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Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Posted by barlowmom (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 11:05

Hi all, I'm a longtime reader, but I haven't posted before.

We have just had baby #3 (others are 5 and 2) and are putting on an addition to turn our current 1,300 sq. ft. 3BR/1.5 bath Colonial Revival (b. 1941) into a 2,300 sq. ft. 4BR/2.5 bath. The addition includes a family room, kitchen bumpout, and mudroom (labeled entry) on the main floor, and a master suite upstairs.

We are adding onto the kitchen as part of this project because when we looked at 4 BR houses in our area, all of them had kitchens much larger than our current 13' by 10' space, and right now I'm storing a lot of gadgets and bulk foods in our basement laundry room.

Barring a Powerball win or a financial setback, we'll be here for the next 20 years.

Right now I am the only cook and a SAHM.

I belong to the Peg Bracken "I Hate to Cook Cookbook" school, but can't use prepared foods or baked goods much due to my husband's and child's food allergies.

My husband will never take up cooking, although the kids may help when they are a bit older. For now it's a one-butt kitchen, with a lot of interfering little buttinskis ☺

We rarely entertain anyone but family, and they don't usually hang out in the kitchen.

So although this runs counter to everything buyers say on HGTV, I want to be able to shut people out of the kitchen.

Our current main floor has a loop the children chase each other around and they run right past my range, which is worrisome when I'm doing something like searing meat or deep frying. I'm also a messy cook, and right now you can see into our kitchen from our front door - so everyone sees the disorganization the moment they walk in.

As for storage, I cook and bake almost everything we eat. We buy in bulk and store a lot of flour, sugar, etc.

I also have to prepare all school lunches for my oldest who is underweight, so I do a lot of cutesy bento box stuff to see if she'll eat it. Storing all the tiny accessories for that is a problem now.

Between that and my habit of buying any new gadget that promises the ability to cook from scratch while spending less time in the kitchen, I need a lot of storage.

After reading many posts here, I have set up the new kitchen with task areas:

(1) Cleanup: the south wall with the sink will have the dishwasher, single-bowl sink and trash/recycling pullouts;

(2) Prep and cooking: the west wall with the range and microwave will have pots and pans in the corner lazy susan, plate and glassware storage in the cabinets to the left near the dishwasher and sink. Bakeware and spices will go in the wall cabinets above and to the right of the range. The base cabinet will hold cookie sheets and corningware/le creuset/pyrex;

(3) Baking and lunch prep: the north wall with the cabinets next to the refrigerator will have all the kids' snacks and lunch stuff in the base drawer cabinet next to the fridge, and all my specialty baking stuff (rolling pins, cookie cutters, etc.) will be in the wall cabinets and other drawer base cabinet.

(4) Specialty appliance storage: on the east wall I have a large cabinet to hold the rice cooker, bread maker, slow cooker with sous vide gadget, and all the other gadgets I've bought imagining that just one more thing will turn me into an enthusiastic cook. The other three cabinets are a pantry for food.

(5) Island: Right now there is no island. I was thinking of just putting a 30" by 60" table in the middle, as I'd like the lower height because I'm short (5') and standard cabinet height isn't comfortable for me or my tiny kids. I would use it to serve breakfast and snacks, and for baking with the kids. Right now we do not have an eat-in-kitchen and eat all meals in the dining room.

Is there a better way to lay out my cleanup area? Should I swap the dishwasher and trash pullout?

Will I be sorry I used a table rather than an island?

Should I have a window on the west wall? The current plan has an 18" by 30" doublehung, which isn't standard. Given my height (5') I may turn that into a casement. The current kitchen benefits from the western light, but I'm concerned that it looks a bit wedged in now.

Is there anything else where the design could be improved?

Is there a cheaper way to do the pantries? The cabinet quotes I've gotten put the east wall cabs at 30-40% of my total cabinet costs

Full layout:

South wall (view to backyard):

West wall (toward neighbors):

North wall (toward street):

East wall (toward neighbors):

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Sorry, I read the sticky but didn't get the image up - let me try this.

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

And this...

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

North wall - lunches and baking - door is to dining room.

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

South wall - view is to backyard.

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

West wall - prep and cooking. Sorry for the multiple posts - I'm apparently too sleep-deprived to figure out the proper method!

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

I don't really know anything yet, but I'll chime in on one thing. I don't think you would regret a table instead of an island. At the beginning of your post when you mentioned that you wanted everyone out of the kitchen, I was going to mention that as the kids grow older you might want the ability to have them close as you cook. After school time with homework (and those precious after-school conversations) lends itself perfectly for seating nearby. They will probably be more comfortable at a table anyways. Good luck in your remodel! I am redoing an entire house right now, and we are about 2/3 way through our journey. Hopefully the experts will advise as well.

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Thanks Rebecca! I'm hoping that the lower table height will mean we don't have to pull out the step stool every time we bake cookies.

Right now either my oldest uses the ladder or we do only the mixing in the Kitchenaid on the counter and all rolling, cutting and decorating at the dining room table. That usually means two messy floors instead of one.

Should I put an outlet in the floor under the table?

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Good question - I didn't think of that aspect (thank goodness for professional kitchen designers!). I don't bake, so I didn't think about the electrical needs.

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Wow, except for the fact that I'm 5'7, and my kids are now grown (and all taller than I), I could have written your post, 25 years ago. My kitchen is 13.5' wide, with three entries--used to be four. You can click on my user name, see the kitchen progress albums, and probably find out more about me than anyone would want to know. :)

We bought a 3'x5' craigslist table, added plain wood blocks to elevate it to a comfortable height, and parked it in the middle of the kitchen. No outlets. In theory, it's moveable, but it has a marble top, so no one has ever tried to move it! The KA is a quick pivot to the left, at the end of a counter that I call my baking run. Now, I've mentioned this many times--the aisles are only 36-37" wide, but it works well for us.

We built a cabinet and shelves under the working side of the table, and made a removable shelf for the other side. Since the grandson came along, he eats all his snacks on that side, so the shelf has been MIA for several years. Not really missing, it lays flat on the bottom shelf of the table. We have a small bench that fits perfectly under the table top, so when I'm cooking or cleaning, it can be stored out of the way.

I've given you this wordy description to suggest that you find a table that can be converted to an island or work table. In the future add cabinets, shelves, trash pull-out, etc.

In your plan, I'd prefer the fridge on the left wall, where you have a pantry, but if you keep it on the bottom wall, switch it with the cabinets, or center it between them--it won't open fully if it sits against a wall. Taking crispers out for cleaning will be even more of a chore.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cheap and simple island/work table

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Just wanted to expand on my thoughts on fridge placement. If you put in on the left wall, is there enough room beside it for a microwave? If you can fit one on a shelf, that counter could be your snack/lunch area--when your kids get older, they'll spend a lot of time there. Also, in that location, raw foods easily go from fridge ---> to sink ---> to prep ---> to stove. If there isn't enough room for snack, lunch, and baking items, you can store baking equipment in pantries on the bottom wall.

If you keep the fridge on the bottom wall, put the MW in the snack center there. You'll have a small counter as landing space in either location, with the table/island as backup.

Make sure the table doesn't interfere with traffic flow, east to west, and consider clipped corners since you'll have a lot of little heads to protect. I love clipped corners--one of these days I'm going to perform surgery on that marble island top.

And now that we have the microwave out of the way, are you planning a vented hood on that outside wall? ;)

This post was edited by mama_goose on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 15:17

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

After looking at the overhead plan, then the elevation for the sink wall, I have a question. Is that a door or window in the upper left corner? It looks as if the counter extends into the doorway, or is that a ceiling/roof detail? If it is a door, do you need to keep it, or can you access the porch through the sliders(?) in the family room?

If you don't need the door, you could store your dishes in drawer bases in that area, convenient to the DW. With no uppers on that wall, you could have a wall of windows that wrap to the window in the prep area, which I like in any case.

What haven't I covered? I like the DW/sink/trash location, although I'd plan for a larger sink (at least 33"), and smaller trash. I can't read the measurements, so can't tell if that's what you have planned. Extending the base cabinets to the left opens up the option of a larger sink base, too.

As for budget-friendly pantry ideas, have you considered checking the local Restore, or craigslist ads. If the pantries stand alone, you could paint them a different color, disguising a different door style. Or order doors to match the other cabinets.

Also, I'm not a designer, which you probably can tell, but our kitchens seem similar. I hope my observations will help. Good luck!

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Thanks, mama goose!

Looking at your pictures, our kitchens are really similar. I even have the exact same range as you, and another iteration of that dishwasher :) We're keeping them, because although everyone here goes for high-end stainless, we aren't planning to sell for a long time (20 years + ).

We currently have the refrigerator against a wall, and because of the french doors and removable door shelves it's not really a problem. I can get the crisper out with a little bit of manipulation.

I want to keep the kitchen door to the backyard, because then I can put the kids out in the backyard but still run out there quickly in case of trouble. We have coyotes.... I might flip the door swing, though, so the doorknob is to the right.

The current sink is 30", with a trash/recycling pullout of 21". Should I make that 33" and 18"? The standard trash/recycling pullout from Conestoga is 21" wide, so that's what I was thinking.

We still haven't broken ground on the addition, so although I've been watching greendemolitions for a pantry set, I will probably not be buying anything until May or June.

Decisions, decisions!

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Without the island/table, all of your counter spaces are rather chopped up except what is next to the frig which is 4 ft wide and left of the sink. I see you using the counter left of the sink to do most of your prep because you look out to the yard and it is next to the sink. That space is only 2 ft wide. This is tight and you will feel crammed even after having sunk in all this money.

I think you will want an island given that there is no meaningful prep space in that design other than the corner space between the range and the sink and the space next to the frig.

Psychologically, most people do not like to prep in a corner. Next to the frig, there is no water source in this kitchen. .

Table versus island: the biggest difference is the work height and the storage underneath. In a small kitchen, the storage underneath the island is highly desirable. I would prefer an island in this kitchen.

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Yes, bigger sink, smaller trash, IMO, unless it is also being used for recycling. I have a 33" single stainless apron front, and I love it--no comparison to the drop-in double that I had before. The sink in the drawing looks smaller than 30"--I was comparing it to a 30"(?) stove. Maybe 3" wouldn't make that much difference in function, if it makes the cabinet run less efficient/more expensive.

I have an inexpensive 12" trash pull-out that was retrofitted to a blind corner--I was lucky to squeeze it in. It's sufficient, and if it needs to be emptied frequently, I have a 33gal covered can just outside the kitchen, in the mudroom. I usually just tip--don't bother to replace the liner, because only non-smelly stuff is allowed in my baby (trash pull-out), one of my favorite elements in the new kitchen. But again, weigh the big sink/smaller trash issue against the budget, and availability of cabinets.

The door does look pretty in that corner--I'm sure the light will be wonderful. Have you considered a Dutch door? Keeps kids in, and animals out. Or vice versa.

This post was edited by mama_goose on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 17:20

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

I'd prefer a table than an island in your kitchen since that seems to serve your present needs better. If your children grow up to be tall youths and start taking over cooking/baking maybe you can then consider a free standing island (though it may bring an additional cost).

Do you have 33x33' corner cab? I believe most prefer a 36x36' one over a 33". I think you have room for a bigger corner cab on the range wall, but i'm not sure about the cleanup wall.

Even if it's small, I'd keep the window on the west wall.

Will you have a full depth cab over the fridge? If not, I'd consider one.

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

What is the 9'7" space to the right? And what's up with the little porch above? Do you have a thumbnail of the entire first floor?

I know you're planning this including the additional space, but the kitchen is STILL a hallway for the most part.

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

Bmorepanic, the 9'7" space to the right is the width of my mudroom (labeled entry). For some reason the dimension line is far from the wall, and hovering over the yard.

I know the kitchen has too many pathways through it, but it isn't easy to fix.

We want to keep as much of the existing house in place as we can, both for cost and aesthetic reasons, and we are on a narrow lot - the mudroom is either in the spot labeled "entry" or we can't build it without an expensive zoning waiver.

The existing house is very much like this Sears house, with a sun porch behind the living room, and a one-car garage to the right of the dining room. Dimensions not an exact match to my house but close (within a foot, I think).

Here is a link that might be useful: Sears house plan

RE: Layout Help for an Inexperienced Cook

In our kitchen design, my number one priority is to keep those little ones from running through my workspace.

With that in mind, when I saw your floorplan I thought about keeping the kitchen contained to the upper right corner and leaving clear walkways for traffic in the L shape between the back yard, family room, hall, dining room and mudroom.

If the entryway to the mudroom is shifted toward the garage, the space in the kitchen proper is increased. If the dining room wall is completely opened up to the kitchen, it's close enough that your existing dining table would feel more a part of the kitchen area for the kiddos. Personally, I'd opt for an island and would seriously consider putting the sink in it so I can keep an eye on everything while I prep; the island has a view to the backyard window, the family room and the dining.

I'm new to kitchens and have been having fun thinking about them as we work on our own remodel. This is the first time I've ever posted suggestions. Your space seems to be a wonderful challenge.

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