9" filler between fridge and bottom wall so the fridge doors can open. Coffee and a bar sink would go where the fridge was.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 10:19AM
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I agree with the suggestion to use a free online 3D layout software (Lowes, IKEA, Home Depot, etc.). It makes a HUGE difference to see the big picture including dropped ceilings, bumpouts, sightlines, etc. Plus you can pick colours/surfaces.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:59PM
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Okay, got it, reluctant to make changes to the sink window, too. I respect your desire to maintain your home's original fixtures.

Here's the first plan I drew up that put the sink and DW in the island. I didn't present it initially because I thought that you might not want water on the island but then you wrote that you might do a prep sink so here it is, plus a variation on it.

I tweaked the island a bit, using a 42 x 97 John Boos counter cut to shape (after I did the math again, I realized that you don't have room for a 97" island, not without really skimpy aisles).

What bugs me about this plan is that the busiest ares of your kitchen - fridge, pantry and coffee station - are buried in the kitchen and the best path to them is past the range. Not really ideal. So I came up with Plan C.

I swapped location of fridge and range. That puts the busy areas - fridge, coffee station and pantry - on the periphery of the kitchen and out of the cook zone.

It does mean that the range and hood aren't centered. Not sure if that will bother you (it wouldn't bother me but it would bother my engineer hubby ;-) ). Here are some images from to help you visualize what that might look like.


Traditional Kitchen by Greensboro Kitchen & Bath Designers Cabinet Concepts, Greensboro

Traditional Kitchen by Minneapolis General Contractors Full Circle Construction Inc.

Contemporary Kitchen by Minneapolis Architects & Designers TEA2 Architects

Traditional Kitchen by Norwich Architects & Designers Smith & Vansant Architects PC

I like your idea of a peninsula plan instead of an island. I'll draw my version of it after lunch.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 4:28PM
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Okay, here are two versions of my take on your peninsula idea.

I moved the range towards the window wall to create a larger counter between it and the sink. The "X" to the right of the range is a void. The same space to the left of the sink is a bookcase/display cab facing the breakfast area.

I wanted to give the side room a purpose so I put a small loveseat in it. It would be a fun place to sit to sip coffee, read cookbooks or just daydream.

The green rectangles on the range wall are upper cabinets. I left the window wall sans uppers but you could add them if you think that would balance the bulk of the fridge and pantry cab better. The blue rectangle by the pillar is a short wall, something like this

Beach Style Bedroom by Washington Architects & Designers Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

IMO, the short wall anchors the post, just as the island did in my previous plans.

As with my Plan C, there is easy access to the busy areas of the kitchen - fridge, pantry and coffee station - without crossing the cook zone. That's a plus, IMO.

Plan D-1 is the same kitchen, just a different take on the side room.

I put pantry cabs on the left and right walls with a window seat between them. Again, it's a place to sit to sip coffee, etc. You'll have a little bit of voice space in the lower portion of each pantry cab where the window seat runs into the cab (that's what I mean with the dotted lines).

A peninsula layout works well for your space, IMO. And because it extends the kitchen towards the eat-in area, it might make that area seem a little less disconnected from the kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 5:56PM
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Sorry I have not responded in a bit, but I had a nasty surprise while investigating the wing walls that kept hindering some layout ideas.... Carpenter ants! evil little things....
They were in the beam below the house and up two of the studs. Long story short, I figured if I had to repair that section, I might as well take those pesky little walls out while Im at it.
So now I have a new space to work with, and feel even more clueless. I have attached below a plan with better dimensions before and nothing draw in the space. Im pretty much open to any ideas, just don't want to move the windows.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:59PM
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Ooh, a new blank space! Cool! Too bad about the carpenter ants, but good thing you found them. Naughty buggers!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:19PM
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