emily_littleloftus

Very limited kitchen layout options

Emily L
September 7, 2019
last modified: September 7, 2019

I have been wrestling with kitchen layout and I need some advice.


Because of size and walkway/thoroughfare limitations, there are just SO FEW ways we can rework our kitchen to get some added storage and counter space. So many people flippantly tell me to add an island - and GUYS - it will not fit.


Our kitchen backs to a narrow hallway that must be maintained. It has a wall of GORGEOUS Windows we want to modify but preserve, it acts as a walkway between a den/office space, and its just pretty small.

I will attach a screen capture from the IKEA kitchen planner software. This is my proposed design. I can post a couple before pics too. (Trying but they won’t post for some reason.)


Heres my question: My sink, in this proposed new design will be 9 feet away from the stove. The kitchen is very compact and efficient now - just about 2-3 steps from fridge to stove and stove to sink.


Unfortunately compact also equals no counters! We are proposing that we raise the window height, add cabinets the nook (which I typically refer to as “the atrium”), and relocate the sink and dishwasher to the atrium. (Since My before pic won’t upload: The sink and dishwasher are currently on the peninsula and the atrium is just an open area of floor, housing a small table and chairs. No cabinets.)


Please share your wisdom. Will I regret the 9’ distance from stove to sink? Or will I adapt to it?


Would a small vegetable sink w/ disposal in the location of the current sink be necessary/valuable so water is closer to the stove?



Comments (75)

  • Emily L

    We are waiting on contractor estimates at this time. I will ask them to price it both ways.

  • Emily L

    The window area needs to be rebuilt, due to leaks and moisture between window panes. We've actually been living with plastic sheeting on the outside of the house for about 3 years to keep water from getting inside. This is a far overdue project.

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    Hi @rantontoo. I'm not someone who has to have the sink under the window. Where do you think ideally it would be? On the short leg? I'd rather not move the window. Currently the dishwasher is actually on the other side of the sink...it is impossible to unload into the cabinets in the corner because the dishwasher is squished up into the corner. I understand why people say not to have a dishwasher in between a sink and a stove...but I've never cleaned up while cooking. Nor do I expect to start. Is there any other reason that I'm not thinking of? For prep space, I like to gather up all my ingredients at once, spread out, use multiple cutting boards, etc. I very rarely prep on either side of the range. I plan to prep on the island, and I think this will work for me. I do know that I'll need space on either side of the range for staging ingredients. I worry that with the range on the short wall, I will feel cramped. I don't like the idea of being in the corner at all. For the island, a few people have cautioned against those extra drawer stacks, but I really feel like I'll need the storage. Can you think of any compromise approach? I had planned on using that space as a junk drawer(s), for cloth napkins, etc. Maybe open shelves with baskets? (I don't like this as much functionally, but maybe it's a good compromise?) I left 48" for 2 stools which will be used nearly exclusively by kids. Do you still think it'd be squished? My husband and I would never sit on the stools. In fact, I hope to get rid of the stools eventually when my kids grow up and put shelves across that space. Thanks for your feedback. More to think about!
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  • celerygirl

    Here is some idea. The base cabinets are in one row, I just show size of countertopin peninsula. We have this layout of our kitchen with the same walking way.


  • Emily L

    Regarding the window wall: There are four homes like this on our street. They were built in 1985 by a DIY homebuilder. Two of them have removed the two side windows, and one put a solid roof over the skylight portion of the windows. MANY are counseling us to do this, but I really, really, REALLY want to keep all windows and skylights intact.

  • Emily L

    Shifting the walkway to the other side of the kitchen, would also leave a post in our entry way, between the dining room and living room.

    We like to entertain. I have a large 8-10 seater dining table in the dining room.

    We are a family of four, with two young adult children (one away at college now), and so regular seating for breakfast/dinner is 2-3 people. But we have large families and tend to entertain 20+ for holidays and special occasions.

  • felizlady

    Your questions regarding sink distance from range and prep sink:
    You will get used to the distance quickly. An extra few steps won’t matter and you will adapt.
    A prep sink is nice but requires more plumbing unless the plumbing is already where you want it.
    If you have a good spot, a rolling butcher-block-topped prep cart can make moving “things” from the sink allll the way to the range easier.
    It’s too bad you need to modify the window wall, but you need the storage and counter space. Keep the window wall counter as empty as possible to keep the view open. I would tempted to spend all my prep time in that counter! You may have time during the day when you need light and/or glare control: light-filtering shades will still allow you to see outside. (If your kitchen is visible from other homes near you, light-filtering shades do NOT provide interior privacy at night.)

  • Emily L

    Our kitchen is not visible from any other homes, which is nice. There is shrubbery and a big cherry tree right outside the window. I think I'll leave the windows bare. as they are now.


    The space in this kitchen is so tight, a small portable island is always in the way. I have tried it a time or two and it never seems to be as helpful as I want it to be.

  • celerygirl

    Or with a base cabinet on the right side of RF.


  • Emily L

    I feel like we probably could rework the kitchen that way, but that it would also impact some other layout issues. It would make the entry way open into the kitchen, and would close off the two rear slider doors from kitchen, which serves as a really nice wide access point to our large deck right now. It's kind of the thing that makes this house wonderful in a lot of ways - that wide facing open wall of windows and doors at the rear.


    This shows the location of the load bearing beam. That entry way wall is beneath that beam, so unlikely it could be taken down, which, at minimum, would leave a post in between the living and dining rooms.



  • jslazart

    With your comment about needing to rebuild the window wall anyway, I could see integrating it into the kitchen. I do love your inspiration photo. How big is your current kitchen sink? If you put a prep sink in that same area, it would likely take up less counterspace, giving you more prep area between range and sink. On your Ikea plan, are you planning to add any depth to the peninsula counter top on the right side? If you added some overhang (with or without cabinets underneath for extra storage), you'd have even more space to spread out when prepping.


    Something like this (not having it to scale makes it a bit tricky)..




    Can you/will you raise the ceiling over the current kitchen? Is that a florescent light in the center, or a skylight? It looks like you have the same 7' dropped ceilings I just ripped out.

  • Emily L

    We do plan to remove the drop ceiling. It used to be a large fluorescent light. The previous owner removed that and put crown molding inside to make it a lighted tray ceiling.

    And yes we do plan to extend the counter as you have drawn.

    The current sink is 28” and divided in the center. And a lovely stained (formerly cream) ceramic job too.

  • aprilneverends

    ..and say you were to encroach into the dining..keep it either one wall (no work triangle I know, but I did live like that and I found it quite convenient-but it was an eat-in space..dining table was in the kitchen)..or L-shape..meaning your penincula stays..will your big dining table fit comfortably still, with chairs and all, or prolonging cabinets/counters there will make the room too narrow?

  • Kathi Steele

    The only way to a successful remodel, especially for a kitchen, is to plan, plan, plan and then plan more.

    You need to have graph paper and put all your measurements down on paper. An inch here and an inch there makes a huge difference.

    What is your budget? What do you want the finished product to look like??

    I think you don't know what you don't know and that is a recipe for disaster.

    Please read the following Houzz pages to help you find your voice.

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5500754/new-to-kitchens-read-me-first#n=533

    http://starcraftcustombuilders.com/kitchen.design.rules.htm#.Wq1aeWrwaM8

    https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/2767033/how-do-i-ask-for-layout-help-and-what-information-should-i-include

    https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/3638270/faq-kitchen-work-zones-what-are-they

    https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/3638304/faq-aisle-widths-walkways-seating-overhangs-work-landing-space-etc

    https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/3638376/faq-how-do-i-plan-for-storage

    https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/2699918/looking-for-layout-help-memorize-this-first

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/4273188/things-you-added-or-removed-that-you-love-regret-in-your-kitchen-renov

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5332686/10-tests-for-you-and-your-contractors-first-meeting#n=25

    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/10-common-kitchen-layout-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them-stsetivw-vs~116563485?m_refid=us-ocnt-reg-ocnt-stories-ktichen-116563485&fbclid=IwAR2VNIFLSZEN3skfRbCDsZdylbGcyCVJO5cRAEvIJyyMAgPz0PLdReOkX-s

  • Emily L

    My response of “it is what it is” wasn’t meant to indicate an overall lack of preparation on my part. I’m planning and planning and planning some more. Just trying to think through a problem and thought the group might help a little.


    The mix of pros/invested group members and newbies with questions makes it's own culture here. I know that designers are used to working with deep specificity - as they must, and you're all annoyed with homeowners who have questions ahead of getting into that level of specificity. I'm sure this place is clogged with idiots who tear out rooms without measuring anything at times, and you're all used to dealing with said idiots - but that's not me. No worries there.


    I know how I want it to look and have extensive plans beyond what is indicated by my question. I am working with professionals and no one will lift a sledgehammer until the plans are on graph paper. I don’t expect the Houzz community to design my kitchen - the conversation is fun - but it goes beyond what I expect the collective group to accomplish.


    But thanks for the links.

  • celerygirl

    Emily, you are doing good. I just do not like that walking way is not open to kitchen. If you keep it open, then both Kitchen and walking way will gain with space.

  • Emily L

    Yeah, it is a ridiculously narrow hallway as it is (exactly wide enough for the hall closet door to open).


    None of it is ideal. I just want to have a sense of what will work best for me prior to getting a contractor in here. And even with all this planning, I know that changes will still come. That's the funny thing about a design, it only lives on paper. Things are just different once you start demolishing the old and building the new.

  • Buehl

    "...it is a ridiculously narrow hallway as it is (exactly wide enough for the hall closet door to open)"

    So the hallway behind the range wall is not 40" wide like it appears in your first layout?

  • Emily L

    The max width is 40” but the front of the closet (not shown) juts into the space.

  • Buehl

    OK, this is what I came up with for dimensions. Are they correct? What about the ones with only question marks?

    Scale is 1 square = 6" x 6"



  • Emily L

    What software did you use to make this? Is it something I could figure out at home?

    I can try and put something similar together. There are flaws in my drawing. The closet and powder room are adjacent. No hallway between them. Didn’t fix it before because I didn’t think it was relevant to my plan necessarily. I can fix it.

  • Buehl

    Lol! Microsoft PowerPoint!

    I downloaded graph paper from the web and pasted it into a presentation.

    I set the scale at 1 square = 6" x 6"

    Then, I created "templates" for various common things like sinks, ranges, cooktops, refrigerators, etc. The one think I cannot do with PPT is 3D elevations.

    If you'd like me to email you my template, email me at EverCurious2009 at gmail dot com



  • Buehl

    The hallway items only become important if the wall b/w the Kitchen and the hallway is taken down. I'm just trying to draw it up so all options can be considered.

  • klynneg

    In my (decidedly non-professional) opinion, it is not the 9-foot distance from stove to sink that would be difficult for me to adjust to, it is the fact that it is across a walkway. If it is a walkway that is not used too much, it might not be a problem. I would have to envision taking a big pot of pasta over to the sink to drain it. If I were doing this, I would almost certainly have a prep. sink somewhere on the peninsula in addition to the clean up sink across the aisle. Though it takes up precious space on the peninsula, you are gaining a good amount of counter space across the way.


    Having said all that about crossing walkways... Have you given any thought to moving the (non-load bearing?) stove wall closer to the atrium wall and making this into a galley kitchen? The fridge would move onto the stove wall and the sink and dishwasher could be in the atrium as you have shown (perhaps with deeper countertops?). You could then extend the stove wall into the current den/office space, incorporating some or most of that space into the kitchen, but still leaving room to walk from the end of the hallway to the sliding door out to the patio. You could consider a bank of shallow pantry/storage cabinets along the wall where the former wood stove was. Extending the stove wall would make the hallway behind it longer, but it would be wider, so more functional and could likely include storage also. This idea does not really leave any seating space in the kitchen, so if that is important, it might not work.

  • Buehl

    Just realized I forgot to put the left window and right 6' slider in the layout. I also took out the "hallway" that you said doesn't really exist. I suspect there are walls b/w each of the stairs, closet, Powder Room, and Garage doorway as well, but I have no idea how wide they are, so I didn't include them.




  • Karenseb

    can you reverse the U shape and change the entryways into the kitchen?


  • Kathi Steele

    You could make the sink wall even longer if you move the peninsula to start at the top of the corner instead of in the bump out.

    The inspiration photo of the sink is awesome!!!

    It would be doable, but you would have a walk way thru part of your work area.

  • mama goose_gw zn6OH

    I like your plan--with a prep sink, and as long as the range can be vented to the exterior. With the addition of the prep sink on the peninsula, you'll have separate zones; you can be prepping and cooking, while a helper is prepping on the other run, or loading/unloading the DW, or gathering dishes to set the table--without entering your work zones. There would be no walkway through your work zone.

    Since that alcove/bump-out appears to be deeper than a standard base cabinet, you might consider making the counters on that side deeper, or having custom deeper drawer bases, for more storage capacity.

  • Emily L

    Ok! I have done it. A measured scale drawing. It should be mostly accurate...I hope.


    Ignore the top edge, I have omitted details regarding doors to the powder room, garage and laundry, as well as details in the entry way, and the front door. I have also (hopefully obviously) omitted most of the side of the house where the living and dining rooms are.


    Once again this is a 1,792 sq ft 80's modern home, with 3 bedrooms 2 1/2 baths. All the bedrooms are upstairs.






  • Emily L

    @Buehl I have posted my scale drawing.

  • Val B

    Following

  • aprilneverends

    thank you for posting the drawing..now I know that my former question I wouldn't ask it at all since dining and living are the same space..back to the drawing board as they say..I might be too preoccupied with thinking of how-not-to affect-your windows and skylights wall..

  • Emily L

    They’re kind of the same space. They are separated by the ceiling. The living room has a very high vaulted ceiling and the dining room has 8’ ceilings. But they do not have a wall separating them.

  • aprilneverends

    sounds like my place. in any case..the question is off..))

  • Kathi Steele

    I still like moving the sink to the window wall and making the windows above the sink.

  • PRO
    RappArchitecture

    Late to this thread, but while skimming the comments the idea of reversing the U and the opposite wall occurred to me, as per Karenseb's sketch above. This seems to solve most or all of your problems and preserves the sink under the windows. The wall at the top becomes a storage wall anchored by the fridge and could include a reach-in pantry with a counter between it and the fridge on the end. The door/opening to the dining room on the left would have to be moved.

  • Buehl

    Can you move the doorway to the Dining Room up?

  • Emily L

    I believe we can move the door to the dining room. I’m wondering about the change in traffic flow. We have two sliders in the rear, both just off the kitchen. Right now we get a real indoor/outdoor flow happening in those locations. Wondering if we would lose it if relocate kitchen access away from the two sliders.

  • Emily L

    Here's a quick rework.


    I have a question or two.


    The location where I have placed the stove...will it be difficult to plumb the gas there due to it's proximity to an outside wall? I know so little about this, so if that's a lame question say so.


    If it will be tough to do, where is the better place to put the stove?


    The original plan I have (the IKEA floorplan I posted early on) I have a sort of dishwashing zone around the sink and a cooking zone around the stove. With this plan the dishwashing zone and cooking zone are very close to one another and I'm not sure if there's a better way to place it all.


  • Emily L

    Rough mockup from IKEA's Kitchen Planner. I moved the slider so I could make room for more countertop behind the stove.



  • PRO
    RappArchitecture

    The change in traffic flow will be improved since the kitchen will function far better. You'd only be moving the opening to the dining room about 3 or 4 feet.

  • jslazart

    I'd want a backsplash above the cooktop, so I'd put it on the dining room wall. With that much space around the refrigerator, you could also consider a cooktop/wall oven rather than a range, if that interests you. Moving the gas line will largely depend on where it is currently and where it has to go: is it run through the floor or the ceiling? Are you on a crawl space? Basement? Concrete slab? Another thing you need to think about is how to vent the cooktop.

  • Emily L

    Gas comes through the floor. We are on a crawl space. If I move cooktop to the dining room wall a hood can be installed there. So that would probably be better.

  • donnatrus

    Emily, just curious if you’ve calculated counter space in your original plan vs this new plan? Is it about the same?

  • Emily L

    The most counter space is in the original redesign.

    The “reverse u” design has about double the current kitchen.

    The first design has about 3x the original kitchen. A little less when I add the extra sink.

  • Nancy R z5 Chicagoland

    I love your windows and would save them. With respect to your current layout, is there any reason you couldn't move the stove a bit further to the left to expand your run of usable prep space to the right?

  • Buehl

    I have 3 ideas so far. (It's taken a while b/c of work!)

    They are three very different ideas. Personally, I prefer #1, but you may differ. I tried drawing up something similar to your latest without the range on a peninsula, but I didn't like how it had a lot of wasted counterspace where it's not useful. (I'm not a fan of ranges in islands and peninsulas b/c of the venting needs and other issues.)

    Here they are...

    Layout #1:

    • Is a shallow "U" with a row of cabinets/fixtures below.
    • The "U" shape protects the Prep Zone and, especially, the Cooking Zone from traffic through, around, and in the Kitchen. The center of the "U" is 10' wide there's plenty of room to move around in. Since the peninsula extends only about 4' past the upper row of cabs/counters, o one will be "trapped" in the "U" or feel like they have a long way to go around. In my opinion, that's the secret of a successful peninsula-style Kitchen -- legs not too long and a wide base. [I have a similar setup (a little smaller than yours) and I absolutely love it! I have plenty of room to prep & cook while my DH has plenty of room for cleaning up -- all of which often happen at the same time! I even had sixteen 16 12-year old girls cooking in my kitchen (earning their Cooking badge for Girl Scouts). My new kitchen really proved itself...as well as justified my focus on "zones" as we had 5 stations of 3-4 girls each + "extra" activities...and it all fit in a medium-sized kitchen!]
    • The window area gives you a lot of depth, so I made the sink cabinets and counters deeper than standard:
    1. Counters are 30" deep
    2. Cabinets are installed approx 1.5" out from the wall
    3. Cabinets are 27" deep. If you cannot get 27" deep cabinets, simply pull them out from the wall an additional 3" for a total of 4.5" (3" + 1.5" from above) [If you live in a climate with cold winters, consider putting some extra insulation in that space.]
    • The Dining Room door stays where it is now.
    • Wall stays as it is now
    • Utilizes all the space
    • The Prep and Cooking Zones are separated from the Cleanup Zone for better working conditions. It allows a couple of people to be working in the Prep/Cooking Zones while someone else is cleaning up along the bottom wall. If you have several people working in the Kitchen (e.g., family gatherings where several are in the Kitchen), Prepping can also take place along the bottom wall. In effect, you have 4 potential Pep Zones with direct water access as well as another 1 or 2 without water access (to the left of the range).
    • The Cleanup Zone and Dish Storage are along the bottom wall -- next to the Dining Room doorway. It will be easy to (1) unload the DW into the cabinets and (2) set the table in the Dining Room without getting in the way of those prepping and cooking in the upper "U".
    • The refrigerator an MW Drawer are on the outer edges so someone can access/use them without getting in the way of those working in the Kitchen.
    • There's a 5-foot row of 15"D pantry cabinets along the bottom wall on the right.
    • Aisles are all wide enough for easy access and use of the Kitchen. There shouldn't be any bottlenecks.
    • There are 2 places with seating in the Kitchen.
    1. Both have 3 seats at the peninsula.
    2. The first option has a bistro-style table and chair in front of the only window on the far right wall. It could be a comfy chair and table instead.
    3. In the second option, there are two comfy chairs in front of the fireplace, assuming you go ahead and convert it back to a fireplace. There's just enough room to pass between the chairs and the peninsula when someone is sitting at the counter.

    .


    .

    Layout #1 Work Zones:


    .

    Layout #1 with Fireplace Seating option:



  • Buehl

    Layout #2 is an "L" plus a row of tall and a Snack Center.

    • The three primary work zones are all in the "L". The Cleanup Zone is on one side of the sink and the Prep and Cooking Zones are on the other side. I don't think it gives you as much workspace overall as Layout #1, but at least it allows two or more people to work in the Kitchen at the same time.
    • The top wall has a Utility cabinet (for broom, mop, etc.), a standard-depth refrigerator, a Snack Center, and an 18" pullout Pantry cabinet. (Pullout, not doors/drawers.)
    1. The counters are 30" deep to make the standard-depth refrigerator look counter-depth. The base cabinets are 27" deep and pulled out from the wall 1.5". The upper cabinets are 15"D.
    2. The MW is in this space. I put in a MW drawer (I'm biased, I really like mine!) but you can optionally put a standard MW on a shelf under the upper cabinets or on the counter.
    3. If you have a toaster oven, coffeemaker, tea kettle, etc., they can also be on this counter.
    4. Optionally, you could have a sink -- there's plenty of space!
    • The Dining Room doorway is moved up.
    • For seating, there's a banquette-style setup on the far right. If you get the fireplace going again, the table and right bench may be too close.
    • There are 66" (5'6") of 12" deep pantry cabinets in the upper right corner, next to the Garage entrance. The window keeps you from going much deeper than 12", but that's a good depth for pantry shelves anyway. You could go to 13", which would give you 12" deep shelves when accounting for the back wall of the cabinet...but no deeper.



    .

    Layout #2 Work Zones:



  • Buehl

    Layout #3 is probably the most expensive to do and will limit access to the Dining Room, but I thought I'd post it for you. It's an "L" with an island plus table seating.

    • The top wall is removed. This also expands the walkway b/w the stairs/closet and the Kitchen to 48" from 34".
    • The Dining Room doorway is eliminated
    • The Living Room doorway is enlarged -- but only if it will fit the architecture of the Dining and Living Rooms
    • Like Layout #1, this layout also has plenty of workspace and completely separates the Prep & Cooking Zones from the Cleanup Zone.
    • The island contains the Prep Zone as well as the trash pullout and MW drawer (optionally, the MW can be on the counter elsewhere, e.g., in the corner b/w the sink and range)
    • The Cleanup Zone is along the window wall on the right side of the sink (away from the range)
    • There's a secondary Prep Zone b/w the sink and range with plenty of workspace. It's really another primary Prep Zone as many people prefer to prep right next to the range rather than across on an island. This layout provides both for your, depending on your mood. (I think it would be nice around Christmas baking cookies on the island while a fire is going and Christmas music is playing! I can see it now...! Same with Layout #1, BTW.)
    • All counters are 30" deep (see previous layouts with explanation).
    • Refrigerator is standard-depth and on the periphery so snackers and others won't get in your way.
    • There isn't quite as much dish storage next to the sink & DW, but if you also use the upper to the left of the range, you'll probably have enough. However, that will draw someone setting the table into the work area...but if you're prepping on the island, it won't be too bad (try to make them go around the outside of the island, though, so they don't get in your way).
    • The island seats 3, with the middle seat having a deeper overhang -- for someone with long legs!
    • There are either 6" filler pullouts (as shown with a 1.5" panel for support on the outside) or 6" cabinets on either end of the island. Two or three cutting boards would fit in one. Or, a spice pullout or other. (See this link for ideas: Rev-A-Shelf Base Filler Pullouts ranging from 3" to 9" in width: https://www.rev-a-shelf.com/rev-pages/product-listing.aspx?CategoryFilterID=47&SubcategoryFilterID=53 )
    • A 39" wide table fits nicely. While I would prefer 42", those extra 3" make a difference in the aisle b/w the pantry and the table.
    • The aisles around the table are sufficient for the traffic:
    1. The Garage entrance (48")
    2. Between the island and table (60"). Note: 48" is too tight. I have that and when someone is sitting in one place, it's a bit tight. When someone is sitting at both places, someone has to to move to let someone else pass by.
    3. The slider (48"). This will probably be even more important if the Dining Room door is closed up b/c now that will be the only way to get to the back from this side of the house.
    4. The Fireplace -- you don't want to be too close in case there's a fire in the fireplace.



    .

    Layout #3 Work Zones:



  • Emily L

    Oh my goodness!! I am incredibly impressed at your effort here. I really appreciate it.

    I’m going to study these and see what will work best.

    I have started to lean away from the idea of reversing the U of cabinets because of added construction costs and the limited width placing the U in the atrium. It cuts way back on counter space.

  • Buehl

    Just a note about Layout #1...while it's my favorite, it won't work if you don't have a prep sink on that side of the Kitchen.

    Here's my Kitchen to give you an idea of how it works. Like Layout #1, my Kitchen would not work if I didn't have a prep sink.



    I only have room for two seats on my peninsula





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