Burning Questions of a VintageReno-# 1 Layout

silvergirl426_gwDecember 20, 2012

I am already waist deep in redoing my very small space with the very big problems.

I am trying to do (need to do) a modest renovation. My tastes are quite plain. Nothing too high end, which would be out of keeping with the simplicity of the rest of the house. The house is a small cottage, built 1854, in a gorgeous setting in rural CT. Total square footage is a bit less than 1000 sq feet. It was originally one of four workmen�s cottages for men who worked at the nearby but long-gone mill (there is a brook across the street). It is cape style, and because originally only the first floor was meant to be living space, the upstairs was unfinished until later and the downstairs ceilings are very low.

The kitchen presents unique problems, as follows:
Size. It is very small, and I don't have the budget to move walls, or build out, etc. Over the summer I did the window part of the reno, putting in new windows along the back wall that looks over the deck and onto the back yard gardens, stone walls and woods beyond. There is a cantilevered banquette bench below one set of windows. The windows to the ceiling have brightened the room, and made the low ceiling seem lighter.

Odd shape. It has a long narrow appendage (aisle?) at one corner (you can see this in the upper right on the drawing), and it has a cove/recess area/surround (I use for lack of a better term) measuring about 88" x 17" on one interior wall, which backs on our study.You can see these on the crude drawing below (sorry for the primitive quality).
Three doorways. They cut up the space on three walls. One goes to the mudroom and backyard, one to the hall and bathroom, one to the living room.

I am nearing retirement age; there are two of us. My partner never cooks. My cooking has lessened considerably as I have grown older: we rarely have meat except on sandwiches; we eat fresh vegetables from the garden or the farmers markets, eggs, simple pastas, soups; I do a little baking. I never broil or cook spicy, aromatic foods. That being said, I still want an inviting, and efficient space for when I do shake the pots and pans. The main problem is lack of counter space. However, three doorways in a room that is about 9-1/2 x 10-1/2 prevent any long runs.

I am not fancy -- no pot filler, disposal, prep sink (room for only one), wall ovens, and any other electronic high-tech gimcrackery. I have a Chambers stove, model B, and since there is only room for one star in this small kitchen (and it certainly isn't me), I will let her take the honors. In fact, all my design thoughts and the vintage qualities I have decided on stem from the stove. But more on that for another post.

The first burning question is how to maximize efficiency and get more counter space where it's needed. I have read thru the posts on basic space minimums, but given the footprint, it just isn�t possible to have 42-inch aisles. The aisle between the sink and the island will have to do at 36".

I have thought about layout and have come up with one that I think sort of works, given the constraints (Layout 1 below). That's the best I can do.

The second layout, with the fridge next to the stove provides for a longer counter next to the sink, but has no landing space next to the stove. The fridge, even at counter depth, also sticks out too far into the doorway to the hall. That hall leads to the study and the only downstairs bathroom. I don�t think the work paths -- having to go from frdge to sink and then back to stove -- really work as well as the other layout. And the doorway would have to be moved, adding extra expense.

Since this has gotten far too long, here are the two layouts. For all the layout gurus, please have at them and give me your thoughts and your help. And thank you!



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Yours sounds like a very charming house.

I'm not sure I understood all of your measurements, but I took a stab at it in the IKEA 3D planner. IKEA is a very good value for the bones of your kitchen - cabinet carcasses, drawers, hardware, etc. If they don't carry a doorstyle you like, you can purchase doors, drawer fronts and cover panels from a 3rd party like Scherr's, cabinetsnow.com or semihandmade.

To increase your counterspace I did 2 things. Undercounter refrigerators. And shortened your banquette in favor of a large cabinet with drawers. An 18" dishwasher gets it to fit.

Here is a link that might be useful: IKEA 3D Planner - link good for 7 days

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 3:35AM
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I too was going to suggest putting your frig on the end of the banquette closet to the sink run.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 6:01AM
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Can you get to the bathroom by another pathway, even if it's longer? I only have one bathroom (first floor) in my two-story mid 19th c house. Walking to it is not the problem most people imagine it to be. Salvaging that doorway for a counter run may be worth it.

Can you make a bigger drawing (with blacker ink) of the space without stuff in it?

It appears your sink run is somehow recessed into another room?

Which windows and doors are there, now? Windowsill heights? It's hard to tell.

What's the little black square on the forward upper corner of the banquette? A structural post?

Which walls are exterior?

The island is pretty big for your space. An island may be usfeul for added work space, but having it and a banquette bench is probably too much seating for a small kitchen. Even a much smaller island, totally dedicated to work top, will help and without expectation of having eating positions frees up the dimensions of it.

Have you considered having a single keep-the-cook-company stool that also doubles as the seat for eating when grabbing a snack by yourself? (You could have a pull-out shelf in the cabs for that table space use.) My kitchen is a bit bigger but we spent time thinking about what seating we actually wanted in the kitch and decided the keeping company perch (not connected to an eating surface) would do the trick as mostly when we are together one is cooking and the other kibitzing. We sited the perch with regard to chatting while prepping. I also have a stool that is tucked away in the corner which is sometimes used for a quick snack while watching a pot or sitting for long preserving tasks (shelling peas, for ex.). We eat all sit-down meals in the dining room or grab a plate and sit outside or around the fire in the winter.

Where do you eat, now?



    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 8:55AM
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Is there any chance you could close off the doorway to the living room? That would give you a nice L-shape counterspace for the range and sink, with the fridge on the back wall (maybe with a pantry area). From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 1:53PM
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I think I'm beginning to understand your space better. However, I may have added about 18" to the width. ???

I have tiny-kitchen friends with an "appendage" like yours. They have their refrigerator in theirs. Seems like a hike, but it really isn't. Yours is wide enough for a pullout pantry, and perhaps some ingenious broom pullout on the right.

Here is a link that might be useful: IKEA 3D Planner - link good for 7 days

This post was edited by tbb123 on Thu, Dec 20, 12 at 15:00

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 2:55PM
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thanks all -- I realize my drawing is so primitive it's hard to see and I guess I wasn't the best at explaining.
LavLass - That door to the living room is actually the main way into the kitchen, and the stairs to the upstairs are at that junction. So that's not a possibility.
tbb123 - Your second IKEA plan is actually totally accurate excapt for the added inches. (I wish!) This is actally the plan I thought would work. I see what you say about moving the fridge down into that aisle, but the windows back there overlook the back yard and gardens and since the other two walls -- the one with the sink, and the one with the stove -- are interior, I hate to block the ones with the view and that let in the light. But you make it look doable the way you have arranged things.
liriodendron, I have always considered your comments on other people's space problems so thoughtful, and I thank you also for taking the time to question and think. I thought the island should be a floating island, a fanciful way of saying it should be rolling. It isn't really an eating island, but more a prep space, and it should be much reduced in size. I will answer your questions more in detail and think about what you suggest. I am still at work, and trying to finish up work stuff and my own stuff, but I will cogitate on what you said. And I should force myself into the world of higher tech than I now can muster up. Alas, I shall always remain a word person. And alas again, my USDA zone is a bit too harsh for a tulip tree.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 8:21PM
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I'm perplexed as to where and how the inches come out. I'm guessing it's to the left of your 88" indentation into the study. I see 61" for the appendage. But I don't see a measurement from the indentation to the wall common to the stairs.

So the doorway in the lower left hand corner goes to the living room and can't be changed. How about the door to the hall and bathroom? Could we make that into a passthrough?

Can you post a picture of your current space?

Ceiling height?

Measurement of your current island? Does it work for you?

Is it possible to modify the banquette?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 10:15PM
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Thank you for your kind words about my (often prolix) comments; they were a little Solstice gift to me when I read them this a.m., and very much appreciated.

Now then, you needn't invest time or brain cells in mastering computer layouts. A measuring tape, a willing partner, an extra-fine sharpie, a straight edge and pad of graph paper are all that it takes to do a planning drawing. Oh, plus a pencil and a big eraser. All can be had at an office supply store for less than $20, except for the partner, of course. You're on your own for that.

Make careful measurements; transfer them to the graph paper at any scale you like, using pencil. Then using the straight edge, go over the outlines with the dark sharpie; take a pic, upload it to photobucket and post it here. And you can play around with versions of it on your own, at home. To me, 3-D drawings seem more confusing when just working on the foot print as they infuse an element of perspective-skewing. My suggestion is to stick with the top-down map-view style, at least when doing the layout. That keeps you focused on the plan, which is the most crucial aspect. You can "furnish" it afterwards.

Since you are in CT, do not assume you can't grow tulip trees. Mine came up with me from my Mother's farm in VA and now live here even farther north than you are. I live north of Albany, and not down in the temperature- buffered River Valley, either. Even if you live in the chilly NW corner of CT, I think tulip trees would do just fine. They are very hard (supposedly) to transplant because they have sparce, fleshy, brittle roots. I didn't have problems with that, however. I don't think I lost a single one even though they were wild-dug and not cultivated or root-pruned from the start. I was worried that being from VA (solid Z6) would mean they couldn't adapt to a colder Z5 teetering on Z4, but they've done well. Oddly, because I associated them so strongly with VA, it was only after I had mine up here that I noticed that there are larger, old specimens here and there about my area. And I thought I "knew" my local flora.

They are rarely offered in commerce, but some of the smaller specialty nurseries do sell them. They are best moved with a ball of earth, so I don't think it would work for bare-root. I could suggest some sources, if you really wanted to give one a try.

Hope to see some more versions of your plan; neither the size nor age nor scale of your kitchen plans seem daunting to me. Small size actually frees you from the seductive lure of a full-on, every-amenity, mega-kitchen. It forces very careful thought and analysis of how you use your kitch which, in my experience invariably results in both better functionality and excellent overall design.



    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 5:21AM
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This could be a very charming kitchen, when all is planned and done. I like all the windows, but agree that graph paper, a tape measure and a rule is your friend. Just to make a guess, I probably drew out 100 versions of my kitchen when I was at the layout point.

Say, am I seeing your beautiful model B Chambers measured at 36"? I have a model 61C and know that I need 38" for that stove. Just thought I'd mention it as I've learned that .5" can bork your layout in a small kitchen.

Looking forward to seeing your graph paper layouts!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 6:17AM
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