kitchen design-- please give me your opinion

swfrJuly 19, 2013

We are about to begin the building process on my dream home. I want to get as many opinions as possible on how to make this kitchen everything it can be. Will you please let me know what you like or don't like about this design? It is my tweak on the builder's design. I tried to label everything, but if anything isn't clear don't hesitate to ask.
I have a meeting with the designer on Thursday, so I'd love to hear back from those of you with wisdom to share asap.

My particular questions:
Are my walkways wide enough?
Is my work triangle too big? It's just a bit bigger than the recommendations, but with a kitchen this large, I don't know how to get around that.

A little background:
We are a family of four with two young kids.
I love to cook and bake.
I am moving from a kitchen that looks great but has some terrible design flaws (ie a pointless island in the middle that is right in the middle of the work triangle, a miniature-sized pantry.)


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I'm adding another pic because I realized the last one didn't show windows or give a sense of adjoining rooms.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 10:14PM
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I see a problem area where the range is. The aisle is only 3 ft there and you will be blocking that aisle when you stand at the range. Its the main path from the family room to the kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 12:40AM
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Maybe swap the fridge and range? Center the range on that other wall and make it a real focal point from the family room. The other wall could have the fridge where the range is...maybe with the microwave on that side, too.

I like your island sink, but the dishwasher should move to the left about a foot. You need enough room to have the dishwasher open and still stand at the sink. It's similar to a corner sink that way.

Are you planning to have trash on the other side of the sink? That would keep the fridge, microwave and trash out of your main work area. Hope that helps :)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 1:20AM
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The island looks too big to me. As Numbers pointed out, the range is in the way coming from the family room to get a drink, put a dish in the sink, etc. On the other side, it appears to be crowding the breakfast table. You didn't draw chairs, but they will be crowded against the bar stools when pulled out. I would shorten both sides to reduce crowding. Do you need all those bar stools when you have a breakfast table right behind the island? They are not conducive to conversation among the family when they all face the same direction.

I like the idea of swapping the fridge and range locations, moving the range down some off the edge of that wall.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 3:04AM
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Only 1 sink?
Have you thought/read about designing around zones instead of a work triangle?
If this is your dream home, you plan to be living in it when the children are teenagers? You want bigger aisles and space for two or more people to be working together.
Is the pantry walk though to dining and kitchen? Brilliant! Can you rework the 2nd fridge area to also include a beverage station and sink?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 6:39AM
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Hmmm. Building your dream home, what a concept! (Don't think I'll ever get there). We're in the process of slowwwwwly redoing our existing one.

FWIW, your kitchen has some elements which are similar to ours. We have the breakfast area nook with a round table and a walk in pantry (where your DR is). We renovated two years ago and have been truly delighted with the design.

I agree with others about the island size as drawn. There seems to be a lot of empty space to the left of the island, quite a walk between your sink and range. My cooktop is right behind my prep sink so I can chop, spin, and toss into the pan. Since you bake and cook a lot, double ovens. You'll have your back to the DR guests at the sink, similarly they will look into your prep/cleanup area. Add 18" upper cabinets and 30" countertops. In the pantry, add deeper uppers along the far wall (one regret of mine). Where are you planning your MW? How about your cookbooks? I love having them out.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 8:13AM
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We have a recycling center under our prep sink; I think at a minimum you will want trash there as well. Here's a mockup with a rectangular island, with an angle mimicking the DR wall. (Boy angles take up a lot of real estate! We have a lot in our home and I rather resent them).

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 8:44AM
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You don't have enough room for that island in your space. As others have pointed out, it's too big.

You do not have room for seating at the island + the table - you need at least 54" (and 60" is much better) b/w the island counter and the table edge. I speak from experience - I have 48" b/c of a mistake I made and it is not enough - I need another foot!

Do you really need three seating areas? Island, Nook, and DR....that's a lot of seating!

Your Nook is a bit narrow - can you still modify the exterior walls? It would be nice to have wider aisles around the table - especially if you plan a round table. In some respects, a round table takes up more space than a rectangular table. To accommodate more people, a round table must be deeper - you'll probably need a 42" wide round table by the time your children reach the pre-teen years. It would be nice to be able to have 42" of aisle space on the "top", left, and right sides of the table in the Nook. I put in a rectangular table b/c of the need for a wider aisle b/w the table and island. If you want a round table, I suggest making the Nook at least 6" deeper. I think the current width would be fine if you have a 42" round table. [Aisle recommendations: 36" to edge past diner and 44" to walk past diner.]

Are you measuring aisles counter-to-counter or cabinet-to-cabinet? Cabinets, without doors, are 24" deep (and that's how most are represented in designs - without doors). Counters are 25.5" deep. If you're measuring cabinet-too-cabinet, then your aisles are 3" narrower than you show.

Personally, I don't like cleanup sinks or ranges/cooktops in an island - they both take far too much space away from the island and negate the best thing about islands (and peninsulas) - that wonderful expanse of uninterrupted workspace (except, perhaps, for a prep sink). (There's also the safety issue for ranges/cooktops if your island isn't at least 48" deep, but you aren't showing one in the island, so no need to continue with that discussion.)

Cooking Zones should be the most protected zone in the kitchen - you will be dealing with hot items when cooking and moving around with boiling water, etc. The last thing you want is traffic getting in your way! (You don't want to trip over a child or run into someone coming into the kitchen to raid the refrigerator or get a drink while carrying a pot of boiling water to the sink to drain!)

So, what do I recommend?

  1. Consider changing the island to a rectangular island. It will fit better in your space and it will give you room for seating at the island as well as decent aisles in general.

  2. Consider moving the cleanup sink, DW, and Cleanup Zone to the "bottom" wall

  3. Consider moving the Cooking Zone and range to the left wall

  4. Consider adding a prep sink (smaller than a cleanup sink) to the island making the island the Prep Zone

  5. Getting rid of the small wall to the right of the "bottom" wall to gain 4.5" and allow you to....

  6. Move the refrigerator to the bottom wall so it's on the perimeter of the kitchen and easily accessible from the FR for snackers to access without those snackers getting in the way of those working in the kitchen.

  7. Is that bottom area 11'1" like the "nook"?

A possibility:

Details of the layout above:

  1. Overall:

  2. It separates the Cleanup Zone from the Prep and Cooking Zones - something to strive for b/c it allows several tasks to be going on at the same time, it doesn't mix the dirty dishes with the prep and cooking space, and it allows you to separate the prepping and cooking storage from the dish storage. This separation of storage allows you to easily store items at their point of use - no overlapping and people getting in each others way!

  3. It reduces zone-crossing - having to cross another work zone to go to/from appliances (especially the refrigerator) and dish storage

  4. Aisle widths are much better for a multi-worker kitchen and for seating at both the island and the table (no more back-to-back seats!)

Cleanup Zone:

  1. Moved to the "bottom" wall

  2. Deeper counters as well as deeper storage (30" deep counters, 27" deep base cabs, 15" deep uppers). This gives a lot of storage for dishes, glasses, silverware, etc. as well as space for prepping as a Secondary (or Tertiary) Prep Zone.

  3. Wider aisles to accommodate traffic

  4. Single-bowl 30" sink base with a 27" to 29" wide sink - plenty big enough for the vast majority of needs. (There's a prep sink in the island for a "second" bowl...more later)

  5. Dish storage (as well as glasses, silverware, etc.) is right where the DW is, so unloading and putting the dishes away is easy!

  6. Dish storage is placed such that it's easy to get to from the Nook as well as the DR - both w/o crossing into the Prep or Cooking Zones.


  1. Has been moved to the bottom wall - it's not quite on the perimeter, but it's located so it's accessible from the Nook, DR, and FR, w/o cutting through the Cooking Zone or zone-crossing when prepping or cooking.

  2. Because of the deeper Cleanup Zone counters, it looks built-in and does not look like a "standard" refrigerator.

  3. The other things that make it look built-in are the finished end panels on either side and the full-depth cabinet above the refrigerator (it's either 27" or so deep or it's 24" deep and pulled forward so it's flush with the refrigerator carcass (box)

Prep Zone:

  1. Prep Zone is in the island.

  2. Locating the Prep Zone in the island allows you to visit with guests, help children with homework, or watch the TV in the FR while prepping. Since 70% or more of the time working in the kitchen is spent prepping, it makes the most sense to have the Prep Zone in the most desirable spot.

  3. There's no conflict b/w the Cleanup and Prep Zones - no fighting for sink space, counter space, or a place to stand!

  4. Prep Zone is directly across from the Cooking Zone - making the prep sink handy for both zones.

  5. The aisle b/w the range wall and the island is 48" - ideal for when your family starts helping more - you'll be able to have several people working in the Cooking Zone and in the Prep Zone at the same time.

  6. The Prep Zone is protected from traffic. While it's true that the Cooking Zone is the most important zone to protect from traffic, the Prep Zone comes in a close second. You're using knives, etc....

  7. There is a prep sink in the island to provide water for the various prepping tasks that require it.

  8. A trash pullout is in the island for the trash and recyclables generated while prepping

  9. There's a 12" cabinet for cutting boards - placed right where you need it!

  10. There are 45 inches of prep space on the right side of the sink and 20" on the left side (more for landing space,though).

  11. The refrigerator is placed such that you can unload your ingredients straight from the refrigerator onto the island where they're needed without having to unload in one place and pick them up again and carry them to your Prep Zone.


  1. The island has plenty of storage for both often used as well as seldom used items - in addition to the storage in the Cooking Zone and Pantry.

  2. Seating at the island will accommodate all four of you (although, I think the table is better when you're all together for a meal).

  3. The seating overhangs are sufficient for all - one seat even has a deeper overhang for someone who is tall or has long legs. So many people skimp on seating overhang that it becomes uncomfortable for average or tall people to sit for very long (unless you enjoy "straddling" the cabinets or leaning way over to reach the counter - I don't, but YMMV).

  4. Orientation of the island allows you to interact with others both in the kitchen as well as the FR - you're facing the "action".

Cooking Zone:

  1. The Cooking Zone is now protected from through-traffic as well as incidental traffic in the kitchen.

  2. Traffic will go around the Cooking Zone - whether someone needs to use the MW, wants to get into the refrigerator, or wants to cleanup the kitchen (or DR or Nook).

  3. There is plenty of room on either side of the range for both workspace and landing space. You should have at least 24" on each side.

  4. The MW is in the Cooking Zone but on the periphery so you can easily use it while prepping or cooking. Outsiders can also use it w/o getting in the way of the cook (or the person prepping).

  5. The MW is near a water source (prep sink) - most MWing requires water be added.

  6. The MW is near the trash for the easy disposal of the wrappings - again, w/o getting in anyone elses way.

  7. There's a 12" cabinet for tray storage - cookie sheets, cooling racks, roaster pans, etc.

Note there is an 18" trash pullout in the Prep Zone and near the Cooking Zone as well as one (21") in the Cleanup Zone. The most important place for a trash pullout is in the Prep Zone and near the Cooking Zone. Far more trash and recyclables are generated while prepping and cooking than any other task - and for longer periods of time (and more often). If you only want one, then consider moving the 18" one down to the other end of the island so it's somewhat close to the Cleanup Zone - but don't remove it from the Prep Zone. Even the 21" one is too remote to be of much use during prepping and it's even worse for cooking. I think you have plenty of space to accommodate two trash pullouts - but it's up to you. 54" b/w the table and island. There is no longer direct competition for floor/aisle space since there are no back-to-back seats (island seat is farther to the left than table seats), so 54" is fine.

[Edited to add detailed explanation of layout[

This post was edited by buehl on Sat, Jul 20, 13 at 11:04

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 9:15AM
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Wow!! Thanks guys!!! I am encouraged by all of your thoughts and ideas. I knew that there was a problem with those narrow areas. I can work on that.
I played for a while with the rectangular island and I went back to it now that I see Oldbat2be's ideas. The sketch I am attaching is what I drafted up before seeing Buehl's ideas. I want to study all of that-- THANK YOU.
I want the fridge on that wall because I love a big fridge that is recessed in (and I can't do it on the other wall because our main staircase is there.)
I didn't draw chairs, but the kitchen table is only as big as the center oval and that outside circle was to show where the chairs need space.
Keep the ideas coming. It is so helpful!!!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 9:48AM
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See the additional details for the layout I posted - I added it to the same post as the drawing. It took me a long time to write it up!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Buehl, I am studying it now. You are so generous to offer all of this advice and I greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 12:45PM
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