How much working room around stove?

mtpam2June 25, 2012


I could really use some help! The kitchen is torn out to the studs (except for our sink) and has been for close to 2 years. We have been living with a makeshift kitchen and really need to make some decisions and move ahead with this project.

We were going to DIY to make it affordable and planned on using RTA or stock cabinets, however with the lack of progress we are considering hiring parts of it done. My husband is a great mechanic, very handy, but just doesn't like construction work, and I have never done anything except a little painting.

I have 3 girls in their 20's, 2 of whom have been here and gone again several times in the last couple years. One here again for a few months. One grandchild and another on the way, but they live almost 400 miles away, so don't get home too often. My husband and myself both cook, although not usually at the same time. We cook almost every meal, but only bake for holidays or special occasions since the kids are grown.

Below are 2 proposed layouts, plus a handwritten one which shows my doors, windows and tables for reference. We are re-wiring everything and have an electric stove, so it can be moved. We just replaced windows and re-sided our house a couple years ago, so my husband doesn't want to move any doors or windows, but I am at the point of considering everything.

The stove wall is load bearing, with the bedroom behind it, so we are pretty well stuck with the current dimensions. At the lower right is the doorway to the Living Room. It used to have a 30" door, but we took door and frame off and widened it out into an original 36" opening. We have a friend who is a GC coming by tomorrow to see if that doorway can be moved either closer to the bottom corner, or must be left where it is.

At the bottom right of the plan is a 32" pocket door to the only bathroom on the main floor. Also, the bottom left is a 40" walkway to our basement steps and the back door. We park in back and use that door all the time. Laundry, food storage and our daughter's bedroom is also in the basement, so that is a busy traffic path.

On the left wall we have a 60"w x 50"H window that is only 28" off the floor. Our table sits in front of that window. No dining room, so table in kitchen is our only eating area.

Currently have a 36" double sink where it is shown on the plans. We could probably move that if necessary.

We have a regular depth 36" SXS fridge.I had the fridge sitting beside the door and about the 24" from the stove like in Kitchen 1 most of the winter. It was handy, but I felt very closed in. Just a couple weeks ago we moved the fridge to the bottom wall (Kitchen 2 layout) and I felt an immediate sense of relief. I really like the openness around the stove and door. However, it is definitely farther from sink to stove, and a little tighter walking around the table area, although still plenty of room to open the fridge and dig in with someone sitting at the table.

I have been struggling with these layouts and there are things I like about each one. If you can give me input on either layout or any other suggestions for better use of this space it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much for your help.

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Is there room for the fridge in the corner to the left of the sink? Then the space at the bottom could hold more shallow pantry cupboards of even a free standing piece of furniture. This would add more floor space for the table which could be moved a down a bit and the fridge would be handy to the sink creating a better work triangle. I agree it needs to be taken away from the stove area as I hate feeling closed in when cooking. It's my major peeve with my current kitchen...demo begins in 2 weeks:)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:25AM
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Cam - I have considered putting the fridge in that corner. It seems to mess up the bottom cupboards in my layout. With leaving at least 12" to 15" in the corner so the fridge shelves can be pulled out, it then creates problems getting the dish washer on the left side of the sink and not between the sink and the stove.

I would be okay with not centering the sink under the window if that would work, but it still seems to get crowded into the right upper corner. However, I have seen some people only leaving 5" or so for their fridge to open against a wall. Since I probably wouldn't need to pull the shelves out very often (freezer side), maybe I should look at that layout again. I would love to have it tucked away for looks, although I think it would make it harder for people to get at in the corner behind the table.

Thanks for your suggestion. I will try it out again tonight.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 10:02AM
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I like the first plan! But, I would want the fridge near the range, since I'm always grabbing cheeses, margerine, milk, etc. when I'm making sauces. I wouldn't put any appliances on the bottom Cam suggested, you could use a freestanding piece of furniture there, instead.

Having the table in the middle of the room works very well with your plan (IMHO) and I think it will be more comfortable than island seating.

Here's a picture I found the other day, which I really like. Best of luck with your kitchen :) From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 10:55AM
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In the first plan, could you put the ~15"-wide base cabinet on the right-hand side of the stove? That would create a good amount of counterspace between fridge and stove.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:43AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I wanted a minimum of 2' on each side of the cooktop, but ended up with more which is good. I'm a chop and drop cook, so having that space works really well for me....chop it on the wood board...drop it in the pot.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:46AM
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I would want a minimum of 24 inches on either side, with more on at least onbe side or in a prep area if possible.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:56AM
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Plan #1: Immediate sense of relief" dumping it. (absolutely sure I wouldn't want it there either.) So, finish it off once and for all and bury it deep. :)

Plan #2: A good solid improvement: See above, and it works. Lacks the relative elegance of being fitted in, but oh, well. And the longer walk's nothing once you decide the tradeoff's worth it.

Plan #3: Fridge fitted into the upper left corner. I do strongly recommend considering this. I had one in a corner with about 5" clearance and a window frame sticking out on the adjacent wall taking up over an inch of that. The door only opened a smidgen past 90 degrees of course, but we could reach everything just fine and there was no need to swing it wider to let people pass because it was in a corner. All you need is enough room to pull all the shelves out to wash. It is really a very viable option if you still liked that cabinet run with it there.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:04PM
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Hi all. Thanks so much for all the input.

I considered moving the stove further into the corner, either right against the 36" corner base or putting a 6" or 9" cabinet inbetween it. Would that feel tight in the corner, or would there still be enough room to get at the stove from both sides? It would certainly give me more breathing room than only 24" between fridge and stove!
I would prefer the extra prep room on the right hand side, since that is what I have always had. (Last time with no prep space on the left!) Do you think having room between corner and (sink) and stove is less important than between the fridge and stove if I stay with plan 1?

Do you think having the fridge across a traffic aisle in plan 2 would be a big problem? I really like the extra counters on the stove side, but may not be the best use of floor space overall.

I have considered putting a free standing pantry type unit on the bottom wall if I leave Fridge by stove, or building in a 15" or 18" deep pantry on that wall. I really don't think I would use the counter much there except to catch junk!

On Plan 3, moving the Fridge to the left corner. I will take another look at that and see how it would come out with using 5" or 6" between fridge and wall instead of 15" or 18". That might make a huge difference in the dishwasher and bottom cupboard layout.

Thanks so much everyone. All your suggestions and comments are greatly appreciated! Please keep them coming.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:54PM
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I am just curious, please answer honestly. When you used the design tool at the NKBA website to create your kitchen plans, did you consider using a Professional Kitchen Designer to assist you and your husband with the space plan?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 9:10PM
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Check your fridge installation manual as clearances should be noted in that. If lost - check on the internet for your specific model. All that stuff should be there.

I like the idea of the fridge in the top left corner because it will give you a nice functional work triangle.

The other thing I would consider is to put just a 30" drawer cabinet to the right of the stove and the rest of the counter put to the left of the stove between it and the sink. If you move the fridge up to the left corner I suspect that you will then wind up doing most of your prep work between the sink and stove. Any counter outside of the fridge/stove points may become a dumping ground for stuff.

I'm having trouble figuring out individual measurements for things - but if you do need 12" clearance what about putting a pull-out pantry in that space and then the fridge. Is there still room for the DW if you leave the sink where it is?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 1:48AM
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I am not sure why, but you asked if I considered using a Professional Kitchen Designer when using the NKBA website designer. The honest answer is no, it never crossed my mind, probably because I live in a very rural area, we do not have access to KD's, architects, or even big box stores.
It is 350 miles to the nearest Lowes, HD or such. In our area, there is only one custom cabinetmaker. He works at his own pace and is usually booked up. Thankfully we do have a few contractors, but they are also busy and you need to get on their list to get anything done. Therefore, we are mostly DIY by necessity. Oh, and also because of budgetary reasons in our case.
(In fact, we don't even have access to a full lumberyard in our area - need to drive 48 miles one way or 82 the other. Luckily, we have a couple stores that keep some of the basic necessities (sheetrock, plywood and such) available and a couple of the local contractors keep some extra supplies that you can purchase if they have them.)
After your question, I did use the NKBA site to search for a designer close to us and to my surprise there is one only 180 miles away in North Dakota. Maybe I will have to take a run over there to see them. As you can see, in my neck of the woods, 180 miles to get services is considered "do-able" simply because we have to drive so far for everything.
Hope that answers your question.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:05AM
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I checked the specs for the GE SXS fridge that I have and it only requires 1/8" clearance on the sides, however to open the Left (freezer side) fully to remove the ice bin it needs 14 1/4". So I would need at least 15" between the fridge and upper Left wall. There is only 62 inches between the wall and current sink base. Upper sink wall as shown is 62" from left wall to sink base a 36" sink base and 66" to the right wall. A total of 164".

If I put a 15" pantry cabinet, then 36" Fridge, I would only have 13" left until the sink base. Since I would probably need to add a smaller filler between wall and pantry (1"?) and a panel on the left of the dishwasher (another 1"?), I am guessing I would need to move by sink cabinet down by 15" in order to fit the dishwasher on the left. This will off-center my 36" sink cabinet by 15" on the window. Also, it only leaves 15" to the right between sink base and 36" Corner SS cabinet.

I am not sure if I would mind the sink being off-center or not. I think I would be okay with it, but it does narrow the space between sink and stove again. I do like the suggestion to move the stove down and use the 30" drawer cabinet to the right of the stove and give me more counter between the stove and corner. A possible drawback is that we will probably be doing laminate countertops and I think I might have to do a seam if I go further than 5 feet from the corner. (I believe I can get a L shape 12' long by 5 feet in one piece without a seam.) Still might be worth it.

I had thought of moving the DW to the right of the sink, but that only leaves me 6" between DW and Corner SS, as well as putting the DW between the sink and stove which I have been told is not a good idea, and I can see why.

I just can't seem to make the Fridge in the upper left work smoothly. Maybe I should forget about opening the left fridge door fully and set the fridge only 5 or 6 inches from the wall so I can can in and out of it, and when I need to remove the freezer bins to clean them (only a couple times a year?) I would have to pull the fridge out completely. I could then put my DW between fridge and sink base and only off-center my sink base by about 5 inches. Who knows? Maybe I am not seeing something that could be moved or maybe I just need a different fridge that doesn't need as much room to open on the left!

If you or anyone else has any more ideas about moving stuff around, including the plumbing, I am open to suggestions! Thanks so much for your help so far.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 1:26AM
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Another refrigerator sounds like a great idea, Pamla. They're a dime a dozen (or almost) on Craig's list--for you the one in the least-distant city, apparently. :)

I agree with the idea of shifting the stove to the right and adding those inches to the main work area. For me a nice-sized, pleasurably functional main place to work at is top of my priority list, everything else moved around and then massaged again to make it work extra nice.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 2:39PM
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Thanks, Rosie. I guess I'll start looking for Refrigerators that don't take much space to open by a wall!

Whether I find a different fridge that will work and move it to the top left corner, or leave it on the bottom wall, I think I will take yours and blfenton's advice to use a smaller counter/cabinet area to the right of the stove.

Thanks everyone for weighing in. I will keep working on my designs and see what happens.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 2:03AM
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In case you aren't sure you're moving the fridge...I do like your 1st layout (with fridge and range on same wall) because there would be less traffic behind the table. If that's the dining area, I wouldn't want people constantly going to the fridge...but would rather have it across from the table, by the range. Just my two cents :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 11:21AM
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Hi MTPam, thanks for your candid response. The beauty of the internet now days is that you are not limited by geography to getting qualified expert kitchen design pros to help you with your layout. The National Kitchen and Bath Association has countless qualified designers able to provide consultation services via the internet and is more affordable than you think. Good luck with finishing your kitchen project.

Here is a link that might be useful: National Kitchen and Bath Association

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 11:06AM
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