Kitchen changes and ideas

TexasBearJuly 30, 2012

I would appreciate all of your thoughts and ideas about our kitchen. Things started simply enough. The controls of our wall oven started arcing and smoking. Repair of a 30 yr old wall oven was not advised so we thought we would buy a new one and just replace it.

When I went to find a new wall oven the only current size I could easily fit in where the old oven was a 24" (because it was in a 24.25" wide brick enclosure, the brick is floor to ceiling 2 sides and front). When I found a 24" oven to look at I could not believe how small the inside was. I am not enthused about getting such a small oven.

So here we are thinking we will need to remove or modify the brick enclosure and some of the cabinetry on that side of the kitchen. I thought that if we are working on the kitchen we should look at what would make the kitchen function better. I have attached the kitchen floor plan.

What I like about my kitchen: I like being able to open the refrigerator and put items on the island. I like the short distance from the sink to the prep area I use by the cooktop. The cabinets are attractive.

What I dislike about my kitchen: I get very frustrated about the flow of the kitchen. It is fine if only one person is in the kitchen, but 2 or more is a traffic problem. When standing at the cooktop, the cook is in front of the refrigerator. The cook has to move if anyone wants into the refrigerator or even to walk on that side of the island. And if someone opens the dishwasher (right side of the sink) you can barely walk from the sink to the cabinets by the refrigerator. I am thinking the island in the kitchen is too big. The work area I end up using is the small strip (13" x 32") at the end of the island. I dislike having my back to the table and windows so I end up using this as the main work area. My Jenn Air cooktop has only 2 burners. There is a small built in desk to the left of the wall oven that we do not use.

If we are going to make modifications to the kitchen I want to consider what would make it function better. I have read many of the posts in the forum and am impressed with the knowledge and creativity of the members. I would really appreciate your thoughts and ideas. Thank you.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It looks to me like your kitchen might just be too small for an island, especially one that includes a cooktop. It might help if you could tell us which walls are exterior, and where the other rooms are in relation to your kitchen. Is there a window over the sink? Is it a 2 story? Wondering about venting options.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 4:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My first question would be: how much are you willing to change? Because a major layout change means replacing the cabinets, which (by the time you change the countertop +/- floor +/- plumbing and electrical) adds up to many thousands of dollars. -- Which might be necessary to fix the layout problems, but it's frustrating to be hoping for a quick inexpensive thing and then have all your thread responses be along the lines of "rip it all out and move a wall while you're at it."

I completely understand the frustration of the traffic jam. I had that same problem, and I did end up changing out all the cabinets in order to get a better flow (I resisted that but gave up in the end as it was just simpler that way.)

My first thought for your kitchen, if you don't want to change everything completely, would be to remove the brick enclosure (see? big expensive suggestion right away) and put a range in that location, then remove the island so that you don't have a barrier between fridge and range. This is of course assuming that the brick can be removed without destroying the rest of the kitchen and that it isn't holding up the roof.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is more like thinking out loud than a plan. I'm trying to stay at the smaller end of the price spectrum. Price somewhat depends on what you expect your kitchen to look like after function surgery, and somewhat on how much you can do yourself, but I will tell you it would be cheaper to buy new gaggenau or miele ovens on ebay that fit into the current opening and learn to spatchcock a turkey than it would be to redo your kitchen.

So this kills off the island, moves the ovens and the cooktop and sort of shows with or without a peninsula. You could make the counter deeper on the side showing the cooktop - at least on the end, but maybe across the whole counter. I'd be thinking small appliance home under the area to the left of the sink with dishes and bowls in the uppers. I'd make the uppers to the left of the ovens deeper than normal and likely use those for a pantry and use the pantry for storage of stuff.

So peninsulas are sometimes a win in a smaller kitchen, but also somewhat confining. Feeling surrounded is a comforting feeling for some people and I respect that - even though I don't feel that way. I might think for a while and see if I could fit a pull out cart in the cabinet run -> the kind where the entire cart pulls out with more work surface on top.

The thing about a peninsula in your kitchen is that it helps a lot by providing a work surface that faces company and a landing spot for items coming out of the ref.

You could aim for a bigger redo with an island, but to get one to fit properly would involve changing from a U to an L shape. The island would still "only" be about 4.6 feet long.

I'm sure there are at least 3 other ways that your kitchen could be arranged and hopefully others will suggest some.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd pursue a cooking appliance in the opening in brick that exists. I'm reading good reviews about steam ovens..there are microwaves or speed ovens...microwave/convection combo's. Place the frig to the right of the brick, keep the U concept...on the right side place range with wall hood and increase depth over there a few inches. Eliminate island and also get a bumped out sink base perhaps with farmhouse type sink. The bump outs and devoting the right wall to range/hood would improve the kitchen's looks/function/leave a cleared floor area. Possibly think of a small peninsula,as bmore sketched [I wouldn't extend it that far]...even smallish,with 2 stools it could be worth it. In short,design a better U kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for the ideas.

Numbersjunkie: The dining room is on the left, behind the wall with the wall oven. Den on the right behind wall with frig. Sink faces a wall, behind this wall is entry way with stairs to second floor. There is a bathroom on second floor above kitchen. Exterior walls are part of wall left of table and wall at end of table. Current cooktop has down draft vent that goes through slab from island, under desk area, exits slab at exterior wall far side of dining room.

Northcarolina: Great question. Having never done anything like this before I do not really know. I am ready to get rid of the brick oven enclosure, desk (useless except for TV), and island. I do not think the brick is holding anything up.

Bmorepanic: I will look up the ovens you mentioned, and I don't think I would have a problem cooking flat turkey. I may be optimistic but I am hoping to get better function without redoing the entire kitchen. If the island were gone I would miss the frig landing place. Would it make any sense to get rid of half of the island? But maybe some type of cart would be better. And a range instead of a cooktop on the left would keep most of the changes to that one area.

Herbflavor: there is only about 34" to the right of the brick oven enclosure, is that enough space for a frig? Are there convection ovens that will fit in a 24" wide opening?

What size would a cart need to be to be a useful work surface?

Thank you all for your thoughts and ideas.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For me, the island is the big issue - your kitchen just isn't big enough for it. The island can't become big enough to have workspace beside the cooktop. It's the cost driver towards improving function. If you aren't prepared to think about that right now but think you will entertain the idea in the next 5 years, then spend as little as possible on your kitchen repair.

If you remove the island - and remove the brick thing which pretty much means removing the desk too, unless you are very, very lucky, you will need some serious floor work and electrical work and new counters. And likely some cabinets or a pretty decent carpenter to rebuild the ones you have.

As a for-instance, if you continue with cooktop and ovens, you'll need an oven cabinet. You don't have one or enough parts from your existing cabinets to make one. So, you'd need to figure out what would visually happen in place of the brick supports. It is possible to decide to pay a cabinet maker to build one oven cabinet that would come close to matching, but that is likely to be kinda expensive, too. So, I'd be thinking bare minimum going after function would cost around 15-20k.

A LOT of people want their workspace to be between the sink and the cooktop. You could have that with the cooktop on either leg of the "U", but not if its combined with other appliances on the same leg. As you pointed out, there isn't enough space and you'd be back to no counter.

What's "enough" is kinda personal and a little bit dependent on what kind of cooking you do. Some people think 3 feet, some 4 feet. People with larger kitchens have a lot more. Personally, I don't like working where there are overhead cabinets and I'd rather be facing people than a wall.

I could happily work on the larger Flytta from ikea.

So, in practical terms, I don't think there is a damn thing you can do to increase function without pretty much redoing the entire kitchen. So choices - leave the kitchen alone and just replace the ovens with ovens that fit into the existing structure is your cheapest way out. Looking at more expensive ovens may result in ones that you would be happier with for a long time. Do consider speed ovens or steam ovens in combination with a regular thermal oven, I thought that was a brilliant idea.

Thing two - tear out the brick thing and the desk. Buy a 30-33" oven cabinet as cheaply as possible and whatever ovens you want. Also buy something like a tall storage cabinet to take up the remaining room. Or build a drywall surround for the ovens and hang a cabinet or build a message center on the outside facing the dining area. You're left with a variety of potential issues:

--- Whoever is doing the brick demo needs to be very careful and have meaningful protection on the counters, the floor and the island to guard against errant brick and mortar pieces flying around.
--- It's possible the bricks stick out further than a cabinet does - so possible floor repair/replacement/refinish. If you're doing drywall surround, you can cover over the floor thing by making the new enclosure a little deeper.
--- If it's a DIY project, I'd be prepared in my head for the island/cooktop to be damaged. Nothing personal - I'd think the same if I was doing it.
--- Pay attention to the clearances needed and the opening width needed of your newly selected ovens. Some oven sizes are the cabinet size and some are the unit size.

PS: My sister has the same issue, 24" ovens that died, doesn't want to remodel, cabinets aren't in fashion anymore - so no oven cabinets available. Kid in college. She's not chosen to do anything yet - about a year with only a countertop oven. Did I mention we have long, long decision processes?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

re sizes: AJMadison is an appliance website that has search capability by sizes and other requirementsthat you choose.. Yes,you can get the Liebherr frig at 30 in [is taller],in your space and still room for panels. The opening in the brick obviously should have an assessment [are you going to get the oven out and see what you've got/]..there are 2nd ovens or microwave/convections that would fit. The idea is to get the primary functions at the range over on the right so an appliance placed here would be secondary. [the spot would be contemplated for a main microwave or built in espresso machine if it were mine to do]....a good range provides ample cooking/baking capability.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Are you on a slab? And your Jenn Air is downdraft? I would take out the oven and desk and put a range there. Then make the island smaller, or use a table or a cart. A cart may be very handy, because you could turn it across the end of the kitchen, and still have the surface, but also some dancing room.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sophie Wheeler

Start making plans to rip it all out. Now. There is only so much bandaid that you can do here. And that bandaid will be expensive now and redundant later when you go to address the rest of the issues that the kitchen has. No sense in spending money twice. A 30 year old kitchen is prime for a gut to address infrastructure issues as well as your obvious functionality issues. The cosmetic issues may be the least of your concerns now, but once you start putting brand new shiny stuff against 30 year old stuff, that's when that 30 year old stuff you didn't address starts looking old and tired and also breaks.

Buy a toaster oven in the meantime to set up a temporary kitchen in your dining area. Buy an induction hob and a hot plate too. Think about where you can wash your dishes for a few months, or shift to all paper. Start emptying the cabinets and purging the things you never use. These things will all be useful to you no matter the level of the remodel. But, honestly, your issues say gut everything and start over.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

bmorepanic, herbflavor, springroz, hollysprings, thank you for your thoughts.

Ok, what if I get rid of the cooktop, half or all of the island, and of course the brick thing; and put a range where the brick thing was and a vent (if possible). Maybe some open shelves to the left of the vent. Base cabinet with three drawers to the left of range. New countertops.

We have some of the kitchen tiles, what is the chance we can use them to repair the where the brick and island come out?

Bmorepanic, thanks for the link to the cart. Something to keep in mind.

Springroz: yes, we are on a slab and have a JennAir downdraft.

Herbflavor: I do need to get the brick area evaluated by someone knowledgeable.

Hollysprings: I really want to avoid taking something out that we just put in.

Please continue with all the ideas. I think the more input the better.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:26AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Cherry and White Granite Kitchen Reveal - Lots of Photos!
First of all- this is a thank you post to the Gardenweb...
Please help with Kitchen floorplan
Hello everyone, My husband and I are building a new...
1880s house kitchen: need to work in the current space
Note this is cross-posted at suggestion of a reader Plans...
Any good, light-weight cookware out there?
I'm really not complaining. I cook on All-Clad and...
Kitchen quote for RTA
I am shopping around for a redesigned kitchen. Below...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™