Need Layout Help- Small Kitchen causing big problems

cploverApril 2, 2011

I am a first time poster to the smaller homes forum as I have been hanging out a lot at the kitchen forum. However, I think this question is less about kitchen layout and more about first floor layout. Let me explain. DH and I purchased our first home, a 1957 ranch (1400 sq ft -3 bedrooms, 1 bath upstairs, 1 in basement, basement is mostly unfinished)3 years ago. Currently it is just DH and me but some day soon we hope to have children. I also love to cook a do a lot of cooking. From the time we purchased the home we knew we needed to remodel the kitchen. First there was no dishwasher but later we discovered other problems, not a lot of storage, no counterspace, a wall between the dining room that made me (the solo cook) feel cut off from everyone else. Also as we lived in the house longer we realized that our house was kind of a maze. To get laundry from our master bedroom to the laundry room in the basement it needed to travel past or through every room in the house. Also our LR though not small is VERY narrow and was a sorta traffic bowling alley because to get to the kitchen you had to travel the entire length of the room. This is a photo from the realtor when we purchased the home but it helps give you a better idea of the room. So that is not my furniture. Also we have removed the carpeting and refinished the hardwood floors underneath.

Here is the floor plan:

Good news is that now we finally have scraped enough money together to tackle this kitchen remodel (but on a budget, think nice appliances and countertops but ikea cabinets). More good news is that we can slide down the entrance to the garage on that wall if needed. We can also change the size and location of the two windows along the east wall. Someone on the kitchen forum suggested reversing the basement stairs and relocating back door to a sliding door in the DR. We have not got a quote on that-- so not sure if that is within budget or not.

We have considered several options including flipping the DR & Kitchen, adding an opening in the LR wall into the current kitchen (that would be where those dashes are on the above drawing). However some have suggested that if we do that, that we keep the existing opening, but shrink it some. DH is afraid that the living room will become "swiss-cheese" like with all of these openings.

Any advice? I can post some of layouts that I have come up with if that would help. I just do not to create new problems in LR & DR but trying to solve my current kitchen issues. Thanks in advance!

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Hi Newbie! Just wanted to say, I hope I'm not the one who made you think you need to get rid of your back door...maybe just add another access to the back...but that might be outside of the budget, right now.

Everyone here is so helpful, with lots of wonderful I'm sure you'll get some great recommendations! :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 6:55PM
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Lavender- No!!! You are fine! :) I am more concerned about the two openings versus one opening in the living room wall. I was hoping this forum would be of help because they deal with small homes, like mine. I understand large homes make sense to have lots of openings, just not sure if it fits my space or not. Right now I see both sides. Which does not help! :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 7:27PM
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Newbie- Everyone here is so helpful and nice! I think you're going to have a lot of fun, on this forum :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 8:30PM
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I would say, yes, post what you've come up with for alternative layouts. Also, if you could describe how you would like to live in your house - for example, do you want a separate dining room, or would you combine your kitchen and dining, or dining/living. What sort of kitchen do you envision - modern with central island, or cottage-like vintage. Do you want a walk-in or reach-in pantry. Where is the TV most conveniently located. Do you like and use your fireplace.

Just to comment on a couple of things initially. So long as the closet outside your bathroom is unobstructed by the basement stairs, you could eliminate it, thus creating a path into your kitchen that avoids trekking through the living room. You could add a closet next to the other two closets to close that corner of the living room. If there is room, one of the closets could hold a stacked washer/dryer to avoid the trip to the basement.

One thing I like about ranch homes is the potential to vault or in some way raise the ceilings - especially since many ranch homes have low ceilings. The additional volume can really make a room feel more expansive. And if you live in a warm climate, there is the opportunity to add ceiling fans.

I look forward to hearing more about your home remodeling. It's sort of the armchair tourist version of remodeling - no dust, no muss.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 9:09PM
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Congratulations, Newbieremodeler, you now have an upstairs laundry. Unless that closet outside of bedroom #2 is the closet for one of the bedrooms, it is your new laundry closet. Does anyone remember Clair de Luna's laundry closet? It was GREAT. With babies in your future you do not need to be treking up and down stairs to an unfinished basement with laundry, especially since your house was built by a maze-maker. Can you imagine the kids in their bedrooms doing something that you can hear means trouble (since you are below them in the basement), but you have to climb stairs and go almost twice the length of the house to reach them? Nada.

I am also moving your kitchen to the dining area. When our 1950s houses were built, the kitchen was away from everything else because it was so hot (and we did not have air conditioning in most parts of the US yet), and because it was a work area for the little woman, not a public area. Now we don't live that way, so lets move the kitchen into the area open to the living area and get that garage door as close as you can to the living room.

Now I am going to get out the graph paper and get to work. I just finished remodeling my second kitchen, the last one for me. I am going through design withdrawal, so I will inflict my craving of kitchen remodeling on you!

How big is your dining set? Table size, number of chairs, and any buffet or china cab? Sizes, if yes.

Does the bathroom closet go down to the floor, or is it hanging over the top of the end of the stairs to the basement?

Thanks! - Nancy

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 10:07PM
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I read your post, but decided not to read the replies until I gave you my take on this.

First off, I'm not trying to redo your kitchen here, but I think you'd be well advised to take out that bath closet from the spot where it is. That will give you an entry to the kitchen and thus to the basement steps.

I know the bathroom closet is important, so I suggest that you put it in line with the other two closets which turn into the bedroom hallway. The removal of the bath closet will require a new header overhead for the new passageway, no door, but maybe a post. And the new location for the bath closet could have a support post which should go down into the basement below too.

I think the wall between the kitchen and the dining room can come out. Not a load bearing wall. To make the dining room more open to the living room area, instead of a solid wall, have some nice posts/columns so you can see the fireplace and get some of the light through from the living room. Even part of the load bearing wall between kitchen and living room can have cut outs, but keep at least some good space for the big appliances or storage cabinets. If you don't have anything backing up to the basement step wall, I think some 12" deep cabs floor to ceiling would work nicely especially with some glass doors, maybe the lower cabs have the upper cabs sitting right on top of them. Then, have your major appliances on the front and back wall, only a couple of upper cabs there.

Would it be possible to move the garage door that is now shown in the dining room? And the dotted lines, those are archways or something? Does the back door come in off a step, a porch, or just a walkway?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 10:14PM
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Ok, I just noticed that SOUTH is shown as the house front door. That means, NORTH HAS TO BE THE KITCHEN WINDOWS.
North cannot therefore be the garage, nor can the kitchen window face EAST.

So which way is NORTH? We can go from that point. :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 10:17PM
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OOPs! Sorry. North is the garage and it is the complete width of the house. East is the kitchen/dining room windows. So in other words there are no north facing windows in my home. The LR window faces west.

The bath closet is actually not a true closet in that the bottom portion is really over the stairs so only the upper 2/3 is usable the bottom 1/3 is just a raised area.

I really appreciate all the comments thus far. The problem has not been 100% coming up with a kitchen layout, it has been what kitchen layout will not screw up the rest of the living spaces!

GWBR54- I would love A pantry- not really concerned about reach-in versus vs walk-in but given the space-- I think reach in would probably be best. We live in the western suburbs of Chicago (but I am WI girl at heart and DH is from VA) so we love to be outside when it is nice (about 6 months of the year). A truly separate DR and Kitchen is not necessary. I am a solo cook (DH cleans) but at the same time the current set up leaves me isolated from anyone and everyone. Even with my current kitchen layout I cannot have DH or a family friend help with the cooking b/c there is no room.

Thanks again! I am really excited by this forum b/c ya'll get small homes!! ;)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 10:48PM
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Here are some layouts that have been contemplated:

1. This layout would include a prep sink in the peninsula corner cabinet. Nice but does not allow access from LR to Kitchen. Also kinda blocks access to the basement/backdoor
It also contemplates a bay window in the DR. (Sorry not able to show with my limited Ikea software)

2. This layout is the original layout that GWKitchen Forum came up with. It also contemplates a prep sink the corner cabinet of the peninsula. Seems good but DH is again concerned about 2 openingss (ie "swiss cheese effect").

3. This layout does not involve a prep sink. But does have 2 openings. A lot of people on the kitchen forum love this layout. I am not 100% sold.

4. Layout that contemplates closing back door and reversing the stairs. Not sure if this is even possible within budget so do not get too excited! ;)


    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 10:58PM
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"The bath closet is actually not a true closet in that the bottom portion is really over the stairs so only the upper 2/3 is usable the bottom 1/3 is just a raised area."

In that case, I really like your earlier suggestion about reversing the basement stairs, and adding a french door or sliding door to the back yard. I hope it makes the budget, and there aren't any problems in the basement with doing that.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 11:00PM
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Here is #3


    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 11:02AM
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Of those four, I like the first one best. It has enough room to use and walk around the dining table. But I'd still remove the cabinet closest to it (#64?) and shift the table a bit to the right. Also, the dining area with big window should be a nicer view from your living room entrance. The single wall opening means less 'swiss cheese', but also less light transmission from the kitchen.

Option 2 and 4 IMO have issues with not enough space for a normal sized dining table, and are awkward to move around the dining table. Option 3 has the same issue, and a big area of wasted space near window and door.

I think there is still a better solution, altho' I don't have it yet. To get there, I would suggest that you try some other layouts. Maybe a big L with an island. I don't think two wall openings into the living room will look like swiss cheese, but the single opening makes kitchen layout easier. So you'll need to decide whether the additional light trumps the easier layout card.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 11:35AM
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NancyinMi- You are just the person I need!! :) We are currently using a utility fold-up table for a DR table. We were going to buy one when we bought the home but decided we would wait until after the kitchen remodel was complete. So no restrictions on DR tables. I am so excited to see what you come up with!

Gwbr54- I think we are going to run into budget issues with the stairs since our original quotes did not have that option and were pretty much near the top. Although that would be a nice solution and if it was budget friendly and/or this was our forever home we might consider it.

The important question for me is do you think the two openings have more pluses or more negatives?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 11:44AM
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Gwbr54- I also agree with your thoughts about each layout and am HOPING that there is a better layout still out there!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 12:07PM
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Newbie- Don't forget this one...same basic kitchen layout as #1 with the corner prep sink, but with the banquette instead of the stools. Easier access to back door and basement stairs...although dining room window could be changed to patio doors at some future date :)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 12:23PM
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Lavender- I love this last plan you posted but it will eat up at least 8 feet of the only LR wall (5 for baquette + 3 for opening) so I cannot see this working. :(
The U part works-- but with a normal table and possibly overhang on the peninsula for stools.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 12:49PM
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Would that be worse than the two doorways? Maybe you should also ask (on this forum) for help with living room furniture arrangement. That might make it easier to decide where and how many doorways you and DH will be comfortable having in the living room. Might be worth a try :)

Also, if you get a chance, tell me what you think of my FINAL layout, I'm posting right now. I'm out of time and I hope this one works! LOL

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 12:59PM
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Newbieremodeler and Lavendar Lass, I was going for the banquette, too, but I wanted to get all of that traffic out of the kitchen workspace. Another of my "wants" was to give people in the kitchen as much interaction with the living room as possible without adding to the cost by changing openings. So all I did in way of major construction was to remove the wall between the kitchen and dining rooms and to move the garage door. I figure that while one is eating or using the kitchen table for homework, we want as little interaction with the TV as possible, so I did not mind making the dining area in the isolated corner of the old kitchen. (BTW, the white-out and redrawn lines between the island and the living room entry are supposed to be just regular empty space. I changed my mind about something and had to re-do it.)

I checked the Ikea site to be sure cabs of these sizes were available there.

Fridge is on the perimeter, so someone coming in for a beer is not in your way in the kitchen.

Island directs walkers to stay out of your work area, from the living room, the garage, and even somewhat from the backyard and basement.

You can look out at the backyard while at the sink, and out at the living room while at the stove.

The island is a good landing spot for groceries coming in from the garage.

The island is also a good landing spot from things taken out of the fridge, though it may not look like it at first.

I have this type of layout with a french door fridge, and it is better than having a landing spot next to the fridge, since you just turn to set things down on the island. French door fridges are great for small kitchens because of the reduced door swing room, but you have to shut one of the doors if your landing spot is next to the fridge. This is why I do not mind putting your pantry next to the fridge! You don't need a landing spot there with a french door fridge. Here is mine:

Here is my aisle between fridge and island. It is 44" wide in my kitchen (just 2" more than in yours), and just like in your kitchen above, the island is not in front of all of the fridge, so you really do have a lot of room to approach the fridge from the right.

You can also see that your sink is not entirely across from the island, either. Again, that stops it from feeling all squeezed in by the island.

The 9" cabinet next to the sink is a little shelf cubby cabinet that Ikea has. I needed something small there to try to center your sink under the window. If you don’t care about having the sink centered (mine is not centered and I don’t care), you can have an 18" drawer base there instead, and the cab run will go almost to the little window on the right.

Another feature you may not notice is that you can put a baby gate between the island and the cabinet run by the windows. That means that if you have a baby playing in the empty spot under the small window, you can keep her safe from getting in your way. With a really persistent toddler, a second gate between the fridge and the island keeps you completely baby-free. I can see your future three year old crying and shaking the gate by the fridge in my mind's eye now, throwing things over the gate at you. You sure you want those rugrats? Well, if you do, I left you a space for a cradle or playpen by that small window.

You see that the kitchen table is up against built-in benches that we call banquettes. In red on my diagram, coming out from the bottom of the benches I have illustrated the “morgue drawers.” I have no idea who invented them, but Kelly seems to have given them a name. Here are hers from the Finished Kitchen Blog:

The link at the bottom goes to her Picasa site, where she even has diagrams with measurements for making the banquettes.

Okay, any questions?

Here is a link that might be useful: Kelly's Morgue Drawers

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 2:44PM
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Sorry I have no idea what to tell you on your kitchen.My brain seems to be stuck for suggestions.We have had the long narrow living rooms and they are a pain to decorate around. My best go of it was to set couch out from wall creating walk way behind couch at door ways.

Loving these morgue drawers though. A little creepy and very useful.

Sorry I am not much help. Glad you put your post here at SH board.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 3:03PM
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Also, you may have the 18" pantry (instead of the 15") next to the fridge if there is room left between the fridge and the garage door.

The corner base cab has the two shelf swing-out carousel.

You may have a 15" high 24" deep and 36" wide cab above the fridge.

I think you need to stick with a french door fridge.

You may choose to have a smaller sink cabinet, and have more room for drawers or maybe a trash pull-out.

I did not give you much overhang on the island, so you can't have stools there. If you want stools, you need at least 15" overhang, though some say they can get away with 12". If you are going to have room to walk, you really can't increase the island much. I do have a 6" overhang on the walkway side of the island, but if you make that walkway less than the 36" you have, you will not like it. The stools will be in the way there, too. You might be able to have an overhang on the fridge side of the island and one stool there, but you will lose half of that 30" drawer cabinet. Remember that the kitchen table is right there, and people can sit there.

If you want, you can make use of the backside of the island by using it to hang things on. Make side panels and a back panel for the island. Make the side panels come out all 30 inches, but place the back panel right up against the base cabs and the slide-in range oven. That gives you a little covered space with sides where you can use the wall storage items at Ikea. If you steal only a couple or three inches from that aisle, you can make the wall on the back of the island 9" deep by making the side panels 33". With that much space, you could use a lot more of the hanging systems all over the back of the island and then COVER them all with sliding doors, making the storage there neat, clean, and harder for kids and pets to get to. Imagine having a hanging spice basket that you can take from behind a sliding door on the island and carry to your prep area to use, then hang up when you are done. You could bunch the spices and condiments that go together - Italian food herbs and spices, Indian food spices, baking spices, each in its own basket that you can take out of storage on the back of the island and then hang up when you are done.

Here is a link that might be useful: IKEA Wall storage.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 3:40PM
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Honey, I'm liking the one that you say is the original layout that GW Kitchens came up with, but looks like "swiss cheese."

What I think would be an improvement would be to move that garage door as close to the living room as you can get it. This would take the traffic flow away from the working portion of the kitchen.

I would also make as wide an opening between the dining/kitchen and the living room, using posts and wide headers for the loadbearing wall. The SKIN of the wall is not what bears the load, it is the STRUCTURE HOLDING IT ALL UP. And that will continue down into the basement to the foundation. So beneath this wall, there continues this support for the middle of your house. Just leave some beefy posts and OPEN UP THE WALL. Only by having small doorways do you create the "swiss cheese." Besides, small doorways will not give you the connected feeling that you are seeking.

I also like this plan because it does not require moving the basement steps. If you have a one car garage, taking the door out of that corner could give you room to place a freezer or maybe a small shallow pantry in the far end of the garage.Just SHELVING in that garage space could give you a spot to store your bulk purchases, like toilet paper and paper towels and dog food or kitty litter. Those bulky items can make a small home kitchen use up its space quickly.

Now in the same plan, there is cabinets numbered 12 and 13, but it does not show any seating for a bar, so I just wonder why those cannot be used, with an overhanging counter surface, for a bar? It would also give a kitchen helper a place to perch and be useful w/o being in the way. I like that plan the best of all the ones you presented.

Those cabs backed up to your b asement stairs could be built all the way to ceiling and made to look like an old fashioned cupboard. You know, top cabs sitting on the bottoms, glass doors. Even painted different from the other cabs in your kitchen.

I also think you could have a bifold french door in the doorway beside that cupboard, as an easy traffic pattern to the back door and basement. A door directly opposite the steps going down will make it easier to move long or big objects down those stairs....ask me how I know that can be a problem. hmmm.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 8:26PM
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NancyinMI- Thanks for your layout! I just transferred your layout to the ikea planner so that I can it in 3d. The only problem is that I can lose 8ft on the south side of the house for a banquette b/c otherwise I lose too much of the only wall in the LR. This wall is the wall that I think the TV will end up on. Will have to sleep on this design since it is so different from the others. I have been thinking peninsula not island. Thanks again

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 9:37PM
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Moccasinlanding- I have always has a fondness for the GW layout. Here is a modified version that incorporates your suggestions. I agree with moving the garage door down close to the LR and scooting the LR/DR opening farther north on the load bearing wall so that way there can be overhang on the peninsula and stools.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 10:05PM
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I don't understand the comments about the two banquettes. In both designs you have said something about losing the LR wall. The banquette is simply a booth seating in the dining area. It does not affect the living room wall in the least. You can put the booth right up against the wall in the dining room without affecting the wall in the living room at all. There is no opening above the booth or anything. Is that what you are thinking?

The morgue drawers gave you a lot of storage for can goods and other things. And kids do better on booth seating than on chairs.

You also added an opening into the dining area from the living room. I thought that you wanted fewer openings in that wall. You did not want the swiss cheese effect. I am confused.

I fully understand if you do not like booths. but that is not what you are saying. Help me understand what you mean, please.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 10:38PM
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Here is the layout I am sort of contemplating for the LR. Except I would flip the two chairs in front of the fireplace with the one comfy chair (so that the comfy chair is to the left of the fireplace--since the fireplace is off center).

Thoughts? That is why I want to keep a large portion of the load-bearing wall in the center intact so that I can place a small entertainment system/tv stand.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 10:56PM
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NancyinMI- I thought you had two openings in the LR loadbearing wall. But now after I read your comments, I see there is only open opening. I guess I am torn as to whether we should have two openings or not. DH wants only one preferably on the south side of the loadbearing wall (meaning closing up the existing opening). I on the other hand am leaning towards two openings so that I as the cook can see into the LR when cooking. Also I think we need at least one opening on the south end so that the LR becomes less of a traffic zone.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 11:00PM
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Newbie I do not want to hi-jack your thread. I just would like to ask Nancy if her plan on the graph paper is each square is 6 inches. Thanks Chris

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 11:02PM
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I'm glad to see a wall separating the front door from the living room (it wasn't drawn on original plan). The living room wall is 17'6 wide wall, which would seem to leave about 6-ft of width for an entry foyer. Does the entry foyer also include an entrance into the kitchen?

Be sure to leave at least seven or eight feet of wall across from the front window on which place your TV. So long as the views into the kitchen/dining area are attractive, I would prefer two living room openings to add greater depth to such a narrow living room - even though the greater depth is only visual. But only if the view into the kitchen/dining is an attractive one. I would not want to look at any appliances, but full-height cabinetry, dining table, or artfully arranged glass-front upper cabinetry could all look nice.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 11:59PM
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Gwbr54- There is no wall separating the front door from the LR. The LR layout photo is something I found online from the "Design Sherpa's website". Unfortunately, my front door opens right into the LR --another problem for another post for another day! ;)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 12:36AM
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Chris, yes, one square is six inches. I can see it better that way on my graph paper.

Newbieremodeler, it seems like your DH would like to cut down on traffic and on the swiss-cheese look by moving the door to the kitchen and dining rooms south, In most of the layouts you are considering, that cuts you off from any ability to interact with people who are in the living room while you are working in the kitchen. I think your goals are in conflict. He wants fewer holes and more separation and you want to join the family instead of isolating in the kitchen.

In my experience, having two smaller openings into the living room does not help you interact more. If you want to see and hear more from the LR, widen the opening that is there or close it up and make a wide opening on the south side. Wide openings give you more sight lines. Take a ruler and put the middle of it on one edge of your narrow doorways into the kitchen in the last IKEA diagram. Then swivel it as if you had a pin holding the ruler at that doorway edge. It will show you what your sight lines are. Use the last kitchen plan you posted as an example. If you were standing at that sink, you could see...maybe the closet in the living room. If you were standing at the door to the basement, you could see the couch. Mostly, though, you are cut off from the living room.

If the opening between the rooms is larger, you see more from more places in the kitchen. In my drawing, the person at the fridge can see the sofa and the chairs in front of the fireplace, and even the person at the stove can see the fireplace. If you widen that opening by three squares (a foot and a half), the person at the island can see the edge of the couch and can see the middle of the couch by stepping a step closer to the fridge. The person at the sink can now see the couch, too.

If you stand on the far side of the room from a smaller doorway, you will see what I mean about having fewer sight lines.

Also, I find, open spaces between rooms add to my ability to talk to someone in the next room, even if I cannot see him. I now have a wall that goes only one-third of the way across the space separating my kitchen and my family room. The other two thirds are open. I can still easily talk to DH when he is out of sight, because the rooms are so open to each other.

Think about how you want to use the rooms and see if you and DH can figure out what openings you want, and where they should be.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 1:44AM
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Newbie- I really like the original GW layout, with the garage door moved down to the 'bottom'. That was the only part that didn't work before. In this plan, you can have stools and the banquette and still have the doors where you want them. The banquette is under the window, too, which is so bright and cheerful :)

Since you have a plan for the living room furniture, that doesn't seem to block your two doors, you might as well keep them. If, down the road, you still feel it's too swiss cheese, you can always add a pocket door or close one door off...but I think you'll like the flow and the extra views. Nancy makes a good point about being able to visit more with guests and just sharing light through the spaces. That big window, over the banquette, is going to bring some light into the living room, too, balancing the light from that big window.

I hope this one works out for you and DH...what does he think about it?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 10:06AM
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Nancy- I think you put it well. Hubby wants only 1 entrance and I think 2 might better serve our purposes. I will have to try your ruler trick later tonight and see if that helps make things any clearer for us. I also incorporated some of your ideas into this below plan. It still does not make a great area for a dining room table-- I think I like the kitchen layout better.

More thoughts? Or does the original GW design still make more sense?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 5:00PM
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Newbie- Are there prep sinks in the corner, on each of those plans? If so, they both work well, as far as kitchen layout. The big difference is the table space. In the original GW plan, with the banquette moved up to the window, your two doors are in the same corner, giving you room for stools and the table.

In the second plan, the kitchen layout is nice, but the table feels cramped, blocking access to the basement stairs...and your back door, patio, etc.

I think the first plan will give you much better flow and be MUCH better during parties! :)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 6:50PM
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My problems with the plans with the small table is that the table is so very small. You may not need a big table right now, but if you plan to live in the home long term, you have to remember that you will someday need a table that is larger once the kids are sitting at it. The table with the black intersecting lines is a more realistically sized table. The little beige one in the diagram two posts up is almost like a table for four at a fast food restaurant, it is so small. That size table works better in your layouts, but is it realistic? On the other hand, the life-sized one really does block the basement/backdoor traffic, as LL says above. In her banquette design and my banquette design, we are trying to give you room for traffic. Can you imagine trying to carry a big basket of laundry around that bigger black table? It is not going to be easy. I know I said I was moving your laundry upstairs (and Claire De Luna has sent me a picture of her closet laundry that I will post for you when I have time), but you just may decide to keep the laundry downstairs.

Lavender Lass, I cannot see a layout with the banquette under the window. Can you direct me to it? It sounds interesting.

Newbieremodeler, in the plans with two doors, why have them so small? For instance, in the Sunday post at time 22:05, you could leave that opening into the living room as large as it is in your original diagram at the top of the page (58"), and the whole dining area and maybe the counter stools will be open to the living room, giving you the interaction you wanted. Having two openings no bigger than a standard door is not going to satisfy your desire to interact with family and friends in the other room. I keep reminding you of that because I know how dissatisfied you will feel cooking in a kitchen that isolates you.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 9:23PM
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Nancy- The banquette is two kitchen pictures up, but it just looks like a regular table. Newbie's software doesn't show banquettes, but it was a banquette in the original plan, on the kitchen forum.

The left side door could be larger, in this plan and have more light and views, coming into both rooms. It's nice that this plan has room for the stools and a dining table. The banquette gives you lots of storage and extra seating, especially with kids :)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 10:09PM
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I've posted this inspiration pic (designer: Suzanne Kasler) several times before, but it's a thought for your space as well. This would be a true eat-in kitchen, in the old-fashioned sense. I love it. Seems like a great kitchen for a cook, because your family or guests can keep you company.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 10:12PM
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Gwbr54- Actually somebody on the kitchen forum suggested a giant L-shape kitchen layout and I did put it into the ikea planner-- here it is.

I like it but at the same time was afraid that it mine not be real popular with the next owner- because it is a true eat-in kitchen. DH was not crazy about it either. I think b/c I am a messy cook :(... but a good cook! ;)

But I do love the photos you posted.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 10:27PM
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I like the kitchen forum one - looks like lots of storage, and lots of room for eating! I anticipate the old-fashioned eat-in kitchen and the kitchen/hearth room will be the next kitchen trends (because once everyone does bar counters and islands, what else is new and different). But it is a risk that the next buyer (not to mention DH) might not like it.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 11:03PM
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I can add my two cents to the long kitchen. We had one.It was ok and had one 17 foot counter run but it was not great. I used the one end for craft things in the cabinets. And crafted on our kitchen table since we did not eat there. The light in the room was great though. At the far end was a large window. And there was a large laundry sink through the door way I could hide pots and pans in to soak so could hide some of the cooking mess when we had company, Still it was hot to be eating so close to the stove.

Other end of kitchen

Here is a link that might be useful: Long kitchen

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 1:24AM
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I like the big eat-in kitchens and keeping rooms...and they probably will be the next big trend. I think they work best if you have a separate dining room and living/family room, though, so you can have a very friendly kitchen...but not always be in the kitchen.

Gwbr- Those inspiration pictures are beautiful! While I think it would be lovely to have coffee/tea and chat in that kitchen, I don't know how it would look after I made spaghetti and wanted to sit down and eat a meal with company. Probably not nearly as pretty...but then I'm a messy cook! :)

Shades- Very nice kitchen...and I can see where a layout like that would make it much easier to expand the table to accomodate a lot more people.

Newbie- Have you thought about using the modified GW version with the banquette (three of your kitchen designs up) but make the opening from the living room into the dining side...MUCH bigger? Maybe make it wide enough that the wall would end at the countertop for the stools?

It would give you a big opening and I think make the living room feel larger, not so much like a hallway. Since you don't plan to put any furniture on that part of the wall, you would be including the stools into the living room and the kitchen. It would also open up the dining area quite a bit.

You could still have the smaller opening on the kitchen side, to access the basement and back door. What do you think? Would your TV and smaller chair, fit on the remaining section of load bearing wall?

It would also allow the person sitting on the big comfy chair by the fireplace to interact with the people sitting at the stools and see the dining room...and that big window!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 1:23PM
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I have thought about this a lot and I think this is the design I am leaning towards (with a prep sink in the corner). Although I still have not completely convinced DH that 2 openings are better than 1. I really really had it in my mind to switch the DR and kitchen but for some reason I have not come up with a layout that does not compromise the DR. I wish I could have a sliding door but I think the banquette will be really nice. We can also some day put in a slider/patio door in place of the back door. I am still not 100% convinced-- still open to other ideas. But for now I am going to try sleeping on this design and see how it feels.

Shades- I did grow up in a ranch house that had a true eat in kitchen. We always had the problem of bumping into the kitchen table while trying to cook. Also I think it would be a difficult layout with kids, trying to keep them from being underfoot. At least this one I can put up baby gates!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 1:35PM
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Lavender- I know I never met and I know that I have said this before- but it is crazy that we think not only alike but at the same time!! :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 1:37PM
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I do like this last layout, but as I said several times and Lavender Lass has also suggested, doing a bigger opening on the dining side will keep you from feeling so isolated, open the counter stools to interacting with both the LR and the Kitchen, and make both rooms feel more spacious and open. Your opening in this diagram is smaller than it is now.

If you build a proper header, the load bearing wall will be fine with a larger opening. I would take the opening all the way to where the wall cabinets end. That way, the sitting bar is truly open to the living room - you could even have a third stool on the end of the counter! The light would come from both directions and fill this end of the living room with light. That will get rid of the "bowling alley effect" of having such a long room.

If you build the two openings as pictured - the same size as a 30" or 32" door into the garage, you will feel as isolated in that kitchen as you do now. You will hate being in there alone.

I do like this layout best for keeping your work zone free of those just passing through. It guides people right around your working area, the table and banquette is comfy and overlooks the yard, there is room for a larger table for special occasions, you get some highly desirable counter seating, and you have oodles of storage! Good Job!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 3:20PM
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Thanks Nancy- I will play around with the idea of the opening. I guess I have been trying to keep the openings small since I know DH does not want two. But I get what you are saying now.. embrace the open spaces and then it will feel more intentional and less like a mouse hole! ;)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 3:22PM
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Exactly! Besides, it's only one door into the kitchen...and a wide opening into the dining area, off the living room. When DH sees this (maybe we can find some pictures) I think he'll really like it!

Newbie- I think we both just have excellent taste! LOL Oh, that reminds me, how do you like french country, with a bit of a cottage twist? I'm looking for decorating ideas, on my latest post and I can use a lot of help! :)

Here's one picture. Not exactly what I was looking for, but it's a start. The stools open to a larger doorway...

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 7:34PM
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Give Nancy's suggestion some serious thought. By making the opening by the bar wider, you will more than double the impact of OPENNESS for your entire space. Remember that the stools as shown on the floor plan will not sit pulled way out...they will be pushed under the countertop overhang.

I really really like the last floor plan drawn above, with the exception of the narrow doorway. A good header for the door will help shorten the look of your long skinny living room too.

If you are still worried about the "Swiss cheese effect," may I suggest that you put a French bifold door on the kitchen doorway near the bathroom? Especially pretty looking if you have a cupboard with glass doors on that wall backed up to the basement steps. A bifold French can open back to both sides, and serve to make that doorway prettier and more important looking, and even contain noise generated in the kitchen if there are folks asleep in the bedroom wing of your house.

Can you tell I do love bifold French doors? And I've used them in three different houses so far.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 12:18AM
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I'd try to keep the stove / cooktop and the sink on the same wall or on either sides of an L. crossing the walking area with a pot of hot water is not very safe - especially with kids. much easier on the cook also.

I never liked a banquette type table/seating when raising my kids. we had a bench along a wall with chair at either end and opposite side of the bench. our bench had 'arm' sides on it tho and the kids had trouble getting out of their seat if they needed something / go to bathroom. unless each person/kid gets their own side of a banquette they could have a problem. more than 2 kids means most likely 1 will have to climb over another.

I always found it uncomfortable to slide out of a booth seat to let the inner most person out also. The person on the inner most side always seemed to need out to go to the bathroom.

I do agree with ML on the openings into the LR. The larger the openings the less 'swiss cheesy' it will look. It'll be more like an open concept living area.

Maybe on that upper area of the 'bath closet' you could open it on the kitchen side also and have it split in the middle. half for kitchen storage and half for bathroom storage. I find them better shallow than deep - less likely to lose things in the deeper depths of a cabinet.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 4:17AM
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ML- Do you happen to have any photos of these french bifold doors you love? I have heard of french doors and bifold doors but not the combo of the two. I googled them but not sure I am finding the right thing. Also what do you mean by "a good header for the door will help shorten the look of your long skinny living room"?

Desertsteph- There will be a prep sink in the corner cabinet near the stove so I do not have to travel across the kitchen with pots of boiling water. I am also have shall storage all along the south wall. I am either thinking all pantry like this:

or pantry with countertop, but just afraid that this might collect to much clutter and that the glass uppers although pretty do not allow for storage of unpretty items (flour, sugar, etc).

However both would only be 12" deep.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 9:31AM
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Newbie- The opening to the kitchen is about 3' wide, I maybe just split the difference with french doors...about 18" wide, each. That would look very pretty, when they're folded back against the wall, and wouldn't take up very much room.

I like the second picture of the pantry, with the countertop. Even 12" deep can hold a lot of items...not just clutter. I like the sparkle of the glass uppers, too, which will bounce more light around the room.

If you're worried about clutter, can you create a message center/mail area somewhere by your entry? If there's no room there, you could do it with a part of the pantry...but what's that top closet for, by bedroom 2, next to your (I'm guessing coat) closet?

Could you 'borrow' some space there and create a place for mail, phone books, message center, garbage under, etc.? That's a very popular idea in the Not So Big House books...and it does contain a lot of clutter. You can always have doors or cabinets too, so that it's more organized and hidden from the living room. Just an idea :)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 12:49PM
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So I think I found the perfect table and chairs set for my banquette. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 8:26PM
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Ok, I will show you the bifold French doors. While they ship with the two halves hinged to fold back to the same side, you can make them fold back half on each side of the doorway.
The picture I'm showing below is for the two pair of bifold French we installed on our walkin master closet. And then a third pair is installed for our master bath. All of these fold back to one side or the other, but not half here and half there. Although I do like the way that looks for a door like the one going from your living room to your kitchen beside the basement stairs.

DH was having a fit to hang them, so he did that before I had a chance to paint them and frost the glass. Here is how the bifold folds back. I do NOT recommend tracks, but a stop at the top of the doorway with a magnet to latch would work fine. When I use them, I do not need to lock the doorways where the bifolds are installed. The magnetic catches work beautifully.

And sometimes, you just have to tell your DH to GET OVER IT, when his idea won't suit the traffic flow or the way the house NEEDS to be designed. I suppose I lived single for so long that standing up for what I want is routine, and my DH expects me to do it. (Of course it helps that I am usually right....not always, but often enough that he now trusts my instincts or ideas.) :)

Incidentally, we installed bifold French doors in the master suite of my DH's Massachusetts cape, but I cannot find the photos of that right now. And the first time I used single French doors inside as a room door, was in myy little MoccasinLanding cottage, to let light reach the interior of the house. Two single French doors, one for each of two bedrooms, how lovely they looked. One room was my study, the other a guest room, and I had very little company so a sheer on the inside of the door was nice. And then I turned the kitchen door into a single French door as well, because after they added a family room on the back, it was like a cave and needed opening up. The 15 light French back door did the trick. Plus a double deadbolt of course.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 9:02PM
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ML-- You are killing me! LOL! Do not worry I tell DH to get over it all the time!! :) It helps when I tell him that I talked to the people on GW and they said NO! :) Funny thing is a few weeks ago we were talking about the kitchen and DH asked "what does Lavender think"?

Thanks you for posting photos of the french bifold doors. I have not seen them before. I had of course seen normal bifold doors. Do you think it would be a good idea to put them on both openings or just the kitchen? Do you think they are preferable over pocket doors?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 12:02AM
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LOL, that is so funny. When I tell dh something I learned, he always asks if that is something from my online friends. Funny thing is that he usually considers it then.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 4:01PM
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marti8a- I know!! So that is why I posted this question, b/c I kinda figured no one on here would crazy about putting up a wall. So that is how I can convince DH it is not a good idea--it will hurt resale... objective people online said "no"! :)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 8:44PM
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Except me. lol I like having an entry "space". But I did like that half wall with columns.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 9:51PM
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ML- Very nice bifold French doors :)

Newbie- I love the pedestal table with chairs! They'd be perfect with your banquette...very stylish and easy to get in and out. I really like the back of the chairs, too :)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 3:35AM
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Oh yeah, WAY preferable to a pocket door. When you put that pocket there, you cannot have any electrical or pipes in the wall because it has to remain open. And no hanging pictures or cabinets on that area either. Just short screws which won't penetrate to the pocket itself. But the bifold doors can fit existing openings for the most part.

One thing, by the time you and the hubby choose what to do, you will know that all options have been explored, you have faced every pro/con for it all now and in the future, and your choices will carry you and a growing family in THIS house, into the future. I rather like that thought, and it makes our reasons for contributing to this question appropriate. We've all come through changes in our lives, not all changes we anticipated either, and having a house able to shelter our needs without further change, it is very comforting.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 10:40AM
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ML- Very nicely put. :)

Lavender- I too love the back of the chairs! That and that the table can be extended for company.

I think I am research girl by my very nature. I like knowning that I have explored my options. Thanks for all your help! I think the plan for this kitchen is coming along so well and know I feel much more confident about my decisions. Now if only that GC would call me back so I can get started!!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 3:40PM
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Newbie- Did you measure your doorway, from the banquette area, out to the living room? How close is that to the corner? It looks closer than the doorway you have that going to leave you enough room, to get past the fireplace hearth?

Also, I saw your post on kitchens, but didn't want to be the first to respond...are you still putting in your prep sink? It looks wonderful! :)

I just wanted to double check on that fireplace hearth. I had the same thing on my plan...I was going to put a window seat by the fireplace, until I realized the hearth stuck out 3' from the wall and it would be a trip hazard for accessing the window seat. I guess that's why they say measure twice! LOL

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 6:58PM
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Lavender- Thanks for the nice comments-- I do feel good about the layout. I just thought maybe the guru's might pick up something we missed, that an I am a little paranoid about ordering cabinets. As for the measuring, I am not sure what you mean. The door way into the DR is probably going to stay the same size as the current opening, more or less. I may take out that small piece of wall between the fireplace and the garage door--have not decided for sure. I am not sure if I want that door way seen from the LR or not.
Let me know if I am not understanding your question/concern. I think the problem is that the layout I posted still shows the tiny door opening into the DR.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:57PM
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Newbie- That's probably it...the layout shows a smaller doorway. Your original plan shows 30" from the corner (by the garage) to the opening from the dining room into the living room. The Ikea plan didn't look like there was as much I wasn't sure if you'd be clearing the fireplace hearth.

When I was a kid, my dad decided to open up a door, between the kitchen and back bedroom, we had turned into a dining room. As he's cutting a hole in the wall, I look out the window, and see the outside of the house bumps out about 6" where the kitchen is...and I ask him if he saw that. Dad turns a bit red (because he's actually pretty handy) and says oops!...well, it was still a nice doorway, but about 6" narrower than he'd planned :)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 12:43PM
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Lavender- Thank you! I think I freaked out a little this morning.. I went to bed last night thinking about cabinets and such and then realized---where am I going to put my pots and pans!! So I think I am going to need the pantry cabinets rather than the pretty glass doors. :( I am a little sad but know I would kick myself if I did not leave myself with enough storage space.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 3:15PM
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Newbie, if nothing else, a potrack over the countertop near the stove could take some of your pots. And, if they don't look like you want, then sounds like it's time to go get some new stuff. Just not Teflon, which never lasts. Emeril has some new pots out that look like the copper core AllClad, hopefully without that huge price.

And, making only a couple of glass doors would be adequate for the look you want. And you can get the glass frosted, which only shows a sillouette of the contents.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 9:49PM
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ML - a like potracks in photos of other people's kitchens but I think in mine it would look like a cluttered mess. I think I am okay with losing the sparkly glass cabinets. I really have nothing to put in them other than wine glasses and some white dishes--and upon closer examination REALLY need the extra storage space.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:22PM
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Newbie- The extra storage will be great and I think the pantry units will work out well. If you decide you want a little sparkle, I still like the idea of pantry on each side, with a hutch in the middle, with glass uppers and a bit of counter space. Nice pull out shelves in the pantry area and maybe deep drawers under the countertop would be a great combination. You can also paint or put a removable backing, against the back of the uppers. This will give you a color, to really make white dishes pop...and make this area a little special, as suggested earlier. Just an idea :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 6:11PM
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Lavender-That pantry area is only 12" deep so no drawers needed. That is why I am thinking all pantry. I will post a photo of the combo of the two---kinda looked strange to me.. but I am open to being swayed! :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 7:14PM
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This is my opinion but there are few things that are necessary in making a small home function well for a family for a LONG time, not temporarily until you buy a bigger house. But a well functioning home where you can raise a family.

I am thinking about this alot lately because we are buying some rental properties and trying to make these homes "livable" for a family so they are easily rentable. These are things I am thinking about....

1. Eat in kitchen is not necessary but a kitchen that is close and CONNECTED to an eating area is. (there is a difference) You can connect to an eating area with visual and physical connection.

2. Easy access to the nice green space in your backyard/sideyard that allows you to connect to the outdoors. This allows you to enjoy summer BBQs and perhaps entertain easily in the summer. (I would put sliding glass door from your dining room to make it happen easily in your house). You can't afford the linear foot without cabinets in the kitchen. So you have to put the slider in the dining. This is a typical small home solution. An easy way to make your house livable is to put a deck across the east side of the house (kitchen dining side if this give you a nice access to the yard and increasing the entertaining space without adding on to the house.)

2. Dining area that accomodates a larger group of people with rearrangement of furniture to host occasional parties, ie Thanksgiving, birthday parties, having another family over for dinner is ABSOLUTELY necessary for long term staying power of a small home. I think this is a more important criteria than actual eat-in kitchen. When the house cannot accomodate life's meaningful events in your own home, you feel that your house is not "good" or "big" enough. I think older home designs (pre-WWII) understood this well and gave generous spaces to the dining area even though they did not give enough to the kitchen.

Imagine feeling that you can never host a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 at your house because there is no way to make it happen even with rearrangement of the furniture....

In your current kitchen, you can probably seat 6 to 8 adults in the dining and a card table with kids in the living room. Set the table close to the dining opening near the fireplace and have a nice Thanksgiving/holiday party at your home for 10 or more people. This allows you to create memories for your kids.

In many of your plans, there is no way you can host the holidays at your home: ie the banquet kitchen and the kitchen eat in table.... These are great for larger homes where there are other areas to host a large party but not in a small home, IMHO.

Do you forsee yourself hosting family parties?

Dining rooms that are somewhat open to living room rearranges furniture easier for parties. There are people who never host sit down dinners (informal for families. I am not even taking FORMAL) at their homes because it is impossible. On the other hand, I have been in homes that are much smaller but the house makes holiday dinners happen. If you think having these life's events in your home is important to you, then you need to design for it.

I think many of your designs show 36 inch opening between the dining and LR. I think this is smaller than what you already have. (58 inches, I am reading). I am not sure what the reason is behind this.... I would open up dining area as much you can given the load bearing condition.

Figure out the house first then the kitchen. This is
really important! This is not easy because you have to optimize everything and look ahead to the kind of family you will have. You need to have a reasonable plan for various phases of your family's life.

For example, if you are a family that will watch TV in the basement, then you need to plan for the basement media room.

More questions about the house:
How will you use your basement as you have kids?
Will you be satisfied with 1 bath on the main or wil need/want to add 1/2 or 1 bath on the main?
Where is the nice part of the yard?
How will you access that?
Do you use the garage to park?
If so, do you enter the house through the kitchen?
Do you just use the garage as a storage and never enter the house that way?
You can add storage in the garage easily to put overflow kitchen stuff in there IF you move the kitchen to where the dining is currently. (as is one of your ideas) In a small home, I actually prefer this type of arrangement than making a kitchen that is too big for the house... (there should be a balance of rooms in a given house)
Do you have places for young toddlers/school aged kids to go and play on a rainy/cold day?
Where will the toddlers eat? (I had a small toddler table next to my kitchen island for couple years until my kids were old enough to climb the stool easily. The booster chair streapped to the stool did not work for us as well.) Do you have places for teenagers to hangout and have some privacy?
Do you have a place for adults to have a little quiet and solitute from one another. (Bedroom is fine for this if you design for it)
Do you have a place for occasional overnight guests?
How do you enter the house?
Where to you drop your stuff as you enter?

When I look at your LR, it looks underutilized to me. i would close that opening, and put a wall there so you can cluster the seating arrangement next to the FP. Then you move the kitchen where the DR is now. You create some storage in the garage that stores all your large occasional kitchen stuff.
The dining room should have a large opening to the LR which makes the rearranging for large parties easy. You can see into the dining and you feel more connected to the family. (if you DH watches TV and he won't budge from that, then you need to be able to see the TV from the kitchen to feel connected to the family)
The couch should face the FP and you can have a console behind the couch which will create a space near the front door a sense of entry.

These are some ideas to get you started....

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 6:00PM
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