Kitchen layout help, decisions needed ASAP

reesepbuttercup SLC, Utah 6b
7 days ago
last modified: 7 days ago

I’m negotiating the purchase of a spec home that’s under construction. Framing just started and the builder seems to be entertaining the idea of changes to the design selections that were decided prior to my involvement.

I need to reduce the price of the house by at least 30K so many of the planned upgrades will have to be removed. I’m fine with much of that. I don’t want to make mistakes with the kitchen layout however, so I am looking for suggestions.

Photograph of the model that has the the two foot dining extension, plus a bunch of other upgrades.

While overall the kitchen is fine, there are perhaps some issue with the layout in terms of traffic flow. Living in the house will be myself along with my two kids and my mother. I foresee a lot of back and forth between the various living areas and that back hallway/laundry/garage. I don’t like the idea of constant traffic behind me at the stove. But, I’m not sure how easy or not it would be to move things around and I like the island without a sink.

Other considerations: The house under construction has a two foot extension at the dining room, so the island will be turned out to the living room like the photographs.

The floor plan calls for one window above the sink with upper cabinets to the side, if it’s not too late (And if I’m not changing the layout) I want to eliminate the uppers and add windows like the photographed model. If I cannot add the windows I still want to eliminate the uppers and add open shelves to the left of the sink

Standard for the house is a free standing range with OTR microwave. It’s on my wish list to swap the OTR microwave for a hood, possibly have a cooktop instead. The cooktop, stainless hood,built in oven and microwave is a $7500 upgrade for GE cafe appliances. I’m not sure where the built in oven/microwave would go though. That, along with a cabinet faced hood is specified, I can live with without the cabinet hood, especially since it is $1,500.

I do know I want to upgrade the island cabinets to heavy duty drawers. I may need to eliminate the soft close feature to save. Built in Cabinet lockers are specified for the alcove in the mud room hallway for 3,000. I don’t know if I should maybe switch to cabinets for more storage, although the pantry is quite large.

Sorry, I’m a bit all over the place. I have a meeting scheduled with the builder to discuss changes and I need to figure out what I’m asking for.

Comments (18)

  • dan1888

    If it was me the first thing I'd want is a week of time to begin to get things to where I knew everything currently spec'd with sources and prices. Then I'd use a kitchen designer to help me design to my budget. Blum undermount slides with soft close come rated for different loads and depths. Bosch has a new series of counter depth French door frigs with dual compressors. Bosch also has good dishwashers and induction cooktops. I'd change the sink to a single bowl. You can place a micro in the pantry.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Schedule a meeting with a Kitchen Designer before your scheduled meeting with the builder. Too much information provided and missing to be evaluated in an online discussion.

    reesepbuttercup SLC, Utah 6b thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
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  • Kristin S

    Depending on how much freedom you're given to make changes, you might consider moving the refrigerator to the left of the sink, rather than the right. That would improve the work flow.

    Alternately, you could consider swapping the sink and the range, and then putting windows on both sides of the range. The refrigerator -> sink -> stove flow isn't quite as good and you wouldn't have a window over the sink, but it would have the advantage of moving the range out of the major trafficway.

    I don't see how you have room for a cooktop and wall ovens rather than a range.

  • reesepbuttercup SLC, Utah 6b

    I found out that the windows have been ordered, so I don’t think I’m going to be able to move the range and sink locations, not sure that I wanted to anyway.

    I don’t know the arrangement this builder has with the kitchen designer. They are custom cabinets, but I don’t get the feeling a separate kitchen designer is brought in. There’s a time crunch here, and I’m not sure I will have time to meet with a kitchen designer If that’s even an option. My meeting with the builder is scheduled for early next week. All of my changes and selections will have to be given shortly thereafter.

    I guess the main thing I am trying to decide is if there is an advantage to having a built in oven with microwave and a rangetop vs a range.

  • darbuka

    Love my rangetop, with pots and pan drawers underneath. So convenient. Click to enlarge.

    And, Miele double ovens, top is CSO. Bottom, regular/convection.

  • Buehl

    I'm a bit confused. You start out saying that you have to cut the price by $30K and are planning to eliminate upgrades. But then you go on to describe expensive appliance upgrades and additional windows.

    So, how much can you realistically do if you're trying to cut the price by $30K?

    Right off the bat I recommend not upgrading to Cafe appliances as appliances are something that you can change out later when funds are more available, plus, you usually pay more for them as an upgrade through a builder than what you would have paid on your own.

    Unless there you have physical needs for a wall oven (e.g., you're older, have serious back problems, etc.), I would also stick with a range for now, they are usually much less expensive than cooktop + wall oven.

    I'd also consider eliminating the built-in cabinet lockers and, when you take possession, build alcoves with benches, shelves, & hooks instead. Or, purchase some IKEA cabinets and create your own "cabinet lockers".

    If the house is already under construction, will they allow you to make layout changes? If so, one of the changes I recommend is a prep sink in the island since the only sink is so far away from the range. That one change will make a big difference....assuming you keep the long side of the island facing the range (that's the most functional orientation).

    ETA: I would not turn the island. Instead utilize the extra space for a seat on the short end opposite the sink.

    reesepbuttercup SLC, Utah 6b thanked Buehl
  • reesepbuttercup SLC, Utah 6b

    Buehl: Yes my post wasn’t clear. I do need to cut 30K in upgrades from the house, but that doesn’t mean I have to cut everything. I do plan to go with whatever standard tile they have for the bathrooms instead of the 5,000 tile upgrade that’s specified. I will be taking out the fancy iron railing and just going with a wood railing. I might have to go with the standard granite instead of upgrading to quartz, though I’d like to avoid that.

    About the built in oven, its an upgrade in a 7,500 Package. I’m not sure it makes sense, but my mother who will be living in the house likes them. To me, it just seems like more counter space will be lost. I probably will upgrade the range and microwave as I want something other than the basic GE package. I like the matte white GE cafe range.

    By turning the island to face out to the living room like the model, I gain a much larger island with seating. Plus I have this thing about the side of islands facing living spaces. In the original floor plan the island faces the dining space. You can see it is smaller in this photo. This is the same plan, but without the two foot extension and a less upgraded kitchen.

  • dan1888

    The windows may be ordered but they may not yet be built. Contact the manufacturer with the windows you want and ask them to offer you options they can do. You may be surprised at what is available at no added cost now. Even a small upcharge could be worth it.

  • Laura M

    I would focus your money and upgrade decisions on stuff that is hard to change. It’s really easy to replace a standard fridge with a Cafe fridge later. It’s really hard to add an extension to an exterior wall by comparison. It’s relatively easy to change a countertop material. It’s harder to change a window location.

    It sounds to me like you’re being pressured by the builder to make decisions and get committed fast. This makes sense- I’m sure builder is worried about his income stream with everything going on. Don’t fall his trap. You have to live in and pay the mortgage of the house. If it’s over budget, why are you trying to cut a million corners instead of finding a house in budget? If you don’t like the island orientation/kitchen layout, why are you forcing it on an artificial time crunch imposed by your builder? I think you could benefit from taking a deep breath and slowing down

  • reesepbuttercup SLC, Utah 6b

    The builder isn’t really pressuring me, it’s just they are in the process of building the house and will continue along with the upgrades they chose which don’t happen to to be what I want unless they have a signed contract and deposit from me.

    Due to the whole multi-generational thing we are looking for a very specific floor plan in a particular area. We also have two existing homes to sell and so we need something that can close this summer. It’s a complicated situation. This is not the first house we have considered, but it does have the best layout and is the nicest. The house wouldn’t be over budget, but the builder put a 100K in planned upgrades on the house.

    The current state of things does concern me of course, but so far (here) new build are still moving. We were going back and forth with a builder on a a different house two weeks ago and decided to back out. A few days later the house was under contract with a different buyer.

  • live_wire_oak

    Skip buying this house at all, and the big pressure to make bad decisions. It’s over your budget, and things in construction are coming to a standstill. You need more time to make better decisions that are within your budget, and that are actually worth doing. Spec houses are usually not very good choices for buyers in the end. Too much is sacrifices for the inexpensive ephemeral visual cosmetic look rather than the more important but less exciting functional needs. They are second place worst value after flips. Cosmetics rather than bones. Flash over substance. Sizzle not steak.

    If you have to sell your two homes before buying this, this deal is dead in the water. There is nothing going to happen in home sales until late summer or fall. If then.

  • One Devoted Dame

    I have a layout change idea, if you decide to stick with this house....

    Green arrow = Move window/sink over 12"-18", to allow landing space next to fridge.

    Turquoise box = Refrigerator

    Orange box = Dishwasher, to also be moved with window/sink

    Purple rectangle = Reach-in Pantry

    I closed off the wall between the Kitchen and Mud, to reroute traffic. It creates a straight shot, unfortunately, into the Master. :-( But you already had views into the Master, from the Kitchen, anyway, so I figured it might not be quite as bothersome to you. :-)

    The space created by the new wall could be used for a baker's rack, mobile island, window-type pass through, or to extend the cabinets/counter run that the stove is on (keeping in mind that the dishwasher door would block cabinetry when open; assuming there's even room to extend the counter, once the sink/dw/window is shifted over).

    All of this is a compromise, for sure, but it's what I would prefer to what is currently planned. Feel free to toss the idea if it doesn't suit you!

  • lyfia

    I would see about a prep sink in the island and I also wouldn't like the island turned. This will be your main work surface with a sink there and allow you to work in a smaller area vs. the extra walking needed otherwise. Also a sink there makes the kitchen a place where more than one cook can work.

    Are you confident with what is going on that you'll be able to sell your 2 houses by June?

  • reesepbuttercup SLC, Utah 6b

    Devoted Dame: that’s a very intriguing idea. I live the idea of rerouting traffic. I did love that walk in pantry though.

    Live Wire: I have definitely considered not doing anything. The issue is that my mom is selling her place and will end up living with me. My existing home is quite small, 1400 sq ft. I could have the basement finished which would add the bedroom and bath we need for her, but the house is still rather small for two adults, two kids who are getting older and four pets. I’m not sure my mental health will survive. Everyone needs more space for this multi generational thing to work.

    We have thought about selling her house and she would live with us temporarily until we have a house built in a year or so. The issue is that how I’m going to be able to sell my house with everyone in it and How we will survive a year of living in a three bedroom house. To further complicate things, we only want to buy in our existing neighborhood which is close to being built out.

    Even with the home that we are considering, which is at the top of our budget, the mortgage and expenses will still be less than what we are each spending individually.

    It’s a complicated situation for sure.

  • live_wire_oak

    No one is selling anything by June. Unless it’s June 2021. Slow tis train down. Try to sell moms, and move her in with you. Or vice versa. Be conservative with anything financial these days. Anything else is not realistic.

  • One Devoted Dame

    Devoted Dame: that’s a very intriguing idea. I live the idea of rerouting traffic. I did love that walk in pantry though.

    Oh, I know; it pained me to remove it. :-( I'd love to have a walk-in Pantry, so I see its appeal! This idea was just the simplest solution I could see (with my non-professional set of eyes, lol), without costing much $$$.

    The issue is that my mom is selling her place and will end up living with me. My existing home is quite small, 1400 sq ft. I could have the basement finished which would add the bedroom and bath we need for her, but the house is still rather small for two adults, two kids who are getting older and four pets. I’m not sure my mental health will survive.

    *hugs* I get this. I totally get this.

    Three years ago, my husband and I moved our then-family-of-7 from a two story, 1350sqft rental to our current single story, 2060sqft house; it was nice having some breathing room, after 4 years in the rental. We are now expecting another kiddo in September, bringing our current total family members to 9, *and* with the potential corona mess of job losses (especially our folks -- my husband's job has been designated by the federal govt as essential, so we're okay), we could very well add 2 (possibly 4) more adults to our already busy home.

    I totally understand the motivation. I'm also naturally quite cautious (so I'd personally wait like LWO suggests), but I'm not introverted in any way, so I can't speak to the (very important) mental health side of everything. ;-)

  • Kristin S

    What you need asap is not a kitchen designer but a lawyer.

    I'm less confident than LWO about my ability to predict the way that the construction and real estate worlds are going to go over the next few months. There are so many uncertainties and possible scenarios. Because of that, if you want to proceed with this, you need a lawyer to review your contract with the builder before you sign ANYTHING. Talk through with the lawyer the different scenarios. Maybe things will go as your plan. But. What if you can't sell your house? What if your mom can't sell her house? What if you both can, but real estate prices are way down? What if construction comes to a halt? What if your area is put under a stay-at-home order?

    If the builder is unwilling to build enough additional flexibility into the contract to provide you options and/or you can't afford to lose your deposit should your house not sell and you have to walk away, I would not go forward right now.

    I would also talk to a realtor in your area before going forward. What is the market like right now where you live? Are houses still closing (now, not two weeks ago, which was a whole different world)? What are they hearing from colleagues in other parts of the country?

    I can envision a scenario where it might still make sense to move forward, but you need to proceed with EXTREME caution, make plans that protect you in worst-case scenarios, and do even more due diligence than usual.

    (Just for comparison, two weeks ago at this time my daughter was in school, my husband was going in to work every day, we were planning for our spring break trip, and the housing market was just starting to get hot with houses coming on the market for spring. 13 days ago school was cancelled through March, then a few days later through April. We called off our travel. Work became mandatory work-from-home for anyone who can. Now our state is under a stay-at-home order, so there are no house showings. Even before the official order, buyers were not willing to schedule showings of occupied houses. Things change fast these days.)

  • Buehl

    Regarding your inspiration picture...the picture is definitely distorted to make it look more spacious than it really is. I question whether you can fit a 6' long island with decent aisles not only in the Kitchen, but around the table in that space. (When I tried to turn it, I had to either make it a smaller island or have unsafe aisle widths, especially between the island and range.)

    You need

    • At least 36" between the table and left wall
    • At least 48" between the island and table, more would be preferable since the door to the deck is there
    • At least 48" between the range's oven handles (or whatever sticks out the farthest) and the island's counter edge -- more would be preferable because it's a major path past the item & through the work zone that should be the most protected from traffic, not in the middle of the traffic!
    • At least 42" (with 45" much better because of the DW) between the sink counter and the island's counter edge
    • At least 44" between the back of the island's counter and the partial wall behind it because of the seating

    I worked up one idea that moves the doorway to the Kitchen down and replaces the walk-in pantry with a set of shallow pantry cabinets. I haven't had time to come up with one that leaves the doorway as-is.

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