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Breaking into Dumbwaiter and Air Shaft to Gain Space (and Venting

Posted by dreamojean (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 9, 13 at 4:12

I’m interested in feedback, pictures etc. from people who have taken over an inside airshaft and/or dumbwaiter to gain space for a kitchen (or perhaps bathroom). I’m particularly curious how much extra it cost people to do that and how it impacted their layout. We have a 3-story brownstone and are adding a kitchen back on the parlor floor and without taking over the airshaft we have a 10-foot wall for pretty much our kitchen counters and appliances (not including island countertop) which is pretty tight, but if we take over the airshaft we gain another foot or two of width and a few feet of depth (basically fridge space). But it seems like it will cost a pretty penny and I’m not sure how the kitchen even lays out well if we do it. We would leave the pipes at the back of the airshaft near the rear wall which also means it’s not like our fridge would be flush against the back wall, so either it will be bumped out OR will face into the kitchen on a bit of an L. And to complicate things, one bathroom plumbing pipe snakes out about a foot, maybe at knee level inside the air shaft, so unless we can move that one pipe we’re gaining very little by taking over most of the space.

Our alternative would be to use the former dumbwaiter space as a narrow pantry and perhaps build in shelving into the bathroom window where the air shaft is (around the pipes) which would certainly cost a lot less than taking out the ducting (but the ducting does seem like a waste of a lot of space, and outdated). The air shaft and dumbwaiter runs vertically the length of the house and has a relatively huge metal duct in the middle, compared to ducting these days which can be 6”. We would need to vent the first floor bathroom differently if we remove the current ducting; the parlor floor bathroom venting could be built into the renovated kitchen; and I don’t think the third floor is even vented right now.

Since so many of these old houses had the utility air shaft and dumbwaiter, I’d love to hear how others have solved this design issue! Our architect suggested we get our contractor candidates in and ask them the price to take over the space versus leaving it intact, and we may go this route but I wanted to ask this group as well.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Breaking into Dumbwaiter and Air Shaft to Gain Space (and Ven

Can you post the layout? That will help.


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RE: Breaking into Dumbwaiter and Air Shaft to Gain Space (and Ven

Here is a proposed scheme using our current layout which is 10 feet for the appliances and countertops along the main wall. It assumes we are not taking out the air shaft. Please ignore the sink by the window as that window is going to become the door to the backyard - we will have a kitchen island and a wall of appliances. This drawing is to show the layout with airshaft and dumbwaiter


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RE: Breaking into Dumbwaiter and Air Shaft to Gain Space (and Ven

Here is one more photo this time of the layout assuming we take out the airshaft and have an island - we aren't sure the sink should be in the island, it will save a decent amount of money to put the sink along the wall.


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RE: Breaking into Dumbwaiter and Air Shaft to Gain Space (and Ven

Seems more like expensive remuddling than remodeling to me. With very little gain. An island isn't the magic bean to solve all kitchen layouts. That one doesn't add anything to the kitchen, and actually makes for a pretty poor layout. The best place for the sink is where you say you are moving it from. If you need a door to the rear, look for another location to place it and leave the sink where it is.


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RE: Breaking into Dumbwaiter and Air Shaft to Gain Space (and Ven

Livewireoak, how I wish the sink were already "where it is". There's no kitchen there now - Right now there's a washer, dryer and slop sink where we intend to put cabinets and 2-3 appliances. The prior owners pulled out the kitchen and we have to add one back and start from scratch pretty much. As for the door to the rear, most feedback is to put it off the kitchen window, not the dining room window, due to nice symmetrical trim around the dining room windows that probably adds a lot of value to the house and is just plain pretty to look at. The kitchen window is wider, less decorative and more convenient for a door location-wise. It's possible we will end up with a smaller island or just do a U-shaped kitchen facing the rear. In the end we took out the air shaft this week and just need to figure out how to make the layout work.


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