New Kitchen - Layout help request

nicekato42May 13, 2013

Hi everyone,

First (or maybe second) time poster, but avid reader here. I am in a bit of a quandry here as to what to do with our kitchen. Our architect designed our house with the kitchen too narrow and now it's too late to change (unless we spend $50k to move to sheer walls).

In any case, I was hoping to get some input from the good folks here at garden web. I've attached a preliminary drawing of the kitchen and nook. It feels a bit cramped right now and I do not know how to fix the issue.

Additional info:
1. Shed roof, very slightly slanted.
2. Ceilings are 11' at lowest (over kitchen nook), 15' at the other end
3. Kitchen island is currently 12' long
4. Will likely have 2 of the gullwing island hoods over the range (72" total coverage). We do alot of wok cooking, so need plenty of venthilation, but also want to minimize the look:
5. Small stools will placed on the opposide side of the island (vs the range)
6. Range is 48" bluestar with two ovens
7. Refrigerators are likely 30" liebherrs, could go down to 24" or just a single 36 or 48
8. Sink is a grey quartz sink (will have to look up maker again)

1. Feels too narrow, walkways are ~3'4"
2. Struggling with the usability - will people really sit at the island if the kitchen nook is so close by?
3. Do we really need 2 refrigerators? Should we instead do a single 48" unit on the side with the sink?
4. Do we even need a counter on the opposide side of the kitchen (where the MW is currently shown), or should we shrink this to being a shallow pantry wall?
5. Since the walkways are narrow-ish, should we instead have wall ovens and a range top?

Overall something just doesn't feel right about the kitchen. Any and all feedback very greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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I must admit your layout confuses me. It is a bit unusual, no? Is that three islands, or are the outer two runs against walls? How do you foresee using it?

I see that you are questioning island seating, but I cannot tell on the diagram where you have island seating. If it is with the Bluestar range, then, yes, by all means, get rid of it. It does not belong on that island.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:57PM
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Do you have the vent issues squared away for that bad boy on the island?
I agree the layout could use some magic. It would help to see the rest of the plan for flow to other rooms.
So the nook has slider doors to outside? And there are sliders opposite between pantry cabs? Where do those go?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:01PM
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Sorry totally missed the gullwings.
Unless you need the space I'd do one 36 fridge on the oven wall and add fridge drawers in the island or where the other fridge is. That way you have more counter space. Right now all I see is the blue star dominating the space. Must it be the 48?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:11PM
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Good morning, Nicekato. That looks like it must be a really nice house. I hope you post finished pictures with the gull-wing vents and pitched roof.

But--Are you changing a kitchen that's already in place or making changes before installation? Is the layout posted one to be changed or a new layout incorporating changes being considered? If so, what's the original look like?

It would be extremely helpful to see the surrounding floor plan to avoid making a lot more worthless suggestions even than usual. It looks as if sliders to both left and right lead to outside living areas? And the kitchen is enclosed with ?full-height? walls on top and bottom?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 9:04AM
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Hi all,

Sorry for the delayed response, I was expecting email notifications...glad I checked today!

Anywho, here are the answers to your questions:

1. There is only 1 island in the middle, the other two counter areas are up against a sheer wall
2. Yes, the nook slider doors open up to a hardscape patio. The adjoining family, dining, and living rooms all have the double sliders that open to the same area
3. the smaller slider door opens to our courtyard (you can see it in the new pictures I attached
4. We originally chose the 48" because of the 2 ovens, 1 small and 1 large . However, I'm reconsidering this and may go with a 36" rangetop, and put a double oven in the wall instead.
5. This is new construction, but we are already nearly done with the framing. Unfortunately the sheer walls cannot be moved. The sheer walls go floor to ceiling, so yes, a bit enclosed there (but the ceilings are 11' - 15'

I will take some pictures of how it looks this evening and post here.

The layout that I uploaded is slightly outdated, but mostly valid. There's a detached garage/workshop unit that is only partially shown - it is connected to the main house via a covered walkway with a 8' wide roof. The middle section there is a courtyard with an entry gate at the end of the path. Guests will park in front of the garage and walk through the gate through the courtyard. I'm going to have a ton more questions to ask once I get around to designing that section =). We also have some very tall windows that meet the slanted ceiling...not sure what sort of window coverings we can use for those...

Thanks all for the help! I'm liking the idea of changing the range to a 36" and adding wall ovens instead. I will have to convince my wife that stools are a bad idea since it's narrow...she will be a bit heartbroken, but will be minor. I think the kitchen nook is big enough that we won't miss the counter space.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 4:19PM
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So no doors, walls, or sliding doors can change at all, is that correct?

I was thinking of:

  • Moving the kitchen into the Nook

  • The sink would face out onto the patio.

    If you live in a moderate climate, you could even build a passthrough b/w the sink and the patio to pass food, drinks, etc. I would probably build some sort of patio storage/cabinets and have the counter extend over it...maybe even put in an outdoor range or sink setup...

  • Moving the door to the FR to the far left (merge in w/hallway on left)

  • Making the counter that shares the wall with the FR an "open" counter for about half of it so you would be able to see into the kitchen from the FR (and vice versa) and, possibly, have a seat or two on the FR side.

    It wouldn't have to be open all the way to the ceiling (although that would be my preference), but it could be open to about 6 or 7 feet above the floor.

  • Move the range/rangetop to the FR wall

  • Add an island with seating

  • Add seating on the far left for kitchen seating - if you really need have a DR so close at hand!

But, if you cannot change anything, that wouldn't work.

How much are you willing to change of the layout itself, even if the walls, etc. cannot be changed?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 5:57PM
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Yes, you are correct, no walls or doors can be moved. Although the corners of the sheer walls that wrap around the counters can be adjusted (can be shorter)

- Moving the kitchen to the nook is an interesting idea, although it would be tough do with the double slider door already ordered (custom douglas pricey to just not use)

- Your idea of moving the "door" is definitely something that I didn't think of before. I say "door" because right now it is an open walkway, no closures of any sort. I am meeting with my architect tomorrow and will have to run it by him. We could extend the sheer wall (the structural engineer would be happy). It would interrupt the continuous line that we see right now (you can see straight through the family room all the way to the other end of the house), but could increase the usability by quite a bit.

- I have considered opening up the wall that is shared with the FR, but unfortunately my architect says this is not possible. Sheer walls need to be solid, so no holes :(

- I have considered moving the range, but this would put it really far away from the sink. Perhaps I can add a prep sink in the island or next to the range on the FR side?

- I think the island may be too narrow to have real seating...and you're right, the DR and the Kitchen Nook are so close it really necessary?

Right now we can definitely change the counters and island configuration. The only thing we cannot change (unless we spend alot of $$$) are the walls and doors.

Your suggestions are super helpful, please keep them coming!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 8:26PM
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The email notification system does not seem to be working for many.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 9:21PM
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Sophie Wheeler

I think a U shape with two peninsulas instead of the island would work better than this odd triple galley. One wall could be all of the tall stuff, including your wall ovens, and one leg of the U could potentially have seating on the other side, while the sink and cooking zones occupied the other legs of the U. However, that nook is awfully small to have any seating and still manage traffic flow through it. As a whole, the entire plan doesn't seem to account for traffic flow very well for any of the spaces.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 9:32PM
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Hrmm, I never thought of the nook as small - it is about 14' x 6', not counting the hallway area.

the U shape could be interesting though...yet another cool idea that I will have play around with. Not sure how I feel about closing off one end of the kitchen, but worth consideration for sure.

I actually thought my architect did a good job in terms of traffic flow, lots of wide open walkthrough areas.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 9:45PM
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Sheer walls need to be solid, so no holes :(

Okay, sorry, but this is driving me nuts! It is a SHEAR wall, not a sheer wall. (A "sheer wall" COULD have holes, I suppose! ;-)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 11:05PM
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Makes me think of those new super-strong metal constructs so light that they can rest on a ball of fluff. I wouldn't be surprised if someday we do have sheer shear walls. Bet your architect would be bouncing off the ceiling with the possibilities, Nicekato. :)

Seems to me that interrupting the view lines down the house would be...unfortunate. To put it mildly. They're obviously a major design feature, and keeping the kitchen in its own carefully defined space is critical to its success.

Working within the space you have, it looks as if your counters are about 12' long? The whole work area of the kitchen about 12 x 16, not including the storage to the left of the traffic/view way? That's a pretty decent space. The trick is massaging this to achieve really good function while still retaining an artful balance.

You may have to accept aisles that are striking you now as a bit narrow. In a very spacious overall design I don't think it will look cramped at all. Certainly the room is not small, even before considering what glass on both sides and views sweeping through in both directions does for it.

Regarding losing seating all along the island opposite the stove, have you considered HOW you would lay out replacement seating in the nook, taking into account both the sliding glass doors and the need to keep furniture out of the traffic/view way? How many people would you want it to accommodate? Better start drawing stuff in to scale, because the answers to these will determine IF you can do without stools at the counter.

FWIW, I suspect people would want to come sit with the cook, at least to the sides of the stove, when great things are happening. I'm also sure they'd be perfectly happy anywhere within chat distance, with the option of strolling over to watch now and then available.

That terrific stove is currently nicely positioned to allow others to see the cook at work. Is entertaining friends by cooking a function that needs to be kept at the top of the priorities? Would you be as happy, say, if the stove were on the lower counter facing the wall?

Just musing a bit about the overall layout, how about removing about 3' from the left end of the middle counter to "connect" the 3-counter system? A 9' counter is still quite long, and this would allow the cook(s) to move quickly back and forth across the cooking space with spillable, especially hot, items without worrying about colliding with passersby.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 7:03AM
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I met with my cabinet guy yesterday and he made a few suggestions that I think make alot of sense:

1. remove the 30" refrigerator on the top side, replace with double oven, thus creating a baking area on the left side of the island. Maybe add a prep sink on the left side of the island

2. replace lower 30" refrigerator with a 42" unit

3. replace 48" range with a 36" rangetop, maybe induction with a separate wok burner? Could allow for a smaller hood, making space feel a bit bigger

4. Island: make the island narrower, but provide more seating friendly section on right (shrink cabinets underneath to provide more leg room). Do not have seating behind range or on the left side of the island

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 2:14AM
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I think the two islands on the peninsula of the three weird kitchen work better than this. The Wall will be all good things, including your wall heater, can seat a foot rest, sink and cooking space occupied foot U.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 4:19AM
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Benlinus, my apologies but I don't understand your suggestions. Hopefully Nicekato does, but does this mean you like the original layout better?

Nicekato, what do you think of these new suggestions? I kind of like your original musing of possibly making the back wall shallower, thus allowing the main work counter, including stove area, to maintain its current depth, which, frankly, seems quite desirable. How about doing that but also incorporating those of your cabinetmaker's ideas that you might like? The only one that would be affected would be oven placement.

Do you do much baking? If you want a baking center, those ovens could also go on the left end or back side of your center island--under the counter, but still leaving most of that side for seating. A prep sink could be very helpful if you did establish such a second work center on the island.. But otherwise, would it be worth the tradeoffs needed?

BTW, have you figured out how to seat more than a couple people in the push-out and how many people you want to be able to socialize with while you cook? I still think those answers need to drive the island seating decision, and that that decision will then simplify other decisions.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:51PM
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