Am I correct that in a U shaped layout, 48" is the desired distance across the legs of the U?
Um, no. That would be claustrophobic indeed! If you have a U shaped kitchen, the minimum you want inside that U is 6', and 8' is better. 6' lets the appliances actually open without you having to play twister, and 8' lets you walk around open appliances.
It also partly depends on the length of the U. And it would depend on the layout of the appliances within the U. Personally, I think 8 feet would be way to much ... lots of extra walking from one side of the U to the other.
We have a long U with a peninsula at the end across the entry of the U. Including the 3.5' width of the peninsula, the U is about 14 feet long. We have 7 feet between the opposing arms of our U and I think it is too much. I think 5-6 feet would be ideal. No more than 6 feet.
For a single butt kitchen, 6' is the minimum. For multiple people to be inside that U, then 8' is the minimum.
I am new to these forums and starting to get very confused by everyone's answers. I just moved from a townhouse in downtown Baltimore. It was a 3 level townhouse, granted only 1600 square feet, 2 bedroom, 2 bath, locked gate community. It was very nice city living. We had a U shaped kitchen, it had exactly 48" clearance and we entertained very well. It had a open layout that overlooked the dining room. The kitchen was small, but very functional. I spent 10 years in that kitchen and cooked 10 Thanksgiving dinners. I cooked for more parties than I can count and had more impromptu get togethers on top of that. I have had a dozen people in that little kitchen easily, many times. And as this is a locked gate community all the houses are the same. My neighbors all entertained often also, so I am not some crazy person who subjects her guests to a sardine can.
Why I say all this, is that almost every response I am reading from people on this forum is seeming from people in either VERY large homes who are snobs about space, or people who are reading a book about what the "minimum" is supposed to be. I find that no one is taking into account where people live or the types of homes that are in the area. Maybe it is that I am on the east coast and things are just a little smaller and more cramped here. My current kitchen is bigger (not a whole lot), but has a ceiling that is 6' 9".
So, maybe 48" is not ideal for everyone in this forum, but I can tell you that it is in no way claustrophobic. I think your kitchen spacing should be in proportion with the rest of your home and that is not a question I have heard asked yet. I am not saying you have to go with 48", but I would take the answers you are getting with a grain of salt and maybe ask what size homes people have that are answering them and compare them to your own.
I am sorry, I am really not trying to make any enemies here or offend anyone. You can only answer questions with your personal experience and if all you know is large kitchens from mid-western homes then that is what you will base your answers on. But unless someone asks the poster if they are living in a small 1400 sq ft multi family home in a suburb of Boston, than how do you have any idea if your version of what a kitchen should be is going to fit where they live. If that is the case 8' U shape kitchen would be ridiculous and a huge waste of precious space.
48" is fine for island spacing where the is an "escape route" out of the zones. And an island isn't usually in the middle of an U because it needs to be a huge kitchen to do that. Remember that appliances stick out into that 48" space. A full sized fridge sticks out about 12" into it by the time you count the door handles. Now open that fridge door. It practically hits the opposite counter if all you've got is 48". You need 60" just to stand in front of the fridge and be able to have someone else smush themselves sideways and squeeze by. 72" would let them get by, still turning their body a bit, but not smooshed against the counter or the fridge door.
8' of space in the middle of a U shaped kitchen isn't a waste of space or ridiculous at all. However, in a small home, it simply means that the kitchen is probably laid out in the wrong shape. In a small home, an L plus an island would probably provide more efficient storage and traffic paths. And that is the biggest reason that a U kitchens aren't usually the best choice for a space. They really limit traffic flow, and most kitchen have more than one cook standing over a hot stove in them these days. When you have a 3 butt kitchen, there's no way that 48" will ever be enough room for everyone to have their workspace and not bump butts or elbows.
Thanks for the input, Kali. Personal experiences from a variety of situations are extremely valuable. In fact, it is all the information gained from personal experience that makes this forum what it is.
Can you offer any more specific thoughts on laying out a kitchen with a fairly narrow U? What would you think of a 44" U, for instance? Deedles is thinking of a very compact U with a sink on one fairly short arm and a stove across the way on the other. Door openings? What goes overhead? Anything?
I have a townhouse with a U-shaped galley kitchen. I just measured and there's 44" clearance. My fridge is at the end of the counter run with open space across from it. It's not a huge kitchen but it's entirely functional - I've been cooking in it for 30 years both before and after my remodel which increased the counter length on one wall, added more storage, and added a passthrough window to the dining room, but otherwise kept the footprint intact. Not every house has the luxury of a huge kitchen.
In my case, my range is at the bottom of the U so there's no issue of someone having to pass by me while I'm cooking. Although a bit tight, 2 of us have on occasion managed to cook at the range at the same time, although mostly it's just one person cooking there. There are pictures of my kitchen on the Finished Kitchens Blog where you can get a feel for the layout.
Whoops, Weissman, just saw your post, 44". :) Any specific thoughts for how you'd lay it out new?
I actually came back because--for years I also had a shallow U about 4' in the middle! Actually forgot that. I don't remember the exact inches, but it wasn't bigger and the stove and sink were across from each other, joined by a nice normal-depth work counter. Fridge was on the wall opposite set into floor-to-ceiling shallow pantry storage. It was extremely functional for what it was. If I could have gotten the dirty dishes out of the U itself, the way Deedles is planning, I think the work area would have been fantastic. Being an old thing, the corner cabs were just shelves, and I have no special suggestions to copy. Except its big pull-out cutting board. Loved that thing! Also my old 48" wide Wedgewood stove--I set and mixed a lot of stuff on its middle griddle. Point-of-use. :)
Well, basically 10 years ago we did lay it out new - completely gutted the kitchen - increased the length of the counter with the sink by moving the fridge down towards the atrium window and cutting slightly into the eat-in area. Also put a super susan in one corner to the right of the range which greatly increased the storage. Honestly, the only change I'd make today is to put in a deeper hood over the range and think long and hard about any way to put in a second oven but really don't want to give up counter/storage space. I make due with a large counter-top Breville toaster oven.
I guess I was looking for a quick answer but should have put in more info. Here is the layout:
It is a small 1200 sq. ft house. The kitchen will be approx 11x15 BUT also is the main entry into the house for various reasons. So.
You can see the fridge/DW is on the straight run of cabs. All the U will hold is my stove and a prep sink, as far as 'appliances' go. 98% of the time it's a one cook kitchen.
I read somewhere (on here I think) that 48" between the legs of the U is the minimum and anything more than (can't remember the number) is too much for this kind of setup.
I guess that's what I'm looking for someone to point me to. Minimum clearances for this kind of setup. I didn't explain that fully and I apologize for that.
Okay, now I've read the answers since I've actually woken up, lol.
Thanks to those that weighed in with personal experience on the 48" dimension vs. 'too large'. That really helps.
Wow! You have quite a bit of space in your kitchen for 1200 square feet. My kitchen was all squeezed into the size of just your U shape. Actually, my issue was not so much cooking or entertainment as it was storage. I never had enough pantry space. I actually had to store my canning supplies in an upstairs closet and lug my larger pots down 2 flights when I wanted to use them. It looks like you have that nicely covered. Nice layout.
Good luck with your kitchen!
Deedles- Short answer...you need enough space to pull a Thankgiving Day turkey out of the oven, without bumping into the cabinet behind you. That's why I don't like 'fixed' islands and peninsulas that are 4' or less. Something more flexible can accomodate your kitchen everyday and holidays/parties, too!
I just am not a fan of this peninsula plan for that reason...no flexibility. What about changing it to an island or big (island height) work table with a few stools? You'd have eaiser access to the living room and dining room and you could move the table, if you need more room when you have more help, in the kitchen.
You could have a little prep sink in the corner, similar to Circuspeanuts' old kitchen. That would be cute :) From Cottage house plans
Ours is 7 feet, with the sink and fridge on opposing sides of the U. Dishwasher and fridge are directly opposite each other, and you can comfortably use the fridge (counter depth) with the dw wide open.
Wouldn't want it any smaller, that's for sure. Ours was dictated by the size of the room.
I'm glad to hear that Angela thinks 5 ft is workable. I think Kali brings up some excellent points, and so diplomatically, too! I am always a little surprised to see such absolute advice given here at times with no regard to where the kitchen is and who uses it and how.
We are planning a new construction kitchen that has a long skinny U-shape and the floor space in the narrow part is 5 ft (the long axis is 10 ft). I doubt you'll ever see a floor plan here, though-- although I'd like some advice on specific aspects of it, I don't think I want to feel like I have to defend some of the decisions we've already made. I've learned a lot from reading, though, and for that I am grateful. But I'm starting to see why a separate Smaller Homes forum evolved... it's a different way of thinking!
Lav, the island seems to route the traffic flow through both my work areas. (Remember the main entry opens into the kitchen and then to the rest of the house?)
That's one reason I like the peninsula as at least the cooking/prep zone is 'safe' from wanderers.
Plus does the step down onto the porch give enough room for clearance?
Unless I'm not seeing things right on this.
I have about 5 feet in a set up similar to the layout in your plan. My kitchen isn't open to the rest of the house as yours is, but the sink and stove are opposite each other (with about 57 " in between), with the refrigerator out of the U on the other wall of the kitchen. (The U, like yours, is made of an L with a peninsula.) It is an amazingly functional layout, very easy for one person to work in, and not impossible for 2. I love being able to get from stove to sink in a step and a pivot. It's such a workable layout that I've decided to repeat in in my new kitchen, with the slight variation of putting the stove on the bottom of the U. FWIW, I think it helps a lot to have the refrigerator outside the U itself.
Toronto Tim: is it 7 feet all the way across including the cabinets or the floor space between the cabinets 7 feet? I love your kitchen BTW.
Lori: I should have posted my floor plan first so people could have seen what was there. That was my bad. But yeah, when you have a big kitchen I suppose it's easy to go from that POV. Actually, compared to some kitchens I've had in the past, this IS a big kitchen! I should check out the smaller homes forums more often, though.
Justmakeit: Wow, thanks for the detailed info! I was just messing around with putting the stove at the bottom of the U. May I ask why you are going to do that in your next kitchen? What have you run into that made you decide that?
Don't supposed you have any pics that you'd share?
I had 5 feet - I really liked it. I didn't have a problem with getting a turkey out of the oven or blocking access to the sink. I have cooked in small and wide u's. I hated the small U - it was less than 48". I hated the large U - more than 8 feet because it felt like too much walking.
The bottom of the "U" was a 3' wide floor to ceiling pantry. They tell you not to do that too, but it worked really well for us. I made the bottom shallow depth - it was 15" deep. I close packed the pantry with shelves.
I would think about it a while before making a 48" one - its because of the unit's doors. At 48", each door covers 2 feet of counter when open - makes it tough to put anything down. And don't ever tell me you won't open both doors at the same time - it's just the way it is.
But if the pantry was smaller, you could put the sink in or near the corner? I think I would.
In my small U kitchen the stove was at the bottom of the U also. Of course everything had to fit within the U about the size of your U, so like Justmakeit, everything was within a step and pivot. It is very useful. I really liked having nice counter space running on either side of the stove as well as those supposedly "useless" corner spots. They were great for pulling things off the stove (especially with my canning stuff).
And lori_inthenw, I am glad there are others who feel the same way. I have found lots of inspiration and I am very happy I did not come off as snippy, I was truely trying to be helpful. I surely will not be sharing my work in progress plans on my kitchen in my small home. My ilses are 32" on either side of my island. There are many many factors that went into this decision, but I am completely comfortable with my decisions.
What I do find humbling about the spaces we live in, is that my husband and I seriously expanded the square footage of the house we are living in. We expanded to 1900 square feet. My mother in law was born in this house (when it had no indoor plumbing). Her parents raised 7 kids with 1200 square feet. She then took care of her elderly parents and raised her 4 kids under that same 1200 sqaure foot roof. I will be hard pressed to complain about 32" ilses and 3 bedrooms and 2 bath.
Deedles -- I'm a little embarrassed to report that most of the reason I'm switching the stove to the bottom of the U is cosmetic. I really wanted a big run of windows on the side opposite the peninsula, and a sink fits better under windows than a stove does. Having said that, I should also say that I'm a little worried about whether I'll regret taking the sink off the peninsula, since as the main prep area, the peninsula does really need water. I may switch the sink back to the peninsula. But putting the stove on the bottom of the U seems like a good plan in any case, as I'll be able to reach it more easily whichever side I put the sink on. Here are a couple rough plans:
My current kitchen:
My potential kitchen:
Here's a shot of our "U"
Countertop edge to edge it measures 52"
Definitely a one butt kitchen, but very efficient to work in.
Bmore: do I understand you correctly that you wouldn't suggest 24" wide doors for the pantry? What about 3-15" doors instead ie 'more but smaller'. Also, which corner for the sink and why would you choose closer to the corner? I was thinking that further down towards the end would give me a longer run of uninterrupted countertop space?
Kali615: No kidding. My folks raised 5 of us in the upstairs of a big ol' house but the 1st floor held my Dad's optometrist office and my Grandmothers little apartment. Thus 5 kids, 2 adults in a smallish 2 bedroom + large closet turned into a bedroom, one (tiny, tiny) bathroom area. All lived to tell the tale.
Justmakeit: Seems like a good reason to move a stove to me! And you're bumping out the window, too, right? Nice!
What if you put a little prep sink on the peninsula?
Willtv: That does look efficient to work in and totally do-able. I'm feeling pretty good about the 48"-ish. Probably can sneak another 4" for sure and maybe even 6 or 8" if I want a 36" walkway on the other side of the peninsula.
Thanks everyone for the help and input!
Deedles -- I think the peninsula is going to work very efficiently in your kitchen. Can't wait to see the project as it unfolds! (Thanks for the suggestion about the prep sink!)
Sink is somewhat personal pref. I would want the longer uninterrupted run towards the ref. It couldn't actually BE in the corner - just close to it. I got this thing about not having enough landing space for stuff coming from the ref... Ut-oh.
Did you know that the best landing space for french door refs is behind you as you stand in front of it? That's because its too far to reach the side counter when the doors are open. But you'll have to walk the stuff anyway.
Little digression, I see the little filler on the end trying to make enough space for the second door to open up against the wall - you might look at that again. If you've picked your ref, visit one in a store and see how wide the doors need to open to operate the drawers. I would have never thought of this but for seeing a single door ref replaced by a french door ref. It has ~3 inches of clearance on one side to a perpendicular wall but its door is so fat that it constantly bangs the wall. AND some of its drawers can't be opened more than a few inches because the gallon inna door holders are still in front of the ref drawers when the door stops.
Sorry for wierd about the pantry! That was only apiece of thinking about tall objects. The pantry door thing - is a matter of planning and also seeing it in 3d to understand. Cardboard can be your friend here.
The pantry is tall (duh!). That means that it clobbers using the counter to both the right and the left in the corners. It doesn't look like that in two D, but you can't reach through a solid object PLUS the pantry itself will make it difficult to reach into those spaces because you'll hit your elbows. Because its in a corner, the counters also limit where you can be standing.
Trying to be clear, if you are right handed, how will you reach the wall on the left-hand side of the pantry? Blind with your left hand (cause your face will be in the pantry) or leaning over the counter beside the range with your head laying on the wall cabinet to be able to use your right hand?
The wider the pantry, the more the corner spaces will be chopped off.
If you really want to stay at 48" wide, think about your options for doors and wall usage. You can split it into two cabinets with uppers and lowers. I had the "lowers made taller than the surrounding counters so the doors of the uppers could open fully. You might want to do something like step back the tops from the bottom - creating a little slack for your elbows. I used drawers at the tops of the lowers to completely avoid the counters to both sides. For doors for a 48" wide one, I'd think about sliders or bifolds.
After living with this, I would suggest making the center section a little taller so the top doors were higher over the side counters. This is a image from the unfinished kitchen showing what I did. Again, the center of the "U" is 5 feet and this shows one side with one asymmetrical corner 15" deep on one side and 24" deep on the other.
If you want only one set of doors for most of the height, definately consider both bi-folds, the folded doors would block the first foot of 24" deep counter near the pantry on both sides - sliders wouldn't block anything but may need some expensive tackle.
Still has large, shallow pantry.
Deedles- I forgot about the step down, to the porch!
I know you're pretty happy with your plan...but how about one other peninsula idea...could you move the range to the middle, as many of these pictures show? Then your back wouldn't be to the view, when you're cooking.
Maybe have one sink on that back wall (and the dishwasher) and then prep on the peninsula? Then, your fridge, pantry and other sink would be on the long wall...perfect for clean up and more prep space. Also the pantry and fridge would be available to DH and guests for snacks/parties, without getting into your work area...and less of a block to your main walkway. Just another idea :) From Cottage house plans
I have a galley kitchen right now with 60" between the two sides and 30" deep counters on one side. It's fine. For a small kitchen I strongly recommend drawers for your base cabs. I only have doors under the sink. You have more usable space with drawers.
jxbrown: thanks for weighing in. Glad to see many folks with smaller U's that work well. And definitely having drawers, drawers, drawers!
Lav: Funny, I was just working on moving that stove in my head, just as you've drawn it. Gives a lot more room for opening the oven door and then yeah, I don't have to have my back to everything. I like that better. What I was thinking was putting the shallow pantry where the stove was as it would give me a nice long stretch of storage which I desperately need in this small house. I'd like to keep the prep sink facing the porch though, then people can access it for drinks, etc if the big sink is full of dishes. If I move the stove to the bottom of the U, what do you thin about the prep sink being closer to the stove vs. closer to the other end of the peninsula? As an aside, DH would never be in the pantry looking for anything as that would imply actually preparing something, lol. If it isn't cheese or lunch meat, he's not looking for it.
Bmore: thanks for the pantry advice. I'll be much more careful of these clearances when I plan it. Very helpful so thank you. Never thought about the elbow whacking issue, but I can see it now.
Deedles, seems to me it's about time to get some boxes and boards and start mocking up your kitchen and playing at working in it. You're apparently narrowing in on final choices and fine tuning, and this will help you decide between your options.
It's also, BTW, how I learned for myself that 35" would be just fine between my island and stove counters with the oven open (I MEASURED my open oven door and didn't ask anyone else.). I don't do turkeys that often, so didn't try to maximize design for that, but I did require being able to leave the door open and the turkey pulled out for turning, etc., and still be able to shuffle safely around to get past it and at it from the usual 3 sides. (Will I allow my little grandchildren to run around in there while I do it? No. But they're not allowed near any stove I'm working at anyway.)
I read once that people who grew up with large spaces are most comfortable in them and that people who grew up in small spaces feel more comfortable in them. A generalization, but it does point out that the issues to weigh aren't just the actual space needed for mechanical reasons but also the space that will meet our own emotional needs. Potentially very different numbers. No wonder we all have such different notions.
BTW, Kali, I was delighted to read that your own carefully thought out dimension for your aisles was 32". I hope a LOT of people read that. When you're working with limited spaces, it's important to gut-know that a really great kitchen is just as possible as in a large space, sometimes more so as extra space doesn't itself hopefully confuse the issue of what would work best.
This happens a LOT here, BTW--so many come with a big space they feel they have to fill, and fill, and fill, stretching an island, extending the counters, deciding on more "must-have" appliances, running up costs, until finally there's no room to add anything else and they're done. Fortunately, with all that space a majority do end up with a part of it that's good to work in. Here and there is an ardent cook who actually uses and loves all of it, and for the rest of us some extra trotting around's usually a good thing.
How about something like this?
Then people can acces the shallow pantry part without having to pass you by the stove and you can cook without having your back against others.
Rosie: you're right, I do feel like I'm getting down to the final plan. I hate to say that as I've thought it before but something 'feels' good about this one...tweaking aside. And yes, I can't wait til we start gutting this fall so I can really mock-up the layout . Right now there is just too much crap in there from the other remodeling to do much more than keep on measuring. I like your thoughts on what a person is used to for space. It seems to ring true for me... large open rooms have never felt comfortable to me, always ooh and aah over charming little cottag-ey nookey spaces instead. That's what I grew up in!
Lyfia: That's what I'm talking about, thank you! See the nice stretch of counter between prep sink and stove? And all that accessible storage across the way? (And DH bent over searching for cheese in a fridge that is NOT right in the middle of what I'm doing?) I. Like. It.
Sorry for the very delayed reply - as it turns out, mine isn't nearly as wide as I recalled!
Just measured counter to counter edge and it's 67 inches - 5' 7". So there we go. And we have plenty of room.
Our kitchen is roughly 10 x 14 to the walls (my brain wasn't working when I said I had 7 feet between the cabinets clearly given they take up 4 of the 10 feet).
I like it (Lyfia's plan) too!
One other change...I would center the copper sink, under the window. Then you could have a narrow drawer by the fridge (for foils, garbage bags, etc.) and the dishwasher wouldn't be so close to the doorway.
Lav: I can move the window anywhere and also the size is TBD, so the sink should be *close* to centered if not exactly. I thought at least 24" between sink and fridge would be useful for dirty dishes, etc?