Are penisulas dated? Carla Aston thinks so...

KitchenMonkeyJuly 14, 2014

In this blog entry, Carla Aston thinks peninsulas are a dated look from the 70s and that most kitchens look more open with islands rather than peninsulas.

Do you agree? I think I would agree for larger kitchens, that islands make the space feel more open, but I am not sure about smaller spaces where having an island would restrict passages to 36-42 inches. I think in a smaller kitchen, a small peninsula 30-48 inches long, not including overhang, would look better than an island.

Would you agree?

Here are some examples Carla Aston gives of kitchens with nice peninsula layouts that would look even better with islands instead...

Here is a link that might be useful:

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She's just trying to stir up blog hits ...

it's all about the traffic patterns and kitchen size. Most of the ones she shows would have too-skinny aisles if there were islands.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:25AM
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I completely disagree with her. Changing the ones pictured into islands would just make a barrier with narrow passages to the sides, or the world's smallest island.

You also noticed the difference in size between the "has island, looks great" pics and the "nope" ones with a peninsula. A lot of these older houses probably had upper cabinets installed in the ceiling, and people already remove those to open things up. Cutting out the corner to make a peninsula just takes additional storage away. People do need to put food and things somewhere.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:28AM
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Agree with the others. I think those kitchens would would look even more crowded and would be more difficult to use if they had islands.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:32AM
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i mulled over a peninsula in my kitchen as it is not wide enough for an island. i decided that my kitchen wasn't right for a peninsula due to traffic patterns but i will say that in my area peninsulas are considered dated and islands are king. since i hope to move in the next 5 years?, it was a consideration. the only time i would care about "dated" is in my situation when a person knows they are not living there forever.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Frankly, I think this is just dumb & short-sighted, simply for the reason you stated.

What looks better? A seatable, peninsula with workspace, or a microwave cart-sized island with aisle space?

This type of statement is such hot air. The kitchens shown are lovely. Since it's difficult to see the opposing wall, I can't disagree. One, definitely would look jumbled and, well, silly.

For some reason, this kind of statement, put out there as though there were some authority to the writer, irritates the crap out of me. It's bad enough there so many people who waffle because they're so concerned about "dated" vs. what looks lovely and functional in their home, and suites their décor aesthetic.

Whew. Next time, just ask me how I feel. I won't hold back.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:38AM
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I see it totally as a function of space/layout. In my kitchen, we are actually turning an existing peninsula into an island, not because we have some specific need to have an island, but because it really will improve flow. But I wouldn't necessarily change all/any of the pictures above into an island. I don't see an island as being objectively "better" than a peninsula in any way at all. My old kitchen had a peninsula that made perfect sense and maximized a tiny space.

Here's my kitchen: that peninsula is turning into an island and moving three feet down (there's plenty of space for it). It will greatly improve flow.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:42AM
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And here's the kitchen in my old home. If the peninsula had been an island, we would have lost a lot of valuable space. An island would not have made sense:

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:45AM
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BTW add me to the peninsula instead of island club. On paper it would have worked great. The square footage numbers are pretty large and things can be moved around a lot. In the grand scheme of things, not so much. In a nutshell it would have interrupted the line of sight from the front door if everything was moved over sufficiently, the pathway around the dining room end would have little to no traffic, and it would have caused a lot of turns to get around the family room furniture.

I'm just not a big fan of generalizations... in general.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:55AM
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robo (z6a)

I think in the right kitchen, islands look great and open up the layout. And I do think people have moved away from peninsulas to a large extent, people do see them as 'dated.'

That said, putting an island in any of the kitchens pictured in the initial post would be a crime against aisles. Most small kitchens and some medium sized ones just don't have room for an island, it's a sad fact of life.

My husband the cook also appreciates the bit of a barrier the peninsula offers as most people stay out of his way when cooking.

- signed, a happy peninsula owner (with a kitchen just a little bit too small for an island no matter how I tried to squeeze one in)

Peninsula at work...

Not my photo, but my peninsula

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 11:13

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:11AM
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Oh, robotropolis! Those beautiful, fat and happy kitties! And you have such a pretty kitchen.

I'm also a happy peninsula owner. I had a wall with a stove against it when we first moved in. I also have room for an island. But it would have butted into the only dining area I have, whereas my peninsula does not.

Some of these bloggers certainly talk to hear themselves talk, don't they? There's one with a 4-post series on how to strip furniture. Using the unnecessary, flesh-eating chemicals of the previous century. What a serious waste of her time, energy, product, money, and dated information. She does beautiful work, but why take a week to strip furniture? I digress.

Hot air.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:19AM
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Edited to remove dupe posting.

This post was edited by CEFreeman on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 11:24

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:22AM
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It's all a matter of context. She also has a blog entry about how sometimes an island isn't appropriate and a table in the middle makes sense. Unless you follow a blogger and get an overall idea of what their sensibilities are, you can't really interpret a single blog entry. I don't happen to agree that something that functions in a lot of kitchens is "dated" but I will agree that sometimes an island is a better choice. (as are a peninsula, table or "nothing", depending upon the situation).

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:27AM
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Who the hell is Carla Aston and why should I care what she thinks about anything?

I have a small kitchen avec peninsula. I'd be bereft without it.

Take that, Carla Aston!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:30AM
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To be honest, I couldn't finish reading beyond the first few sentences in her blog. She started out by stating how layout is one of the first things she looks at in a remodel. And then how a small kitchen works out better with an island. I think such a generalization is complete BS. If this site has taught me anything, it's that you have to really look at the space available to determine the ideal layout for a kitchen. You cannot simply generlize and say "peninsulas = bad, islands = good". I think I would have a lot more respect for her blog if she could provide any examples where she actually remodeled a kitchen and demonstrated the layout improvements.

As for whether peninsulas are "dated" or "from the 70s"? Well, I'm pretty sure the only thing that makes a kitchen look like it is from the 70s is if it was built in the 70s and has 70s-style materials and/or appliances. Certainly peninsulas probably weren't found in 1920s kitchens, but that doesn't mean that a peninsula layout is inherently dated.

Honestly, I wish I hadn't clicked on her site because she doesn't deserve the traffic.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:37AM
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+! Linelle!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:48AM
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Oh you gals crack me up so much! Ya, I call "hooey" too.

robotropolis, I get the best, homey feel from your kitchen. I am again quite taken with it.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:00PM
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robo (z6a)

Thanks for the kitchen comments!

Some of the pictured tables in the "center table" entry also look like crimes against aisles. What do you all think -- can we sacrifice or be flexible with aisle space to get back that great eat in country kitchen feeling?

My grandmother did squeeze a table in to the corner of her 1950s 9'x9' kitchen. It was eventually replaced by a portable dishwasher and a hutch.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 12:11

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:09PM
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In the pictures posted in the OP 4 of them had seating at the peninsula. None of those kitchens were wide enough to put an island in that contained seating.

My kitchen is 20' X 9' - the island will go......there, no there, nope lets squeeeeeeeze it there and take out the fridge and cabinets on that side of the room and then take down the wall into the DR and then....

We have a peninsula and it sure doesn't look like my mama's.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:22PM
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Hmmm.... no thanks. And someone else can take the spot with their back against the oven.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:24PM
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I hate the island trend as I think many are overdone and attract clutter; and hope they'll be "dated" some day. Peninsulas make sense in smaller kitchens. I would prefer a kitchen large enough for a kitchen table, actually -- I miss them.

This post was edited by Violet.West on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 12:30

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:26PM
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It all depends on the kitchen. Things like aisle space and view. In the pictures above, it looks like to change to an island would require the island being rotated 90 degrees from the penisula's location. In some cases this would give the person at the island a lovely view of the refridgerator and a wall. This is the case in my house as well. The penisula faces the family room and I can talk or watch TV while I do prep work. An island would face a wall.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:37PM
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Totally agree that "it depends". CEFreeman and Linelle said it best! Love the responses!

*sigh* and it's b/c of people like this Carla what's-her-name that we have people come here insisting they absolutely must have an island - even when their kitchen cannot support one!

Function first!!!! No, peninsulas are not dated - but islands that don't fit and/or are tiny/narrow that are often barriers ARE!

(OK, done ranting!)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:40PM
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We're all preaching to the choir.

Wonder if she's got a preview the post before posting set-up. It would be very easy to bomb the whole idea. As just dumb.

Ok. this is boring. The only thing redeeming about this thread, that keeps me coming back is the eye candy.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Christine, except...Silly threads like this make me seriously appreciate the expertise, wisdom, humor, and basic common sense that abound within the GW community. My kitchen is long done, but I keep coming back because there are still things to learn.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:31PM
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Oh, shut up. [stomping feet]
I hate it when you're right while I was being snotty.

No, really. Anyone who has been around here for awhile has heard this (among many) topic being beaten to death. And we are preaching to the choir.

and stop bragging about your kitchen being done. Meanie.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:35PM
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"I keep coming back because there are still things to learn."

And the cat pictures. Cats in kitchens are endlessly fascinating.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:49PM
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Something else that's not been mentioned is whether we want people who frequent the island stools to be that *close* to our work area.

My kitchen has a small island, but the space is too small for seating. Instead, the seating is at the peninsula, and it's mainly used by my kids. Homework, snacks, breakfast, sharing the stories of their day while I'm cooking and loading dishwasher, etc. I love having my kids in the kitchen with me... but I like them and their messes "over there" at the peninsula and out of my way.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:00PM
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Islands are more dated than peninsulas:


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:10PM
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First, let me say that I agree with everyone. But I also want to say that, yes, peninsulas are "dated"--not in a bad way, let me finish!--because they were very much in vogue in the 60s and 70s, when the concept of an open floorplan was newly hatched.

The open floor plan concept has evolved and now "kitchens are the heart of a home. So in NEW CONSTRUCTION and MAJOR REMODELS, kitchens have tended to get bigger and there is obviously a current preference for islands over peninsulas. And in a sufficiently big kitchen, islands do work well. So islands are trendy. The corrolary is that peninsulas are "dated" in the views of bloggers and the design press.

In smaller kitchens, which most of the mid-century kitchens were, and in newer kitchens of more modest size, islands do not necessarily work well. They often work really badly when someone feels that they MUST shoehorn in an island because anything less is dated and we MUSTN'T ever be DATED [all caps employed solely for the purpose of faux drama].

Peninsulas are a very practical layout option that need to be on the table. They make some kitchens work much better. Judging them on the basis of kitchen "fashion" is wrong-headed.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:13PM
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Christine, be of good cheer and remember, this is all that truly matters:

LWO, without cats, I'm nothing.

Now, whatever happens, please don't anyone tell Carla Aston that I let my cats lounge on my (dated) peninsula.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:13PM
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LWO, I laughed out loud, my priorities correctly realigned.

Linelle, I laughed at you too, while salivating over that gorgeous cookie dough. My cats lounge on my dated peninsula, too. I even have a box on it so one of them will lounge in place, rather than in my occasional cooking. Right now, my furriest, funniest, silver point rag doll, Waylon, is sleeping on my newly pressed, black uniform. Screw the peninsula, here's Laundry!!!

I fully expected your little cat to be photo bombing the cookie down when I got to the bottom of the picture.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:22PM
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I read the article, and I didn't think it was bad. It is worth considering whether a peninsula layout closes off your kitchen in a way you don't want (though there are certainly reasons to close it off, as others here have suggested). Based on this post and thread, I expected to go read a diatribe against peninsulas, and I was let down! :)

(I actually have an island in a kitchen that is probably a bit too small for the island we have, but it works for us and is being slightly retooled for the remodel.)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:30PM
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Christine, for you:

In 1947/48, my dad built the house I grew up in. Our house was considered very modern with lots of glass. We had a great eat-in kitchen WITH PENINSULA, the kind that's rounded at the end with shelves for knick-knacks that the dog would knock over when she wagged her tail. For many years, we also had a parakeet living in a cage on the counter. It seems hilarious to me now, my mom was so neat and fastidious and we had this bird living in the kitchen, throwing seed all over the place.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:35PM
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I had mourned (for about 5 minutes) the fact that my space wasn't wide enough for an island. But you know what? The kitchens shown in the OP look fantastic! They don't look dated or non-functional at all! This post simply reinforces my love for my soon-to-be peninsula! Here's to working with what you have and making it fabulous.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 5:54PM
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Well I can only guess what she would say when my remodel is done. We are putting in two peninsulas!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:15PM
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I have a peninsula AND a small island, and of all the things wrong with my kitchen, layout isn't one of them. I am very comfortable cooking in there. The island is perfect for loading and unloading the refrigerator, and the peninsula is the only other place I can really spread out (cool cookies, etc) that doesn't have appliances like toaster and coffeemaker, sink or cooktop. Right now all my countertops are bare because they are getting templated for new surface, and it looks so nice.... wish I didn't have to keep things on there, but of course then I would need more storage space!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 6:34AM
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>>Islands are more dated than peninsulas:

Who else is ready to party like it's 1899?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:42AM
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My kitchen is not very big. An island would not have worked for me.. But I LOVE my peninsula! It faces the family room with a doorwall and a tv that I sometimes watch while prepping. I think peninsulas rock!

(sorry the picture is blurry)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:57PM
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Finishes and materials can look dated, but a good layout is timeless.

We all design around our functional needs, within our space limitations, and in some spaces peninsulas offer the greatest functionality. A peninsula is no more dated than a galley kitchen. It's a layout, not an avocado refrigerator.

This post was edited by EAM44 on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 1:10

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:07AM
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I really like Carla Aston's blog. She has a number of posts where she articulates design and detail principles, and I have found those helpful. For example, how wood actually is a colour in a room, or how continuous flooring adds to flow in an open concept home, or whether to have a sidesplash.

I never understand the hostility towards posts like this. When I read about design principles, I don't feel obligated to slavishly follow them. Instead, I reflect on whether or how they apply to me. A good blog post is one that presents a topic, analyzes it, and triggers my own thought processes regarding my own home - whether or not I agree with it or feels it applies to me.

For example, Carla Aston's post on continuous flooring did influence me. I wanted to extend the hardwood into the kitchen but I was having trouble biting the bullet on the cost and hassle involved - but I am so glad I did. I made budget sacrifices in other areas to make this possible.

There was a time when every kitchen *had* to have a peninsula, whether it made sense for the room dimensions or flow. I agree with Carla Aston that it's dated to think that you *have* to have a peninsula. Of course, at some point in the future, it will be dated to think that you *have* to have an island.

I actually read that post when I was trying to decide between a "U" shaped kitchen with a peninsula vs an "L" shaped kitchen with an island. The peninsula design would have given me more counter space, more storage, and a more contained kitchen. The island design had the benefit of better flow (4 people going in and out of a small kitchen), less counter space (cheaper), and only one corner cabinet. I picked an island based on what works for my household and I am thrilled with the result.

There have been some threads here on GW where my strong opinion was that a peninsula would be the best solution for that kitchen layout. Islands simply don't work in some spaces regardless of the trend.

As a total amateur, I find it very helpful when designers share their ideas. Designing is an art. Some amateur designers pull it off, others fall short of the mark - I think there are lots of examples of both.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:06PM
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Feisty, I take umbrage with the statement that peninsulas (or frankly, much in decorating) are dated. As though that's it. She says so. That's what I get. Hang with me here:

A corollary:

There's a yoga teacher who wrote a book, 'Yoga for Depression.' I read it. Her story out of depression was difficult. She overcame a lot. IMHO, her focus on her yoga practice is what got her through, not the actual postures (asana) or sequence thereof.

However, by the end of the book she was saying, "You will feel better if...." Or "Do xxxx and everything will be lighter." IOW, she was putting things out there as though there was a defined method (law) and she had found the Way. If one didn't feel better, one obviously wasn't following her Way correctly.

Unfortunately -- and fortunately -- yoga works completely differently for each and every person. Those suffering from depression who follow her Way and don't feel better? I watched a few who became even more depressed because something, yet again, didn't work for them.

I resent the author making $$ on the yoga workshop circuit preaching absolutes when there is nothing in yoga (or life) that is absolute.

My practice is one method, but I teach therapeutic yoga. I've seen a lot over the years. It is difficult enough to live with depression, but to feel a failure yet again is worse. It's also difficult to bring someone back to themselves in only 2 classes a week.

So if you substitute this blogger into the story, and insecure, newbie, or easily influenced decorators/renovators, there, I find is a similar story.

Does that explain at least my vehemence about this type of thing? It comes over me whenever someone puts out their WAY as absolute. Probably way too much energy devoted to this thought, to tell you the truth.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:35PM
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CEFreeman, in my opinion there are no absolutes in life, let alone in decorating, so I absolutely ;) see where you're coming from! But I also think that there's a place for stating one's opinion boldly and without dithering. That's what blogs are for, in my opinion. Insecure/newbie/easily influenced decorators/renovators have a steep learning curve to reconcile their own home/tastes/budget to design concepts, be they timeless or trendy. Might as well start now!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 3:02PM
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Can't argue with that, feisty. I believe I've started a few threads about whining apologizes for budget kitchens, for example.

Stated as an opinion is one thing, but then, I have to correct myself. What is a blog other than one giant opinion? Love those new reports interviewing bloggers. Uh-huh.

After I clean some crap off, I'll lean on my peninsula and contemplate this.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 3:06PM
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It's funny, we have an island currently and are re-doing our kitchen. We wanted an island again, but with moving the things around that we wanted moved, we were having a hard time making the island we wanted fit.

After struggling on it for ages with our designer and "making" it fit (but it still felt a bit squeezed in), suddenly she says, "would you guys be at all interested in seeing a peninsula idea?" She was hesitant, probably partly because our time is short and we've worked on the island design so much, and maybe because of a possible perception that islands are the in thing.

My first thought (without seeing anything) was that peninsulas are old fashioned. I have no idea why I thought that, but I did.

But, after a few minutes of looking at the peninsula design, my husband and I were both really pleased and excited. The new plan solves all the space issues plus it utilizes formerly "dead" space that we couldn't figure out how to use in the old plan.

So I think we'll be doing a peninsula. But I will admit that my first instinct was that it was old fashioned.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:42AM
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Isn't a peninsula just a three sided island?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:02PM
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Whatever works well in a kitchen and is finished well, never goes out of date. Peninsulas if meeting the above criteria, are very 21st century.

I love Islands; but am also a practical horses for courses kind of person. In my small kitchen, if I were to put an Island, getting out of the kitchen would be fastest accomplished by crawling over it. I read her blog and she is entitled to her views, but to put it in context, all the pictures showh have kitchens with a relatively large amount of space.

PS; robotropolis - what cuddle-able cats you have:-)

This post was edited by gemcap on Thu, Jul 17, 14 at 12:41

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:27PM
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