is your back to the window when you are at your island?

newhome123September 18, 2012

The way our architect had our kitchen drawn up originally was similar to this. I thought it was kind of strange to spend most of your time at an island and clock your own light. But I noticed as time went on that that occurred in many of the picture I saw on

I was wondering if any of you had that layout and what you thought of the light issue

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In your first photo, the prep zone is on the left of the island. Look how the prep sink is mounted. So, in this case, the cook has a view directly out the windows.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 12:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In your second pic here, the prep zone (where a huge majority of the cook's time in the kitchen is spent--much more than standing at the stove) is at the perimeter at the only water source in the room.

In sum, neither of the cooks in these two kitchens will spend most of their time with their back to the window.

Do you have your layout you can post? Will you be prepping at a prep sink at the island? Could you prep on the far side of the island like in the first pic?

Also, natural light from a window(s) should NOT be your task lighting. Even if you do prep backed to a window, your work surface should be lit with appropriate artificial light (cans, pendants, etc) regardless of window placement.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 12:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

breezy is 100% right about these layouts from the cook's point of view. I've also seen pros place island seating facing away from the window (i.e. in the top image, if there were stools opposite the prep sink). I'm not a fan of that option either. In both images there's only one outside wall, and the island is parallel to it so at some point someone's going to be facing away from the window. If the island orientation were flipped to be at a 90 degree angle to the outside wall, that wouldn't happen. The top image has no island seating, but I find it a little awkward. I think the way the view is handled in the bottom image is great for the space. Some kitchens naturally lend themselves to islands, some don't. That said, if you're uncomfortable with your current design, ask your architect about it.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 6:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Doesn't it really depend on the exposure the windows face?Prep with a window adjacent at 4-6 pm in a s-sw alignment-ughh. But N/NE windows-a different matter. Open plans with an island offer the prep activity to be positioned so the cook can face beyond to people/social areas. Abundant windows are always a great feature but how the kitchen works with regards to its position in the home is equally important. Planning is the time to contemplate this in your setting,that's for sure.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is the exact layout (or one of the option for us at least)

but i will have a column on the close right corner of the island, where the wood top is in this picture.

I feel embarassed for posting the (obviously) wrong pictures.

I am planning on a sink in the island for prep.

I have an option to put an indow on the other wall by the corner (that would face south) but there are many trees there. the other window is facing east (nice in the morning, dark in the afternoon?)

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 7:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Will your kitchen be as open to other rooms as the Houzz award-winning kitchen? If so, that can help with the light issue. Plus, as Breezygirl says, there should be other light sources (as there are in the Houzz picture).

That having been said, while we do have can lights in the ceiling, we do have a similar window set up (to the picture), though ours is only 4' wide. It's an east facing window and so much light comes in in the mornings that working at the prep area w/ my back to the window isn't an issue. Of course, there isn't a lot of breakfast prep on most days other than slicing bread, cutting fruit and the like.

The afternoon is when having my back to the window becomes as issue. That's when it's not dark enough to turn on the lights (my frugal Midwestern background is showing here), but my body does block the light more noticeably. Fortunately, our island is only 36" wide, so I can just move to prep from one side or the other and that solves the problem.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't mean to be nit picky, but the prep cook in this still wouldn't be working with their back to the window. The prep zone is directly across from the range on the short end of the island. So, technically, the window is to the right, not in back.

I have three windows in my kitchen. (I can post it if you want, but feel like I'm doing that too often lately.) As long as storage is adequate, I always vote for the most windows as makes sense with your exterior fenestration pattern. You mentioned lots of trees out a window. Great! I'd still do it. Even if you feel the extra window doesn't add a considerable amount of light, it will make the space feel more open and airy. I live in a very gray, rainy climate so my window trio isn't always flooded with abundant sunlight, but its still more light than drywall.

As to turning lights on, I'm a self-confessed light whore. I almost always turn all the kitchen lights on when working, except the height of sunlight on the brightest days. Truthfully, all the kitchen lights are basically on whenever I'm home given our layout and the fact that I spend so much freaking time in there. I'd rather cut back a few dollars someplace else in the budget so I can actually see what I'm doing.

Is there any way to post the layouts you're considering? You'll get much better specific feedback if so.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 12:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wouldn't like this layout - I hate looking at walls. I kinda doubt dh would sit at the stool if there was a perfectly good family room nearby where he could use a recliner. One of the problems with using the end as a prep surface is that the straight ahead view is of windows very far away and a family parked on furniture that is a little around the corner.

The end of the island is kinda small. It's barely 3 feet and that includes the prep sink.

It would give me heartburn if I built a pretty sizable new kitchen and didn't face a single window and felt cut off from a new family room. I don't really care if people sitting at the stools can see out a window. I figure any peeps in those stools are there to visit the chef.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

kashmi - so being onthe other side gives you enough light? I ask because that is an option to just work on the other side. (I will post as soon as I get it from the cabient company
and yes the kitchen will be open. See plan below, but the kitchen will be different than in the drawing. (I posted it in a nother post for layout help but now this specific question is grwoing so appologies for the double post)

breezygirl -Yes you are right. but the sinkcan be moved somewhere else, and I don't need the seating necessarily. I will post possible layouts as soon as I get teh 3D images from the cabinet company

bmorepanic- all roads lead to this conclusion - this kitchen is awful! I too hate looking at walls. I am so surprised so mny kitchens I see on houzz are positioned that way.

My eyes poped out as i read your post - my throat does feel a little burned, not to mention ALL muscles tense and I do see more gray hairs!!!

I really makes me miserable for the exact reason you said, spending all that money on redoing a house and having a terrible set up in the kitchen. :((((((

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 12:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a large island plus an L in a light filled house. The entire house is flooded with light and it makes no difference where I am facing. I face the people when there are people sitting at the island.
I do both: I work on the island with my back to the window or on the side of the sink looking out the window. But the reality is that when I am prepping, I am looking on the counter NOT looking out. So what matters is the amount of total ambient light, not the view. When I want the view is when I am sitting, eating and talking to people, ie when I am sitting at the island.

When you are working at the island looking at a wall across the room is not the same as working at the counter space that has inches to the wall. That several feet of open space has a very different feel. Full disclosure, my island looks across the entire house to another window that is more than 20 ft away, similar to the plan that newhome 123 posted.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 1:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Newhome--yes, please do post actual drawings. BUT...the 3d drawings don't give near as much info as a line drawn, overhead view with scaled measurements. Graph paper is excellent for this.

I must have missed your other posting. Sorry you're struggling. It's so common in the design phase. Keep at it though! The forum will help you come up with an awesomely functional layout if you're willing to work at it.

P.S. I wouldn't like cooking in that last Houzz kitchen either. The prep area is too small! The acres of counter elsewhere are useless.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 1:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Newhome: I wasn't clear. I don't move to the other side, I just move to the side (a 90 degree turn).

In the morning or at night, I prep with my back to the sink. But in the later afternoon (before I want to turn on lights -- I'm either part vampire or part mole!), I tend to prep from the side (the trash can side). If we have two cooks in the kitchen, it works for each of us to work on one of the sides.
From GardenWeb Photos

The "back" of the island is granite and lower as I mostly use it for baking. I do have enough light to work there, however. That's probably because our kitchen is open to the family room (behind the island) and to the dining area (to the right of the picture above). Both rooms have quite large windows, so there is quite a bit of available light from other sources.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 4:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Annie Deighnaugh

When I stand at my island, the window is over the sink which is on the wall to my right. Either way, I'm not facing the window, but either way, it's far enough away that we pretty much always have the island lights on when we're at the island. It just makes it so much easier to see.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 5:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We're here trying to help you have the best kitchen for YOU, it's not that you should have a kitchen that pleases us.

Maybe you keep returning to the layout above because there is something in it that's really good for you and your family. Sometimes, I think of designs in terms of how well they implement goals.

Sometimes, it pays to list what the heck you need and want from a remodel. Usually, simple declarative sentences are enough. As an example, for our last redo, mine were close to this:

Dh needs a place to sit down;
I need a bigger counter;
I would cook in a glass house if I could;
This is my space and that is your space.

For me, those communicated what I was trying to get out of our space. Armed with those simple phrases, I could look at different plans and see to what extent any given one met our goals without getting totally mired in details. Sometimes, that meant that an approach I has spent hours on needed to be torn up. Or that I would design something that was objectively beautiful but was taking space away from something we needed more. No matter how much I loved it, it got cut. It hurt to give up on some cherished interior vision then, but I'm generally happy living with the results.

So an example of meeting a goal was my prep counter space went from 20" to 54". It's one continuous piece between the range and the refrigerator. I prep in front of a window - meeting another goal. dh's prep counter is also about 5 feet long and it doesn't connect to mine ;)

That's why I wonder if it would help to write some goals for the remodel. Even if it just helps you know what you want to achieve without all of us or your architect injecting more of our ideas of what you should do.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Its not that I want to please others, its just that I agree with all those comments, and that is mostly why I am having problems with this kitchen.

This is one of the options I "like"
I think it solves the light issue, plaus I can add that extra window maybe...

I work on the other side, easy access to fridge, and pantry,(through the doors next to the fridge).

But it looks odd, I think, or maybe its just me. I would also be standing in the easiest pathway from the bathroom and mudd room (door by gride) to the family room. (though going around may not be an issue)

But maybe I can get some feedback on this layout. Maybe its not as bad as I think.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 11:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I saw a redo recently and the owner split the long island into 2... a work island,closer in to fridge and cooktop....and the outer island can have the curve/extend out a bit for more connection with social areas....I think the people seated will want the connection more to the family room anyway than to be stationed in the kitchen...isn't this a brand new family room? I'd exploit that.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 7:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh gosh - it's worse than I understood. Your prep sink is miles away from the fridge and stove, seating interferes with the clean up zone, and (can't tell exactly but it looks like) you have to walk around the island to get from ovens to sink.

The architect gave you a drawing. Make a list of all the things you don't like and ask him to re-work it. The basic problem is the overall shape of the space is a long rectangle with an island plopped in the middle on the long axis. That rarely works well.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 8:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm sorry if that came out wrong, what I meant is that we're all out here jabbering about stuff when you're not happy with basic needs.

I would talk about that with your architect dude - that you want to work facing outside. Cause I think part of the issue is the basic layout of space and that could change.

What's wrong with Thu, Sep 20, 12 at 23:41 is that your main work aisle is the main entrance hallway to the family area. This isn't to invalidate herb's thoughts at all. One of the things to think about is how much prep space do you actually need and how often do you need more for big projects.

Below is not a plan in any sense of the word - this is a thought. It's better in terms of vistas into other spaces and feeling like you have a better connection to the outside. That could be improved a lot by somebody like an architect! Blueish lines represent sightlines.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 8:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would still try to achieve the one long extended wall across the back,without jogs, for new construction-placing family/ dining spaces across back and pulling kitchen in as bmore has it,generally.The family room, dining room could be situated left-right, or vice versa. It seems the architect or GC alluded to the original plan with the jogs as "it"; how come??

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 9:23AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Cherry and White Granite Kitchen Reveal - Lots of Photos!
First of all- this is a thank you post to the Gardenweb...
My finished kitchen
This is my second kitchen remodeled with the kind assistance...
Help needed with this beam!!!
We had part of a wall taken down in the kitchen &...
Need advice badly! What should I do about my countertop?
The pictures below show my new installed Cambria Bradshaw...
Why are my granite edges lighter than the top?
Perhaps some of you recall my ordeal with my kitchen...
Sponsored Products
Executive Zero-Radius Stainless Steel Trough Sink
Signature Hardware
Saber 3-burner Built-in Stainless Steel Grill
Navy Daisy Reversible Blanket
$34.99 | zulily
Arro Pillow
$315.00 | Horchow
Area Rug: Hughson Mocha 12' x 15'
Home Depot
Hardy Chair - Lucky Turquoise Blue
Joybird Furniture
Solid Faux Silk Taffeta Antique Beige Curtain Panel
Asiana Three-Light Bath Fixture
$169.00 | Bellacor
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™