One cool asset, many layout challenges. Ideas, please?

honorbiltkitOctober 17, 2013

I just acquired a smashing 9-foot-tall homemade turquoise kitchen cabinet.

It conveyed attached to the wall of a kitchen in a 1905 farmhouse-ish house on an oddly shaped lot in a quiet, modest, and funkily charming neighborhood. We will be renovating the house frugally, using as much craigslist and ebay material as possible that fits with a sort-of period look.

My first task is to do a layout of the kitchen, so that heating, and water pipes can be moved around from the basement.

The cabinet will stay in place, flanked by windows, and will largely determine what other space is available in a kitchen that is 20' by 7'8'', plus walk-in [barely] pantry.

Here is the current layout of the first floor, not quite proportional.

What is critical here is that light from the kitchen windows penetrate the dining room, which has been rendered gloomy by a relatively recent (1940s?) addition that closed up the windows on the opposite dining room wall, and by a mud room that runs behind the back window.

The implications here are that the range must go where the refrigerator is now, which is the only space on an outside wall that will accommodate it. Adding that to the need to reduce the area of the wall to the dining room, this is the only layout I can come up with.

Here, working clockwise from the upper left of the kitchen proper:
A is the replacement radiator for the current behemoth that runs under the window. The new one will be tall and narrow and run on the left side of the window.
B is a countertop over cabinets for storing pots and pans.
C is the sink base
D is the dishwasher
E is an unremovable chimney.
F is a 90 inch utility cabinet 16 inches square.
G is a 36” wide near-counterdepth fridge
H is a 72” peninsula countertop with seating from the dining room. Underneath will be two or three banks of drawers for storage of dishes. The stools have to be shallow enough to fit under the counter overhang.
I is a 38” vintage Tappen gas range, which provides its own landing area. Alternatively, I could put a 30” range in with cabinets and hood arrangement to make it look not stranded on its own.
J is the existing walk-in pantry.

The problems with this layout are primarily the narrow space between the dishwasher and the drawer units of the peninsula, the relative remoteness of the range from the sink and refrigerator, Also, there are no upper cabinets, so all glassware will have to be kept in the turquoise cabinet.

I would welcome other ideas for using the existing space.

Many thanks. hbk

Here is a link that might be useful: MR photos for kitchen

This post was edited by honorbiltkit on Fri, Oct 18, 13 at 1:00

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What a fun project, and great cabinet. Of course, it has to stay.

Must the mudroom door? Will its functions be so allied with the kitchen that direct access should remain?

Would it be possible to instead put a widish, nicely framed dining room doorway opposite wherever the mudroom door out is, then frame in mudroom door(s) to close off "mudroom" storage/functions from this new passage? It would connect the house to the back garden and create a view from the big room, in the process making the house feel larger because the eye could continue on. It could also bring in a little light from that direction through glass in an enticing door to...a garden patio?

If that were possible, the refrigerator could change place with the stove, which would then be next to the big peninsula work counter and across from the sink.

With the current plan, regardless, I think I might make the cabinet to the left of the One Cool Asset shallower. You probably wouldn't be working there with that nice peninsula available. (Coffee/toast counter?)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 6:51AM
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Honor I LOVE your new foursquare and especially the one cool asset. But I really think it belongs in a place of honor in your new dining room.
I did a quick sketch, moved a few doorways which seem to be begging to move especially the mudroom, basement, and closet.
Now you can have TWO cool assets. The beauty in the dining room and the wonderful Tappen where it belongs as the new princess in your kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 11:32AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I don't have any layout advice, but as a friend, I should tell you that the cabinet is all wrong for your house. You should send that ugly old thing to me and go find some new stuff. ;)

It's wonderful! I love the house, and the range, too, and I'll be happy to watch the progress on another 'salvage' kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 1:40PM
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:) I live a lot closer, though, I'm sure. We could just drive over and pick it up...

Ppbenn, that looks really nice. Moving the cabinet would be a matter of instructing a carpenter to do it. Generally speaking, the only thing I don't like about your plan is that it lessens any need there could be to put a new passage to the back garden (I'm lightheartedly assuming that's not an alley back there.)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 6:10PM
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I just didn't lable the doors in the mudroom. The DR wall has two X's that should be open between- say 6 foot opening.
With sliding glass/frenchdoors for the exterior doors. This gets some light into the DR.
Just thought I'd concentrate on the kitchen and losing the other doors to open up the kitchen.
Hey where's honorbiltkit?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 11:06PM
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This is exactly the quality of analytical envisioning I had hoped for, rosie and ppbenn. Thanks so much.

I agree that the mud room entry is problematic. As is the mud room itself. As a former porch, it has sloping floors and a kind of rickety feel that I hope we can remedy working from the basement below.

If that works, what would you think about my putting the laundry apparatus behind doors at their end of the room, greatly increasing the fenestration of the mud room, (perhaps with french doors) and replacing the current door from the kitchen into the mudroom with a pair of french doors in the middle of the back dining room wall? Moving the radiator to the left wall would not be difficult.

Of course having people traipse from the outdoors to the kitchen via a route that includes the dining room sort of defeats the purpose of a mud room, but I think that use of an area rug that can be taken up and washed might do the trick. And the increased wall space in the kitchen would provide a lot more flexibility.

About the run of cabinets along the outside wall, I am inclined to decrease the length (allowing easier access to the pantry) of the left run but keep the depth because the kitchen needs both the storage and the counterspace.
At the other end of the run, ppbenn's idea of running a wall flush with the front of the cabinets starting in front of the chimney and putting the basement door in that wall is brilliant. It is going to be the first thing I ask my contractor (whose own two plans for the kitchen layout are now in the Picasa album) about.

Both of you suggest switching the positions I have shown for the fridge and the range. That is actually how the kitchen is currently configured, but I think people go to the fridge a zillion times more often than to the stove, so it makes more sense to me that it be the cooking appliance that is in the remote location, so long as it has some landing area. Convince me otherwise.

I am nearly implacably enamored of keeping the OCA where it is, flanked by windows. In my imagination, the windows would be wider and taller, of course, but I will have to live with what we have (except the left one, which is set very high in the wall, will be lowered to the level of the other).

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I have an oil-fueled boiler but one that the inspector pointed out could be converted to natural gas pretty readily. I also prefer a gas stove, so I am running at Washington Gas five ways to Sunday trying to get someone to say how feasible getting the gas service is, but all they want to do is send someone out to sell me boilers or stoves. Also there was a small problem with getting water service because the seller of the house turned out not to have a legal right to sell it and so it stood empty -- but with an outstanding water bill -- for five months while at least one and perhaps two wills were probated.

In the face of these ominous omens, I am buoyed by the blessing of mama goose, whose resourcefulness and imagination and manual dexterity set a high bar for anyone trying to improvise a kitchen out of used stuff with good results.

If you want see why her karma is so strong, check out the link below. I started it (and it documents my strange propensity for choosing houses with uncharming chimneys in their kitchens, as well as going for symmetrical arrangements of turquoise cabinets and windows) but the rewarding bit is mama goose's explanation of what she has wrought and how she has wrought it, complete with photos. It's an inspiration, one that I am going to be needing over the next year or so.

Thanks for the excellent suggestions, cheers, and good night. hbk

Here is a link that might be useful: recyled kitchens

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 2:36AM
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Just wanted to add a view from your new Dining room looking into the kitchen, over the new peninsula island and at the two cool assets you have for your new home.
I cant stress enough how much the one cool asset wants a place of honor in the dining room. I see her stately and governing over libations and cheer as you attend guests at your welcome to my new home party sometime next year.
The OTHER cool asset, equally important in my view, screams for its rightful place of honor, right where I have her front and center between the windows. Plenty of prep space to either side; two steps to fridge with a sidestep to your sink. (By the way I have the perfect sink for you in my barn)
Let the GW crew help further and don't be stuck on the one cool asset staying moored incorrectly IMHO in the kitchen.
Don't care for your contractors plans. There is nothing helping a flow of "kitchen" there.
The opening up of the mudroom to the backyard and dining room is a must. Keep the W/D where they are behind a curtain if you have to. Don't know where you live but insulate that porch and you have a good transition from in to out.
Your kitchen SF is too small to be used as a walk-thru with all those doors. I would even get rid of the door to the pantry, just in the way. Leave the casing and have it open. Have you contractor focus of getting the basement door OUT of the kitchen. See my first plan.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:21AM
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I really like Ppbenn's idea. That would look wonderful!

Can you move the mudroom (smaller version) off the kitchen and replace that small pantry and make the mudroom even with the kitchen area? Then change the current mudroom back into a sunporch?

Maybe you could leave French doors to the dining room open and get a lot of light...and have some plants and maybe a wicker chair or two. Okay, not it's sounding like my plan, but you get the idea :)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 12:55PM
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ppbenn --

NEITHER YOU NOR LAVENDER LASS NOR MY CONTRACTOR CAN CONVINCE ME TO MOVE THE BIG CABINET. At least right now; I may have cause to rethink it when the kitchen is demo'd, but my heart will break.

One problem with relocating the OCA to the DR is that that room is only about 10 feet wide, and I fear that even inset, it would loom ominously over the narrow space. Plus it would only be visible from the DR. By contrast, it will be prominently visible from the DR as well as a the focus of the kitchen if it stays where it is.

For the record, the Tappan -- which I am as smitten with as you are, not being a big fan of blinking LEDs in a sort-of period kitchen -- is not mine. If I can get gas service into the house, I would buy it immediately from the craigslist seller, but it is now just pie in the sky.

Lavender, if you read above about the rickety-ness of the mud room, you will understand that I cannot commit to aligned sets of french doors -- one on the exterior wall and one on the dining room wall -- until I see how well the room can be squared and buttressed. In the realm of "please, Lord, give me a sign," there are right this second several nice sets of french doors -- variously mullioned or not mullioned, interior or exterior -- on my local craigslist -- so this is on my list.

Thanks to all for your thoughtful counsel, and man, ppbenn, you are a good artist.

Cheers. hbk

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 1:43PM
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This is how frail and provisional the mud room is at present.

Even though it is over a basement area, it currently feels more frail than the pantry, which is that little shed-roofed goiter resting on piers at the far end of the house.

I am assuming that once the joists under the mudroom have been leveled, the outside wall of the former porch can be reframed and rebuilt so that it will accommodate, say, french doors, without falling over. These are early days yet, however, and all I want right now is to be able to tell my contractor where the utilities need to pierce the kitchen floor.

At some point before you all get sick of my project, you might think in terms of a replacement for the current back steps. I am envisioning a deck that would go across the width of the mudroom, perhaps to the outside pantry wall, deep enough to allow pots of herbs but not for a table or anything, then steps descending from left to right. (The back yard is shallow and remote from main part of the yard, which is on the addition side of the house. Except for a walkway to the garage, it might best be used as a potager.)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 2:20PM
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I understand that you have your heart set on using the cabinet in the kitchen, but I just want to point out one tiny issue. The vertical space between the base and the hutch. Will this give you enough room to use it as a viable prep space?

(Sorry...ducking under desk as I write this)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 2:31PM
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No need to duck, lavender.

I never intended the OCA to provide anything but storage for glassware and a somewhat shabby glamor. There will be at least two feet of counter space to its right (over the DW) and between 30 and 36" to its left, over cabinets.

For expansive constructions like strudel. the work will have to be done at the counter across the way. Not optimal but doable, I think.

Many thanks. To me, the most valuable exchanges are those in which people explain why they they recommend a certain course of action.

Would that our elected representatives would stick to such a course.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 2:59PM
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And I love that you have strong feelings about something you really want. An organizing principle to work around.

Back to variations on the original idea, given the very real need for the kitchen not to be encumbered with the door to the outside, and the tremendous gain from moving it out, I'd design my kitchen to do away with it, even if I had to walk the long way around to the garbage cans around for a while until the "mudroom" stage of the renovation came along.

Regarding placement of refrigerator, once that door was gone, wouldn't the natural place for it be to the left since the doorway in would be to the left (as currently presumed)?

I'm sorry to hear the yard on that side is shallow. (I'm sort of hipped on this, since direct access from living room to the outside through the addition is probably not possible?). And the house is raised. If you were to replace the mudroom door with glass or half glass, what would one see from inside? Double French doors aren't needed, of course. New "closet" walls on each side of a passage could add stability (along with whatever else is needed, of course).

As for "mudroom," only families farming or running a nursery or dairy need mudrooms (and a hose just outside). The rest of us need closets and attractive, inviting transitions between nice inner living space and what could be nice outer living area, or at least a charming private view. "Potager" sounds charming, and a mostly harvested row of cabbages as the summer wore on would not be visible from a raised living room enjoying the breeze through an open door. :)

BTW, I remember a garden designer saying she only needed 13' to create a view. And didn't explain why not 12, darn it. But, you probably have 13' and, once outside, room for a very picturesque path leading around to the larger area.

Also BTW, if your stair to the basement does not have a landing at the top, in addition to considering the feasibility of rebuilding it to benefit the kitchen, safety would be another great reason. While visiting a house I came within a fraction of a second of either dying or being gravely injured when the floor unexpectedly dropped away into the dark when I opened a door, moving forward briskly. A friend was paralyzed and died a couple months later after she opened her own basement door and misstepped when someone passed behind her and she moved a little too fast. Anyway, this would be part of kitchen remodel potential, and it wouldn't hurt to check for room to change it -- if needed, and cost. Especially if framers were going to be on site anyway.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Hi honorbiltkit, nice asset! I remember the wonderful transformation you did on you previous house, so I'm excited to watch you bring this one back to life too.

For some reason, I think you're in the DC metro area...yes? If so, is there any chance you want and have room in your kitchen for something like this?:

If yes, let me know. We happen to have a spare sink (no cabinet though) sitting under our screened porch. I'm planning to put it on Craigslist, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 12:10PM
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Oh, that's nice! I'd take it off your hands (LOL) but I live in the other Washington.

Hbk- Thanks :)

In your original layout, would it be possible to swap the fridge and the range? I would rather have more prep space around the range and it would be closer to the sink, too.

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Sat, Oct 19, 13 at 12:25

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 12:24PM
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Revised layout, per suggestions of forum members. Here's what it looks like this morning.

Lavender, please note that new position of range offers options for adjacent prep space. I am inclined to mess with a cart on one side of the range, rather then a cabinet, if I can get the Tappan or similar regal gas appliance.

Cheers, thanks, and apologies that I cannot get the layout to load larger.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 8:38AM
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arlosmom, you are correct about our proximity. The kit house we fussed over a couple years ago is in Brookland, near Catholic University, and this house is just over the Maryland line in Mount Rainier. I have the notion that you are in Arlington, but I do not recall whether you said so or I inferred it.

In any case, I spent a couple hours trying to fiddle your handsome beast of a sink into the coming reno. We simply do not have the luxury of such a long apron sink. There isn't room. I believe that sink is even longer than the one you installed in your perfectly not-twee, generously fenestrated period kitchen.

The sink looks to be in great shape. Judging by the current "vintage sink" offerings as far as Baltimore, yours is worth seven billion dollars, all of which I bet your smashing home could absorb with a gracious nod.

Many thanks for the offer. Do post on here if you trip over any other treasures on your screened porch. I bet lots of people on this thread would love the right of first refusal. Cheers. hbk

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 9:23AM
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Yeah, these honking drainboard sinks are hard to fit in. We pretty much designed the new kitchen space around ours. I measured the one under the porch -- it's 60" long, the same as the one in my kitchen. And you're right, it is in pretty good shape. My thought had been that it could go to the right of your hutch with a dishwasher drawer underneath. I'm not sure it would fit under the window though. Oh well, it was a fun thought. Funny thing, when we bought our house, it came with a Tappan Deluxe stove similar to the one you're trying to figure out how to fit into your space. I still regret donating it to Second Chance.

I'm about half an hour away from you in Kensington, MD. We were over by you not long ago...we donated some tools to the Mount Ranier neighborhood tool shed. Cute neighborhood!!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but with the treasured turquoise hutch in the DR, it would be visible from both DR and living room, right? And, for that matter, from the mudroom. And if you have a counter in the kitchen with seating in the DR and the hutch next to it, you'll still see the side of the hutch--a lovely dash of turquoise to catch your eye from time to time--from most parts of the kitchen.

The functionality of the hutch also seems more suited to the DR. It basically is a buffet, a place where drinks are stored and made, and so on. It's not a prep surface, it won't store everyday dishes... and if you like the way it looks in the kitchen, which is less than 9 feet wide, why do you think it would "loom" over the 10-foot DR?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 12:36PM
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Uh, can I ask a question? If you are going to shore up the mudroom and you aren't farmers, as someone pointed out, can't you get rid of the interior wall entirely and make the mudroom (or part of it) part of the dining room with one set of exterior french doors? Could that allow for the opening between the rooms to be a bit bigger yet? I don't know if that would help anything, just wondering out loud.

Oh and ask your hvac guy if toe kick radiators would work with your system... then you wouldn't have to have an exposed one at all.

the big blue guy is pretty awesome!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 1:46PM
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The alternative layouts do look nice, don't they, Ideagirl? :) The word "because" comes to mind, though. I can understand wanting it to remain where it always has been.

I used to have an almost identical (shorter) cupboard with hutch unit built into our old California bungalow kitchen (not the separate dining room); the whole room was painted cream and the floor was gray linoleum. The room was a very irregular, with 3 doors, so it was alone in a piece of wall just its size, the refrigerator stood alone on set-back scrap of wall, the stove also stood alone on a bit longer wall, but not long enough for anything else considering the flanking doors and traffic, the sink counter was in its own short bay with the only window, a small table fit in the middle, and I worked at my favorite counter of all time -- no windows, no upper cabinets, just a 30" x about 6' stainless steel counter far away from everything, except for our baby who either sat up there and played with the food, or on the floor while he explored and pulled everything out around my feet.

If that were my kitchen today, I would insist on keeping the original treasure that came with it and the work counter that some sensible person added later on. Wish it was, actually.

So it looks as if you may be settling into a general layout, Honorbilt? A metal cart would be a nice touch. For some reason I really like very modern touches in old homes, but not necessarily old in very modern.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 2:01PM
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honorbuiltkit, I just tried to email you. If you don't receive it, email me again, but include your email address. Your first email to me says I can't email you back. I tried anyway, but I don't know that it worked. We'll figure it out...

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 2:17PM
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What???? To quote hbk from above, "There will be at least two feet of counter top space to it's right." "It" refers back to the OCA in the preceding sentence. Yet the layouts I see have that awesome hutch immediately to the left of the sink cabinet with the ONLY workable space by the sink over the dishwasher. What am I missing in this picture?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 1:38PM
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Until further notice, OP's brain will be in cold storage. It got badly overheated at the prospect that arlosmom's monumental sink would not only fit in the 60.5 inches between the hutch and the chimney, it would end up with the basin absolutely centered on the window..

At that point said brain ceased to rationally weigh the trade-offs. It needs a rest. Until I retrieve it from the root cellar, I thank everyone for their suggestions so far and will plead for more help when my own thinking is clearer.

Cheers. hbk

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 1:56PM
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Sounds like serendipity to me!


    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:24PM
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Meaning the sink fitting in the window spot, not meaning your brain being in the root cellar. (although, I could think of worse places for a brain to be kept)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:26PM
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Deedles- LOL!

Hbk- Get the sink!!! :)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 9:47PM
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