Design options U Shape or L shape?

jjnvJune 25, 2012

Hi all,

We are in the process of purchasing a bank owned property as our primary home. I attached the picture of the existing kitchen. It had an island but was taken by the previous owner. The kitchen is 162" wide (bottom of the U) and 152" long with a window that is 72" wide on the left side.

My KD suggested making it a U shape kitchen with pantry cabinet, frig and wall oven on the right side. I will still have space for an island that is about (84"x36"). That is my plan A. I've been working with this plan and price cabinets. It seems to cost more than I plan to pay for the kind of quality I want. The plan has lots of cabinets.

Then today, I spotted this picture on GW and kept going back to it. Sorry I am not even sure which thread I originally got it from and whose kitchen it is. I am thinking what if I make my kitchen L shaped. The cabinet cost will be much less. But I will have to lose my wall oven and I don't have a place for microwave either. I can also really use the pantry cabinet since there is no pantry in this house.

I'd love to find out what GW experts think? L shape or U shape?

Thanks a lot,


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spec out a U on the lowers-and forego some wall cabs and make sure you get drawers wherever you can and the pantry has great rollouts or whatever.That might tweak the price.
I can see the good thing about the depth of frig/pantry and ovens on the right-because it is a featureless wall and you have the room's width to allow for this....If the frig is sandwiched between,you won't see it straight on very much-you could get black or white or the basic stainless model and maybe reduce some cost. What are your thoughts about quality that makes the price prohibitive? There are numerous ways to get cabinet pricing where you want it and not compromise greatly in quality. Clue us in.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:54PM
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Congratulations on your new home. The floors look beautiful and I think the existing layout is pretty good.
I am a total proponent of the L. I am converting from a U to an L right now. The L is fine if you are the only cook in the kitchen, with more than one you tend to bump into each other. I also minded that I was always working with my back to the rest of the house. Of course this is due to where my prep space was situated. But your current floor plan is similar, assuming you will do your chopping and mixing on the counter near the stove.
I decided I want to chop and mix facing the living space. So I have an island facing that space which I use to make lunchboxes, chop veggies, mix dough, roll dough, etc...
I do not face them when I am actually active at the stove top. That's OK with me because then I would probably burn something(or myself).
While I await my final kitchen plan and my eventual kitchen cabinets, we actually removed a non-supporting wall and the peninsula that made my U which it was holding. We pivoted it and made my kitchen into an L for the interim. I am so much happier now. Wish I had done it 2 years earlier.
You will need to think about the width of your space. I think you need a path to you fridge against the wall. You will need at least 36"(preferably 42") on all sides of the island. I think you would end up with a narrower island than in your inspiration picture, but there is nothing wrong with that.
On another subject your cabinets seem to be OK, of course all I see is the picture. You could potentially paint/refinish to save some money. I would be very tempted to do that with the base cabinets. Although I would also like to see the stove centered on the rear wall.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:56PM
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I'm a big fan of the L-shaped kitchen, when it's open on two sides to other rooms. Since you have a wall on one side and open on the other...if it were me, I'd do the U-shpae with a small peninsula. Just enough room for two to three stools and some nice prep space facing the other room.

If you keep the L-shape, it will be very similar to what you have now...with an island. Unless someone is sitting at the island, you'll be facing the wall, when you prep. With the peninsula, you'd be facing your (breakfast nook?) and/or anyone sitting at the stools. Just my two cents :)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts with me. It's really helpful. I just got another idea based on L shape. The blank wall in the kitchen back to a huge enclosed laundry room. I am thinking about cutting a hole on that wall and putting an wall oven/microwave combo there. My contractor said he could do that. But my husband thinks it would be wield to have an oven in the middle of a blank wall. Has anyone seen that kind of design?

herbflavor, I'd love to hear about creative ways to get quality cabinets for less. We used Decora cabinets for my current kitchen and love it. But the dealer quoted me a price that is about 16k with even the lowest price wood (oak), door style and finish for doing an U shape Decora kitchen. I'd love to learn the best way to shop for cabinets. It seems so time consuming. You have to sit for hours before a number is presented. I wish there is a price index for cabinets :-)

The existing cabinets are okay, but the construction is not very good. I don't think it is worth painting them since we are not very handy. We have to pay someone to paint them.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:37PM
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The kitchen looks to be a good size and congrats on your purchase!

Just my two cents -- I know many don't like this option, but have you thought of adding a good sized island that can accommodate a cooktop/rangetop and then use the existing space where the range is for the wall ovens and microwave? I agree, I would definitely not sacrifice pantry space.

We just completed our kitchen with two islands and the main one houses the cooktop. I prefer this setup instead of cooking at the perimeter wall, as I don't like having my back to my family and guests when prepping/cooking. Our main island is large enough (10' x 42") for prep and cooking and then some. The second island is for breakfast and entertaining.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:36PM
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particularly if you stick with the U plan=all those cabs will be sandwiched together-you can get RTA flat packed sent to your door. Try Scherrs or Barkers-the latter can give you an online quote. these are good cabinets.Use graph paper and figure out what cabinets go where-plug it in and see what you get for the best you desire-drawers! Cheaper carcasses can be had from Ikea but the sizes are limited-can be done though-and you can get better doors from Scherr's. this is your starting point. Repurpose the glass doors[paint them??] on newer carcasses for the wall?? I would start with something like quartersawn oak with the factory furniture finish from Barkers for the base-it's a good finish-and maybe switch to a paint grade door for the uppers-you could easily have the uppers painted for you. or stick with the same quartersawn oak for the uppers-but just get a couple main dish cabs and leave some blank wall for open shelves. If this all comes in affordable-you could have the kitchen designer help do an island with detail because you've saved on the perimeter. If you liked that white kitchen-another way to price is paint grade on the perimeter and let the designer do a darker stained wood island and have that match the tall pantry etc over on the right. I don't think you realize how easy this all would be/why? bcause the configuration is straightforward-the walls are in-you are replacing. the redesign is only in your colors/finishes and adding the island. Put the thoughts on the look you desire-you can easily get the price to where you wish it to must be thorough in searching on the internet
though and then access local hanydmen with paint/install/etc, if you folks are not super DIY'ers. Take that white kitchen expanded to the U shape with some sort of island in the foreground[not sure about sizes on that issue]...really pretty -and your floor is already in!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:46PM
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That island may be a little too big for your space. What about a work table, instead? You could still have seating, but it would be more flexible. Maybe something like this?

From [Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures](

If you still want to include an oven/baking area on that back wall, it should fit. Just be sure to leave enough room that your fridge is easy to open. If you're redoing the cabinets, I'd move the fridge towards the range just a bit...and leave a spacer, so you can open your door for easier cleaning. Hope this helps :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Thanks a lot for the links. You just opened the door to another world for me. I am excited and ready to get some quotes online.


What a nice kitchen! Do you know where to get a table like that?

clarygrace, our kitchen is actually open to the breakfast area. Originally I tried to figure out if there is any way to tie these two areas together. But since the breakfast area is open to the rest of the house, my KD said it is better to keep them separate. The common area of the house is wide open with 50 ft cross. I still don't know how to arrange the space. It is the opposite of our current colonial house where we have distinct separate living, dining, family, and kitchen area.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:43PM
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Omit the cabinet to the left of kitchen window when you doesn't look right squished in there when you look from this angle. good spot for open shelves,or a reduced depth single door cabinet,for some usability. And when you start figuring cabinets to the right of kitchen window,better to leave some clearance at the side of the window. something curious....the dinette windows look really good in their style and sizes,and go well with the side door,which looks good...but the kitchen window looks different...a slider-older? or a new replacement vinyl? The question is raised-is the kitch window remaining? you would want to know for budgetary reasons and figure out what else might slip in there if you redo it.[the dinette is nice-it's waiting for the table!]

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 6:58AM
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You could put a drawer type microwave in the island if you have enough depth. I have even seen ovens in the island if it is big enough to handle it. I have a double wall oven and hardly ever use the bottom one so if it were my second oven I'd have no qualms about putting it in the island. The drawer microwaves are pretty awesome. Sharp makes one in two different sizes 24 and 30 they are the same size on the inside just different facing on the outside.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 7:16AM
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I got quote back from Scherrs. It was over $13k for the U-Shape :-(, not much less than the Decora kitchen. I also tried to build a kitchen online at the Barker's website. It looks like I can definitely do it under $10k even with finished doors.

I came across some really good looking Ikea kitchen pictures while searching for Barker reviews. I am going to the store check them out this weekend. Do I need to use Ikea designer and installers? I found some online that charges $150 to $400 for design. I need to decide if I want to use Ikea first.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 12:40PM
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I've never used Ikea, but Sarah Richardson (designer on HGTV) uses them quite a bit. Here's a picture of her farmhouse kitchen remodel :)

From [Cottage house plans](
    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 12:53PM
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I just love the kind of Ikea kitchens that do not scream IKEA :-) Some of them are so pretty and nice.

Thanks for sharing the picture.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Check out brickmanhouse's kitchen for another awesome IKEA kitchen.

Sarah Richardson has IKEA cabs sprayed custom colors at auto-body shops a lot.. that yellow island must have been done. If my DH didn't want to build our cabinets, we would totally go IKEA.

JJNV, you do not need to use IKEA designers if you post your layout here, and you don't need to use the installers unless you don't want to put them together and install them yourself.

Here is a link that might be useful: brickmanhouse's Finished Kitchen: Circa 1840 Working Farmhouse, IKEA Budget Reno

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 1:35PM
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