need layout help on small kitchen

xena45June 26, 2013

Hello all!

I posted about this kitchen a few years ago, and got some great feedback from a few of you! Since then, we've changed the scope of the reno, and we are further along in our overall reno plan for the house and yard, so how we use the house has changed. The big thing is that we've added a 2 car garage behind the house, so we now use the back door almost exclusively. (And now I know that we need a closet by the back door!)

background: we are two adults in our mid-late forties, no children. Neither of us cooks much, although my husband bakes sometimes. We are heavy microwave oven users. This reno will be very cost conscious, and mostly a DIY venture.

The house is a 1958 ranch. Our current kitchen is in a room that's just under 10' x 12', but the inside of the tiny "U" is only 36" wide (see photo). Only 1 person can be in the main part of the kitchen in the time - i.e., you can't get glass for a drink of water if someone else is making toast at the same time. We also don't have a dishwasher. And, we only have 27" of workspace between the sink and the stove... and 10" of that is a temporary piece of counter top that we've added (not in photo). The counters are only 22" deep. We have no dishwasher. The microwave sits on the countertop, which I do not like. I like that the sink looks out the back window. There is very little storage, but that's not such a big deal because I don't cook much. The little peninsula has been handy when we've had company, and my husband uses it for baking.

Our current dining room is in the center of the house. It's dark.. There is also an odd, unused "sun room" at the back entrance of the house, which is also dark and gets no sun. There is a strange, interior window between the dining room and the sun room.

The shading in the floor plans refers to the FLOOR HEIGHTS..we have two sunken rooms: the living room and the sun room. The ceiling heights correspond to the floors, so the ceilings in those two rooms are lower, too.

This summer, we'll be adding a screened in porch, so when the kitchen reno happens, I want to put lots of glass along the back wall of the current kitchen, along with a door to the porch. It's important to me to make the house relate to the back yard, which it doesn't really do now.

My latest design (see below) involves moving the kitchen into the current dining room and sun room. The footprint of the kitchen area in this drawing is 8.6" x 14.5'. I've put a 6"/1' grid on the drawing. Most of the sunroom floor will need to be raised, along with the ceiling. there will have to be a 36" soffit above the fridge, to accommodate the low roof height at that side of the house. (There will be a step down to the mud/closet "area". I can draw up some sections, if that would be helpful.)

The island is only 30" deep in this design, with 42" aisles in the kitchen. Part of me wants the sink in it, but then it would be of no use for seating or prep area. I...

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xena45

I wanted to add that the way we move through the house is important to me. One thing I like about this new kitchen design is that when we bring in groceries, the kitchen will be right there.

A negative to what I have drawn up is that you could easily lay in bed in the master bedroom, and watch the person at the sink! We also plan to put up another sliding door to close off that opening, too, from time to time. (i.e.,the opening between the living room and the hall area).

Because of all the floor and ceiling height changes, I think this could be a big reno for us. What's nice is that we might be able to leave the old kitchen in place while we build the new one. Also, the basement is unfinished, which also simplifies plumbing. My husband says he could do that.

here's another view of the current kitchen, through the current dining room, and it also shows the "sunroom" through the interior windows on the right hand side. (who puts windows inside a house???)

This post was edited by xena45 on Wed, Jun 26, 13 at 19:28

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 7:22PM
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buehl

Where is the garage going?

I'm assuming on the right, but exactly where will it be? Will it abut against the new screened in porch or will it line up with the current back wall of the house or something else?

Is an attached or detached garage?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 9:15PM
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xena45

the garage is already built. its about 30 feet behind the house, off to the right side. its far enough away so it doesn't show on these plans.

I'll post a full site plan when I get home tonight.

thank you!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:31PM
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xena45

the garage is already built. its about 30 feet behind the house, off to the right side. its far enough away so it doesn't show on these plans.

I'll post a full site plan when I get home tonight.

thank you!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:33PM
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ppbenn

First of all, I love that dining table set, and the lamp.
I like the lay out you have drawn up; seems like the most logical and I love the sliding door into the LR.
I would not do another one to the MBR. It makes more sense to me to close off that opening altogether. That area seems pretty busy and if you closed off that opening you could reconfigure the door to the MBR and gain some SF there. Your house reminds me of my parents house with the beds and bath off that hall. They closed the doorway to the BR's off the LR and it made such a difference.
Now I'm really dreaming but how about making that screen porch bigger or just move it farther over towards the driveway side of the house and have the back entrance and stairs open up into the porch area. You could have a bigger closet there and then have more room in your kitchen. Even if you just put the closet on the backdoor landing bumping it into the screened porch area, you could put your fridge where you have the closet now. Of course that may be more ambitious than what you can do now.
With a beam you may be able to get rid of the support post in your island area.
I can just see that table in front of the windows/doors to your back yard!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:54PM
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herbflavor

I would leave the kitchen at the back,as I like the larger area of living/dining combined in the more central,forward spot.Of course you need a new better kitchen,but in a small dwelling I think capitalizing on a main living area is more advantageous. A 13 by 13 living room with a defined border in the form of a kitchen wall with sink hanging there is worse than an open living/dining where the functions flow together.You want to erect that wall but the picture of the current space without walls shows a lot of possibilities and actually doesn't look so small-once you put in that wall, the home will function completely differently and I think it will feel smaller. Two bedroom homes are tricky on the market-the best thing is to keep it cleverly open with the spaces you have already/get a better kitchen/make a style statement as in retro or urban cottage or ultra modern....don't close it up with more walls.Way too much sq footage devoted to kitchen/island/walkways/ dining room and really marginal livingspace. Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 11:07PM
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xena45

the garage is already built. its about 30 feet behind the house, off to the right side. its far enough away so it doesn't show on these plans.

I'll post a full site plan when I get home tonight.

thank you!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 11:57PM
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buehl

I assume the stairs in the upper right corner are basement access - correct? (I don't see stairs anywhere else that would lead to the basement.) So, the exterior door is below the kitchen floor height - since I see stairs leading up from the area where the exterior door is on the right...

It looks like a window to the "left" of the refrigerator - how far off the floor is it?

Do you need an actual door in the doorway that leads to the stairs? Could it just be an open doorway?

"There will be a step down to the mud/closet "area"..."

Is that the gray area "above" the refrigerator? Is the coat closet to the left of that gray area?

It would be helpful if some of these things were labeled on your layout. You through a lot of information out there w/o labels, etc. on the layout to know for certain what you are talking about. I can make assumptions, but they're critical items (and you know what "assume" means... :-) )

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 11:58PM
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buehl

I had similar thoughts as HerbFlavor. Looking at the picture you posted, it seems a shame to close it off with that wall. Also, I think putting the DR in the old Sunroom would solve some of your ceiling/soffit issues.

Are you still open to leaving the kitchen where it is? How about something like this...

  • It still has the big windows/door on the back wall

  • The kitchen is closer to the outside so when eating outdoors or on the porch you'll be closer to the source of the food & access to the sink, etc.

  • Working in the kitchen and sitting at the island will give you a great view

  • The Kitchen and Mudroom area aren't in competition for the space - yes, the DR is there, but it shouldn't be much of an issue b/c the DR is probably not going to be in-use that often.

  • The Kitchen is still near the back door for groceries.

  • There's a small pantry on one side of the refrigerator and a utility cab on the other side. If you don't cook much, I think the small pantry will be sufficient for your needs. The utility cab provides convenient storage for a broom, mop/swifter, etc.

  • The island has an optional trash pullout positioned so it's convenient to the Cooking Zone, Prep Zone, and Cleanup Zone. Another option would be a standalone trash can - shown with the peach oval on the left wall.

  • Prepping can occur in several places - either side of the range or either side of the sink. All are close to the sink, so I think any will work.

  • There are 48 inches of workspace on the left side of the range and 36" on the right. In addition, the island has about 40" of workspace to the right of the sink. The 48" area is especially useful for baking due to it's proximity to the range/oven and the sink - plus 48" is a respectable size.

  • I put in a MW drawer to get the MW off the counter. We have a drawer and find it very easy to use and it's much more age-friendly than a standard MW placed under the counter. There are several threads that discuss them. If you don't like the idea of a MW drawer, you could also put the MW on the counter.

  • The refrigerator...In the layout below, I have closed up the doorway to the bedroom hallway on the kitchen wall and recessed the refrigerator a bit into that space (it's the space that's bigger in the overall layout in that hallway in front of the bathroom). Closing up the doorway there gives you more privacy overall and will help block sound from the kitchen area. It also gives you more wall space in the Kitchen w/o using up the open space - keeping it open and airy. With the Kitchen moved back to its original location, you will no longer be looking into the MBR from the Kitchen. Personally, I'd rather have the hall open into the LR than the Kitchen - but that may just be me.

  • There should be plenty of room for both of you to be in the kitchen at the same time.

  • Last, traffic can move around the back of the island to get to/from the porch. I recommend the actual door be on the right so it encourages people to use...

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 1:51AM
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xena45

Oh, no! I just wrote up a huge responseâ¦and itâÂÂs gone. Sigh. I will start over.

Buehl and herbflavor, thank you!

IâÂÂve also struggled with opening up vs. closing up the floor plan. I totally get what youâÂÂre saying about this house being small. When we moved in, we immediately moved a built-in china cabinet that separated the kitchen and the dining area, to open up the space.

I hate our dark, useless, closet of a âÂÂsunroom,â and IâÂÂm not fond of our dining room now, which is small and darkâ¦.basically a hallway from the living room to the kitchen. That big step down into the living room makes it functionally smaller, because we donâÂÂt have a railing there, and chairs could easily get pushed too far back off the ledge.!

I apologize about the lack of detail in the plans I posted ��" IâÂÂve been looking at this so long that I donâÂÂt realize whatâÂÂs clear and whatâÂÂs not. YouâÂÂre right, that the back door is in the upper right hand side of the drawing. You enter at the back door, and either go straight down the stairs to the basement, or turn left and go up 4 stairs to the sunroom. ItâÂÂs then an additional step up when you get to the kitchen/dining area.

Buehl, what you did with the floor plan is very cool, and gives me lots and lots to think about. I never thought about closing up that doorway to the bedrooms before; thatâÂÂs clever! The concern I would have about that is that the other doorway to the bedrooms is right at the corner of the sunken living room; so you would always have to cross(over or into) what we call âÂÂthe crevasseâ in order to get from the bedrooms to the dining room. We do that diagonal step over the crevasse all the time now, rather than stepping down into the living room and then back up into the dining room. Also, the floor heights in the back entry would need to be rethought. IâÂÂm not sure about taking the wall down at the back of the living room..ItâÂÂs a new ideaâ¦I have to think about it more!

Below are two layouts that I came up with a while back. These layouts were made before I had the idea of blowing that wall away between the dining room and the sunroom, and raising the floor and the ceiling to make the dining room and sunroom into one space. Some things have changed since these old layouts, but they also show the areas (the living room and sun room, in blue) that have the lower floors and ceilings right now.

All of the ceilings in the house are 8âÂÂ, but the sunken areas are about 7â lower. IâÂÂll post a sketch of a section, so you can clearly see the issues that the stupid sunken sunroom causes with ceiling heights, when the floor is raised.

...

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 12:53PM
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xena45

Here is a section. I used a photo of the house to create it. I hope this will explain how I imagine that raising the floor in the sunroom could work! The soffit has to be there because the roof is right at the lower ceiling level.

I really don't want to "remuddle" our house, so I appreciate all your time and effort!!!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 1:25PM
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lavender_lass

I really like Buehl's design. I just moved the main sink and clean up area under the window.

If you moved the island down, you could still have a prep sink on the end...keeping your nice work triangle, but you would also have a separate clean up area :) From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 2:50PM
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xena45

Thanks, Lavendar Lass!

I think that makes for a great kitchen! But I have my heart set on lots of glass on that back wall, going out to the screened in porch that we are building this summer.

I wish we could move those back stairs...that would be awesome, but they are fixed.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 2:57PM
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lavender_lass

Xena- I love porches! That's sounds like a wonderful addition and I can see why you want to keep a lot of glass. Just one more idea for the kitchen at the back of the house...would this work? From Cottage house plans

I base this on my favorite TV kitchen (Laura Calder) and I want to copy all the windows and french door, in my own kitchen. She has a deck, rather than a porch, but I really like all the greenery she has in the windows, too! From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

The door is behind her (next to the oven) in this picture. From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 6:02PM
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xena45

Lavendar, I love those windows in her kitchen! I've really been working hard on the yard for the last few years, and I want the house to engage the outdoors!

Here's a new one, based on what you all are talking about. oh - I forgot to label the DW, to the right of the sink. This would be a less expensive reno, because the wall between the sunroom and the dining room is structural (as is the one between the sunroom and the living room).

With this plan, I wonder what value there is in pushing out into the sunroom....other than this plan preserves the existing dining room, which I kind of hate to be in because it's dark and it functions like a hallway.

I like it quite a bit... I'm struggling with not being able to have a table right in the middle of that space, in front of those windows. I want to stand there at the sink and look out, AND be able to sit there! We have a stool jammed into the current kitchen now by the back window, and I love sitting there and looking out at the yard. It irritates me that there's really no space to sit there now, with a 22" deep peninsula with no overhang! I'd love to sit there with my husband and have breakfast.

I also don't think I can lose that second doorway to the bedrooms, because of the level change at the other opening. But, I think I we can push the fridge back into the closet in the sunroom, which could make it look like a built in, no?

Thank you thank you thank you!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 6:58PM
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lavender_lass

Xena- I like the fridge tucked into the closet! That looks great :)

The little cart/island gives you so much flexibility. I can see why you want to be able to sit and work...and still look out the window!

Since you're rebuilding the sunroom (and it's a load bearing wall) have you thought about something like this? The mudroom is now a bench with hooks (maybe a high/clerestory window above?) and you still have the small closet across from it. The sunroom would now have french doors leading to a small seating area (maybe wicker?) with plants and books or display on the wall to the living room. What do you think? From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:25PM
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lavender_lass

Meant to add...six chairs at the table would be more for special occasions. Four probably fits the space better. One nice thing...you could use chairs in the sunroom that could also be used at the dining table for extra seating. I've seen people do this with wicker chairs as well as small wing back chairs.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:33PM
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xena45

That's actually pretty cute, but the truth about our "sunroom" is that it looks out over the driveway, into the carport, and at the side of our neighbor's house. It also only gets sun until about 7:30 in the morning...then it's dark all day long.

Now that we have our spiffy new garage built behind the house and we use the back door 99% of the time, we've learned that we need real space for coats and SHOES! I have a horse, and my barn boots and outerwear need to have a home.

this is really a much more doable plan for us, and requires NO structural work. Also, if we decided to reno the sun/mudroom later on, we could easy do that, since it's a separate space from the kitchen.

We have to do all of this in chunks. :)

I'm still struggling with the little dark dining room. Maybe if we order a modern metal railing along the step, that would help. right now, there is nothing there, so backing a chair up to that step could be dangerous.

I added a pantry.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:54PM
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xena45

You know, Lavender, what's kind of slick about what you did with that little sitting room?

You created a third "bedroom". Oh, it's tiny, and it's an odd location for a bedroom, and it would be better as an office, or whatever. But, in a pinch, it could be a tiny guest room, and could help resale.

Not that we are really planning to sell the house, nor do we need a third bedroom.

I was just thinking about it.

It's so nice to think that that space could have a purpose other than to collect junk!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 8:02PM
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lavender_lass

I was just trying to get more 'window space' in the dining room. By adding the french doors, it feels like you have more light...even if it's lamps in the sunroom.

Since you have a horse (we have six) I know you'll need more clean up space. The mudroom makes a LOT of sense, but with the closet, you won't have any light coming into the dining room. Is that a problem? If not, the mudroom might work well.

It's probably too small for a bedroom, but it does give you a little 'away' room, what they're called in Sarah Susanka books (Not So Big House series). These spaces are nice, because you can close the french doors and have a little quiet area, in an otherwise fairly open living space :)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 8:07PM
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lavender_lass

Another idea...is the laundry in the basement? Someone else was putting their mudroom downstairs, because that's where the dirty clothes ended up, anyway. They also had a sink down there, which made clean up much easier. It depends on how much you want to use the stairs...

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 8:10PM
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xena45

I think it is a cute little room, absolutely. I have one of those books, actually! It IS too small for a bedroom, of course, but 2 bedrooms with a den is so much better than 2 bedrooms.

The darkness in the dining room has always been a problem, and we already have three windows in the sun room, each being 60" tall by 28" wide. There's a strange interior set of windows in the dining room now, to borrow light from the sunroom. (see pic in one of the early messages in this thread.) It's still dark, and part of the reason I don't like it. A more-or-less square house with a central room that has no windows is a tricky floor plan to deal with.

I'm hoping that all those new windows in the kitchen will make it better, although, the kitchen is on the north side of the house. The porch roof will be quite high up, as it will extend the roof line of the house, so I'm hoping that we still get quite a bit of light.

It's Wisconsin..it's humid, and we have mosquitos in the summer. We gotta have those screens!

I've also thought about skylights, or solatubes, or something like that.

Wow, six horses! So you understand! :)

re: Laundry room. Yes, it's in the basement. Another thought was that someday as we age, the sunroom could be an excellent first floor laundry.

This post was edited by xena45 on Thu, Jun 27, 13 at 20:19

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 8:17PM
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lavender_lass

I like the idea of bringing the laundry room upstairs! What about something like this? Would a banquette work in your space? You could still have some high/clerestory windows above the banquette...to give the illusion of more light into the space. And still room for one of you to sit at the island and help/visit, while the other is cooking :) From Cottage house plans

I love banquettes! From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

And this one is just too cute :)

From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 9:48PM
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