Looking for kitchen layout advice

peachymomoMay 21, 2013

I am in the planning (and saving up money) stage of a kitchen remodel. My DH is a carpenter by trade and is going to do much of the work himself, I will help with things that don’t require a lot of skill. He has been building and remodeling houses for more than 30 years, so he's pretty knowledgeable about what can and cannot be done. The one thing that we are both set on is removing the wall that separates the kitchen from the living room, we are tired of the inefficient and cut-off layout that we have now.

Right now we have a galley kitchen with countertops that are 6’ apart and a door to the laundry room at the end. The door is not used terribly often, most traffic to and from the kitchen is by way of the front or sliding glass doors. Sometimes there are two cooks in the kitchen but not often, DH loves to grill outdoors and I love to grow fruits and veggies and cook with them. Apple harvest always involves hours of processing and cooking apples into pies, applesauce, etc. I currently have no where to put things after I bake them, I love the idea of having a raised bar on the island that can be used as a cooling area.

What I want to do is remove the wall and install an island 4' from the wall counters, making the kitchen more efficient and allowing us to put a bar on the other side of the island without taking space away from the living room. We will need to have a pathway between the island and the wall with the laundry door in it, which I think should probably be 4' for convenience. This will take away some of our counter space and a lot of upper cabinet space, but I think the sacrifice will be worth it for the improvement to the overall room. To make up for lost storage space I was planning on having custom built-ins installed around the fireplace and also on the dining room wall south of the kitchen. To make up for lost counter space I want to change from separate wall oven and cooktop to a range, as well as arranging things more efficiently so that the counters we have are more useable.

I like the layout of the counter and island that I have come up with, but I am having trouble placing the appliances in it. Other than the refrigerator, which I don’t really see any spot for except in the north-western corner.

I would like to have the sink in the island and the stove against the wall, but because of the window on that wall I’m having trouble making things fit. The window could be moved, but even with shifting it around I’m stumped. Ideally we would like to move the window closer to the sliding glass door and make it larger, because that would be the best move as far as the view of the backyard is concerned. But that would force me to put the range pretty close to the refrigerator, and I’m not sure that it would be a good set up.

I like the look on paper of having the range on the sliding door side of the run of counters, the fridge on the wall side, and the window in the center. The only issue would be that the window would have to move a bit north, which would shift it away from the ‘good’ view and towards the part we would rather not see.

The other option is to put the sink on the window wall and then put the stove in the island, which would make venting more expensive and difficult. I also think it would be cooler to have the sink on the island where the bar is because that would make it a great area for serving drinks during parties.

So, what I'm wondering is: If this were your kitchen and you had to have the counters and island in these spots, where would you put your window, sink, and stove? The window is drawn in where it is right now, but DH is willing to move it.

Thanks in advance!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's a layout sketch with the existing window erased and some lengths written in.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 1:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sophie Wheeler

Think single level island. Think prep sink. Thing moving the behehoth of the fridge. Moving the laundry room door.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 2:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hollysprings' design would be quite nice for your big jobs, and gets the refrigerator out of the major sight lines, but I do certainly understand your need to protect your living room while maximizing kitchen efficiency and work space. A single level island would be more flexible for different functions, but you love the idea of a raised counter, which would help hide the mess.

Really, overall, it seems the island-style galley plan you've thought out meets those goals admirably, and I'm very fond of galleys that make a firm definition of space between kitchen and living areas. So, if it were mine, without any idea of what the view that's driving your dilemma is:

1. Your galley with sink in island and raised portion (as you like because you like it and to block out the mess and create a more elegant view from the living area.
2. Stove toward patio door end, with my required terrific work counter right between stove and refrigerator. Window in middle, with the whole area nicely balanced visually (which a window on the end would not allow).
3. I'm big on views myself. You don't say what the problem is with yours, but hopefully something could be done to improve what you see? I remember a garden designer saying all she needed was 11' depth and she could create a fine view. I don't know why that distance or what yours is, but her standards for what constitutes a good view (and the budgets she typically worked with) were high, so I'm sure she could do some real problem solving with less. Otherwise, you have the patio doors to enjoy the view from the inside, the cooks' eyeballs and heads swivel nicely so views can be enjoyed from the side, the bottoms of windows can be raised to edit out low views, and curtains can do wonders also. Plus, most of the time I'm watching my fingers get out of the way as I'm chopping stuff up. I designed a TV in mine, and got rid of it because I never watched the screen.
4. I likely wouldn't make that path to the refrigerator and laundry door more than 3-1/2', grudging every inch no doubt, and that'd be mostly for fridge access because you say you don't use the laundry door that much. This is where mocking up is so valuable.
5. Could the laundry door be rehung to open the other way? Even if it couldn't, I think I'd like to to that anyway. :) Maybe a pair of doors? I did that to my poor doorway between our kitchen and my sitting room. The room has another door to it, so I kept shaving inches off the kitchen side for other uses and only stopped at 28" because there were no ready-made 13.5"ers available.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 3:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would love to move the laundry room door but that is one project the DH said 'No' to, too much plumbing/gas/electrical going on in that wall. Do you mean rehang the door to open into the laundry room instead of the kitchen? Another thing I wanted and was told couldn't happen, because the door opens to steps down he said it's unsafe. A pocket door is another vetoed project, in a lot of ways that door is my nemesis.

The issue with the view is that there are pretty things to look at directly forward (west) and to the southwest, but to the northwest is an addition and a tall deck railing. I just find that looking generally southwest is more pleasing, especially since I have a new garden nearing completion in that direction. However, an efficient kitchen design trumps my preference for looking toward the south instead of north, as you said something can always be done to make that spot more attractive.

I would gladly make the path between island and laundry door 3.5', I was worried about it being too tight a squeeze but I would rather have more counter than an extra wide pass through.

I think it really would be better to ignore the view issue and just put the window in the middle and the stove and fridge on either side of some nice work space. I can always stand at an angle to look at my garden.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 4:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I drew in the sink and stove and reduced the walk-through to 3.5', what do you think?

Possible problems could be lack of space between the stove and door, lack of upper cabinets, and a small, awkward dining space. But I think that I can live with those issues, and they are small (or unchanged) compared to what we are living with now.

Any opinions?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 8:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As for that door, could it be a barn type sliding door?

If you haven't seen how they have been used lately check out this link of a houzz search.

Here's one just to get you thinking.

Contemporary Spaces by Sausalito Architect Urrutia Design

Or work on DH a little more. I had mine move all the electrical outlets in the kitchen at least 3 times before settling on a plan ; )

Here is a link that might be useful: houzz barn doors

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

what do you want the area between the patio door and LR area to be used for? table?

how many in your family?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 1:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's a good point, and that's a very good question. Peachymomo, what side of the glass door do you walk out of? It would be helpful if that arrow meant it was the kitchen side of that 8-1/2 feet.

And you need to build storage along that wall... Depending on the number of diners, a table and chairs, or banquette could be set there and shallow wall storage built "around" it. My original shallow pantry that I copied for this house was only 30" wide/12" deep and held an amazing amount. A pair of them might flank a table and chairs or banquette. Like Debrak's sliding door picture, they could be part of a very nice composition. Just deep enough to hold a standard cereal box can be a great depth. I've forgotten, but probably around 9".

Otherwise,it's looking like a very nice place to work on paper, but you're sounding like you're grieving a bit for a view of your garden growing--which really matters.

Just thinking out of the (house) box, I'm guessing it's mainly an edible garden, right? As a gardener myself, if you were into decorative gardening I'd be pretty sure your deck and house wall would end up as garden adjuncts anyway. I'm more restrained these days, so my second-story porch only has one young wisteria growing along it, some plants in pots, and a bird feeder and birdhouse. Dawn's breaking outside, the birds are starting to sing and they'll be at the feeder I can see from here shortly. Attracting a lot of birds has done wonders for our insect problem (Georgia!), but we don't cover our handful of fruit trees, so their crops are basically ceded to them. Strangely, they mostly leave the figs alone.

In any case, could your garden be moved to a more viewable position next year? Or a new section started? Do you have an herb garden yet? Right outside the kitchen is very nice. Depending on your climate, what sounds like a mostly south facing house wall could be a real asset for plants that need extra warmth and/or an early start.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 6:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

if the laundry does not lead to another area such as garage or half bath/bedroom wing/etc, shift the laundry door to the left a bit and run a galley kitchen. You don't need to come through living room with laundry, with a wider galley aisle of 50-52 in. With the counter run coming off fireplace wall and door to laundry centered between the counter runs... the outer counter run will gain the 3 ft....ending sooner,so dining spot widens to 10-11 foot for table/chair set up.Some laundry setups are even situated IN the kitchen.....yours will be beyond, with a door, and with wider aisle the episodic trips in/out of laundry will accomodate that function along with person[s] in kitchen.I just don't see the net gain of keeping traffic through living room to laundry when if you move counter run up into that space you gain a few feet for dining spot which i think you really need here.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 7:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The sliding door does open on the kitchen side, and that spot between it and the living room is a rarely used breakfast nook. I love the idea of a shallow pantry on that wall, I think that spot will be used more for storage than eating but it should include a table and chairs as well. I like the idea of a narrow, rectangular table that could be pulled out and used as extra counter space if necessary.

As for the view I decided that a picture is worth a thousand words so I should post a couple rather than trying to explain. Edibles are my first passion, but I love gardening of all kinds. I have a plan for re-landscaping my whole property and I'm working away at it bit by bit, so the view will improve with the years.

Please forgive the poor picture quality, unfinished projects, and messy deck.

Looking northwest:

Looking southwest:

I am going to have the pathway part of the spiral garden filled with DG pretty soon, when that is done DH is going to build stairs going out that opening. Once the clematis on the obelisk trellis and the lavender trumpet vines on the privacy screen grow it should be a really nice view.

That laundry room door is definitely not going anywhere. In order for it to move west we would have to change all of the plumbing, gas, and electrical lines in that wall, as well as finding a new place for the washer and dryer. To move it east we would have to relocate the hot water heater. DH is willing to tear down old sheds, cut off ugly roof extensions, take out walls, build decks, shade structures, trellises, new sheds, fences, even additions onto the house. He will not move that door. And I'm not going to argue with him about it.

Anyways, thanks for the input!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 10:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Forgot to mention one thing, we are a family of only two. But once we have our yard and house looking nicer we plan on hosting parties for our friends and family. Occasionally we have house guests for a week or so, but during those times we have been barbaric and eaten in the living room in front of the TV like usual. In fact, we've eaten at the table on the deck more often than the table in the official dining area.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 10:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Please check NKBA's guidelines. As I understand Guideline 2 sets the min. distance b/w cooktop and fridge as 4' measured from the center of each appliance. In that case you may be able to have your window near the sliding doors.

Here is a link that might be useful: NKBA’s KITCHEN PLANNING GUIDELINES

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 12:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Peachymomo, boy do pictures say so much, and these are showing off your DH really well too. :) I love your spiral garden design, and the raised beds beyond. And your garden area to the west is so promising. You know, a lot of my food gardener friends devote most energy to the best growing spots, and I thought perhaps that might be the case here, but it's clear from what you're doing that all views out will someday be lovely and constantly interesting. A middle-counter window would just hasten attention to the west.

A table and seating for two would be nice along that wall, framed by storage. A small dropleaf could expand in a couple seconds easily for projects and to seat 6 to 8, or even more (my larger drop-leaf table also has leaves, so it grows like Topsy when needed).

Since you use the "breakfast area" seldom for dining, though, how about developing it to multifunction as an additional conversation area when entertaining, for games, musing over garden designs, spreading out papers, as well as dining? Two genuinely comfortable chairs with a normally small table and art behind so the area stays fairly spacious and open?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 12:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks! I feel like I'm more proud of his work than he is, but maybe that's just cause he's quiet. With his skill at building and my passion for gardening I think we'll be able to transform our ho-hum mid 70's ranch house to a real gem one day. The hardest thing is waiting to save up the money for each project.

Rosie, I love both of those ideas. I was thinking of having some storage on that wall from the beginning so it's tempting to do that. But for practical reasons it would probably be much more suited to a multifunction area, it has been used for more than one garden design planning session and will probably continue to be see that sort of action for years yet to come. I think I will put both ideas into my 'meeting with the custom cabinet guy' folder and see what happens. The fireplace built in might provide more than enough storage, and there is always the option of expanding the laundry room to include a real pantry.

I think I could fit the range next to the fridge and the window between it and the sliding door, but because of minimum clearances I wouldn't be able to make the window any larger. And I think it would only be worth the work of moving it if we could make it bigger as well. I think I will be happy with the window where it is, there is the sliding door to provide a better view and when we get the deck more spruced up there might be more to see on that northern railing. I'm toying with the idea of hanging plants between the deck and addition, but will have to run it by the DH to see what he thinks.

Thanks again! When we finally get around to doing this project I will be sure to come post pictures.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 1:47PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
OT - Any Walking Dead Fans..?
Very much looking forward to tonight's episode..:)
Banquette as only dining area?
I apologize for starting a banquette thread again but...
"Ledge" sinks and accessories -- do you use them?
I'm considering an undermount stainless sink that has...
I started gel staining....
So y'all say a prayer for me. If this doesn't work...
Any reason a DW couldn't go next to a fridge?
We need to pull the trigger on our cabinets next week,...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™