Struggling with layout in kitchen with shortish counter runs
I am stuck on a workable layout for my kitchen. At 12.75x17 ft. the kitchen is a decent size, but the main work triangle is squashed into a 7x8 ft. U shape configuration, which does not work for our family of 5. I have cycled through countless of ideas of what we might do...but given the way the 4 entries and the wall of low set windows chop up the room, I have not come up with a brilliant way to improve the layout AND stay within a modest budget/avoid a major structural reno.
Loves about current kitchen: the windows and the view of the backyard, the desk area/paper cubbies (yes!), swingout pantry (love being able to see everything), 2 bowl sink, lots of storage (even if badly configured).
Hates: Getting trapped in the "U", lack of counter space, lack of drawers, lack of *wide* useful drawers, wasted awkward cupboard space, no ventilation above stove.
Goals for new space: Improve flow. Have more accessible counter space. Open up kitchen to family room. Improve storage.
Constraints: Need to maintain seating for at least 5 (prefer table or banquette, but counter would be OK too). I am not tied to island/peninsula/etc. Not a fan of bilevel counters. Prefer to have sink and prep area facing windows/family room. As long as I have fridge/freezer/oven/stove/vent hood/micro I am not fussy on configuration of these. Would prefer not to move/modify windows and door to deck. Willing to move/widen plumbing/entries/walls (except possibly load bearing wall). Overall I would like the kitchen to feel light and airy.
Kitchen uses: Cook every day, bake a few times a week, use microwave daily. Both DH and I cook/clean up, and the kids (ages 4, 6, 8) also like to help bake and do some food prep. I would like the kids to be able to help themselves to drinks, snacks, etc. and help tidy up as well. Eat in the kitchen unless we have guests; have tea with neighbours; read the paper. Kids do their homework/crafts and use the computer here too. Entertaining is fairly frequent and either small enough that we can sit at dining room table, or big enough (30 plus) that I set out buffet in the kitchen (need counter space for that!)
Below are the current layout, and a layout I keep coming back to. The new layout removes the wall between the kitchen and family room (bottom part of the U), so that the peninsula becomes an island. On the back side of the island I would add 12" deep storage (rather than seating). The fridge would move over to the pantry wall, and the desk would move to a window, out of the kitchen work area.
One thing I am still not happy with is the prep space around the sink (i.e. it would be nice if there were more of it). I know it would defy NKBA guidelines, but if I moved the sink to where the DW is (the second smaller bowl is like a landing area for me), that would create a bigger prep area on one side of the sink. Or is there a way to rejig the appliance placement that would free up more prep space? In this layout I also lose my 3 ft. pantry.
Any and all feedback and suggestions appreciated...I know there are lots of options that I am not seeing!
Where it all happens. Note open dishwasher across from fridge and the dinky drawers...one opens into the range, the one to the left of the range is just a fake! Note also laminate counter with undermount sink (yikes!)
Will something like this work?