Move over, Marcolo: my own insane old kitchen layout

Circus PeanutJune 25, 2012

hi folks,

I am sad to report that we're unexpectedly saying goodbye to my beloved yellow & copper DIY remodeled craftsman kitchen -- for another, larger, shingle-style bungalow. It's got craftsman elements mixed with later nouveau/victorian stuff. I am happy to report, though, that the new old house is our dream house -- in most respects except the kitchen.

Here's the thing: the kitchen has almost un-layout-able proportions, being smaller and divided into a kitchen proper and a butler's pantry, and I need all the help I can get brainstorming. Thank god for the brilliant minds of Gardenweb Kitchens; my sanity is relying on you.

Data: house is from 1910 with original wainscoting, butler's pantry built-in cabinetry, stained glass windows. It's something of an historic house, designed by a famous local architect, so we can't fiddle with the walls or windows unless absolutely necessary. Kitchen is in practically original condition, which is to say: empty with the exception of the built-ins and slate counters in the butler's pantry (and some new cabinetry with granite on it that isn't fixed and is making an exit forthwith). It has 7 doors. Seven.

We're making/having made new cabinets to match the existing ones in the butler's pantry (we found original old heart pine lumber stored in the attic), so there are no constraints in terms of fitting in commercial sized boxes, and our carpenter is a good friend and brilliant workman. Also assume that we can place sinks/gas stove anywhere we want (open basement, and the ancient piping is being revamped in any case). Under the modern vct tile there is, we hope, more of the gorgeous original linoleum that extends down the steps of the basement.

The sole longer run of wall has windows that run down to about 24" from the floor. Plus a big honkin' radiator along it. I fear we may have to remove the radiators but would vastly prefer not to (see above: historical home etc). Partner has already put an absolute foot down against raising the windows, and I tend to agree with him, because it would ruin the outside lines of the house. On the other hand, we do need to cook, and live well, in the space.

We = couple with 2 cats, no kids. Historical purists, but hopefully not rigidly so. We cook heartily and expansively every day with much flinging about of cast iron and weird old German cookware, and get groceries locally on a semi-daily basis. We don't really need a freezer in the kitchen, we've realized, and could sacrifice that for one in the basement instead, so an undercounter fridge or fridge drawers are a possibility. I do a fair amount of baking and my vintage Kitchenaid mixer and Braun food processor are always on the counter ready for use. House has a huge basement, so storage space for larger items in the kitchen proper is not vital.

Already have and will reuse:

39.5" vintage O'Keefe & Merritt stove

30" wide Liebherr fridge (could use something else if we have to, space-wise, but do love this fridge)

Desiderata for kitchen:

- nice spot to showcase the old stove; I have visions of building a plastered hood over it that is tiled on the interior

- prep sink somewhere near the stove with counter/workspace between them

- not big fans of upper cabinets

- built-in banquette and kitchen table around one of the corners, presumably but not necessarily the one by the window

- arrange it so that the view from the front hallway looking into the kitchen is a good one with no monstrous stainless appliances in sight

What I most need is feedback in terms of workspace efficiency and overall placement of work zones. I've labeled as much as I could, but please ask questions to help clarify. This remodel will (prospectively) be happening late this fall/throughout the winter.

What would you do with this impossible space if you couldn't move any walls?

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Circus Peanut

A few photos; not great, they were taken during our inspection tour:

butler's kitchen, view from dining room:

kitchen looking towards big windows:

kitchen looking toward front hallway:

kitchen looking towards small pantry door:

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:02AM
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Congratulations! What a great opportunity and now you'll have such a wonderful project. I hope you post pictures of your beautiful new house :)

And...those are a lot of doors! Are you keeping them all? How nice are the mudroom built-ins? I'd be tempted to open the pantry from that side and close the pantry door to the kitchen. If you took out the radiator that would give you one nice long wall for the sink and maybe the range on the other wall (against the basement stairs)?

You could have a small work table/island in front of the sink area and the fridge/storage on the other solid wall corner (by the powder room)? Or the range and a prep sink on the other wall, with the fridge by the main sink.

A banquette would be nice, but with all the doors, maybe a table and chairs would be an easier solution? I've posted this on a few threads, as it's my favorite picture (this week) LOL I'm sure you'll get lots more ideas from the GW and I look forward to seeing your new kitchen! From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:32AM
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I'd remove and store the doors to small pantry and mudroom entry. What are the built ins in mudroom and what is the value of that space generally? If the built ins can come out that would be the Liebherr's spot,possibly. Or if any gut of the wall between that small pantry and mudroom could happen-then i would want to contemplate something smart going on in there. Is it possible,if you removed the builtins there would be no division left in the space?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:39AM
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Fori is not pleased

DO you get to keep that fridge?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:42AM
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Wow six doors. I thought I had it bad with five... I love the cabs in the butler's kitchen. Can you lose the pantry door and enter that thru the mudroom? I know moving walls is out but can a door or three be removed? It looks like a lovely old home you lucky duck!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:42AM
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the butler's pantry has uppers with continuous shelves, no walls between "cabinets". Is this right?

is there room for a DW behind the RHS cabinet in the butler's pantry? If so, you may find that this small space is your serving area before the meal, and as your cleanup area after the meal.

The Zickzack Kitchen is what I will call rest of the socalled space. You may be best off with two small fridges instead of one.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:09PM
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I am sad of the passing of the old kit, but Congrats! Oh what a fun challenge!

I understand the dining room built-ins are not going anywhere, but what about the shallow pantry? Is that fair game to remove? How deep is it?

I am thinking about bringing that wall forward to the back of the DR built-ins, making your 7' wall into a "11 foot wall with a small (?) jog in it."

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:27PM
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Wow! Congratulations, Circuspeanut. It would be fun to see what conservationist plan could be made within that basic footprint, especially keeping wonderful terrific butler's pantry, BUT...what can be changed/removed?

Back corner pantry.
Mud room.
Butler's pantry.
Little shallow pantry.

What would you like to see salvaged and reused in a new place perhaps?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:27PM
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Peanut, I haven't got any ideas for you, but LOVE LOVE LOVE your new space.

I've been collecting antique doors from the reuse centers. The exact same ones you have. I am getting a bargain, from $25-30 a piece. New? a 32" is $450. Antique store? $400-700. WOW o WOWOW o

My question for you is whatever you do, can you salvage and reuse the beautiful woodwork? That would give you a bit more flexibility in what walls you remove and/or rebuild.

I cannot wait to see what you do!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:45PM
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You're screwed.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:59PM
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My thoughts,

Remove the shallow pantry (takes away one door)

Change the entry of the main pantry so that you enter from the mudroom instead of the kitchen (takes away a second door) AND gives you room for a table in front of the window.

As for the rest of the room, I'm at a bit of a loss. You obviouslly need to plan in a sink and dishwasher in the main kitchen and all the angles make it difficult.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 1:18PM
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Can you remove the shallow pantry?

Can you move the mudroom doorway so that it is next to the pantry doorway and juggle the mudroom built-ins if necessary?

I had a massive built in sink over the radiator in one apartment? How would you feel about creating some kind of console that stood in front of the window and over the radiators with a sink in it?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Circus Peanut

Thank you thank you!

Removing the shallow little pantry: probably can't be done, since it is integrated with the laundry chute from the second floor and we really really don't want to lose that. But of course anything is possible. If we removed it, what would that really do for the space, given that the shallow pantry is only about 14" deep?

Doesn't help matters that the old Caloric fridge is so deep and horns its way into all the photos. I'll get better ones soon. Fori, I'd LOVE to keep it for sentimental reasons, but it's apparently a dreadful energy hog and very loud. It may live out its chubby little life in the basement.

Photo of open shallow pantry. Laundry chute is out of sight on left wall.

Moving mudroom doorway: hmmm. Remove the radiator, too, and you've got some small corner space there. But big enough to be useful? Worth eliminating the sightline from kitchen out into garage? Hmm.

Moving big pantry doorway into the mudroom: also very interesting. I like it, but it kind of eliminates our space to sit down, pull off boots, hang up coats. "Built-ins" in there is a little exaggerated, it's just an integral coat rack and bench. That's the main back door to the house from the garage, and this is Maine, so we will keep the inner mudroom door closed most of the time for heating reasons. Not that this precludes putting the pantry door out there and gaining some wallspace. Hmm.

Big windows: console, etc. Yes, I'm not against putting something over the radiator across the window. Hadn't thought of a sink there, though; was thinking if the stove winds up on the wall to the right of the big windows, that space could be my one big countertop run.

Dishwasher: there actually is one in the butler's pantry already, to the left of the sink. I suspect that's a good place, so dirty dishes go straight from the dining room right into it without traversing any kitchen space.

My bugaboo of the moment is, where on earth will the stove go?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:13PM
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congrats on your new place, how exciting! i am sure you will do a wonderful job on your new kitchen!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:27PM
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worth pursuing as well is a re positioning of stairs to basement. there are probably many locations that a stairwell could be placed,and perhaps easier to get permission than some other re-arrangements.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:35PM
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Wow circuspeanut, I have to say, I am one who finds it sad that you are leaving your gorgeous kitchen!

But, I'm sure that this new one will be just as spectacular.

I love the doors! Been looking everywhere for those style doors. If you decide to get rid of any, put me first on the list to buy and I'll come get them! LOL

This is going to be a great adventure for GW. Can't wait to see the progress!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:37PM
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I think the range goes in the 7 feet from powder room to where built-in/closet/laundry chute are.

That seems to be a focal point from coming in from the front hall, and is the longest uninterrupted wall space. And it's a place with counter depth that can be tucked out of traffic. That looks like where it is now.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:54PM
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Can we see more pictures around the range? Is that a cut out above it? Is there an old chimney to the looks like brick. Thank you. I have an idea, but want to make sure it will work, in the space :)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 3:54PM
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Oops! Hit submit too soon. With all these doors, do any go outside? Do you have a backyard? Or just access through the garage?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 3:58PM
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Circus Peanut

ps: lol Marcolo. Not. Pity me at least, I'm leaving the best kitchen on earth for this. It's a trade-off: stellar remodeled kitchen in so-so house in lousy neighborhood exchanged for stellar house with nonexistent kitchen in great neighborhood. The new kitchen may be more awkward, but I'll be less likely to see it go up in flames when the neighbor's meth lab finally explodes.

Lavender: more photos:

This is as much "kitchen" as is currently in there. That's a mirror (??) behind the current stove. I don't think the POs did much if any real cooking, despite the 84 cutting boards they so artfully set up for the showings.

And moving to the left from there. Yes, that's original chimney; still has holes where stove and heater connected. We are neutral on keeping the brick, it's slightly more rustic than the rest of the house. Partner dislikes it and wants to plaster it over. I doubt it was left plain in the original kitchen, but someone clearly went to some trouble to scrape it clean again.

(That picture on the wall is, by the way, the house when it was newly built in 1910. Open photo in a new window to see it enlarged a bit more.)

Dining room into butler's pantry:

Looking more squarely at the big kitchen windows. You see why I'm slightly hesitant to put counter across it, but probably only that kind of hijinks will make this space functional:

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 6:04PM
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i can picture a couple interesting islands in this ten corner kitchen. You have to maintain the walkthroughs. Your two areas are one for cooking and one for prep. They each get a sink. The butler's pantry is cleanupland.

The original house floor plan forces you to use the dining room. I mean to eat in, every day, every time you sit to eat. Unless you are a solo eater and like eating perched on a high stool at the corner of a small island near a workspace.

The rad under your big window is much smaller in real life than in your first drawing. This is good news because it gives you more options for freestanding kitchen furniture near the window.

I vote for dismantling the brick chimney and storing the bricks. They don't make them exactly that size and color any more. At least undo the bricks on the side facing the kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 6:15PM
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Could you switch the dining room with the kitchen. I myself think it would be a shame but not everyone uses a dining room or loves a dining room as much as I. The kitchen would make a nice smaller dining room and the area with the three windows could be a lovely sitting area and the DR could be a lovely kitchen keeping the builtins for special kitchen dishes and you could leave the butler kitchen just as it is? I think this plan turns the home away from it splendid history but could provide a more functioning modern layout. I hope there are better options than this though.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 6:41PM
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Well, this may be all wrong for your situation, but this is what I would do. Anyone who does not like to change any details in an historic home...please stop reading, now! :)

First, those big windows. What a design problem. Although they're pretty, they're too big for a kitchen work space. That being said...if you can move the radiators, I'd build the cabinets in front of the windows. I know someone did that on the forum not too long ago...and you can see another example, in Laura Calder's kitchen. If you look closely at the picture, her bottom window grids don't match the others...the backsplash seems to be free floating in front of the windows. It still looks nice, gives you great light, but keeps things from falling behind the countertop. From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

I'm also going to assume you have a backyard, so I'm reusing two of the three doors I'm taking down. Here comes the cringe part...

If it were me, I'd take out all the walls between the pantry and mudroom and open it up as one big space. I'd reuse the half glass door to the outside/backyard and a solid door to the garage. I'd keep the extra door, in case one ever needs to be replaced.

So, the range on the short wall, sink under the window...maybe a dishewasher for cooking/baking here and another in the butler's pantry for china, crystal, etc. The fridge would be on the opposite wall, with extra storage...either pantry units of more counterspace with uppers (that would be my choice).

The coat storage area would be on the wall to the garage (behind the back door) and the banquette would be across the room. That little 3'1" area between the butler's pantry and fridge (current location of fridge) would make a great message center...and you'd see it as you walk into the room.

Just one idea. I hope you like it...and sorry, I'm out of white out :) From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 6:59PM
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Your home is beautiful, and I understand wanting to keep as much of it intact as possible.

I would remove the door and wall separating butler's pantry from rest of kitchen, add a prep sink there, move rad to the now bigger mud room, and plop fridge and cabs in that corner. Mudroom entrance is now along window wall, as is banquette.

The Heavenly Hutch is 2@ 18"d x 20"w uppers (left for chute, rt for pantry items)under cab lighting, counter top, then 1@ 18"d x 40" w base for pantry storage.

Hope this helps. E

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 7:08PM
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Is there a team in your area that does renovations with sensitivity to original architecture. It appears some adjustments may have to be made to the space....keeping the kitchen in that general original location has value. I think you can get a really good kitchen out of this,but will be better off with a team laying out options which probably are not obvious with superficial scrutiny.The hours tweaking on graph paper/scratching your head for typical compromises might be better spent contacting a group straight away and go from there.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 7:18PM
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What EAM did was pretty much what I was thinking. But, I think I'd give up the laundry chute. I googled, and there are a few images around of benches built over radiators and yours seems to be the right height for it. I think putting the banquette there is the easiest way to deal with the low windows. The hard part is trying to fit everything you want in the remaining space. Plus, I have cats and I can't imagine a place they'd rather sleep away a cold Maine day then over a radiator in front of a window.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 8:51PM
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I'd keep the house and layout all intact. Every piece of trim made sense so keep it all. The laundry chute too. The floor plan was probably built back in the day when people were still thinking of having real butlers, housekeepers, governesses and kitchen help. Or, at least one hired person, part time. I wonder if there was ever a foot press buzzer on the dining room floor, allowing you to buzz the help.

Are you planning to have a "hood"? Do you have restrictions on the ductwork of the kitchen exhaust venting?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:00PM
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Wow that is a tough one! I say make your whole kitchen like a big sprawling angled speak easy bar look (except counter height) with the butlers pantry in back. And, just like a bar you would have all your refrigeration under counter. The stove top would be located somewhere on the bar top. You could keep all the wood work and blend the kitchen into that. Think of the cool lighting you could add.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 10:08PM
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Sorry but I can't find a good visual... I'm just thinking that with so many doors and lack of wall space maybe you could start the plan from the middle of the room with the butlers pantry behind. You could still stay somewhat true to the house but with a spin.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 10:51PM
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Wish I had some ideas, but I had to say how much I love all that beautiful woodwork and butler's pantry. And a laundry chute too?! Sounds fantastic. Congrats on finding your dream home!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:39PM
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Are you sure the wall with the current range is really 7'? From the cabs and range in there now, it looks shorter. In any case, if it is indeed 7', keep in mind that it could hold a U with a 36" aisle. You could not have your OKM on the mirror wall in that arrangement, however.

More measurements please. You didn't include doors and total room and wall lengths.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:51PM
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Wow. What a challenge but what gorgeous wood and pantry.

What if you left the stove area for your stove, put your fridge on the wall that is to the right of the window wall and built a long-ish skinny-ish island (with the sink/DW in it) from the window wall to just to the left edge of the pantry door... leaving enough room for walking around it, of course. I'd lose the pantry doors to get rid of the swing clearance and maybe lose the door on the shallow pantry, too.

I was just thinking that maybe the best thing is to stay away from the walls as much as possible? Can't really tell if you'd have room in the 'center' for what I'm suggesting, though.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:12AM
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Alright, definitely a challenge. I think with your dedication to preserving history and purchasing this house, your lifestyle will need to match, ie. almost all meals in the dining room, and using the butler's pantry in an original fashion for which it was made by storing and washing the dishes in there. it might also be a good place to stick the microwave and toaster assuming you use those. Based on this, I came up with a plan that doesn't alter much existing besides what gets installed in front of the wainscotting.

I propose moving the fridge or some combo of a small fridge, fridge/freezer drawers, etc into the original large pantry, and hopefully leaving space for shelves above or beside this installation for more storage or possibly a microwave. The half of the kitchen by the windows becomes the prep zone, with a sink built into the cabinet (hopefully with soapstone or zinc counters) that doubles as a place to clean up on entering from outside. It would have a bit of counterspace for resting vegetables to be rinsed, etc. and open shelves above, and possible garbage pull out below. Across from this is a large farm table, maybe with small drawers under the top, which is used for chopping and the like, as well as for visitors conversing with the cook and dining between you and your partner.

The prime wall stays the range wall, but with the hood you desire and some built in bases with shelves above. Between the butler and mud doors is a built-in hutch playing off of the one in the dining room, which gives a nice view from the entry hall, as well as adding much needed storage and more surface area. Hopefully the drawings give a better idea...

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 2:09AM
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Circus Peanut

Thank you, everyone! I'll walk down the list and make responses. You are all most kind to spend some time with me on this, and it's very deeply appreciated.

Rosie - thank you! Re. what I could re/move: I'm not in love with the placement of the pantry door, nor the shallow pantry. The cabinets in the butler's pantry, uppers and lowers, are all place-built, so they'd have to be very carefully removed. The mudroom is rather integral since it's our back door area and will be our "vacuum seal" to the heated inside: a repository for coats, muddy boots etc, as well as a great way to keep cats from nosing out the door when you open it.

Herbflavor - I don't think the stairs can be moved; they're a wide double stair with an exterior side door on the landing, and as such are pretty integral to the building itself. But we do want to seriously consider every option, no matter how radical. The house does not actually carry the 'historical place' designation (the previous owners say they looked into it and it qualifies, but they couldn't be bothered), so we aren't stringently limited by statute, just by our own respect of the original architect and building space. And yes, we are looking into designers with old house experience; we're fairly budget-limited but can swing some good consultation. We won't touch the place without getting expert architectural feedback.

Controlfreakecs - yes, the cats! We are looking forward to their reaction to having hot-water radiators and a fireplace. I anticipate some initial wariness and ultimate blissful acceptance. Yes, the thought with the benches would be to build them over the radiator - cats aren't the only ones who like a warm cozy spot in February ...

AngieDIY - I really look forward to your fellow DIY input, since we have a similar mindset.

Christine - yes, we won't be losing a stick of the woodwork if we can possibly help it. ! My current kitchen and old house are basically rehabbed with supplies gleaned from the ReStore and Building Supply Exchanges up here in Maine, and believe me, I share every frisson of excitement at locating and pouncing on useable materials.

Susie3: oh, we'll be saving and re-using the doors, no worries! :-) But I know some great places to find good prices on similar ones, if you're anywhere near Maine.

Laura12 - yes, I do like the idea of moving the pantry door into the mudroom.

Babuschka - thanks! With all the shelf-topped radiators, it's a real cat-centric house. B-cat would approve, I think.

Pal - if you have any photos of your former sink-over-radiator, I'd really itch to see them for inspiration.

Davidro - yes, the cabs in butler's pantry are all stickbuilt and backless/seamless. There is already a DW in there to the left of the sink. We definitely intend to use it as a dishwashing/washing up and storage space as it was intended to be. We both really loathe sitting at stools on islands so that's not a desire, thankfully, but I could easily see big heavy worktables as "island" spaces. The chimney can't be dismantled, because we still use it for the fireplace on the other side. I would LOVE to find a foot buzzer or bell-pull, but this house is too modest for such appurtenances. You'd appreciate the light switches, though:

Roarah - anything is possible! But I doubt we could easily carry off that switch in this particular house, since the dining room (where we do spend a great deal of time in current house) has all the nice wainscoting detail and best views of the yard. The kitchen looks out onto neighbor's garage, which while pretty is not the most expansive view ever.

Lavender - thank you! Thanks so much for the photo of Laura Calder's kitchen; I know it's one of your faves and have seen it many times, but never noticed the window detail. You're right, it does look like the counter and backsplash were just built up against a set of big windows like mine. Hmmmm. I've also been mulling over putting the banquette corner over where the current oven is. It makes more sense to have that cozy area for the little table and seating, with inset shelving above, and using the window light for the workspace. Moving the back door might not be structurally possible, I'll look into that kind of thing. We sort of hate to lose the big pantry qua pantry, since we've never had and always yearned for one. Hmm.
The back door leads down steps to an unheated breezeway connection (1920 addition) to the garage. Here's the back side of the house to get an idea:

EAM - I really like the idea of removing the butler wall for prep sink access from the main kitchen! But it would be problematic with the built-in cabinetry in there. Here's a view of that space:

I'm intrigued by your Heavenly Hutch concept, which would be a much better use of that odd space than the current wall and shallow pantry door whilst retaining the laundry chute. Thank you!

jterrilynn - love the inspiration pic. The brass/woodwork/soapstone bar vibe would fit in so well, although it's slightly later in period feel than the house. We're in northern New England, remember, and such goings-on are not very Puritan. ;-) But I take your meaning and will play around with building from the center of the room outwards rather than the other way around. From the placement of a few modern can lights in the ceiling, some previous owner had a peninsula/island built from the butler's pantry wall outwards into the kitchen; I'll play with that.

willemsen: thank you so much. Yes, the house grabbed us and we couldn't turn it down, although we honestly had no intention of moving from our current place.

All - yes, we are the type of people who almost always eat in the dining room, so it's not hardship to plan that way. We do have a keeping-room with sofa adjacent to the kitchen in the current old house and have really loved it, thus the banquette idea.

We don't have a TV, we don't use paper towels, we have a butcher and baker, and we compost, if that tells you anything about our anachronistic ways. ;-) We want to keep the laundry chute not just for its great usefulness to us in its current position (we use cloth towels in the kitchen) but also because it's built into the bathroom upstairs:

-- more later today! work calls, but I'll be back to respond to the further very generous ideas --

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:12AM
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Holy cats, mvjc! What a great rendering! You went above and beyond!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:12AM
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Circus Peanut

ahhhh -- mvjc, will you marry me? No time to give you the response this deserves right this sec, but I am astounded at your generosity. Is it in Sketchup or some similar program I could play with?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:14AM
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With careful planning you can get a custom built island (slender one) in this room and it might be the most elegant and practical answer to the requirements of this space.


In the photo of the DR, the brick chimney is not showing. I too think more measurements are in order.

Radiators belong near exterior walls. The radiator next to the back entry mudroom can be removed and reinstalled somewhere else in the house where it will be more effective. Which corner bedroom upstairs is felt as coldest (in Winter). The right place for this radiator is somewhere in that corner of the house, on the ground floor. Maybe deeper back in the mudroom space.

The fridge is a jewel that someone will need to rent a movie set or a museum. Show it on around.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:18AM
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Since I think the pantry has to stay intact, I will use mvjc's renderings as a jumping off point. (That program is awesome, the renderings have almost a painterly quality)

Where mvjc has the work table, I would put a counter with prep sink toward the right hand end of it.

Where mvjc has the hutch, I would put a built-in Liebherr or Subzero.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:26AM
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Mvjc--what program are you using? That is AWESOME.

Just wanted to add--we eat all our meals in the DR and always have. That's how I grew up. (Probably because we had a large-ish family and small-ish kitchens.) Same for DH. It's worked for almost 30 years...

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:40AM
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circuspeanut -

Chiming in to say I have laundry chute ENVY!

I have a modified chute for my papertowelfree kitchen - throw 'em down the stairs to basement in a pillow sac!

Congratulations on a stunning home and on all the fun you and the GWdesigners will have creating your new kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:55AM
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Labeling the butler's pantry as "B"
I'll call the 3'1" wall "A"
C, D, and E are the 2'4" wall, 7' wall and 5'4" wall
F, G, and H are the 7'6" wall, 9' wall and pantry
I + J are the 2'8" wall + the back entry

AJ is the most seen area, the one to beautify most, because of the view from the front entrance. Something slim or small goes there. A painting. A beautifully framed mirror. A set of slender shelves. Something.

To let navigation flow unimpeded am Meisten, it may end up being wisest to leave H, I, J, and AJ as non-built-up so one can move from H to B easily, and the mudroom door area is more open. Then, the previously stated idea of starting In The Middle is easier to work with. It may end up being do-able to have a furniture island or cart, freestanding, custom made for the shape needed to allow navigation. This is worth exploring because of the 7 doors. About 12 paths cross the middle of the space, so it's worth considering how to direct them all into a single highway channel instead of leaving the center as undefined open space.

CDE and FGH+I are distinct geographical areas, like continents separated by navigation channels.

Extending this thought experiment, I prefer considering the most un-traditional ideas first. Area FG as the cook zone. Wall F for the O'Keefe & Merritt stove. A hood over wall F. Then area CDE is the big prep zone. No window there so it will need a good lighting plan. Again, untraditionally: Liebherr on wall C, very little on wall D, a deep counter on wall E, and suddenly you have room to consider a custom built cart / table / freestanding island, which will be beautiful since visible from the front entranceway.

Area FGH+I may also have an island-ey piece of furniture in the middle of the space.

Reminder: in this thought experiment, doors and walls from H to B are all one big navigation channel, and NOT built up with cabinets or furniture.

Next alternative to consider: swapping the continents purposes: cook zone and prep zone.

If this thought process bears fruit, one of the islands can become fixed, electrified and plumbed. Otherwise, go back to the same old same old normal thinking which presumes that each length of wall shall receive builtin cabinets or furniture.

Wainscoting behind the stove can be removed and reused as fronts for an island or for builtin cabinets.

The ideas here all presume that you keep every door and that you use the house as it was intended by the original builder. E.g. cooking in the kitchen, eating in the dining room.

The pantry can have a tiny sink. It can have a microwave. (But I haven't seen photos of the pantry.)


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:33AM
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If the OKM goes against the basement stair wall, a vintage sink on legs could go against the window, leaving space for the rad. These are typically either 42" or 52" in width. You would probably have to do a small pony wall like LL showed, or some other modification to support the back of the sink. You can still have a cabinet underneath, but disguise it to look like a curtain (basically, a pullout with a curtain rod across the front). A custom butcher block cover could turn one half the sink into a prep area. In this scenario, you might be able to fit a wee island in that neck of the woods as well.

There's also the possibility for a narrow island directly in front of the front hall door (not ideal but possible), but we'd need full measurements for that space to know.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:33AM
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I would get rid of the pantry and mudroom. Use that entire area for your kitchen and put a small bench and hooks on the wall for when you come in. Then you have plenty of space for a table on the other side of the kitchen. That does remove a wall though.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:46AM
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I really like MVJC's layout especially since it keeps almost all of the original woodwork, doors, and radiators plus the renderings are so well done. I like to see well made old houses kept as true to their original form as possible and MVJC's layout appears to be a workable solution to a unique space. Good luck with it all, I am excited to see all that you do with your new house.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:00PM
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Mvjc- Beautiful!

Circuspeanut- I'm glad you like the possiblity of building the counter in front of the windows. If you want to keep the pantry, then I'd move the door as several have suggested. There would still be room for a small bench with hooks on one side and then access to the pantry.

You still need a place for a fridge, so what about building walls on two sides and giving the fridge its own little alcove. This way you don't see it as you walk into the room, from the dining room or the front hall, but it's very handy to the main cooking area. If there's room you could have a built-in bookcase/display area on the end.

The range and sink would still be by the windows, with all the light. I love that look and maybe you could have herbs in pots, by the range!

I actually like the shallow pantry...I just think you need new shelves in the lower section. Shallow storage is great for canned foods and other small items that can get lost in a bigger kitty canned food :) From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:10PM
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If there's not much room at the end of the fridge alcove, you could always do a Victorian version of this shallow display area, with the plates. Very pretty, but doesn't take up much space. From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Hi Circuspeanut, this goes along with my idea above where I was inspired by a speakeasy bar (counter height) except I put your range back over on the wall. I also added open wall shelves here and there and changed the opening to mudroom (which was already suggested). I think a layout like this would be the easiest to work in as it's not so chopped up. I say that without knowing your exact measurements.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:52PM
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I forgot to mention that the door you remove from the butlers pantry would or could be modified and used on the other side of the island face and would tie in the wood work marvelously and save money.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:01PM
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Circus --

I was gobsmacked that you were prepared to abandon your iconic diy copper counters and the rest of your carefully crafted current kitchen...until I saw what you were abandoning it FOR. Great great great house, and I am fully confident that you will give it the exquisitely gentle reworking is merits.

What your posting elicited from the amazing mvjc is ample testimony to its character.

Just out of curiosity, did wanting a challenging but inherently wonderful new project to mess with enter into your decision? As of July 1, I will have tenants in the Sears kit house it took two years to restore. They are a great young couple, they are thrilled with the house, and they will probably will take better care of it than I would. Still, I am still prostrate not only with the loss of that space -- which turned out better than I could have hoped, albeit a bit idiosyncratic -- but also with the loss of an nice old house to adapt to modern life.

Is this a known syndrome? If so, please tell me that it will ebb, as I am plumb out of capital.

Congratulations and cheers. hbk

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 11:36AM
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Circus: I know others have already asked, but I will try again. Could you provide either the widths of the doors or the dimensions of the walls that contain them? May have some time to try to play with it, but I'd like it to be accurate.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 9:36AM
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Circus Peanut

hola Marcolo, Angie -- sorry for the delay. I really want to provide exact measurements but haven't had a chance to get back to the house to take them. We close in 2 weeks, so my time there is still somewhat limited; I'll get those up here ASAP. We meet there with a prospective roofer tomorrow and I hope to be allowed inside for a while with my measuring tape. (The sellers are a little eccentric and such negotiations have been slightly tricky.) Thank you!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 10:03AM
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until it's closed it isn't closed and anything can go wrong. So, sellers often play hide and seek instead of being open. Also, it protects them from hankypank (not that you would do anything of the sort...).

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 11:17AM
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Hankypank is as hankypank does. A couple close to me wanted their purchase of a fortunately vacant bank-owned house to go through, so the handyman of the pair rigged a basement door so it wouldn't lock when they were shown through and then snuck back in with a friend and installed an expensive new something in the HVAC so it would work, connected the kitchen sink to the drain pipe, dismantled and stored an unecessary basement toilet that had defective plumbing, and fixed a couple other things so it would pass on first inspection. Fortunately, after all that, the sale did close okay.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 1:46PM
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This isn't exactly Victorian, but it does show that a banquette can be quite charming...even without windows :) From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 4:08PM
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Circus Peanut

Well, she's back.

We are now in possession of the house, despite what had to be the world's most difficult sellers and their über-sleazy realtor. The last remaining issue is that they refuse to give us, or even let us see (!), the architect's beautiful original 1910 house plans (our realtor saw them once) that they took from the house when they left. God knows why. These are people who wrote us a point-by-point personal email explaining just how much our initial offer offended them.
There is no copy of the plans on file at the local city hall, more's the pity. We've offered to pay for photocopies, etc, with no response, and are now mulling over how much to offer to buy them back via a third party, much as it chafes to actually reward these conniving thieves.

But. Kitchen planning may now steam full force ahead!

I have to thank the overwhelming generosity of each and every one of you, with a very special mention to Mvjcand his/her amazing and inspired graphics, which humble me.

I remain torn, of course, between wanting to maintain the authentic layout as originally designed, and creating more counter space for our frequent cooking and baking.

Here is another ground plan with more accurate measurements. I have included all doors/windows. I have left out the radiators with the hope that this will provide more mental flexibility. We are exploring ways of re-routing the laundry chute, as this would also aid our bathroom renovation upstairs, but as is, it's beautifully executed, metal-lined with beadboard doors in the basement laundry, and the plaster/lath walls may make rerouting it impossible.

We've always longed for a pantry, so would really like to maintain that if at all possible, plus the mudroom is rather a necessity for our Maine climate, and I enjoy the current ability to glance out the back door to see who's arriving. But again, we'll consider anything.

I will be striving to master this @$$%#&@! Sketchup software in order to realize some of the many wonderful ideas you've already offered. I did attempt to make it 3-D with one version that eliminates the laundry chute, although it's very embarrassing to display this in light of mvjc's master work:

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 10:36AM
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    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 11:44AM
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sorry to hear about the tough close. what is a shame is that it is very obvious you love this house and you will take wonderful care of the house. the former owners are having a hard time letting go, clearly emotionally attached. burn some sage in the house, clear the atmosphere, bring in the new.

can't wait to see more as your remodel progresses. although i know you don't want to, to keep the original blueprints with the house is really worth some extra $$$. bite the bullet and do it through the 3rd party. once all stress of the close dissaptes you will be glad to have them.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Circuspeanut- Congrats on getting the house! Too bad, about the floor plans...some people are so petty.

Here's one more idea, similar to the last, but with a 'wall' of cabinets to use for prep and/or baking, with glass uppers above. It would box in the fridge, somewhat, so that it's hidden, as you walk in from the hall.

The sink and range would look great with no uppers (all those windows) but you could do a few shelves, for display. I think hanging pots and pans, around the range would look better than uppers.

I moved the pantry door to the mudroom side (again) and put an opening (not door) between the kitchen and pantry/mudroom.

According to your pictures, it looks like you have a little bump out, for the laundry the door could hopefully swing out, making it easier to access. From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 3:11PM
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I have no brilliant ideas but wanted to congratulate you on a lovely home. I remember your other kitchen, it was a source of inspiration for me in my 1915 Craftsman home - although mine didn't come out nearly was wonderful. I can't wait to see how this one evolves!

BTW - I could use some interior doors! Wanna donate some? LOL

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 3:46PM
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Do you have steam or hot water radiators? We removed our hot water radiator and put in a hot water toe kick heater and that completely opened up our design possibilities! I hope you're able to also.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 2:35AM
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Circus: congratulations! I'm enjoying reading the challenge but have no real input on that front. I just wanted to provide some sympathy for cohabitating with an adjacent meth lab. We had one of those! The occupants would come and go 24/7 every 20 minutes or so. It was amazing. The owner of the house didn't really believe us what was going on there but he did when they moved out: they tried to take the gas stove out with a wrench. Didn't shut off the gas. They were just crazy.

You have a really beautiful place there. sigh.....

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 3:51AM
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I've tried this a couple of times now with no joy. About the best I came up with was destroying the "mudroom" and current pantry - because I could then get a ref, pantry, range, work surface and a sink in the same half of the room.

If only it didn't have a hallway running through it :)

I know the drawings above are beautiful and the range alcove makes me drool BUT I look at where the water is. Where the ref is, where food storage is, hard to get adequate surface nearby...

You have a can do, make do attitude and a whole range of skills to be able to do something. But the best thing I can say is poke around a bit now that its yours. Sit in it and live with it.

Try not to rush into a remodel or try to decide too soon on its limits. Cause I been there, done that. I understand the drive to have a livable kitchen - particularly for you because you had just about exactly what you wanted. Diving in works sometimes, but sometimes its just a waste of effort.

As I said, right now I don't see any way to do a kitchen in there without compromising the house or ending up with a lot of walking between spread out stuff and insufficient work surface.

I look at that photo of the outside rear of your house and I start wondering if the mudroom could be pushed out into the glass porch, if the porch is or could be enclosed, does the little shortie thing next to the glass porch (with lattice work) have heat or water or electric. Could its walls and roof be raised. Sometimes it's easy to remove built-in cabinets and sometimes it's not, but you could study on those scullery cabinets and see it you could get them off intact. And I know you're extremely creative, so you likely have 20 other ideas too.

After you look at it a while, you might be more open to some tradeoffs that might help the kitchen or you might suddenly see a layout that you could live in. I can see why you love that house by the glimpses of the other areas. So I'm saying maybe take your time instead of plunging.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 11:35AM
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I like Lavender's last layout. On the one hand, it seems a shame to not have the eating area by the window. But at the same time, the area near the window has the most uninterrupted wallspace(ignoring windows for the moment), and is the only place I can figure out to have a really good working layout.

I have the same window issue in my house where the only significant length of wallspace without doors has windows with low sills. I went with an unfitted kitchen and used commercial stainless worktables along that wall. I now have 12 feet of uninterrupted counter, which is awesome, and the open shelving lets light come through under the counter. For an example of a sink in front of a low-sill window, Sombreuil_mongrel posted a pic of her kitchen in the Queen Anne DAT.

Here is a link that might be useful: Queen Anne DAT

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 1:09PM
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as bmore said, the game now is to figure out which compromises you will accept.

The architect gave it the leftover space after drawing out the ideal "proportions" and spaces on the outside, and in the other rooms. Now you have to live with a few extra steps every hour because it's going to end up as two areas that are each 3/4 functional not fully functional. It keeps one slim, to be stepping here there and everywhere.

b.t.w. missing the architect's plans just means you see a bit less of the architect's original intentions. "Nothing that is built is ever built exactly as planned out originally," said Cheops 5000 years ago.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 11:16PM
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Circus Peanut

Thank you all so much. Babuschka, the previous owners seem less emotionally invested in the house than just plain mercenary, alas. The sage-burning comment does make me smile, though -- they were apparently heavily into something called Geopathic Stress, and there are all sorts of surprises stashed around the house. Anyone need a bio-resonant amulet that wards off the Curry Grid? (You think I'm joking.)

Ahem. At any rate, I welcome your insights. I'm hyper aware of moving too quickly before really settling in to the new space, and will definitely take my time in getting a feel for how we move and operate within the house before getting any work going. It's made difficult by the fact that other than the scullery, there's really no there there at all right now. The pantry has no shelves, and to make a bit of cash we're selling the electric stove, the wonderful old fridge, and the hideous loose granite countertop pieces.

So it'll be me, my OKM, and an old table. As my partner -- now fiance, ack! -- croons, "baby, we'll just live on lurrrve."

Another reason for the seeming rush is that I'm on an intense antibiotic and anti-microbial treatment for Lyme/Babesia disease, and am pretty sick all day long. Kitchen planning is a good way to distract the mind even as the body rebels. Ugh is all I have to say: folks, remember to check for ticks after every run or gardening outing!

Honorbilt: It's very perspicacious of you to point that out; my mom said the exact same thing. I'm sure the challenge of it is what constitutes the bulk of the lure, much as I hate to admit it (I really do love our current bungalow and the zillion hours we've put into it). If I can shake this Lyme stuff and get my energy back, I can foresee many hours pleasantly whiled away with the juggling of architectural minutiae. I suppose it's better than collecting dead bugs, but all is relative.

Lavender: I like it, thanks! Without the original plans it's anyone's guess, but we now believe that the pantry door is a later add-on, so we are ok with moving it into the back vestibule. This has the bonus of keeping the pantry cooler than if it opened off the heated kitchen proper, excellent for root storage.

Davidro: danke! I will consider the continental approach, and Cheops had it right on the money. I am quite irrationally allergic to islands, which probably glares as a major imaginative defect in my own spatial ideas.

Aliris! Sister-in-Meth-Lab-Suffering! But who can know until they experience it, right? In our case, it's not even renters: they've owned the place for 3 generations. The father was arrested recently for dealing drugs with his 4-year-old in the car. In the school parking lot. We're painting our house exterior right now and this joker has stopped by daily to pester us for work. I think what really annoys me most is the patrol cars -- the parole officers won't park outside the neighbors'; they park outside OUR house at all hours in order to run surprise checkups.

Cawaps: I would die to see a photo of your stainless table/shelves in front of the window -- a long stainless counter with integral sink across the window wall might just be the ticket here. See my proposal, below.

bmore: thank you for the effort! I know just how much time it takes to really get one's head into someone else's kitchen plan glitches, and I very much appreciate it. We're getting a few quotes on stabilizing the back passageway, so building it out is not impossible, tho rather more $$ than we hope to spend since it involves opening an original exterior wall.

Without more ado, here's my latest version. As a teacher, I always find it easier to help a student tweak a paper after they've provided a first draft, so here you are. Claw away.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 6:18PM
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I like it! Which way is the fridge facing, when it's open?

The wheeled breakfast table is a great would slide right up against the fridge, when you need extra prep space...and you'd still have seating at the banquette! Perfect for holidays :)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 8:13PM
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Wow! That looks totally workable, which is amazing considering your starting point. The zigzag effect is much reduced.

I'll snap a picture of the counter for you tonight. I just added a new 2x2 stainless worktable that turns the corner to the range.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 8:47PM
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Circus Peanut

I must say I'm starting to like this plan myself. I went and cleaned in there for a few hours this afternoon, and it feels very right to have the work area by the windows and the seating over in the cozy corner. That corner feels too claustrophobic for working with one's back to room.

One big plus with this layout is that my main cooking activities: get stuff out of fridge, wash, prep, heat -- are all now accomplished in one nice production line that is protected from the main thoroughfares. Those making toast or doing dishes in the scullery are more interruptable.

The design issue for me remains the windows. I so fear that putting a counter with sink across them will look tacky, makeshift or (worse) aesthetically lazy. My guy loves the idea of having actual cabinets under that cross-window countertop, with nice vintage cutouts where the radiator is. It would be historically more accurate to leave the countertop open, with no cabinets under it nor under the sink. That's where a vintage sink with shapely porcelain or nickel legs would really shine.

But precisely that prep area is where all my debris will fall, and if there are big honking iron radiator curves in the way of my broom, lord knows what might wind up mutating under there. Hrrm. Best to cover it up, probably, and add more storage?

Tall fridge/freezer is the other thing. I can't figure out how to make Sketchup make my lines thicker, but the intent is to put the Liebherr inside the wall of the scullery, not out in the main kitchen. We like the idea of having it in there because we drink a ton of refrigerated mineral water and it makes sense to have beverages near the glasses, and the milk near the espresso machine.

But if we do that, then which way should the door open? Towards the scullery counter, so you can grab milk etc? Or towards the rest of the kitchen, so you can grab chicken thighs and take them to the sink? Or perhaps we shouldn't have a tall fridge at all, but just two undercounter fridges? (although: ugh. too much stooping?)

Also, my guy and I tend to have heated epistemological battles over where kitchen items belong, and I shudder to think of the definitory abyss two fridges would open up for us. (How on earth do orthodox Jewish couples manage it? We'd strangle each other over milschig and fleischig, guaranteed.)

Hmm. Looking forward to the photo, cawaps, many thanks!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:15PM
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A-hem. I distinctly remember someone suggesting a vintage sink by that window......

OMG do not face that fridge into the scullery! You have no landing space there. Watching you do a J-hook every time you need something in the fridge would look like the Puppy Bowl. Put it out of your mind.

The position of the stove in the last sketch is best for function, but I would be remiss if I failed to point out that putting it on the pantry wall would showcase its beauty much better.

Do you have room for a lazy susan in the range corner to hold all your pots and pans or small prep appliances?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:38PM
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"I so fear that putting a counter with sink across them will look tacky, makeshift or (worse) aesthetically lazy."

Well, mine is pretty makeshift, or as I prefer to call it, "unfitted." I had some similar issues to you: the low-silled windows and more doors than a room that size should have, by rights. The room has 4 doors: one to the left of the fridge, one to the right of the fridge, one to the left of the range, and the one that I stood in to take the picture. I thought I had it bad until I saw your floor plan. My scullery is through the door to the left of the fridge. No sink in the main room, although that is of course on the to-do list, after a range hood.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:48PM
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Circus Peanut

A-hem. I distinctly remember someone suggesting a vintage sink by that window......

Yes, yes. I was crediting you and Pal, mentally.

I was musing on the windows and had a minor aha! moment. We are in possession of a brilliant old-school carpenter who has made all our wooden storms and screens. To resolve some of the spatial weirdness of the low windows without damaging the exterior lines, how would it look to replace just the lower sash with sash that have a very large lower rail, so that the wood is visible over the countertop as it would be with a shorter window?

We will always have wooden screens or storms on the outside, and those can keep the regular rail size to match the rest of the house on the exterior. The kitchen windows are visible but not prominent, on the 'lesser' side of the house facing the neighbor's garage.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 11:24AM
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Clever, but from the outside would it look any better than simply having a nice facing on the back of your cabinetry? It might even look weirder.

BTW--if you do a vintage sink on legs, please remember those are actually wall-mounted, so your genius carpenter would need to build an extremely sturdy pony wall, or perhaps just some sort of rear leg apparatus, to hold it up.

Regarding countertops--I always thought Casey's solution looked really good. If you recall, it has a "floating" countertop, sink peeking out below, and then enclosed cabinetry below the window for storage. Functional and nice.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:04PM
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I had saved that image. Here it is:

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:10PM
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Though I haven't been able to comment this has been fun to watch evolve.

Just wanted to affirm your decision to move the eating area to the corner w/o windows. Our dining room (which we usually use as a study) has no windows feels a bit claustrophobic depending on if you are looking onto a wall or out to the action. When my DH is using it as his study, his back is to the wall and he looks out into the views and action. One's attention is focused into the room instead of outdoor views. Who doesn't like a quaint little corner in a restaurant.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Peanut: you sure sound like there's a lot going on right now. I haven't even checked the middle-hundred of these posts but I'm looking forward to a quiet moment of it.

Thing about those meth labs is the craziness seems to sneak up incrementally. I didn't quite realize how insane it all was while we lived next to it but I can *still* feel the peace and calm of having shed it more than a dozen years later. I hope you find a moment to let such peace sink in. Sounds like you might need it, between lyme dz and fianc�-ing and architecting... May the antibiotics do their job speedily for you.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 1:28PM
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I would want the fridge to open towards the main cooking area. Working around the door for drinks/espresso might be easier, than trying to grab something, while you're baking/cooking.

Marcolo makes a good point about moving the range (wow factor) but it looks like you would lose about 10 inches of counterspace...would that be too tight?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:37PM
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CP said: "Tall fridge/freezer is the other thing. I can't figure out how to make Sketchup make my lines thicker, but the intent is to put the Liebherr inside the wall of the scullery, not out in the main kitchen. We like the idea of having it in there because we drink a ton of refrigerated mineral water and it makes sense to have beverages near the glasses, and the milk near the espresso machine.

But if we do that, then which way should the door open? Towards the scullery counter, so you can grab milk etc? Or towards the rest of the kitchen, so you can grab chicken thighs and take them to the sink?"

So, maybe this fridge needs to be in the kitchen, not the scullery:

However, alas, this one would open into your mudroom doorway and I couldn't find fridges opening on two adjacent sides. Kinda neat idea for simultaneous kitchen/scullery access though!

but seriously, your window rail idea sounds like it would solve many issues: ease of cleaning/prevention of mutations, keep the original look (where it can be seen), and cabinets (or stuff on shelves) block the view of the non-traditional rail.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 6:48PM
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two fridges work out well when one fridge is small and the other is big. Then you develop a pattern of use. It works out well to have a small fridge somewhere. A small fridge can hold a lot of beverages.

Instead of island, think peninsula. A 1/2-island = Halbinsel. For example, next to the range (on the RHS) you could extend the counter outwards into the free space there. 2nd zB: the Liebherr fridge could be butted onto the 3'1" wall and thereby make a fridge peninsula. Same facing orientation as shown above, facing the big windows. Add a decorative panel on the exposed side. 3rd e.g.: The area of the 5'4" wall, the 7' wall and the 2'4" wall can be redrawn with a peninsula.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 11:56PM
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I thank you for the kind words! As a budding architect, these forums keep me up on my game, and as a budding preservationist, your kitchen in particular has been an enjoyable challenge. Congrats on closing! As I like to finish what I start, give me a day or so to play around...I have some ideas for those windows!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 12:51AM
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Circus Peanut


To be perfectly honest, Marcolo, I haven't met the lazy/super susan I couldn't demolish or seriously handicap within one week. I detest the things with the energy of 10,000 suns. (Perhaps they remind me too much of the 1960's turquoise formica kitchen and cheap veneered builder's cupboards of my youth.) Functionally, I dislike the two-handed necessity of opening door/spinning/lifting. If it comes to that, I'd prefer open corner shelving under the counter where I can just grab and lift, despite losing some theoretical storage space.

I hope to dispense with one corner by putting in a pullout trash that slides opens horizontally underneath the prep sink. The other, dunno yet. Pots on corner shelves, perhaps?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 11:28AM
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Circus Peanut

I suspect my monstrous reply posts are daunting and I apologize. After 4 years this is the first time I've been an advice solicitor on this board, and I know how tiring it is to read such manifesti. So perhaps I'd do best separating my thoughts topically.


Where tile is necessary, such as behind the stove, or above the wainscotting, I hope to use the same yellow subway tile as in my current kitchen, since I bought the remainder on sale and have quite a bit left over. I could see a tiled "backsplash" that's more of a shallow shelf on the rear of the counter across the windows, perhaps?

This has long been an inspiration photo of mine, for what it's worth. Its from Peter LaBau's The New Bungalow Kitchen, a lovely book Id recommend to anyone. I have always been very enamoured with the concept of a low shelf along the perimeter of the countertop - had this once in a rental (where I think it was actually unintentional) and it's the bomb.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 11:32AM
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Circus Peanut


"I so fear that putting a counter with sink across them will look tacky, makeshift or (worse) aesthetically lazy."

Well, mine is pretty makeshift, or as I prefer to call it, "unfitted."

No, no, no! Your kitchen is marvelous and FUNCTIONAL. I'm a huge spring green fan and it looks especially swoony paired with the steel. I love the new little stainless 'return' table. Do you get your tables at restaurant or office supply stores?

How does the portion of the table up against the wainscoting work when you are doing something splattery/messy? Or very liquid? Does beet juice, say, pour off the back and down the wood? Would you prefer to have a small lip or splash back there, or do like it this way, and why?

Cawaps, thank you for indulging me! :-)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 11:37AM
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Functionally, I dislike the two-handed necessity of opening door/spinning/lifting

You're thinking of the wrong kind of lazy susan. This is what I'm talking about, and it's as one-handed as a Jaeger shot:

Mine is wood, and solid as a rock. Nothing better. Much better than corner shelves, because you just push the door and the pot comes completely out of the cabinet space to greet you.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 11:44AM
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I haven't had any issues with spatter from things like cake batter. When I work with actual liquids, I usually do it in the scullery, which has a more conventional set-up with a quartz counter and 4 inch backsplash. However, I do wish that the work tables had a small lip at the back. Once in a while something roly-poly makes a beeline for the window wells. So far it's been inconvenient, but I fear that someday it will be a raw egg. There isn't much of a gap between the tabletop and the wainscoting, so I've only really had issues with the window wells, and even then it's pretty easy to retrieve things with the open shelves.

I got my stainless tables at a local restaurant supply store. I think they were $130? Something quite reasonable. The one with the wood top is an Ikea Utby shelf. I was going to do those all the way across but by the time I was ready to commit they had disconitnued them. The restaurant tables are cheaper and I like the stainless tops, although I think a second shelf would be useful. I wonder if they sell shelves separately to add on...

The green roller bins underneath the stainless tables are Ikea storage bins from the kids' section.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Cawaps, I really like the look of your kitchen and would have swooned for those stainless tables once. My husband made me a kitchen with open lowers long ago out of my MIL's nice deep wood bookcases and wood tops, which were all we could afford, but I was very proud of what we created. Those open shelves were wonderfully efficient when I was cooking.

The point about a back lip on the counter is a really good one. I now have an image of you eyeing your eggs worriedly as you work. :)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Regarding lazy susans, how irritating they are depends on how much you use and/or need to use them.

In your case, you might need to use it a lot, I'll allow, so my comments in defense of them may not be relevant.

But for me, I don't like that center post, which is required if you're going to have the one-handed variety as Marcolo shows. I think it's required at least.

So there is a whole different flavor of Susan, and that's got no pole, just separate 3/4 pie circular shelfs (or full circle or half circle too) with a door of your choosing. Actually, I suppose you could afix the door front to the edge of that "super susan" too, come to think of it -- maybe others have. But those I've seen pictures of with the one-handed approach, as above, all seem to have that central post.

I hate that center post!

But then how I use the susan in my kitchen is very sparingly. It has no central post, and two shelves/susans. I store large appliance and cake covers and the like in there. These are not things I access very often, maybe once per month. With that sort of traffic, I'm OK with getting down on my knees and rooting around. And without the center post you can toss massive boxes in there; still works. So it's actually, to my mind, a really better way to store large, unattractive boxes of things. It's easier than reaching up to a way-top shelf, and having them out of sight is really nice. So it's essentially "garage storage".

Also, another point is that with the 3/4 configuration and doors that swing open (might be the same if attached), when you swing through the arc the circle comes outside of the cabinet a bit, making it much easier to access stuff.

All I can say is, I was really leery of how this would work out, but it's been great, for this usage. And I was formerly in the no-way-no-how camp. Maybe not 10,000 suns' worth of hatred, but a bunch.

Thus, how much and how justified you are in hating your lazy susan depends, I think, on its use.... YMMV

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 4:40PM
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I'm always mystified by the center post discussions. I just don't get them. The posts aren't in the center of anything, and I have stock pots and Le Creusets and saucepans and whatnot all happily sitting around them free of crowding. Opening a door first would drive me bats, but again, it's all in how you use them.

I just don't see how that kitchen can afford a dead corner cabinet, is all.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 7:16PM
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Circus Peanut

I will return to the center-post debate shortly. In the meanwhile, here's a new version with the stove on the other side, for the sake of the view from the front hall entrance, and I've moved the fridge over by the banquette.

I don't want the fridge on the exterior scullery wall because even a counterdepth model sticks out too far and really impedes the view between scullery and kitchen proper. With nothing tall there, I can peer into the scullery/dining room from the working countertop and it feels a lot more connected. I love the dual glass door fridge idea, mtnfever! In fact I love a glass door fridge under any circumstances and just wish the better designed ones weren't commercial models and therefore very loud.

If the stove is on the pantry-side wall, there may have to be some kind of table/counter to the right as a temporary dumping space for groceries, purse, etc, when arriving thru back door.

What do you think of putting the fridge over by the banquette? It reduces the seating space, but might be worth it. Might be optimal there, actually -- I like how anyone can go there to grab a drink and never be in the way of flying castiron and hot oil. Is it too far from prep sink, would undercounter fridge drawers nearer the sink be a solution?

Also: moving the stove to other wall just to show it off does indeed compromise on counterspace around the stove itself. Can anyone comment on having the stove itself as the edge of a counter run? This stove is particularly suited for it with its lovely white porcelain sides, to be sure, but how does that affect workflow? Doesn't it limit you from pulling heavy pots off the left-hand hobs quickly? Another hmm: turned this way, the oven door opens on the inside of the countertop U, not the outside side. Annoying?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Circus, not exactly layout related as your layout is way past my skills, but I'm really excited to see what you ultimately decide on.

Just wanted to share that I had the same lyme event last summer (about this time) and after 30+ days on AB +some other things that I did on my own, I seem to have no residual. One thing: are you taking a probiotic? Absolutely necessary and most MD's won't tell you cause they don't believe it. Just make sure you keep it separated from the AB by a couple, three hours so the AB doesn't kill the probiotics. Forgive me if I'm overstepping but this is so important to keep the gut as healthy as possible while the AB is doing it's job. If you aren't already taking one, look for one that is refrigerated... it's full of living things. You can get rid of this but it takes more than 10 days of doxycycline. It sounds like your getting more than that so that's good.

Totally get the fatigue part. Absolutely crushing fatigue.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:22AM
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Oops, sorry, I thought the back-and front-opening fridge was so cool that I didn't think about the noise factor of a commercial fridge. The fridge over by the banquette looks a little lonely and would you be ok to use the wheeled work/breakfast table as the dump spot for the fridge? The idea of fridge drawers for veg etc by your prep area sounds like a good short cut and being able to have a smaller fridge by the banquette to allow more seating.

In a previous house I had a range against an interior doorway that was a pain to deal with having to hoist pans over the top of the other burner to land on the counter and you have to have the pan handles be over the other burners so they don't stick into the walkway. Does putting the range against the mud room wall make the venting too difficult? That is, seems like you'd have to go up through the roof rather than horizontally through the wall as in your last layout. Might be worth being able to show off that OKM! Also, would the draft of the mudroom door opening be a concern for the burners? Lastly, the oven door would open to block your only landing spot other than the rangetop itself?

I have a tiled window ledge above my sink and loooove it for the extra space. On your 3" ledge, I could see cute little herb pots right above your prep area.

Well, hope some of this helps as so many here are so much better than I at layout ideas.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:18AM
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OOOH, watching your plan change over time is so much fun. I am reminded of my first anthropology class. (How's that for a non sequitur?)
No constructive suggestions from me, but this afternoon's reading time is going to be to read over this post. My current escape reading (Lescroat's dective fiction) is now on back burner.

The evolving of the plan is as fascinating and elegant as the morphing of australopithecus into homo sapiens. (and, yeah, I know it's not a straight line, but neither is the evolution of your kitchen. All sorts of discarded dead ends and new branches that shoot off to glory.

You are actually going to have a KITCHEN in this space, instead of isolated elements stuck here and there. WOWZAAA.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:39AM
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How can one say "wet blanket" softly? Show the thickness of the walls, in your drawings. Between the butler's pantry and the kitchen proper is a wall. This is a significant thing and cannot be omitted.

I'd like to know also about the wall between the back porch area and the butler's pantry + kitchen.

In some of your walls you already have water pipes and drains. Show this too please.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 1:24PM
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Peanut -- I have some experience cooking on a range that's just itself, against a wall, no landing space on either side, sort of (it's in Maine too). But it's actually half gas-half kerosene so the kerosene burners are closed off with an enamel piece that folds down over them. That space is used, of course, all the time. While you do have some space to the right, I'd continue searching for a solution that allows landing space on both sides. The point about dealing with the handles really is a major worry and pain. It's just a really risky setup for a lot of reasons. IMO. As a last resort, possibly, but I would work really, really hard to find something else.

I prefer the Jul 31 flipped version and fridge drawers if at all possible. But I'm pretty sure they're $$$.

That two-ended fridge is majorly neat too. Does it come in a lower version? If you could set it undercounter, you could set a useful countertop there for landing space and uppers for storage....

Personally, in the awkward-department, I'd rather work around fridge doors that open into the mudroom doorway than a range that abuts that doorway. The doorway isn't used *all* that much, likely; it's not really an interior passageway. You come in the house once, and you're there. If it were an interior walkway with traffic all throughout kitchen-use time, it would be another matter. Depends how you use your house I guess. But the safety-issue and lack of landing space just never changes, regardless. It's "chronic" in a way that the other problem is "acute". I'd go with "acute", if you follow....

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 4:18PM
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I played with this for quite a while. No really knew ideas, just a composite of your plans and others' ideas. But it was fun. I betcha there is still THE great idea out there. Wish I had stumbled on it.
FWIW, here's what I did.

It was fun to play. You have come so far since the first post!

Incidentally, we find the ticks here utterly terrible! Both deer and dog ticks abound. I spend a lot of time outside in the garden and park and pull off the things endlessly while I swear the deer watch and smirk. I hope you continue to improve from this scary disease. I have a friend who responded wonderfully to treatment.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:35PM
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I would pull the radiators and heat the floor. That will give you more wall space and better heat distribution.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:59PM
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If you click on the picture Angie posted above of the prep sink in front of a long window, it will lead you to the PhotoBucket album on that kitchen. Click the ''Previous'' button to see more of the kitchen and the house. It has a lot in common with Circuspeanut's home, I think. There are several more images of the window wall with the sink in it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 12:50AM
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Circus Peanut

Marcolo/Aliris: about that center pole. Hmm. My current recycled cabinets came with a kidney-shaped type like you're referencing, Aliris. It did seem very sturdy, so my 1960's melamine comparison is unfair. Pole notwithstanding, I have never been able to satisfactorily use a susan setup without flinging everything small and rattly off the back. Perhaps this is ameliorated by only putting heavy pots on it?

My objection is probably just petulant, or put more kindly, aesthetic. I greatly dislike cabinet doors that span corners and hinge outwards. I've never seen a vintage kitchen with a corner cabinet (at least one that has doors instead of simple shelves) and it seems too modern in concept. Am I mistaken?

KevinMP - definitely considering pulling the radiators, or at least the one in front of the window. We'll be waiting with the remodel until October or November, so will hopefully get some sense of how cold the space is with/without heat. I don't know whether it's possible to heat 100-year-old linoleum flooring with a tongue & groove pine subfloor. The basement below has a very thick horsehair plaster ceiling, complicating things a bit more. But it's all on the table.

Davidro: the wall between butler's pantry and back vestibule area is quite thick; it's the main supporting wall for the house. The wall between the butler's pantry and kitchen proper is a regular wall, but I'm not planning on touching it other than to remove the door. Not sure the thicknesses given lack of blueprints; will look into this. I'll also sketch some of the interior pipes insofar as I'm aware of them. Good reminder!

Sandra - yes! That's Casey's (sombreil_mongrel) kitchen, and it's a beaut. I am definitely studying the myriad little details he worked in, including that inspired window sink run and how he kept the wainscoting on the perimeter. If we do soapstone it will probably be DIY, so I will be consulting with him on that. His counters are gorgeous.

I'm digging the revised layout, thank you so much for your time. The fridge placement, hmmm. I love that it's not visible from the front door and much handier to the cooking area. (We could still do an undercounter fridge in the butler's pantry for beverages.) My only concern would be the prep area by the fridge and how it's cut off from the water source. Drip drip drip with the rinsed potatoes across the floor in front of the back door?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 7:29AM
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Circus Peanut

And thank you everyone for the kind words re. the Lyme treatment. They found Babesia as well as Lyme, more's the luck, so I'm taking an antiprotozoal (mepron) on top of the zithromax. I think the mepron is making me sicker than the antibiotic.

Thank you, Deedles - fortunately I have a knowledgeable doc who is having me take a 1-month course of everything to make sure we zap it all, with the possibilty of renewing for another few weeks if I'm still feeling cashed. I've got some excellent refrigerated probiotics, and you're SO right, this would be a GI nightmare without them. Ugh.

Check for ticks regularly, everyone! You don't necessarily get the classic circular rash. If nothing else, you'll know you have Lyme from the awful aches in your joints, dizziness, and a fatigue I can only relate to mononucleosis.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 7:45AM
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And now it's becoming known that it isn't just ticks either... up to 20% of biting flies and spiders are thought to carry it, too.

The idea to pull the radiator and heat the floors seems like a good one.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 9:06AM
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Just thought I'd throw out this alternate idea :) The only door that would be touched is the entry door by the basement door. If if was moved down it gives and extra 2' of countertop.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 10:35AM
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(Like Topsy, this entry just grew....and grew....and grew!)

I had not thought through that the shape of a susan and what is stored on it might determine whether or not poles are a nuisance--and why I like my super susans so much.

1. Poles would be a nuisance and nothing falls off if:
The center of rotation is some distance from the edge of the susan and large mostly ''cube-shaped'' items are stored there. (I have the sous vide, mixer, blender, processor, vacuum sealer, spice grinder, a set of large mixing bowls, etc. No small items at all. Of course nothing falls off! )

2. Poles are irrelevant, and things fall off when:
Small and/or tall items are stored. If I stored, let's say vinegars, oils--tall thin items that tend to be top heavy, of course they would fall off when centrifugal force tilts them even slightly. And a slight push from another item being adjusted might tip a bottle over the edge. However, a pole would not be much of a problem if any in the arrangement of small items.

3. The shape of the susan can make a difference in pole interference. Poles are less of a nuisance on some pie cut than almost any D-shaped susans.
Some (not all) pie-cut susans have the center of rotation and hence the pole almost at the point of the pie cut. This is especially true of the attached door susans. The pole causes little interference in storage area. D-shaped susans usually have a fair amount of space between the center of rotation and the edge, hence more interference from a pole.

So, do you want/need susans at all? Which shape and pole/no pole work best for you?

4. Considerations:
A. Can you obtain a susan size that makes maximum use of the cabinet area? Often susans that are inches too small are used. Custom made susans are best, but not all cabinet makers will do them economically.
B. What size items will you store here?
C. Will you have a single-door D-shape susan or a double door pie-cut susan? (Pie cuts properly installed at the very front of the cabinet protrude further from the countertop during rotation than do D-shapes, allowing for easier access. Especially noticeable in the attached door susans. D-shape susans allow a possibly more useful front area of countertop.)
D. Does the size of your opening and the shape of the susan allow you to have the center of rotation and hence the pole right at the front of the cut?
E. What style of cabinet doors do you have? The attached-door rotating susans work only with inset cabinet doors.

Hope I didn't digress too much from the subject of your kitchen design. It was fun to work through some ideas here that I had not done before. And I didn't even go into the advantages/disadvantages of having each tier mounted to a shelf in a super susan vs the pole susan having only one ''floor.''

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Circuspeanut, regarding the boot-shucking area by the pantry, do you have another place where that could be done at the bottom of the stairs out the vestibule, or could a little extension be created for that down there?

If that's the only place for unwinding scarves, etc., then it really can't be touched. I keep wondering how most of the current standing space and pantry might be incorporated into the kitchen, though.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 3:57PM
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Circus -- hope you're feeling better?

Here's a corner solution I thought looked totally nifty....

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 12:41PM
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