Layout magic needed...

DGM123May 2, 2013

Hello GW! I've been learning so much from all of you and I've finally gotten my act together to get your opinions about the layout for our kitchen.

Our house was built in 1935 and the kitchen was probably last redone in the early 1990's. We moved in two years ago and anticipate staying for a while (not sure about "forever"). We will be redoing the kitchen and master bathroom and adding French doors from the dining room onto a new deck.

A little bit about us...we have a 3 y/o son and probably won't have more. I cook a lot, especially on weekends, but I'm not a big baker. DH cooks too and often helps prep or clean while I'm cooking. We do all of our eating in the dining room so we don't need an eating area in the kitchen. We occasionally entertain, but it's usually 1 or 2 couples and their children.

The current layout of the first floor is below. The kitchen is small (10'x11") plus a breakfast nook that we are not currently using. The major layout issues are that there is not enough prep space (especially if the DW is open), not enough counter near the stove, and too few drawers. I want to move the cooking area away from the main traffic through the kitchen. DH and I are constantly bumping into each other when we're in there together.

Here is the proposed layout of the first floor after the renovation. The opening from the kitchen to the DR would be a half-wall. The wall to the left as you enter the kitchen from the foyer would also be a half-wall. The stairs in front of the bathroom lead to the basement and there is a side-door from the driveway (which we hardly ever use).

The kitchen shown above is the version proposed by the architect. I wasn't thrilled that the sink could be seen from the foyer. Also, there are two corner cabinets, but that may be unavoidable in this situation. So I played with a few additional layouts. I would be thrilled to get your input.

Layout 1: Stove is on the left so that's what is visible from the front door. I could do something interesting with the backsplash so that it would be a focal point. What are your thoughts about the placement of the trash, DW, and sink?

Layout 2: Stove is on the left-hand side of the U. This would give a nice stretch of prep space in front of the window. This would require a blind corner cabinet and there would be only a small cabinet to the left of the stove.

Layout 3: Wanted to see if it would be possible to get an island into the space. It would have to be narrow (22") and there would be only 36" aisles, but my previous kitchen was set up this way and I liked being able to easily turn from island to stove. Also in Layouts 1 & 2, there just seems to be a vast expanse of wasted space in the middle of the room. One potential drawback is that the kitchen would be totally open to the DR -- not sure how I feel about that.

So please tear these apart and help me decide. I am driving myself, my husband, and the architect crazy. I want to get to the fun part of kitchen renovation (if that exists). Thank you!!

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I like your island idea. I cook a lot, and more prep space is always a plus. For your sink, is there a reason you have both the DW and trash on one side of the sink? If it were me, I would want trash on one side of the sink, and DW on the other side. Personally, I'd prefer DW on the right and trash on the left, but that's a subjective thing :)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 1:49AM
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I feel ya on the small kitchen, I am in a layout roundabout as well.
It looks like the sink is centered on the window in the original layout, so it won't do to put the stove there, as you won't have room for ventilation unless its a short backsplash window. Folks have strong opinions about centering sinks on windows and I'm certainly one of them, but you could push the sink to the right edge of the window and not see it from the entry. Also, is that a pocket door I spy? That could be used to block the line of sight as well.

I agree with FoxCrane and think trash and DW on either side of the sink works best if you have the space.

Your narrow island intrigues me in layout 3, but I would be very hesitant about building something fixed with only 36". As a pathway it's one thing, but when doors and appliances are being opened, it's another. I have been in a few kitchens with that distance and they all seem tight when more than one person is there. At one friends house you cannot have the dishwasher open and put dishes away in the cabinet opposite. Also, 22 inches seems narrow to work on. Is that the cabinet or counter size? You could mock up some boxes to be sure you are okay with it.
If you reduced your pantry wall to 12", you could get 39" aisles, or 42" on one side and 36" on the other. I would take the bigger aisle on the window wall since you will want to be able to stand in front of the open oven door to reach in.
Alternatively, you could go with the original, more or less and do increased depths on both walls. I'm not sure what fridge you're doing but it will help a standard one look more custom fitted. I know there are some here who have done increased depth, even up to 30", and love it. HTH

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 4:17AM
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Thanks for the feedback! The window placement is flexible. I'd be willing to give up centering the sink under the window if it meant better function. The current plan is to have have three double-hungs side-by-side, so I think it would be okay to have the sink centered beneath one of the end windows.

As for the DW, trash, and sink, I was trying to maximize the counter space between the sink and stove and have the trash closer to the prep area. If I put the DW to the right of the sink in Layout 1, that blocks access to the base drawers on the right where I was planning on storing the dishes. I guess I could store the dishes in the pantry wall.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 9:20AM
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Another thing to think about is where your dishes will be stored relative to the dishwasher and dining table. My kitchen layout is a lot like your last plan except my sink is on the window wall and my cooktop is on the short wall by my back door (and you can't see any of this from the front door). This allows me to have the dishwasher to the right of the sink, and my dishes and flatware are stored right there, too, so when it's time to set the table the kids can get everything they need without stepping into the work zone of the kitchen.

We widened our kitchen just a bit when remodeling so we could get an island instead of a U, for exactly the reasons you listed. Any chance you could steal 1' from the LR to do this?

If the position of the window is flexible, I suggest moving it closer to the DR so you get it and the sink out of the first view from the front door.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Thanks, Karen Belle. I like your idea of making the pantry wall shallower if we went with the island and switching the sink and stove. Unfortunately, the living room is already an awkward size (long and narrow) so I don't think taking sq footage there is an option.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 9:43PM
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You know, that center space isn't wasted at all. Your door placement defines a cooks' run in the shallow U, allowing family traffic to perambulate right on through. The visual spaciousness is also a real plus as people routinely move through a very often busy, cluttered and noisy room.

Regarding your plans, I'd probably go straight to plan 2 (straight as in starting and ending there with a lot of perambulations in the middle). Both a good place to work and the view from the entry are important to me, and it has those, as well as the simplicity and spaciousness all those U plans have.

The windows would be designed, as I did here, with an eye both to the kitchen and to providing a through view for everyone at the door and heading that way. It'd make that dimension seem significantly larger and more inviting (people are always attracted to the light), and, except for when I was working at the counter, the view to the kitchen would be of handsome cabinetry and windows above, all utilitarian items out of line of sight to right and left.

BTW, I have a bank of 3 doublehungs over our sink. Couldn't put the sink under one window the way I would have wanted, so the sink and specifically faucet are centered on the stile between an end and middle window, and it looks quite nice, or more importantly, "right," even though the sink itself is secretly about an inch off.

If I did do an island version, I'd make the wall storage maybe 12" deep (what we chose for our current kitchen) and deepen the island. Traffic could swing around it.

But I doubt I would. Plan 2 gives an excellent stretch of extremely functional and pleasant prep space between stove and water, plenty wide for two actually, plus there are two other counter areas where other functions could take place. Speaking of, breakfast/coffee area by the refrigerator?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 1:13PM
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I like #2 seems like the best working space
If you do the island version make the side cabs 12 deep
I had a friend do that and they were all glass uppers
She had a 13" countertop and it looked great

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 6:27PM
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Thank you, everyone! I think we're leaning towards not doing the island. Just seems like we're trying to force it too much. So I'll play around with Layout 2 a bit.

Rosie: I love your use of the word "perambulate". It's one of my favorites. Yes, coffee/toaster/MW will be on the pantry wall.

Karen Belle: With your stove in that position, are you okay with having your back to the rest of the kitchen?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 9:13AM
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DGM123, in short, yes I am ok with having my back to the kitchen while I'm at the stove. Honestly, when I'm cooking I usually am not standing at the stove full time (with some exceptions, like a white sauce, that need constant attention). There are many things happening in the kitchen during meal prep in our house and they're mostly at the island.

Before our remodel we had a U shaped kitchen with the fridge, cooktop and ovens on the long wall opposite the U. I couldn't see or hear my kids while I was in the kitchen and it made me crazy. I cannot remember where we did our meal prep in that kitchen but it was probably mostly next to the sink.

Have you thought about what's happening while you're working on meal prep and where your kids will be?

This post was edited by karen_belle on Sat, May 4, 13 at 10:25

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:18AM
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