Galley kitchen layout advice

MousunAugust 9, 2013

Hi there, we are trying to give our 1930s era house a kitchen that functions. As in, we want to be able to cook in it. Ideally, it will look pretty, too. But right now... function.

I've attached a drawing of what the layout looked like before.

As of right now, we're gutting it. We have our appliances (thanks appliance forum!) and local permit ⦠and now we just have to make it happen. And here's where I'm hoping for some advice, starting with the layout.

What we know: it will be a galley kitchen. Stove will be on the short wall. Sink, dishwasher and fridge on the other, longer wall. The dining room stays separate. Two people should be able to be in the kitchen at once without colliding; anything else is probably asking too much.

Wants that I think we can get:
- Custom cabinets (if I make them) for at least the oddest nooks in the space
- Moving the stove across the room, moving the fridge into the kitchen
- Deep counters next to fridge (again, if I make or modify cabinets)
- Hardwood floors (we exposed the original maple floors)
- New electric, new plumbing, new gas line for stove
- Garbage disposal & undersink water filter
- New windows of some kind
- Some reworking of the area around the chimney/basement passage

Wants I'm not sure how to get:
- A good way to work around that chimney and fridge nook
- How to get larger windows/more light without biting off more than we can chew
- How to maximize storage space and function without closing in the room too much⦠maybe some open shelves? All glass uppers?
- How to give the space as much symmetry and beauty as possible
- How to maximize work areas/counters
- How to make the 108 inch tall x 100 inch wide x 138 inch long space not feel like a shoe box
- How to get a real stove vent without tearing apart more walls

Thanks already for the advice and knowledge I've absorbed by reading other threads here!

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Move the stove to the left of the sink, and put a DW to the right of the sink. Put in a trash pull out between the stove and sink. This will give you more counter space.

Move the fridge to the corner opposite of the stove.

Put pantry cabinets next to the fridge or even a MW nook.

Put a pantry cabinet to the ceiling between the chimney and the basement door. Have the doors open to the basement pass thru door to avoid paying for a pull out. You could stack stock sized base or wall cabinets.

Have a movable work table and stools between your walls.

Deeper counters are not expensive to have. Just don't have them too deep so you can't reach your shelves.

I replaced my double casement with an awning window in my kitchen and it made a huge difference.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 6:00PM
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Thanks for the good ideas. I hadn't considered putting the stove to the left of the sink; figured it would be too close to the window, and I was hoping to enlarge that window... But having the sink and stove so close together could be nice, too. Is it better to have more counter next to a stove, or more counter next to a fridge?

The pantry cabinet by the chimney is definitely something I'm thinking about. Would trying to a work a little counter/seating area in there be worth it? Maybe with some pantry cabinets above, to take advantage of 9 foot ceilings?

My draft layout (leaving walls and windows as they are) would be something like this:

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 6:58PM
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You have a lot of obstacles, in your small space. Very typical of older homes :)

What about closing up the pass through to the dining room? Could you add a door where the fridge is now, instead? That would give you a nice L for the dishwasher, sink (bigger window) trash, prep area and stove.

The fridge could be on the other wall, with microwave next to it, if there's space. I wouldn't put the fridge right next to the radiator and you need a little space to open the doors all the way (for cleaning) when it's up against a wall.

There are some shallow spaces by the new doorway and against the chimney, for pantry, books, display, etc. Just a few ideas :) From Farmhouse plans

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 7:39PM
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That L shape would be great. We don't know what's in the wall where you show the new doorway, so that could be a scary. Or, I could demo it this weekend and see... The only downside to closing in the existing doorway is that would be we'd also lose all the southern light coming through the dining room directly into the main part of the kitchen. The kitchen is on the dark northeast side of the house, of course.

But definitely going to try to do a big window like that over the sink.

Maybe this would kind of make an L, if we moved walls a bit?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 8:50PM
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I'm afraid I think you should put the DW to the left of the sink. I have a galley, only 93" wide, and the DW used to be between the DR entrance and the sink. Cleanup was a nightmare - trying to get around the open DW. Now the DW is on the other side, so the dishes come in from the DR, then bones and napkins go in the trash pull out, then dishes get scraped in the sink, then go into the open DW. It flows, like an assembly line. Big improvement.

My DW is opposite my cooktop, which is no problem. I never need the DW sitting open while I'm cooking at the cooktop.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 9:58PM
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agree to moving the dw left of sink. That sucker is going to be always in the way of someone when it's open.

Also, don't forget you need clearance b/w the fridge and wall to be able to open the door properly. unless your door swings toward the sink, which sucks (ask me how I know).

If you are making the window bigger, consider dropping it to counter height, or close to that.

Could you live with an 18"dw? Or one tall dishwasher drawer with a nice sized storage drawer underneath it?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 9:08AM
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Could you make the sink a little smaller to gain counter space and base cabinet space?

33" is a pretty big sink for a small kitchen. How about Blanco super single in a 30" base?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 9:30AM
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Another thought to ponder...

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 9:39AM
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Hi, Mousun. I love galley kitchens. If this were mine and I went that way, it would work nicely for me something like this:

Counter 30" deep (maybe restaurant stainless steel?)

Layout left to right:
Narrow (12") cabinet with vertical storage below+top drawer
Drop-in cooktop+oven (30 or 36")
Work counter over drawer cabinets (4' to 5' depending)
Refrigerator (30-36") + filler to allow door to open.
Window - widened and centered over work counter.

I'd try to arrange this wall to allow as much open space in the center as possible and still get very good stove function.

The refrigerator on the right would be balanced by stove+hood on the left. The vent (hopefully) could be directed straight out the exterior wall as ours here is.

The stove would be drop-in stovetop+oven mainly because the only surface to be cleaned is the top and the front of the oven. (In a kitchen this size, pulling a range out to clean the back wall, the sides of flanking cabinets and the sides, back, and undersurface of the range itself would just be too much trouble.)

The central prep area would be open, with just window widened and centered above it.

With a set-in stovetop, for design and function, I might run a shelf across the entire width of the wall that would become the window sill where it passed across the bottom of the window, which would start perhaps, depending on your heights and what you want to see out (garden right below window or hillside dropping away would need window low as possible). It could extend over the back of the counter a few inches up, or it could be built in as a solid ledge. Since it's at the back of a 30" counter, a shelf could conceivably have sliding doors, below or above it, to create covered storage at the workplace.

Or the window glass could come down to or close to the counter, no shelf.

Lower ayout from left:
Filler if needed
Dishwasher (24") with microwave+cabinet above
Large single sink fitted into 30" cabinet and
18" drawer cabinet by door, 2 shelves above both

Two shelves only to hold daily eating and serving dishes in easy reach, with art display on the generous open wall area above. This wall might be tiled up to the bottom of the upper shelf, depending on what was happening on the other wall.

Trash/recycle pull-outs: Almost certainly under the sink, although note that most throwaways are generated in the prep area. It'd be a short pivot-step to the other side, though.

I would narrow the door from the back entry to the kitchen to just as wide as needed to bring a refrigerator in (and/or widen the dining room doorway). The extra inches would go either to the sink counter (an extra 6" could combine for a better second work area), or, more likely, to enable full-depth (24") pantry storage pull-out cabinets to be installed across the end of the back entry hall. At 36" wide, this would be so much storage that part of it could be taken...

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 2:55PM
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I like the "L". If it were me, I would do some exploration of what's inside that wall. Cut a couple of holes and use a mirror & flashlight to see what's inside the wall. I would hate to reject a great plan just b/c you're afraid of something that may not even exist. Think of the "what if's"!!! And, if you eventually found out there was nothing in that wall that couldn't be easily moved, then you will have cheated yourself!

The "L" is much more functional than the galley layouts so far b/c of the limited amount of space available on the bottom wall.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Is that a doorway or a pass through, to the dining room?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 9:15PM
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It's a pass through to the dining room; no door. There may have been one at some point.

To some other questions: About the sink, well, I love large sinks. Not sure I can justify that, I just do. We had a 32" inch sink squeezed into a 33" base in our last place, and it was great. Stock pots fit, cookie sheets fit, watermelons fit...

And there only appears to be electrical cable in the dining room wall. So moving the door could be possible. But then we would have two rooms in the construction zone. That is my other hesitation there, apart from the loss of light in the kitchen.

I don't know that I have a strong preference for where the dishwasher goes. Was thinking that if I'm cooking, someone else could be loading/unloading dishes at the same time, which wouldn't be possible in some arrangements. Dishwasher to the right of the sink was the arrangement in our last place, so perhaps I'm just being a creature of habit.

And yes, we'd want a regular/large size dishwasher.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 12:34AM
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Could you modify the pass through to be above the range? Not ideal, I know, but it would give you more light and a way to see into the dining room. You could have a raised counter on the other side (dining room side) maybe with dish storage, rather than stools. Keep the separate spaces, but be able to talk to someone in the other room, while they're sitting at the table.

I would go for the big sink! Maybe even something vintage. It would suit your kitchen space and give you lots of room to hide dishes, until you can get them loaded in the dishwasher. I love this sink in Laura Calder's kitchen, but it's really big! :)

From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 1:29AM
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I'm confused...if that's a "pass through" and not a doorway (i.e., a "window" to the DR), then how do you get to the DR? I don't see any doors to the DR from the kitchen.

Does that also mean that the "pass through to entry foyer" is also a pass through and not a doorway?

I think we need a layout of the entire floor.

Regarding not wanting two rooms "under construction". The construction will be for a very short length of time, don't limit yourself b/c you don't want that small amount of time of construction.

Do you have pantry space elsewhere? If you don't then, I would hesitate to limit yourself to base cabs with open shelves.

I understand your desire to get a "big kitchen feel" in a small kitchen, but don't do it at the expense of a functional space. Instead, perhaps you should aim for a cozy kitchen - one with adequate storage. Glass doors will help lighten up the space while allowing you to have more storage and allowing you to store dishes, etc. where they won't accumulate dust, etc.

In answer to your question about workspace b/w the range and sink - 36" is the minimum recommended prep space with 42" better. If you share landing space w/the range, then 48" is the minimum recommended (36" + 12").

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 1:56AM
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I'm very big on as much natural light as possible. However, moving the door would give you such a significantly more functional kitchen that it gets my vote. Your first stated goal was function above beauty with such a challenging layout. Just my two cents for what it's worth.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 12:04PM
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"...we are trying to give our 1930s era house a kitchen that functions. As in, we want to be able to cook in it. Ideally, it will look pretty, too. But right now... function..."

"...It's a pass through to the dining room; no door..."

Please check to see if you can add a DR doorway - I think it will make a big difference in the functional flow of traffic from the Kitchen to the DR.

Following through on the "L" idea since it appears there is no issue with closing off a doorway b/c that opening is a pass-through, not a doorway, here is an idea - similar to what Lavender_Lass did.

  • Prep Zone: 42" of counterspace with no DW in the way. Additional 12" around the corner to the range.

  • Cleanup Zone: 36" of space plus cabinet space above for dish storage

  • Plenty of dish storage throughout the kitchen

  • Corner susan for convenient and very accessible storage for pots & pans or small appliances (or both)

  • Pantry with 12" deep shelves.

  • Room for 2 or more people to work

  • Water in the Prep Zone and near the Cooking Zone

  • No need to cross the kitchen aisle with a pot of boiling water to drain - much safer!

  • No zone-crossing

  • Window! A 48" wide window that goes to counter and has a 9" bumpout to maximize light and to make the room look/feel bigger. In addition, the bumpout gives you more room behind the sink for the faucet, etc. as well as minimizes splashing onto the window.

With a 30" refrigerator (not recommended - even if that's what you have, plan for a 36" and use filler to make it fit for now. 30" wide refrigerators are getting harder and harder to find.)

With a 36" refrigerator:

If you remove the 6" filler pullout (or 12" cabinet), here it is with a 36" refrigerator

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 11:53PM
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Wow, those are great Buehl!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:16AM
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Oh wow, so many great ideas.

Love the sink in the picture you posted, lavender_lass. And layout #1 would be amazing, buehl, if we can pull off an L. (Right now we have a 30" fridge and that works for us.)

But I need to apologize, as I think I've been using the term pass through incorrectly. These are open passageways between rooms; some had doors that have been removed, some don't, other have arches. Everything I've marked as a pass through is an opening that goes to the floor. So, perhaps I need to say: doorway without door, or archway without door? Probably still possible to change; we'll see.

As for the opening to the entry foyer, it's at the same elevation as the kitchen. But the doorway without door is pretty much stuck at about 24" because of a giant radiator on one side and the wall to the living room on the other.

Here is the floor plan for the first floor (with original layout of kitchen, for old house dorks):

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 10:30AM
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Certified old house dork here. :) That's a home I'd like later in in the city when we get tired of bushhogging pastures and spending our play money on heating and cooling. :)

I interpreted your passthroughs as doorways because of the really interesting, Byzantine path that would be required otherwise.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 11:04AM
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Lol! Generally, a "pass-through" is a "window" b/w rooms. Doorways are openings with or without a door that lead from one room to the next and are, as you noted, "openings to the floor". if there's a door in the doorway, layouts show the door with the door swing - which you did in your layout.

Initially, I also interpreted your "pass throughs" as doorways, but a later comment made me question that!

Oh well - it's all cleared up now.

Yes, I see what you mean about being stuck with the 24" doorway to the entry, that's pretty small! But, unless you want to open up that corner, I think you're right about being "stuck" with the 24". Personally, I think the LR wall, at least should stay to maintain the "feel" of the home. However, I think the DR doorway can be modified without compromising the period feel.

In fact, as I look at it, I think the flow is improved. If you move the DR doorway down, you can easily go to the LR and DR from the kitchen w/o having to thread your way through the DR or going down and around via the Foyer.

This is what I'm proposing:

Is the radiator a "working" radiator? I'm asking b/c where I live, many of the older homes still have radiators, but they are no longer used. The homeowners have replaced them with more modern heating/cooling systems - but the radiators have been left in place.

This post was edited by buehl on Mon, Aug 12, 13 at 22:13

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 9:05PM
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If you moved the doorway down, it would give also give you an entire wall on the dining room for a built-in hutch! That would be wonderful with your home. If you can make the kitchen window bigger, you might not miss the light either.

While I can see why you would want to keep the layout for such a lovely, traditional home...I would be tempted to flip the kitchen and dining room. Make a big L-shaped kitchen with an island in the dining space and move the table to the smaller L you have the kitchen in, now. Maybe even a banquette on the current sink wall, with a bigger window?

Probably not in the budget or even what you'd want to do...but you'd have so much light and never be cut off from everyone else, while you're working in the kitchen. Every summer I want a big open space, but every winter I wish I had a big dining room table for the holidays! LOL

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 10:19PM
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Slightly OT - I love the old floor plan. I take it that's the original from the 30's? I notice there's no icebox in the kitchen - I wonder where it was. I think most urban homes in the 30's had an icebox, if not a fridge. I know my parents' did because they remember the iceman coming in a horse-drawn wagon, and they were born in the early 30's.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 9:52AM
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Yeah, the radiator is working, and it's a giant squat thing. Steam heat system, so totally old school on that.

Pretty sure flipping rooms is not in the budget. Though while daydreaming like that, I'd like a conservatory and a roof deck, too...

We're getting estimates on changing the doorways/windows, so we'll soon know what's feasible with the kitchen layout. Thanks for all the ideas so far! So impressed with such ability to visualize how a space could be improved.

Also, just to give some perspective on what I'm used to with kitchens, the attached picture below is almost exactly like the cramped/too-modern but functional apartment kitchen we had before (we just had a bigger sink and less lower cabinetry; no silverware drawer!)...

Contemporary Kitchen by San Francisco Architects & Designers Marvelous by Design

With our new place, I'm looking forward to embracing the old house thing stylewise, radiators and all.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 10:02AM
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I think I would do buehl's suggestion as far as opening the passage between liv room and kitchen, also WITH the existing opening between kitchen and dining room. The dining room has opportunities-in the lower right corner do a diagonal built in and the wall along the passage between living room and kitchen that buehl created, do some shallow storage carved between studs-good location from kitchen -maybe some doors-some open. Stick with galley with sink and fridge on top wall and range in lower left. Can you install open shelves,[say 9 in deep] onto chimney on one side if not two? do a nice period kitchen and with access from dining room and the usefull "hall" from living room it'll be really interesting.Just use your corners in the dining room for some storage.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 10:11AM
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Ginny20: yeah, we're pretty sure this is the Gladstone 3315B sears kit house from some time after 1933 but before 1938.

I think the odd walled-in space in hall by the chimney (where the box with X is) was designed as a convenient place for the ice box or possibly as a place to showcase an early and probably noisy fridge. Kind of like how we build special places for microwaves these days, I guess. The 50" wide space for the range is crazy, too, right? If that appliance was still there, I'd try to keep it.

herbflavor: Yes, I'm pretty sure I could make or find some shelves to surround the chimney and make it blend in to the surround counter/cabinets. Another thing I'm considering (maybe for next year) is building shallow cabinets set into the wall along the passage to the basement steps/side door. The wall is 10" thick, so the cabinets could be built-ins between the studs (other than where the drain pipes are.) I was thinking that would be great storage for cleaning supplies and stuff I'd otherwise put in a mudroom/laundry room if we had one, and maybe some pantry overflow.

As for the layout you are suggesting near the chimney, would it be something like this?

One thing the house lacks is a fireplace. The chimney was for the furnace in the basement, and originally walled over. I did consider trying to expose the chimney, but the brickwork and mortar is very sloppy on this chimney... it was never meant to be seen.)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 1:26PM
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yeah... I like that double passageway idea with that kitchen layout....very cool with the chimney with whatever you can float for shelves or display/art /on the chimney[does it need repairs?]....could be very creative with that between the 2 passages...corners in the dining room are avail for storage,are they not??...that would be in keeping with the ambience, to be explored later.As far as the tight/smallish kitchen,be sure and take the cabs up to ceiling/ only get the sink size you need and I think it will work....if not...back to the question of the L kitchen, but myself-I'd go for opening the kitchen to dining room,with island or the like before I'd close it up. Do a small period kitchen with wonderful details with the 2 passageways -just wonderful!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 2:01PM
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Some nice things to consider.

The biggest advantage to an L to me would be to close off the too-good view into the kitchen from the dining room. The way to do that and still keep it open to the dining room light would, of course, be to put the stove on the short wall and carry stuff back and forth from the L counter. You could put either the sink or the main prep area in the former doorway, where it would get sunny light from a pass-through "window" to the dining room.

But, gally or L, if you're considering changing the original layout, have you considered opening the kitchen to the back stairs and incorporating the back hall, including that special "refrigerator" nook, into the kitchen? The entire tiny room would double in visual size, AND the nook would no longer feel "out there" but be part of the kitchen--a quick step or two from work areas (closer than many parts of larger kitchens).

If you did an L kitchen, that nook could be reborn as a great place for the refrigerator -- just the other side of the brickwork from, say, the prep area facing the pass-through to the dining room.

If you did a galley, that nook wouldn't be so convenient to a prep area in front of the back windows. Maybe still pantry?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 4:22PM
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Hi there. I am new here. you are getting lots of great advice. I only wish to caution you on one issue with a small kitchen...the door swing on your refrig. Be aware of anything that will stop your refrig door from opening to the appropriate swing clearance. Too often a refrig is jammed into a corner with no regard for the 135* swing...then the handle hits the adjacent wall before it even gets to 90* !! Be careful.
Oh, and you can get 18' wide dishwashers it needed

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen buyers aid

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 4:52PM
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In other words..."I always plan my kitchens with the appliance doors in the fully open position to check for conflicts"

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 4:59PM
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Love these cabinets for a vintage look

This post was edited by Kpro123 on Tue, Aug 13, 13 at 17:43

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 5:28PM
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Mousun, how did you create your drawings?
Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 6:30PM
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Hi seashine, I used live interior 3d, an app. I don't know that I'd say it's awesome... but it worked. Others here seem to have much more sophisticated talents at making layout drawings, so if you're looking for something, I'm sure you could get many good recos.

Meanwhile, still debating layout. Bigger window is a go, though.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 7:46PM
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Okay, an update:

We are in progress. We finished demo in the fall (all diy) and now have new wiring (partly diy), new plumbing (mostly diy), a new window (hired that out), insulation (diy) and we're starting with drywall (diy). There have been lots of adventures and we haven't had a functional kitchen since we moved in last summer. We're surviving, and expect to finish, um, some time this calendar year...

We did look into getting rid of part of the interior wall near the chimney, and the cost to do so was very reasonable, even with some new supports in the basement. We didn't go for it, though.

Here is what we're left with (not to scale):

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:05AM
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