Tearing out walls to create great room

hosenemesisNovember 17, 2013

Hi everyone,
My buddies would like to tear out some interior walls to create a great room and to expand their kitchen. The hubby is a painting contractor with plenty of do-it-yourself experience, but no design experience. Wife is at a loss- except that she wants a pantry and counter space because she cooks a lot. Hubby is willing to tear out all walls, including bearing walls, to make a more user-friendly space, but no cooktop or sink islands, since he does not want to jackhammer up the slab. They don't need or want a "family room" or the tiny dining room, which is not big enough for a decent table and chairs.
Here are the limitations:
Sink to stay where it is under window.
No electricity, gas or water to an island.

I thought someone might like to throw out some ideas for them. Here is a crude drawing of the space to be redesigned, one square =one foot..

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The first thing to be throwing out is the location of the bearing walls and how the loads they carry will be transferred to the foundation.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 6:40PM
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ditto above.

also, please check, but I think an outlet is required by code for an island/peninsula.
My little 3'x5' peninsula had to have an outlet, even though there's an outlet on the wall that the peninsula juts out from.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 6:50PM
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robo (z6a)

If they go for an island, they could do a "movable" (non-permanent) island to avoid having to put an outlet. E.g. IKEA stenstorp

Is the entry a front entry? do they need/want a coat closet? Does she want a walk-in pantry or would a cupboard/closet style be good enough?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:01PM
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deleted: duplicate.

This post was edited by huango on Sun, Nov 17, 13 at 19:12

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:05PM
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The bearing wall is the one that runs between the family and living room and divides the kitchen and the dining room (north/south- I forgot the north arrow! North is at the top). They are open to posts and half-walls. Your questions make me believe they should hire an architect to see how much they can get away with in terms of wall removal.

They would like a peninsula, and could run gas or electricity to it. The garage door could also be moved to the dining room area.

Thank you for the questions.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:08PM
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They need a structural engineer to figure it out.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:27PM
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I'm not a contractor, so let me ask you this - can water be run through the walls so another sink could be along the perimeter?

Can the garage door be moved? If so, where are the garage "walls"?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:51PM
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They do not want to move the sink and they don't want a second one- that was the only limitation, aside from no jackhammering up for pipes to an island. They don't want to do any water plumbing at all, since they would have to hire someone for that.

The entry is indeed the front entry. She is open to either a walk-in or a closet-style pantry, as long as it is big. She cooks a lot, and makes the best red meat sauce I have ever eaten!

There is a coat closet on the bedroom side of the entry door.

The garage extends from the kitchen wall side (east) to two feet from the entry door. So yes, the garage door can be moved to the current "dining room" wall, but they do need a door into the garage to meet code, so it cannot be eliminated.

I will tell them a structural engineer is the way to go.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 8:20PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Don't get hung up on a small cost of moving plumbing. In the course of an expensive remodel like this, it's peanuts. Under 1K most likely. And it could be the key to a better more functional kitchen. Getting hung up on "must haves" or "can't possibly do" at the beginning doesn't do anyone any good when it comes to making things more functional.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 11:03PM
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An engineer is overkill for such a small project.

The first order of business is getting a good design whether from an interior designer, a CKD, a General Contractor, or whomever.

You can't know which walls, if any, to move until you know why and you won't know why until the design is complete.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 11:24PM
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Also suggest that they research local codes and make sure the project conforms.

I believe a permanent island is required by code to have an electrical outlet a close distance to the counter top so that cords don't have to reach down towards the floor or across a walkway.

Even if the project is 95% DIY, it is a waste of time and money if the end result doesn't meet code. Makes your project a liability when selling. In particular, if removing a load-bearing wall, an engineer's stamp may be needed depending on your locale. Their insurance carrier may also require it.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 7:32AM
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If by chance they want two slightly used versions of those IKEA islands, I have two of them that I'll be selling/giving away on Craigslist or Freecycle. I'm in northern CA.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 11:33AM
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If plumbing can be run through the walls, it would not be difficult or that expensive to plumb another sink.

I agree with HollySprings, if they start off with "absolutely not" b/f they even find out if it's expensive/difficult, then they are really limiting themselves and doing themselves a disservice not looking into possibilities. With the restriction of no water/electric to an island b/c of the slab, they need to get creative and be more flexible elsewhere.

Unfortunately, I think we have a reputation for doing miracles regardless of restrictions - but it's not so. The bottom line is that the less flexible a person is with the basic things, the less we can do for him/her.

Sometimes the key to functional design is, for example, an extra sink. My kitchen is a case in point - without that second sink, my wonderfully functional layout would be a flop b/c it would be too far b/w the water and cooktop and I'd have to cross a major traffic path through the kitchen just to make that trek.

Being able to move that Garage door is a great thing, btw, it does open up possibilities.

Let me see what I can do.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 9:49PM
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Thank you, and I understand. She likes the sink in front of the window- that's really the issue.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 11:42PM
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OK - here's one....and no moving the sink or adding a second sink! The ability to move the Garage Door made all the difference!

(Select/Click on it to see a larger version)

  • The Prep and Cooking Zones are close to each other with the refrigerator and MW nearby for easy access

  • The Cleanup Zone has sufficient separation from the Prep & Cooking Zones so someone can be cleaning up while others are prepping or cooking.

  • It has plenty of room for an open feeling

  • If they can do it, the window has a bumpout to add more space behind the sink. It also helps contribute to an open feeling. I suggest the window be counter-height to increase the amount of light and open it up even more. The bumpout also reduces splashing of the window and gives them more faucet options.

  • There is plenty of workspace where it's needed:

    • Between the range and sink (39" + 30") - btw, I find I like working with a corner - more of the counterspace is reachable when standing in one place.

    • The peninsula has 85" total width (approx 57" from edge to corner)

    • If needed, 45" on the Cleanup Zone side of the sink

  • Dish storage is above the DW and, if needed either in drawers in the peninsula or in the upper cabs on the other side of the sink. (That upper cab above the DW area could be another 3" to 6" wider going out over the peninsula - it depends on how tall the family is)

  • The refrigerator and MW are situated on the perimeter so that those outside the kitchen can access it without getting in the way of those working inside the kitchen

  • There's a 6' wide reach-in pantry. It could be longer if they don't mind a longer wall.

  • Counters on the top and right walls are 28"5" deep - 3" deeper than normal. I show 27" deep base cabinets - if they can get them, the deeper base cabinets will add quite a bit of cumulative storage. If they cannot get them, then they can use standard 24" deep cabinets pullout out from the wall 3".

  • With the exception of the easy reach, the upper cabinets are 15" deep - you'd be surprised the difference those 3" makes!

  • There is a portable island for additional workspace and/or carting things from the pantry or refrigerator to one of the Prep Zones (primary or secondary).

  • There's also another coat closet facing the front door. It could also be a set of cubbies for boots, gloves, hats, sneakers, backpacks, etc. If they have children, this might be an attractive alternative to another coat closet. Or, if there's a Mudroom in the garage and cubbies aren't needed, it could be an alcove for a nice table and mirror or maybe a "message center" with a place for keys, charging phones, mail etc. (they might want to store them in a cabinet that closes to hide mail or similar clutter.)

  • The coat closet/Pantry wall helps to hide the kitchen from the main entry - so the first view of the house when coning in the front door is not a...

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 1:27AM
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Buehl, that is a really good design for that space. Bravo!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 10:44AM
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Buehl, thank you for putting all of this work into this- I will print it out and share it with my friends. I love this kitchen lay-out. (My kitchen is laid out like this and it works very well for me). Thank you again!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 12:00PM
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