Bungalow layout help

caligirl5June 15, 2014

Hello, looking for some advice on my kitchen layout. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my post! I live alone in my 1915 craftsman bungalow. I cook basic meals most nights and occasionally entertain small groups of friends and family.

Main issues are: I need to replace the Jenn-Air range and dislike the downdraft hood. With the current layout I either have to buy a new Jenn-Air with downdraft hood or install an island range hood. I wish I had more storage and counter space. The cabinets are in rough shape: none of the drawers work properly, the base cabinet space is super cramped between the sink and the refrigerator, and the cabinets left of the range are blocked by the refrigerator (reason why the door is missing on that cabinet). The counter space is very chopped up, I'd like to have a longer run of work space.

I like the breakfast nook and that it's a typical feature of homes from the era, but I'm not sure it's a good use of space given that I have a large dining room. I do need a few seats in the kitchen for when people visit.

The laundry porch has a roof, but the walls are exterior siding and the back door and windows don't have glass, just screens. I'd like to completely enclose and finish off this room.

I'm open to structural changes, though I'd like to preserve the original trim and plaster walls where feasible. There's an exhaust flue from the water heater and furnace running through the kitchen from the basement, but I don't think it would be cost-prohibitive to move. The upper cabinets next to the refrigerator appear to be part of an original built-in hutch, which ideally I'd like to keep and replace the doors with something more period-appropriate.

I'm not quite sure what to do to improve the layout. My first idea is to take down the walls between the breakfast nook, laundry porch, and kitchen and finishing the porch. Then I can put the refrigerator between the W/D and D/W and add some upper cabinets on that wall. Put the range where the refrigerator is now. Maybe replace peninsula with a small island?

Do you guys have any advice to make better use of the space? I hope my floor plan is legible-I was not blessed with skills in either sketching or handwriting! Thanks for your help!

This post was edited by caligirl5 on Wed, Jun 18, 14 at 9:21

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Your kitchen looks a whole lot like our 1915 SF Bay Area bungalow's original layout! I think yours is a bit narrower and maybe also not quite as long (our total dimensions of the whole space were 12'9" x 18' -- not sure if I'm adding your measurements right, but looks closer to 11' x 15'?) and we started in a slightly different place because a previous owner had enclosed the laundry porch, opened it to the breakfast room, and dropped a wall across the space where the doorways had been in a 1940s remodel--and our bedroom door is in of the dining room rather than in the kitchen, which helped--but otherwise a very similar shape. I'm linking our finished kitchen pics below in case there are any interesting ideas there.

The extra width we have allowed us to put cabinets on the wall opposite the window, but it's very tight and we looked at a lot of plans that did not do that. We did open up the space entirely--somewhat reluctantly, but it turned out to be the right decision, as it let a lot more natural light into the room. The strongest layout contender for us when we tried it with nothing on that wall was putting the range where your fridge is and the fridge to the left of the dishwasher, with an island in the L. A couple of kitchen designers we interviewed also advocated for a U with legs across the laundry room door and the area where your fridge/sink already are, but I didn't like the space that left on the side with the back door so we never pursued that.

Some other random reflections: we also had the flue venting the hot water heater/furnace, and removed it. Not costly or complicated to remove (ours was a clay-lined chimney flue), but did turn out to be costly overall because we are in California and CA code no longer permits furnaces or hot water heaters to vent through the middle of a room like that. (Original plan had been to just put the vents into the wall.) We ended up replacing our furnace with a high-efficiency model that could vent horizontally rather than vertically, and having the hot water heater re-vented to an exterior wall. Pricey but at least to code! Yours seems somewhat less intrusive to the room but for us it was well worth reclaiming the space.

We kept our breakfast area but it's open to the kitchen now; at some point we hope to put a banquette in there (the original one was long gone). That space is still not well used so we spin in circles over what to do with it every year or so (finished remodel in 2011, and periodically try to figure that out--see also: why I am still reading this forum!) We mainly eat in our dining room, in part because we have little ones and the high chair is in there, so it got tedious to move it back and forth. I do wish we had added more storage there somehow--still trying to figure that out.

Our laundry had already been moved to the basement by a previous owner so we kept it there, but designed to allow it to return at some point. We ended up keeping the laundry porch walls as-is (they were beadboard) for cost reasons, but at some point may insulate/replace them with plaster or drywall.

I'll try to remember to poke back but also feel free to send a message if you have any questions specific to challenging bungalow layouts--good luck and have fun!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our bungalow kitchen with a very similar layout

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 12:27AM
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Please add more measurements to your layout - we need all the walls, aisle between range and sink cabs, etc. I'll spitball two ideas I had below but without measurements there is no way to know if this will work or not.

What comes to my mind is take down the walls as you've described, narrow the window next to the sink, put fridge next to sink, put range between DW and W/D, float an island in front of that, and then you can have a doorway from the kitchen to the DR. You lose a window and the hutch cabinetry in this though.

Alternatively you can take those walls down, put fridge next to W/D, scoot DW and sink as far towards fridge as they can go, put range + hood in front of the right window. Then again, float an island in front.

In either case, you can nix the breakfast seating and make the island bigger by making part (or all) of the island counter only. That means no cabinets underneath and an apron and legs to support the counter top. This gives room for people to sit at it.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 3:41PM
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Thanks for the responses!

Artemis, I had seen your cute kitchen while searching through GW, but hadn't realized how similar the layouts were. I'm in San Jose! Wasted a lot of time looking at vintage stoves on craigslist after looking at your pictures.

Tracie.erin, I edited the original post to add more measurements to the floor plan to hopefully make it more clear. I was thinking about island seating as well, just wasn't sure if the room was too narrow.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 12:43AM
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Hello, bumping to hopefully get more responses. Am I still missing measurements or other info?


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:50PM
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Here's an idea for you.

As you proposed, I removed the nook and laundry room walls to create one large space. I moved the flue to the exterior wall - no idea if this is feasible but it does free up an alcove for the fridge so that it doesn't stick out into the kitchen more than a counter depth fridge would. This also preserves the existing cabinets next to the fridge.

I moved the range to the exterior wall, making venting so much easier and effective.

The island with 2 seats is a free-standing narrow island like this (but with seating only on one side)

Transitional Kitchen by Charleston Cabinets & Cabinetry K & K Custom Cabinets LLC

The DW is to the right of the sink, out of the prep area between sink and range.

There are exterior changes, windows and door, to make this plan work.

I have another idea that I'll work on tomorrow. It's a U-shaped plan with a dedicated laundry/mudroom area but without an island or kitchen seating.

Missing measurements: size of flue space, width of molding. Hmm, I thought there was something else but now I can't remember what it was.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:41AM
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Do you need access to the flue? It looks like it's behind doors in your kitchen but I can't tell for sure.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:55AM
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Hi Lisa, thanks for posting the layout. I like the refrigerator in the alcove and keeping the original hutch. I like the seating in the center of the kitchen too. I hadn't considered the range venting issue, though that makes a lot of sense! I'm not sure of the feasibility of the door in that position due to the entrance for the basement.

I don't need to access the flue. I believe that if it needs to move (from Artemis, sounds like may be required by CA code), the fix is to vent horizontally out of the basement, so no need to accommodate it in the kitchen.

I did some more investigating in the flue cabinet and basement, and it looks like there is a chimney running within the wall adjacent to the hutch! Not sure how difficult it would be to remove. I updated the floor plan to show as best I can (not quite certain of the measurements since it's inside the wall).

Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:18AM
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Or keep the chimney?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:38AM
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Keep the chimney because it's cool and because it's cheaper to keep it. ;-)

Okay, so moving the back door is out, the chimney is a fixed element and no need to make room for the flue in the kitchen. Here's a modification on my above plan that takes these factors into account:

I moved the fridge over to where the existing doorway is and created a new doorway to the right of the chimney stack. I tried to place the fridge to the right of the sink as tracie.erin suggested above but that only left about a 37" or 38" wide aisle (assuming a standard depth fridge of 35", inc. doors, handles and air clearance behind it) between fridge and chimney stack so I nixed that idea.

I moved the hutch into the dining room, filling in the space behind the fridge and pantries. Hopefully, it can be moved without destroying it (hard to tell from your pics). You'll need to have a matching base built for it. Here's an inspiration pic for you:

Transitional Dining Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Niche Interiors

The exterior window to the left of the back door is narrower to make room for the stacked W/D. You could build a cab with doors to hide the W/D, something like this:

Traditional Kitchen by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Amoroso Design

Both of the above inspiration pics are from homes in SF, btw. That wasn't intentional, just how it worked out.

The green rectangles indicate upper cabinets.

There is room to make the island a few inches longer but I opted to keep the aisles on the generous side. I think that helps make a space feel larger than it is and a few extra inches won't really increase the function of the island.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 2:56PM
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I think the suggestion of moving the doorway to the dining room is promising. Just throwing out an idea here: what about swapping the fridge and range in lisa's layout and moving the W/D next to the fridge? That would leave the upper left corner open for a small table and chairs, either instead of or in addition to the island. Putting the range in that corner would get it out of the main traffic flow and it looks to me like there's more space for it on that side than there was on the other side of the chimney.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 4:43PM
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Those are really great ideas! The kitchen hutch has a much nicer-looking counterpart in the dining room (it's exactly opposite the kitchen hutch on the dining room side). The dining room built-in is probably my favorite feature in the house, and I don't think I could part with it. I guess I'm "not" as open to structural changes as I thought I was :(

atmoscat, that's close to what I had in mind (except with the range in the hutch where the refrigerator is now). I was thinking a little banquet in the corner.

Though it's appealing to have all the space around the range like in Lisa's plan, with the W/D in the breakfast area. Also not sure if I would have room for the island too. I'll try to draw it later today.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 6:01PM
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Good thought, atmoscat. I like that it moves the range out of the aisle from the back door to DR. However, I also see downsides.

It's a long walk across an aisle from range to sink. That would not be a fun trip with a big boiling pot of spaghetti.

It offers limited prep area on either side of the range, approx 24" on one side and 18" on other, plus that 18" isn't full depth because of the chimney.

It keeps the W/D opening into the path from the back door plus the W/D would continue to block the existing windows.

W/D and fridge placement on that long wall make it harder to hide their bulk. Additionally, the fridge's depth would eat up a big chunk of space devoted to the island (the fridge will protrude up to 10" deeper than the adjacent counter).

Loss of pantry storage.

Not sure how you figure that there would be room for a small table and chairs in the upper left corner with the W/D moved. There's about 75" between the end of island and the exterior wall. That's not enough room for a 24" diameter bistro table - suitable for drinks and snacks, but not meals - and two chairs plus aisle clearance. Even a banquette bench for 2 on the exterior wall and a 24" wide, rectangular table leaves only about 31" for the aisle, which is not a sufficient, especially with seating at the island.

Sorry, I don't mean for that to sound like I'm picking on you. Kitchen remodels are all about compromises. My goal is to help the OP by laying out the pros and cons for each plan. It's up to her to figure out which pros she wants and which cons she can live with.

Here are the pros I see with Plan A-1:
Good sized section of counter between sink and range (guesstimated at 36" to 40") for prepping. Since most prep is done between a water source and cook top or range, this is idea. An equal amount of counter to the left of the range, too.

Only one exterior change required.

Range moved to exterior wall, making venting easier and cheaper.

W/D in separate area of kitchen with cab for storage and counter for folding next to it.

There's room for a 36" sink cab (forgot to put this on the plan).

The path from DR table to fridge does not require crossing the cooking path.

Provides pantry storage (lacking in existing kitchen).

Provides island seating.

Cons for Plan A-1:
Range is somewhat close to back door

Island is a barrier island between fridge and range.

Requires dismantling and moving existing hutch cabinets.

Requires change to 1 window

Requires relocation of DR doorway.

Requires moving plumbing and venting for W/D.

If the range is gas (looks like it is), requires moving gas line. (IME, the gains of cheaper venting offset and then some the cost to move the gas line but that's not always the case.)

I'm sure I missed something but this is a start.

Oops, I forgot to include a spot for your water cooler. That could go up against the chimney instead of the pantry cab I drew. Sort of detracts from the lovely brick look, though. Maybe it can go inside a cabinet?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 6:45PM
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Hmm, working around the hutch cabs - which I totally understand - poses challenges.

Here's one idea:

You'll notice that the hutch cabs and the existing DR opening do not change. The window above the sink does; it shifts to the left to create more counter between sink and range.

The range is next to the hutch cabs. This means a slightly shallower counter to the range because of the chimney. An alternative is to bump the range wall out so that the counters and cabs are standard depth. That will mean some dead space behind the range and might make it harder to reach the items in the hutch cabs.

I bumped the sink run to 30" deep to help camouflage the fridge and W/D's depths. This also gives you more counter space. I eliminated the island - not enough room with the deeper counter run and a banquette.

You can seat 3 at the banquette in a pinch (the 2 in the corner will share leg space, not ideal) and 2 comfortably.

This preserves the hutch cabs but it has many compromises, IMO. The biggest is that the W/D and fridge open into the path to the back door. Since it's not a very deep aisle, the path could be blocked when someone is at either appliance.

Next up is a lack of upper cabinet storage. In fact, this plan offers limited storage overall. You can make up for some of the loss of storage by adding drawers to the banquette bench.

I shifted the sink window towards the back yard but since you can't do any uppers, there's no reason why the windows can't stay put and you add a 3rd window to that wall. That will make the room feel very bright and open and make up for the blocked windows behind the W/D.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 7:31PM
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Here's a U lay-out with a separate laundry/mud room.

It keeps the hutch cabs and the existing DR entry - a plus.

It's an efficient kitchen work area - another plus.

Downside is no in-kitchen seating.

This plan calls for a counter-depth fridge. If you can swing it, I'd seriously consider buying one. It is a bonus in tight quarters.

You'll have to let us know what your priorities are. You won't be able to get it all (few of us can!). Your space is limited and you have fixed elements to work around (chimney, hutch cabs, back door location).

I forgot to say this earlier: aisle measurements are counter edge to counter edge, counter edge to wall or counter edge to appliance. I never list aisles as cab to cab.

Numbers shown on cabs are cab widths. I provided them whenever possible but I couldn't do it for everything because there are still some missing measurements.

I include clearances and cab widths for appliances. For instance, your washer and dryer are 27" wide but they require 1" clearance on each side so they actually take up 29" of space. A fridge with a fridge cab and required clearances is at least 3" wider than the fridge. I allotted 33" for your fridge. Even if you don't put your fridge in a fridge cab, you will need to provide the required clearances around it (usually 1/2" each side).

Inset cabs are period specific but given your small space, you'd be better off going with overlay cabs to maximize your storage.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:13PM
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Oh, buggers!

I just looked at your photos again and realized that the range probably can't go where I've placed it next to the hutch. That would be a fire hazard, especially if you have a gas range. Check local code and see what the clearance requirements are.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:19PM
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There's 31" between the counter and the upper cabinet there, which I think is enough clearance. I have an electric range now, though there are already gas connections in the corner with the W/D and in the cabinet to the right of the refrigerator now, so not sure what I will do next...that's another thread!

Thank you for taking so much time to sketch out the different options. I think you're right that I need to spend some time sorting out my priorities, but I feel like I have a much better feel for what options are available and the trade-off between them.

Any estimates of minimum costs for these designs? or would anyone be able to rank them from cheapest to most expensive? I know cost depends on many factors...I haven't figured out a budget yet. I'd rather spend more on functionality than finishes, so I'd be happy with Ikea and laminate for a great layout. I'm in a high-cost of living area, but most houses in the neighborhood have basic kitchens, so also trying to stay cognizant of resale.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 11:36PM
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caligirl, love that banquette!! I especially like how the built-in cabinets mimic the ones you already have.

lisa, no problem. Just a suggestion that wasn't thought through as much as yours. (I'm here to learn!) Shifting the range back to the other side addresses some of the problems you mentioned and keeps the dining room hutch. The U layout is nice, too. Hope the clearance issue can be resolved.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 11:58PM
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Here's one last variation for you.

The fridge sits against the chimney. I had to guess at the chimney's protrusion into the room. If the depth is greater than 9" (brick only, not including plaster and lath over top of it), you'll need to subtract that additional depth from the island to keep the aisles as I've marked them.

The fridge is a counter depth fridge, approx 29" from wall to front of fridge door (using my own CD fridge as a guide). That depth does not include the handle. The aisle is fridge door to counter edge. If you want a true 42" or 42.5" aisle here, subtract the handle depth from the island length.

Even with a CD fridge, the counter next to the fridge is deeper than standard. You can achieve this by pulling standard depth cabs away from the wall and cutting the counter top deeper.

I shifted the sink towards the range to get the DW out of the corner. The sink won't be centered on the window area any more but with luck, the sink will be centered under one of the two windows so it will look just fine.

I think this plan will still work if you opt for Ikea cabs. You'll just need to adjust a few dimensions to make it work. For instance, the sink run start with a blind corner cabinet running parallel to the fridge run, a 2" or 3" spacer at the corner, the DW, a 36" sink cab (other choice is a 24" sink cab), a 15" cab, a 30" cab, the range, a 30" cab and ending with a 3" spacer. Ikea cabs come in (rounding up by an 1/8") dimensions of 12", 15", 24" and 30".

It's not just vertical distance between range and the hutch cabs currently above the fridge that I'm concerned about. It's also the distance to the hutch cabs adjacent to the range. These cabs are quite low to the counter - definitely not built to today's standard 18" above the counter - so there would be wood fairly close to the heating element. If you chose an induction range, heat would be less of a factor but damage from cooking and steam would be.

I haven't a clue about costs for your area, sorry. I know you live in one of the most expensive areas in the country (my son just moved to Sunnyvale and a good friend, who is a CMKBD, lives in the Walnut Creek area) and that does seem to be reflected in remodeling costs but that's about as much info as I can give you. You'll need to interview contractors and get quotes to get an idea about costs for your area. And given your home's age, I would imagine that true costs won't be known until walls are opened up so you should budget for surprises.

atmoscat, I'm so glad I didn't offend you! I never know if an idea will work until I do the math. I can't tell you how many times I've had a great idea only to be conquered by the numbers. ;-)

btw, I don't think you answered my question about moving the stairs in your lay-out post.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 2:29AM
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Had an inspiration for your kitchen as I leafed through the latest issue of Kitchens & Baths.

The red indicates exterior changes. The back door is shifted as far to the left as possible, without interfering with the basement stairs access. This is to give as much clearance as possible between between doorway and range.

There will be some plumbing and venting changes but the DR doorway stays intact, as do the hutch cabinets.

Other gains:
3 seats at the peninsula
Easier and cheaper venting for the range
Pantry cab

Less counter space than in Plan D
No handy landing area near the W/D

One change to make to Plan D. You could add a shallow pantry cab against the fridge, facing the wall. You can store an awful lot in a cab 6" - 9" deep and that would be one way to use up the space currently used by the flue.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 3:35PM
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Wow, I do like a lot of things about D and E!

In Plan D, if I oriented the W/D in the other direction and put the refrigerator next to it (like Plan E minus the pantry), do you think I would still have room for the island? I wouldn't need the deep counter in front of the hutch and might still have room for a pantry/storage in the area around the chimney.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 7:51PM
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You could copy the fridge and W/D lay-out from Plan E for Plan D but you'd definitely lose the island. There would only be 71.5" between fridge and range counter.

That would be a very good plan - loads of storage and counter - but no kitchen seating.

Or maybe not....how about this idea?

The seating end of the peninsula would be something like this (imagine a wall instead of an aisle):

Traditional Kitchen by Edina Kitchen & Bath Designers The Woodshop of Avon

That would be a pretty cool place to sit and visit; choices of views out the window, of the lovely hutch, or the exposed brick chimney.

Since you'll need to change the window where the W/D is going, you may as well see if you can swing moving the back door over a bit, too.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 8:46PM
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I like this one a lot--lots of work space and storage!

I would probably do the window/door configuration in Plan E. The corner windows are really just holes in the porch siding :)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 11:20PM
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Glad you like it. I really like it, too.

The one downside that I can think of is that there's no handy landing area for fridge and pantry items (NKBA recommends having counter within 48" of the fridge). The only way I can see getting you nearby counter is to swap out the 18" pantry cab for a base and upper cab. It's not large but it would give you a place to set items down when taking them out of the fridge or putting them away.

There will be loads of storage elsewhere so you may not miss the pantry cab.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 12:27AM
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