Layout help: Kitchen/DR/'porch'

drbeanie2000October 30, 2011


Our household comprises DH and myself only (and DH's daughter in grad school, so she will be home occasionally). We are a two-cook kitchen and like to cook together, and we have speakers in the room so we can listen to music or books while we work. We like to face each other while we work, so I'm often seated on one of the stools that's next to the island and prep there, while my DH is just across the "peninsula."

It's really just a place for us to hang out and cook, and we don't anticipate that this will change. There won't be kids doing their homework there, we'll use it every day, and it will usually be both of us.

We do not entertain a lot, usually having family over in an informal way. However, DH has been promoted and we have been invited to several informal (but more formal than family) dinners with work colleagues and friends that we look forward to returning. There is very little possibility that we'd have anything catered or have huge trays of hors d'oeuvres or use a long island as a buffet.

The totally open floor plan seems to be "in" these days, but I'm afraid that I find it hard to concentrate when people are trying to talk to me while cooking, and usually either make mistakes, or never hear a word of what they say. This, and the fact that I am sort of a sloppy cook mean that I'd prefer there to be some kind of demarcation between the kitchen and other rooms. It's important to me that when guests are sitting in the DR, or even passing from the LR to the DR, they not be able to see piles of greasy dishes and gravy spills that are sure to happen.

We eat all our meals in our dining room, except for breakfast at the counter. That means that our DR is not one a fancy formal dining rooms that is only used for special occasions, but we do like to have it somewhat "formal" for ourselves, with nice furniture.

In our house now, we have no central air conditioning, and our house is heated by oil. We plan to put HVAC in and switch to gas.

The key features of our current kitchen/dining/"3-season porch" area include:

- The dining room and "3-season porch" have different heights than the kitchen.

- The "porch," separated by exterior-like sliding glass doors, is a step down from everywhere else in the house

- Both the dining room and the "3-season porch" are heated by an electric baseboard, each has its own controls - This works okay in the dining room because it has actual walls. The porch is basically fully lined with windows, old ones that you have to crank open. Half of them are painted shut.

- Because of the bank of windows, it is roasting in the summer and freezing in the winter if you don-t want actually to watch money being ignited before your eyes. So we basically call it a no-season porch, because even the spring and fall aren't very comfortable.

- There isn't a lot of flow between the current kitchen and the DR or "3-season porch." We have to walk around our peninsula to get to the DR; to get to the "3-season porch" we have to unlock and open the sliding glass doors between it and the DR, or open a door from the kitchen and take a right.

One thing the bank of windows does allow us to do is to see lots of our backyard and landscaping, which we love.

We intend to make the "porch" a real room, with real heat and a floor at the same level as the kitchen, and expand the kitchen into it, combining it into a kitchen/sunroom type area.

What we'd like:

A six-burner gas range, most of which are 36" wide.

We liked these shallow but wide Subzero fridge and freezer (separately) that are 36" wide and I think 24" deep, because both our current top freezer/bottom freezer in our kitchen, and the one that we have in our basement, are often full. We'd like not to have to go down to the basement for half our food!

A dishwasher is essential but we have not looked long enough to have any particular preference. I think we prefer the conventional kind, not drawers. A quiet dishwasher would be a plus, and we wouldn't mind if its cycle ran less than 2 hours!

We're not sure about ovens yet, but when we cook for others, we find that two ovens would certainly come in handy. DH likes to make huge vats of chili or soups and freeze them, so a microwave is essential for him. (He seemed a little alarmed at the speed oven idea and even convection cooking. But I'm not.) Stacked ovens seem like a good idea but we don't feel we need a warming drawer.

I'm short (5'3") and DH is tall (6'1) so basically I can hardly reach anything in the upper cabinets. I don't mind keeping rarely-used items up there, but I'd like most of the storage for cookware at least to be under-counter drawers.

For food, I saw some ultra-nifty compact storage cabinet about my height whose 2 doors opened to reveal some deeper shelves on a swivel that came out, as well as shelves on the insides of the doors themselves. They looked like they held a lot, and best of all, shallowly. We're tired of reaching in (or not) or moving aside lots of food to get at the many levels of "back food."

We'd like to have a real pantry, but don't expect it to house ALL of our items from our occasional Costco runs.

We'd also like to have a real mudroom, as we are constantly running in and out of the back door in the summer to the kitchen garden to cut herbs and well, we get muddy. A big plus would be to have access from the garage. And we definitely need space for separating all the recycling that we have to do.

We hired an architect who has come up with several designs, and seemed to zero in on what we want to do fairly quickly. Her most recent two sets of designs follow.

I have marked some features on the following three pictures, which are the same as the others but with my scrawls all over them.

I guess what I would like is for someone who has much more experience than my DH or I do, with reading layouts and being able to tell right away that such and such a design is a disaster, or even to suggest different layouts from those pictures.

I hope I've done this post right - I am a newbie but have been lurking for months, thanks for looking, and let me know if you have additional questions!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

At first glance, both plans are quite nice. Do you like the DR open to the kitchen, as it is in the island plan? From what you wrote, I thought you wanted more separation, which the 2nd plan provides.

Can you explain the reason for the prep sink placement in the island plan? Was it placed where it is to serve as a bar sink? If it's intended to serve as a prep sink, it's not placed well. It should be placed on the other side near across from the range. Otherwise, it's a heckuva walk-around the island to get to the range.

Can you provide dimensions? I don't see any in the above plans so it's hard to provide any other insights or suggestions or to point out any potential hiccups.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 2:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some stuff about these layouts is personal preference - about structure and formality. They have several things in common that would concern me given what you said and, as always some of what would be personally appealing.

Both have clear vistas of the messy areas. In the double "L" one, guests would parade by the messiest part.

The pantry is located where it receives a lot of sun.

How pantry and refs are located literally causes you to walk a lot to do something relatively simple like canned soup and a grilled cheese.

The refs aren't in a bad position, but what will happen when you have a lot of guests?

The windows will need light control - awnings, exterior or interior sun shades or something.

The kitchen itself is kinda buried in the interior of the house.

There are structural "things" that may leave posts or wall-lets here and there. It's kinda important to know where those are before doing plans - other than general concept ones.

Both one of my sisters and myself experienced a revelation when we independently ended up buying ranges with a warm setting. It helps when you need to prepare in stages but serve all at once and also when you want have nice warm plates for Sunday breakfast for two with actual warm food.

The "L" shaped plan:
- has no water near where your notes are thinking prep would occur. Also kinda kills the prep facing each other concept.
- the sink is 6 feet away from the cooking area - lotta schlepping pots across the floor.
- the sink is too close to a corner for a single sink (can only access the water from one side).
- table and chairs aren't usable in the window (kitchen side). Its only about 6 feet wide. Even using a 30" table and chairs, it takes 5 feet for it to just sit there unoccupied. Occupied chairs add a minimum of another 2 feet.
- the path from cooking to the dining room and pantry is a little twisty.
- Entertaining means bar stuff. It can be a tub of ice filled with beer or coffee-tea or full-on hard and soft drinks. Depending on what you do, bar stuff needs access to TRASH/recycling, for guests to dispose of empties, refrigerator or iced storage, sink to dump out partials, etc. Makes me scared thinking of it and this plan.
- The wall ovens might be good or bad. The thing about double ovens is heights and your heights and how you both get stuff out of the ovens. Some people stand beside an oven, but I stand directly in front of it. Someone or both of you will have to bend over to take stuff out of the lower oven. Oven doors vary in the amount they open, but lets use 18". IF it was for me, I'd need the aisle to be 18" plus about 3 feet.

Big island plan

-Consider moving the entire island a little bit more towards the cooking surface. It's a little tight in the main passage and a little far between cooking surface and island. I like wide aisles and I would do this.
- the garage entrance is a little narrow for carrying groceries.
-Ready for this? Consider moving the cleanup area to where you have prep sink, the prep sink to the other side of the island (and larger), and the pantry where the cleanup sink used to be. Then put one tall oven cabinet right after the corner. Drawing is just to communicate!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 9:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Honestly, with you saying that you prefer to not have the dining room open to the kitchen...have you thought about putting the dining room in the kitchen space and putting the kitchen/sunroom area along the back?

The dining room could have a big arch between the living and dining areas, making both rooms feel bigger. I know you don't have windows, but you could have a hutch on the garage wall and open to the sunroom, in the back. This would bring light into the dining room, but you'd be looking into the porch, not the kitchen.

The kitchen could be where the dining room is now, maybe a U shape with the sink under the windows with lots of light and no upper cabinets (since you can't reach them too easily) and fridge freezer storage on the wall to the bath. The cooktop could be on the 'east' wall and if there's room, have an island or a small peninsula between the kitchen and sunroom.

Rather than the two small bump outs, I'd bump out the entire back of the house, so that's it's even. You might see a little bit of the kitchen from the dining room, but you wouldn't have to walk past the 'mess' to get to the dining room. I'm a messy cook, too, so I know exactly what you mean :)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 4:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"...I find it hard to concentrate when people are trying to talk to me while cooking, and usually either make mistakes, or never hear a word of what they say. ..."

"...I'd prefer there to be some kind of demarcation between the kitchen and other rooms..."

"...It's important to me that when guests are sitting in the DR, or even passing from the LR to the DR, they not be able to see piles of greasy dishes and gravy spills..."

As pointed out previously, neither of the plans your architect came up with meet your basic criteria! So, are these true criteria? If so, are you being swayed by the "looks" of the layouts (architects are usually good with "looks" but not so with function, especially kitchen functionality)?

What is more important to you, function or form (looks)?

BmorePanic has already mentioned most of what I noticed, but I did want to mention that she's so right about that pantry location! A pantry on that outside wall will have a problem with heat build-up heat - unless you leave it open all the time. It will be even worse in your case b/c you have no air conditioning! Even in our air conditioned home, our old pantry got quite warm in the summer and bread and other items went bad (moldy or stale) quite quickly. It was also on an exterior wall, the west wall in our case...which gets the most sun.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 4:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for everyone's input!

We are putting in AC, but I take your point about the pantry on the outside wall. The architect did come up with a scheme that switched the kitchen and the DR, and I liked it in a lot of ways, but DH hated it and anyway, I realized that it would be a trek to get to the kitchen from either doorway to drop off groceries.

I don't have strong feelings about where the appliances go, and in fact think of that Ref/Freez configuration as a little strange. I also am not that enamored of a prep sink, so its placement in the plans is just something our architect thought of.

I don't want an UGLY kitchen, but function matters far more than form. I'd say yeah, the criteria I mentioned are true criteria but that I personally can't figure out how to make it work, and so far the architect hasn't been happy with her designs either.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 7:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is NOT a specific plan, just a sketch of rooms. One crack at trading the kitchen for the dining room, believe me, there are many other ways it could be laid out. Earlier, I was eyeing up the tv room. It could work pretty well if the garage entrance could become something like this. Then dining room goes back to being dining room and "sun room" becomes TV room. Its a lot more money because of the bath room.

The prep sink (or an extra sink) "should" allow for any combination of these things.
a. Provide a sink for the use of the chef. Its called a prep sink when its mostly used during food preparation - washing veg, filling pots, draining pots.
b. Provide a sink for handwashing.
c. Provide space for an entertainment setup.
d. Have a sink close enough to the cooking surface so that pots don't have to cross the floor.

I have a combination hands/cooking sink, altho I do use it every once in a while for ice baths. I don't wash veg in it - other than stray potatoes.

Because of its location, it is in no danger of dh wanting to use it unless he is actually cooking. Mine is right beside the range. It is out of the way when entertaining - in our case, entertaining uses the cleanup sink. So much better than the constant irritation of waiting on each other to use the same sink.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 9:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm not sure why your DH wouldn't like it, but all you're walking through is the porch to get to the peninsula, to drop off groceries. You could tuck a pantry on the wall to the dining room and even keep the pantry in the dining room area, if you like.

This may not work for you, but it does give you some other options. This is just a quick'd have lots of possibilities for a large kitchen/porch area, across the back of the house. It seems that your current plan makes everyone walk through the kitchen, to get to the dining room. Just an idea :) From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 10:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Briefly, I am not sure about using carrying in the groceries from the garage as a driving force for a plan, if it is going to put the kitchen in the wrong place.

I would carry groceries the length of the house to preserve a view for example, after knowing someone who blocked the best part of the yard, and an awesome view with a garage because they wanted the garage next to the kitchen. You can't walk 20 (or 50)feet extra back and forth once a week carrying something? I am not trying to be snarky, but this is one of the common driving forces in layout that I just don't get. You are going to be using the kitchen more than once a day, every day. You don't want guests walking past it when it is dirty or when you are in full production. Put it in the ideal spot and then sort out the rest around it. Don't plan it around carrying grocery bags. Get a rolling cart for the house if it's that much of an issue.

However, we carry easily ten bags of groceries 5 blocks and up 55 stairs because we don't have a car, so I am biased.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 10:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm not sure which is more important to you and your husband, placement of the kitchen to screen off the mess from the dining room...or convenience for bringing in groceries. It sounded like originally, you didn't want the kitchen open to the dining room, but if you're open to that...

Switch the kitchen and sunroom in the plan I sketched above. This would place your kitchen next to the garage entry and really open up your space. You could use an island to separate the kitchen work areas from the dining room and have stools for company. The porch area could be pushed over to the right 'east' side of the plan and you could have a nice small sitting/eating area, in that corner :)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 2:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's another possibility, a combination of ideas already presented mixed in with my own ideas.

This is a concept only. I can't get more precise, since I've no idea how large any of these spaces are.

I shifted two openings to the right, lining them up with the front door to create a center hallway with long views through your home. This move also makes the LR and DR a bit larger. I opened up the LR and DR to each other and to the sun room to create a good flow when entertaining, whether formally or informally. Moving the DR to where your kitchen currently is means that company does not need to walk through the kitchen to reach the DR. The walls provide some separation between these spaces and the kitchen, which I sense you want, but I didn't close them up completely so that you can see through to your views. The walls are where walls are currently so that you shouldn't need to mess with floor level changes - other than at the two shifted over openings.

You could add a pocket door in the wall between kitchen and DR/hallway (perpendicular to the pantry) to close off kitchen messes from company view. Make the freezer cab a bit wider so that the light switches can go in the side of the cabinet. You could also add two pocket doors in the entry between kitchen and sun room. Pocket doors are great because they provide closure when you need it but slide out of sight when you don't.

The pantries are pantry cabinets, not walk-ins but they will provide a great deal of storage.

This does put the kitchen a bit farther from the garage but I'm with palimpsest on this: if it's a choice between a make-do lay-out close to the garage or a great lay-out a few more steps away, I'd close the latter in a heart beat.

It may seem odd to move the DR farther from the views but if you spend more time in the kitchen - which it sounds like you do - and more of that time is during daylight hours, than it makes sense to switch the DR and kitchen.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 6:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, everyone - you've really helped us clarify this. I think we're agreeing that we care less about the grocery issue than we'd thought. DH thought the kitchen as the "heart of the house" made sense, so that was initially his hesitation with its being in the corner where the DR now is. I was thinking groceries because of not fully picturing being able to bring them in dry, and having to tramp wet and snowy across large distances of nice flooring.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 6:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have a new design from our architect that encompasses many of your great ideas!
I've put some dimensions on this time, and I hope that some of you will look at this layout and see what you think. The architect just drew in appliances where she thought they could go, and I'd appreciate if those with more experience with work zones could give some input about the placements of these.

Thanks again, everyone!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 6:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

4 seats and a good portion of the living room have direct views of cleanup - particularly with the new view into the dining area from the living room.

If I'm doing the math correctly, both aisles on the long side of the island are about 3 feet wide. Its a little chintzy when you're thinking of stools and the pantry doors together in one of the aisles.

So.. moving cleanup to the bathroom wall does a couple of nice things - dishes are closer to the dining room, pretty much completely hidden, can double for larger events as a bar area.

I wonder if it would be possible to have big wall of tall where the range is shown (refs and storage), move the range to the bumpout, kill a few pantries. Would that be any better? Aside from having a few from the range (I like that), I had the thought of killing the pantries to get counter seating.

What about running an "L" shaped counter from the new range wall instead of the island? Would that be any better?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 6:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think the architect's plan looks a lot like Lisa's, but I like Lisa's better. The island is too big in the architect's plan IMHO, and Lisa has the dining room more open to the sunporch. A much better view, than the kitchen island :)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 7:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like this better than your initial plans because I think this suits your needs and wishes well. But it can use tweaking.

Several of the aisles are tight, IMO. If you have 40" for the aisle between clean-up sink and island and 42" for the aisle between R/F (assuming these are built-ins about 27" deep with doors), you have room for a 29" wide island. You could shrink the R/F aisle to 40" but that doesn't really net you much gain.

I like bmore's suggestions of moving the clean-up to the bottom wall, moving the range to the top wall (nicer view from DR) and moving the R/F to the side wall. This also helps with aisle clearances.

138" (11.5')
-25.5 for sink wall cabs & counter (depth of 24" deep cabs with standard 1.5" counter overhang)
-30" island (27" deep cabs with standard 1.5" overhang all around)
82.5" remaining for aisles or 41.25" each for aisles.

NKBA recommends 42" for one-cook kitchens, 48" for two-cook kitchens. Rhome410, one of the lay-out gurus here, has a 36" aisle between range top and island and it works well for her (despite 8 kids and various animals) but it's a range top, not a range - no oven door opening beneath it. I personally prefer more aisle in front of oven doors so that when it's open, there is room to maneuver.

I would add a prep sink to the island so that you have a nice work triangle between range, R/F and prep area. The pantries are a bit far from the action but given your long, narrow-ish space, your options are limited.

Here's an idea: you could add an 18" pantry cab on the R/F wall relocated to side wall and still have 24" of counter frontage before the corner and sink wall run. That would give you pantry storage for oft-used items within the working zone of the kitchen.

Whoa, I just saw that the architect gave you a 12' island. That's not an island, that's a continent. ;-) How do you intend to use that much counter? If you're still considering a 2nd oven, you could add one below the counter here.

I also just noticed the 3' section at the end is designated for seating. You can seat 2 people facing each other but that's only gives you the bare minimum for knee room (NKBA recommends at least 15" overhang and 24" width per person for 36" high counters). Given your husband's height, I think he'd prefer more knee space. You could seat one at the end but you'd need to lengthen the overhang by 3" - 6" to accommodate that arrangement. I am curious, though, why you're adding island seating and a cafe table if it's just the two of you. I'd be tempted to choose island seating and add another easy chair with coffee table placed between the two for a tete-a-tete space for you two. If you want table height seating, lower that end of the island to table height. Just be sure to take the NKBA minimums for 30" high counters (18" knee space and 30" width) into consideration.

I'd also be tempted to make the pantry at the far right end - the one opposite the island - 18" deep, not 24" deep, to give you 48" between pantry and island, especially if this is a frequently used path. You'll appreciate the additional clearance. Do you really need 140 sq ft (assuming cabs are 84" tall) of pantry storage? That's a lot. If not, I'd make that whole run of pantry cabs 18" deep, which still nets you 105 sq ft of storage. You could also consider swapping out the center section with base and upper cabs and counter to give you a handy place to set pantry goods down (it would make unloading groceries bags more convenient). Have you tallied up how much storage you really need? If not, do so, and then configure your pantry cabs to match your needs.

Here's what I'm talking about:

I added windows in the little alcove across from the island to give you a nice view and to make up for the loss of a window above the range.

Your DR clearances are also a bit lean. If your table is 42" wide, you only have 39" clearance around the table. If your table is 48" wide, you have 36" - that's tight. NKBA recommends 44" behind seating for walk behind space and 36" for squeeze behind space. I have 40" between kitchen table and island and it works for us but that's not the same as having only 40" between table and wall. I can crowd the island and have my arms extend over the island counter to get by but I can't do that between table and wall (I'm not sure what that unit is along the upper wall - buffet or floor to ceiling cabinet). It's a visual thing, too. That same amount of space feels much tighter in my DR because of the walls. Also, if those posts between DR and LR cut into the clearance space, as they appear to do based on the drawing, you have even less clearance. Unless you are really desperate for storage, I'd lose the cabinet along the upper DR wall and stick with storage on the left wall, provided you have sufficient length for your table, that is. (I didn't remove it from the above drawing.)

How long is your table when fully extended? Make sure you have sufficient clearances then, too - especially for the hallway aisle so that no one feels as though they are sitting in a hallway.

Thanks, LL!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 9:26PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Old, Deep Cast Iron Sink or New Sink? I can't decide
Hello, would love to hear from those of you who have...
Cindy McMahon
Can you help me make an idea board?
After looking more realistically at our kitchen renovation...
Any reason a DW couldn't go next to a fridge?
We need to pull the trigger on our cabinets next week,...
Prep sink location
After a lot of talking on another thread, I took sena01...
Jennifer Weinman
Ordered my cabinets in rustic beech
What I am wondering is why all the kitchen magazines...
Sponsored Products
Home Decorators Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug: Home Decorators Collection Rugs So
Home Depot
nuLOOM Hand-hooked Indoor/ Outdoor Trellis Grey Rug (7' 6 x 9' 6)
Blue Whitehaus WHQ536 SIngle Bowl Fireclay 36'' Farmhouse Kitchen Sink
$689.00 | Blue Bath
25 Inch Top-Mount / Drop-In Stainless Steel Single Bowl Kitchen Island / Bar Sin
eModern Decor
Furniture of America Tacinth 2-Piece Parsons Dining Side Chairs - Dark Oak Multi
$299.16 | Hayneedle
Neo-Industrial Satin Nickel Three-Light Island Pendant with Clear Crosscut Glass
$299.90 | Bellacor
TRIBECCA HOME Charles Beige Chenille Upholstered Dining Chair (Set of 2)
Concerted Waves Rug 6' x 9' - BEIGE/BEIGE
$3,299.00 | Horchow
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™