My Kitchen is a Pit of Despair-I'm desperate for help

drybeanOctober 27, 2012

It is so horrible and dark and non functional that it's a pit of despair.

It is also a causing me such despair and anguish over figuring out the layout. I've spoken with 3 different KDs and I just don't love any of the options put forth. We're spending a fat ton of money to remove walls and completely gut this space, and I just hate to not even feel like I will like it or that I'm improving the space. It's defeating.

Here is where I am.

However, that really doesn't leave me much space on either side of range. And I worry about having the fridge back, if it would be inconvenient.

So I switched the range and fridge:

Thoughts? Please please please?

I realize that door on top right corner is tight and awkward, but unfortunately there is no place where it can be relocated. One of the KDs suggested enclosing it, but that leaves us only one access point to all exits of home and that makes me nervous for fire safety reasons (ahhh...the things that keep me up at night!).

Fridge wall. It will have a top fridge cab, I just couldn't get it in there on the dumb Ikea planner.

The south wall will be storage like this:

Thoughts? Good, bad? Suggestions on how to make it better. I would be ever so grateful.

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Not a layout guru but I will suggest you take a look at the Dynamic Space materials in the attached link. If you apply this info to the two layouts you have I think the flaws become pretty apparent. Guidelines aren't absolute but hopefully this one can help you get what you need.

Off the top of my head - stove is better along the back but my concern is your still cooking in a traffic way and your pretty far from the prep and clean up area. I'm thinking that having anything on the wall by that doorway to the bedrooms forces traffic into the kitchen area. Maybe dump having anything there or at least change it to shallow storage so traffic isn't pushed as far into the cooking area. Do you eat in the dining room or in that area the kitchen opens up into? Tough one - I'm sure you'll get better advice than mine. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Dynamic Space

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 6:33AM
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The side 7 ft wall is also a passage to the hallway-not necessarily the best wall for fridge and deep storage.Remove the deeper cabs-try shallow depth cabs with counter- the wall up front between hearth and dining room is a more useful wall-you placed counter and storage on it. Counter and storage can be placed in a lot places with a lot of configurations-put the fridge , some cabs and counter on the hearth wall. I like the range on the back of the master stair wall as you had it.....about 13 ft of walk between fridge and range-that's fine. The island: try different sink set ups....remember,the fridge is moved,so put a single sink on the side of island right behind fridge -that gives you a zone right there. The opposite side of island-behind range can now house a smaller sink-that will give you a 2nd zone by cooking area. You could try 4 stools-2 across from each other on island because the dbl sink is gone. Dishwasher is placed next to sink up by fridge. Microwave is placed in wall cabinet-either by fridge,or along the wall that heads to bedrooms. I would not do tambours that extend to counters-keep your counters open. this is a nice open space-what you are going to benefit from is the stylistic choices,when you get to it.....counters/pendant lights/flooring/stylish stools. It's hard to see the benefit of a large open kitchen when grappling at this stage....I would have no hesitation with the tweaks mentionned and go ahead and pick out colors/materials.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 7:19AM
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What does the rest of the home's layout look like. You're not doing this in a vacuum, and right now, none of these kitchen layouts work because of very poor traffic patterns.

Post an "as is" right now with the walls that you are proposing to take down highlighted, and then post an "as proposed" with the walls gone, but no kitchen layout. Make sure that the dimensions of all of the spaces are accurate, and indicate whether or not that doorways or windows can shift. I'm thinking that you may have to rearrange some of them to get the traffic to work.

Also, how often do you use your DR, and do you need such a wide access to it from the kitchen? Is it part of a more "formal" portion of the home, with a formal living room adjacent? If it's not, and you are casual people, then throwing it into the mix to be repurposed can start to make sense as well.

Right now, you're in despair because although you are taking down walls, you're still thinking within the box that those walls created. Post the asked for layouts, and start to think outside of those boxes. Thinking of an open concept as a whole is much more difficult than individual spaces, and that's why you may be having problems with the layout.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 7:26AM
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Just looking at the space and with no idea how you live in it, that kitchen looks extremely awkward to work in.

What I'd do, would be to run most of the kitchen, cabinets and stove and refrigerator, along that top 23' wall. Swing the island around to run parallel to the same wall, so that someone at the sink is looking at the fireplace. Then run shallow pantry cabinets where the fridge is in the first layout.

This alters the basic shape of the kitchen and the hearth room. The "top" half of the room becomes the kitchen and the "bottom" half of the room becomes the hearth room, instead of a right/left split. But I think it gives you the chance at a better work triangle in the kitchen. It doesn't solve the traffic pattern of someone moving from the hall doorway to the back door, unless you put a peninsula there to block people, but that would also block the cook, which would be frustrating.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 7:48AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I agree the problem is the lay out is so chopped up that you are not getting the counter surface you need and you are not getting any area that is out of the traffic flow. A whole "think outside the box" solution is in order.

I would explore putting a long run of cabinetry along wall A with the fridge and the range in it. Probably with the fridge closest to the back yard access. I would turn the island 90 degrees so it faces the fireplace and has a prep sink in it and seating at the island...there's plenty of room to make it a good size. I would then put the sink and the DW in the niche where the fridge was in your first drawing to make a clean up area. This way when you're working at the island you can face the hearth and it opens up space to put a round breakfast table by the big window D. You can leave the cabinetry that is there or change it to a nice sized pantry closet. Or if you don't want the pantry storage, you can build in a banquette with book cases and storage inside to work with the breakfast table.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 8:52AM
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You have some good thoughts to work through, and more will likely appear. If the Ikea planner is not cooperating, or if it takes a while to make new layouts (that was my problem, took too long), I would get some graph paper and very carefully draw out you space as accurately asossible in straight dark lines. Label all measurements and doors. Then make about 40 copies. Use the copies to sketch out options in pencil so you can make minor changes as you think through each option. For major thought changes, whip out a clean sheet. You can think much faster and try things easier. Plus it makes a record of what you tried already, very helpful if you scribble notes about why you rejected the idea. I went through about 40-50 drafts this way and found it very helpful and much less frustrating than the online planners. I could never get them to move around as fast as I wanted to think.

When you have one or two promising drafts, post for more feedback.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 10:23AM
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What if you oriented the whole kitchen along top wall "A" and centered most of it between the doorway to the hall and the doorway to outside and it faced into the hearth room that way?

It seems like you are taking out a wall and trying to put the kitchen in the same spot.

It would orient the hearth room from Left to Right instead of Top to Bottom which will affect that furniture layout but I would try it.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Fori is not pleased

There's another door to the bedrooms somewhere else, right? K. Good.

How bad would it be to swap the door outside with the window just below it? That would make putting the kitchen along the top wall work better which seems the most sensible option at this point.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 11:47AM
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THanks so much for the replies and suggestions. I'm going to try out some of them. And that Blum link, which was very helpful.

I realize the design I have is very flawed, which is why I'm so frustrated.

Here is a quick and dirty layout I did of the current space.

You can see that the layout is horrible and completely cuts off traffic.

One of the considerations is that the Hearth Room is an addition, and so it has slab instead of crawl space. This makes moving the plumbing to this section of room more expensive. The other problem is that the elctrical sub panel is located on the north wall (green rectable) and it can not be covered up. I think I could get creative and use open shelving around it, and hide it behind a display of soemthing, but I can't just put a cabinet in front of it.

Here is the whole house layout.

The reason for widening the doorway to the dining area/living room is to make the kitchen/hearth room half of the house feel more connected to the main living are The dining room is just a very small nook, and it is the only space in the kitchen for eating inside, aside from counter. We live in Southern California so a lot of our meals are eaten outside.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 12:28PM
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Your existing kitchen . . . well, the only printable thing I can type is that it was not designed by someone who has ever cooked in his life.

You deserve a lot better.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 1:19PM
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Fori-yes, the main access we use to the bedroom hallway is through the living room on the right side of the house. The only reason I hesitate to lose that second door is that there are no exits from home that are not accessed either through hearth room or the front door. It just makes me nervous if there is a fire and we have to get out. Crazy, I know. I hadn't thought of moving that door. Hmmm..that might not be a half bad idea.

Greendesigns-Here is the empty shell of the kitchen with no layout.

Camlan-I know. It's awful. The previous owners did it in 1982, and they raised 3 boys in that kitchen. I have no idea how.

I had honestly not thought of what many of you suggested, in turning the top wall into the long run. I'm working on that now, and I'm also working on the layout that herbflavor suggested.

Many, many thanks. I have a grateful heart. I'll post back with the ideas that you all so kindly provided.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 10:36PM
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Williamsem-Brilliant idea about making copies of the graph paper layout. That would have saved me a lot of trouble over the last 4 months!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 11:13PM
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Can the door to the backyard be moved along wall B to where the current windows are, closer to the fireplace? And then you would have a long stretch along wall A for a counter run. And then perhaps an island in-between that long counter run and the fireplace.

Not sure if that works, just a thought.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 12:27AM
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CRL-The backyard and eating area is actually directly behind wall A. So one already has to make a right hand turn to go to backyard, if that makes sense. I'm not sure I want to move it further away from the patio, but it might certainly be an option worth exploring. I hadn't thought about that.
You guys are really good. I think this might just be the right idea...just needs fine tuning and tweaking.

The good thing about this is that the sink is still over the existing kitchen, which is crawl space so that makes plumbing considerably easier vs. having to drill into slab. I was also concerned about being able to have space for some type of seating in front of fireplace. I put cabinet placeholders in that are roughly the size of the chairs I have planned for the space. I could also shave some space off island left side to open it up a bit more.

What do you guys think about the range wall?
I have to do open shelving to the left of the post due to the elec sub panel on wall. (I did already inquire about moving it. It requires too much rewiring and makes it prohibitively expensive. We're already having to upgrade main panel too.). I can do open shelving and just stack plates or something in front of it. But does it not look cohesive to have part uppers and part open shelving?

I don't know why shelving did not show up in this elevation:

Annie-Fantastic idea for a banquette!! Do you think it will fit?

I also like the idea of having counter seating that is not all 'ducks in a row', hence the overhang on left side of island. If we do proceed with banquette, we will probably turn existing dining nook into additional living space, so I would like both.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 1:32AM
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I can't offer layout advice, although williamsem, pal, and others have that covered. I can, however, continue the Princess Bride references and remind you that if you are in the pit of despair, that means you've already survived the fire swamp. Persevere, and true love (of kitchen) awaits you! Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 2:36AM
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I like the idea of photocopying pages to plan on. Another thing that has been quick for me when trying to work up plans is to stick one of those pages into a clear page protector and draw on it with a thin dry erase marker. It makes for fast conceptual planning, and then can be fine-tuned in more detail later. I found this to be much faster then trying to draw on graph paper with pencil or trying to plan with a computer program.

Best wishes!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 10:19AM
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That looks so much better.

I have to admit I had two thoughts on looking at your first layout in the first post. "Nothing is where it belongs." "Everything is facing the wrong way." It wasn't a kitchen so much as a collection of kitchen-related objects strung along the wall.

This new plan might need some tweaking, but even just as it is, it is 100% better than the old kitchen and the original plans for the new one.

You've got windows, you've rerouted at least some of the traffic (your current kitchen is nothing but a hallway, really), you've got counter space and an eating bar.

Do run the electrical panel problem by a kitchen designer if you can. They might have some other options for you to consider. But open shelving is very popular in a lot of kitchens these days, so a mix of cabinets and shelves won't seem odd.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 10:51AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Big improvement.

I would make the banquette just an L shape and chairs on 2 sides so it's easier to skootch in and out.

You have space on the left by the door to put an entry area in if you want...maybe a bench under the window with baskets below and cubbies on either side of the window if there's room.

It looks like you left the post in the wall in addition to the electrical that post necessary? Bummer that you can't move the box. Putting open shelves is a nice alternative since you can't do the cabinet there. I like the idea of a full pantry w/ microwave in the 7' niche.

I would think about making the island not quite so deep to leave more room to pull a chair around to the other side of the's more comfortable when people can sit across from each other. I had a rule that the island could be no deeper than twice arm length so I could wipe down the middle without struggle.

It's a challenge looking at the sketchup as the squares are not 1 sq ft, so it's hard to judge spacing....

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 11:00AM
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the fridge/range wall looks good-the open shelving is attractive! In the house, then, with this concept you'll have the dining room area/banquette and island seating all in close proximity-too much-you've effectively eliminated the "living" concept at this end, except for 2 chairs. That would be a mistake I think. And then in truth you have a 4th eating venue-the patio-which in your climate will be heavily used.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 11:02AM
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If your back yard is located behind the kitchen wall, I'd consider changing the window to a door an the door to a window. It would seem to make those outdoor meals a lot easier and you can keep the light an view from both -- maybe even improve on them.

If you haven't done so, at least talk to an electrician about the ability to relocate the panel. It would be much easier while other work is going to be done than to come back and want to do it later. Even if you could move it to the support wall, it would leave the back wall open and you could cover it with a chalkboard, memo board or art. Moving it over between the door and window would be even better. It would be an added expense, but not as big a one while you are doing the other work as it would be to come back later. I would at least want to know what it would take to do it before I decided not to try it. Even if you leave it, it would be better not to wish it had been moved and wonder about it. I would just want to make sure you couldn't do it -- maybe even talk to a couple of electricians since you might get a crazy price from one and something more reasonable from another.

My initial thought was to turn things and create a galley on that long wall. I think that is going to give you the best use of space. Glad you tried it, Agree with an L banquette -- or even just a back bench.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 11:46AM
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