How functional is my layout?

pulpoDecember 27, 2012

It is probably not the best time of year to be asking questions but I would love to receive some feedback on my kitchen layout if any of you have the time.

The rough plumbing and electrical are in, making changes difficult but not entirely impossible.

The kitchen space is open to the living room and the aesthetic is modern with a 15-foot wall/ceiling at the west side (your left), sloping to a 9-foot ceiling on the east. The top of the pantry is open and its side has a sliding barn door.

The dining room table is in a fixed position, centered between two of the home's exposed glulam beams. That position leaves 58-inches from its edge to the bar-side of the one-level island; where there is 18-inches of legroom underneath. On the other side, the island counter is 46-inches from the sink counter.

The cluster of pendants over the island are pictured at the link below. They will be varied in length and color. Their position was based upon the island having an elevated bar-top that extended another 14-inches towards the dining table and overlapped another 8-inches of the island counter (22-inches raised bar in total). That condition only left 43-inches from bar counter edge to the dining table; thus the revision. I think the pendants' position still may work as shown in the provided plan but I could be fooling myself. Their intent is to be a focal point and 'groovy' mood lighting (usually dimmed) more than lighting for the prep-side of the island. If anyone thinks 43-inches from edge to edge with bar-stools in-between will indeed work, I'd love to hear about it...

The east side of the home (with the range) is about 7.5-feet from a neighboring house while the south side (sink) has windows with pretty views of the large front yard. As with the dining table, the range and its hood are centered between exposed beams.

The counter-top space extending into the dining area is definitely not typical and may raise some eyebrows. The wine storage and wine refrigerator were placed beneath and will hopefully be functional. The 7-foot of counter can also serve as a buffet.

The refrigerator placement was a silly blunder that will require an expensive unit with a 90-degree door-stop. Hopefully its placement is good with all other factors.

Anyway, thanks for looking! I am very eager to read your replies.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pendants (above island)

This post was edited by pulpo on Thu, Dec 27, 12 at 12:19

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Here are the east and south elevations. The island is not shown and the kitchen drawers are not precisely partitioned.

Since going to the ceiling was not an option, I wanted to be able to reach all of the uppers without a stool.

The closets in the dining area are a work-in-progress.

This post was edited by pulpo on Thu, Dec 27, 12 at 12:30

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 12:11PM
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Swap all of the wine stuff with the fridge and add a prep sink on the island at the corner by the range. Then arch the overhang to get better room for your stools. Also move the table back further so you can have better clearance between the two seating zones. You won't have enough room for someone to walk in between them.

It also looks as though you have a 48" range with 48" hood above. You need a 54" with at least 1200 CFM to deal with a grill. That will require makeup air. You'll need to consult with a HVAC engineer for that, as well as plan for that expenditure in your budget.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 12:31PM
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Thank you for the reply!

Unfortunately, the table can not be moved from its position. That being the case, is 58-inches of clearance acceptable?

I know it is tough to see but the range hood is indeed 54-inches with everything you have mentioned. I have provided a close-up below.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 12:42PM
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If that's the case, then eliminate the island seating at all except for maybe a single "cook's stool" on one end. With the table that close, you have a great social connection with diners and the island seating is actually duplicative and unnecessary.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 1:15PM
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If that's the case, then eliminate the island seating at all except for maybe a single "cook's stool" on one end. With the table that close, you have a great social connection with diners and the island seating is actually duplicative and unnecessary.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 1:16PM
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I don't agree that the island seating and dining room bench seating are duplicative but I understand your point.

How much room do you feel is necessary between a counter edge with seating and a fixed object? If it is a matter of inches, the island can be made slightly more narrow; although the pendants may need to be moved.

I've considered two stools at the west end (your left) but can't say that I've ever considered only one. That seems odd for an 8.5-foot x 4.5' island, no pun intended. In that case the island can be slightly extended further towards the dining table if it makes more sense with the pendant wiring.

The two-stool option is shown below with 18" legroom.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 2:18PM
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You've asked specifically about function so that's where I'll start:

It's a big kitchen (and an immense, though skinny, pantry) with stuff slapped up against the walls all around without sufficient consideration of how it will work as a food making space. It seems a more collection of trendy kitchen desiderata than a room planned around the activity of turning out meals in an efficient manner.

Distances between your food storage areas and cooking are very long. I agre w/LWO, the quickest fix given that you're already underway, would be to swap the wine arrangements and the fridge and add a prep sink to the island. (Might consider turning the island 90 degrees, as well.) This will shrink the walking distances for prep and cooking into a workable size. You'll still have to travel to get to the pantry, but perhaps less-frquently than for the fridge.

Consider making the counters 30" deep which will subtract an additional foot from travel distances. Make the island smaller if you do this.

If things are pretty well settled and moving anything more drastic than above would create problems then I'd limit it what LWO suggested. But it's not the best layout you could get with that large space, if you could go back to the beginning. 24' X 15' (including the space devoted to the pantry) is huge. This seems like one instance where more room has been a mixed blessing, it has allowed the design to expand beyond good function.

The windows on the sink wall look oddly spaced to me, though just seeing that one wall in isolation, without benefit of seeing how it relates to whole elevation may make it seem less atractive than it really is.

I hope I don't sound mean, I don't intend that. Just trying to comment on a layout that seems like it has gotten out of hand because there is so much space to work with.

Have you read the various files here on the forum about functional zone planning? They are quite useful.

Your descriptions of the ceiling heights confuses me, as I would think the height above the stove would be lower than over the pantry as you mentioned the range wall was very close to another building and likely an exterior wall.

The barn slider to the pantry uses up a lot of otherwise useful wall space. Have you ever lived with one? I have six barns and they all have multiple barn-slider doors. While aesthetically interesting (and very functional where large exterior doors are needed) they are not the easiest doors to use, especially when they are 5 feet wide.

Regarding the very large pantry: You have roughly thirty running feet of shelves, which I am assuming are floor to ceiling. That's a lot of shelves! What are you planning to store there? The long narrow-aisled space, while usable, is not the best design. For long-term food preservation (especially home-canned stuff) a better place to store stuff is in a dark (not open to ambient light on top), cooler than normal room.

Assuming you have plans to install the necessary MUA system ref'd above? This is particularly important in open plan houses with high ceilings which allow the HOGS to propagate throughout the living space.



    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 2:43PM
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My .02 - keep everything in its current location. The counter area for beverage fridge will be great space to set up a drinks and will keep guests out of the kitchen flow ( and a buffet as you mentioned). My frig is to the left of the stove and it can be a bottleneck when everyone is home. You already have a solution for the frig with the 90 degree door stop. Aother alternative is to shift the frig and MW 15" toward the sink and place a tall cabinet on the wall side of the frig.

Keep the island!!! I have the very same setup and love it. My adult kids and grandbabies always sit at the island while I am in the kitchen. Do consider putting a radius on the seating area. It softens the corners for heading banging height munchkins. Had that a couple of times the past few days. The aisle distance is greater than mine amd it works with few issues. Also consider the prep sink in the corner across from the stove. I put in a hot/cold water dispenser and it is the most used item in the kitchen second to the frig. It is used every day, multiple times.

I have a similar set up in my pantry, though not as long. On the wall without shelving, i use Elfa baskets. They are wonderful. The barn door is a unique feature that will be a conversation piece.

The kitchen has to work for YOU and your family. Yes, there are industry standards, however, sometimes they do not apply. It is similar to the norms healthcare applies to certain test - within a specific range. Maybe not the best analogy, but it is the only one I can think of with a crying grandbaby who does not want to nap!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 4:04PM
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L. - Thank you for the great feedback!

I agree that the space could have been better designed.

The range is indeed located beneath the low (9-foot) ceiling and the pantry is a 9-foot tall open-top box that resides below the opposite, 15-foot ceiling.

Beyond storing the usual food and supplies, not a lot of thought has gone into the detailed use of the pantry. The shelving shown is a placeholder as much as anything else. If the 29-inch isle seems too tight, I can increase it to 41-inches by keeping the east wall free of shelving. That leaves me with 23 running feet of shelving. Do you prefer that?


    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:06PM
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motherof3sons - Thank you so very much for the reassuring reply!

I have been looking at Elfa shelving and think that it would work very well in the pantry and beyond.

Do you like the idea I mentioned in my last post about sacrificing some shelf space in order to increase the pantry isle to 41-inches?

Your opinion that the island seating is far enough away from the dining table (58-inches) is comforting. Hopefully a few more people will weigh-in on that, as well as the position of the pendant lights.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:32PM
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You are most welcome! My pantry is L shaped (4x7). Attached is a photo that gives a somewhat like layout. The back wall shelving is 16" deep and the long wall is 7". We store items from floor to ceiling. I need to purchase more deep shelves. 29" maybe too narrow.

As far as the light, they may be too small for the size of the island. Are they in individual electrical boxes or one?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 10:53PM
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Forgot the pic.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 12:07AM
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The pendants are individual. They are clustered, similar to what is pictured below.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 12:10AM
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Overall, I think your plan is fine. I'm far from being an expert, though. There appears to be plenty of room between your counter seating and the table; it might have been a problem if your table was rotated so that seating at the table and counter "bumped" into each other (like what will be my problem with my design when I finally share it) but it's not doing that.

So often I see people "burying" their fridge in the kitchen and while yours is "deep" in the kitchen, it's not anywhere near the prep or cooking zones so it should be fine there. The addition of your beverage fridge and buffet area near that end of that run will be very handy.

I love your clustered pendants and think they will look great as shown in your original drawing.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Make the pantry shorter and move the wine stuff there for easier access during entertaining. Put in some glass cabients above to display the barware as well. Then move the fridge where the wine fridge was located to make it easier to access from outside the kitchen. Put the range on the back wall, flanked by windows, as a focal point. If you put a prep sink on the corner of the islan nearest the pantry, it can work as a place to rinse out wine glasses when entertaining if need be as well. Otherwise, take away even more pantry area to wrap the cabinets arount the corner and add a beverage sink there. As well as adding a prep sink on the island. This gives you a functional layout that allows others from outside the kitchen to access the items that they need without interrupting food preparation. It also gives you a great focal point to the kitchen in the range centered on the back wall.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 11:21AM
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