Kitchen/pantry layout advice please - plans attached

swirlycatMay 5, 2013

Hello kitchen layout gurus, please help if you have any thoughts on this decision . . .

I have been reading along on this forum for years and we are finally gutting and remodeling our own kitchen! It is an old house, so some elements are locked into place for budgetary/structural/logistical reasons, but a question has come up about the best way to access the small pantry off of our kitchen.

The current pantry is a former tiny powder room adjacent to the kitchen but entered from the hall. (We have a new powder room elsewhere on the main floor.) It is a long (8') narrow (3') space currently accessed on the short side. Right now it contains built-in shelving recessed into the long wall under the stairs.

Our kitchen designer proposed the idea of removing a small section of counter/cabinet area in the kitchen, creating a new doorway to access the pantry, and adding a wall to divide the pantry into two separate spaces. This would give us a "step-in" pantry directly accessible from the kitchen and also a (much needed) coat alcove/closet off the hall.

We would lose about 2.5' of counter space and cabs (upper and lower) to make space for the door, but would gain additional shelving space in the pantry. Some of that would be made up by extending the counter/cabs on the other side of the sink to the wall.

Give up 2.5' of counter/cabs for pantry access? Is a step-in pantry + hall closet better use of the long narrow space than a narrow walk in pantry?

Sorry this is so jumbled - posted a floor plan

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Couldn't you then extend the island to gain some storage back?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Thanks for responding, remodelfla.

These are the new plans - the current kitchen has no island, just a kitchen table in the center. So all the storage in the island (two shallow cutlery drawers on top, four sep dish drawers below) will be new added storage for us!

We wouldn't recess the fridge into the closet, but keep that space as a hall coat closet (since we don't have one currently)

This post was edited by swirlycat on Sun, May 5, 13 at 14:28

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 2:26PM
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I think the step in pantry with hall closet is more functional. So, if you're ok with losing a little bit of counter space, I'd do that. You'll have better use of the corner space, so that will make up a little bit of the storage space lost with adding the door to the pantry.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Do you have 3' between the end of the island and where the doorway begins? If so, I'd still extend the island down about 18" (one more cab to fill!) on that side if you're relocating the frig from that plan.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 2:49PM
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Sounds like you have a lot to gain and very, very little that would be lost. You'd be working on the island anyway, and sink counter would still be right by the fridge for items that need to start off there. I also sort of like the "secret" recessed pantry door. You could just disappear for a moment now and then when you needed to. :)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 3:20PM
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We weren't going to extend the island because it's centered on the open entrance to the DR (flanked by half wall bookcases and craftsman style columns, hard to tell from the plans.)

I guess the things I'm unsure of are:

Will the fridge look funny on the side wall without adjacent cabinets/counter? (It's a counter depth, french door, bottom freezer, if that matters.)

Is 3 feet (shelves would have to be installed on the wall, so subtract 10-12" inches for those) a comfortable depth for a step in pantry?

Will I miss that little "L" of counter space where our toaster oven and trash pullout now live? (though the kitchen designer pointed out it makes it possible to have 2 people working at the sink at once.)

You guys are great, thanks for listening!

This post was edited by swirlycat on Sun, May 5, 13 at 15:56

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 3:36PM
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bumping this to see if anyone else will weigh in . . . thanks!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:01PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Is that a weight-bearing wall between the kitchen and pantry? Could you remove the wall (over to the point that the fridge starts) to provide an uninterrupted counter on the sink wall? A side panel or even a stud wall would keep the fridge from looking 'abandoned,' and your MW could go in the alcove.

If you like a vintage/cottage style, I can see that working. The items that you don't want on display could be kept on shallow shelves across from the window. I just measured my under-the-stairs coat closet--it's 33" deep, if that helps you envision splitting the space.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 3:05PM
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Well, FWIW,

1. Not to me. I'd probably want to put panels on each side, though, to help it blend in. Refrigerators are always the elephant in the room.

2. 3' was the width of my favorite hall ever. (A cool quiet environment of its own in noisy West Hollywood.) That's also the depth of a whole lot of powder rooms. It'd be comfortable for me.

3. The little counter hidden by the fridge IS nice, but you probably will not miss trading a blind corner for two more very accessible feet of counter and cabinets, and you could always use that window wall in the pantry as an extension of the kitchen, as well as storage. That'd move your toaster oven right out of view. Put a ceiling vent in there too, or just not do a door.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 4:34PM
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Thanks mama_goose and rosie! The idea of extending the counter all the way through the pantry and not adding a door at all on that side is interesting . . . I hadn't considered that. Would make for an interesting little hidden nook and would add back some additional counter space. Would you then tuck open shelves in the side of the nook behind the fridge for pantry/food storage? The fridge would really be an elephant island though, not sure about that.

It's hard to envision something so different from the way it is now, even if the current layout isn't really ideal.

Wanted to add the sketch my architect drew up (sorry it's a little dark.)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 6:39PM
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That drawing looks really nice. I suspect filling that window nook with additional cabinetry and counter would more than make up for cutting the shallow shelves short. That would also keep the deep portion from becoming too deep. The uncovered wall facing the kitchen could hold a planning board, or computer screen.

It's impossible to really see things through another's eyes, but to my own, and I think I'm pretty darned refrigerator sensitive, you're overworrying it. Things people expect to see don't look funny, even if they are, like those big clunky chunky things that used to stand in the middle of every kitchen. We hated (not!) them so much we blew them up like balloons. Some now tower over their cooks and are greatly admired--by those who've priced them at least. :)

People will expect to see a refrigerator in your kitchen. As long as you can keep the rest of the kitchen centered and hopefully finish enough of the fridge area in a uniform manner that doesn't pull the gaze away from the center, I suspect it'll all look absolutely fantastic. It already does.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:45PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I don't think the location of the fridge is a problem, as long as you can use the island for landing space.

The area behind the fridge would be perfect for a shallow pantry. I have one in my kitchen, in what would have been wasted space between wall studs. It holds a lot of canned goods, which can be seen at a glance. This is an 'in progress' pic--there are doors on it now, but you wouldn't need them:

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:49PM
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Great use of space, mama_goose!

And thanks for talking me down, rosie. I know I am overworrying - I just don't want to make a big expensive decision I regret. I am thinking that the fridge probably looks much more like an island in plan (with all that space behind/around it) than it will in reality, where all that space is surrounded by solid walls and doors.

Anything we do will be such an improvement over the current state of the kitchen . . . but I still want to get it right, you know?

Thanks again for your thoughts, I really appreciate a fresh perspective : )

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 11:01PM
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