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This Kitchen Must Be Big Enough


Gayle28607
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I'm a new member here and have just finished living vicariously through the many fascinating pages of "Story of Varmint's Kitchen Renovation," and "Varmint's New Kitchen: This time, it's really happening."

About three years ago I asked an architect to do some plans for my house because at 1200 square feet there was not room in it for both a child and my work, work which often occurs at home and involves incalculable reams of paper and piles of books. Just as I paid the architect for the preliminary plans there was an article in the local paper that said my huge neighbor, the university, wanted to open up my dead end street and use it for mass exoduses from the stadium on game day. Needless to say, I dropped my plans.

Three years later, same house.

I have no where to sit and eat because I work at the big dining table now.

No where to cook: I HATE my cooktop which is GE, glass, with huge steel disks that have idiosyncratic, metallic mindless minds of their own.

No where to REALLY work because I have to keep moving my stuff off the dining table.

No where for my books. (This is the easier fix, as I bought some amazing hardware which is already installed in the living room. I just need to make the shelving in my spare time.)

Oh yeah, and the child. She has space, sort of. :blink:

Anyway, after all my reading on this site, which prompted me to join it, I thought I might present my floor plan for your amusement. I know there are great minds here. I hope you will be willing to help a stranger and a newbie think about her space.

I've begun to take the advice of, I think it was fifi, who kept a diary of her ways of working in her kitchen. It has already inspired me to send some pots and pans to the thrift store or to friends.

As I think about what I've enjoyed in kitchens with far smaller floor area than my current one, I've always had room to make pies. I love pies, love to bake them, love to eat them, love to give them away. In this kitchen, I don't like to make pies. I think this state of affairs has gone on long enough!

I love to make soups and stews, and roast huge turkeys for crowds. But again, not in this kitchen. I've only done a huge turkey once or twice in 10 years. That is just too sad, and should be changed.

I bought the house originally because it's close to work, has some nice trees in the yard, and a sunny space for a garden which is something of a rarity in the close-to-town part of the mountains where I live. I'm also a block from a 40-some acre environmental study area (read "huge unkempt park"). I also bought it in one day, but that's another story.

Every time I consider moving I decide to stay because of the location, and because with a 1200 square foot living area and 1200 square foot basement-cum-shop/storage there should be enough room. There should be.

This plan has two parts. One, where I take out some walls that I hope aren't load-bearing, and rearrange the kitchen to make better use of the existing space. Plan two would involve adding on a mud room, study, and second story master bedroom with bath.

Here is the house floor plan as it is currently:

And here it is after some erasing and thinking in Photoshop:

I hope some of you will take a look at this, and tell me what's wrong. Thanks!

Gayle

PS I left the blanks for the images but can't insert the links, which I posted as PDFs on my own site. I'll do it when I learn how!

Edited by Gayle28607 (log)

gayle28607

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Hi Gayle. Welcome to eG. I'm jealous - a big space to put a kitchen in!

Only one piece of advice for you: if at all possible, get a professional kitchen designer to have a look at your space and advise you on possibilities. He/she will (or should!) ask you about your style of cooking and what you want to achieve, but most importantly in our experience, they're likely to come up with things you'd never thought of. Example: our designer created one set of cupboard doors with a larger toe-kick below them so we could still use the cupboards while the cats were having breakfast/dinner in front of them! You may just be able to pay them for the design, rather than getting them to arrange the whole job, if that's what you prefer. And if you're getting one designer to have a look, get several - we went with (I think) the fifth design we saw, from the last designer we talked to.

OK, two pieces of advice: avoid corner cupboard spaces if you possibly can. They're really annoying to use effectively.

Arggh! Three pieces ... without being silly about your finances, get the absolutely best quality stuff you can afford (granite benchtop, soft-close drawers, etc.). Because if you don't, you're probably going to wish you had.

Good luck with your project.

Bye,

Leslie

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

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Thanks, Leslie.

My thoughts exactly - it's a big space, but somehow it feels all wrong the way it is. When I first moved in I took a Rotozip to the area above the cooktop so I can at least see the dining table, which is in that lower area next to the bathroom. The run of cabinets that currently houses the cooktop is just that - a run of cabinets and not a real wall. Why it's placed right there, I don't know. It makes it impossible to (un)comfortably seat more than about six at the dining table - that is, once I clear all the papers off of it!

Your point about corner cupboards has been one that's troubling me, too. As for your other point, I definitely want full slide out drawers rather than shelves in the cabinets (Blum, probably?). I'm not all that fond of granite. My main interests right now are...

-get the kitchen to function better

-open up the space somehow

-new range, maybe a dual fuel Monogram?

The area I live in doesn't really have kitchen designers, other than the ones a Lowes. Maybe that would be a good idea?

Gayle

gayle28607

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I'm not good with architect plans, but if I read yours correctly, how are you going to vent your stove?

If I could, I'd replace my counter tops with wood. Had wood countertops in Moab last year and loved them.

Also if you are tall, get your counters higher than regulation one-size-fits-all. Or more importantly for me, as I am NOT tall, get your counters cut down by a couple of inches. My DH cut one set of counters down for me and even...who can believe this?...recut the stove so that it matched the counters.

And welcome to eGullet. :smile:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I'm envisioning the cheap-n-quick solution: a nice worktable/island on casters. You can push it up against the wall by the basement stair when not in use, and pull it out into the middle when you want to roll pie crust, etc. Get one with storage beneath to put your most used/favorite things. No contractor, no designer, no plans: you can take it with you when you move. It can function as a sideboard, extra table, prep space, etc.

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I'm envisioning the cheap-n-quick solution: a nice worktable/island on casters. You can push it up against the wall by the basement stair when not in use, and pull it out into the middle when you want to roll pie crust, etc. Get one with storage beneath to put your most used/favorite things. No contractor, no designer, no plans: you can take it with you when you move. It can function as a sideboard, extra table, prep space, etc.

I've got a restaurant supply stainless table maple top worktable on casters right now. It's the only thing that saves me from complete insanity in this kitchen. Well, I may already be hopeless in that department. Anyway, it's only 2x3, so really isn't big enough for me, but I work with it. Oh why didn't I get 2x4!? (I even cut out a piece of cardboard that was worktable sized before I purchased it several years ago.) It butts up against the stair wall most of the time because it also holds the microwave on the bottom shelf which I usually leave plugged in. I haven't put an outlet in the floor for it, though could. Truly, this is, and has been, the best cheap, down and dirty do-it-yourself solution!

But it still leaves me with that run of floor to ceiling cabinets with the cut-out above the stove that blocks the table. I'll take some pictures of what I'm talking about later today and post so you can see the problem better.

Our minds were definitely thinking alike on this one. The table has been sweet, other than my booboo on size.

Gayle

gayle28607

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There are some online kitchen planners you might want to play with; IKEA and Lowe's have them on their websites. Unfortunately, they are windows-compatible only.

And I'm a Mac person. Love my Mac, and have Photoshop, which is my usual solution. I could run my Mac to emulate a PC. I will try that later. Great thought baroness!

gayle28607

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Ciao.

Kitchen planning is so exciting and you've gotten good advice already.

Couple of things:

what's the scale?

could you find space elsewhere for your papers/books? Possibly a more vertical arrangement rather horizontal stuff on a table. My dear husband has flat-space-itis. If there is an open flat space (like the kitchen table) he feels compelled to clutter it up.

Looking at the plans, it might be possible to move the sink over to the wall that is shared with the bathroom, you should be able to run water and waste lines pretty easy. That would free you up to put the stove on the external wall and make venting easier.

what does the blue represent on your imagination drawing?

where does that staircase go that's in the kitchen?

visualize your work flow..from walking in the door with the groceries, the prep area, cooking, plating and serving. Make it an easy flow, think about sight lines... do you want to have guests see your sink full of dirty dishes? Is there a way around that..stuff like that.

Have fun!!

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I'm not good with architect plans, but if I read yours correctly, how are you going to vent your stove?

And welcome to eGullet. :smile:

I'm thinking I would get something like a Vent-a Hood installed through the roof, which is over a standard low slope, small ranch attic. I haven't been up there to look yet, but that seemed like a good place to start my thinking on this. They do vent these things through the roof, don't they? How are they usually installed? My current hood is recirculating and a piece of crap. But since the stove can barely get hot enough to boil water for more than 5 minutes this has not caused any interior environmental hazards. :angry:

(I make raspberry jam on this stove and always have to face the possibility my temp on the burner will drop. Many is the time I have three burners going so I can move the pot from one to the other as the big burner gives up the ghost; I move the jam to give the first one a "rest" or face jam that won't set up!)

And thank you so much for the welcome, Darienne! Looks like you read the plan just fine.

Gayle

gayle28607

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One more thing to think about: are you generally in the kitchen alone? So many new kitchens are enormous, and I always think "what a waste of space" as I'm usually pottering about by myself. If your house isn't large enough for a family of 8, don't set your heart on a kitchen for 8. Some of the nicest kitchens I've seen, both in look and function, have been simple galley-style arrangements. Check out the shot of Dorie Greenspan in her galley-style kitchen on the front page of her blog: it's tiny by suburban American standards, but oh how functional...http://www.doriegreenspan.com/

Looking at your plan, I'd be tempted to move the whole kitchen to the opposite wall, over where the fridge is now.

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Ciao.

Kitchen planning is so exciting and you've gotten good advice already.

Couple of things:

what's the scale?

could you find space elsewhere for your papers/books? Possibly a more vertical arrangement rather horizontal stuff on a table. My dear husband has flat-space-itis. If there is an open flat space (like the kitchen table) he feels compelled to clutter it up.

Looking at the plans, it might be possible to move the sink over to the wall that is shared with the bathroom, you should be able to run water and waste lines pretty easy. That would free you up to put the stove on the external wall and make venting easier.

what does the blue represent on your imagination drawing?

where does that staircase go that's in the kitchen?

visualize your work flow..from walking in the door with the groceries, the prep area, cooking, plating and serving. Make it an easy flow, think about sight lines... do you want to have guests see your sink full of dirty dishes? Is there a way around that..stuff like that.

Have fun!!

Hi hathor -

Quick reply, as I have to run, though I'd rather stay and play with these ideas! I'll be back to this later this evening.

scale on the drawing is 1/4 inch = 1 foot. Using photoshop I set it to 50 pixels = 1 foot , or tried to. The grid I could show in an update of the draft plans is set at about 1 foot. I'm not sure how exact I was as I'm not a PS pro, just decent amateur.

My flat-space-itis isn't congenital, unless it is emerging post-moving to this house. I DO need vertical storage! Maybe some vertical storage/kitchen desk flanking the window in the upper part of the drawing?

Staircase goes downstairs. The door that runs smack-dab into the downstairs door in the "now" drawing goes outdoors and is my main entrance though it is the back door.

blue is imaginary counter space mostly with cabinets underneath.

I'll have to think about the sink move. It is a possibility. I just measured the space between the edge of the current picture window on the wall abutting the bathroom. 31 inches, so this could be doable? I've imagined that huge (low) window becoming french doors or a slider to a patio outside...

Gayle

gayle28607

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Looking at your plan, I'd be tempted to move the whole kitchen to the opposite wall, over where the fridge is now.

Where would you put the sink relative to the existing windows and frig? Okay, now I've really got to run! Thanks so much!

Gayle

gayle28607

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If you change that window to a door, then that's going to dictate the flow of the area, HungryC might be on the right path, although not sure how all the pieces fit. I'd also want to work the design so that the counter top isn't broken up into small chunks.

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If you change that window to a door, then that's going to dictate the flow of the area, HungryC might be on the right path, although not sure how all the pieces fit. I'd also want to work the design so that the counter top isn't broken up into small chunks.

Snuck in for a quick reply. :blink:

The existing window on the wall perpendicular to the bathroom begins only 31 inches from the floor, too low as currently configured for a counter under it. Exterior is brick, but I have extra matching bricks if I were to say, raise the window height to use that wall for a run of counters. More work perhaps than making it into a door. But, I am open to anything that makes this space flow!

And yes, I hate the broken up counter space represented by my current blue rectangles. Yet, it is so much better than the existing zero counter space.

gayle28607

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Don't discount the Lowe's kitchen designers. When we were in our planning process, we talked to as many people as we could, and the guy at Lowe's had some good ideas that we incorporated.

Do you live near an IKEA?

I'd also say that if the budget's limited, think about the things that are easier to redo after the fact, and the things that really can't be redone. If you find that you need to economize, do so on the things that can be fixed afterwards. For us, countertops came under the former category but cabinets were most definitely the latter.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Don't discount the Lowe's kitchen designers. When we were in our planning process, we talked to as many people as we could, and the guy at Lowe's had some good ideas that we incorporated.

Do you live near an IKEA?

I'd also say that if the budget's limited, think about the things that are easier to redo after the fact, and the things that really can't be redone. If you find that you need to economize, do so on the things that can be fixed afterwards. For us, countertops came under the former category but cabinets were most definitely the latter.

MelissaH

Thanks for the thumbs up re: Lowes kitchen designers. I suppose just having access to whatever software they use could be the biggest bonus. In the day or so this thread has been up I've already been given some of the insights I've longed for to help jog my own thinking - right here on eG!

I think why this happens HERE is that you all are looking at the space with a cook's eye. I, like most people, love beautiful things and the feast for the eyes that many kitchens have become these days, but I am looking for a feel and a look that comes out of function, function, function. I think that is what makes people feel good in a space. More importantly, it's what makes me feel good in a space.

For example, I could live with plywood countertops for a very long time - I'm talking years here - if the space itself both opened to the outdoors (windows, doors) and focused the cooking, eating, and conversational activities around these functions. With the right layout, my kitchen could work for me with minimal windows as long as the latter needs were met.

Enough of the "space" rhapsody. (Thanks for your indulgence!)

Ikea? Yes, two hours drive each way though. It's not easy to pop in for a quick look, but doable. I've seen two installs of their cabinets and liked what I saw. I've also been looking at Cabinetry Direct, the Mississippi company that several people here have had wonderful experiences with.

Money is limited, but in keeping with the "I could live with plywood countertops" statement, I'd rather rough in the perfect space, and then add pieces from there as money allows. I could live with plywood floors/mismatched floors, too, though I know to put in cabinets the floor needs to be down first, and with no cabinets/vertical storage, I'd make my flat-space-itis even worse!

Gayle

gayle28607

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Up thread someone asked how I felt about having dirty dishes in the immediate sight-lines of guests. Fine, I think. I probably want them to help me stack dirty dishes, though I'd rather load the dishwasher. Then they can wash whatever didn't fit. :laugh:

How do others feel about this/deal with this?

Edited by Gayle28607 (log)

gayle28607

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Another question I missed up thread:

How many people cook? Me. But maybe someday there could be a Mr. Gayle28607, who knows.

Right now my soon-to-be eight year old is my cooking pal, for better or worse. Worst: She has had more than one run-in with my elbow after relocating soundlessly behind my back. I exercise more caution with hot pots. The current kitchen produces periodic high anxiety that accompanies cooking with little 28607, but she shows signs of developing into my second cook in the house.

gayle28607

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As promised, here are some pictures of the current setup to help make sense of the current floor plan of the house.

Here are two long views of the kitchen, one taken at the sink, the second taken at the window next to the little Pier 1 table. The length of the kitchen from one end to the other is 19 feet 10 inches. The width measured at the stairwell wall is 7' 4". At the window (ie without the stairwell) it is 10.5 feet.

From the sink:

P1010864.jpg

From the window, again on the long axis of the existing kitchen:

P1010863.jpg

There usually aren't boxes in the middle of the floor, but otherwise the space is its usual self. The next picture was taken at the backdoor, looking toward the run of cabinets that holds the cooktop and that appears to be a free-standing obstacle to expanding my dining space. The length from the back door to the bathroom wall is 25 feet.

P1010866.jpg

And, a closer look into the dining area-that-is-my-desk :shock: You are looking at the bathroom wall at the end of the space.

P1010868.jpg

This picture is taken at the cooktop and shows the back door and door to the basement in their dysfunctional relationship. (Crash!)

P1010865.jpg

Here is a shot standing between the closet door and cooktop cabinet run looking toward the bathroom wall.

P1010867.jpg

The final two were taken from different angles looking toward the kitchen from the bathroom:

P1010862.jpg

P1010861.jpg

A little about the house. It was built by the previous owners in 1959. When I moved in 10 years ago it was in its pristine 1960 glory. I loved that about it as it made the price more than right, and meant that I could make my own frugal-esque changes if I decided to stay in it. The only things that had been changed out were the cooktop, frig, and oven, which all date to sometime in the 80's. The dishwasher was probably from the same period, and was a retrofit that bit the dust about two years ago, when I replaced it with a Bosch that I am loving. The Bosch is the first time something in my house other than myself actually cleans dishes. It stays.

I tiled the existing formica countertops with an Italian porcelain that I've loved even though I made the grout lines too big. I also fabricated the painted wood bullnose. Did that with my router. :cool:

I installed the new sink and faucet at the same time. These changes have made the kitchen livable for me, and have let me save money for the remodel I am currently exploring.

Gayle

gayle28607

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Where could the stairs relocate? Do you need that fireplace that I can't see being used? Maybe that is the place for the stairs? Or a great big pantry? Could the back door move to the space the window occupies over where the back of the stair surround is now? Should the kitchen and table swap ends of the space?...

For me the key is to make the space workable and easy to be lived in, then you can do a lot of things. If that can't be done, it will be a big compromise at best.

I built my house about 10 years ago and was it a challenge. My wife is a fine accountant but couldn't read a blue print to save her. We [read as I, under supervision] acquired a bunch of appliance boxes and duct tape then, literally, built the various kitchen plans in full scale until she felt them right. A few discussions later and we ordered the kitchen decided upon.

Seems funny looking back but she had me pantomime thru a couple Thanksgiving meal type thing and pano a pie baking and it really helped.

Robert

Seattle

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Where could the stairs relocate? Do you need that fireplace that I can't see being used? Maybe that is the place for the stairs? Or a great big pantry?

"Where could I move the damn stairs?" is probably the first thought I had 10 years ago when I bought this house. The previous owners put the frig ON the stairwell wall. I pushed it back in that dead corner so it at least pretends to be part of a better floor space arrangement.

When I asked the architect to make up some plans for a remodel he vigorously advocated that I do two things: keep both fireplaces and leave the stairs alone. His argument had to do with resale value (people love fireplaces, so two are better than one, he thinks) and he thought the kitchen could be made to work well even if I left the stairs where they are. I both respect his ideas, but don't find them workable yet. :sad: I don't think he is a cook.

What happens to the flow that is lots better if the stairs move that can't happen some other way? I'd love to know what you are envisioning. Personally, I don't care if I have two fireplaces, so I wonder what other folks think about losing one?

The back door could move to the back of the stair surround.

But, if I add on to the house to solve a couple other problems (pink box) I can get a mud room access in place of the existing back door, moving the back door to the new wall (bottom of the pink box). The window at the end of the stairwell could become the entry to my study/office. :raz:

edited for incorrect verb tense

Edited by Gayle28607 (log)

gayle28607

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If You could move the stairs and the door I would envision something along the lines of the U shape or the Island kitchen examples shown as examples here.

Of course, these are meant as the basic idea only. For instance, in the island kitchen our family would have had kids at the kitchen table doing homework, so I would have the prep and stovetop on the island and likely the sink would be where your window is now with the reefer some where towards the new door location. In your space I would put the stovetop on the outside wall where the existing stair location is, to facilitate the Venting.

This is in answer to what would I envision but truthfully, I would just think a clear area without handcuffs ie doors and stairs would allow so much more. As for architects, I wouldn't say that they make either the best real estate advisors nor kitchen designers in my experience.

Robert

Seattle

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      The kitchen is not huge and I cannot start cluttering it with my stuff.  Maybe something like my Wolf oven that reaches 550F plus a steam function with bread. And a CSO for daily use? Ooni outside or I cannot resist the ZioCiro anyway. Does it should more reasonable. Do you have such an oven to suggest? Thanks  
       
    • By Norm Matthews
      I saw an episode on the Property Brothers where they did  kitchen cabinets in dark blue.  I showed Charlie some kitchen like that on line. He liked them too. I have been planning new floor and counter tops but this I could do myself. The job isn't finished but it is far enough along to see how it looks.  The next one was taken within a month of so after we moved in in 2012 and the last one is how it looked in April.




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