Designing my next kitchen...help please

August 7, 2019
last modified: August 7, 2019

We bought a “new” 30-year old house and plan to replace the kitchen once we sell our old house and free up the funds. We are experienced DIY-ers.

We have a large 29’x32’ great room right when you walk in the front door. We’re in the process of replacing all the flooring with hardwood in the whole space, so we’ve got some flexibility on exactly where the 3 rooms (kitchen/DR/LR) begin and end.

Goal: an efficient, well-organized, beautiful kitchen that all our stuff fits in. I can’t speak to goals to improve this particular kitchen, because we haven’t lived in it yet, but probably better flow and storage. And it’s kind of tired looking. And the light is terrible: one window and a single can light.

We are empty nesters. I cook and Mr. Weedy does the clean-up, but on Sundays we have anywhere up to 15 people over, and 3-5 children (under 12) help me cook. So we need lots of prep space. When the others arrive, if the meal isn’t ready, they hang out around the kitchen (which, in a great room, I suppose, will be anywhere in the space). And sometimes we need to add a second table.

We cook enough on Sundays to make leftovers for the rest of the week, so Mon-Fri we just cook breakfast and re-heat dinner (pull containers out of the fridge, make up a plate, nuke it).

Some things I’ve noticed about our current kitchen that I want to make sure we address in this one:

1. Prep space is too small. Currently 4’ between sink and range, so we have to split off to the opposite 6’ counter. Would like to be able to prep with all the kids in one big space.

2. Mr. Weedy commonly unloads the dishwasher while I/we are prepping, and the stuff goes in the drawers right by where we’re prepping, so we get in each others’ ways. I’d like the prep materials to be close to prep, but not directly under the prep counters, so that these 2 activities don’t conflict.

3. There are often dishes in the sink while I/we are prepping, and they interfere. I’ve never had a prep sink, but I think I’m starting to understand the rationale behind the 2-sink kitchen. Help me along this path. :-)

We’re on a crawl space. The house has vinyl siding, so windows (but not doors) can be moved, added, or changed in size, though we’d rather not unless that gives us a big boost/benefit that we can’t otherwise get. Electrical is no problem to move/add/subtract.

Here's a photo of the kitchen now. There's a pantry cabinet just to the left of the fridge that's out of the photo. That's not a dead skunk on the floor.

I’ve read all the reference threads, and have the following rough sketch to toss out as a first brush.

I'd like a decent sized island (but not overpoweringly ginormous) with a prep sink and 2-3 chairs. Mr. Weedy and I will likely stage our leftovers and eat here when it’s just the 2 of us. This will also give me and the kids plenty of space to prep together.

The L-shape would read, from left to right:

  • Fridge (on the outside for easy access by snackers, right?), then
  • A space of counter for baking, with canisters on the counter and spices and other baking stuff in the uppers, then
  • Range (shifted to the right from where it is now, but close to the spice cabinet in the baking area), then
  • Counter around the corner (not sure what will happen there, perhaps secondary prep?), then
  • Sink and dishwasher, both shifted down and extending further than currently, because we have more space along that wall. It will be close to the DR, and easy to dump dishes onto, for Mr. Weedy to process.

Decisions/want list

  • I need to figure out the best location for a pantry. There is storage for lesser-used stuff in the laundry room if needed.
  • I don’t like OTR microwaves, and don’t get the whole drawer microwave thing. We’ll have a shelf above the counter for the microwave (in the baking area?).
  • No coffee center or booze fridge (we don’t drink either)
  • Standard appliances: full size DW, double-oven range, fridge.
  • We could possible add some cabinets at the far end of the DR for china, lesser-used appliances, etc. , with a buffet top.
  • Would like a pull-out mixer stand if space allows. We had one in our last kitchen and I liked it.

Fire away! It's a blank page!

Comments (51)

  • Jennifer Hogan

    I am not a kitchen designer, but I have done a lot of cooking with a lot of helpers! (Big family)

    My last home had an 8' x 3' counter height peninsula with no sink or range or anything in that space. I miss my big open space. I had 4 stools on the outside of the peninsula and it was great for kids to get up on the stools and be able to reach the counter to decorate cookies or help with prep work.

    My mom (6 kids) had the best kitchen sink ever! She had a double sink in a 48" cabinet, so one side was like a farm sink - big and deep (you could submerge the broiler pan or cookie sheets) and the other side was smaller and not as deep and housed the garbage disposal. We could stack a ton of dishes in the big sink and still always have a clear prep sink.

    My sister has a single wall oven and a standard range with an oven. What I love about her wall oven is that the door opens to the side instead of the typical bottom hinged door. So much easier to get things in and out of the oven!

    My other sister has the best small appliance solution (Kitchenaid Mixer, blender, food processor and the 1/2 dozen other items you use, but not every day).

    The wall between the upper and lower cabinets is actually 4 hidden doors that open to a counter in her pantry/laundry room. She simply opens the doors and slides the appliances into the kitchen.

  • weedyacres

    curious if there's any movement/ serving of food to the outdoors?

    There is a small paver patio accessed through the mudroom. I suspect that's where we'll put the grill. We typically eat inside, even if we grill the meat outside. (humidity)

    @Jennifer: I think you may have hit on my reservation about a prep sink: it interrupts the flat space. We had an island in our last house and I did virtually all the prep there. It seems like a sink would interfere with that.

    Is there a better place to put the prep sink that would leave the island open?

    Interesting appliance idea. the top part of the L actually backs onto our mudroom....

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    Hello, Yes, there is definitely room for an island. I would do an L-shape, with the long side running the length of the counters and the short side jutting to the left of your floor plan, into the gap between the end of the pantry and the door to the garden. The short side could be seating all the way around it. Like so: You could also acheive similar with a shorter island and a freestanding table at the end. I think in Imperial--leave a minimum 3' around all sides of island and table. 4' is better, and you have the room for it if you want to fill it all up.
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  • Sheryl Long

    Just a thought but have you considered running the kitchen along the entire back wall? You would have to shorten the double window to allow cabinets underneath of it but that should not be a huge renovation unless you have some unusual siding or brick on the outside. That way you could put a decent sized island from left to ight in the middle maybe about 5 to 6' long. You get a prep sink and lots of grandchildren around that to. Looks like on your design you may have enough room if I'm reading it right, to put a living area on one side and a dining area on the other. Sorry I had a hard time se plan so I may be completely off.

  • everdebz

    Ok I think to ask about nearby mudroom - is the 'hall' to it long, is it wide? - is that room working well? --- from the stove, often comes the platter of food, so have you seen the folding windows that open wide for serving, etc.?

  • damiarain

    It's nice to have a clean slate to work with! Using the plan posted above, have you given any thought to how you'll lay out the living room furniture and define the entry space? It's a long, somewhat narrow space with the hallway splitting it in the middle - I could imagine it being tricky. I would consider how you'll use that space + how much dining space you need (particularly for Sunday nights) in conjunction with designing the kitchen space. Can you give us any more insights or thoughts?

  • weedyacres

    Here's a photo of the outside of the kitchen/DR wall, where you can see the mudroom and patio. The mudroom is maybe 8x10, and connects to the FR on the right (converted garage).

    Not sure those cool folding doors would work because of the differing levels. And bugs. :-)

    @damiarain: I have indeed wondered (though not yet given much thought to) how the LR furniture will work. The POs had the main LR in the bottom left, and a smaller seating area in the top part, with a bookcase and TV.

    Our current house, bedrooms and all, would just about fit inside this great room, so we'll be acquiring more furniture to fill it. I suppose I need to head to Home Dec for help with that.

  • damiarain

    Given the upgrade in size, sounds like some furniture purchasing is in your future! Obvs you don't need to buy/determine it all now, but I think it's worth figuring out generally how you want the spaces to work for you.

    Sounds like there's a separate family room from this space? What kind of "living" are you envisioning in this area? Smaller amount of casual seating (a sort of secondary away space)? TV?

  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    If you are moving the sink anyway, I would swap the sink and range. That way your range can vent on an exterior wall and your sink will be closer to your fridge (which is what you want - think Ice-Water-Stone-Fire in terms of order of appliances, i.e. fridge-sink-counter-range).

    How far to extend the leg of the L on the exterior wall (and how large to make the island) depend entirely on how much space you want to leave for your dining area. Is 11-12 feet enough, or do you think you need more? If my calculations are correct you have 26'2" to play with along that wall, so if you split it equally between kitchen and dining, you'd have a 13x11 dining room plus a 16x13 L kitchen.

  • weedyacres

    @damiarain: I have no idea what we're going to do with all the living space. I wish they had left the FR as an attached garage, quite honestly. If we buy a TV (don't currently own one), it'll probably go there.

    @biondanonima: If you look at the most recent photo I posted, there's some outside wall behind the stove, so it can vent to the outside there. (I'll have to check to see if it does so currently.)

    I'd like to have enough DR space to put 2 tables lengthwise, maybe extending off the island? Or perhaps spilling into the LR area on the side makes more sense. Let me try drawing both of those, after measuring my current table and the extra one we sometimes use, and see what makes more sense.

  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    I see what you mean about having some outdoor wall to vent the range - even so, I would swap them for traffic flow purposes. My range is between my fridge and sink and I really don't like it - I end up crossing the entire kitchen a million times while prepping.

    weedyacres thanked biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)
  • ritasj

    Move fridge to other end of counter...build a short wall next to it to define the kitchen area...put in a pantry cabinet...with pull out shelves where fridge was...make the island 3’ longer...keep the 5’ deep measurement as any deeper only adds unreachable space in the middle...also under island storage will be much more useable if you install all drawers...some deep ones on bottom for big pots and pans..on seating side..under counter...shallower cabinets....for less often used items...back stock ..if you buy in volume ...I keep all my canning stuff and big roasting pans there

  • ritasj

    Since you have a pantry ..I would still add a second one if you move the fridge...OR....from the description of your lifestyle...a freezer may be perfect there ....perhaps one that can have a cabinet panel in front...so it looks a little less utilitarian...this way all your prepared meals in individual storage containers are handy for quick meals...ice cream snacks...frozen vegetables...etc.

  • ritasj

    AAAAND......if you are ever feeling rich....this whole space would be magnificent if you raise the ceiling to the roof line...perhaps add beams?..

  • everdebz

    I can delete this, but thinking still, how they say it's nice to interact with guests, and these would be on patio! windows are thermally broken aluminum windows with insulated glass.

    These are manufactured by Fleetwood, but Bonelli has similar ones.

    weedyacres thanked everdebz
  • Buehl

    I remember your remodel from something like 10 years ago -- "Thanksgiving Remodel", right?

  • everdebz

    Even larger kitchens have typical counter length between fridge and stove... lay supplies from fridge there?

    weedyacres thanked everdebz
  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    Yes, if it were my kitchen I would put the sink where the stove is now (or maybe centered between the fridge and corner on that wall). Then I would put the stove where your dishwasher is now, to the right of that window, and balance it with at least a 24" cabinet on the end (maybe a 30 or 36, even). You'd have a really nice expanse of uninterrupted work space that way.

    If you want to keep the sink on the back wall, you might consider putting the fridge on that wall as well, on the end closest to the dining area. I am guessing that its current location is best for traffic flow though, in terms of people in the living room wanting to come in and grab a quick drink, etc. without actually going into the kitchen work area.

    weedyacres thanked biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)
  • weedyacres

    Re moving the sink and fridge: I thought the rules were fridge on the outside to keep snackers out of the traffic pattern, and clean-up sink near where dishes are dirtied. And groceries come in through mudroom, plop on counter, get put into fridge. Am I misunderstanding?

    I'm also moving towards having a prep sink on the island (though I really would like uninterrupted counter on it). Then my IWSF goes: fridge (ice) --> island (W+S) --> stove (fire), all on the top wall. Clean-up happens on the right wall. And I'm not sure what happens between stove and clean-up sink.

    Maybe I have no uppers on the right wall and put in a wall of windows, helping with the light situation. And seeing visitors come up the driveway. :-) That side of the house faces north.

    The "extra" pantry is quite a ways from the kitchen, so I want some pantry cabinets in the kitchen. Should they be next to the fridge? If so, should it be fridge on the outside or pantry on the outside of the top wall?

    @buehl: Yes, that was my Thanksgiving week kitchen remodel in 2007, and my eternally long budget/DIY kitchen remodel in 2013-19. It's been 6 years, time for a new one, I guess. Ironically, the guy that came to buy/haul off the carpet in the new house today said the cabinets were beautiful and asked if I was selling them too. One woman's trash....

  • Buehl

    OK...here's what I came up with. I did the entire space, so I have to post in "pieces" to get a legible image.

    Scale: 1 square = 6" x 6"

    Note: I have to leave, so I don't have time for a detailed analysis (this took longer than I thought it would!)

    Quick notes:

    • Perimeter counters & cabs 3" deeper than standard to maximize workspace & storage.
    • The island might bigger than you planned, but put seats around the corner from each other so everyone could work there at once, if that's what you want.
    • There's a lot of storage...you may not need a pantry
    • If you wanted to, you could use the Living Room Storage as a Pantry instead
    • I created a front entry/foyer with a closet and nice table
    • I tried to place furniture, pretty much to scale
    • Utility cabinet
    • Storage in the Living Room



    Kitchen Only:





    weedyacres thanked Buehl
  • jemimabean

    Following along. I just read through your previous kitchen renovation threads and you are seriously awesome sauce. I can’t wait to see how this one turns out.

  • weedyacres

    I feel like Christmas came early...I got a Buehl kitchen drawing!

    I will go through my existing cabinets this weekend and map out where things will go in this arrangement, to see what sizes work and what needs to be tweaked.

    Initial thoughts:

    Loving the big island!

    The kitchen/DR really overwhelm the space as drawn. I should probably clarify that our Sunday lunches aren't big family gatherings, just assortments of friends and strays. So I don't know that this will be so permanent that our public area needs to revolve around feeding the Sunday crowd.

    Our DR table is 42" x 84", and the adder folding table is 6' long. So I'd prefer that the table tuck back into its defined space within that bumpout.

    We do have a coat closet, along the hall, just where it starts from the great room. I prefer "grand entrance" foyers to cozy ones.

    I wonder if it would make sense to put the DR in the upper left corner, and spread the LR across the bottom. With maybe a larger foyer area taking up the left side of the 32' expanse to shrink it down a bit.

  • c9pilot

    The Buehl drawing is terrific but in my mind missing the dry food storage? Or is there a pantry that I can't see?

  • Buehl

    No, no Pantry specifically. However, with all the extra storage, I think there would be plenty of storage.

    But, based on WeedyAcres' response, I've worked up another one...see the next post.

  • Buehl

    Taking your suggestion above switching the Dining & Living Rooms and wanting a larger Entry Foyer, I worked this up.

    • I didn't "populate" the Foyer, since I didn't know what you wanted there, but it's approx 123" x 116" (10'3" x 9'8"). You can do a lot with that space!
    • It now has a Pantry -- interior dimensions 63" x 48" -- with 12"D shelves on two sides. Broom & mop can be mounted on the long wall with no shelves (behind the door if you want to hide them). The door is 24" wide (30" with 3" trim). That's what I have for my pantry and it works fine. I put the door facing the Kitchen & Mudroom b/c you will be accessing the Pantry from these rooms the most.
    • There's still a Buffet-type setup in the Dining Room, but the base cabinet is 21" instead of 24" deep and the upper is 9" instead of 12" deep. I did this so it wouldn't crowd the doorway too much. If you make the Foyer a bit smaller, you could have deeper cabinets.
    • I added a "Message/Command Center" near the Mudroom door -- A nice size "drop zone" for keys, mail, etc. (The base & upper cabinets are also a 3" shallower -- 21" and 9" deep, respectively.)
    • I didn't change the Kitchen. However, if you want a larger Living Room, you could gain space by reducing (1) the "Dirty Dish Zone" (which isn't as close to the Dining Table anymore, but it's still a straight shot from the table and it's still out of the way of prepping & cooking) --and/or-- reducing the secondary Prep Zone to the left of the cleanup sink.
    • There's room for your second table in the space b/w the Dining Room/Kitchen and Living Room.


    OK...here are the pics.



    Kitchen Only:


    Work Zones:





  • felizlady

    You and Mr. Weedy need to come to an agreement: when one is working, the other stays out of the way. It can be taught and learned. If you are working with the kids, the kitchen is yours. When he is emptying the dishwasher, the kitchen is his.
    Rearranging the storage may help...I like to have the dishes, silverware and glassware storage very close to the dishwasher.
    I like to have the prep utensils (bowls, knives, measuring things, baking sheets) all in the prep zone so they are within reach.
    Is the island moveable? Can you move it to have 5’ aisles on the two sides facing cabinetry?

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

    One of my favorite ideas from past reveals was placing windows in the space between counter and upper cabs. I think they were glass block, and the solution for a kitchen that didn't have a good spot for adding a traditional window.

    You do though, so I would contrive to enlarge the existing kitchen window, perhaps add another, at the very least. You have enough room, I think, to add window space and still get a large functional space with enough storage.

    The "hidden cabinets" for appliances idea is so cool! I wonder if that could also be an idea to keep the microwave convenient (like, having it sit on a pullout base for ease of access and use) but out of the way and not taking up space the rest of the time. Is your mudroom large enough to accommodate something like this, along with any other needed use?

  • weedyacres

    @felizlady: it's not just Mr. Weedy and I bumping elbows (and we really like each others' elbows), when one of the kids is chopping, I have to say "excuse me" a dozen times to get measuring cups, or a bowl out of the drawer that they are standing in front of. I'd rather walk a couple steps to grab the stuff that I need than keep moving kids around.

    Here's a shot of the mudroom, from the FR, looking toward the kitchen. It's about 11'x11'. It will work great for the drop zone, broom/mop storage, and possibly a pantry cabinet (would that be weird?).

    And here's the extra storage, across from/part of the laundry room:

  • weedyacres

    OK, here's my chicken scratching on Buehl's kitchen drawing, from walking around my current kitchen and matching what will go in my new one. I'll post a photo of it, then some explanatory notes.

    So first of all, with the exception of no dry food pantry, there are more than enough cabinets.

    • 24" is wide enough for dishes and silverware storage. I'm thinking about plate storage in drawers so the kids can reach better (they set the table on Sundays), but I'm not sure I like that for me/adults.
    • The 48" cabinet over the tertiary prep area is empty, unless that's where I store dry food. So that, and the prep area can shrink by a couple feet. I'm thinking a 36" base plus the super susan would be enough.
    • That should bring the right side of the L back a few feet, not protruding so much into the DR/LR area.
    • I need a bit more upper storage in the baking prep area. Can we shift the stove to the right? Can it go all the way to the corner susan or is there a design reason to have more elbow room to the right there?
    • The trash pullout is another issue in our current kitchen. It's under the sink and we often have someone at the sink when someone else needs to throw something away. Does it make sense to have it open to the right?

    So now some comments on Buehl's #2, since she's ahead of me.

    • I don't need a walk-in pantry, since I've got the remote space for all the lesser-used stuff that won't fit in the kitchen. If I do need a bit more, I'd prefer something like a built-in buffet (e.g., uppers mounted on the floor with a counter on top) on the far side of the DR.
    • We don't need a message/command center, since the mudroom will serve that purpose well. And keep the clutter out of the public area.
    • On the foyer wall, my first reaction is "bam, that's a barrier," but my second reaction is that it might soften the gargantuan openness that hits you on entry, and steer guests towards the living area. That long skinny area is still weird, and I'll have to figure out how to furnish it so it looks intentional.
  • Kathy Handy Ginter
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  • ritasj

    OMG ..you have been holding out on us...those extra spaces can make all the difference ...but if you feel you have enough storage in the kitchen...developing this space may not be a priority?

  • weedyacres

    By all means, have at the mudroom. It needs a facelift as well, and proximity to the kitchen could make it useful. I think the POs used it as an office, but we don't need that desk space.

    The laundry/storage area will likely house our emergency food and water stash, as well as a small chest freezer, for starters. Maybe some non-food storage too, as this house has a dearth of storage.

  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    I would not move your range all the way over to the corner super Susan. Mine is like that and it makes using that side of my range a little awkward - you would think 12" would be enough, but it really isn't a lot of space in terms of shifting your entire body over to center yourself in front of the burners on the super Susan side. You also won't have room for a helper to be stirring a pot on the left while you tend to something on the right. I plan to give myself at least an additional 12" when I redo my kitchen.

  • ritasj

    I still think your island running parallel to the sink will give you much more useable work space and more comfortable seating on the opposite side and allow a much more comfortable workable space for you living room area...the same reasons for the dining table running vertical to the windows...more room for the kitchen work area

  • Buehl

    Running the island parallel to the sink defeats the purpose of having separate work zone floor space and puts the Prep Zone in the wrong location.

    Think about it...someone is trying to unload the DW while someone else is trying to prep at the island. Unless you have very wide aisles, there won't be room for easy prepping while the DW door is open.

    Also think about where the prepped food is and where the range is...they're not near or across from each other.

    In addition to the above, the island would be a "barrier island" between the refrigerator and the Prep Zone in the island.

    Islands work best when the long end faces the range and Cooking Zone, not the Cleanup Zone.

  • ritasj

    Personally I think the appliance layout is way off....i like the function of sink....dishwasher ...and refrigerator arranged left to right on the sink wall...no one wants the refrigerator way at the other end of the kitchen...in this arrangement a parallel island makes perfect sense as it is available to all the main focal points...also having the island laid out like this allows the nice side of the island to face the living room as the defining edge of the kitchen...and for people who want to sit there to visit while the work in the kitchen is being performed they will not be in the way...there seems to be plenty of room with this layout to allow the normal space needed for people to work together in the kitchen...anyone who has lived in a completely open floor plan like this knows that defining the individual spaces aesthetically is essential

  • ritasj

    I might also add that the dining area should not be larger than the kitchen area...adding the fridge on the dining end of the cabinets will enlarge the kitchen area appropriately ....and the vertical table will bring the dining space into better proportion..while leaving a little more space to breathe at the back door...also since there is so much space available nearby for storage it would be much nicer to eliminate the upper cabinets on the sink wall and expand the kitchen window as much as possible to bring in more light and making cooking in this kitchen much more pleasurable...adding a nice view from the parallel island seating as well

  • weedyacres

    @ritasj: did you catch that I'm putting a prep sink on the island? This will be close to the fridge. I'm not seeing the benefit of having the fridge near the clean-up sink.

    I do agree with you on the island seating, though. I think it makes more sense to have all the seats on the bottom end of the island instead of some on the side. Then we have 3 sides to stand/prep on as needed.

    I'm leaning towards swapping the DR to the upper left corner of the great room, just making sure we've got room to fit a second table in when needed.

  • ritasj

    I am not a fan of prep sinks...it breaks up the island top...and they aren’t usually big enough to be good for much...a great big deep kitchen sink right next to the dishwasher takes care of things most efficiently ....with a parallel layout...everything is only a few steps to the sink.....if I put any thing on the island it would be the stove so you don’t have to cook looking at the wall...with the added plus of the perfect triangle layout...stove ..sink...and fridge...as to the expansion to the dining area....I like a t-shape layout with the T at the end of the table away from the window....of the added table so it doesn’t look like a cafeteria ...and you can see and talk to every one around the t-shape table...for the same reason I like the table there as it offers an opportunity to enlarge the window to reduce the big box layout while offering more light and views...

  • ritasj

    As to the layout I would give priority to what you see as you enter the front door...once the entry is established ...and I kind of prefer the closed entry that directs you into the dining area...as that is the one area that may be the least likely to look lived-in and perhaps even be a little elegant?

  • Mary Beth


  • Buehl

    Putting all three seats on one side is less conducive to conversation and friendly visiting. Having all seats likes duck in a row on one side is like sitting at a counter in a diner where you're all strangers and don't want to see or interact with the other patrons. Having seating on two sides, on the other hand, lets people see each other and have a conversation without having to crane their neck to see the other person. Corner seating is much more friendly. In this case, I put them that way so the kids can sit at the counter to help while they're small. When they're older, they can also sit, but if they would rather stand, then the stools can easily be pushed out of the way. (Ditto for you while prepping -- if you need to sit down (as we age, standing for long periods can become more difficult) you have a seat to use while prepping.) Plus, there are four seats in the above layouts, not three -- 4 kids or 3 kids + "momma" all seated working together -- teaching the kids how to prep & cook :-)

    Regarding a prep sink...prep sinks can often make or break a Kitchen and it can often enhance the usability of a Kitchen. If the primary Prep Zone is on an island but the nearest or only water source is across the aisle, it makes prepping less pleasant -- I would not like having to cart food back and forth repeatedly when prepping b/c there's no sink on the island.

    A KEY item in a functional/successful Prep Zone is direct access to water -- having to cross back & forth across an aisle and/or dodging an open DW to go b/w the prep workspace and the water is counter-productive and can create traffic jams.

    Of course, the island has to be large enough to house both a prep sink and sufficient prep workspace -- which the above islands are.

    One big sink is not necessarily the answer, in fact I don't like trying to prep in the same sink while someone else is handling dirty dishes, I'd much rather have a separate sink. (I don't like mixing fresh food with dirty dishes.)

    If the Prep Zone is not in an island, and some people would rather not have it in the island, instead they prefer to be able to slide dishes through the zones, then the prep sink along the perimeter might be the answer. A single sink would also work if you'll be the only person working at the sink -- regardless of its size.

    Regarding prep sink sizes...I'm talking about a PREP sink, not a BAR sink. Bar sinks are usually shallow and narrow (12" or less interior width) and used primarily for filling/dumping glasses. Prep sinks, on the other hand, are usually just as deep as a cleanup sink and should be at least 15" interior width with 18" to 21" better. (A 15" interior width sink will fit in an 18" sink base, 18" in a 21" sink base, and 21" in a 24" sink base.)

    If a Kitchen is too small to accommodate a prep sink, then very careful arrangement of the appliances is a must -- especially keeping the DW out of the Prep Zone and following the workflow with minimal zone-crossing.

    Ranges or cooktops in an island require

    • Plenty of space around it for safety buffer (at least 24" all around, including the back if there are seats)
    • Much more powerful (and expensive) overhead venting. It's also more difficult & expensive to run the duct work.
    • In addition, many people find the overhead vent unattractive or a barrier to the view. But, you need that larger hood to compensate for the lack of wall and the more powerful and numerous air currents in the open space.


    Maybe this will help you understand...


    Prep Zone...This is the zone where food preparation takes place. Food prep can be anything from making a sandwich to preparing a multi-course meal. It includes cleaning/rinsing food, cutting, mixing, processing, etc.

    70% of the work and time spent in the kitchen is spent prepping. It's the most often used and longest used zone in your kitchen! So, this zone should be placed in the most desirable place – where you will want to work and will enjoy working.

    Prep Zone...works best when it contains a water source (sink) and is next to or across an aisle not much more than 48" wide or so from the Cooking Zone.

    • Trash & recycle bins should also be in the Prep Zone. More trash and recyclables are generated during prepping and cooking and for much longer work time than cleaning up, so place the trash/recycling in the Prep Zone and near the Cooking Zone.
    • It should have a minimum of 36" of counter space (with at least 42" much, much better) that is next to a sink that is uninterrupted by the Cleanup Zone (dirty dish "storage").
    • If you have only one sink, then the Prep Zone is on the side of the sink opposite from the DW. (The DW side of the sink is the Cleanup Zone in this scenario.)


    Cooking Zone...works best when next to/across from the Prep Zone (see Prep Zone). It's also nice to have a water source as well as trash & recycling nearby. Note that a pot-filler does not count as a water source since pot-fillers do not have a drain, a sink bowl, or access to both hot and cold water.

    Cleanup Zone...works best when separated from the Prep & Cooking Zones. This can be on the opposite side of a one-sink kitchen from the Prep Zone or it could be in a completely separate location (the latter usually only works well if you have two sinks). Obviously, it also needs a water source and the DW.

    Zone-crossing - avoid!...When planning zones, etc., try to minimize zone-crossing. For example, if you can avoid it, don't put the refrigerator such that you have to cross through the Cleanup Zone to go between the refrigerator and the Prep or Cooking Zone.

    Zones and Kitchen Workflow

    When designing your kitchen, ideally, the zones should follow the normal/usual workflow in a kitchen:

    Refrigerator => (Prep) Sink => Workspace => Cooktop/Range => Table OR (Cleanup) Sink => (Cleanup) Sink => Cabinets (dishes, pots/pans, etc.)

    Which translates to:

    Refrigerator => Prep Zone => Cooking Zone => Serving Zone => Cleanup Zone

    [or...Ice.Water.Stone.Fire (from Marcolo: Looking for layout help? Memorize this first.)]

    You don't necessarily have to have this exact flow, but something very close.

    For example, you might have the Cooking Zone located between the Refrigerator and Prep Zone. This isn't necessarily bad b/c these two zones are tied so closely together. On the other hand (OTOH), it's not a good idea to put the Cleanup Zone between the Refrigerator and Prep or Cooking Zones on the same run or on the same aisle if it's a narrow aisle. In this case, the DW and someone cleaning up and/or unloading the DW will be in the way of anyone prepping or cooking because the refrigerator is an integral part of both prepping and cooking. And, of course, the reverse is true....someone prepping and/or cooking will get in the way of someone cleaning up!

    Kitchen Workflow

  • weedyacres

    >Corner seating is much more friendly. In this case, I put them that way
    so the grandkids can sit at the counter to help while they're small.
    When they're older, they can also sit, but if they would rather stand,
    then the stools can easily be pushed out of the way. (Ditto for you
    while prepping -- if you need to sit down (as we age, standing for long
    periods can become more difficult) you have a seat to use while
    prepping.) Plus, there are four seats in the above layouts, not three
    -- 4 grandkids or 3 grandkids + grandma all seated working together --
    grandma teaching the kids how to prep & cook :-)

    Ack! You're making me feel old! While I have to acknowledge that I am indeed of an age that I could have grandchildren, I have no children of my own, and thus no grandchildren. So I don't feel grandma-age, and probably never will. I respect grandmas, I love grandmas, but I don't want to be called one. :-)

    I refer to my sous-chefs as "my Sunday girls," and I see myself more as a mother figure than a grandmother figure. Because I'm just not that old!! I do crossfit every morning, so I will refuse to age and have to sit down to prep. In fact, this is how I spent last Saturday:

    Okay, I did have to take a lot of breaks in between prying up the rows of tile. But don't call me grandma!

  • ritasj

    GO GIRL!

  • Susan Murin

    I recently re-did my kitchen...gut renovation so lots of freedom. I thought long and hard about how we use it and the bottlenecks in prior kitchens. We, like you, are usually 2, but we entertain a lot, often large groups. I have only lived with this kitchen for a month but totally love it.

    Favorite things:
    -48 inch range. It has the little oven that the two of us sometimes use, and the big one when we need 2. More importantly, it’s wide enough for 2 to cook at the stove
    -pull out utensil holder next to range
    -appliance garage. I built one cabinet deeper and down to the counter. All my little appliances (toaster, juicer, blender) are in there, plugged in for use, and don’t have to sit on counter or be pulled out of storage for use
    -pop up for my kitchen aid mixer, in island prep zone. No more lugging it around!
    -separate prep and clean up sinks, each with roll out wire mats, and each with a dishwasher right next to it (an extravagance, but great for big parties)
    -fridge convenient to the work triangle but on the edge can access it without getting in the way.
    -all drawers for lowers except for the mixer cab and a cab with slots for cutting boards and platters

  • Buehl

    Sorry! I thought your OP said grandkids - I must have mixed it up with someone else! Heck, I'm old enough to have grandkids as well!

    [I edited my post to remove any reference to g****kids.]

    I see my 84-year old mom and 84-year old MIL starting to slow down a bit, so it's got me thinking of the future. They're still both going strong, but when compared to 25 years ago, there is a difference.

  • weedyacres

    LOL, Buehl. That's a natural assumption to make, and someone else did upthread. No harm no foul. And when I'm 84 I don't expect to be in this home, so I think I'm safe not planning to do seated prep. :-)

    @susan: You've got a very similar layout to my target, except that it looks like you've got an extra wall on the left that I don't. I love your large window. Can you give me a shot of that wall full on?

    Also, I like that cabinet-to-the counter on the end. I haven't found upper corner cabinets to be very accessible/useful, and I'm not short counter space, so what you've got is an option for me. How hard is it to reach what's in the upper portion of that cabinet?

  • Susan Murin

    Here you go! Sorry the window wall doesn’t photograph well. I also included the opposite wall, and a shot of the appliance cabinet, open. I have no trouble reaching things except on top shelf, which is true of all my uppers. I live my kitchen because it functions as well as it looks!

  • desertsteph

    I feel like Christmas came early...I got a Buehl kitchen drawing!

    ha! just prior to reading this I saw the Buehl layout and thought 'this is some serious stuff to go over, I haven't seen a Buehl layout in yrs' (I haven't been on kitchens for a few yrs) and this I'm gonna have to soak up in detail - maybe tomorrow. cause it's 1 am here.

    yep weedy - that's some present!

  • skunst2017

    First thing I would do is make large sliding door Windows leading out to the patio ...then look again as to where to put the large family ...with ample space on the counter for intimate family fun , a dining table and the outdoor dining table the. See where you need everything to go to keep the flow of movement in the kitchen once you have an open large window ...to bring light into your beautiful big space .
    Ps. If you have lived without a TV so far , ....wow , why change ..?

  • RedRyder

    Since others are doing such a great job of helping you with the main living/kitchen area, I wanted to comment on the mud room. If you are using it to enter the house (and it’s not a laundry /mud room) then you can easily add tons of storage for less often used things and dry foods. If you go through it to get to the patio for outside eating, definitely have counter space to place food and serving pieces. Store your outside dishes and barbecue paraphernalia. It’s such a great space! Would you need to move your outdoor furniture inside during the winter? If so, make room for those as well. Or at least storage for the covers. I hate that mine are in a corner of the garage but that’s where we keep them.

    I like the three sided stool arrangement at the island. I also like it parallel to the main kitchen better than perpendicular. But it’s up to you, of course. This is a fascinating remodeling job.

    And I also don’t like being assumed The Grandma in certain situations since I’m in the same boat you’re in. And probably the same age.

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