Buying this house: kitchen feedback requested!

olivesmomOctober 23, 2013

We have been looking to either build or buy a home for sometime now. Up until now we hadn't found the right house or lot. We recently expanded our search area (again) and found a house we love. The kitchen layout is quite different though, and so I'm looking for feedback from the TKO.

The house is at the top of our price range and we will not be able to remodel the kitchen for a few years I imagine. And even when we do remodel I do not think we are talking major remodel, just new cabs/countertops/appliances- that sort of thing.

I've thought about it, stood in the kitchen trying to imagine what it will be like and I think it will be okay. But maybe I'm not considering some of the critical things that others here might see. As far as our needs, we are a family of four with two young kids. I cook a lot, mostly from scratch. Since I do the vast majority of the cooking I really only need a one butt kitchen, but I do need there to be space for someone to walk in and get a drink or something, without getting in my way.

The first thing I should point out, probably something most will object to, is the fact that the kitchen is sunken. It is two steps down from the living room and another two steps to get out to the back hallway and formal dining room. While not ideal, the sunken kitchen does help close off the kitchen somewhat which is something I like.

Here are the listing pictures:

View from the living room

Looking out to living room. The walk in pantry is behind the glass door to the left.

Formal dining room is just above the steps to the right.

So what do you think? I wish there was more space for an island. I do worry about landing space for the fridge. I need to go back and open the dishwasher and see how much space there is to walk around (if any). You could cut through the pantry I suppose as there are two doors.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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It's hard to get a feel for scale, with the odd lens used to take the listing photos.

I love the big windows, and the views!

It doesn't look horrible - especially with a pantry. The cooktop location is awkward, but maybe the oven cabinet isn't as close as it looks in the photo.

When do you move in?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 4:48PM
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We haven't even submitted our offer yet, we are still thinking it through. We don't want to regret our decision. Basically I think it's the one, but we just started looking at this area so we are hesitant to write up an offer so quickly. We also need our current house to sell. Debating making the offer contingent or just waiting for our home to sell first.

The kitchen does make me pause though. It's shape and layout is so different. The house will be our "forever" home (at least for the next 30 years), but even so resale is a concern. I'm wondering if the awkward kitchen is why this home has been on the market for almost two years now.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:04PM
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I've never seen a sunken kitchen. Odd, but maybe...

Is the sink as far from the cook top as it looks? What are the actual dimensions of the kitchen?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:12PM
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I think it's unconventionally brilliant. The conventional layout would have been to put the main sink in front of the window, but I like that arrangement so much better because it creates two fabulous prep areas between the prep sink and the cooktop (one overlooking the livingroom and the other with a view out the window)

As for critiques, I'd prefer a little more elbow room to the right of the cooktop. And the prep sink might seem a little far away when prepping in front of the window. And I'd consider removing the table or replacing it with something counter height, but that's easy.

All in all though, I think it's genius.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:19PM
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Could you use the table as landing space for the fridge? Or replace it with an island, maybe one with a smallish eating bar/area? I don't think there is any rule that the landing space has to be directly next to the fridge, just close to's true that the view is great - in King Co, if I may ask? We moved out of Maple Valley earlier this year...

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:27PM
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olive-I can't help with TKO stuff but that view is so picturesque it almost looks fake! Wow! Stunning. :)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:35PM
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Gladys: it's in snohomish county. We were trying to stay near the maple valley area but I haven't found anything in our price range I'm crazy about, plus I'm ready to move out of maple valley.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:41PM
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Well, hello new neighbor! We're in Granite Falls (outside of GF city limits, actually). We found better prices up here, more doable building permit process. The permitting in King Co sounds awful.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:44PM
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Yes, the house is quite close to granite falls. And I saw (online) a lot of beautiful homes there, I just think the commute would be too much for my husband who has to drive into north Seattle.

I'm going to have to get used to driving farther to find stores and such. I'm so used to driving 2 minutes to the grocery and oh how I will miss the brand new fred Meyer here in MV.

I also need to find out more about the snohomish school district before we write up an offer.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 5:59PM
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If you change your mind about this house, and if you could figure out a way to make the distance work for you, there are spectacular hunks of property for sale at Pilchuck East - very low prices, also.

But I know what you mean about the distances. The IGA here is *okay*, but nothing here like what we had in 4 Corners. I'm really having to plan ahead; I'm also learning to be flexible so as to avoid an extra trip into the "city" (usually Lake Stevens). But - it's fun, we're building an amazing home, PE is gorgeous - and like you, I'm glad to be out of MV.

Sorry. This is off topic - have the answers here helped you make up your mind about the house you're considering, or are you more confused than before? :=P

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 6:08PM
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Beautiful home! Beautiful view! As a family, would you eat your meals in the formal dining room or is there enough room for a table of four in the kitchen. It's hard to tell from the pics.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 6:50PM
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Besides lacking an island I think it's beautiful.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 7:15PM
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I mostly like it. I think two quick fixes would be a lovely "drop in" island or working height table would be great, as well as cabinet knobs or pulls.

I think the cooktop is a little close the cabinet, and the counter space towards the prep sink would be hard to keep clear of "stuff". But I would have that problem in any kitchen, it's just a matter of how big the space is, and where you decide to work most of the time.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 11:48PM
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How old will you be in 30 years? If you really want to "age in place" and die in the house, even one step down to a kitchen is asking for trouble. It may sound morbid, but them's the facts.
However, no matter what our intentions, most of us will move again. And probably the house will be too big and you'll want to be closer to family well before you can't handle two steps.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 11:57PM
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I have to say I'm surprised by the positive feedback. I thought for sure I'd hear about how awful the steps are, that the space around the clean up sink was too narrow, and that the layout/shape was awkward. This makes me feel better!

Idabean: We will be in our early 60's in thirty years, and at that point I think we'll be ready to downsize as the house is 4500 sq ft.

As far as an island goes, I'm thinking of a small rectangular Boos kitchen island like this one:

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 1:25AM
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I wouldn't buy a house with two steps down to the kitchen. It's an accident waiting to happen, IMHO...and I definitely wouldn't buy it, if I had children.

I'm sorry not to be more positive, but you did ask for our opinion...and you just started looking. I'd look some more and hopefully the next home with have a much better kitchen...and you won't have any doubts about it! :)

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 3:18AM
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I don't think the steps are a problem. It is only two--and you could hold on to the counter, if needed. And kids learn steps--most grow up in 2 story houses.
I think the corner wall oven is a little awkward. I am short, and find I like to reach in from the side. Reaching in from the front puts the girls in danger!
I think you could easily add some knobs and live with that kitchen for many years. Especially if you add a Boos island!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:06AM
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4500 sq. ft. Is a large home. It's hard to tell from the pics but the kitchen doesn't look as large as what you would expect in that size home (you mentioned it was a one butt kitchen). Is there an eating area besides the bar height stool area? The steps would bother me if I was taking meals up the steps to the dining room on a regular basis. Also, if you like to cook, is that going to be enough kitchen for you & your family?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 9:28AM
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It's hard to judge distances with those photos, but the kitchen looks very narrow. I would look at what's there now and have a future floor plan in mind and see if both will work. For now, the long expanses of counter space are not ideally located to stove and sink, so that's kind of a waste. The prep sink will probably only be used for drinking water and washing hands since it's so far from the stove. The clean-up sink is too far away from the stove--imagine trying to drain a big pot of pasta. Will it be tight standing in front of the open fridge with an island behind you? It appears the DW opens into the entry to the DR.

I won't let the view sway me. As a fellow PNWer, I know it'd be hard NOT to have a view of tall trees. That's why we are willing to put up with rain from October till June!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 9:40AM
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If you have indeed been looking for a while and feel this is the best value for your money, then go for it.
I understand Lavender's concern about the steps going down to the kitchen. But, from what I have learned on GW , is that one step is a hazard. I think with two steps should be ok.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 12:10PM
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I have two friends, who both broke their ankles on the two to three steps to the garage, in the last few years. Of course, I may just have clumsy friends.....

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 1:26PM
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I would tend to avoid steps into the kitchen because you can't avoid them if you wind up on crutches, unless you hire a maid while you're laid up. Stairs in another part of the house - you could probably sleep in a downstairs bedroom for a while. Not so easy with kitchen stairs. Yes, I know it's only a few stairs, but those stairs can be a serious pain if you can't walk (and it isn't just the elderly that have mobility issues). For me, those stairs would take the house out of contention - and yes, I'm a pro on crutches.

It's a gorgeous view, but gorgeous views are plentiful here in Western Washington.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 4:33PM
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Not even thinking about aging in place or in case I get laid up for some reason. I am a klutz and I envision myself carrying the Thanksgiving day turkey on a big platter out to the dining room and tripping on those stairs and the turkey flying . . . well, I'm sure you get the picture. I just think it would be too much of a pain day in and day out - carrying the groceries in, taking the food out.

Plus, the ovens in the corner with the cooktop right next to them would bug me way too much. I couldn't work like that. Honestly, if the room was not sunken and the cooktop was about 2 feet to the left, I think the kitchen would be just about perfect for the way I work. But it's not and while moving the cooktop may not be all that difficult, the floor probably can't be overcome.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 5:07PM
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Where are your kids going to eat snacks and do watercolors? It won't be on the Boos block island. Will the formal dining room be used for all of those things?

The two steps down would make it a deal breaker for me too. To me, that is just a strange layout, and with something like that you will never be able to do any easy fix to change it say in ten years if it is really bugging you and you'd have the cash then.

FYI: we bought our current house when we were in our 30s and have now lived in it for 30 years.

Buy something you can more easily remodel if you want to when (and you most likely will as you grow older) you have more funds.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 6:07PM
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Snacks and art project will be done at the informal dining area which is between the living room and kitchen. The current owners don't have a table there, but there is space for one.

I agree that the sink is kind of far from the range and I do cook pasta maybe 2x a week, so it will be a pain. Down the road when we remodel I might consider putting in a kohler stages under the window.

The two steps I agree, are an issue. I'm just not sure if they will become an issue for us. And the house is multiple stories anyway, with the master upstairs.

IDK, I really love the house. No house has been completely perfect, but this is pretty close. And the view, more than just trees!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 6:39PM
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I think only you can answer that question. I agree the two steps is a huge minus point and difficult to overcome. Let's say at some point in the future, should you have funds and should you find the steps a huge pain, could you relocate the kitchen to another space? When we remodeled our home we swapped the kitchen and family room and it works much better that way.

The view is lovely and sounds like there are many plus points and if this would enhance your quality of life, then I would not rule it out based on the kitchen alone.

But, you are wise to be thinking of the schools, parks, vicinity of local hospitals etc. and what type of community you'd be moving into. Are there many young families in this area or more retired folks? Do you see basketball hoops or children at play on the surrounding streets? Are there opportunities for your children to pursue extra-curricular activities? For a family with young children, I'd place more emphasis on this than the kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:18PM
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