Kitchen Design and Layout Help Please!

WMA89November 3, 2012

Hello, I posted a few days ago about some issues I was having getting a kitchen layout/design plan from the cabinet maker we selected. I was encouraged to seek input from this group, so here I am!

We are remodeling a 60's ranch. We purchased this house a year ago as part of a downsize/relocation to community we want to retire in. We plan to retire in the next 6-8 years and want this to be our forever home. We have an architect and are already at the drywall stage of construction. Floors are coming in next week and trim after that. We have combined a small kitchen and family room into one space. There is 4/12 pitch vaulted ceiling that runs the length of both rooms. Ceiling is about 10' at the peak. We are a family of 3, with one medium size dog. DH and I usually cook together. We are not serious cooks, but do enjoy making a meal together or baking once a week. What I'm most excited about in the new kitchen is having an island. This will be used for prep, homework, breakfast and quick meals. We entertain family a few times a year, usually not exceeding 15 people.

Style wise, I'm shifting from very traditional to a more casual elegance. We will keep a small dining room, and expect to eat there a couple times a week.

I know that I want painted cabinets (creamy off-white), a black walnut counter on the island, and either light quartz countertops or Corian Witch Hazel (I love marble but don't want the upkeep). Floors will be oak, perhaps with a walnut stain. I want to reduce upper cabinets wherever possible, and have drawer bases as primary storage. We have one small closet that will serve as the pantry. I'm thinking of a nice custom hood on the cooking wall, with no upper cabinets other than an open cupboard near the window to display bowls. I would like to tile that entire wall. Attached are photos of the new space and architectural drawings, a preliminary layout, and a couple inspiration pictures. The architectural drawing showing the kitchen and family room space is not current--we moved the refrigerator to the opposite wall and pushed that wall back to recess the refrigerator. Doors, windows and refrigerator placement are not subject to change at this point. I'm open to all and any ideas--thanks!

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Here's the plan showing the kitchen and family room. Note that the refrigerator has moved to the opposite wall and we have pushed that wall back 8" in order to recess a counter depth fridge.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 6:45PM
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Cooking wall. Door to left leads to dining room, continuing to new mud room off garage.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 6:47PM
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General style I'm trying to achieve. I would like a glass door hutch on right end of sink counter. My ideal kitchen would have somewhat simpler lines than this, however.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 6:49PM
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Thought I had attached this initially--this is the layout we have developed so far and are open to any tweaking or suggestions.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 7:06PM
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I'm glad you moved the fridge! This layout is pretty good, although I'd like the fridge closer to the stove. I think I'd likely switch the oven and fridge... There are good reasons to support having the oven or fridge in that location, but I think there might be more advantages for me to have the fridge there. Are you having a rangetop/cooktop and separate wall oven, or a full range with an additional wall oven? If that's a range, I'd definitely push the extra oven down and move the fridge into its place.

Seating at the island along that side would make accessing either appliance placed between cabinets A and F pretty tight.

Is there a reason you have an upper next to the hutch instead of doing a wider hutch?

You have definitely thought this through and it's looking great.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 9:02PM
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Thanks, Rhome. I agree with you about the fridge--wish it was closer to the stove. Unfortunately we were only able to recess it in that location (we moved the wall behind it 8" into the foyer). We are planning a gas cooktop and single wall oven. We created a small kitchen in our finished basement to use during the remodel and are planning to keep it, so I will have an extra stove and refrigerator there for holiday/event cooking.

The extra upper next to the hutch was the cabinet maker's suggestion. It is for glasses/cups. I wasn't crazy about when I first saw it, and did wonder if it
would look better to have a larger hutch. I guess an advantage to the small upper, though, is that it leaves a little more counter space near the sink.

I appreciate your input!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Well, the ability to recess the fridge there makes it the winning spot! :-)

I have only the counter space over the dishwasher between my sink and hutch, and it seems like plenty. It depends, though, if you need a spot for the coffee maker, fruit bowl, or something there, and would be in a fix without that space.

Have you seen some drawings of the hutch? One concern I have is if it might look too skinny compared to its height, and if you like the hutch/upper combination.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 1:41AM
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Excellent points, Rhome. Especially since I want a fairly substantial hood on the cooktop wall. A tall skinny glass hutch could look out of proportion. I'm now leaning towards dropping the short upper next to the hutch and making the hutch wider. Do you think a couple drawers underneath the hutch would be nice, or just glass doors to the counter? Also, for the open cupboard in the corner to the right of the cooktop--should I extend that to the counter and/or add drawers under that? I'm think I should only add drawers under one of the units or the other. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 7:57AM
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Here's a drawing the cabinet guy did of the hutch/upper cabinet. It's definitely looking too skinny. . .

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 9:03AM
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I don't think that's bad looking.

I would put drawers at the bottom, like in the one drawn, so you can open the doors while still having counterspace to set something. Ours is like that. The drawers are a great place for silverware, leaving the base cabinet drawers free for other things.

If you want an enclosed space at the bottom of the one by the stove, you could consider a deeper spot with a flip-up door. I don't see as much helpfulness to having the drawers there as in your dish storage area by the sink.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 1:48PM
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I've been working all morning on redrawing parts of the plan. Here's a drawing of the sink/hutch wall with the hutch and drawers below expanded 6". The upper cabinet is reduced in width, as you can see. I can try another version with drawers below. I didn't think about having a little landing space when the glass doors are open. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 2:30PM
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Do you need the storage in the wall cabinet next to the hutch? I'd consider removing it completely. It looks off balance. Maybe some open shelving instead?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 2:50PM
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Make the hutch 60" in width, and perhaps consider linking the uppers with lowers with corbels and a veneer backing rather than taking them to the counter. That will give you the storage and decorative look, but also keep counter space.

Your aisle with the fridge concerns me with being only 42" and having both seating and a major traffic path through it. You should ideally have at least 60" so that people can pass behind someone seated with something in their arms like grocery bags or a tray of canapes headed for the dining room. Also, even if you recess the fridge, the handles and door will still have to stick out of the enclosure, meaning you lose another 6"-9" depending on refrigerator model.

I'd keep the seating on the end, as a perch for the cook, but I'd nix it on the long side. It will function much better.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Okay, here's the hutch with the small upper cabinet removed. I agree that it looks off balance with it. I could use that wall space to hang some art (I have lots of art and little wall space in this new area). Live Wire, I like your idea of expanding the hutch and taking it off the counter, but I am doing an open cupboard supported by corbels on the cooking wall--which is the focal point of the room. I wonder if the areas would compete with each other.

I do agree that the island seating near the fridge is a problem. I'm going to correct that. I think we'll keep an overhang on the end of the island towards the family room.

I'll post a picture of the cooking wall next. Thanks again for all the help.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 3:14PM
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I'm going against the grain here, but I don't think that layout is great. It will be pretty, but it's a kitchen that definitely gives precedence to form over function.

A few things that give me pause: the lack of good prep space by water. I guess you'd do most of your prepping in the 12 to 15" of island space beside the sink? That would drive my crazy, I'd want way more room than that. Realistically you'll probably spend more time prepping at the side of the island with your bum to the sink/dishwasher and it won't be pleasant to have someone at the sink/dw while you're prepping and cooking. Also the fridge and pantry are way far away from the prep zone, especially the pantry. And finally, the sink location -- I get that it's natural to put it under the window -- but you're going to have people walking through your cooking zone back and forth from the dining room to the sink and dish storage area.

My ideal kitchen would try to have enough prep space to spread out beside water (not on an angle away from it), and it would have a path from table to sink-dish storage that doesn't cut though the prep/cooking zone.

All that to say I would experiment with some layouts that put the sink and hutch on the back wall where you currently have the fridge and ovens, and try moving fridge/ovens to where you currently have the hutch. Then I'd move the water at the island to the top left corner and orient it so that you can work on the long run beside it without having to share that zone with people doing cleanup.

Just my opinion from the way I like to cook. Your mileage may vary so please feel free to ignore everything I just said. :-)

Good luck and have fun with your remodel whatever way you go.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 5:49PM
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I love your plan and I think your kitchen is going to be fabulous. I think the hutch you have drawn in the last picture, hits it out of the park. You mentioned in your first post that the kitchen will be creamy white and the island will have a black walnut top. I was wondering if you might like to end the run of white cabinets with the cabinet to the right of the D/W and give the hutch a free standing look, like this

Traditional Kitchen design by Burlington Architect Smith & Vansant Architects PC I like the way they varied the counter height and made the counter wood, you could bring your walnut in here or even do the whole thing in walnut. Another option is to bring the walnut into the trim, Alabamamommy did this beautifully in her kitchen I'll include a link.
Another idea would be to add some walnut to the hood. Like this:

Traditional Kitchen design by Chicago Interior Designer TZS Design
Sorry, but I am crazy for walnut. LOL
Also regarding the island seating, it is really nice to have seating where people are across from each other(I say this after finishing playing a game of Sorry with my sons :) ) Could you have room for 2 seats on the hutch side and 2 seats on the pantry side?

Here is a link that might be useful: Alabamamommy's kitchen

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 5:58PM
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I appreciate all the input. Taggie, I agree that the fridge and pantry aren't ideally located. This was driven by choices we made in the full area remodel. Having the sink on the outside wall was not negotiable--washing dishes while looking at my yard is incredibly relaxing for me. We expanded the kitchen into the living room and foyer spaces in order to give us enough width for an island--expanding in the other direction would have been required an addition. We pushed the limit on how far into the living/foyer spaces we could go, so it wasn't possible to gain any more space for the kitchen.
I hear you about the prep space, I'd love a wider island but am thrilled just to get one at all. We don't cook in a way that regularly requires lots of prepping although that could change when (if!) our lives get less hectic.

Localeater, I love the photos you posted. Added them to my files. You've got me daydreaming about the hutch. I don't think I have enough space (there's a door just left of the hutch) to make many changes, but I will play with it. I LOVE your suggestions of infusing the walnut elsewhere. I'm attaching a drawing I did of what I'm thinking of for the cooking wall. I was thinking of a metal hood (I based the one I drew on a Modernaire hood), but I could have something else fabricated and use some stained wood, OR--how about if the open cupboard was made of walnut rather than white painted wood? I plan to display vintage bowls (that I do use) as well as vintage trays I've collected. I am thinking of tiling the entire cooking wall up the ceiling in a subway tile. The drawing shows a 48" hood over a 36" cooktop. There will be corbels under the open cupboard.

Thanks again for all the great feedback, keep it coming!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 7:12PM
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Much better without the upper. It's nice to have some wall space and breathing room in the plan.

I have a layout similar to yours with the prep sink on the island corner, and the end of the island facing my stove. (The corner location makes it so handy to use from the island end or side) The ideal would be to have the longer side of the island across from the stove, but that's not what I have, so I make do OK. A lot of prep happens in the sink, and some next to it. If I have bigger chopping jobs, I might move around the side so that my back is to the sink and dishwashers, and I then step sideways to the stove, which works fine. (It may not be perfect, but far better than any kitchen I've had before)

The thing I'd REALLY like to change about your kitchen is the main sink location. It'd be better to have it moved farther away from the stove...Put the dw next to the hutch, and put the cabinet you've now marked "Silverware" to the left of the sink. Silverware, like I mentioned before, is a great thing to put in drawers at the bottom of the hutch. This would be better for the layout, so that different workers in the kitchen had a bit of separation, but maybe you just couldn't deal with the sink uncentered on the window, which I can understand. Sometimes we have to compromise between function and appearance, and do what we'll be most comfortable with.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 7:31PM
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Rhome, this may sound like a dumb question, but what is the benefit to moving the sink further from the cooktop? Traffic issues/congestion or to gain more counter space? I'm not sure I could deal with an off-balance sink/window, but I'm trying to stay open-minded if the reasons are compelling. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:01PM
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Sorry Rhome, just reread your post and see that it is a congestion issue. Ran it by DH and he said he wouldn't be comfortable with the sink off-center. But thanks for the feedback!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:06PM
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Hi WMA89, I totally hear you about the choices you are making. You know better than anyone else how you like to use the kitchen and the important thing is that you're making choices knowingly for how you want it to work and look.

I love the range wall, and agree the hutch/sink wall looks so much better without the upper.

I don't prep fancy stuff either to tell you the truth. It's mainly just when washing up and portioning veggies and fruits when I appreciate a lot of space to spread out beside the water. And you can always do that at your main sink as an option if you have a whole lot of spreading out to do, i.e. you'll have an "overflow" prep area with a pretty view in addition to your main island prep space. :)

I do like Rhome's idea of shifting the sink a bit towards the hutch if you can live it being not perfectly centered under the window. Plus the main view of your sink will be from the family room side so it would have the illusion of being more centered that it actually is from that vantage point. But I can understand wanting the symmetry too if you lean that way.

Have fun with your remodel!!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:07PM
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Sherrie Moore

Maybe I missed something... was there a reason why you don't want to make the hutch a little bigger? like up to the dishwasher? I like that look and storage space you get. But really you know in your heart what you need, and want in your remodel. And of course you have to live within the constraints of your remodel possibilities. Looks like it will be wonderful!!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:16PM
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Buckeye, I was wanting to maintain a little more counter space, I guess. That, along with being conscious of what I would actually store behind the glass doors. Right now I'm planning to store my glassware there. I collect a particular type of vintage glass that we use everyday, so I thought that would be cohesive enough to keep behind the glass doors. I love the look of a large hutch, but just wondered if extra counter space would be more practical. What do people feel about how much counter space a small family needs in an average size kitchen?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 5:58AM
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