New Construction Kitchen critique

wild1685September 29, 2013

Hello everyone,
We are new to GW, in fact this is just our second post. Our first was in the home building forum with out entire plan and elevation for review. It was recommended that I post our planned kitchen here to get detailed opinions on our design and layout.

Couple of quick things to know:
We are working with a designer but this is OUR plan that we came up with and he has helped us fine tune.

We have a young one who's mobility is currently unknown due to a medical condition. We are not looking for complete ADA compliant but rather wheelchair/walker/braces friendly.

Our budget is tight, so we will likely be purchasing our appliances through scratch and dent sales.

The countertops we would like to go with granite and an under mount sink.

I know it adds a lot of cost but we really want wall oven(s) with a induction range. The kitchen is where we plan to splurge a little depending on the deals we can find. We like to entertain but never in a formal manner so having the kitchen exposed to the rest of the area is intentional. Seating at a counter area is also a must as we tend to gather in the kitchen in our current home.

I look forward to the criticism and suggestions you all have to offer.

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it's probably about the worst plan for the needs you allude to considering a member of your family has reaching/ambulating/moving around issues.First-to get an energy bar or a fruit cup from the pantry would that be.....second-to do something at the corner sink like get some water-how would that be? third-while another person is at the sink, to get into the fridge to get something cold-how would that be?...fourth-to spend a bit of time maneuvering at the microwave while other family members are moving between sink/fridge/ would that be? I would scrap this completely.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 5:50AM
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The refrigerator even if counter depth is not going to be even with the counter as it is shown. If cost is an issue and you are buying at scratch and dent, etc. than a counter depth might be to pricy or just not available. I would plan on a standard depth. I don't like the fridge on the back wall. You have to wall through the whole kitchen to get to it.

Must that wall be angled by the sink?

Don't be discouraged by comments. Everyone here wants you and your family to have the best kitchen possible based on your budget and your needs.

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Sun, Sep 29, 13 at 8:44

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 8:43AM
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I see on the building forum LL did a great layout for you. I was going to post one very similar but hers is better.

Random things...

Most prep takes place between a sink and the cooktop. Ideally you want counter space between these two without having to cross the kitchen. Having had to live with something like that I would never want it again. Imagine a hot pot of pasta at the cooktop, having to turn around and walk to the sink.

It doesn't seem your kitchen space is big enough for a walk in pantry. What about some shallow depth pantry space across from the coat closet with you show a desk to be? You then could put any overflow in the basement.

A nice induction range would save you a lot of space and money!

Just wanted to add, even if your child turns out to not have any mobility issues (which I hope is the case) the kitchen layout as is would not function very well.

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Sun, Sep 29, 13 at 11:18

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 9:09AM
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Unfortunately, I agree with herb and debrak, this is not a plan that will make a comfy family kitchen. Everyone will bang into anyone else trying to use the space. What sort of a door were you thinking of for the pantry? Perhaps you were thinking of leaving it open? My concern is that a door will either open into the fridge or the wall ovens, neither of which is convenient, but leaving it open will look unfinished.

Considering that one family member will have mobility issues, I would consider a table height island or peninsula. If this child ends up with a wheelchair, then it can roll right under, and if he or she ends up being able to use a walker or whatever, then he or she can sit without having special help. While this child is small now, eventually he or she will weigh more than you can lift. Besides your physical limits on lifting, said kid will want to be as independent as possible and mesh seamlessly into the rest of the family without special attention as much as possible. Our previous kitchen had a table height peninsula, and I was torn on building the new one that height or bar height. We went with bar height, but I often miss the lower height for functional reasons having nothing to do with mobility issues.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 9:15AM
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I agree about the flaws in the pantry design: it's really not a good choice for any household that might have a wheelchair or walker-user, of any age.

The big open center of the kitchen (sans the ubiquitous island of modern kitchens) is good, though.

Range the rest of the kitchen zones (without the closed pantry room-ette) around the perimeter. And give some thought now to how to "universal-ize" the access in the future by getting counters, sinks and cook-top lowered and free from understory cabs for wheelchair access if your child gets older and still uses a chair.

For instance: change the sink-blocking DW placement to one that's in-line not at an angle to the sink. Get a drain that tucks back and down rather than straight down. Get a wall oven that's an under-counter model (or mount the pair so one is lower than would be typical, or at least plan to make that alterable later).

Have your island be table-height, not counter height, or have it be two-levels or have a removable raised section or chopping block in one section.

Also you appear to have two kinds of floor materials in the open plan. Have one so you have no barrier as you around this open space.

I know it's your young child with accessibility issues, but for planning purposes you might rent an adult-sized wheel chair for a week or so and try sitting and moving around a house in it yourselves. This will give you an appreciation for the space needs involved that might not be apparent now when you may be just carrying a small child.



    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 9:23AM
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Sophie Wheeler

All that mentioned above +++. Plus, I'm not sure what that little jog in the wall is supposed to be doing. Angles create problems, and it's not adding anything but expense with no return on any design element.

Overall, the whole home isn't as unversally designed as would be appropriate for a new build with someone with a disability in mind. You REALLY need the services of an architect who is familiar with those issues. It will end up saving you money in the long run even though it's an expense up front. You can't afford to have mistakes and revisions on the fly as the space is framed out and you then realize it won't work.

Like that bathroom that isn't big enough or designed correctly for someone with disabilities. And I'm sorry, but it's like the kitchen is the anti-universally designed space. It's simply unworkable for even a fully able family, but if you add in a disabled member, it's an active barrier to a good deal of their life. You need professional help. Not everything can be DIYed.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 10:33AM
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I would definitely reconfigure that island so that your child will be able to use it when they get older and can help in the kitchen. Also consider having the kitchen sink and a prep area wheelchair accessible, or can that can be sat at so that they can help with cooking and clean up chores. Just because they can't walk doesn't mean that they will not have to learn the life skills to make a simple meal, unless there is a intellectual co-disability.

An occupational therapist might be another resource to help you configure kitchen and bath spaces. OTs help people with disabilities navigate and manage everyday tasks like dressing, bathing, and cooking. The consult might even be covered by your health insurance.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Hi, wild. Since you're new and might not be sure, I hope you don't think everyone is just piling on. What I'm seeing is real concern that your plan is not going to make you happy, and extra concern because you are in the early days of dealing with a child with disabilities. The older folks among us count many with some experience on that front. We spend a lot of time agonizing over just the right drawer pull or perfect tint of white, but that's mostly just happy frou-frou. Basic good design and design for unique circumstances is more than cosmetic preferences, it is the bones of your project. If the bones don't work, the project won't work. I hope you're OK with this sort of feedback; it's honest and given with the best of intentions to help you land on a plan that you love and that works for you.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 11:49AM
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Well, you asked for a critique, and you got it :-)

I'm not a KD, except for myself, but I designed my last kitchen myself without a professional KD - just the excellent services of forum members. I ended up with a kitchen that was almost perfect in its layout. I'm just saying, take what everyone's telling you and give it a good hard look. They're trying to help you get something you'll not only love but that will work for your family.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 12:24PM
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I like LL's layout on the builder forum as well. I'd go single level island though. And I'd think through the costs and benefits of the prep sink - not clear to me it's worth it.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 1:05PM
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This post was edited by GauchoGordo1993 on Sun, Sep 29, 13 at 13:38

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 1:13PM
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Here's an option...or you could swap the fridge and wall oven, if you don't want the prep sink on island. From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Wow, thanks for all the honest advice. Don't worry about me; I have some pretty thick skin and would rather be told flat out it is not going to work than have it sugar coated. You all have brought up some great points. I am so glad that I posted this here before going forward with the plan. On the builder forum, I addressed everyone so far individually, but there are already so many responses I am just going to address all the points as a whole.

The angled wall was just to give the back of the house some character and allow a window from the kitchen to look over the deck. I originally had the sink where the range is and the range where the fridge is, but had no where to go with the fridge then. I think the angled wall is one of those things that I am just having a hard time letting go of, but if it doesn't work, then it doesn't work. A nice pantry is on our must have list. We currently use our office closet to hold most of our pantry stuff due to a small kitchen. Putting a closet-like pantry where the desk is, however, seems like a great idea. I had thought about the accessibility issues with a corner pantry (with a door swinging to the ovens BTW) but blocked it out due to my wants. On the builder forum, someone recommended having removable lower cabinets, and I thought this was a great idea, especially under the sink. The wall oven will be mounted so that when the door opens the typical wheelchair can fit under the door for best access (may or may not be a double depending on what we find). Our local appliance store constantly has counter-depth fridges in the scratch and dent area.

Several people mentioned that this would not work for a family cooking together; can someone expand on this? I am open to the idea of starting over in the kitchen but want to know what to consider.

LL's layout does flow much better, so when I start hitting delete on Sketchup, I will have hers open so I can pull ideas from it.

Thanks for all the great advice so far. Keep it coming, don't hold back, and sorry it took so long for me to respond.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 3:06PM
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One other thing...have you considered flipping the kitchen and dining room? It would be a few extra steps to the pantry (if you put it in the closet location) but the dining room would be your view, as you walk in the front door.

My view is my fridge...and I wish it was my dining room! If you used a banquette against the dining room wall, you'd have a bigger area for an island. Maybe banquette on wall, with pedestal table and chairs on three sides? That might be a cozy spot for games, too :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 5:03PM
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If you bump the kitchen outside wall up even with the master bedroom wall, you'll have some more space at the other end for a pantry.

I totally understand wanting a little interest on the back of the house. Maybe a bay or box bay in the two bedrooms? Kids love a nook with a window seat :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 11:08PM
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I drew up a few options for the kitchen to see what you all think. Lavender Lass I used your drawing as the basis and modified it to keep the entry closet.

If you guys could vote/critique the options I would appreciate it.

Option 1: I don't know what to think about the corner ovens but I saw several images of kitchen with it and they all looked very nice. I also am not a fan of having anything in the island like ranges or sinks.

Option 2: This makes the pantry larger and fixes my concerns from option 1. I feel like the view when you enter the home may be just cabinets, not good.

Thanks again everyone for you input.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Congrats on a new house and also for having thick skin.
I am not a design expert but have worked in rehab a long time.
Induction is great for wheelchair users - one option is to open the areas under the cooktop and sink to allow your child to use these appliances as she gets older.
Consider a side opening oven - might be hard to find in scratch and dent but allows someone to get closer to the oven - as long as an easy landing space - otherwise - be sure to get easy glide racks such as in the Elux oven so the racks pull out.
I would verify the height of the ovens to be sure they are somewhat accessible. - I don't like the corner placement for mobility impaired as it limits access from the side.
The lowered work area will be nice for a wheelchair user - but might need to round the corners to keep from bumping - or you can get pull out work areas as another option.
One thing that we used was a pull out pantry - Maybe just a pull out lower for snacks for your daughter would work in your plans.
In time, it will all fall into place :-)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 9:06PM
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When you clean an oven, it's helpful to be able to stand right next to the opening; an oven in a corner makes that harder. But it sure looks nice!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 10:40PM
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I just noticed that I posted images of the same layout twice, sorry about that.
here is option 2....

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 5:11AM
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I vote for #2 - it seems very functional with a nice flow. (And functionality is everything in a kitchen!) You can work on making it pretty one the functionality is in place. Given how you describe your lifestyle, with large family and large gatherings, getting the cooktop off the island makes the most sense to me. We have an induction cooktop in our island so it can work but doesn't seem optimal. Unless there's a reason you want to face that direction while cooking?

It is also true that you might be able to take out the cabinet below the cooktop for wheelchair access.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 8:23AM
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vote for #2

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 8:49AM
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I like option #2, but I would also flip flop the kitchen and DR as LL suggested. A dining table with some fantastic windows or french doors on the back wall is a much nicer view from the front door than a (potentially messy) kitchen. But, perhaps that bottom room is your FR and you'd prefer to have that view from there instead. Just pointing out options to consider..

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 9:18AM
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I can understand your concerns and also really do not care for the original layout and especially that little gateway notch opening into the kitchen. That would bug me a lot and already looks dated. I would feel trapped in that configuration.

I love your option 2, good job! Congrats on the new construction.

This post was edited by gr8day on Tue, Oct 1, 13 at 9:55

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 9:46AM
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Another vote for #2. The only thing I might change is to make all the bar seating at table height so that when your child is sitting there with others, he or she feels part of the crowd instead of feeling like he or she is sitting at the children's table at Thanksgiving. Here are some pics for inspiration:

Transitional Kitchen by Northbrook Architects & Designers Michael A. Menn

Contemporary Kitchen by Brisbane Interior Designers & Decorators InterDesign Studio

Contemporary Kitchen

I also agree that it's worth investigating swapping the kitchen with the DR for a nicer view from the front door. The space is open so kitchen, DR and FR would all still flow well together, IMO.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 2:09PM
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I like your second layout! If you did decide to flip the kitchen and dining room...maybe something like this?

I brought the edge of the house back (I know you want to limit square footage) but it also gives you the bigger bathroom. Hope this helps :)

Oh, and I only moved the master bedroom door, because of your window placement. If it were me, I'd probably keep the door as you had it and move the window, so they're on either side of the bed. Then, the bed would be opposite the door and probably give you a better furniture layout.

From Kitchen plans

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Tue, Oct 1, 13 at 14:23

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 2:20PM
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Looks like option 2 is going to be the winner! If you all don't mind me asked just a few more questions for now....
In option 2 would it make sense to flip the fridge and wall ovens so that the fridge is closer to the pantry and rest of the house? does anyone know how difficult/easy it would be to replace a level island countertop with one like Lisa_a suggested? I ask because we currently have a bar area that is all one level and we LOVE being able to spread out our meal as we prep it. I also like the idea and feel of the higher chairs. Our physical therapist along with out many other doctors believe our son should be able to walk with assistance and may only need a chair for long "walks". Sorry fro the double talk but we are just trying to find a happy medium. If replacing the counter top will just cost us the new top and supports then I think we make go with that. Lavender Lass thank you so much for taking the time to edit the plan, it really helps for us to understand what you are thinking. The MB windows are situated over the nightstands because my wife hates windows over the bed, I know in the flat drawing it looks like a window is in the center of the room but that is actually a basement window. If you look at the 3d drawing in the OP you will se what I am talking about. As far as pushing out the back of the house, I will bring this back up to our builder when we meet next, the first time he said it would add several grand onto our cost. I agree that the view from the front door would be MUCH nicer if it where french patio doors with a dinning set in front of it. Our reasons for not want the kitchen and dinning room flipped is the distance from the garage to the pantry/fridge, the kitchen being so close to the carpet (yes I know I could easily change the carpet), and we also like out big the dinning room and living room could become by simply re-arranging the furniture. Are my reasons for this valid, or am I just too attached to the original floor plan? One last question, to make the hall bath a touch bigger, I could take six inches or so from the back bedroom (most likely office until we have another child), would 10'6" be too small?

Thanks again

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Wild - much better plan - I like it - and if you can pull off Lisa's idea - even better.
Swapping the fridge and oven would make sense.
Will be watching your progress :-)

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 5:13PM
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I didn't even notice that in the 3D plan. The two windows will work much better, in the master bedroom.

If you want more flexibility (and I always do) you could have a movable island. Locking wheels will keep it in place, unless you want to spread out for a holiday meal. Also, you could slide a narrow table up to it, for lower seating. Later, you could put in a permanent island, if you decide you'd prefer it. Unless there's plumbing or electric, the island doesn't have to be stationary.

My husband came home a few months ago, after a very long hospital stay. He was in a wheelchair but is now using a walker. We have a 6' aisle in our galley kitchen, so he can get around no problem. I know you don't need that much space, but it's made me rethink a permanent island, in any future kitchens. A big table (counter height) will still be an excellent prep area and it's probably less expensive, too! :)

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Tue, Oct 1, 13 at 17:43

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Consider doing the kitchen, dining, and living all hardwood to eliminate threshholds in case a walker or wheel chair are needed.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 5:41PM
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Number two is very similar to my kitchen layout, and I absolutely love it. I have a large island, 8.5X4.5, with a prep sink in it. It's all one level and as you mentioned, I really like being able to spread out when preparing a large meal. It also makes a great buffet when you have company. One thing we did that I've liked a lot is to have an overhang on two sides, so 4 to 5 people can sit at the island and actually face each other as they eat, rather than sitting in a row. We use it most of the time instead of the kitchen table. I also like having people be able to sit at the island and talk to me as I prep.

I put induction in this kitchen, and I can't say enough good things about it.

Best of luck with the new house.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 7:37PM
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