A Room Without a Purpose

cricket6670August 22, 2006

My wife and I are about to begin some renovations around our home, and are seeking some input.

We plan on remodeling the kitchen, which is quite small (9x9, with a walkway that makes it more like 9x6). A before picture can be seen below. We intend to cut a pass-thru opening in the wall above the stove (I think we will install a slide-in range).

On the other side of this pass-thru is a sunroom addition to the house. It has two 102" windows and a nice view over our 1/2 acre lawn. We would like to convert this sunroom into a new dining room with a breakfast bar facing through the pass-thru and into the kitchen.

The major reason for this is that our house is long and narrow, with two large header beams and a small wall dividing the space in two, right down the middle. Our current dining area is located immediately across from the small kitchen, which is nice, but it has one major problem... our only bathroom is only a few feet away, with a door that opens into the dining space. I find it very unappealing to eat or host dinner with the dining table located so close to the bathroom. Also, the stairwell to the second story is located in this room.

So here comes the major question... what should we do with this space after we convert the sunroom into the dining area? I'm thinking of putting a kitchen island in that space, but I think it would look weird because the space is visually separated from the kitchen by the header beam.

We may also be interested in moving our computer desk into that area, or maybe just making it a sitting room. Regardless, everything sounds less appealing when I think about the proximity of the bathroom.

My wife and I would appreciate any suggestions concerning this problem.

This is a picture of the current dining area. You can see the bathroom door and two header beams. The door to the stairwell is unseen on the left side.

This is a picture of the small kitchen space. We don't even really have enough space to install a dishwasher. :(

Here is a photo of the sunroom/proposed dining room.

Lastly, this is a cheesy drawing I made of the proposed set-up after the remodel.

What do we do with this room without a purpose?

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Would it be possible to install a large island under the header beam that could hold your oven? You would then have room for the dishwasher where the oven was.

As for the room with the bathroom, I wouldn't worry too much about it. I can understand not wanting to eat in that room, but setting up a computer/desk area shouldn't pose a problem. The door shouldn't be open when in use anyway, so what's the problem? ;)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 9:29AM
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Email me a quick plan with all diminsions. I was a kitchen designer and think I see a way to make a more functional kitchen. Might mean moving the refrigerator.

And is the chimney functional?


    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 10:08AM
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What a beautiful sun room. The last thing I'd do with it would be to use it as a dining room. That would really limit its usage (unless you eat a lot or use that table for other activities).
I can see not wanting the bathroom near the dining room if you hold long, drawn out dinner parties where people are slow to move away from the table. However, for daily use, surely people can restrain themselves from running to the loo between courses?

However, if you turn the dining room into a place where you spend much time (TV watching area, computer area etc) that bathroom is still going to be a problem, perhaps an even worse one.

I'd make the sunroom the living room, section the middle room off to create a narrow hallway to the bathroom, make the resulting smaller space between that wall and the stairs the computer area. Could be right cozy.
Then switch the fridge and stove and make your front room (where the TV/couch is) your dining area. Currently, the couch backs against the front door. Making that the dining room would open things up a bit (if there is space to do this - you might need a rectangular table)
You'd still have that area where the desk is now with no job but at least it's smaller and not in the middle of the house.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 1:24PM
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I was also thinking a narrow hallway would help. But if that is to much $ how about a room divider or a weighted door on the br so it is shut most of the time? You could also consider placing a large indoor plant/tree there to obscure the view. Something like a lady palm might work great! I entertain a lot and instead of having a table in my eat in kitchen I have an armless sofa. Everyone seems to congergate around the kitchen and this makes for comfy seating!

As a more intensive project you could also consider redesigning the layout of the bathroom, perhaps enlarging so there is a sitting area as you enter or atleast so the toilet isn't the first thing you see.

Good Luck. Don't forget to post after pic's!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 4:54PM
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Thank you all for the comments. I really like these ideas.

My total budget is about $8000, with much of the work being done by myself and my family. The only labor we really have to pay for would be moving any plumbing or gas lines (I have to have my gas range!!).

Cathy- I'll try to get all of the dimensions put together for you. Yes, the chimney stack is functional (I was even thinking of exposing it to add a bit more character to this very unique house). Thank you for the offer to help out!


    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 7:01PM
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Cricket - Your kitchen is mine, but without the wonderful window over the sink and I have a cupboard above and below the left side of the stove. I have my desk and computer at the other end of the kitchen, that was the dining area.

I too would make the sunroom a living area, unless you are like us, who sit at the table most of the time (go figure).


    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 7:45PM
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On the solid wall between the bathroom door and the door to the sunroom, I would build in storage the same depth as the kitchen counters (2 feet). This would effectively recess the bathroom door and create a small hallway into the sunroom. This storage could be floor to ceiling cupboards useful for pantry, cleaning supplies, you name it. Or it could be built like a long buffet with countertop and cabinets above and below.

I would put the computer desk on the wall next to the stairs up, tucked between the door and the chimney -- you could build in a desk with bookcase above.

I would put a large tree like plant by the window near the bathroom door or hang a tapestry to screen it. I would change out the chandelier to more diffuse lighting and have some casual, comfy seating (backs to the bathroom door) in that area for wine/coffee drinking, etc.

I would change the kitchen to an L shape. I would leave the range where it is and extend the kitchen along the wall towards the window in what is now the living room. You could have a dishwasher right next to the sink, a small bit of counter and then the refrigerator framed in. I would end that run of cabinets with an angeled floor to ceiling corner cupboard that angles back from the window to the refrigerator.

You could then have a small, perhaps moveable island or breakfast bar in the kitchen work area.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 8:22PM
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I'd add a wall, and make the kitchen a seperate room! Maybe this will give you some ideas. You could gain a LOT of cabinet space in the kitchen, and more wall space for your sofa in the living area. You could also get your couch out from in front of the door.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 9:05PM
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Wow Cricket, I love your sunroom. What a beautiful and functional dining room that will be. I for one have always enjoyed sitting at a dinining room table and reading or writing --- in addition to eating of course. Your's will be wonderfully well-lit.

My suggestions are these:

--- move the doorway going into the sunroom over to as close to the wall as possible. Where that white rectangle is. You could then put cabinets and counters next to your stove. It would make a huge difference in cooking prep. I moved the doorway between my living room and kitchen and was able to gain real space for my kitchen that way. Went from a one wall kitchen to an L-shaped kitchen. I thought moving a doorway next to a wall would be akward but because my gen'l contractor made it somewhat wider, it isn't awkward. My neighbors all say they wish they had seen this possibility.

--- extend/lengthen the wall where the refrigerator now is and shove the fridge over to the new wall. Then perhaps you could fit in more cabinets, more counter space, and sneak in a dishwasher next to your sink.

--- if possible. Put a pocket door to your bathroom. That way the door wouldn't swing out to the adjoining room. Perhaps this is not feasible, but I thought I would mention it.

--- if the white rectangle is the chimney stack (?) then how about extending the kitchen out beyond the stove and refrigerator. Like pianolady suggests, but perhaps even more.

--- okay, maybe this is stupid, but could you reverse the placement of the toilet and sink, so the throne isn't the first thing you see when the door swings open? Then put in a pedestal sink to not block the doorway.

--- I would ignore header beams as room markers. When we live in small houses we need to maximize the space we are living in and using, and not worry about everything being perfectly logical.

Those are my ideas. Good luck and keep us posted.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 9:09PM
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I really like the idea of a wall blocking off the bathroom, making a small hallway. If you didn't want to put in a solid wall you could buy or build a large room divider. At the least put an attractive folding screen in front of the door to the bathroom.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 3:12PM
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