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I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

Posted by daisyblue (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 13, 13 at 0:22

Hi Everyone,

Though I have posted on the Building and Smaller Homes Forums, this is my first post here. My husband and I, along with our three year old daughter, are building our home in western NC. The goal for our home is for it to be simple and efficient, made with healthy materials, and we'd like a great inside/outside connection. The top of the plan is oriented south to take advantage of passive solar heating and mountain views.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on the plan for our new kitchen. We are avid cooks, preparing 99%+ of our meals at home. We also bake frequently.

I've included our full plan (so you can see can see how the kitchen relates to the rest of our home) and a close-up of the kitchen with further details below.

 photo FloorPlan1-20-132_zps6a65c594.jpg

 photo FloorPlan1-20-13Kitchen_zps4f730e29.jpg

1. I know the sink directly across from the stove is not often recommended ("one butt kitchen"), however, I'm wondering what would be considered enough aisle space to allow for "two butts" to be comfortable?

2. We are planning on all drawers in the base cabinets.

3. Food items will be stored in the pantry cabinet closest to the dining room. Non-food items will be stored in the pantry cabinet closest to the hallway.

4. We have debated back and forth about whether the pantry cabinets should swap places with the refrigerator and wall oven on each end respectively??

5. We do plan to have seating on the far side of the island (with space for the stools to be tucked underneath).

6. One big concession with this kitchen location is not being able to receive direct morning light. Do you think enough will be had by the sliders on the east side in the dining room? We are also considering a solatube for the kitchen.

7. The rectangle across the hallway from the island is an office nook/"command center." This will house all of our office supplies, the phone, printer, bulletin board, etc. Our daughter will have the option of doing schoolwork here, at the island, or at the dining table.

8. The bedroom off the kitchen (with the french doors) will be utilized as a playroom for now. As cooking is a big part of our daily family life, when our daughter opts not to help (she usually loves to!), she will have the opportunity to play (and we'll be able to supervise!).

9. We do not want a microwave.

10. Our style is... simple, clean lines, natural... We are planning on having light stained cabinets (maybe birch, maple, ash, white oak...?), with white counters and appliances. Hardware, canopy vent hood, and toe kick will all be stainless steel. We are hoping to have a back painted glass backsplash. Floors will be concrete and the walls and ceilings will be white.

A general inspiration pic (having trouble finding something that encompasses all that is in my head!):

Thanks in advance for any feedback!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

You are correct that the sink across from the cooktop is not favored on this forum but I have that set up in my new kitchen and it works out very well for us. My aisle width is 50 inches counter top to counter top and it is more than ample for 2 butts. My kitchen is L-shaped and the fridge not on the same leg as the cook top. In my kitchen it is very convenient to go from fridge to sink to cooktop.


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

I'd place the oven at the far left of the wall....extend the side wall so as to not have the view into the dbl doors of guest room from the kitchen as well as dining room....something like 39-45 inches of side wall. [why the two entrances into guest room anyway?] The place to have the expansive passage would be coming through foyer and the wall off to the right/living room wall. You can reduce that wall by 18 or 24 inches and still Not worry about the bathroom door entry/exit being on view from living room. There are all kinds of activity/chatter/noise/footsteps/clanging/fumes that come from kitchen area.....a little more side wall down at bedroom side I believe you will appreciate...and it will still be amply open and airy/etc.on kitchen side. I tend to not prefer the alcove dining zones but it's certainly fine if you wish it. Do you have you plans for seating across the back of the island? I would...I like the pass through laundry room. Is such a large "unspecified room" really worth it?


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

With and aisle width of at least 48", which is looks like you have, I don't think the sink/cooktop are too much of an issue. Clearly, the symmetry is important to you, and that is fine as long as you are aware of the potential issues.

I AM concerned that for people that do a lot of cooking there isn't enough space on each side of the cooktop. It looks like you have less than 18". I think you need at least 24" to be comfortable. Since I like to work adjacent to the cooktop (and I would think with 2 people in the kitchen, at least one of the cooks will likely do the same) 30" is what I sought in my kitchen. I ended up with 35" on one side and 32" on the other, I couldn't be happier. This would mean cutting down the pantry size on each side. If you feel you really can't do with less storage space, I would forego the "command center" which, for many people, often just becomes a "clutter center" and add storage there. You probably have plenty of room along that stretch to integrate both additional pantry storage, and space for mail, electronic charging, etc.


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

I still think this is a better option. It gives you a pantry, and a much more efficient kitchen layout as well as a more efficient playroom and bedroom layout and more light in the family room.


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

I like LOW's modifications.

If it was my house, I would swap the kitchen with the DR.

1. This would make it so that the seating at the island faces out rather than at the kitchen cabinets.
2. The diners would look over the kitchen and still look outside. However, most of the times, when people sit at the table, it is pretty dark (more than 1/2 of the time) and the placement of the DR next to windows is somewhat unappreciated.
3. When you are working at the kitchen, you will have a tremendous amount of natural light.
4. In the summer, do you plan to eat in the screened porch? If so, it would be easier to have kitchen connect to it, rather than the DR.


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

I like the original plan the best. I think it looks like it has great inside/outside flow and it has that simplicity of design you obviously like.

I think you will have lots of natural light just no windows directly into backyard from the kitchen.

I agree that 2 feet of space on either side of the cooktop would be better, at least for me.

You are going to need to maximize your large island for storage I think. How many stools were you thinking of having at the island? I just ask because you may want some cabinets on the side of the island that faces the family room. Could you put one of the stools on the end of the island facing toward the dining room(view out windows) and then another 1-2 around the corner facing the kitchen cabinets? Just an idea, not a great one.


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

Thanks for the feedback!!

@Badgergal ~ Thank you for sharing your personal experience. Hopefully, the 48 inches we have allotted will be sufficient!

@herbflavor ~ The bedroom off the kitchen (with the french doors) will be utilized as a playroom for now. As cooking is a big part of our daily family life, when our daughter opts not to help (she usually loves to!), she will have the opportunity to play (and we'll be able to supervise!). If we need to use this as a bedroom in the future, we would simply lock off the french doors and use the other door accessed by the private hall. We do plan to have island seating. The unspecified room will be used for recreation/fitness/guest quarters. As we are not having a basement, we see this as being an important room to have.

@Controlfreakecs ~ Symmetry in this particular kitchen set up (open island galley) is indeed important to me. Thanks for sharing your personal experience! My husband and I are each looking forward to having our own half of the island with the sink in between. This should give us four feet of workspace each, which seems ample. We are excited about being able to interact with our daughter and guests as our current rental kitchen does not afford this option.

@Live Wire Oak ~ We really did scrutinize using your suggestions and I thank you again for taking the time to work up this idea for us! The sticking points with your plan ideas are: 1. My husband really wants the recreation/fitness/guest quarters (labeled as unspecified) to be located away from the bedrooms, 2. As we do not currently need the third bedroom, our thought is that it would be great to use this as a playroom to be viewable from the kitchen, 3. We would like our daughter's outside play area to be viewable and accessed from the screened porch as well as the interior spaces.

@Kaismom ~ Thanks for your ideas! As we eat 99%+ of our meals at home, we really do appreciate the view outside (we have this type of dining room in our current rental home as well). Based on this picture, I'm hoping we will enjoy abundant natural light throughout the main living spaces:

@Jfay ~ "I like the original plan the best. I think it looks like it has great inside/outside flow and it has that simplicity of design you obviously like. I think you will have lots of natural light just no windows directly into backyard from the kitchen."

This is reassuring ~ thank you!!

We are currently playing with the best set up for the island and agree with you that maximizing storage here is important. Thanks for your ideas!


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

We are building currently, and our great room, kitchen and dining is set up very similar to yours. We have lots of natural light in the area throughout the day. More than I expected actually, and we have a 16' deep covered porch behind the great room. I will try to link a pic of in progress construction so you can see the light. For us, the back faces the west. In this pic the trim guys were using a lit for detail work. This pic is taken from the kitchen side facing the great room around noon, so no direct light in the windows.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

Your fundamental concept for the kitchen is not terribly compatible with being "avid cooks." Avid cook, singular, maybe.
- You have a single water source
- You have limited counterspace--and if there are 2 people cooking it will always have to be shared
- You have much less storage than you could have in a house of this size

Also, your island setup is not terribly conducive to family use, with seating confined to one side only as a kitchen stadium.

You are sacrificing a lot of opportunities for baking and cooking going on at the same time, cooperative meal prep and involving the kids with cooking as they grow older. But this is what you get when you want to conceive of the kitchen as the literal "heart of the home" (i.e., Grand Central Station) and become married to that trendy island-plus-wall-of-tall layout.

If you are willing to make that tradeoff, it's fine, but be conscious that you are making it.


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

@Momto3kiddos ~ Thank you for sharing about your beautiful light streaming in! It is very reassuring. I have enjoyed seeing the progress of your home in the Building Forum. It looks beautiful ~ how exciting for you!

@Marcolo ~ Thank you for taking the time to scrutinize things for me! Interestingly, many generations of my family (and those of many others I suspect) have been avid cooks in much less space and with many fewer amenities. It's all a matter of perspective, I guess!

"You have a single water source" ~ We have never had a prep sink. Sharing has not been a problem for us thus far.

"You have limited counterspace--and if there are 2 people cooking it will always have to be shared" ~ Having 16 square feet of island counter space each (with the sink in the middle) seems luxurious to us based on what we currently have and have had in our prior homes.

"your island setup is not terribly conducive to family use, with seating confined to one side only as a kitchen stadium" ~ The island seating will mainly be used by our daughter and guests to visit with the "chefs." If we decide to eat breakfast or snacks here, our thought is that a stool or two could always be moved to another side to improve face to face interaction.

"You have much less storage than you could have in a house of this size" ~ We tend to be minimalists, but do want to be cognizant of enough storage space. I have sketched out where everything will go and it seems to be sufficient with room left over?? I sure hope I'm not forgetting something...

"You are sacrificing a lot of opportunities for baking and cooking going on at the same time, cooperative meal prep and involving the kids with cooking as they grow older." ~ Try as I might, I cannot see a deterrent to cooperative baking and cooking opportunities, but again, maybe this is relative to what one has experienced previously. I am beyond excited to have a wide open space to cook, bake, and interact with loved ones! My daughter has a Learning Tower that affords her a safe place to stand at counter height. I see us placing this on the dining room side of the island, allowing her plenty of space to participate.

Thank you for making me even more conscious that this layout should work well for us!! Though dissenting from mine in this case, I always enjoy reading your comments!


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

I think Marcolo is right...you need more counter space.

As Herbflavor already mentioned, it would give you a lot more valuable counter space around the cooktop, if you moved the fridge and oven to the ends of the space.

Also, I would move the dishwasher and sink over to the left of the island (as you look at it from the living room) and give you a larger counter/work space on the rest of the island.

If you look at your inspiration picture, the oven is on the end of the cabinetry and there's a narrow pantry/cabinet on the other side of the fridge. But, even in the picture, there is very little prep space around the cooktop. Change that and it would be easier for multiple cooks to be in the kitchen, together. Just a few ideas :)


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

  • Posted by buehl 7a, AHS 5/6 (MD) (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 23, 13 at 9:57

"...many generations of my family (and those of many others I suspect) have been avid cooks in much less space and with many fewer amenities...."

And many generations have been avid cooks and made do without: DW, hot/cold running water, indoor plumbing of any sort, refrigerator, etc.

Making it work with or without something is what you do when you have no choices/options...you make do the best you can realizing that if things were different it could be better and more pleasurable. You, on the other hand, do have choices/options.

You have that opportunity to have a kitchen that isn't full of shortcomings b/c that's what you're stuck with. You have a blank slate and can make the kitchen really work for what you want it to. If you asked some of those older generations if they would have rather had more space, etc., I'm betting they would have loved it - but it wasn't an option for them, so they made do.

Regarding a MW...right now you say "no MW". However, that may change in the future, so think about where you might put one if you want/need one later in life. I get that you don't want one now, but if that changes and you have no place to put one, you may be frustrated. OR, if for some reason you have to move and there's no place for a MW, it could be an issue for many buyers. So, just provide an area that could be used for a MW in the future and use it for something else for now.


You're received a lot of constructive and useful advice from a couple of the best layout people on the Forum who know what they are talking about. Ultimately, it's your kitchen to do with what you want...but you did ask for our help.


Good luck!

[Edit: corrected typo]

This post was edited by buehl on Sat, Mar 23, 13 at 9:59


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

@Lavender lass ~ It is great to hear from you ~ I always enjoy your thoughtful responses! Gathering from the feedback received so far, we are strange in the way we cook! :)

My husband and I both enjoy prepping while facing the open space (instead of the wall) and do not prefer to prep near the cook top (true in previous kitchens where we have had very little counter space next to the cook top as well as those where we have had plenty). That being said, I will remeasure and take another look to make sure there is enough room on each side. Having the sink in the middle of the island allows us both to access it easily as needed.

Thank you for helping me think through these important issues!!

@Buehl ~ I understand and take to heart what you are saying! My response to Marcolo was not intended to sound "snotty" in any way. I just believe that we can be avid cooks even when choosing a simpler kitchen!

Thanks for your thoughts about the MW. It would be prudent to build in a flex space of sorts (I am also contemplating a steam oven).

I hesitated to post my layout on this forum because I suspected that it would stand apart a bit from what most folks here like/want. However, I believe there may be others like me who prefer the more minimal, simple designs. Hopefully, this forum can embrace this diversity.

That being said, I really do appreciate ALL of the feedback I receive here as it helps me define what will work for my family. I have found in life that dissenting opinions can be just as helpful or even more so. Having to "defend" my thoughts is increasing my confidence that we will enjoy our new kitchen!

Thanks again to everyone who has responded!!


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

Daisyblue, I agree with you about defending your choices. If you know how you live, and have a good feel for what will work for you, go for it - even if the majority here would do it differently.

I went through the same thing when I posted the layout for my new kitchen - and immediately I tried to incorporate everyone's suggestions. But as soon as I moved the DW, for example, I lost something else that I really wanted or needed. But going through the exercise made me seriously think about the layout I had, and made me more confident in my decisions.

This forum is so perfect for that, because there are a lot of terrific ideas, from very talented and experienced people who are generous with their time and opinions.


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RE: I'd love your opinions ~ new construction

Thank you for understanding, Annkh! I hope you are loving your kitchen :)!

There are indeed very talented, experienced, generous people here and I have learned a great deal! Also, I just love seeing the kitchen reveal threads ~ so fun to see the variety of designs that showcase the varying opinions of beauty and function!


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