Starting my kitchen reno and would love layout help!

missZNovember 4, 2012

Hello all,

We are in the planning stages of our kitchen reno. I've spent lots of time browsing this site and would love to have your opinions on our kitchen! We have a tricky space and I'm feeling a little bit lost on layout.

We're in a city apartment - about 1300 sq.ft, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, probably built around 1910. The kitchen has never really been properly renovated. About 7 years ago, an unfinished extension off the kitchen was insulated and finished, but the kitchen was never renovated. So we've been left with the footprint of the old kitchen, plus an extension tacked on - but not yet used. We'll be demolishing an old walk-in pantry to make one big space (shown in the layout below).

We know pretty clearly the style of kitchen we'd like - classic but with personality. I'd say the rest of our house is sort of "vintage bohemian" - colourful vintage furniture, mostly white or dark grey walls, artwork. For now no kids but we'd like to start a family in the next year or so, hence us wanting to get this done!

I feel pretty confident about our ability to style the space, but less confident about layout. It's a narrow kitchen with tons of design challenges - low windows that open in, and radiators! We entertain a lot so we'd love to have a place for people to sit while we're cooking, and best case scenario, we'd have a desk (as our current office will be converted to a kids room in the near future!). The kitchen is at the back of the house, leading to the backyard. It's separated from the dining room by the bathroom. We have a great, kid friendly, big dining table that is in constant use in the other room.

So here's what we've got - I know there are problems with it, but I'm honestly a bit stuck. Any sugestions??

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is this a house or apt-you use both terms...depending on can and can't rules there,I'd be more keen to get a bigger bath with shower stall and tub-or even a 2nd bath-maybe laundry setup rather than work so much sq feet into the kitchen. do check into venting-the range is on an internal wall it appears.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 6:47AM
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We're in the ground floor of a triplex with partial shared walls on both sides, so it's an apartment. No need for laundry as our laundry setup is in the unfinished basement (where we have exclusive access). I've considered bumping out the bathroom a tiny bit into the kitchen to make it more spacious (it's tiny), but I'd only do it if we had room (and budget) to spare - our budget is pretty modest for the amount of work we're doing, structural work to remove the pantry is a big budget eater. As for venting, yes, we'd need to run the vent through the ceiling to vent on our side rather than that of our neighbours, but our contractor has said it's doable.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 8:07AM
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One thing that is problematic is the fridge and DW placement. When the DW is open and then someone opens the fridge, there is a complete blockage.

Did you place your sink and appliances in the locations shown because of existing plumbing?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:17AM
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No, definitely not! Currently, our sink is where I've put the fridge, with the dishwasher to the left of it. The fridge and oven are right next to each other on the back wall, where I've put the sink, and to their right is a walk-in pantry. I'll add a few pictures of my existing kitchen tonight for more context. I'm pretty resigned to moving plumbing, as the sink is pretty awkwardly placed... unless y'all come up with a genius idea!!

dilly_ny, you're totally right. I'm struggling with that spot.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:44AM
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the desk and breakfast "nook" use too much that configuration especially.Do a 180 and reverse the desk-it faces the long back wall and becomes shallower depth /can actually be wider,probably more useful....on the back side of desk, install the back of your banquette set up[is that the style of your nook?]The spot where desk was,can now contain some of the pantry cabs so the fridge can have space around to either move it or create counter. You can eliminate bench of nook under the window with a different L for the seating-[across back of desk and running down the side wall] Have you painstakingly assessed exactly how much pantry storage you need,anyway?-it seems more than I would do for a 2 bedroom residence.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 10:16AM
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The windows by the breakfast nook, are they just two windows with wall space in between?

I am thinking you should forget the desk and use the 24.25" space --between your door to backyard and the inset post --as a command center. 24" is small for a desk, but for a command center its feasible. Think about whether you can use a laptop on in the breakfast nook. If you wanted to, you could make a command center with retracting doors. Then you could hide the post by cutting the back of the cabinet and make your command center incorporate the post space.

I am thinking that you might not want to put anything where you currently show the fridge and pantry. Just save that space for a future bathroom renovation. If its your only bathroom, its probably worth dedicating an extra foot or two when you renovate. even if you allowed 2 feet for future bathroom expansion, you would still have over 100" along that wall. What if you put your breakfast nook in that space with a bench under the low window? You might be able to do a nook like A2gemini's. That would free up alot of space for a great kitchen. Sorry my scanner is not working so I can't post the layout I am suggesting.

Here is a link that might be useful: A2gemini's bench

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:27PM
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Herb, I'm not totally sure I understand what you mean with the desk. I currently have it against the back wall, do you mean flip it the other way around so it looks out the window?

The banquette is just an idea. We'd like a bit of seating in the kitchen for entertaining and eventually kid-watching while cooking, but I'm open to ideas.

The full height pantry could be used for some appliances too - microwave and toaster oven - so I don't think we'd have any problems filling it, especially since we were considering doing open shelving all along the back wall.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:40PM
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-yes flip it and create a semi-aisle:the desk would be shallower and a high back banquette bench creates a partition between desk and banquette area. That also gets people facing the window view...eliminate seating under window.....It appears as though you have practically a whole wall with view considering door and windows:so facing out,therefore,makes more sense,unless the view is undesirable. Apparently you don't mind lack of counter adjacent to fridge-okay then.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:55PM
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Unless you actually work from home and need to house reference books and spread out papers on a large surface, a desk is an obsolete area. 90% of everything that you do at a "desk" can be done digitally. All you need is a place for a printer and wireless access. Then any laptop or tablet, or whatever device arises in the future, is your desk. If you need more room for a project, then you'd have an island and a banquette.

I'd actually put the range on the 123" wall to the back, and use the space with the 30"H counters to create a lowered baking area that you could also slide a chair underneath with a laptop if you wanted. Move the sink down to where you show the range and then create a peninsula.

Like this:

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 5:57PM
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Alternately, the banquette could go in the upper left corner.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 5:59PM
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Hi! That looks like a really pleasant room, with those nice, precious windows and door to the outside. Gorgeous as that kitchen layout Greendesigns offers is, I think whatever I did with it would have to maximize what the windows had to offer family living, as your plan obviously is trying to do. Of course, maybe you have the same view and sun exposure in another well-used room?

A mainly one-counter kitchen can be very efficient, which is what you basically have there. I like that it leaves the room open and makes the entire space a family area. If you were going this direction, the stove would be the center of cooking, making the area to each side prize cooking real estate (wasted on a desk). That could be a cleaning center where the desk is, with cooking moving smoothly down the counter from fridge (where the sink is now) to stove to cleanup.

Perhaps a desk could go on the storage wall, on the end of it perhaps, or? It could even be a pullout from the pantry wall, so that you sat facing out the windows as you worked and then it slid back out of sight.

An island would probably be helpful only occasionally, for extra prep and serving surface. In that space, if a single counter weren't enough I'd probably be thinking instead of wrapping the counter down the end wall in an L instead. It could taper as it approached the window wall and a straight banquette under the windows, or be cut off well short.

Since the kitchen is a room by itself (my favorite), I do think you'd really appreciate a banquette with comfy, spring-upholstered seating where adults could relax and chat and kids jump and play--and snuggle with a blanket and pillow near Mommy when sick. The table itself wouldn't need to be large at all, just enough for little ones to eat and scribble at. Their favorite place to be for some years will be wherever you are and often directly under foot, so best to plan for ALL that that means now. :)

Since your kitchen is so long and you do have a good dining room you're happy with, I'd probably plan now to take some inches for the bath if they'd make the difference they usually do. If desired, it could just be planned for and allocated now, and whatever cabinets, etc., you might put on that wall moved to their permanent location when that job's done.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 7:42PM
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I am not good at drawing on the computer, so I will try to explain my idea. I would put the banquette along the other side of the outer wall - where the pantry is. With a built-in bench under the window and chairs on the other side of a rectangular table. I would use the entire right side of the room with cabinetry in a U shape - no peninsula. Perhaps a small island if there is room. You could do the full height pantry where you currently have the sink and DW drawn. Or desk there with pantry beside it. Possibly put the fridge beside the pantry, so all of your full-height stuff is on the same wall. You could put the sink between the pair of windows and the range centered along the right wall. That would leave room for floating shelves flanking the range.

There would likely still be room for a small island - not with seating, however, in the center of the "u". It may be useful for prep.

If you are thinking of having kids, then pay close attention to the swing of the refrigerator and what is blocked when it is opened. My kids peruse the goods often thus blocking the only entrance in and out of our kitchen. Also stick with table or counter height seating, bar height doesn't work well for kids until they are almost adult sized... like 10 or 11. Best wishes! I look forward to seeing your plans.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 8:11PM
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Hello all,

Wow, these are great comments, thank you so much. I was really blocked and you've inspired me!

First, let me clarify a few details about the room. The green I've indicated on the plans are wall-mounted hot water radiators. On the left side (127" wall) they're low, around 2' high. On the small 24.24" wall behind the glass door there's a full-height modern one that the old owner put in. We'd like to keep them, mostly because it would be so expensive to remove them but they give off good heat and I like these vintage details.

Secondly, the windows - they swing out and are lower than counter height, making it quite tricky to put things in front of them. They are gorgeous though and we get incredible direct sun in the morning. Sunniest part of the house!

I'll post a couple photos so you can get a feel for the space. This is the extension, looking towards the wall of windows. The built-in pantry is on the left in this photo.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 8:11AM
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Here's that wall of windows. BTW, sorry about the mess! :P

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 8:16AM
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Finally, here's the other side of the room. Our existing kitchen in all its glory.

As for inspiration, I have about a million images saved - but these two are pretty representative:

Inspiration 1
Inspiration 2

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 8:23AM
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Okay, here is a quickly revised floorplan, posting quickly before I go to work. I think this is an improvement! I forgot to mention - we'd love to keep our fridge, it's only two years old and we really like it. However it only opens one way (it's non-reversable!). So that's something I'm trying to accommodate for. I've also indicated where the basement ends. Our contractor has said we can run the plumbing behind the cabinets if necessary, but not sure if there are any other considerations...

Not sure about that fridge placement - it might be better on the back wall with the stove. But then how to use the wall to the far right?

I've kept the area by the bathroom just empty for now. Though it's hard for me to imagine a bathroom renovation now, I might feel differently in 5 years! So I like the idea of putting a banquette or desk (or both!) in that corner, which could be moved later as necessary.

As for the comments about not needing a desk... I see where you're coming from, but we are a seriously wired household. Even if we just use laptops it's likely we'll have two - and probably a screen (both of us work in computers!). So a dedicated space for all that stuff would be really great, even if it's small!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 9:45AM
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Okay, I'm trying something new. Ditching the island, adding a peninsula as GreenDesigns mentioned. I'm a little sad to lose the island and close in the space, but this might be a better solution as I'm a bit worried that the space will be just too awkward with the island. I purposefully left the peninsula empty so that I could have a nice big prep surface.

Rosie, I really liked your suggestions - if I didn't already have the fridge that opens to the right I would probably try and put it in the spot you suggested.

What do you guys think? Is the space I have enough for an island, or too tight? By my calculations with counter overhang I'd have 36" aisles on both sides - a little more on the left side of the room.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 10:05PM
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So... any thoughts? Would love some feedback. If there's any more info I need to provide, let me know.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 11:45PM
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Also, I've been thinking about that fridge... If there is a design that is significantly better that involves it opening the other way, I guess we could sell it and buy a new one down the line. It's such a huge investment overall that it would be silly to go with an inferior design just to save a (relatively) small amount...

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 2:08PM
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Hah, so at this point it looks like I'm talking to myself! Oh well, I'm still inching forward, so I'll just keep posting here...

I've made a few tweaks to this plan - I just put the fridge against the back wall rather than curving around. Those windows are so big I like the idea of maximizing the light they let in rather than putting a big fridge on that wall. I've also moved the sink to the peninsula as I really like the look of having the range centered on the wall.

I added 1' grid lines, so it's easier for you to see sizes.


1. The peninsula "backing" onto a blank wall - is it odd? Does anyone have any examples of this? I actually really like this configuration, but worry I'm not best using that bathroom wall. If at some point I take a couple more feet for the bathroom, that will leave a 48" aisle between the peninsula and the wall.

2. Am I setting up a situation where the person at the sink will get trapped by the dishwasher?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 12:32AM
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Oh, those windows. Be still my beating heart :)

I would combine your plans from Tue, Nov 6, 12 at 9:45 and Mon, Nov 19, 12 at 0:32. Basically, take the latter, put the sink back on the top wall, and ditch peninsula and use the island. Center the island on the sink and range, making sure to leave enough of a walkway on the left to accommodate any future bathroom reno/enlargement. For the banquette, use only the one bench (not a corner/L-shaped bench) as in the latter layout.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 9:28AM
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