Time to get serious on the world's worst kitchen

smaloneyAugust 12, 2013

I've been on this site for 2 years, initially came here to just quickly replace tiny (7.5ftx12ft) galley kitchen but then realized how pointless it would be to repeat the current mistakes. I've considered what seems like every possible variation to make a functional kitchen out of what is currently really just a corridor, on a slab, hemmed in by load-bearing walls.

I'm now looking at a lot of construction work for what will still be a relatively tiny kitchen - moving all the appliances to the outside wall (which means trenching the slab a few feet), opening up the load bearing wall to the breakfast room, and running some narrow pantry and microwave cabinets on the inside wall. We also need a full electrical upgrade/heavyup, which will be done regardless.

Basics about me: family of 4 in a downscale house in a high-priced suburb of DC. Won't move any time soon, mostly because we can't replicate the square footage, the good schools, and relatively short commute without spending at least double what we paid for this house. The house has been expanded twice by previous owners with no attention to the kitchen, although now I sort of understand why. I'm not a huge cook or entertainer but have aspirations of both, and have 2 boys plus a husband all of whom are super tall. As the house floor plan shows, the kitchen is the main passageway to our living and dining rooms, so having a reasonable aisle clearance seems really important.

So all that said, does my proposed new layout make sense? Is it really worth it to trench the slab and open the wall? (I mean, I think it is, but if I'm missing something obvious that avoids that, I'd love to consider it.) My biggest uncertainty is the banquette (which I'd do via Ballard or another freestanding one rather than built-in) - I love the look of banquettes but am not really sure if my big, busy kids are well-suited to that.

Anyway, I'd love any comments.Most appliances are bought (GE caf� 30" gas range w/small oven on top; GE caf� hood; KA CD fridge.) I seem to have finally found a contractor, which has been a holdup till now since most of the not-high-end "kitchen places" I've talked to sort of seem disinterested when I start getting into all the back-end work this place needs.

Current first floor:

Proposed remodel of kitchen:

This is what it would look like from our front entry:

And this would be the view from the living room:

And this is the inside wall (24" wide tall pantries flanking about 54" for the microwave, all 12" deep):

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I know you say you've explored a lot of different options, but what about moving the laundry room to the basement or upstairs with a stacked unit in a closet. Tearing that wall down would seem to make the most sense to enlarge the kitchen. Especially since there is already water and a drain there. Then you could do a header between the kitchen and the eating area and between the kitchen and the living room. You could leave it as a cased opening, or install french doors to be able to contain the kitchen mess within the kitchen when you wanted to.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 1:20PM
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I like your shallow wall storage idea, Smaloney. It seems like a very good one for a true "corridor" kitchen. :)

But, have you considered placing the refrigerator on that wall AND recessing it into the laundry room enough to make it flush with the rest of the cabinetry? Setting it into a bearing wall would mean framing a doorway for it to sit in.

That would make all the difference in the world to the workability of the busy side of the kitchen. You could slide the sink more toward the left side and have a great work counter between it and the stove.

I personally would keep the stove by the right wall or very close by, because I have that now in my tiny vacation kitchen, and every inch gained for my work area on the open side is a treasure and well worth the really almost nonexistent inconvenience. In a corridor kitchen seen end-on, the finer appearance issues of placements need not be considered--they all blend into each other and can't be seen head-on from across a room.

Hope you've found a nice place for your find old couch you were trying to keep in the breakfast room.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 1:32PM
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I like the idea to use the laundry area and open up the breakfast room. It would make a huge difference. If you've no place else to put the washer/dryer, include a stack unit in a kitchen closet.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 1:37PM
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You've got two separate rooms for eating - do you need this duplication in a situation where you are tight on space? That's a lot of square footage devoted to eating, maybe more than you need.

If you need a spot for quick on the go meals perhaps a few stools next to a counter in the kitchen and then plan to eat every meal in the DR?

I would consider moving the kitchen to "breakfast room" space. I realize that you're on a slab so drain lines will be apain to move, but making the whole house work pbetter would be a big iprovement.

I know sometime people preserve the DR for "resale", but DR are rooms that are easily repurposed.

You may have dealt with this in your comments but your PB picture is too wide (too many pixels horizontally) so it expands your text box which then flows under the ads on the right column making it unreadable. A quick (no need to go back to PB and resize the pic) solution is simply to copy and paste your opening comments in a post below your original one.

One of the current decorating trends is to have lots and lots of square footage in houses devoted to eating and food prep. If you look at decorating shows or magazines you'll see tons of attractive options and pretty soon it seems normal.. But it's important to not allow the feeding process to devour our entire houses. People are sacrificing room that used to be devoted to socializing as everybody now has accepted that entertaining happens in the kitchen (formerly a service room) and because people just focus their seating on the ginorous TVs, there seems like nothing else to do with their public spaces, except focus on food.

A separate breakfast room where meals are eaten at table works in a big house, but I don't think a small house should have two sit-down-at-table eating spaces. Either the formal one is wasted because no one ever eats there except on holidays, or the informal one is wasted because no one is at home during the meals where informal eating at "breakfast room" table might occur.

I hope you won't mind me pointing this out. And don't despair, your plan with DR and BR is not as problematic as some posted here which have DR, BR, a full set of stools at an eat-at counter in the kitchen, and sometimes even a kitchen table, as well. No wonder we all need to lose a few pounds!



    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 1:41PM
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I think your proposed layout is great...but I have a small house so I get the "shoving it all into this sq footage" thing, lol. I wouldn't move the laundry. Upstairs sounds great, except in an older house where the newer units shake the place enough to make you run to grab things falling off shelves! We had one of the washer/dryer in one unit combos for about 1 day at our old house. The shaking was bad enough for us to be concerned for the structure! We went back to an old school stacked unit in a small addition that didn't shake the place apart (the combo needed a higher winter ambient temp than we could get).

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 4:17PM
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Nothing like the odd voice coming in with personal experience. :)

I so agree, of course, with having one big, great dining space in a small home, but if I recall Smaloney has special ideas for a table right there, with the kids doing homework was it? In any case, all her designs kept a table right there on that wall where she could be part of the scene and/or just have a constant eye on it from the kitchen. Perhaps it gets the best sunshine in the house or something good like that too. It wasn't explained, but so far it's been a pretty consistent preference.

And the laundry space basically stayed as it was. So far.

On the plus side, although all the rooms are small, a circular family traffic pattern flows through all of them. Unless someone gets stern about the office doors maybe.

In any case, there doesn't seem to be any neglected orphan space on this floor. Strictly speaking, I wouldn't be surprised if this floor has more well used living space than many much larger tract homes where all the living takes place at a kitchen island and an adjacent family room too small to hold more than one seating group, which focuses the entire family toward the TV 90% of the time.

Different strokes.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 4:39PM
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I've redone two tiny kitchens successfully IMHO. In my case, the key has been to not let yourself get stuck on a single idea, e.g. not moving the sink, or not enlarging a doorway, etc.

In my last kitchen the horrible problem was that we had a stairway to the basement taking up 1/4 of the kitchen. It took forever to figure out a solution, but in the end, we flipped the stairs the opposite way and added a doorway through the dining room. Unconventional, but once we got the idee fixe out of our heads that "doorways to basements CANNOT be in the dining room" the entire design fell into place.

In my current kitchen, the big problem was a horrible half-wall stuck halfway through the kitchen. The cost to remove it was prohibitive, so we reworked the design a gazillion times until we moved the sink, which made it all work.

My feeling about your design is that you are stuck on having the kitchen in the same place it is now. I don't know what trenching out a wall involves or costs, but I agree with Liriodendron that moving your kitchen into the breakfast room space would make more sense. Could you use the existing kitchen space as a pantry and use the breakfast room as your eat-in kitchen?

How old are your kids? A banquette works for younger kids, but a large banquette can be awkward, and it's not very flexible. You can have an eat in kitchen in a small space if you use the space efficiently. In my old kitchen, I squeezed in a tiny banquette over the headroom to the aforementioned basement stairs, and it worked great. In my new kitchen, I squeezed in a tiny breakfast bar next to the main sink.

Could you use your dining room as the office/den/playroom and capture some of that playroom space for your kitchen/eating/living area? Maybe the den could be your eating area in the kitchen?

How much do you use your dining room? In a small house, you have to use every inch and let go of "formal" spaces that sit unused, as they do in most houses. If, for example, you've just redecorated your dining room and don't want to tear it apart, that might be holding you back from repurposing that room. That's the kind of thing you have to let go of to re-imagine your house using every inch of it efficiently. For example, in my current tiny house, I cut the kitchen in half and squeezed a family room into the space that was formerly all kitchen. It works great!! The sacrifice is that every inch of the kitchen has to work, and it does.

I know you say you don't cook much, but having a sink that faces a wall would kill my interest in cooking, so I think that part of your design is great.

12-inch deep pantry cabinets are perfect! I love them! I have 15" deep cabinets, and things get lost at the back.

Good luck with your project. I think you have a lot more space to work with than you think you do.

One more piece of advice: Don't let your contractor talk you into anything! I listen politely to my contractor (who is great, BTW), and then I ask him politely to do what I wanted in the first place! He likes to do what he's done before, but with a little urging will do what YOU want. My contractor was very skeptical about my kitchen design, but now says he's impressed by how well it works.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 5:16PM
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Thanks so much everyone!

@liriodendron and @baltomom��" I totally agree, we definitely don’t need tons of eating space. I'd actually prefer stools and a peninsula, just haven't figured out how to do it without it looking like a donut shop as you walk in the door. Right now every room in the house gets heavy use, with the exception of the dining room. But I’ve tried six ways to Sunday, and the playroom/office are very tight for anything but a super narrow dining table and chairs. And since both my husband and I are academics, we use that office every day or night ��" it’s got floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and I’ll soon extend those into the toyroom/den to house all our books.
Here's what it looks like:

Vs. the current dining room:

I’ve considered trying to move the whole kitchen into the breakfast room (which is a fancier name than what it is, we mostly just call it the front room. It was probably the living room in the original tiny house.) But it’s actually pretty tight when you factor in the front door, which is just off the layout as I’ve done it, and the fact that the stairs are there as well (what I’ve shown as an opening is actually the bottom of the staircase, which goes up to a landing and then turns for a second run of stairs.) Because there is so much traffic, I am trying to keep the room as open as possible ��" I used to have a larger table there, and I realized when I switched it for a 42” round one up against the wall that it was much nicer to come in the front door and not have to navigate around so much stuff.

This is the current view of the "breakfast" room from the front door:

and from the kitchen:

@live_wire_oak and @snookums and @eclecticcottage: I am not opposed to moving the laundry; we might do at some point, either if we ever add on upstairs (although what @eclecticcottage gives me pause), or whenever we redo the downstairs bath (the dining room was actually added on as a master bedroom when the previous owner remarried, so the downstairs bath is a freaky 1980s master bath, complete with 4x5 jacuzzi tub!) But the laundry space is crazy with ducting, and several contractors have basically said it would be tens of thousands in HVAC work to reclaim the space, if it’s even possible. (I previously got my hopes up over a contractor who first thought we could just widen the galley by 12", until his mechanical guys came by and nixed it.) So I think I’m pretty stuck with some combination of the current galley and ‘breakfast room.’

@rosie - your suggestion about moving the refrigerator to the inside wall and recessing it into the laundry area is an awesome one. I think I would have to do it at either end of the galley, to keep the access to the furnace etc. But it would negate the one downside to my original idea, which is that it has less counter space than my current horrendous kitchen.

Which is vaguely pictured here:

And @rosie, thanks so much for your prior response to my original post, and remembering about my kitchen couch. I'm the only daughter of what was the world's best mother, she was a champion shopper and amateur decorator. This couch was her mother's and it sat in our renovated kitchen (my mother was ahead of the curve, she opened up her kitchen in the 1970s.) I'm thrilled to have this couch in my home now. But I'm not convinced I can keep it in the kitchen AND have some kind of eating/computer space. Which I need. It doesn't need to be formal, but it needs to be secure and big enough for a 5ft tall 9yo, and his 4yo brother who will be at least as tall in the blink of an eye. If I don't use the couch in the post-remodel kitchen, it will go to the den/toy room where I know it will get a lot of use from the people whom my mother would have loved the best. That's partially why I am planning to keep the front half of the "breakfast room" as freestanding furniture, I can see what works best for my family and what lets me keep the stuff that matters to me.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 10:27PM
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What if...you made the breakfast room into the dining room, the current kitchen into a butler's pantry and the dining room into the kitchen?

This is a bit unconventional, but it would open up your living room to the kitchen and you could have a big island, eating space. The dining room would be what you see as you enter the house and the butler's pantry could be used for entertaining, dish storage and pantry space.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:25AM
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I wouldn't give over the potential counter in the work zone...eliminate at least one pantry section. Omit the banquette as you show it currently.... continue counter and cabs along long wall and at the end,in the corner,place vertical storage at a reduced depth, if you need it. Use a table that is moved forward and with a smaller side banquette bench on 12 foot wall of breakfast room, and chairs around the other side of table that can be skooched under, out of way when not used. I'm not keen on the larger banquette you show anyway as it seems too much space given to it...this way you get more of what you need as far as cabs/counter and storage and smaller banquette, as this space seems like a bistro or short episodes of sitting/talking with the cook/grabbing a snack/etc.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 1:40AM
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I had basically the same idea as lavender_lass, but I didn't say it because I wasn't sure if you could really move your utilities that far with a slab foundation. Maybe you would run new utilities from the street?

Also, I hesitated because I moved my kitchen in a house with a basement and it was a 3 year long nightmare - granted, it was all DIY and pay-as-you-go which made the process way longer, but what you'd gain in time by using contractors you'd lose in money. I am very glad now that it's done though, so if it's in your budget and makes sense to spend on the house re resale value, it would make your home work much better.

Anyway.. if you can do it, it looks like you could fit the fridge and stove on the left wall, and the sink and DW in an island with seating (for the kids to do homework, etc.) in front of it. If there's enough width in the DR (say, at least 12'9" or 13" wide) you wouldn't even have to open it up to the living room. I kind of wouldn't want to do that anyway, due to budget plus keeping the fireplace.

You could also put a closet and/or more bookshelves in the current kitchen instead of a butler's pantry - probably a better idea since you don't seem to have any closet space on this floor, plus it's badly placed for a butler's pantry which is usually right off the kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 10:11AM
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Why is the living room next to the dining room now? (Well, wait, I see it is the largest room!) Still, could its use be moved back to the front door and use that room+ dining room for kitchen/eating/play/homework room? Is the wall between the LR and DR unalterable?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 11:49AM
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I agree with raee using the entire back two rooms for a kitchen/eating/family room. Then the front room could be either a formal dining or living room (whichever is more important to you. I wonder if you could make a more spacious front entrance with a coat closet as well by using some of the den space on the other side of the stairs.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:22PM
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Thanks everyone! The house is odd. The living & dining rooms were an addition in the 1980s. The previous owners had bumped the house up a few years earlier, got divorced, remarried, and added on again to make a downstairs master bedroom and bath. We only saw the house empty, and I had never really seen a downstairs MBR, so I just assumed it was a dining room. It works well that way for our purposes. It's a tiny bit larger than our family/living room, but it's also darker. I do a lot of my writing there.

Moving the kitchen to the dining room is in the cards, or the budget. I played with various layouts and never found one that seemed great. And it would basically require ripping up the whole first floor. Honestly my 1900sqft inner-suburb house doesn't need a giant kitchen. In close-in DC, huge kitchens with islands are not the norm except in very high-end houses. I kind of like the current placement, where I can interact with whoever's in the living room and in the front room, and can see into the backyard as well as the sidewalk out front. Now that my kids are past the massive plastic toy stage of life, I don't find we need tons more space; just space that functions better for our daily lives.

So I'm sticking with some form of the galley extended frontward. As several of you have suggested, more counterspace would be better - I'm going to try to either extend the counters into the front room as far as possible, and/or try to recess the fridge into the laundry/utility room.

PS I'll post this separately at some point but if there's anyone in the DC area who needs samples of either Barker or Cliq cabinets, I have a small stack (including a Barker sample cabinet with a walnut shaker door.) I liked both options but will probably be going another route. Also a couple of Silestone and Ceasarstone samples. What can I say, this has been my obsession but I was too busy to get it done till now. So I'm happy to pass the samples along!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Sorry, meant to say moving the kitchen to the dining room is NOT in the cards or budget. Whoops.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:37PM
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I probably shouldn't load on yet another new question, BUT regarding the dining room, which is currently underused: Might the dynamics of its use change if doorways, as wide as optimal, were placed on both sides of the fireplace? If you were to do that and mentally unlabel all the rooms (hopefully easier than carrying the furniture outside), what might happen?

Regarding the kitchen, still working in the present footprint:
30" sink + 30" stove subtracted from ?140" room length should leave @80".
Subtracting 24" for DW LEFT of sink would leave
@56", or 4-1/2" of full-depth open counter in the middle.
That could be larger still if you put the DW in the middle too and only did, say, 18" left of the sink. I'd want satisfactory room for waiting mess there, though.

If you needed more work counter, how about deepening it? Just as it is, though, 90" width minus 30"-deep work counter and minus 12"-deep storage would leave 48" for the central passage. You also, of course, have the stud depth in the opposite wall that could be used if necessary for storage in order to gain more center walkway depth.

(On my island I mostly tend to work in about 39" max of counterfront; and when I need more room, I move stuff out on the island ahead of me instead of expanding sideways.)

As it happens, we also did 12" deep storage and borrowed 3-1/2 more inches from stud depth to set in a microwave. We also set a couple feet of refrigerator into the powder room behind it, so you can see where these ideas are coming from too.

BTW, I love your decor. Has me wondering what your kitchen might look like.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:37PM
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Do you have a fireplace in your living room? Do you have a garage? If so, where is it? Does the living room door lead to backyard or deck?

Your current home shows 3 sofas / living areas. Could you live with 2?

My thinking is that extending your slab as you
Propose, in the center of the house only, is not worth the expense (and I say that even though I just extended my home and love it). In your case, it seems to be a lot of money for little gain. I would rather see you work within the current footprint to get a better overall house layout.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 2:07PM
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I have a smaller house than this, with a small galley kitchen, and we eat every meal in the DR. So I agree with lirio about that being a great use of limited space. But my DR is right off the kitchen. Having to carry every meal through the LR to the other corner of the house would get tedious. I do think that making the whole back of the house the kitchen and DR would be great, but I can understand if that is cost prohibitive. Given the limitations - and the fact that the front room would be a pretty small living room - your current idea may be best. And I will say that a well organized small galley can be a joy to cook in - no wasted steps.

Will you be able to open the fridge enough past 90 degrees so you can get the drawers and shelves out to clean it? Right now it looks like the fridge door opens into the doorway to the LR, but in the new plan, there's a wall there.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Do you have enough space between the staircase and the utility ducts to put a hallway and create a center hall home? If so, put utilities in a closet, flip the toilet and sink into the current utility room. This should be expensive as pipes are already in place and you are just flipping the orientation. This would make your current office bigger. But now you move your office to current kitchen space. In your old office space, you put the kitchen with an island. The island aisle is the center " hall" of your house. Only it's not a hall, it's open to kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 2:54PM
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This is my open concept center hall if you have enough space to put a walkway between your staircase and utility ducts. Not sure where you could squeeze in the laundry.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 3:12PM
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Holly- Kay

I am terrible at seeing how a space can work so no help there. I just want to say that I love your home. It is very warm and inviting and it just looks like there is a lot of love there!

Good luck with your project, I will be following to see how you repurpose your space.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 3:18PM
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OK, no moving rooms.

I would definitely recess the fridge into the utility room. Then, separate the sink and range as far from each other as possible. I would say get 48", or at least 36" between them if at all possible. The DW should not be between the sink and range. This is because between sink and range is the primary prep location. Choosing between a tight traffic aisle in your current space and that 12" space you have between sink and range currently - I'd choose the former.

THEN - make the counters on the sink/range wall 6", or at least 4" deeper. Speaking from experience, this truly makes a huge difference in a small kitchen. I grew up with 6" deeper counters in a teensy kitchen and never really noticed how small it was. Deeper counters are great for prepping and in a small kitchen with no room for an island or peninsula, this is

You can make counters deeper expensively by ordering extra deep cabinetry, or less expensively by simply building a frame of 2x6"s against the wall, installing cabinetry against that, and running counters over both.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 6:17PM
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It's hard for me to tell but it looks like the entrance to the laundry is next to the kitchen sink cabinet? Can you stack the w/d in the laundry and put the pantry in the laundry room?

Could you take advantage of water lines in the utility room by putting cabinets in the breakfast room up against the UR wall, with a small sink? Make it into a beverage /snack/ hidden microwave area? Maybe even with a small fridge?? That would keep some traffic out of the kitchen and with nice cabinetry would look ok from your front door (IMHO, maybe not in yours lol).


    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 11:28AM
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Thanks again everyone! It's so incredible to have all this great brainstorming! Literally every contractor who has come into this house has some moment where they just say wow, this is tricky. We live in a neighborhood where the smallest houses are all being razed for mcmansions, and I definitely see why now - it's harder to improve than to start from scratch. Our place is just big enough that it will always be viable for a family like ours (who wants this area but can't swing $1.5m), so it's worth the redo.

@rosie, you must read my mind! My next-year-or-beyond plan is to open up the living and dining rooms more somehow. There are built-ins on the far wall of each room, and some electrical and HVAC in the walls, but it should be doable. My long-term goal is to expand the upstairs (right now we have an attic above the living/dining rooms) so that would be the time. for fiddling with the wall.

@laura12, I love those ideas. Opening up the wall between the front/breakfast room and the galley could definitely make that possible.

@dilly_ny: sadly, there is really no way to get a center hallway. Whatever this house looked like at its outset 60 years ago, the additions basically put a ton of ducting into the utility room. I had a million plans based around taking a bit of that space, but apparently it's not even possible to frame any new walls in there without moving the entire HVAC system.

@ginny20: I've studied your beautiful galley kitchen with its supercool tricks (recessed ovens! pullout cutting board!) in depth! I am very used to this setup now and kind of prefer it, but it would be much more viable if it weren't also a hallway.

@tracie_erin: I love the idea of stretching out the space between the stove and the sink. I need the contractor to say whether it's possible to recess the fridge on the inside wall without impacting the furnace. It's very tight in there although we were able to replace the HVAC system, I want to make sure I leave enough space for any future issues.

@mtn_fever: I can definitely cram more storage into the utility room, but nothing attractive. It's just unredeemable space apparently! But still useful, in a small house you need every spot you can get.

Okay, one final question: - I heard the pushback on the giant banquette and I get it. I'm less interested in anything fussy than just slouch space for two big, busy kids who need a good spot for quick meals and supervised homework. I'd actually prefer counter stools, but wasn't sure how it would look, since you'd walk in the front door to a room basically occupied by a short peninsula. How does this diagram strike people (note that I've haven't yet shifted the fridge, need to confirm that's viable)? I'm very conscious about keeping wide pathways for all the traffic through this front room.

This would be the view from the front door or coming down the stairs:

I'm so excited because I think we've found a contractor with good reviews and the right timetable. Twice the original budget, but half the estimate I got from another prospect a few weeks ago. After two years, I might actually be able to stop buying kitchen magazines and start using a functional kitchen!! Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 12:20PM
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Is that the front door, that you would be entering into the kitchen area? I think I would want to divide that into a foyer area.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 12:46PM
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I'm not sure the peninsula works in this space, it just looks a bit awkard with the stools to the back of wall.

I like the banquet, and with 4 people it would be easy enough to get in and out, I think banquets are more of an issue when you are trying to squeeze 3 or 4 kids in that amount of space and someone has to get up to let others out. In your set up the person sitting in the char would need to pull their chair over, not really a problem from my perspective.

However, if you don't like it, what if you had banquet seating on the wall the runs up through the kitchen, and then the round table with chairs on the sides (so that a chair would be there with its back to the wall shared with the front door.

Or just nix the banquet and put a small round table there with chairs all the way round?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 1:15PM
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I missed the new photo shots showing the front door. Sweet house. I like your entrance area, and with the bistro table. Your kitchen plans certainly do seem very modern for what we are seeing of the house.

I guess I'm crazy to like the small galley kitchen, but if you can't get it to be more efficient, or sufficient then, of course, something needs to be done.

I would work opening it up into the laundry room rather than the front room. You could even just pull some space from the one end of the laundry to add a pantry for more storage.

I wouldn't want to walk into the house from the front door into the kitchen. That is also where the working counter area is, so a messy sight. The counter arrangement would not work for me, regardless.

It seems to me that you're sacrificing function for circulation.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Aug 14, 13 at 14:17

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 1:41PM
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Where is the start of the stairs? Is it at the front door or is it along the bathroom/utility wall? Could you post a pic, please?

I have an idea but I need to see how the stairs run to know if it will work.

I prefer your banquet plan over the peninsula/bar-stool plan.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 1:49PM
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I like your original layout, with one small change. I had a tiny galley in DC for my last house, and it had the sink-fridge-stove on one side, and on the other side, 12" deep base cabinets with 12" uppers. I mounted the uppers slightly higher than normal so I would have headroom. But I used that 12" deep stretch of counter constantly, and it was really great to have. If you could eke out 15", even better. Not ideal by GW standards, but it was actually a very functional little kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:45PM
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Definitely if you can make that stretch of cabinetry in #1 deeper for good counter depth. I also like the banquette. It's softer, bringing some cushions and fabric in. The counter areas around the sink is are so small. It might be a little more useful to center the sink under the window. I wouldn't find the longer stretch at the far end to the right of the range convenient. Better yet, put a cabinet depth frig across on the other side (or recess into laundry) and comfortable, usable stretches of counter flanking the sink.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Aug 14, 13 at 15:16

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:56PM
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it's hard to say.....I would be sure and have a curved end to the peninsula with the option of stools around the end....I see the peninsula as a big boost to the kitchen usability and as "boys" become adults,the laying out food, gathering around the peninsula becomes a big draw. In your home with various points of destination, I think the coming in from this breakfast room entrance and having on/off stools will work with people moving around as opposed to people getting in position in the large banquette...and then maneuvering out is an experience in and of itself. The other way is a shorter banquette bench and more chairs around a table.But remember-big net gain for the cook/kitchen activity with the peninsula. Is the living room door not your front door? With good flooring I think this entrance can work with peninsula here.....some art on wall straight on from the door.On graph paper you aren't seeing much that can be done from interior design aspect..pendant lights,curved end on peninsula/stools/flooring/window treatment above peninsula/etc. I think your house is quirky-in a good way-that's a given-but this is your bottom line chance to get MORE for kitchen usability. That would be my priority,and the "looks" stuff will be worked through. Do you not see/feel the bonus of extending that long wall into peninsula?..or extend the wall and have a much smaller banquette?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 4:49PM
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How nice that your musing and simmering have finally come to the boil and you're ready to cook. :)

I think you were considering something like this before? If you decide you need to go this direction, great. It's attractive and presents a trim front to the entry, and, of course, provides a lot more work counter and storage.

My only reservation is lack of future flexibility. You can do anything--within its decided limits of course--with this room now using furniture. Whether a counter or banquette, I'd try to retain some of that flexibility for the future--such as finished flooring running under anything installed, a banquette free standing, no plumbing in front room, that sort of thing). After all, your ability to shape this eccentric layout to your current needs seems to be working pretty nicely so far. Whatever you choose, I'm pretty sure you're doing to do a very good job for yourselves.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 5:27PM
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OMG! One look at the library and I knew someone in the house had a PhD! Are you starting this project at the beginning of the semester???? Lots of good ideas from very experienced people on this forum. Best of luck.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 11:34PM
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I agree with your concerns about how this looks upon entering the house. A pp suggested closing or partitioning things off so that that space is truly kitchen space and the rest is more of the foyer/entrance. I wonder if part of the issue with the banquette image is how mid-century it looks in comparison to the overall style in the rest of the home. It doesn't have to look like that in real life, or you could plan to redecorate to make the rest of the house in that style, then the banquette MIGHT work, but I still think it felt a bit like walking into a diner or restaurant . . . the counter, sadly, has a similar affect, IMO. the peninsula is better for the kitchen functionally (more useful) then the banquette, but it still has decorative issues. Besides, where will your little sofa go?

I don't necessarily have answers for you. You desire a place for homework, snacks and lounging as well as an attractive entryway while expanding your kitchen into this space. Those things are at odds, and need a more creative decorator than I am. Since you have fairly limited options of altering kitchen function while keeping the kitchen in it's location, perhaps the folks over at home decor (don't know if it is active over there) might help more with this conundrum. They may have a creative idea in the decor/furniture layout sense that we aren't thinking of while focusing on kitchen needs.

I don't recall if or how much you explored the possibility of expanding the kitchen the other direction. I could especially see some of Laura's ideas about wrapping the kitchen around a corner working in that LR space. But . . . I know the current den and "breakfast room" are probably too small for a "family room" Just wondering if the existing family room could take on more of a multi-purpose great room feel, especially if you hope to open into the DR someday.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 10:21AM
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Thanks. I think the last round of comments sort of get to the root of my problem (now that I've settled on moving the plumbing and expanding the opening between the two rooms.) I just can't decide how to "complete" the kitchen into the front/breakfast room: banquette, peninsula, or a counter straight to the end. For function I prefer the peninsula idea, but I think the banquette might look better (at least on paper). And it avoids the dead corner at the front of the house.

@rosie: you're right as always - part of the banquette idea is that it can always be changed. I could even put in a counter height table like this one:

Eclectic Kitchen by Chicago Kitchen & Bath Designers Rebekah Zaveloff : KitchenLab

@herbflavor: you make great points. I think you're right, I just need to design it so that it doesn't look like a bar when you walk in the house! Sadly my house only aspires to quirky - right now it's just a pain!

@rmiriam: thanks for the DC perspective. I think we would totally use a 12" counter - making coffee, toast, lunch assembly.

@controlfreakecs: The home decorating forum is a great idea - it's starting to be my new distraction already!

@motherof3sons: you guessed it - more degrees than sense here! My timing is actually a function of the job- the deal was that I would focus on the kitchen once I finished a big manuscript. 612 pages submitted in April, then I got distracted and had trouble finding a contractor (someday I'd love to know why some come out, look around, promise repeatedly to send proposals but never do.)

@lisa_a: Here's a photo literally standing on the stoop. As you can hopefully see, the fact that it's not a straight staircase unfortunately compounds my issues with using the front room as part of the kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 11:17AM
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Thanks for posting that photo.

Here's my idea:

I moved the fridge to the inner wall, recessing it enough so that its case (not the doors, just the body of the fridge) extends 16.5" into the room. I made the lower cabs next to it 15", with the counter at 16.5" deep so that they dead-end into the side of the fridge cab. That few extra inches of depth will make it easier to make coffee, toast, etc in this area. There are upper cabs above this shallow counter for more storage, something like what you see in the left side of this photo:

Contemporary Kitchen by Thornhill Interior Designers & Decorators Avalon Interiors

Moving the fridge and recessing it into the laundry/utility room gives you the wider aisle you want plus it moves the fridge out of view from the front door.

I moved the range to the opposite end of the counter run and sited it next to the window. The hood will run up against the window molding like this:

Traditional Kitchen by Ann Arbor Interior Designers & Decorators Laura Zender Design, Allied ASID

Judging by your plan posted above, you should have 12-15" of counter to the left of the range.

I moved the sink down the wall, nearly to the opening with just enough room for an 18" DW. 18" European DW hold as much as US 24" DWs so you're not giving up function but you are gaining more space in your small kitchen. Panel the DW to make it disappear. Check the selection of panel ready 18" DW at AJ Madison (see link).

You will need to do some trenching in your slab to make this work but you gain a large amount of prep counter between sink and range with a window above. IMO, that is worth the expense.

To the right of the DW is a china hutch that looks like a piece of furniture but is built in, something like this:

Eclectic Kitchen by Pasadena Design-Build Firms HartmanBaldwin Design/Build

That gives guests a nice view when they come in the door. You could opt to put shelves above the sink and DW like this:

Eclectic Kitchen

You could also hang artwork, decorative plates, wine rack etc on the wall above the sink and DW:

Traditional Kitchen by San Marino Interior Designers & Decorators Charmean Neithart Interiors, LLC.

Wrapped around the corner on the wall facing the front of the house is a tall shallow pantry that looks like furniture, something like this:

Traditional Kitchen by Boston Kitchen & Bath Designers Venegas and Company

Perhaps you can re-purpose the armoire cabinet that's in the front room already.

I put the bench/couch that is in your front room to use, making it a bench for a rectangular table. The two chairs can be placed against the wall next to the china hutch cab when not needed.

My goal was to give you a better functioning kitchen while maintaining the charm of your home. In other words, I tried to reduce the utilitarian nature of a kitchen extended into the front room.

Here is a link that might be useful: Panel ready 18

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:57PM
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I like was Lisa A. did very much. She has some amazing ideas for making that front room feel like it fits with the rest of the house, is functional, yet not too "kitchen-y." I actually really like the warm feel of the pictures of your home. It is clearly a good place to curl up with a book! I like the idea that everything in the breakfast room area is given an unfitted furniture feel. Perhaps do a search on this board for "unfitted kitchen" It might help give you ideas as well.

I hope you can recess the fridge, it seems to make such a difference in everything else.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 4:00PM
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That plan works much better. I'd make the counter space along the laundry room wall as deep as possible. You might also make the first part of the laundry room pantry space.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 11:43PM
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Can you move te wall between the living and dining room? If so maybe consider opening up the kitchen towards the current living room, bring that wall over to open up the now dining room to make it a larger living room.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 6:36AM
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Or you could even keep the w/d where it is but wrap pantry shelves along the long wall and end. (Not sure what the two things are at the end of the room).

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 12:43PM
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