Was anyone else plagued by second guessing their layout

ontariomomJune 2, 2013


Has anyone else found they were paralyzed at the kitchen design layout stage and worried sick that they could not proceed to actually finalize the cabinet order? I have been agonizing over our kitchen layout for well over two years. The newest version is a far cry from the original version, and it now passes all or virtually all the recommendations set out by the NKBA kitchen guidelines so it should be functional. But still I worry.

For those of you who have been in my paralyzed position, and who feared moving and committing to a kitchen design what did you do for reassurance? Did you bravely go forward and order those cabinets? Did you put aside the nay sayers who would have you start over? Did you regret anything major about the layout once the kitchen was built?

Okay, perhaps I am going on far too long, and whining ridiculously about a small problem (in other words I should be so lucky to be able to build this dream kitchen) I guess I need some confidence before spending the huge some of money on this key room. My family who has been living in a construction zone for over a year, needs me to move forward. For what it is worth here is the kitchen layout that I am still agonizing over:

Thanks for any thoughts that help me move forward.


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Uh, oh-- looks like you might be an over-thinker (I can relate)! We are doing a whole house (with an architect), but I'm currently agonizing over one linear foot in the kitchen. Crazy, huh? But it looks like you've really thought about what you need and want, and what goes where and what happens where. I've saved your diagram from a previous thread as good example of how to make sure I've thought it out! So yeah, probably time to stop thinking and let the dust fly! And start writing checks...

Stay sane, it will be done before you know it. I think back to other projects and the day I thought "oh no, everything is brown and the built-in dresser is the size of a refrigerator and...and.. and... it's all fine now! The ability to think things through is both a blessing and a curse, isn't it?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:33PM
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Thanks Lori for your sane words. Yes, I am both a perfectionist and an over thinker -- wish I wasn't. My kitchen plan has not always been well received by others, so that sets me back each time but it has also lead to some improvements in the design.

Like you we are also in the middle of a whole house reno and an addition with both an architect and an interior designer. So yes, the magnitude of what we are doing is wearing me down too.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:41PM
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There is a point where you just have to trust your instincts. You know your family and you know how you live. (I haven't posted my layout here because I can predict some of the responses, having seen the same ones over and over. But I don't have the same life and the same family as some of the posters. I'm glad for the input, because it makes me think, but when I decide yeah, I do want the fridge there, I don't want to argue it with a committee!)

Sounds like you are well on your way, though-- I haven't followed your story, but it seems like you know what you want and need, so my advice is to run with it and don't look back!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:49PM
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Thanks Lori for your encouragement. I understand your fear of posting your layout. I would recommend you go through your layout with all the NKBA guidelines so you can privately know the downsides of your layout.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:53PM
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I was in the same boat. I knew the 50+ layouts I went through left me with the one that was best, considering the limitations and tradeoffs involved. The next step up in functionality involved some decent exterior changes, which just are not possible at this point in time. I just had to force myself to order, I had a time frame to stick to and what I thought was the best plan I could get.

I felt ill all through the ordering process that morning, and also for most of the day after. Nauseous and near panic attacks in waves. Not fun.

So far, with just the cabinets in, I think I did ok. I'm still a little nervous about how far out the fridge might stick out, but I know it will leave an aisle wider than the door frame we removed from that spot. I realized not long ago that I missed, along with the cabinet guy and all of GW, the fact that my 12 inch pull out next to the 22 inch deep vent hood will be hard to access. Not a big deal, I think I was over zealous about increasing storage and might actually have some extra space. Not sure what I'm going to do in the cavernous 30x30 space over the wall oven either, I didn't know it would be that deep until delivery. I'll figure out something.

You've gone round and round with details and seem set on this plan. It's going to be tons better than what you have now, right?

I understand your current thoughts about the third oven. It's probably fine where it is. Though if you anticipate wanting to bake while someone is using the cooktop, I can see why moving it to the baking area would make sense to have enough space. Again, it's still going to be better than what you have now, just keep reminding yourself.

Sounds like you're ready, go for it! Move on to drawer organizers, lol!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:27PM
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Thanks for the warning that I might feel physically sick after I do order the cabinets and seized by panic attacks LOL.

I have enjoyed watching your voyage with your photo updates. You are going to have a great kitchen. I hope you find a good use for the area above your oven.

Thanks for telling me to move forward. I can always find plenty to stress about with the finishes right?


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:39PM
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Carol, I hope you don't feel sick! I didn't have much help from DH, and even though I didn't get crazy expensive cabinets, I still was spending enough to buy a car. For cabinets. Granted we buy little Hondas, but still! We're savers, not spenders, so it was hard even though it makes it easier to not eat out.

Glad you're enjoying the pics. I'm hoping seeing the real time progress helps others understand what to expect. I appreciate the support too! I don't know how I'd make it through if not for GW. I've read enough here to avoid some frustration and panic knowing where to expect some bumps.

And oh, the finishes! Pulls alone will tie you up for weeks. There's plenty more to tackle, let this part go! You'll need those brain cells, don't waste them 18th guessing yourself :-)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:55PM
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Main Line Kitchen Design

Sorry but I'm not a fan of your layout. Island cooktops should be avoided and having you refrigerator in back of, and so close to, your sink and cooktop is more appropriate for a small apartment and not the large space you have. Having the freezer across the room from the refrigerator is also odd. Did you work with an experienced kitchen designer?

You're going to spend a great deal of money on this project, don't do it without professional help. Select someone that will be honest with you and not simply rubberstamp your own ideas. Architects are also not really kitchen designers unless they specialize in it and have a showroom. Find a designer that wants to help you first and sell you cabinets second. It may save you money and not cost you money, and when a professional helps explain the problems and merits of any particular design you may be far more confident about the trade offs you end up deciding to make. I only say all this because I know you can do better. Your fear on pulling the trigger on this design is justified.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 12:24AM
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Main Line Kitchen Design

Just and aside. Why are your countertops 3" higher than the rest the worlds? The cabinet customization will cost you a fortune and when I designed a kitchen for an NBA center even he didn't want his tops this high.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 12:43AM
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I don't know, this doesn't seem quite right to me. Lots of small drawers and the counter space is odd. I also don't care for the way the cabinetry fits around the refrigerator.

I would see what other KD's come up with. Maybe you've already been there. Do not commit until you are comfortable! Listen to your gut.

Have you done many mental walk-throughs, working in this layout? From bringing your groceries in to fixing various meals?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 6:46AM
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Thanks for your honesty. A few quick answers to your questions:

1)Yes, we have worked were more than one KD to arrive at this design. They were not motivated by selling me cabinets. The architect was not involved in the kitchen design. So, yes lots of professional advice has been saught and received.

2)I definitely want an island cooktop. Don't like having my back to the world. I am very, very easily startled so don't like when people sneak up on me. I will have to tolerate that when at clean-up sink as it is so don't want the cooktop moved to the limited outside wall too. It is an induction cooktop, so safer than some.

3)Only the clean-up run has raised counters which will allow the two DWs to be slightly more comfortable. I have read the ergonomics are on my side here and for the deeper sinks too. This is not my prep surface. The islands will all be at standard height.

What would you do to change the design without moving the cooktop off the peninsula?


This post was edited by OntarioMom on Mon, Jun 3, 13 at 13:55

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:36AM
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Thanks Snookums for your input.

Yes, we have done lots of walk throughs. Although not the same as actually using the kitchen as designed. Lots of KDs have given their input on the design. One main ID/KD has been very involved in the design and she does not make her main business with cabinetry sells. She is very highly regarded as an interior decorator/KD in our area. Yes, I see the cabinetry around the fridge could perhaps look better. Any ideas here anyone? We have not worked out the exact configuration of our drawer stacks.

I do acknowledge that our kitchen design in far from a typical design with an L shaped kitchen and island with stove on wall. Perhaps that is why it causes some to be uncertain it will work? I can't see that it violates any of the NBKA standards.


This post was edited by OntarioMom on Mon, Jun 3, 13 at 13:02

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:55AM
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oops double post.

This post was edited by OntarioMom on Mon, Jun 3, 13 at 13:48

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:56AM
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I was thinking more about your fridge comment. In my mind having it handy to my prep area seems ideal. Can you tell me more why you don't like the fridge across a 55 inch aisle behind the prep area? We will also have a bar fridge in the closet off dining room to take care of most of the times the kids need in a fridge for a snack. Do you see a better spot for the fridge?

I hope you will come back Paul and tell me how you would adjust the plans, without removing the cooktop from the peninsula (I don't want it on the wall). I know you are in the kitchen business from another one of your threads.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 1:43PM
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Hi again Snookums,

Can you help me understand your comment: "the counter space is odd"? Most of the counter space is on the large peninsula and seating island. The counter on the outside wall will not be used for prep, just clean-up and landing for the ovens. I don't want the counters to look odd.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 1:51PM
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Hi Carol,

I also don't like where your fridge currently is, but I am not a layout expert, so I don't know the best place for it (I would guess over by your freezer, so it's not visible to the great room but still accessible). Where it is now divides your counter space, and I don't think this should be necessary. Also, visually, it is not balanced between the windows and I think this looks odd.

What are your plans for ventilation with an island cooktop?

When I initially posted my layout to GW, I was made to second guess what I was *sure* I wanted. I ultimately took the advice of the experts here and I have no regrets.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 2:40PM
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Carol- Take a deep breath and jump in! Your plan is beautiful and I like island cooktops...so I say go for it!

You've planned this for a long time and there will probably be one or two things you will forget or wish you'd added...but that's life. Big picture...it's a lovely plan and you're going to love it :)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Yes. I over think everything. I was a mess, and my cabinetmaker would've strangled me had he not been such a patient guy.

The things that I foresaw as potential problems or issues ended up being non-issues once I began living in the space. Something you've put 2 years of thought and careful planning into is not going to fail--it will work, and will have probably worked equally well with any of the previous iterations of your plan.

It helped me to loosen up and chill when some GWers told me that it was the things they never could've predicted that ended up being the "problem" areas once the kitchen was finished.

This allowed me to realize that I'm simply not going to be able to control and predict every detail and scenario, and I just moved forward.

Sure enough, it's all great except for one (pretty significant) moulding/tile design issue around my window, which I'm about to have re-done (my reno was about 18 months ago).

Just take a deep breath and remember that you're doing this because you love to be in your kitchen--enjoy the process, rather than torturing yourself. It'll be gorgeous and functional after all of your hard work!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 3:55PM
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Hi Laurajane and thanks for your comments.

We did initially have the fridge where the freezer is in an earlier version of the plan. It put it many, many feet away from the sinks and cooktop so was well beyond the 9 foot maximum for the triangle guidelines. When it was that far away near the freezer, it was also not well received here on GW go figure. Fridges are hard to place. Points taken about the visual issues with keeping it where it is or having it more visable from great room. Breaking up the back counter given this will not be a counter for prep bothers me less than it looking bad visually. Thanks for your input.

We will have proper island venting, and know it won't come cheap.


Thanks for your reassurance and kind words. I just don't see the flaws that others point out. You know how long I have worked on this, and how many versions I have worked out with my interior designer and DH as you helped comment on earlier versions from a few years back (and more recently too). Lavender, do you see tweaks you would make if it was your kitchen?


    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 4:00PM
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Forgot to mention that the window on the right has not yet been installed so can move if that balances things better. Also, Laurajane, if you saw some of the earlier versions of my plans that have been posted on GW, you would see that, like you I have had to rethink everything as a result of the comments made and have made many improvements as a result of comments from helpful GW posters.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 4:08PM
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Thanks for sharing your experiences with me. I am glad you have found after your hard work very few issues still both you. I guess there is no perfect layout that will be perfect for everyone. At some point, this will be behind me and yes the kitchen design I have slaved over and paid lots of design fees to arrive at will work for my family and my cooking preferences.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Do you need that second window for the exterior elevation of your house? If not, the fridge could go next to your oven stack. That would certainly balance out your cabinetry and countertops, I'm just not sure if it would create any issues with traffic flow.

You'll be so glad that you've put all this effort into your layout once you are actually cooking in your kitchen!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 4:21PM
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I think your unconscious knows your layout isn't optimal and is sending you signals. But you're not quite sure what to do about it since you've invested so much time in this.

I've never been a fan of the two island setup, or the refrigerator location, or the two DW locations or the two almost but not quite the same size windows. I felt the peninsula setup with the seating at it gave you the best combination of sociability and a protected workspace. I mostly bowed out of any of the conversations though, since you wanted those things so strongly that you kept over riding the objections to them and returning them. Perhaps that is the role of the designers you have worked with as well. They are there to get a sale from you after all, and disagreeing with your ideas may not result in that. We are in the business to please our customers, even if we don't agree with their choices. :)

Try taking away all of the distractions and just looking at a measured drawing of the space as it exists, and the traffic patterns around it. Then, work with just the "big 3" locations until those relate to the adjacent rooms and traffic patterns well without compromise. You're getting caught in the minutia rather than looking at the big picture. It's a typical mistake that people make for renovations and new builds alike. They concentrate on the details before the overall plan is fully developed enough to begin to include details.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 4:34PM
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I'll just weigh in with my 2cents from my perspective in planning my (yet to be started) kitchen.

What I found was that when I kept going back over and over something it was because it wasn't right. When I hit on the correct layout/window size/etc. I knew it because I stopped thinking about it. It fit and there were no more questions.

Now, I haven't had nearly the amount of space or cabinets that you have so as I said, it's my experience but maybe, just maybe you too are still questioning, as someone above me posted because there is something to be tweaked and your subconscious knows it.

Can also add that I, too am not a fan of the fridge placement. I'd prefer a longer, uninterrupted counter. But that's just me.

My DS loves the phrase "marry in haste repent at leisure". Maybe that applies to ordering cabinets, too!

This post was edited by deedles on Mon, Jun 3, 13 at 17:45

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 5:44PM
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Hi Laura,

I do feel we need the second window as the room is quite dark being an interior room. I might be able to find another spot for the steam oven (although it has to be above counter height due to specs/safety) so I can move the fridge down. It won't be a problem relocating the microwave or regular wall oven to the peninsula or island. To accommodate the steam oven would mean bumping up the height of part of the peninsula as I can't put it too far away from the prep action. Having an extra high cabinet on one end of the peninsula may be visually distracting in another way.


Thanks for your comments. I respect your opinions and know your advice is given to be helpful and comes with significant expertise.

You may be right that my unconscious is bothered by a nagging feeling -- that feeling may also have been fed by some concerned comments received from GW posters about past layout designs I have posted over the two plus years I have been trying to get the design right. If it were not for GW, I would likely have listened to the interior designer long ago and would now be enjoying a completed kitchen even if it did have flaws. Please understand, the main interior designer I have worked with has not rushed me along or just listened to my ideas -- she was very involved in creating this design, but she did understand my need not to be prepping against a back wall and my desire to have the cooktop on an island or peninsula. After all, the more hours I hem and haw about this design, the more money for her (she does not sell the cabinets but charges by the hour for her time). We have also paid for second opinions, and showed our plans to cabinet designers too.

As per not being fans of the two islands set-up, the two DW locations or the fridge locations: these have all changed around repeatedly and quite drastically in earlier stages in response to older GW posts I have made about the kitchen. The not perfectly matched windows will just have to be that not perfect as we want the extra light. I could give away the extra window we have and re-order a smaller window, but that would be expensive. I don't think we have room for the second window to be the same size as the currently installed left hand window.

GreenDesigns, our first plan was an L shape with seating at the peninsula and one island (developed through working with a few cabinet makers) I was quite happy with it, until the new designer and one cabinet maker independently explained it would provide a barrier between the dining room and cut off flow between the two rooms (think having to walk around the short L to clear table, etc.). Having more of a galley shaped kitchen was supposed to make flow between the kitchen and the dining room barrier free. After hearing these comments from the two local designers, DH is not happy to lose the flow to go back to the original design and I have moved on as well (but less strongly than him).

I think what I will need to do, is find yet another local designer to go through my plan with me and see what flaws he/she finds and what suggestions for improvement he/she would recommend. I do not feel there is one layout that would be perfect for every cook, nor every family nor every GW poster. Different cooks have different priorities, but surely if one meets all of the kitchen guidelines the design is not all that bad.

Sorry to have gone on for so long. I do appreciate everyone's attempts to help me.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 5:48PM
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Thanks Deedles for your comments and your input on the fridge location. Good luck with your own planning. I hope it goes easier for you than it has for us.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 5:59PM
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A couple of thoughts:

I understand that you want to have your prep surfaces facing outward, but have you considered that your prep work and your cooking work are not the same thing? Nor do they need to be on the same surface.

Prepping is the task that takes the most amount of time, actual attendance on the stuff on the hob takes much less. There is often a close association with the prep surface and the cooking surface and for that reason one thinks of them facing the same way, but that is not cast in stone.

I plan a prep-working island that will be directly opposite my cooker. The cooking surface will have landing on each side of it, but on only one side will there be any substantial counter run. I want to do my prepping on my island for various reasons and will have my prep sink there; but my cooker is on the exterior wall. It sounds to me, and from looking at your diagram that prepping/prep sink and cooking surface are inextricably linked in your plan. This prevents you from seeing if a separating them would produce a better plan.

One thing to think of is that if you are sensitive to being startled, you may be more likely to be startled when working at the stove with the fan on because it may mask the noise of an approaching person.

Regarding some of the other issues raised: I don't think having the freezer where it is is a big problem. But I'll tell you that having the fridge where it is shown between the windows would be a non starter to me. You say you're adding a window to get more light but by having the thick and tall coumn between them you're virtually negating the benefit of added light except when the sun shines directly in, which for any window is only for a couple of hours, at most, per day. Removing the fridge from the middle section would capture many more hours of light coming from the side as it would be coming during all the time when the sun is shining.

Would you consider moving the fridge to the place where the oven stack is? You could put the ovens under the (slightly raised) counter to keep them close to the cooktop.

I think having the counter run uninterrupted (by the fridge and associated cabs) across the back with the two windows will give a real sense of openess and spaciousness to your kitchen that will be wonderful.

Even w/o making any other changes, that would be the one thing I would very strongly recommend to improve your plan.



    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 9:31PM
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Your comments do help -- thanks! I was feeling rather sad and overwhelmed over all this before you posted. I had already told DH I wanted to try moving the fridge again to the end of the run where the oven stack is, and your comments on the fridge blocking light has convinced me to do it. That leaves me needing a taller spot for the steam oven due to safety/specs on that oven. I guess that tall steam oven cabinet would need to go where I show the prep sink making that end of the peninsula raised a few feet. The bottom of the steam oven must be at least 36 inches high.

I know I will need to spend the bucks on that island fan to be sure to have a very quiet one due to the startling issues I have. The Gaggenau one I looked at may be what we have to get. as it was very quiet. You guessed correctly; loud fans do bug me, and good point about not wanting the fan to obscure an approaching person. However, by facing towards the action I should at least see the approaching person some of the time. I will need to keep the cooktop facing out, not towards the outside wall, even if I use it less than the prep area.

A few other things I will try include: going back to having the clean-up sink on an L shaped peninsula with peninsula on dining room side. I also will try making the two islands more similar sized with cooktop on one island and prep sink on other. If I move the clean-up sink to an L peninsula, that may allow me to order another window that is exactly the same size as the current window. It would be a waste not to use the extra window that we have. However, that extra window could go elsewhere if I purchase a transom to go over it (a bit make-shift but the extra window I have is high end).

Thanks again Liriodendron!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 10:12PM
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