reworking small kitchen/family room space, advice?

kbb100November 6, 2012

Hello All,

I am planning a reworking of my small kitchen/family room space and wondering if I can tap into the collective expertise here.

The house is small, 2000 sq ft total, divided between first floor and upstairs.

The change involves moving the interior wall dividing the family room/dining room and kitchen/foyer in order to expand the kitchen-family room space.

The problem I am having is planning the new kitchen layout.

I am attaching two floor plans here, one with an island and the other with a peninsula. (Update, I am attaching one floor plan here, since I can't figure out two, and will attach the second in a second post.)

I prefer the island plan because:

1. it is a central workspace between the fridge/sink/range

2. it allows for easy service to the kitchen table

But my concerns are that the isles are narrow and I might be wasting space.

I don't love the peninsula because the kitchen table looks crowded and because the counter top work space is not as centrally located.

If any of you all have a moment to weigh in, I would be very grateful and I'm happy to answer any questions about the space.

Many thanks!


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And here is the photo with the peninsula . . .


    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 8:22PM
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The peninsula plan appeals to me but not with the chairs around it so close to the table. The peninsula seems to keep the traffic out of the cooking/prep area which is nice. Could you draw a peninsula with a 'bulb' at the end for a couple stools instead of the long bump-out?

To my eye the island plan is kind of tight along the sides, esp the fridge side.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 9:58PM
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It looks like you have a lot of unused space in the room, how about pulling the island out into it and easing the congestion in front of the fridge?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 11:23PM
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things I'd do but granted,without info, about budget/loadbearing walls/what's been done thus far....close up living room door to bath hallway...create a pass thru to that hallway at range location.Move range and counters to create an L with sink wall,as in your peninsula concept-but with wider space inside kitchen now you can have this arm of L function better with range/cabs/deeper counter with better stool seating on backside/less crowded for the adjacent table.[The stools will be a bit furthur down and in]-opens up family room side..Second-widen dining room opening on foyer wall and close the opening on family room side-also enlargening family room space.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:49AM
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Deedles, Marti8a, and Herbflavor,

Thank you for your thoughtful input! I am going to sit down again tonight and try your reworkings and see what I can come up with, and will repost.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 1:14PM
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We recently remodelled a small kitchen, roughly 12' x 12'. It had a peninsula, like in your second choice. Now it is opened up, with a narrow island. It is incredible how this has improved the flow. With the peninsula, it was strictly a one person kitchen, since you were "trapped" in the U and even two people were stepping over each other. I would definitely recommend an island. Marti's suggestion is worth considering, if you need kitchen seating as well.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 1:43PM
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Your sink and range look too close together. That is the most important space in the kitchen! Can you scootch the sink to the left a little? Or maybe move it to the island or the peninsula?

Is that a banquette in the window? If you have a banquette, why do you also want island seating?

I think if were mine, I would use an island oriented like Marti8a's, get rid of her bulb and the seating at the island, put the cleanup sink and DW in the island, and put a small prep sink where you have the DW now.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 4:24PM
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I was thinking along the same lines as Herbflavor. It would be better to access the hall to powder rm and laundry from the kitchen instead of LR.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 4:27PM
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Dilly ny and Herbflavor - I am going to play around with that idea. It seems like it might be more unwanted traffic in the kitchen, but I hadn't considered that option at all and will play around with it.

Angie DIY - I need the kitchen table for most dinners (just me and my 9 year old live here) and for homework and projects (WWII models!). I need the island seating for adults who come by and need a place to perch in the kitchen, especially if I am serving a drink but also still cooking, I don't want to park them at the kitchen table. It's such a small space, but I really don't want to give up the kitchen table or the counter seating.

Believe it or not, the range and sink are currently even closer together! I do most of my prep on the existing peninsula (which does not have seating) and don't mind turning around to get to range or sink.

Gardenpixie - that is very helpful information! Are your isles as narrow as mine? My feeling is that the island will make things easier but lots of people have told me too many narrow isles are a problem.

Marti8a - I had been toying with a configuration like yours (I'm so impressed that you reworked my plan!!!). Your island makes sense space wise. But it doesn't feel quite right to me in terms of the shape of the room. The TV is on the far wall of the family room. I like to be able to prep at a counter facing the tv and facing whatever activity is going on there. But I am going to contemplate your design.

So grateful for all this input!


    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:45PM
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Dilly ny and Herbflavor - I played around with the entrance to powder room/laundry through kitchen (I think I forgot to close the entrance through living room). I like the concept, but I can't afford the loss of counter space. I didn't put in the counter top seating area because I realized there simply isn't enough workspace with that doorway, unless I'm missing something in your idea?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 10:44PM
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Hi Deedles,

Here's your suggestion of a bulb at the end of the peninsula. What do you think? I could eliminate the 3rd chair if I need to reduce congestion at the fridge. The bulb look seems rather contemporary and I'm not sure yet how I feel about it.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 11:05PM
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Would it be possible for you to post what the current layout/floor plan is? Current wall locations, etc? Perhaps that might help in best utilizing the space/kitchen design?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 11:11PM
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Hi Mary lu,

Here's the current floor plan. It's a really tough space. The changes I plan to make are:

-swap windows and sliding glass door, to create banquet/kitchen table space
-move wall between family room and dining room one foot towards front of house to expand family room space
-move wall between kitchen and foyer to expand kitchen
-move wall between foyer and dining room

I have been trying to figure this out for over a year now, believe it or not.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 11:37PM
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if you don't object to the doorway from liv room to hallway with bath/etc, then leave it and work with the U shape. You'd probably have to do something seriously different in the kitchen if you put a passage where range was. Looking at it-I wouldn't want that passage off living room with all foot traffic exiting and entering thru liv room... but in your day to day,perhaps it's a trade off and not as serious a flaw as it might appear. As mary lu suggests,seeing what currently exists might provide a helpful "overview". As well, you are steering toward 3 seating areas for eating/dining,and they are all in close proximity to each other.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 12:37AM
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My aisles are actually narrower than yours! 36" and 34" either side of the 27" island and 41" between the stove and the island, measured counter to counter, so it is the actual space, including the overhang(s).

It works well for us. The usual recommendation for aisle width is nothing less than 42". If your kitchen is that large, fine, but we don't all have the extra space and we have to work with what we have, right? It honestly feels spacious enough to me. It was important to be able to open the oven door and get hot dishes out safely.

During the planning phase I measured friends' kitchens and aisles, to get a real life feel for what a measurement translates to. I am not good with abstract thinking, I have to see something. Masking tape on the floor helps too. A friend and I nailed a sheet to the ceiling and let it hang down, to get a feel for the solid bank of floor to ceiling cabinets we have on one wall. Do whatever it takes! And enjoy the process, we are the lucky ones who can do a remodel.

What does the kitchen look like at the moment?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 12:56AM
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Do you need a formal living room, formal dining room, family room, and kitchen with two additional eating areas? If it were my house, I'd turn the current living room into the dining room (it's just a label anyway), and take down the dining room walls to make an expanded family room/kitchen.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:50AM
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On the back wall (sink wall) does it have to stop at the bump out area? Why not continue into it? Do you have to have a table there?

With seating at the island and a dining room table do you really need another table?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:34AM
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Here is a link to kitchenaddict's kitchen that will show you what I'm talking about.

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchenaddict

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:39AM
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Hi All,

Here's the current layout. I posted it earlier but I think it got lost in all the layouts (sorry!).

Catbuilder - you make a great point. I did consider those options. I've lived here for over two years now and the two biggest things missing are a comfortable place for a couple of adults to perch in the kitchen (I have no where to put people when they come by and I am working in the kitchen), and a kitchen table for small dinners and homework. Currently, my son does his homework on the coffee table in the family room and we often sit on the floor and eat there also.

I don't want to give up the dining room. It's a lovely room with floor to ceiling windows and we often have many dinner guests.

I also don't want to give up the "living room". I put it in quotes because really it's our library/quiet space. It's really nice to read there or work at the computer there.

So, for the time being, I'm still trying to fit it all in. That said, I don't want a poor outcome because I tried to do too much.

Debrak 2008 - That's a great photo, thanks! It looks a lot like my space. It would mean no kitchen table though, so I'm not too keen on it at this point.

Gardenpixie - thanks for the isle measurements. Your thoughts are very reassuring. My space is so small, I would think 42" isles would look out of proportion. Thanks for the encouragement!!

Does anyone have an opinion about Marti8a's layout? It does seem to maximize the space, but it seems to lose the definition of the kitchen and just feels a little out of place to me. Thoughts?

Many thanks again!


    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:03PM
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I really like marti8a's layout! But one last time do you really need 3 places to eat? island? kitchen table? dining room? If the dining room is wonderful use it everyday. Just asking to really make you think about it. OK I'll shut up now :) hmmm just re-read all the posts. I bet your 9 year old will like eating at the island. I do understand about the project table. hmmm

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:39PM
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Debrak - you are too funny! If I didn't live here, I would be saying the same thing you are saying. But for whatever reason, we like being in the same space together. Even though it's a small house, the dining room table seems too far away.

I think I were to give anything up, it would be to merge the kitchen table and island concepts with a counter height bar table. That would be good for homework and projects and small meals. But it would cut down on storage.

Plus I love the idea of the kitchen table/banquette. That wall faces south and our back yard and so we get tons of sun and greenery. It's a nice focal point for the space.

So, still thinking . . .


    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:31PM
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I just want to say that the first plan looks great! I like the island with stools and the way it fits in with the breakfast area.

The dining room is a must, since the breakfast area is more of a banquette situation...cozy and inviting. The dining room has more seating and individual chairs...which is better for large groups or people, who don't want to be quite so cozy :)

I even like the powder room access through the library/living room. It's a nice space and more people will see it (and maybe stop in and enjoy it) if they have to walk through there to reach another area. It also means one less doorway in the kitchen.

Great plan!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:12PM
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Hi All,

Thanks so much for all the input. Lavendar lass - just what I needed to hear :). I gave the design to a kitchen designer at Reico and she is going to work on cabs and possibly rework the island as she sees fit. I'll keep you posted. I am sure there will be many kitchen dilemmas in my future and I'm glad I found you all!


    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 10:14AM
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