Rosie...tell me more about your small kitchen idea

lavender_lassOctober 11, 2013

Rosie- I like the photo you posted, but did not want to hijack your thread. Please, tell me more about your smaller kitchen idea. I know you said you have a larger kitchen now, but would like the next one to be smaller and include a table.

I am starting to wonder if all these big kitchens are losing a bit of charm. Yes, they're great if you cook and bake a lot, have a large family or just want a lot of prep area. But, I'm starting to miss the smaller scale of some of the older kitchens. Not cramped, but more intimate. It was mentioned on the kitchen table post...there's a certain 'something' that some of these older style kitchens possess.

While this style is not for everybody, I think there are some, who are starting to wonder if the big island and the stools are lovely for other people, but not really what they want in a kitchen. If a kitchen has enough perimeter counter space to be there something a bit romantic about a kitchen table and smaller, cozier kitchen.

Of course, I still would like it to open to a little keeping room area on one end, with a fireplace or wood stove :)


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Great topic. I love the idea of exploring it further. I so agree with your observations and love your adding the word "romance." It's a real quality, and I think it applies wonderfully. But what are we really talking about?

In imagining a smaller kitchen for big living, Lavender, one of my very favorite imaginary layouts, certainly the one that leaps to mind, is actually one you posted last year. While you were considering possibilities for a kitchen on the right side, you tried going smaller, and it was just one of your layouts that had a table in the middle and cozy easy chairs for two, I think, in a window bay. I remember the room as fairly squarish, except for a not-large bay on the right side, and of course it was on a corner of the house so would be filled with sunshine and have views in two directions.

The table was cozy and introverted because it was in the middle of the room. People working at a counter or relaxing in the bay could look directly out a window, but the table was for being right there. I loved it. With or without the bay, it would be as comfortable for a quick breakfast as for chatting all evening with friends. And it would pass my pat-in-passing test. :) As opposed to what?

A counter is efficient, and can be friendly if it's fairly narrow and the cook is working facing those perched on stools, but it's brisk, sensible, and a barrier between inside and outside. Seating is meant to be transitional, a temporary place to perch until moving on to a better, more inviting and comfortable place.

A table open to but outside a kitchen perimeter requires at least one and sometimes every person, to run back and forth, in and out, togetherness typically interrupted a number of times at least during a meal.

Sometimes (often these days!) that table is floating in a large, multifunctioning space with no walls to create a feeling of intimacy and help focus attention inward, but instead offering lots of distractions that encourage people to excuse themselves as soon as possible to get back to them. A situation that reinforces these patterns of behavior until they come to seem normal.

The book "A Pattern Language," observes, "When people eat together, they may be together in spirit -- or they may be far apart. Some rooms invite people to eat leisurely and comfortably and feel together, while others force people to eat as quickly as possible so they can go somewhere else to relax."

Whether, and HOW, to have the kitchen itself somehow possess a dining area where people are together in spirit, that encourages leisurely togetherness, intimacy, romance, is the issue. Setting a table right in the middle is not be the only way to achieve it, even though it's easily the most powerful way.


Something we never talk about here but I think gets right to the heart of this is interpersonal distances.

In our culture (grabbed from Wikipedia), "Intimate distance ranges from touching to about 18 inches (46 cm) apart, and is reserved for lovers, children, close family members, friends, and pet animals.

Personal distance begins about an arm's length away [pat-in-passing distance]; starting around 18 inches (46 cm) from the person and ending about 4 feet (122 cm) away. This space is used in conversations with friends, to chat with associates, and in group discussions.

Social distance ranges from 4 to 8 feet (1.2 m - 2.4 m) away from the person and is reserved for strangers, newly formed groups, and new acquaintances.

Public distance includes anything more than 8 feet (2.4 m) away, and is used for speeches, lectures, and theater. Public distance is essentially that range reserved for larger audiences."

Actually, discussing interpersonal distances in relation to kitchen design deserves its own thread. It's big. As big as islands that seat family at stranger-comfort distances -- not just from the cooks but also from family perched in a 7' row looking inward. As big as family sitting at public distances from those sometimes still in the kitchen through much of dinner.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 4:36PM
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Rosie- That is so interesting! I didn't think about the distances, but you're right...I believe that is what's missing with some of the island kitchens. On the one hand, we sometimes want to keep people out of our work space, but we can also end up being isolated, within the bigger space.

One thing I miss in my current kitchen, is having a space for one of my kitties to sit. I know, it sounds odd...but one of my cats is fascinated by cooking. If I drag a chair into the space, he sits there and watches me cook. (LOL) What I discovered, is that I miss having chairs, right in the middle of the action.

So, I actually moved two chairs into the kitchen, right on the edge of the work area. I pushed them under a countertop (kind of a shallow desk area) and they don't really fit, but they are handy. The entire room suddenly feels more social, but it would be even better with a table :)

I was playing with having the kitchen open to another space, with the farmhouse remodel. But now, I'm thinking about having work space on three sides, table in the middle...and fireplace/wood stove on the end, with a cozy chair. Seems so much more inviting, somehow. Here's a quick idea...but not to scale, room would be about 20' x 18'. From Drop Box

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Fri, Oct 11, 13 at 20:00

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 5:57PM
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BTW, I apologize for getting distracted onto just dining instead of smaller kitchens as a whole. Lost track.

You know, so large many kitchens, island or not, have 90% of what matters in a typical basic 9x13 footprint or so. The rest is usually storage bloat. And so many take precious space from other rooms that badly need it to add extra space to a kitchen that needs very little more, if any at all, to be very functional.

That layout looks charming. I confess I'd like just a bit longer work counter, maybe shift the sink to the right, but I'd definitely be willing to trim inches to get that chair in the corner.

My own "discovery" of what a wonderful addition an easy chair is was long before my own tubby kitchen buddy was born, when we visited friends in an old gold-rush Victorian in Virginia City. There was no room for a table in the kitchen, but it did have an old, broken-in wicker chair in the corner that was wonderfully comfortable. Very like yours; only one window, though -- with a view over several desert valleys and mountain ranges that the chair turned its back on. I loved sitting there and chatting. They had a very good marriage, and I always remember that chair when I think of them.

The kitchen you post would be wonderful for just two and sit, what, six?, with the table expanded toward the fireplace? It could handle a lot of living.

Is that shallow storage to the right of the fireplace?
The tradeoff in a design like this, of course, would be the island storage, and to some degree its additional workspace, although I think most people simply don't need it. Where do all the extra accoutrements we're so used to these days go?

A lot of homes these days could create a more intimate kitchen and in the process have a very nice store room right next door, but not everyone has extra space.

Your own home designs always include a beautiful and nicely proportioned dining room and the kitchens are usually open to them, as a lot of people really want. Is there any way an intimate kitchen, and yours in particular, could have it all, to some degree at least? Open a counter or two, partially or entirely?

Another concept people remodeling really should examine more is the notion that to be open requires no wall at all, to wonder if in any particular situation less might be more.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 7:15PM
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Rosie- I love that kitchen!

I'm actually exploring a more closed off kitchen, with a separate dining room. I think mine have been too open and I'm wanting some separate spaces...but that could be because winter is coming. In the summer, I want everything open! LOL

If we do have a separate dining room, it will probably be used as extra office space, at least part of the time. So, a table that has lots of leaves would be great. Hutches that do double duty (dishes in upper glass cabinet, files and papers below) and lots of bookcases.

My little drawing is completely out of scale, but I was just trying to get a rough idea. There would be about 14' between sink wall and fridge a big area. Plenty of room for table and chairs and to be able to walk around people seated.

Maybe the scale is what I love about that picture, above. It's not a big work area, but the kitchen has room for people to sit at the table and still be used. It might be tight, but it's doable. So many kitchens are either too small for a table...or so big, you need an island to bridge the distance.

I really like dish display in a kitchen, too. Maybe not everything on open shelves, but plate racks, cup hooks, glass uppers...easy access. Seems so much friendlier than the wall of wooden doors.

This is my Halloween contribution...and the kitty looks a little like my Einstein, except he'd be sitting in the chair :) From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Fri, Oct 11, 13 at 20:19

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 7:29PM
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Reading this, my mind went immediately to a very long thread about how to design a kitchen that keeps people away from the cook's territory. None of the ideas went so far as barbed wire, but spiritually they had a certain similarity.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 11:46PM
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Just wanted to say that I really appreciate this thread. It's timely for me...

I did have a sofa in my kitchen, which I loved. I have memories of having my sister over to work through her graduate school applications over hot cocoa, and of curling up on that sofa when I had morning sickness and wanted to soak up the sunshine but otherwise not move. I also lost two of my dogs recently to old age, and they would always perch on the top of the sofa. Optimal position to pounce on any food that the cook drops. For months after they died, I swore I could see them on the sofa out of the corner of my eye.

Anyway, we've been working on a whole house remodel, and the stairs had to move to where that sofa was. I really miss it. I have a small chair there now, but it's not the same, and there is really only room for one.

I've also been thinking about the kitchen in my last house. Didn't like the house, but loved the kitchen. Why? Light on three sides. Open to the living area, but with a small table-height peninsula in the area where people seemed to congregate for intimate chats. (Rosie, your discussion about intimacy is spot-on.) But the kitchen layout was also flexible enough that I could spread out to teach cooking classes. So it could handle an intimate conversation as well as crowds.

We haven't done our kitchen remodel yet, but are planning it. The current kitchen is U, which is very functional (ahem, except for the cabinets the mice have ruined over the years), but without the sofa, it doesn't make my heart sing. I had nearly talked myself into it's current configuration being the most practical one, functionally. So, this thread has been a valuable reminder to me that (to me) a kitchen needs to be a cozy, safe, intimate space sometimes. This *is* one of its functions. Thank you for that.

Also, I wonder how the location of the kitchen in the house has changed over time. I suspect in older houses the kitchen was more square, and more typically on an external wall. This is purely conjecture, but it seems that many new kitchens are more rectangular (thus lending themselves more to islands) and often interior. I wonder if how people use their kitchens is driving this change, or whether the change drives how people use their kitchens. Probably both, I expect.

I'm very introverted, so I highly value intimate spaces in my house. Maybe that would feel claustrophobic to extroverts.

Good thread.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 12:24PM
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Great thread - thank you so much! I am currently in the gathering of ideas phase for my kitchen reno and felt a tug at the heartstrings while reading this. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a kitchen as a friend: warm, inviting, comfortable instead of the workspace/showpiece that I so often see featured.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 3:25PM
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Idabean- I think it comes down to, whether you want people in your work area or not. Rosie makes that point, with her personal space explanation. I can see keeping small children away from a hot range...but I do like people 'in' the kitchen, not next to it.

Chompskyd- I am so sorry about you losing your dogs. They are always missed and I know what you mean about 'seeing them' out of the corner of your eye. I lost two kitties recently. I hope you include a sofa in your new kitchen!

Sherri- Oh, I like that! A kitchen as a friend...I think that's what I've been missing, with some of these magazine/Houzz kitchens, I see. They're glamorous! Glamorous people spend a lot of time maintaining that look...I want a slightly disheveled kitchen with good bones that can pull itself together in five minutes and look pretty good :)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 3:55PM
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How nice that you're rethinking what you actually want, and know what that is, Chompskyd. I so agree that what's right is going to vary. We recently had a poster, obviously a loving mom, who felt comfortable working behind an old, rather orphanish-looking peninsula in her existing kitchen, with other people on the other side. Fortunately, she knew that about herself, so last we heard it would be replicated to continue its very important emotional comfort function.

Idabean's barbed wire comparison is too apt, though. We know it's happening in remodels where it's very much not wanted, just comes riding in on the back of the OTK.

Your mention of seasonal feelings and room size such an an important point, With that in mind with everything else, I tried to cut the difference between separate rooms and open palns with this house by creating a sight line that ran the distance of the house, and I think it's worked well for what it is. The kitchen is one of a series of spaces opening along that central open corridor, which also channels breezes through. People always think the house is larger than it is, as a result, also.

What I would do differently, though, since I know now that I'm just not an open plan person (I love rooms for their ability to have their own strongly individual personalities and moods) is to make sight lines that continue through different rooms more incidentally than my major corridor does.

Such as doorway positioned so that as one walks across a living room it seemingly incidentally lines up with another for a diagonal view across a central hall and on across the kitchen and out to the garden. But actually very much on purpose. Another linking other spaces in another direction. Some doorways could be wide like mine now but have a pair of doors that could be partially closed to narrow them, or thrown wide. (I didn't design wall space for opened doors, sadly.)

Circling back to Lavender's original intent for this wide-ranging thread, those through views do make all spaces that enjoy them feel larger than they are. Especially if they terminate at windows so the eye just keeps on going Just another way that a smaller kitchen can be made to feel intimate without being cramped.

Chompskyd, we need a whole thread about the whys and effects of kitchen shapes and positions. There must be whole chapters, and maybe even a book or two, on just that. You're right about those rectangles. I'm guessing they come from both the kitchen being shoved in the middle or back after important rooms were decided on (older tract homes) and from slicing space off the end of family rooms (current tract homes) -- decide on the desired width of the family room, and willy-nilly you have the long dimension of the kitchen. Which must be open to the most-used room and on the inside end so as available to other spaces as possible.

BTW, how did a people who can spend the afternoon trotting around giant shopping malls and think nothing of trotting up and down a dozen 70' long supermarket aisles come to believe that having the kitchen more than 15' from the parked car door was unacceptable, no matter the amount of sacrifice to achieve it?

Talk about a cramping effect. A solid wall with garage beyond it, instead of windows and door to a breakfast porch or patio. Dining room on a second side, family on a third, main but cramped actual dining area on the fourth to get a little sunshine for breakfast. Maybe THIS is an important clue to why kitchens started ballooning in square footage well beyond what is needed.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 4:05PM
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I'm going to post it again (LOL) but this picture is why I love Laura Calder's original kitchen...and why I want lots of windows over my sink :) From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

And I'm thinking something like this, with the kitchen work area wrapped around two or three sides... From Farmhouse plans

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 4:41PM
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Rosie- I think you made an excellent point, on Cluch's thread. These kind of open, casual kitchens work best, if you do have another space for more formal dining. I think being in the kitchen during the day (coffee, breakfast, lunch, etc.) works great, because it's a bright sunny room...when you have lots of windows.

In the evening, it's so relaxing to get away from the 'kitchen mess' after making dinner. This is the time to move into the dining room and enjoy a nice dinner, with family and friends.

I would guess the 'reason' these kitchens are so often replaced with the kitchen island/open to because people think they won't eat together that often (maybe special occasions) and want to be part of the main living area. Of course, people want to be together in the evening...but a kitchen like the one above, I believe, would bring people together.

Sarah Susanka is a big believer in getting the TV into its own space. I remember one of my favorite remodels she did, was carving a small 'tv room' out of a large kitchen/great room. The kids could go in there and watch TV and there were glass doors between the two spaces. But, when they didn't go in there...they talked with their parents, read, worked on crafts, homework, etc. With the TV not 'on' in the main room, there was less distraction and the family couldn't believe how much the room arrangement impacted the way the lived.

So...I'm wondering if the same is true with these kitchens. "If you build it...they will come?" Seriously, will the family gather in an inviting kitchen with space to sit and visit...or will they be pulled away by the TV? Or has the laptop/phone replaced all else? And those can be in any room...or even turned off, on occasion :)

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Sun, Oct 13, 13 at 13:14

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 1:07PM
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That would be fabulously warm and inviting. As I recall, you have always loved that particular picture with its windows.

Your home remodel lends itself to really beautifully proportioned rooms, like that one. I likely won't get so lucky and will make the best of whatever space our next, old house presents me with and have fun with it. Like a couple who added a rectangular bedroom closet to theirs, one of those dysfunctional old-house ones with a door on a narrow end and the closet disappearing back into the darkness? They decided it would be more useful in the corner of the kitchen it backed to, so they opened up the kitchen side and continued the counter on down it. It was such a great little space, except for badly needing a window added, that I've been fantasizing about my own dysfunctional closet to commandeer ever since.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 1:54PM
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Sounds nice! I love the quirkiness of old houses...but they can be a challenge. After a long time of trying to fit the kitchen into an existing space...I'm thinking about adding on the new space for the kitchen, not the great room. I don't think I need a great room...we have the living room, so a little 'man cave' for my husband will be more than enough. I prefer to have a big kitchen and these recent threads have really convinced me.

Since we are doing this in finances permit, I want a good, long-term plan, so I don't end up re-doing things. And, after the last year...planning is all I can afford for now. (LOL) Next year, I'm hoping we can start on the existing space and get that in better shape. Then, the addition. Luckily, we have a nice place to live for now...and if we do get the remodel mom can live here. Handicap accessible now, so perfect for aging in place :)

Here's an update of my kitchen plan...I'm dreaming of a screened porch, so I lost a little counter space. But worth it! And the porch will add enough roof line to make the addition much less challenging. From Drop Box

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 2:16PM
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What I would do differently, though, since I know now that I'm just not an open plan person (I love rooms for their ability to have their own strongly individual personalities and moods) is to make sight lines that continue through different rooms more incidentally than my major corridor does.

Rosie- I like what you're saying about rooms having different personalities and moods. I think that's something we're losing with open plan homes. The connection between rooms (and how they relate) is important, too. One thing I wish I could do now is close spaces off, once in a while. I like the sight lines and light, but not the noise.

Do you plan to have a separate dining room, in your next house? I'd like to, but have it double as overflow office space. Lots of low bookcases for storage and books, but balanced by a window seat and French doors out to the small sunroom. Kind of a ying and yang for the room...if that makes sense.

My favorite rooms seem to be rustic/romantic and have a good balance of light and dark, cozy and views, masculine and feminine elements. Plants, fabrics, pillows, darker wood, pictures on the wall, rugs, a bit of leather or suede. Lots of elements balanced and complementing each other. More fun than everything being the same and more personal, too. And it gives people something to enjoy and appreciate the longer they're in the space.

A lot of people seem to want to stay with one style, but I love eclectic rooms, as long as the overall theme works together. What do you think? :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 1:38PM
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My kitchen is a 10x10 G-shape. It's like a roomy cockpit and everything is within very close reach. I have plenty of storage, even though I don't have the requisite lower drawers. The only curse is a blind cab that stores plastic containers and it's a real nightmare.

I do think many of the larger kitchens are beautiful, with everything you could ever hope to use. I keep expecting to see a team of caterers really doing wonderful things for a big party. As much as I envy the space, I'd probably feel a bit lost and sad all by myself in such a room.

I just relate to smaller kitchens. I don't have a table in mine, but I think nothing of sitting on the counters for a chat.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 1:54PM
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Hi, Linelle :)
I like your comparison to a roomy cockpit. It would be nice to pivot and only take a few steps, rather than walking around island or table, too often. I'm trying to keep the baking area separate (but still close to fridge) and have everything else fairly close together.

A team of caterers...I'm glad you said that! I think that every time I see these huge, fancy kitchen in the magazines. Do they entertain...and have someone else cook and clean up? LOL

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 4:34PM
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LL, your kitchen looks so cozy! My Mom has a screen porch off the kitchen, and we practically live out there in the summer.

My kitchen is small too - a 10'x10' U, with a pantry wall off to the side. But with my recent remodel, I have added so much usable and efficient space that I still have empty shelves, in spite of bringing in things that were previously stored in other rooms. Like Linelle, I love being only a few steps from everything - and I organized the new layout well enough that the steps are much fewer now than in the old layout (with the same footprint).

As for TV - our living room, dining room, and kitchen form an L, with the dining room at the corner (between the other two). We've lived in the house for 24 years, and only recently put a TV in the living room (because we happened to inherit one when my MIL passed away). We didn't miss the distraction, and we turn the TV off when we aren't actively watching something - I hate to use it as background noise (who needs more noise?).

I think taking TV out of the equation naturally lends itself to conversation - or companionable silence.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 4:43PM
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Ann & LL: Small kitchen pride!!!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Or these days, Annkh, staring at one's lap, focused on different entertainments entirely. :) Last night I was in headphones listening to a MOOC on world history and finishing up a video (again) of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, while DH is chatting with fishing buddies on a forum. Our chairs are side by side, though, very much in patting-while-vegging distance.

I can only fantasize about the things our someday, downsized home might have, but a porch or screened porch opening off the kitchen (with eastern exposure) is always on the list. Might have to add that.

I've already really liked well engineered small kitchens, and would love Annkh's and Linelle's, but since life is fairly slow these days I don't mind walking a bit either. Lavender, I really like the kitchen you've drawn up, as usual. It manages to have everything in a warm, lovely room, including the baking center you want (6' or so counter?!), but still has a nice compact triangle for regular cooking. It's a very nice size, too.

That business of sacrifices for attached garages made me remember one big reason I love Lavender's kitchen musings is that none has ever been gloomy and closed in, needing to turn to tile and handles to add charm, to serve enclosed, attached parking.

Lavender, you asked where my nice dining will be? Hopefully a version of where it is now. We have a table (and loveseat) in the kitchen off to the side. And we have a table in the living room. It's smallish, though expandable (I'm a HUGE fan of tucking in drop-leaf tables here and there), with four upholstered chairs most of the time. Except in summer (now still), it's draped; and with upholstered chairs, it fits into the overall look of the room, no hard, skinny wood-leg forest contrasting with the zaftig upholstered pieces we relax in. It sometimes has a rug under too. Right now only two of the four chairs are comfy upholstered. I decided to give the others away rather than recover and look for ones better suited to relaxing in all evening.

This room's pretty large, though, so that stuff's floating over there in the corner. In winter I snuggle it up against a wall, drape, and put a lamp on it for a cozier look, and I'll be perfectly happy if someday I have no choice but to do something like that in a smaller room. I'll want room to set up another, similar table close by, though. I hate the idea of not being able to seat 8 or 10 without fuss.

A smaller home probably won't have our current center hall/library/dining area (mobile version of the multifunctioning dining room), It might just come with the dining room I avoided this time, though. If so, I'll, definitely want it to multi-daily-function in the way you plan. Sit-down library, although I imagine that for the living room, but whatever it says to us. Maybe a place where we can enjoy the afternoon sun, or hide from it, watch neighbors mow and kids play outside, grow African Violets in the only north-facing windows. Some good uses, in any case, because I'm not big on dusting dioramas. :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 5:45PM
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Linelle- LOL! My kitchen now is pretty small, but my planned kitchen is kind of big...with the table and fireplace. Will I still qualify? :)

I so love the idea of sitting in the kitchen, in the winter, with the fire going...or reading through my grandmother's cookbook, sitting in the comfy chair, with snow falling outside.

I tried a similar room layout before, but with the island I couldn't get a small table to fit. Without the island, there's room for a table, fireplace, cozy chair and a baking area. I think the room is about 20' x 18' plus the porch.

Rosie- I miss not having a dining room. We've never (even as kids) had a big dining room, since my family grew up in the Air Force but I used to wish we had one like Big Valley. (My favorite show as a child...I watched the reruns! LOL)

Anyway, I hope we'll use it and having the dual use (library) I think we will. One kind of fun thing...Bing Crosby ate dinner there (many decades ago) when he was a young man. Not unusual being near Spokane, but I keep joking we should have a sign...."Bing Crosby ate here" almost like the many "George Washington slept here" signs, back East :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 6:25PM
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This is a great thread! Rosie, you've responded to my posts before regarding my new-to-me minute kitchen (9'x8'). I'm still working on my plan and am reluctant to completely merge the dining room and kitchen. It's a 1940's house and somehow it feels wrong to open everything up. I too like the intimacy small spaces can provide. We've all been in those situations where the kitchen is filled to the brim with guests while the living/dining spaces are empty, and those are some of the absolute best times. It's always seemed to me that in homes where the kitchen is part of a "great" room experience, the same "packed kitchen" experience can't or doesn't happen.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 6:45PM
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I'm wondering if the same is true with these kitchens. "If you build it...they will come?"

I've been thinking about this very thing recently. I want to use my backyard more, but don't seem drawn out there very readily. When I go outside, which I do frequently, I tend to use other parts of my yard. What's wrong with my backyard? Does it need better shade? Better seating? (Yes, and yes!) But... that's not it. I think a big problem is that the route to the backyard is around the corner through a cluttered hallway mudroom. There's no good indoor/outdoor connection between my house and the backyard. I've been thinking about putting a door to the backyard in my kitchen, so that on nice days it could be left open. I truly think we'd be more likely to go out in that case. Because it's easier? Because there would be a nice line of sight directly outside? Dunno. Inertia is powerful (or maybe I'm lazy). I hesitate to install the door because of the tradeoffs -- it would interrupt a counter in my kitchen, which I'd prefer not to do, or it would decimate (or at least defeat the purpose of) my heavily used mudroom. So, I ponder.

Anyway, in a broader sense, I've been thinking about how my home helps to cultivate desirable (and undesirable, for that matter) behaviors. I typically don't keep sweets in my home, but I do keep baking supplies. If I feel like I'm watching too much junk tv, I move my tv to another less-used room. I'm less likely to eat out when I have delicious looking produce at home. I'm more likely to go for a jog when I have well-fitting workout clothes.

So, "If you build it...they will come?" I think there's no guarantee, of course, but creating an environment that facilitates the behaviors that are important to you is worthwhile. And the exercise of determining what behaviors these are and how they would best be reinforced is worthwhile as well.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 10:14PM
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Seashine- Great name! I know what you mean about the great room being different than the packed kitchen :)

Sometimes it's too packed, but it is nice to have everyone talking and miss that when the TV is on and people are focused on that.

Chompskyd- It sounds like that may solve your backyard access problem! I agree that if it's too difficult to reach, some areas aren't used as much as we imagine. Your backyard sounds nice and with a little more seating and shade, I'm sure you'll use it a lot more in the future!

I always want airlocks on my house plan, probably because I don't now (on the front) and wish I did! That being said, you can lose that indoor/outdoor connection. I'm hoping the screened porch will make an inviting (and useful) transition space.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 4:06PM
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I love the idea of cozy, which for me means happy and peaceful.

Houzz posted 6 Ways to Rethink the Kitchen Island. I thought you might like the last photo, with the benches.

Doesn't this look like a happy kitchen?

Mary Evelyn's Birmingham Home

Here is a link that might be useful: 6 ways to rethink the kitchen island

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 10:32PM
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Fori is not pleased

LLass, my architect is gonna hate you! :) I think you have me sold on the fireplace remaining in the dining room when I add on/remodel. But now you have me thinking I should snuggle it up with bookcases because most of the time, the "formal" dining room is actually "the room with the table and the stage" (also known as the oversized hearth). I love having a ridiculously big table. And only having to clear it off for holidays. I don't need no stinkin' sewing room! I have a DINING room!!

But my kitchen is going to be a monument to the cult of attached garage. No windows. So I'm gonna need lots of help to make THAT work! It will have to be lavenderized to make it pleasant. :D

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:24PM
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I'm definitely in the "small kitchen" camp, though people who know me personally would think that's odd. I know I sound braggy, but I am fairly widely acknowledged as the best cook anyone around here knows, and I cook constantly. I love to experiment with baking projects, homemade cheese or wine, and so forth. My collection of cooking implements is vast, and I own seven sets of dishes plus several sets of stemware.

BUT none of that means I need or want a large kitchen.

My thoughts:

- A good pantry makes a small kitchen possible. Large, see-everything-at-once shelves are considerably less expensive than excessive cabinets, and I personally find a well-organized pantry to be a joy. The pantry is also a great place to set rising dough or dessert that's about to be served.

- Banish clutter. If you rid your kitchen of junk mail, children's projects, dishes that need a permanent home, sunglasses, cell phones and more . . . all of a sudden, you don't need more counter space, and your kitchen looks so much nicer! We struggle heartily with this problem, but in my new house we'll have organized spaces for all this clutter that finds its way into my kitchen! The difficulty, of course, is having "enough" for character and charm . . . without stepping over the "too much" line.

- A small table or banquette is absolutely wonderful, but I'd be wary of some of those high-backed chairs in the photographs. They'd prevent you from using the table as workspace easily.

- Light. Light, light, light. So many of us react positively to lovely light streaming across our kitchens. Never underestimate its value.

This post was edited by MrsPete on Sat, Oct 19, 13 at 18:41

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 9:12AM
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What significant points, MrsPete, all of them, but especially that first one because it relates so purely to how kitchens function and is part of the basic structure.

The second one, though, is huge in its way. How many "befores" get their first-stage remodel for the cost of a free cardboard box to carry the mess off?

#3? You may well save a few people from discovering that little detail themselves. :)

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Crazybusytoo- That's a nice picture...and link! Thanks for sharing :)

Mrs. Pete- As Rosie said, all excellent points. I think a large pantry is a wonderful asset...and I'm de-cluttering the kitchen today, myself.

Fori- LOL! I think that's a great idea. Shelves on the right side of the fireplace? Also, you may want to add some cupboard (closed) storage to the bottom of the shelves or hutch...that's my plan, so ours can double as an office.

I noticed that the kitchen had no windows, but you have lots of windows in the adjoining areas. Do you like white and light pastel colors? That would bounce around a lot of light. If not, what do you and your DH imagine?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 12:41PM
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Fori- Are any of these something that would work...or maybe close? From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 1:58PM
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Fori is not pleased

I love those all! Especially the yellow one. I think we're probably more likely to do a natural wood, cherry or walnut. Since it'll pretty much be stuck in the back corner of the family room I want it to be, I dunno, less girly? Maybe less kitcheny? Since it'll sort of be family room furniture?

To be more consistent with the house, though, the original kitchen looked something like this--this was from another kitchen in my subdivision that hadn't been redone. That might be carpet. I have the same tile job on one of my bathrooms. (It is awesomely bad--the work is wonderful but the pinkytan!)

This is actually a great layout for a smaller kitchen and identical to my last one (same subdivision). I pretty much kept the layout when I remodeled.

So I guess I can go knotty pine-ish country rustic cabinets (not my favorite) or something slightly modernish. Something more like this one (note the WINDOW!!):

I love these cabinets (and the green Formica!) although the layout could use improvement. Love the hood and wall cabinet situation but I suspect I'm too short to love using those uppers. I think that kitchen could be cut in half at the fridge and be just about right.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 5:59PM
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I really like that green Formica too, Fori, and I also love this floor:
Too girly? :)

I'm short too. It can be an advantage. If you just use the bottom shelf for everyday, you can have a lot of fun shopping for various specialty serving dishes used once a year and filling the upper shelves with those. We're also perfect candidates for glass doors on the uppers. Fill the shelves with decorative creamware knockoffs and just throw them in the dishwasher every year or two for dusting. If I recall correctly (a very hit-and-miss thing), poor Lavender is height-challenged in this regard.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 8:03PM
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LOL! Rosie- I'm 5'10" yes, I guess I am height-challenged :)

Fori- I like the green Formica, too!

You know, since you might not use much upper cabinet storage...what if you swap the kitchen and dining room? You would have a much nicer view while you're working...and lots more light. Do you like banquettes? Maybe something like this? From Kitchen plans

And lots of windows! From Farmhouse plans

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Sun, Oct 20, 13 at 1:00

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 10:51PM
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Fori is not pleased

I am distracting from the discussion! I apologize!

Rosie, I had a similar color scheme in my last kitchen (although I had a grey floor and a blue ceiling)! It was girly and it was good! But it was a separate room so it could be itself.

For height, I'm happy to let the spouse use the upper shelves, or store things up there. But I think those upper cabs in my sample kitchen are higher than normal so that they are all lined up in spite of the hood. But I could raise them a little...I like the sleek look...I just need to be able to reach SOME of the shelves... :)

LLass, that would be practical, but my spouse is particularly driven by the idea of the table by the window. And I'm okay with that. I happen to be one of those who likes the idea of a kitchen surrounded by barbed wire. Dark hole is fine. It's snuggly. I'm hoping of course that it doesn't feel dark or enclosed, but it wouldn't bother me if it did.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 3:40PM
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I found a cute white kitchen with blue countertops! And a table! And my salt and pepper shakers...that I have sitting on my counter, right now :) From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

All it's missing is bunny tile! LOL From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

And I am picturing a little wood stove on the other side of the table... From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Fri, Oct 25, 13 at 18:05

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Okay, this is no longer a small kitchen, but I like Rosie's idea of having everything a step or two away. This occurred to me over the weekend, from a magazine kitchen I saw years ago. The table, work area and small seating area are all close together and make a very welcoming and cozy kitchen :) From Drop Box

Oh, and the small vestibule is to have a place for nieces/nephews to take off shoes, before coming into house...after playing in the mud! Something like this... From Kitchen plans

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Tue, Oct 29, 13 at 0:26

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Fori is not pleased

I like this concept a lot.

It's a big room, but it's still a small kitchen so it's functional, even without a caterer. The kitchen itself is a small galley, with a bit over there for other things you don't use regularly, or if you do use them regularly, you can use them there (is it an oven and baking spot there on the bottom?) and they aren't that far anyway.

Nice places to sit for your guests after you apologetically shoo them from the working area saying, "so sorry! It's really just a one-butt kitchen!"
I guess garden vegetables as well as nieces and nephews would come in through the vestibule? Is it big enough for a sink? Hehe! I'm so silly. I actually have a sink outside I could wash vegetables in but I've only used it to clean the fish tank. Muddy veggies go right through the house into the kitchen sink and no matter how many sinks I scatter about, that's not likely to change.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 4:25PM
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Hi Fori! Thanks, I appreciate your response :)

We plan to have a veggie/clean up sink on the other side of the wall from the main kitchen sink. That's the true mudroom/laundry area...but you know how messy those can be! So, I thought it would be nice to have a mini-mudroom/vestibule off the kitchen. Less heat out the door and less racoons in the kitchen...long story! LOL

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 5:21PM
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Fori is not pleased

Racoons in the kitchen? I've done that! By the way, the expensive SimpleHuman butterfly trashcan is worth its price and a racoon who remembers how he came in is even better.

In chilly regions, I think every door should have a vestibule.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 5:27PM
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LOL! Mine didn't quite make it into the kitchen, but close. It is nice in the winter to be able to go outside without all the heat going out the door. It would also give me a place to hang my cute gardening hats! I'm a sucker for those wide brim straw hats with a lavender/floral ribbon :)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 5:33PM
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Fori- I was thinking about your kitchen remodel, this morning. So you'd like to see the kitchen blend more with the family room? What do you plan to use for furniture in those areas? More contemporary or traditional? All natural wood or any painted pieces? How would you describe your style?

You probably told me all this at one point, but's been a long year. Oh, and do you plan to use stainless steel appliances and any particular type of counter top?

Here are a few more kitchens without windows... From Farmhouse plans From Farmhouse plans From Farmhouse plans

These are mostly white...but I like this range and cabinets, too. From Farmhouse plans

And this one is just fun. From Farmhouse plans

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 12:06PM
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Fori is not pleased

"I'm a sucker for those wide brim straw hats with a lavender/floral ribbon." Somehow I'm not surprised. :D

I think I just need to get over the kitchen being in the family room. It's the whole point of this addition--being able to put the kitchen in a CASUAL area (instead of overlooking my living and dining rooms as it does now) where it can just BE without messing up the "good" parts of the house.

I think we do want something that goes with the bones of the house, so maybe wood. The image I posted above is what the house originally had, so obviously I'm not going to go that far! (But seriously, I'd consider it if anyone made those lipped plywood cabs these days...). I've seen some painted fifties cabinets that were pretty great. but I think we're going to do wood.

I'm thinking a natural or mildly stained slab, cherry or walnut maybe. Sort of modern, maybe mid-century modernish but not quite. More mid-century mild? We're too sloppy to pull off a totally sleek modern kitchen.

We've always had stainless steel counters and that would probably be weird behind the sofa so I don't know--maybe we need a "curb" on the back side of the peninsula so it doesn't matter. In this house I have learned that tile isn't that bad a surface (although this tile is ugly) and I don't even mind the cast iron sink (I used to break coffee carafes too often). Of course all of the tile I like is sort of feminine.

So yes, we're clueless. The kitchen table is a '60s surfboard shape in orangey pecan with these chairs (the handmade needlepoint has been rehomed and they've been recovered and can be again):

The other furniture (that we currently have) that will probably go in there is a stereo console that serves as a TV stand. The spouse could fight that but the spouse would lose--it's hard to find a record player in a drawer!

It is nicer in person--has spectacular walnut veneers on the sides and top.

We'll have to get a new couch and I plan to get my papasan chair out of the attic (ssshhh don't tell!).

Also maybe a 4' wide hutch of the 1960s French provencal orange maple variety.

So, while I am totally off topic here on Rosie's small cozy kitchen, I am putting enough junk in this room to turn it into a small cozy kitchen! aHA!

So, medium wood tone cabinets tucked into a gloomy windowless corner of a great room. (There will be skylights if I can't somehow get clerestory windows in there.) We may do an exposed beam type of ceiling but I'm guessing we won't have enough light to wood panel it. Yeah that's right. I want wood paneling and I'm not ashamed to admit it! If we do go with a taller ceiling then we can have taller windows and maybe a little more light feeling back in the hole.

Appliances, well, I am cheap so I'll be reusing my black dishwasher, but I am ready to retire my black fridge which wasn't supposed to survive the last remodel. I don't really care much what it is; it just has to go and it has to fit. We may end up with a builtin--it's just too soon to say since I don't have my kitchen walls nailed down yet. All I know is that it's goin' in the hole!

I have no style.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 1:54PM
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LOL! I wouldn't say that...and there's nothing wrong with a kitchen being a bit feminine. I mean, where else are you supposed to do this? The game room? The living room? I like a kitchen that's rustic/romantic...since the romantic gets me my feminine touches.

What's wrong with paneling? It can be stained or painted (I love the texture) and it will look good with your home. Those chairs are great! The needlepoint is perfect...and a bit feminine! And my mom has been looking everywhere for a cool stereo that actually plays if you change your mind about putting that in your room, let me know :)

All these kitchens came up when I put in 'rustic romantic kitchen' on Yahoo images. Do you like any of them? From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens From TV kitchens

My favorites are the first one (love that rug and pretty cabinet combination) and the fifth one (wood kitchen with the green walls)...those wrought iron pendants are beautiful!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 4:19PM
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Fori is not pleased

But LLass, I took off that needle point and replaced it with something stain resistant!

I was thinking paneled more like this, but you really need the height to make it work--I don't want low woody ceilings. Actually I kinda like these materials, minus the nice lady (unless she cleans). Not the brick (?) though. Not gonna get that clean in a kitchen!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 3:48PM
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Fori- LOL! Well, stain resistant is nice, too.

I like your kitchen, but the brick would be difficult to keep clean, especially over such a large area. I still think a little brick back splash on the back of the fireplace would look great, though!

Would you want to paint your paneling, if the ceiling is lower? You could still have the beams and it wouldn't have to be white...maybe a warm ivory or soft green or tan?

Actually, I like the wood, especially if you want a cozy space. Those cabinets are just a bit darker than mine now...which is why I'm painting the walls soft leaf green. Kind of an outdoorsy/forest look, with some purple, cranberry and gold accents. And probably some lavender, too...have to have a bit of that in every room, right?

My color inspiration for the bedroom....and keeping the purples for the kitchen...and a bit of cranberry. Now this is rustic and romantic :) From Snow White album

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 1:39PM
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