New Kitchen Layout in the Works - Help me perfect it, please!

October 9, 2019

Hello Houzz Community!

Our family of 6 is building a new home and the kitchen will be at the heart of our home. With feeding 4 growing kids each day and doing our share of entertaining, we need to get our kitchen flow just right. This is our first new construction project and I am taking all the input from professionals we can get.

I would be grateful for any insights you might have to offer on usability, flow, storage, etc.

We will have a beverage refrigerator in the dining area built-in. And an extra freezer in the nearby garage.

Thank you, in advance, for your suggestions.

Here is the original kitchen/pantry layout:

And HERE is a version with my cut/paste updates:

Thank you, everyone, for your help!


Comments (32)

  • PRO

    Only had time for a glance but I would NOT have two islands. Have a table for meals. I detest eating on a stool and it's a mess with young children. My daughter's two were either always falling off, knocking the stool back, or getting up. She worked very hard to get them to sit through a meal and would have preferred a table but didn't want to eat in the formal dining room every night as we did when she was growing up. They're grown now. I hate it when I'm invited over and have to eat at that island.

  • krummbalaya

    Thank you for the thoughts, Anglophilia. I hear you on having little ones at the counter. It isn't always pretty. I imagine the eating island will be used for the olders doing homework, quick meals, mainly during parties, etc. The dining area is right next to the kitchen and it isn't a formal situation so it will be easy for us to have our family meals together at the dining table.

    I like the idea of the two islands for extra kitchen seating and preparation areas while keeping good walking flow around them. Whenever we have people over, we are gathered around the kitchen island... I thought we might as well embrace that in this layout.

    Good thought to consider though... I will think on it.

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    Comments (14)
    I think you are trying to do too much in the space. Streamline it. The bump over on the left could be a mudroom since it appears to lead to the outside. A great space to put in hooks and a place to store boots/shoes. Next consider taking out that awkward window on the back wall out. It is not centered on the room and makes cabinet placement awkward. If the width of the room is sufficient, you can put an island sink in. If not, you will have to configure for a sink on the back wall. Put the island table to eat on the wall between the doorways and put it on locked wheels. When not being used as dining, you can then roll it towards the kitchen space and use it as prep area. I was thinking of a William Boos butcher block and I bet there may be a way to adjust the height. Hope it helps. You have a wonderful space but I think you need to figure out how you want to live in the space. If you have a dining room space, use the kitchen as bar area only. I love my dining room but I use it 100% of the time for all meals and skip the "formal"
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  • just_janni

    I think you have a major redesign in your future... you have buried the fridge in the corner so if someone wants to get a drink they will have to walk past all the action at the cooktop. :-(

    Your cooktop is in no man's land. Imagine hauling a pot of paste to drain... Then imagine it while someone is trying to load the dishwasher.

    You will likely need 2 sinks. Currently prepping next to the sink blocks at least one dishwasher.

    Where's the microwave for a kid to heat up some pizza rolls?

    Honestly - from a dysfunction standpoint, I am not sure I've seen worse. I get the thought behind it - having "zones" - but they need to relate to one another. You've come to the right place for help - you should post more of your plan for the experts to understand the rest of the flow in the house.

    krummbalaya thanked just_janni
  • live_wire_oak

    Does your architect cook? Because it sure seems like he doesn’t even microwave. And he is hostile to those who do want to cook. There is no other good explanation for how poorly that is designed. It’s not even visually stunning to say that he is focusing on form over function. It’s neither form nor function.

    Dark dark dark. Probably fat house syndrome where it’s as deep as it is wide. Get the kitchen to an outside wall. Preferably a corner where you can have windows from two directions.

    Get rid of the two islands. It’s dysfunctional, and expensive. It just means your kitchen is too large and laid out inefficiently when you put in 2 islands. Examine your eating areas. 1 casual and 1 more organized is all that is really needed. Examine the flow to the more formal eating area, which in this case, has no separation at all, and leaves you eating Thanksgiving within the dirty dish production zone. Plan to use it more and get rid of any “eating island” that is really just a tall uncomfortable breakfast table. Especially back to back with the dining area.

    Post the rest of the house. It’s going to need work too in order to make the kitchen viable. It’s too open, and too wasteful of space.

    krummbalaya thanked live_wire_oak
  • AFritzler

    I'm not a fan of kitchen's with 2 islands. I find that the second island blocks the flow of the kitchen and makes it choppy but if you really want that then I would suggest putting your fridge on the opposite side that you currently have it on and put your wall oven where your fridge is. Moving the fridge over will keep it near your sink and what I believe would be your primary work space but it would also allow people to access the fridge without entering your work space.

    With a kitchen of this size, I suggest hiring a designer, not just an architect, and be willing to listen to your designer. A designer will help you to see all the possible problems and come up with the best design for your life.

    krummbalaya thanked AFritzler
  • krummbalaya

    Thank you for the critiques. The idea of a designer might be just the thing.

    I do have a prep sink slated for the eating island. And the microwave will be with the wall oven... and there will be a 2nd oven under the range.

    I don't want the refrigerator to be buried... I was thinking people could approach in from the outside of the islands, rather than walking past the cook top, if they just needed to grab something.

    Here is more of the floor plan... without my attempts above and re imagining the kitchen/pantry.

  • PRO
    Sina Sadeddin Architectural Design

    Bad kitchen design. You need to hire a certified kitchen designer.

    Two kitchen islands seems great on paper, but it is not practical in real life. People will naturally gather around the closest one and one always gets in the way of the others. The fridge is in a poor spot. That back run of counter space behind your sink will never get used, just move the sink there. The pantry is almost too big. It will be a PITA to run in and grab items. The stove is too isolated.

  • jslazart

    They could get to the refrigerator from the outside of the islands, but they won't. It's not the shortest route. It looks like the way into the house from the garage is also go go right through the kitchen? I second everyone who advises that you stop and find a kitchen designer. Especially considering your statement about wanting all the professional help you can get.

    krummbalaya thanked jslazart
  • krummbalaya

    Thank you. I will look into a designer. Any recommendations for the Portland/Vancouver area?

  • cpartist

    Bad kitchen design and bad house design unless you prefer dark rooms and wasted space.

    Post the full floor plan along with the elevations.

  • tsjmjh

    We rented a (very nice) house once and the refrigerator was at the end of a run, as you have drawn in your redo, and I strongly disliked it. No handy place to "put" anything taken out of the refrigerator, especially with cabinets above next to it.

    Switch the locations of the cooktop and the refrigerator. My refrigerator is at the end of a run but directly across from the end of the island. People can get to it from either side and I made sure to leave 42" between island and refrigerator.

    My kitchen is very similar to yours, except where you have the second island I have a long table. My refrigerator is integrated and has cabinetry panels so from the great room people see a tall "cabinet" at the end of the run on that wall.

    To go against opinion here, and since your kitchen is open to the great room and dining area, use two islands if that's what you want. My sister has two ginormous ones in her (ginormous) house and they function very, very well. She can work at the sink and people can sit at the other island and not be right up in her work area. When entertaining, those two islands are great. Use one as a buffet for large groups, for example. She also has tons of extra storage.

    krummbalaya thanked tsjmjh
  • krummbalaya

    Thank you for the bit of positive feedback, tsjmjh. I hear you on the refrigerator location. Sounds like more than just that, though, could use more thought.

    To cpartist, I don't understand the concern about dark rooms. The great room and dining room outside walls are almost all glass and tall ceilings.

  • K H

    I would flip your sink island so that the sink is facing the range, then make it larger and then I would eliminate the second island. Beautiful house with lots of room!

    krummbalaya thanked K H
  • AnnKH

    I'm not cpartist, but I think I understand what she's saying:

    The covered porch and covered patio will block most of the sunlight from entering the public areas of the house. The pantry and bathroom at the front block all sunlight from the kitchen. Depending on what direction the house faces, you may get little to no sunlight in the great room. This plan looks like it will have an enormous roof - an expensive feature that can overwhelm the house.

    I see hallways on the left and right sides of the house, leading to bedrooms. I like some separation between public and private spaces, but your plan seems to take it too far - like the hallway in Bedroom 2 (though without the rest of the plan, it's hard to see what's going on there). Getting furniture into the bedrooms could be a challenge.

    I see 2 (possibly 3) linen closets. Is that because there is inadequate storage space in the bathrooms, or because some of the rooms are Tetrised together, and there were blocks of space between? Again, it's impossible to know without seeing the whole plan (which I would love to see!)

    Meanwhile, your mud room is tiny for 6 people. I'm guessing you live in a climate that does not have to deal with coats and boots. I would definitely steal some space from the huge pantry for the mud room.

    If you eat meals on the back porch, it's a bit of a hike from the kitchen, and the dining table makes it an obstacle course as well.

    You have double doors into the home, and into the master bedroom. While these are dramatic features, where will you put a light switch in those locations? After the initial "Ta-Da!" when you first move in, only one of those doors is going to be used regularly.

    I suspect it feels like you're being picked on, but please understand that most of the folks here want to help you create a beautiful, functional home for you and your family. A new home is a huge investment, and we want to help you avoid as many mistakes as possible!

    How big is your lot? What direction does it face? What are the elevations like? This plan looks like it will have an enormous roof - an expensive feature that can overwhelm the house.

  • AnnKH

    How old are your children? Our kids did homework at the kitchen table until they were in middle school - after that, they used desks in their room (or the computer in the family room). I know it may not seem like it now, but you won't have kids doing homework in the kitchen forever! Make sure you have a long-term plan for the second island.

  • PRO

    You're so right! So many people come on GW with young children and forget that they won't be young for very long.

    You do NOT want a prep sink in that 2nd island - what on earth would you use it for? It's too far away from the sink or the stove and if you picture people "gathering" there, it will just be something that ends up with tons of dirty glasses in it.

    People gather in a kitchen or around an island because that's what the host/hostess allows. My DD, age 47, is an outstanding cook - she's in the hospitality industry and she takes good food very seriously. She does not like people in her kitchen around the island when she's cooking. She always has hors d'oeures ready and hands them to guests who instantly head for the kitchen when her husband opens the front door, and instructs them to follow her husband to the LR. The DR is just off the LR and in it is a bar cart and her husband then takes drink orders. DD joins them when she has things well under control. She enjoys using her LR for drinks before dinner and she finds guests a real distraction (did I put the salt in?).

    I agree with others about darkness. All these porches and the main rooms buried in the middle of houses today, mean dark rooms. And the porches are rarely actually used - all a fantasy.

  • wilson853

    You can make this work efficiently without redesigning the whole floor plan. I think that two islands can work well. With just one table you will need the extra island for setting out a buffet, but mostly on a daily basis when your kids are hanging out with friends or doing crafts or homework. It could be a spot where a large school project wouldn't have to be moved while it is being worked on. That's where our formal dining room table always came in handy. I'd move the range to the back wall and place the DWs and clean-up sink on the side wall with drawers on the far left for cutlery, placemats, napkins and dishes, making it easy to set and clear the table. Cooking zone then moves to the rear of the kitchen with a prep sink on the long side of the other island facing the range and the refrigerator slides to the other end of that wall so that people can approach it from the outside of the kitchen. Our refrigerator is now in the back of the kitchen near the range top and prep sink and I much prefer it there. When it was placed forward near the end of the island where people gathered during a party, I was constantly shooing people out of my way so that I could get into the refrigerator. Drove me crazy. Now company doesn't get near the refrigerator. So much better. You could place a small sink in your dining area for making cocktails and coffee. I think that leading guests to a LR for cocktails is fine if you're having a small dinner party but when you have a big party or a holiday it is next to impossible to keep people out as they just want to congregate in the kitchen. Skylights in the kitchen are an option if you think that you will need more natural light.

    krummbalaya thanked wilson853
  • bytheriverbank

    Hi Krummbalaya,

    I'm getting ready to build near Portland as well. I'm building about 30 minutes away on the Columbia River. I was going to recommend you look at Garrison Hullinger's website. He's an interior designer in the Portland area. You might get some inspiration from his kitchen pictures. I know I've walked through a house that he worked on in the Parade of Homes with double islands. From memory, I think it was set up so that the main sink was where you have the seating island. The stove was back on the wall behind the middle island. The middle island had a prep sink. The refrigerator and microwave were in the place you have the stove.

    I'm planning to hire a kitchen and bath designer. I'll figure someone out once we apply for permits next month. I'll share the name once I find someone.

    Good luck with your plans!

    krummbalaya thanked bytheriverbank
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    I find a kitchen works well when the work triangle is a triangle.

  • mama goose_gw zn6OH

    Here's a stab at rearranging the work flow, but unfortunately, traffic is still going to pass through a work zone. The cooktop and ovens are more protected on the bottom wall, and the range/hood will make a nice focal point from the dining area. I changed the pantry door to the other side and made it a pocket door. The pantry fridge and freezer have been flipped, with a tall cabinet or shelves to the left (or that space could be open to the powder room, if more storage is needed there). I think the pantry entry from the mudroom could be omitted, for more shelves on that wall, since then pantry entry from the kitchen is now near the mudroom entry.

    I drew a niche for artwork on the foyer side, with a shallow cabinet on the kitchen side, for a bit more storage. If that storage is not necessary, it can be omitted, but I couldn't see that thick wall without adding some stud-bay shelves. :)

    Since the ovens are across the kitchen from the fridge, I drew a drawer MW in the prep island, facing the fridge. There is also a drawer in the serving island, facing the clean-up zone, for dishes that won't fit in the uppers above the DWs.

    Here's another rough idea, which might not be feasible if walk-in pantries are the norm for your neighborhood and price point. It might not be as pretty, but you'll have more natural light in the kitchen, with the clean-up sink under a wider window. I stole some space in the small room below and to the right of the kitchen (laundry?), to enlarge the window.

    krummbalaya thanked mama goose_gw zn6OH
  • PRO
    The Kitchen Design Company

    Dear Molly,

    You are starting your new kitchen, like almost everyone else, backwards.

    You are starting with a new kitchen layout (a proposed solution, not your solution, not the best solution) and then trying to make it work (discover its performance problems, hoping you don’t find any, or that you can easily resolve them).

    Now you’ll frantically try rearranging appliances and cabinetry, or ask others to do this for you, trying to eliminate the problems inherent in this solution with only a vague idea of what you’re actually trying to accomplish.

    I hope you can see that this approach rarely, if ever, works well. Yes you will get a beautiful new kitchen everyone else loves. But chances are you won’t get the home and life improvement you truly want, desire, need, and expect to get. And you’ll be disappointed and regret that you didn’t do this project very differently.

    After you get a new kitchen that doesn’t truly satisfy you that you have to adapt to and make do with. Just like you did when you moved into your current kitchen.

    This could be your future if you continue using this usual approach.

    When you are done, all of your help is gone, and you are moving into your new kitchen. Which you will absolutely be thrilled with, because it will be beautiful, and it will match your kitchen design drawings.

    You picked the layout, the style, the color, the finish, it’s new. Why wouldn’t you love it?

    Because you will be forced to adapt to what you get in appliance locations and cabinetry and make do.

    When moving in you will be standing inside of your new kitchen with your boxes of kitchen items from your existing kitchen. Like a deer caught in car headlights trying to figure out where all of your items should go that makes functional sense. And you will realize, at that point, that your new kitchen doesn’t satisfy your want, needs, and must haves.

    You got a new kitchen to go with your new home, and everyone who sees it will tell you how awesome it is. But only you will realize that you got a beautiful new kitchen, but not the new life you are expecting this new kitchen to deliver for you to begin living.

    So how do you design your new kitchen and your new life you want to be living inside of it after you get it. Simple, you focus on designing the life you want to live after your new kitchen is done.

    Following these 5 Steps is how you should tackle any new kitchen project you'll ever do, if you want spectacular results and very few regrets.

    Here are the 5 Steps To Designing the Perfect Kitchen Solution

    1. Test Run: Evaluate your existing kitchen plan so you know what performance advantages to keep and identify performance problems that need to be resolved, fixed, or eliminated. So your new kitchen can deliver your ideal life.

    2. Deep Dig: Dig deep below your surface wants to discover your reasons why you must have a new kitchen and the results that need to be achieved for you to be truly and thoroughly satisfied with your new kitchen and your new life after your new kitchen is done.

    Steps #1 & #2 Establish Your Kitchen Design Criterion (Your problems to be solved).

    3. Layout Lab: Exhaustively space plan to discover every possible new kitchen layout option that resolves, fixes, or eliminates your current kitchen’s problems so you can live your ideal life. You’ll should get to compare and decide from at least 5, but as many as 10, 15 or more new kitchen layouts that deliver your new kitchen and your new life. So you can discover your unique solution to your kitchen’s performance problems.

    Step #3 Delivers Every Possible New Kitchen Layout Solution for You to Compare and Decide From…eliminating doubt.

    4. Look Inside 3D: Use accurate 3D perspective drawings so you can get to see and experience your new kitchen to verify your new kitchen looks the way you want it to.

    Step #4 Let’s you see and experience your new kitchen Inside of Your New Home So you’ll know you’ll be thrilled with how it looks long before you get it… eliminating doubt.

    5. Kitchen Item Placement.: Place all of your kitchen items you’ll be storing in your new kitchen before you get it. So you will know exactly how your new kitchen works, where your items get stored, and that you have the right cabinetry configurations and accessories in the right locations to make your kitchen work as intuitively as possible.

    Step #5 Ensures you’ll know exactly what to do with your new kitchen, exactly how it works, that it will truly satisfy you, and long before you get it…eliminating doubt.

    If you want to avoid costly kitchen design mistakes, you’ll otherwise unknowingly make, follow these 5 Steps.

    I believe that a New Kitchen = a New, Different, Better, Easier, More Enjoyable Life or there is no point in getting a new kitchen.

    Hope this has been helpful.

    Joe Brandao

    Kitchen Design Company

    P.S.: You can read my articles delivering luxury kitchen design advice by clicking the link below.

  • wilson853

    Here's a few similar layouts per mama goose's drawing.

    Double islands - separate clean up zone on side wall - focal point hood at rear of kitchen. I like mama goose's revised refrigerator and pantry entrance as it makes it convenient to both sinks which is a plus when there's multiple workers. I might consider sliding the MW to the back of the island to keep the aisle clear for the refrigerator.

    Georgian Residence in Dallas · More Info

    CC · More Info

    Kitchens · More Info

    krummbalaya thanked wilson853
  • fissfiss

    I’m not a kitchen designer, but we’ve moved a lot and redone a lot of kitchens.
    Working with a designer is very helpful, as is knowing what works for you and your family. I’m not a huge fan of a tight work triangle, I’m much more of a zone person. With your mud room attached to the pantry, I would put a microwave in the pantry, so that the kids can reheat leftovers, make popcorn, etc. without getting underfoot in the active part of the kitchen. We live in Maine, where people design their whole house around the mud room...I do think yours is too small. And where is the laundry room? Depending upon their sports, it is nice for the kids to be able to get their dirty, smelly, wet gear straight into the washing machine. We find that we do all our prep work on our island...and one of yours has a sink in it and it appears the other has a raised bar height counter section. One giant island might work and look better. I agree with everyone who has suggested moving the stove...not only will it be safer, it will look much nicer.
    Depending upon how and what you like to cook, you could enlarge the pantry to include the wall oven and make it the baking kitchen/pantry.

    krummbalaya thanked fissfiss
  • emilyam819

    ^good idea to put microwave in pantry. And the frig in there should be where all the leftovers and frozen meals are stored.

    krummbalaya thanked emilyam819
  • Architectrunnerguy

    On this forum I figure I'm going straight to kitchen hell for saying this as I'm not a "one size fits all" kind of person and in certain circumstances I LIKE a two island kitchen. And the set up isn't "Well, we liked one island so much we duplicated it". the two islands have two entirely different functions.

    We did one in our own house and it worked great. We hardly ever ate at the second island, taking all of our meals at the table but it was used extensively when many people were over. And it had a bar sink and a beverage fridge.

    krummbalaya thanked Architectrunnerguy
  • mama goose_gw zn6OH

    Architectrunnerguy, I don't think the two island plan will send you straight to hell, but on this forum, the cooktop in the center island is going to land you in purgatory. ;)

    I like the drawers on the counter on the perimeter; I designed something similar in my own kitchen.

    krummbalaya thanked mama goose_gw zn6OH
  • Architectrunnerguy

    Hey Mama Goose....Yeah, and that's just one kitchen of two we had the island cooktop in over a 30 year run between the two kitchens. And no problems with it!

    And Mrs. ARG loved those drawers and shelving. We had the trivets in there. Easy to grab when in a hurry!

    And I've shown that in some house designs I've posted here and taken some heat for it. Read #18, a quote because of an island cooktop drawn on a house design. If you read the comments afterwards the author chimed in Gives me a chance to not take myself so seriously.

  • lafdr

    Listen to everyones' comments, then do what works for you! My kitchen has a second smaller sink on the periphery, closest to the garage entrance and next to the fridge. It is used multiple times a day for people to wash hands. We all tend to use it to wash hands more than the main kitchen sink. And it is a convenient prep sink when several cooks are making a meal. Small kids make messes and wash hands a lot. So a second sink for that is very helpful. Our main kitchen sink ends up being used for dishes and washing vegetables/meal prep. In looking at 2 islands, consider what the middle sections will be used for. How often would you stand at the inner portions of the islands? Such as with your back to the seating area? Could those uses be taken care of with one bigger island? My current kitchen that was remodeled by the former owner has an island and a peninsula, which is kind of like 2 islands :) It is laid out so that the counter seating area is outside the cooking area. But the fridge and smaller sink are also out of the way, easy to access, yet also in the cooking triangle.

    krummbalaya thanked lafdr
  • julie S

    Wow, well you've certainly gotten an ear full! Ok, so I'm no professional designer but I am in your shoes - working on our floor plans right now for our family of 6 (4 kids ages 2-13 currently). I am NOT planning on 2 islands (even though it's definitely a trend where I live) in my new kitchen simply because I have that NOW and I don't like it. It ends up being too much walking around things.... either one island or the other.... and while my kids are seated at the far island, I have to walk around the other one to get to them every time. I don't know. I won't talk Martha Stewart perfect kitchen triangle and all that - just saying from one mom to another - really think about that whole 2 island thing! And maybe consider what the professionals are telling you about accessing the fridge, placement of cook top, etc. :)

    krummbalaya thanked julie S
  • nidnay

    I understand you are looking for functionality feedback, but if you are at all desirous of having a bright and cheery kitchen you really might want to rethink your plan. You have not one single window in the kitchen and even though the dining room has floor to ceiling windows, that light/sun will not penetrate deep enough to be of real value because of the roof on your outdoor living area. And if the back of the house faces north, I promise you it will be very dark in your kitchen. You will need artificial light any time you are washing dishes or cooking etc.

    As far as function goes, I would want my stove much closer to my sink, so I would put the stove on the fridge wall and the fridge on the stove wall.

    As far as the negative comments regarding sitting at an island counter on stools....I absolutely LOVE my large kitchen island and we sit there ALL the time (on stools). We eat there, read there and do all sorts of work sitting at the island. We also have a large dining/breakfast area (16 x 16) surrounded by 12 windows and a nice window seat, but for our casual eating, the island gets the most use.

    Bottom line for me personally though is that I wouldn’t even consider a kitchen without windows.....too dark. But maybe bright and sunny is not a priority for you. We lived in a rental while our home was under construction and it was laid out in such a way that there were no windows in the kitchen and the attached family room (which faced north), even though it had large windows, afforded no appreciable light. It was always dark and dreary even on a sunny day.

    krummbalaya thanked nidnay
  • jani

    You should take a look at Nidnays is gorgeous..the whole house!

  • PRO
    Hankins & Associates, Inc. - Kitchens and Baths

    I've done kitchens with two islands ... with the right space and when designed properly ... they work well. Some quick observations ... the sink positioned to service the 48" range ... too small ... not well placed IMH&PO. I cannot really read the island dimensions, but they look small for 4 seats (rule of thumb 24" per person). If the island is only 96" long and you're hoping for posts as well ... it's gonna be tight. I would highly suggest investing in a kitchen designer who'll help guide you through the design. If you're in PA/NJ/DE ... feel free to call. Hankins & Associates, Inc.

    krummbalaya thanked Hankins & Associates, Inc. - Kitchens and Baths

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