Working on the kitchen plan - cross posted in kitchens

marti8aMarch 30, 2011

This is much harder than I thought! I want my kitchen to be more user friendly. That user being me, and I'm 5'2". Whoever designed this kitchen did not do it for anyone under 5'7", if they even thought of getting to upper cabinets at all. There is a 5 foot pantry with a recessed cabinet over it that I can't reach at all. The same with the oven/micro cabinet, only it is a bookshelf over it, and I can't reach anything on the shelves. I can open the cabinets over the stove but I can only reach the items on the very front. And I can't open the doors over the refrigerator either. I want to bring all those upper cabinets forward so I can at least open the doors and see what is in there before getting out a step stool. I'd put vertical shelves above the oven/micro for cookie sheets and casserole pans, and install the tv above the refrigerator.

The pantry cabinet is 26" wide and 24" deep. It's hard to find anything or keep it organized, even with sliding drawers that don't pull all the way out. I'd rather change the whole thing to pull-outs.

My cabinets are in great shape, oak, and custom made in 1983, so I'm going to keep the ones that work for me, and cannibalize the rest. At first I was just going to leave the cabinets where they are, and redo some of the upper cabinets. Then, inspired by some of you, I started thinking how nice it would be to have more windows in the kitchen, or at least a window that came down to the counter over the kitchen sink. I might actually be able to open & close a window at that level.

Dh & I already planned on widening the opening between the kitchen and living room, and there will be a dining room just off the kitchen, so we are going to lose some wall space, but I'd rather have the opening than the wall.

Here is a general floor plan of the kitchen and surrounding rooms as it is now:

This is the cabinet arrangement on the west wall overlooking the backyard - as it is now and with measurements of each cabinet piece.

This is the cabinet arrangement on the east wall with the living room on the other side:

The refrigerator and freezer are a set and used to be side by side where the freezer and door are now. We moved the refrigerator when we added the door.

These are my inspiration pictures. I don't know whose they are but I'm sure I got most of them here.

This is almost exactly what our new floor plan will be like, and how I want the kitchen bar to be.

Arched hood:

Refrigerator cabinet

Double refrigerator/freezer cabinet

Window over sink

Location of tv in cabinet

With all that in mind, I started moving the cabinets around and came up with these ideas, neither perfect, in fact, neither the least bit satisfactory. When I put in a window even the least big bigger than the one I currently have (30") it messed up all the other upper cabinet placement. I may just have to have a window made that is taller but the same width.

West side, with the cabinet on the far left rebuilt into pull-out pantry, other lower cabinets left where they are, and a cabinet on the end added for muddy shoes, etc, and coat pegs on the upper cabinet above it.

East side

With the oven cabinet rebuilt with deep shelves on top, and a 36" French door refrigerator. (I couldn't get both of mine in the space, and while I hate to ditch a perfectly fine refrigerator right now, I would buy a refrigerator-freezer when it died anyway.) And empty space next to it because nothing fit.

And then I reshuffled the pieces and came up with this plan

West side using both my refrigerator & freezer, and once again, the upper cabinets didn't fit right but I do like the refrigerator on that wall. However, there is no bar between the kitchen and living room, and that is something we really want.

West Side

East side

I will say too that dh is not happy about my plans that move all the cabinets. It's not the expense, just that it is such a pain. In the neck. In the back. In the arms. ;)

Do you see any way to make the kitchen more efficient using the cabinets and space I have?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd put the freezer, where you currently have the fridge and leave the oven/microwave and cooktop or range, exactly as they are now. I would knock down the wall where the freezer is (looks like that's your plan) and make that the bar area. I would also be tempted to get rid of the small upper cabinets, on either side of the cooktop/range.

On the other wall, I'd put a big pantry in, next to the shower wall, with the fridge next to that. The fridge would probably cover up your current small window, over the sink. Then, I would add a bank of windows, across from the cooktop/range and bar area...and put the sink and dishwasher under these new windows.

This would let in TONS of light and views, into the kitchen and the opening into the living room. It would also bring your clean up area much closer, to your new dining room.

The pantry, fridge, freezer, oven/microwave are all close together and easy to access. The sink and cooktop/range have plenty of counterspace and lots of light. The tradeoff...losing most of your upper cabinets.

Can you put a lot of things in a panty? Is there room in the dining area, for a hutch...for dishes? In order for your space to look like your inspiration pictures, you're going to have to get rid of a lot of the uppers. The good doesn't sound like they're very convenient with your 5'2" and you'd prefer lower storage and access.

Do you have to reuse all the cabinets? Can some of the uppers work in DH's study area? I've even seen them used as a shallow dish storage area, by placing connected taller uppers on the floor, with a countertop over them. It might make a nice, shallow buffet, in the dining room. Just a thought :)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No I don't have to reuse them all, but they are all full now, so I don't know where I'd put stuff if they were gone. I'd rather lose the lower shelf cabinets than any uppers. I hate lowers that have the shelf blocking everything on the bottom.

I can't really move the sink or dishwasher without redoing plumbing/drains/vents, etc. and I can't spend that kind of money on this now. Very restricted budget. I'm pretty sure I can cut out more brick to enlarge the window without having to hire a brick layer, but to close up a window would mean filling in and matching brick, which would be hard to do.

I have been trying to figure out how to take out that pantry cabinet and put in a pantry closet, but I can't figure out a way that is efficient.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 4:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just a couple of quick thoughts right now. I like your second plan better than your first plan. In either case, it looks like you are going to lose some uppers, unless I'm missing something. But, in the second plan, how far out into the room will your fridge and freezer stick out from your cabinet run? If it doesn't impede the flow to the dining area, it definitely gives you a better place for the coat and boot storage on the right side of the fridge/freezer cab by the back door. Second plan also gets fridge/freezer and pantry adjacent to the sink - better for prep work. You have a dining table in near proximity, so I don't think the loss of the bar between kitchen and living room would be such a great loss. Many people might be of the opinion that bars like that just catch clutter. But, you may have a specific purpose for it, so you'll have to prioritize what's most important.

I wouldn't worry too much about the uppers not coming all the way over to the new window. There are a few things you could do. Make the window even wider to come closer to your upper cab., or put a decorative shelf on the left side of the upper toward the window. Or you could get a new upper (smaller) built for that space.

You can buy new interior cabinet components from rev-a-shelf or other places to make your existing pantry and lowers more functional.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 5:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Marti- If budget is a concern, I would say go with plan one, but don't make the sink/dishwasher window any larger...move down to the area, opposite the range and add a larger window in that area.

This would give you the additional light, but would bring that light across the counter/bar and into the living room. Depending on the size of your window, you should be able to reuse some of the upper cabinets.

To help with extra storage, have you looked at all the storage organizers they have at Lowe's and Home Depot? There are many that you can screw into the existing pantry and base cabinet shelves and they'll allow you to pull out items. No more digging through things...just slide out the organizer and get your food, spice, pan, lid, etc. That would be a big difference and make better use of your existing cabinets. (Oops, looks like Kim just said this. LOL)

Hope this helps to give you some ideas! Do you have any room for extra storage in the dining room? That would be great for dishes and display, too :)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 6:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you kimkitchy, I've just spent some time looking through the rev a shelf site and found a couple of things that would make my kitchen work so much better. They are a little pricey, but it says they are sold at Lowe's so I'll go over and see what will work.

I hadn't thought of a window at that end LL, and that would probably work even better because that end will be under a porch to get relief from the afternoon sun.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 6:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We want the bar to make the transition between kitchen and living room, and shield the usual kitchen mess. Also, people seem to drag a chair into the kitchen to be nearer the action, or to sit while they work, and then the chair (and the person) is in the way. Having a couple of bar stools on the far side would solve that.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 6:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ah, yes that's a good function for a bar to be sure. I'd still keep tinkering with the second plan to see if you can do something to get the raised bar into that one. It is hard to tell without your room and aisle and door/opening dimensions how much space you have. Could you add it to the left side of the east wall in the second plan? Maybe if you just used the drawer base left of the stove and not the base cabs on either side of the drawer base, you'd have room to add the bar?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 9:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm playing around with that now. This time I'm adding the bar first and working back the other way.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 11:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Marti is there any way you can stack your uppers like Nancy did on her one wall making uppers lowers only adding all your uppers together on one wall. Would make all of them use full and maybe open up the space for you some more. My brain is toast tonight eyes hurt???Tired.......... Can not look at it to try to figure it out, You plan just a thought.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 12:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been thinking about that too Chris. I've been working on it, and drew it in a bigger scale (too big for my scanner to scan) so I thought I'd go to Office Depot and get it minimized on their copier. We'll have to build a base, but I think I can use the upper cabinet on the base of the bar. I haven't got all that worked out though.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 11:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's a good idea. Our peninsula has two uppers used as lowers attached on the back side of base cabinets. They did put a base on the uppers that were used as lowers. It made our peninsula 36 inches wide, which is nice too. One of the uppers (used as a lower) is 42" which makes a "raised" bar on the end of our peninsula. Lots of things you can do...

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 12:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What do you think of this? I got most of the cabinets in, just one long set of uppers is missing, and I might be able to put that as the lower part of the bar. I thought a shallow bar would allow more room for sitting and walking behind it. I made the part in the kitchen 1 foot cabinet height and 1 foot on the raised part, which is just wide enough for a plate, and allows for a couple of bar stools. I made the part that angles around to the living room narrower because I don't want bar stools on the wood floor in there. Does that look weird?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Marti it looks great. No problem from my view of the narrower bar on one end. You might be able to get some more narrow cabinets on the wall at the far left of your center line. Or a lovely piece of furniture.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 4:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's looking good. When I go home, I'll measure the depth of my raised bar and see how many inches it is. You want room for a placemat with a little more depth wise. Do you have at least 48 inches width there for the two bar stools?

The angled part doesn't bother me. I remember seeing one on the kitchens forum that I really liked that was similar. I wish I could remember whose it was.

4'3" aisle from the living room into the dining/kitchen space seems adequate too.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 4:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I measured our raised bar that seats two and it is 18 inches deep. That accommodates a plate, a glass, placemat, salt/pepper or a candle etc. comfortably. I'd suggest that you try to make the part where the bar stools are at least 18x48. :-)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 10:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Looking at the east wall elevation, it is strange to have a window frame right in front of your eyes while standing at the sink. It makes me think the two 36" wide cabs adjacent to the DW (on the LEFT) should be also moved to be centered under the two windows. Keeping the DW where it is will be cheaper but not all that much, so how about moving the two double doored cabs over to be centered upon the windows? Your sink would be in the one on the right, and the DW would be next to the fridge/freezer.

If this is unacceptable, then make the windows into a big middle window with two skinny "lights" on either side of it, so the window is directly above your sink. That window could be fixed (not open), and the two side lights could be casement types that roll out for ventilation....if you are of a mind to do so. Otherwise, they could be like the fixed panels on either side of a front entry door.

I like having freezer/fridge together.

Also, there is some sort of code which sets the minimum measurement between upper cabs and an adjacent cooking top surface, so the wood or other material won't overheat. In many kitchens, those cabs are much shorter than the regular upper cabs. I've noticed that many of those cabs adjacent to the stove hood, only come down as far as the hood bottom itself. A good idea, to keep from constantly cleaning the cabinet surface of greasy residue from the steam of cooking.

I like having a utility rack turned toward the back door, for jackets and boots, etc. But I think you have room there for a short bench beneath it, room enough for one person to sit down to remove shoes whatever. It is at least a nod toward having a mud room, something you might not need in your climate, but which in a colder climate is so essential.

Down here in south Alabama, I have a triple swivel hook on the wall for our raincoats, and the work pants that DH removes back there beside the washing machine. A very handy little feature because he gets garden soil in his rolled up jeans and stuck in the treads of his sneakers.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 11:02AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
How many square feet is your "small home"
My house is 859sf. It has 3 bedrooms and 1 bath, but...
After being "here" for a many years, since...
Fancy expensive 'niche' market appliances
Just now reading @appliances, and there is ever more...
Anyone tried a far infrared sauna in a small home?
Santa broke out in guffaws when he read my email for...
Getting older and keeping up
Just reading Stephs recent post about getting help...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™