Layout help & brutally honest advice needed!

new_2_njNovember 27, 2012

We are planning a gut renovation of our kitchen. Nothing will be left standing, so everything is on the table.

We are a family of four (two boys (currently 2 and 5, but they will be closer to 3 and 6 when this is done)). We both cook (although my DH cooks more frequently and better than I do) and the boys REALLY like to help. Currently the kitchen can barely contain one cook, and certainly does not hold two. I like to bake, but I really don't enjoy it with the lack of counter space. We like to entertain, but it's usually fairly casual. We have a pool, so when people come over in the summer, there's a lot of coming in and out. I'd like the kitchen to be the center of all the action. I like the idea of the kids doing homework at the island while dinner is being prepared and everyone just hanging out in general. I really don't like to cook by myself!

Here's our working layout...


There are a few things that I think we want to change/are questioning right off the bat...
1) Eliminate the bank of rollouts at end of sink run in order to gain some additional counter-space and reduce the cabinet to 30" so it does not extend beyond the end of the island (probably will add an additional window).
2) Eliminate "blind corner" upper and end the run at the sink wall
3) Eliminate cabinet over the range and just have a hood
4) Eliminate super lazy susan and replace with a bank of drawers on the diagonal
5) All/most bottom rollouts become drawers
6) We're considering getting a cooktop and oven instead of a range. Cooktop would stay where range is shown now, but where should the oven go. Would it be weird to sandwich it in between the fridge and cooktop or next to the dishwasher?
7) For the bottom 66" area, we're envisioning a breakfast station. This will be two 15" full height pullout pantries (one will likely become a broom closet) flanking a 36" run of counter. This will be where the coffee maker and toaster will live, as well as MW/speed-oven (planning for under-counter). This will allow the preparation of breakfasts consisting of cereal, oatmeal (water from fridge), fruit, yogurt, etc without moving into the "cooking" part of the kitchen. I'm thinking we may do no uppers, but add a shelf for the cable box and perhaps do a wall-mounted TV there. We don't watch TV much, but I'd like to turn on the news if I'm cooking alone. We have an under-cabinet one now that's fine, but our current layout is more consolidated.

I would greatly appreciate your feedback on our layout and our potential changes. After living with a dysfunctional kitchen for the past seven years, I'll take the bumps and bruises now to end up with a fabulously functional design!!! TIA!

Proposed Floor Plan

Current Floor Plan

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you could also do something like this on the upper corner area. something like it in the lower corner area also if you don't like a SS.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:22PM
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I like your proposed changes, except maybe the diagonal-front base cabinet, which will intrude on floor space and shorten the counter run frontages (hope that makes sense). But I understand wanting the drawers.

I would consider doing an L configuration for island seating for better conversational arrangement, and I'd want to move the seating area back from the stove. Where the left seat is, I'd add a prep sink. If you added the prep sink on that corner, you could move the fridge where you plan the bfast station and put the oven where you have the fridge. Or you could put the oven on the bfast area wall. I love a wall oven over having a range, but really see no other space in your kitchen to squeeze it in without giving up something you already have planned on that bottom wall.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:50PM
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I like the general layout a lot...especially the sofa in the kitchen!

Two suggestions...can you turn the island 90 degrees (long side facing fridge/range) and add a prep sink on the island, across from the fridge? Second...can you add a bay window behind the sofa, for extra light?

Okay, the bay window would be in my kitchen...with a sofa table and lots of plants/herbs :)

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:21PM
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rhome - I do understand what you're saying about the diagonal cab and it makes sense. I worry about any corner cab (whether a SS or one like desertsteph posted) will be a place where things go to die. Not to mention, I really think we need more drawers. Definitely food for thought though.

I'm intrigued by your L-shaped island idea. I don't think that I've ever seen one and it took me a few mintutes to conceptualize. If I understand correctly, adding the prep sink is key because the triangle becomes fridge/prep sink/range, right? Interesting. So, perhaps the fridge at the bottom with pullouts next to out and then the island becomes the landing space? Or must there be a landing space directly next to the fridge?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:29PM
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lavender lass - we could turn the island (if fact the first plan had it turned), but we rotated it for two reasons - 1) when dining you face the prettier view of the backyard/pool instead of the fridge/range and 2) when entertaining the island can be used without guests feeling like they're turning their back on the portion of the party that's happening by the couch - :)

The bay window by the couch probably wouldn't be ideal because it would be an expanded view to our neighbor's three season porch and deck. What do you think about the bay window on the back wall by the sink/DW?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:35PM
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must there be a landing space directly next to the fridge?

Especially if you have a side-by-side or French door fridge, landing space beside the fridge isn't worth much. Even with a single door, the island across from it would be fine landing space, IMO.

I know what you mean about corner cabinets. I framed in our corner to keep from dealing with them! But if I had to choose, I'd go with a super susan that has a 90-degree door, like DesertSteph showed as an upper. Oh, come to think of it, there are drawer options that have 90 degree fronts, too.

Here is Alicia58801's L-seating island (Her prep sink is placed differently than I suggested for you due to differences in layout):

If you are into the look, you could also do an island with a rounded side for seating, instead of the 90-degree angles of the L. I will try to draw an example later.

Here is a link that might be useful: 90 degree front corner drawers

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:52PM
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I have the upper corner l-shaped cab that desertsteph mentioned. Everything is easily visible and reachable, except of course the upper shelf. Nothing goes there to die....I love it and it's one of the best choices I made in my kitchen. I also have one of those in the lower cab, as well. No Susan's, lazy or otherwise for me ;-).


    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 9:12PM
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I found the pix on my iPad. Here's a picture of the lower L-shaped cabinet closed:

Here are two of the doors opened:

And here it is where the third, hinged door is open:

As you can see, everything is very accessible.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 9:19PM
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ahhhh, blubird thx for posting a pic of your lower cab like the upper I posted. I didn't have a good pic of it as a lower. Yours is the best I've seen! I think that gives so much room for storage - and openness to find things. If I were ever to redo cabs with a corner area that's what I'd put in.

unless I used the corner drawers on the base cabs like in the link posted above. I'd still use your type of upper tho. I don't think that can be beat for an upper corner.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 12:09AM
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Basically, you've got 3 foot aisles on the cooking side with a range and the ref there. There is slightly over 3 feet (maybe 40"?) in an aisle with the dishwasher and cabinets opening into it ending in a rollout pantry.

You have to travel from one end of the "L" to the other while making just about anything. The relative positioning of the workspace on the island, with the dishwasher opening into it, two or more cooks in it who both have to go back and forth to both ends of the "L" is somewhat worrying.

As far as squeezes go, I'm torn between the contenders - dishwasher, refrigerator and pantry. The range is in there, too, because of the oven door. I'm not sure what to say about it all, so I'm going to share what I see in my head.

-- The lack of any slack at the ref when someone is actually seated at the island. People using the ref have to stand back further than the actual door swing - will they have enough room? They also tend to be there for a while evaluating choices and getting in the way of anyone else who wants something from the ref.

As a side note, the left hand refrigerator door may not be able to open completely (or at all with some makes) - if its actually an sxs, their doors need to be able to have full swing to be able to use the drawers or sliding bins and the wall to its left will prevent that. The wall should stop before the ref doors unless you're buying subzeros - and even some of those you'd have to move to clean.

-- The dishwasher... Opening the dishwasher during meal prep will be a wee bit hazardous - it will block the aisles and cause anyone working at the island to stop or get tripped. The dish storage in the corner doesn't bother me exactly, but the dishes are in the middle of the "L" - causing more contention for setting the table as well as performing cleanup IF that's done while cooking.

-- The Rollout pantry - it's doors need to be very open to work and they will be about 18" wide and are very tall. The drawers inside would roll out to about 21". I wonder how that would play out in that location?

Again, just a side note. I used to have a fat, tall object between the sink window and the door to the outside - enough to block all view out the glass door. I absolutely hated it. Even if you keep the pantry in that location, consider doing a 12-15" deep shelf pantry instead. If it seems like it'd get on your nerves.

-- Range and the oven door opening into a narrow aisle is something to think through before committing to it. In your current kitchen, try placing a table about 3 feet from your current counter run - at least partly in front of the range and see what happens and how you feel about it.

This sketch ain't no perfect neither. It's just a different view.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 8:16AM
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bmorepanic - thanks for your feedback. The aisles are 42", but I think your points regarding open the DW and the oven still hold. I'll need to try to see what 42" really means. I normally unload the DW from the side, so I don't think that is as troubling, although storing the dishes in the island cabinets would be impossible. Do you think shrinking the island to create more aisle width makes sense?

Also, we've already nixed the tall rollouts for many of the reasons that you cited. We'll do a regular lower (probably 30" v 36") and add another window.

You're 100% right on the fridge (we have that issue currently). We're shortening the wall and doing french doors, which I think will help, but I need to find out for sure. Maybe we could add a narrow pullout/broom closet to the left of the fridge to solve that problem? Also, do you think doing the L-shaped island like rhome suggested (with or without prep sink) would help reduce the potential for someone going into the fridge to bump someone at the island?

I'm going to be honest that your plan scares me because it's much closer to the nightmare kitchen that we have now. We're purposely moving the slider to the other room in order to make use of the back wall for additional counter space. I'm sure the island with the sink makes the world of difference (I never had one so in my mind I don't count it as counterspace), but I'm biased based on our current experience. That said, I will really, really think about it.

blubird - thanks for that pic (sorry I poo pooed you're idea, desertsteph)! Yes, that's a great cab. Is it 36" x 36"? I wonder if they could do four drawers (two on each leg) and then no shelf on the bottom section. That would be good storage for the Cuisinart, blender, etc. Do you guys think it will look weird having a cabinet with the more traditional swing doors when everything else is drawers?

Random question - is it possible to have too many cabinets? I know that sounds weird, but we're easily doubling out storage space with the redesign, but storage isn't truly our issue, it's the bad layout. I'm sure I'll buy more stuff once we have a nice kitchen and there are things that I can move into the kitchen that I don't need to because they currently have a perfectly functional home (I'm looking at you never used spring form pan). Should we cut back (eg do a slightly small island with no storage) or is that ludicrous? Part of the problem is that a lot of the additional storage is coming in my least favorite form - upper cabinets. We're bringing the uppers to the ceiling, but I find uppers a total pain for anything other than dishes, so perhaps we really shouldn't get rid of any of the more useful lowers. Oh boy, this kitchen stuff is hard!!!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:33AM
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How are you determining the aisle widths? cabinet to cabinet or counter edge to counter edge?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:48AM
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Definitely counter edge from the island because the overhang is clearly shown in our architect's drawing (dotted line for cabinet, solid line for counter edge) but I'm not sure on the wall side. The drawing shows a solid edge, which leads me to believe that it's the counter edge, that said, it's exactly 2' deep, which means it's likely the cabinet edge. I will double check with the architect, but I'm pretty sure she even said in a meeting that the minimum aisle width should be 42".

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:24AM
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I couldn't find them on GW although I know her kitchen has been posted. Here are pllog's very clever corner drawers, which might be an option for you rather than going with a diagonal corner:

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:53AM
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A bay window over the sink would be nice, but since you're now adding more windows...the extra light will be even better, IMHO :)

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:39AM
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We have 48" aisles, cabinet to cabinet, in front of the dw and it's roomy. I don't think 42" would be bad.

If you're having a cooktop and wall ovens, your oven door, if where the fridge is now, will have an open area in which to open.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:08PM
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According to the drawing, your aisles are not 42" wide. Best be sure one way or the other.

I know its very difficult to envision island counter space!

I'm not seeing wall ovens anywhere? Except in the original demo plan. I think wall ovens might be worse - the only landing space is the island which perhaps has a kid in a stool in front of it.

Um, that is an "L" shaped island. It looks a little odd because I used the space between the legs for stools. I drew those because you had them, but they are space pigs in a small kitchen and I would brutally cut them and square off the island.

Its not the person using the dishwasher that's an issue - its the person using the island who forgets the dishwasher door is open or the one who wants to dash through to the pantry or ref. Rhome's kitchen has the refs and pantry on the same side of her kitchen - she doesn't experience that same need to have mini-chefs fetching food things by passing behind the cleanup crew in a multi-cook kitchen with a narrowed aisle. And she doesn't have seating on her island.

I know its sound horrible but use some furniture in your existing kitchen to model the distances. If you leave it there for a few days, its the best preview experience you can have.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:13PM
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New_2_nj mentioned in the OP in the changes she hopes to make to the drawn plan that she wants a wall oven. I suggested she put it where the fridge is, and move the fridge to the outer wall with a prep sink in the island. I should go to the proper computer, where I can use 'Paint' to adjust the way I was suggesting. --And to try different island configurations to try to keep seating out of crucial areas.

Dimensions within the plan would be nice. Is that 151 on the stove wall?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 5:03PM
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chicagoans - I've seen those corner drawers and they are so cool. I actually got the idea to put the bank of regular drawers on the diagonal instead from an article that discussed how expensive they are. Ooops - I guess there's a reason that option is cheaper.

bmorepanic - How did you know?!?! I re-measured the architect's floor-plan (scale) and it looks like the range wall to island (counter to counter) is 48" and the sink wall to island (counter to counter) is 39". I'm really happy about the 48", but surprised about the 39". I will discuss with the architect because I distinctly remember her saying 42" for minimum aisle width. Hopefully we can bump it three inches without too much issue.

And, I will definitely do the furniture trick. We already swapped the LR and DR furniture to see if we'd like it (love it!!!), so this is just the next logical step.

rhome - I remembered why we can't move the fridge there! The architect said it will be too deep and it will obscure the site line when coming up the stairs. I suppose we could opt for a CD fridge, but I'm not really sold on them (especially with two growing boys!).

Re: OVENS... So, I think I really confused everyone with my oven question. I don't actually want wall ovens - we can't spare the counter space. I was think a separate cooktop and oven, but installing the oven at regular range height. That's why I was thinking fridge / oven / cooktop. The reason for doing this is that I like the seamless flow of the counter around the cooktop and I feel like lots of crud could get stuck around the edges of a range. Thoughts? Is this crazy?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 8:28PM
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I suppose we could opt for a CD fridge, but I'm not really sold on them (especially with two growing boys!).

So far I love my CD fridge. Nothing gets lost in the back of the fridge which is a big plus for me. You can put an auxiliary fridge in the garage and keep beverages in it - beverages always seem to take up a lot of space!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 8:40PM
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The very first drawing has measurements on it. I used those lines to measure the aisles on the plan.

Sometimes, the fancier refs come up on ebay, etc. They aren't offered for a song, but also not their normal price tag of an arm, leg and first born child. I've seen the insides of a very few of them, but they are really impressive. Keeping in mind that I know beans about service and reliability, but Viking refs are nice inside - they are taller than you'd think and so easy to organize - you can see everything at a glance. Very different than I expected.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:18PM
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