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Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Posted by haricot22 (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 7, 13 at 22:29

Hi, all. I'd love some thoughts on our plan to move our kitchen into the back parlor of our brownstone. It's a great spot for the kitchen, but a tricky plan because the room is long and narrow and we want to keep the beautiful detail, including the alcove. I've found this site to be a valuable resource, so I thought I'd check in and see what people think, and if they have any ideas or red flags or anything.

I've attached an elevation and plan for the way we envision it currently. Originally, I had the stove centered in the alcove and the sink centered in the island. However, I realized that, as a busy family of four, our island (which is not all that large) would quickly and permanently be colonized by dirty and clean (drying) dishes and lose much of its functionality for prep.

I also considered centering the sink in the alcove and putting an induction cooktop on the island, but venting is not really possible in that location due to high ceilings with no space above them and no obvious way to go down, either, even if those downdrafts worked, which I understand they don't really. Plus it would take up a lot of space. I cook a lot, and I like to spread out, and really value uncluttered workspace, so I think an open island is the most workable solution, but of course it means we do have a lot crammed into that alcove. We'll use an induction cooktop and move it a little away from the wall for pot clearance, and an electric oven under, instead of a range.

There will be a 48" round table in the back where the bay windows are. A built-in cabinet and some open shelves will be on the far wall, but that wall is not really usable space for kitchen stuff (i.e. no putting the fridge or sink over there). It's kind of an extension of the living room into the dining/kitchen space.

So that's the plan. I'd love to hear your input and constructive criticism. Thanks in advance!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

What is along the bottom wall? Can you post a pic of the whole floor? To get decent advice I'd either add a ton of the measurements and repost the pic or draw the room to scale on graph paper with measurements labeled.

I'm literally falling asleep typing this, so I can't get into details, but I'm also not an expert so I'd probably miss things anyway. When one of the designers or gurus stop by and post why this layout should be changed, listen to them.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

OK, here's an elevation of the proposed back wall


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

And another view. Note that this has the sink in the island, and a wider island than looks good in this room


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

And here's a layout with more measurements. The island in this layout is farther from the alcove wall than we like, and again, this one has the sink in the island.
The empty closet will be used as a pantry. We want to keep that original, including the door.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Also, the open pocket doors at the bottom lead to a long grand front parlor which will be the way that guests enter the space -- not via the narrow hallway, typically, although that will be possible of course.
And it may look like there's plenty of space for prep with the sink centered in the island, but I've built a model of the actual lsland in the room -- it's very tight on either side. At least, it is for me. And that's without dishes.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

If the budget would allow 24" depth integrated fridge/freezer, then you could move it over where you now have the open shelves, and it would just look like flush, fine cabinetry on that wall. The advantage, of course, is the extra length of prep and cleanup space gained, so you could keep the sink off the island as you wish to do.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

It's a beautiful room and will be a gorgeous kitchen! This looks like a kitchen of a minimalist, not much storage. Does this describe you? You have 3 seating areas, is this important to you? The alcove is beautiful and I see what you mean about keeping it.

In this scenario, given your constraints, I might be tempted to keep stove in alcove, prep sink on island (fairly small so doesn't collect dishes), and place dw and cleanup sink along other wall, maybe a little open shelving above for dishes, you could even do a really cool long sink along the jut out, then custom depth cabs to reading nook. This creates a barrier between cooking and cleanup area, hopefully alleviated by prep sink, and would probably require downsizing the island length and width about a foot each. If you're really attached to the idea of seating at island, how about long and narrow and open at the end just for stools? A furniture/ unfitted look would be super nice in your space.

Here is a link that might be useful: Open seating at end of island.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 10:05


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Storage is definitely an issue. There will be storage in the island, the pantry, the cabinets, and the built-in cabinet on the opposite wall. We're also going to hang less-used pans etc. on a wall you don't see that leads down a staircase just on the other side of the hallway door. Even so, I'm a chef and have a lot of equipment and a bunch of gadgets (rice cooker etc.), and I don't really see where even a toaster oven, microwave, or stand mixer are going to go in this setup. (microwave will probably wind up in the pantry). So it is an issue.

That's a good idea about the fridge or sink on the far wall. However, my wife feels pretty strongly that that wall needs to be non-utilitarian for purposes of entertainment flow from the living room. I could see a sink along the jut-out, but the DW would have to go there, too, and it just starts to seem like it winds up being colonized by kitchen gear. I'll definitely suggest it as a possiblity, though, and thanks for the input!


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Your measurements are incomplete and almost impossible to read.

The range jammed in the corner next to the DW is a nonstarter. You will not even be able to use all the burners, since you have no room for pot handles on half the hobs. You are also begging for traffic jams and worse with the DW and oven doors. Some people do this in miniscule urban kitchens but that is not what you have.

Either make use of the opposite wall for cleanup--you have room, especially if you edge the island closer to the range--or orient the sink widthwise so it can be used from both sides of the island, like farmgirlinky's, so you can point the DW out in the opposite direction and give yourself more uninterrupted island space.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Hi,

I still really like the stove centered in the alcove with the sink on the island. I think you could make the aisle between the stove and sink island wider , say 48 to 50 inches. Make the island shorter with stools at the end as suggested by Rob. Change the width of the island to whatever works with a 42 inch aisle on the long wall side. Even if your island was 42 in wide by over 7 feet, that would be very nice.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Sorry about the measurements being illegible -- I was converting PDF to JPEG. I'll see if I can get a higher quality copy.

I agree about the range against the wall -- we're planning to move that out 6" or so (the plans have 37" for the sink cabinet -- we can do 30" and save some space). On the other hand, I was thinking we could actually push the sink flush against that left wall of the alcove. There are indented spaces in those walls you can't see that will give a little more space.

It is a frustrating problem -- it's a big room, but we're trying to keep it from being just a big kitchen. Keeping sinks and fridges off that far wall allows the space to keep its character a little more. She wants that space to be for guests to mill and eat snacks off the island. I understand there are ways to hide appliances in cabinetry, but with the wall jutting out like that in the middle and the high ceilings, I don't really see how to do that in a way that doesn't look shoved in there.

Maybe I just don't have enough of a design imagination...

And thanks for your input!


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

I can't figure out how to make the image any clearer. The alcove is 91". The island is marked as 40" width, will be 36" and closer than the 44" from the wall that is marked -- probably more like 36".
Ask me for anything else you need. I really appreciate the help.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Interesting idea. I'll build the bigger island and take a look. The room is odd in that a big island kind of feels outsized for the space, even though on paper it looks fine. But worth a try!
Not sure I want the island that far from the cooktop, though. Two steps to the stove and I'll be dropping half my prep on the floor, for sure.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

I can definitely understand your frustration! But I think even with your proposed adjustments, you'll still feel pretty jammed up with both the sink and the range in that alcove. So I too think you'd be better off with the sink in the island.

An alternative would be keeping the arch of the alcove intact but removing the walls surrounding the closet. That would give you more room on the range/sink wall to spread out, and you could put shallow pantry cabinets on the opposite wall. Not optimal, and you lose symmetry on the alcove wall, but you might consider it. You could repurpose the door somewhere else.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Now you guys have got me rethinking the cooktop on the island. Flush-mounted induction cooktop maybe offset towards the table end of the island. Again, the problem is ventilation. Downdraft could be placed, but my understanding is you might as well not bother. Architect said we could put a big fan in above the pantry to just suck air from there through a grate. At least it'd clear some of the smoke. But I really had my heart set on getting a good hood. I set off fire alarms all the time with my cooking.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Does your wife cook? Just wondering...it seems that a few of the things she has in mind are definitely form over function (like having a bunch of open shelving with knickknacks taking up potential kitchen storage space and jamming a range in a corner).

Your entertaining flow will be just fine with a 48-54" aisle on the back of the island even with stools at the island (if there are a ton of people around the stools will migrate). So work around that. You don't need palatial hallways in a small house - in fact, people will be happier and cozier the more you jam them in there in a party setup. Don't discount the value of a really comfortable seating setup in the bay window for pulling guests in either - that looks like an amazing place to sit!

I'll just throw out a personal thought -- in my experience few people sit in reading nooks and even fewer sit in reading nooks that aren't windowed. That might be a good place to gain a bit of counter and small appliance storage (realizing you can't close in the bottom part over the rad).


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Concur with Beasty about losing the current closet/pantry, counter all along the stove wall, shallow pantry across the room. You may even be able to reuse the existing door.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Fire your architect. Using a wall fan to vent cooking effluent is against code. And a serious fire hazard.

Stick with a sink in the island, either a prep sink or the main sink. Then look at ways to make use of the useless space on the opposite side of the room. You're cramping in so many pretties and aesthetics that function is seriously compromised.

There is no need to remove that pantry.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Everyone will mill around the island. Sorry but the entertainment is pretty but not inviting for sitting and hanging out. The island will be the magnet. Don't waste that wall space.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Not sure I understand. It's OK to have no venting at all, but if I put a fan above the pantry that's a code violation? I think the problem is that it would be next to useless, not that it's illegal.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. We're going to take a serious look at using that other wall. But again, not sure there's a way to make it look right with appliances or cabinetry.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

It varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but yes, in some places you are not required to have a range vent, but if you do have one, most follow International Building Code: "Where domestic range hoods and domestic appliances equipped with downdraft exhaust are located within dwelling units, such hoods and appliances shall discharge to the outdoors through sheet metal ducts constructed of galvanized steel, stainless steel, aluminum or copper. Such ducts shall have smooth inner walls and shall be air tight and equipped with a backdraft damper. Domestic range hood duct systems shall not be combined with other environmental air exhaust systems."

In other words, if you want a vent (and you should), it needs to vent outdoors, not into an attic, closet or other enclosed space. It's always cheaper and easier to do it with the range up against an outside wall vs. on an island, but many people have the money to figure out how to do it from an island. Personally, I'd put the range in the nook (looks perfectly built for it) and the sink in the island.

I agree with everyone who is saying to plan for storage and workspace on the "pretty" wall. (In fact, I'd ditch the island seating for more storage. You've got a great lounging space in the nook with the table, and most people at parties stand around, anyway, and I'd want more everyday prep space.) The opposite "pretty" wall areas could be great breakfast/snack/baking prep spaces with some of the appliances you mentioned, plus storage above.

Good luck and have fun!


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

the table seating isn't going to be as wonderful in usage as it is in looks. I'd eliminate the nook bench ,extend the island and add to the depth at that end, once the nook bench is eliminated.Then construct a banquette at the end of island with bench built into,facing the windows.Much cozier and much more a destination for a small design change.[hint:the nook bench is a waste]


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

I'm not seeing this. The banquette is attached to the end of the island? So the island is an L shape?


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

the end of island would have the back for the seating built in....instead of an end panel,a bench is built into the end of island. Your measurements are a little unclear-what is 42-50? anyway,if you gain back the 18 in used for that other nook,then widen the end of island ...or add just a few inches to the width and push the island over a bit so the bench would be centered with the middle window. No,you don't need an L shape.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

If you found a great cabinetmaker or a creative designer I think you could make the place look AWESOME and not too kitcheny even with the bare minimum of storage and counter space that you lack now. Some ideas I had...hidden cabinetry with sliding doors. Custom depth cabinets. Cabinets to ceiling. Furniture style cabinetry that looks like built in buffets and an island that looks like a butcher block table. Some open shelving.

If you don't have enough space your stuff will explode all over the place anyway,cluttered counters and stacks of pans on the floor and that REALLY won't be good for entertaining! Learn from this lady:

Here is a link that might be useful: A cautionary tale


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Ps here's houzz with photos of brownstone kitchens for inspiration

Here is a link that might be useful: Parlour kitchens


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

If your alcove is like the one in the first pic from Houzz that Robot posted, then I totally retract my alternative suggestion of pulling out walls and repurposing the door.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Yes it's a lot like that although a bit wider.
Thanks for all the input and especially the link. I think we're leaning back towards sink on the island. Still pondering that far wall. Room is so narrow already I don't see a lot of cabinetry working. But totally agree about storage and sprawl. Also know that whatever resolutions we make, that sink is going to be full of dishes a lot of the time.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

I am not sure if you have gone through this iteration or not but you could put the kitchen on your wall that has the sitting area. That wall is longer.

Both recessed spaces would become pantries, giving you much needed storage. The frig would move to the far end of the long wall, then stove and the sink would stay on the island.

Your sitting area would change very much in character. It will become a recessed cozy space.

The biggest negative is that the guests and traffic would walk into the working area of the kitchen.

In the version that has the kitchen on the left, from the sink you look at the window. In the version of the kitchen on the right, your back is to the window when working.

In a kitchen that lacks storage space AND has a table so near by, I would skip the seating on the island and get more cabinets on the island.

Because you have a door to the outside from your bay, it would be tricky to put in a banquette there. Banquette might also save you a bit of space and give you the coziness. It might be possible. Not sure on that one.

Some ideas to throw around.

As the kids get older, it is the counter space that is the most premium, IMHO.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

How about a big (huge, ginormous) sink with a cutting board over? marcolo's suggestion of putting it crossways on island could be really awesome. Guests like sinks. The island could turn into a big bar for parties with ice in the shallow end.

Dishwasher drawers are out of my paygrade but people seem to like always having an empty/dirty drawer to load even when the other drawer is running/clean.

Here is a link that might be useful: Review of kohler stages 45

This post was edited by robotropolis on Sat, Mar 9, 13 at 20:29


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Wow. Some great ideas here. Really like the idea of turning the "reading nook" into a breakfast bar/baking station (we do a lot of baking) with some storage above (not sure you can store anything below, what with the radiator). Maybe a butcher block counter there. Interesting idea about the sink with cover, too. I'll look into that. Thanks!


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

You really need to post accurate measurements because people are just wasting their time. Drawn to scale.

2. A 36 "wide island can only seat 1.5 people as 24" is needed for a 'chair', even a stool would be a bit less than 24. As it is, it is misleading.

3. Check out the gorgeous ny brownstone of kitchens forum's marthavila. You will see what was done, in reality. Do a google search with the correct spelling of marthavila's name, martha stewart and bob vila. Martha's pays homage to the bones of the building and french-ness, and yours is a modern iteration-different, both interesting. She has a red Aga, so you may want to note that for searching purposes.

4 Again, measure accurately and draw to scale, if possible. It's fine if you need to alter the relative dimensions, relative, of the drawing you already submitted. That happens. Just, please, give us accurate numbers, even if the existing drawing is now inaccurate in it's scale. And if you cannot re-draw, that is a lesser sin than furnishing inaccurate measurements.

Sounds exciting and looks beautiful.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Thanks for the reply. Sorry the measurements are illegible, but they actually are to scale. Again, apologies and if there's a way I can supply the measurements more effectively, please let me know. I just can't figure out how to get the .pdf to .jpg conversion any clearer than that. Sorry -- and thanks for the input. Will check the link.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

I love brownstones and I think you are on the right track with keeping the alcove and dining nook. With your current layout ideas, I really like the sink on the island best even though I understand your concern about dishes piling up, etc.

Where do the two doors leading into the kitchen (by fridge) lead? I see stairs inside one door. Is this to basement or bedrooms? Does the other door lead to a dining room or living room? If so, I would design the space so that the aisle is widest in the path from DR/LR to kitchen.

I don't think your reading nook and open shelving is the best use of this space. Is there a window on that wall? Or does the square mark the spot for art work?

Lastly, if this is your proposed new layout, can we see the current layout? What's not working for you? I am just wondering if you are combining a hallway and kitchen.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

What you are planning is very similar to the first parlor floor kitchen I installed in my brownstone - alcove kitchen flanked by 2 closets with island/stools and round table/chairs at the window wall. On the opposite wall I had a (working) fireplace and a hutch to the right of the fp near the pocket doors. I think you were on the right track with your first couple of passes which maybe need some tweaks.

I understand what both you and your wife are trying to achieve. You are not going to have a suburban kitchen in the back parlor of a brownstone and you are going to have to make more compromises than usual when preserving detail but it is possible to get a good working kitchen while preserving the feel of the parlor.

I get that the wall opposite the alcove needs to be an extension of the living area and not a working area. That can be done but needs to be utilized a little differently than you have it drawn to make it all work.

If you keep "helpers" and "drinkers" out of your cooking aisle then your workspace will be sufficient. A way to do that is on the fireplace wall have an integrated undercounter fridge for drinks with a prep sink in cabinetry that does not match the alcove kitchen.

Move the sink further to the left on the island so you have a good amount of continuous prep space convenient to the fridge.

Set up the island for prep and hang out stools, not eating. Constrain the size - you don't want it to dominate the room, especially when it's full of the mess of cooking. The bay with the table should be the focal point.

You can solve the storage problem creatively. The pantry closet works. You need to tweak the fireplace wall design so you have fewer open decorative shelves and more closed storage - 12" deep cabinets will hold a lot, not dominate the room and can be mixed up with open shelves. I would do 12"cabinets and shelves on left of the original fp chimney and move the bench seating to the chimney. Beverage center to the right of the chimney.

Don't rush into construction until you are comfortable with all your decisions. When you are preserving detail, winging it doesn't fly.

I


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Thank you. That is exactly the advice I was looking for! So appreciated. Great ideas about the wall. Right now my biggest back-and-forth is sink in the island (I agree about offsetting, although we had it offset in the direction of the fridge to keep it away from the dining area) or sink in the alcove with the stove. I think I can get four extra inches there by removing some plaster on the walls abutting the pantry doors, giving us 96" to work with, which should be sufficient (although certainly not ample) for both, and I do like the idea of putting the dishes in the alcove where they're not visible (I tend to create a lot when I cook, and they can't always be easily cleaned up (i.e. multiple roasting pans, large pots, etc). On the other hand, stove centered in the alcove with flanking drawers is more symmetrical and gives us more counter space against that wall for stuff like toaster over, etc.
Although I'm now thinking of using that "reading nook" as a sort of breakfast/baking area -- some kind of butcher block/drawer furniture to go over the radiator -- to store flour/sugar, put mixmaster, maybe toaster, etc.
Again, thanks so much and any other advice you have -- bring it on! So helpful!


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Ah -- I like the beverage center idea and open shelving to the left. Only issue is that we liked the long cabinet to tie those two sections of the room together. But maybe we could do bench as "extension" of a cabinet coming from the left. I'll run it by architect. Thanks!


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

I don't have anything better to offer than what's already been posted, but I'm looking forward to seeing your finished kitchen.

Westsider suggested looking at marthavila's kitchen, so here is a link to the Atticmag article where it was featured. It is more narrow than your space appears to be, but a lovely example of a parlor kitchen.

And one that is less well known on GW, but another gorgeous example, is postquake_angela's parlor kitchen. Her kitchen has an L-layout, rather than galley style, but is the perfect period style for a brownstone (IMO).


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

I think symmetry in the alcove is the first thing to give up. I had the sink and stove in the alcove with an all-counter island and I liked it - even though the alcove was a bit cramped, that uninterrupted counter was really nice. Having them close to the side of the alcove is not the same as being against a wall - your body is not cramped against a wall so it feels OK. If you put the sink on the island closer to the table, a nice plant on the counter to the left of the sink distracts/hides some sink sins.

I would not fool with the plaster - you may undermine your alcove, make a mess and not gain much in the end. And you need to have some counter to the right of the sink in the alcove - a few inches at least. Either live with the alcove tightness or move the sink to the island.

With all your constraints I would compromise the size of the sink and stove in order to get some counter. To me, a 30" stove and 21" sink bowl size is adequate - fits a cookie sheet flat on the bottom. Good quality items are made in those sizes. In my current kitchen, I opted for FP dishwasher drawers and they make all the difference in the traffic flow - I highly recommend them and I would never get a regular dw.

When you talk about a baking center do you mean where you will store things or where you will do the actual work? While I think you can get great storage there, I don't see the fireplace wall as functional for doing the work.


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RE: Help with Kitchen Plans For Brownstone Parlor

Thanks -- more great advice. I want that FP drawer system, but I have read so many horror stories that I am reluctant. I'm sure I haven't read all there is to read on the issue or anything, but did you consider reliability when you were making your decision? Because in theory I love the idea of the drawers for the traffic flow.

And yes, I agree it probably won't work to have a workspace against that wall. Bench seems like it will never be used. Actually not really sure what to do there.


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