need help with kitchen plans, want to expand into dining room

kaylarusJuly 8, 2014

hi folks. i've been lurking since january of this year. recently i registered and started posting. i wasn't sure i wanted my plans critiqued by you guys because for al long time i thought my idea was great. now i know it has so many holes in it really needs to be scrapped. i'm looking for fresh ideas to unite the tiny kitchen and the tiny diningroom that have a wall between that is load bearing. the wall has a large pass through but still its in the way!

this is the kitchen in our new home.

in this pic it's been decorated by the realtor before we bought it. built in 1988 almost nothing has been updated. the layout is awful, the tile! OMG the tile! the cabinets are ugly and broken, it's a dark cramped cave in an otherwise bright and airy modern house.

it's just me and my partner now that the kids are grown, i'm retired. we just bought the house. we have been renters for a very long time and only through an inheritance could we buy this home. the house is full of things to fix and update, like the deck is rotten and unsafe and the boiler needs to be replaced. but finally, now when i fix something i will own the result.

this is our forever house so we are planning for as much accessibility as possible. i'm already challenged with many health issues and some restricted mobility. we are planning to build in accessibility and use environmentally friendly products, use local vendors and find solutions that are consistent with our values as we fix and improve the house.

we like to invite a crowd for passover and other holidays. thanksgiving is at our house too. we also hope to have more frequent gatherings of our musical pals now that we have the space. I have several hobbies that take place in the kitchen like making yogurt, growing and harvesting herbs and consistently "feeding" the sponge for sourdough bread. day to day, i cook dinner by myself, but my partner helps to set the table and clear and clean up after. he also will come in to get things down for me. he will make himself a snack or lunch and he'll cook eggs on sunday morning.

the kitchen is small and poorly laid out. the dining room right next to the kitchen is too small for the way we entertain. i wanted to tear down the wall and expand. but the wall is load bearing so it stays. i don't think we have the budget for engineering solutions. there is a pass through in the wall that leeds to the dining room.
here is a picture of the dining room, also taken when staged by the relator:

on the other side the morning light coming from the sliding glass doors and skylights in the kitchen is cut off by the peninsula, the overhead cabinets and bulky fridge.

the fridge is way too big for the two of us and an energy hog. the stove, the oven & the fridge can not be used on the sabbath when we rest from friday nite to saturday night. this is a spiritual sort of rest. nowadays you can buy appliances with a "Sabbath Mode" which helps you do a few things without accidentally turning the electric on and off for example. likewise i can't use the dishwasher at all because i can't make it kosher, a spiritual state of clean, because it's made of plastic.

here is the layout of the main floor with the details of the kitchen.

notice how the kitchen is smack in the middle of the house. this is the main floor, which is on the second level. you enter on the first floor and come up the stairs which deposit you right at the junction of the living room, dining room and kitchen. (where it say's "down stairway")

to continue on to the den or the backyard or to the stairs to the bedroom you either go through the kitchen on the left, or you go the long way through the dining room and then into the den. so the kitchen has the potential for alot of traffic. except it's just the two of us now so it's no biggie. most of the rooms have high ceilings, wood planked and vaulted. the kitchen and dining room are under the upstairs bedroom, so they have regular 8 foot ceilings. all the yellow lines are half walls, so that all the rooms are open to each other. you can stand in the living room and look across the stairwell to the den.

my original solution for the cramped kitchen was to connect the 2 rooms with a countertop that swept through the pass through into the next room. i put together a serious design that i was getting estimates on but in the last week it fell apart and i feel like i should start all over. it'd be great if everyone could help me think about how to unite the dining room and the kitchen utilizing the pass through and the general openness of the house.

here's a look at the kitchen only:

i'm planning raised counters and no upper cabinets in the new kitchen. this works for us ergonomically and fits with my preference for midcentury modern. we love nature and want to incorporate natural elements. i'm getting soapstone countertops and think i've finally found the "perfect" natural all wood cherry slab frameless cabinets (whew!) which is really hard to do! this meets needs like my health, i have asthma and allergies and i react to all sorts of substances since my bone marrow transplant six years ago. i went for almost all drawers and almost no upper cabinets.

what i want to do is be able to go through the many and varied steps for my hobbies without crisscrossing my own path too often, i tried to create zones where i would store things for each hobby and have everything right where i need it. this seemed to only work for gardening which will grow in pots on my new deck.

i also want to create a snack center intended mostly for the way my partner uses the kitchen. there would be a mini fridge for the seltzer he likes so much, with a freezer for frozen quick meals. it would have a microwave to make these and other snacks, coffee and tea, a hot water heater, coffee pot and the toaster there as well. we'd need mugs and picnicwear stored there too.

these are the appliances so far.

Smeg Cooktop PU75ES
Smeg Ventilation Hood 8017709152307
Liebherr fridge CS 1311 (24")
Bluestar gas wall oven BWO30AGS- special order color RAL2010 (orange) it has doors that open like frinch doors.
Bosch DW SPX5ES55UC (18")
Avanti mini fridge RM4506W
soapstone counters, natural cherry slab door cabinets.

these files are blank slates with the layout with nothing in them:
main floor:

i'm sorry there is no grid. i used the only program i know, photoshop. it gave me a grid while i was working but it's not really there. the original layout was done to scale of one inch equaling one foot. but then i've reduced the size dramatically to put them online.

here's a link to the whole album:

i really appreciate getting ideas from all of you. let me know if you want to see the layout i did. it's difficult for me to move out of that idea toward a new one. it was also really hard for me to put this post together. i kept making mistakes, so it took me a week. seriously, i have a little brain damage from the bone marrow transplant so sometimes i don't function well!

Here is a link that might be useful: photobucket slideshow

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O.K. I am not an expert and I am not sure what is "doable" but here it goes......

If you have a pass-through- can you go to 3 or 4 posts? One on each corner and 1 or 2 in the middle. This would allow you to create and island out of the 11'6" wall. Throw the fridge on the U, rotate the oven to a short wall and keep the sink on the island. You gain a spectacular view, seating and more low storage....

Good Luck! Your house is beautiful- can't wait to see what others come up with.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 9:09AM
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This is definitely a case where I would seek the input of an architect and a structural engineer. Your lovely home has an unusual floor plan. I'd love to see the kitchen much better connected with the outdoors and the living spaces and that may mean significant changes. If budget is an issue, I would go with builder grade appliances and IKEA cabinets and laminate counters to make it possible. I'd make sure the flooring flows continuously throughout though - no shortcuts there. I think that the layout and flow of space and light will have a huge impact on how you use and enjoy your home.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:48AM
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thank you for reading my post and sharing your thoughts. i love the idea of putting the oven on the short wall. i'm not sure what you mean by 'throw the fridge on the U'. is the 'U' the new build into the ex-diningroom? i should take a picture of the current pass through. i don't know why i didn't think of this before. it's supported by one post. i think some of the layouts may have an 'X' for the post. thanks

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:26PM
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feisty68 you are right. i was getting geared up to investigate what it would take yesterday when i saw something on the renovation forum that showed that what they do to take out a load baring wall is to insert a steel beam through the house. how that's done im not sure. especially the way my kitchen is 1 1/2 floors from the level of my driveway. i guess a huge crane? but you are right. it would so improve the house. maybe i should get a home improvement loan... do you know where i could learn more?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:32PM
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I mean the u that is the wall section in the first kitchen floorplan that you show. The large light blue shape really looks more like a [ the way it is oriented.

We have to have a beam put in for support- the most recent thread that shows this wonderfully
That contractor used jacks- my husband is using an older way- a peg system where each end is lifted 12" until it is sitting in the right spot and then tying it in.

These options will need plans and stamped documents to make sure everything is done properly. They will look at all the loads and figure beam sizes and location options.

A professional designer can help you make the connections for engineering work and contractors.

Have a great day!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 2:50PM
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i see what you mean about the [. i've erased the current kitchen from my consciousness. even tho i attempt to work in every day i just picture the bare bones, which is "L" & "l"
just this morning i started thinking about putting the fridge over there. it would work in the sense that it would be convenient to the stove.
i have an architect and and engineer because it's necessary to get a permit for rebuilding the rotten deck that came with the house.
i can understand raising the beam, but i can't picture how they get the beam inside!
thanks for the info and the link. your new space is amazingly beautiful!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 3:23PM
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I'm giving you a bump so that other may give you some advice.

I don't know the particular architecture of your home, which looks lovely, but you should not be afraid of a beam. I'm not an architect, but a metal beam is generally needed when there is a large span, a large load (e.g., multi story, heavy snow loads) and/or you don't want it visible. However, laminated beams and even traditional wood beams can be used for shorter spans, or if you are willing to tolerate more frequent support posts. However, since this is the 2nd story of 3, your architect or GC may be able to give you a rough idea of the complexity. .

That being said, have you explored relocating the kitchen to the other side, where the DR and laundry/bath are now? The bath/laundry/pantry could be re located in the current kitchen. The other wall is likely non-load bearing and could come down.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 12:59AM
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thank you so much for taking an interest in my kitchen. i saw my GC today and asked about this. the problem is i live in earthquake country and the wall is not only load bearing, it's what's known as a shear wall. as i understand it, shear walls stop the house from doing the hoola hoop dance, which usually leads to an "all fall down" during an earthquake.
My GC explained in detail what sort of reinforcement would have to be done to make up for the loss of the shear wall. there would be so much vertical support needed, going down thru the garage and deep into the ground, that i'd loose the use of my garage (under the kitchen) and have so many columns it'd look like ancient Rome.
that being said, i love the idea of switching it around. i've also wanted to explore the status of that wall separating the ex-dining room from the laundry area.
ooh, maybe i can move the laundry area to the original kitchen...
thanks for thinking outside the box. it's just what i need.
& we have sunshine for the 1st time in a week.
Everyone has been so helpful. everything is great today.
have a great day.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 4:14PM
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