The Kitchen Floorplan

We’ve been noodling on how to best tackle our kitchen for 2.5 years now, and we’ve landed on three potential floorplans (a week ago when I first took a stab at writing this post it was one, but alas, I’ve reopened a few of our previous ideas…). This is a good reminder that sometimes you have to live with your house for a while to see what makes the most sense, and sometimes you have to consult the masses because you’ve hit a wall, ha!

Backing up, let me introduce you to our kitchen in it’s current state:

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And those wide-angle listing shots (we made a few changes):

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A few things that I need to address before we proceed:

  • Yes, our kitchen was renovated about a decade ago and for the most part, it’s a reasonably functional kitchen. The appliances have served us well, and while we don’t plan to reuse them, we will find them a good home.
  • While this kitchen has been updated, it 100% does not align with the style of our house. It’s DARK in here. There’s no reference in the design to this being a 1940’s Colonial. It’s just a mid 2000’s bachelor kitchen.
  • Before you tell me we ought to paint all the cabinetry… yes, I know it’s a possibility, but for two reasons we probably won’t. The first being that these cabinets are not good quality. They’re an unfortunate laminate/MDF situation. If they were wood, yes we would keep them, but they genuinely are not good quality. The second reason being that the amount of dirt that accumulates in those ridges in the front panel of the doors is next level. These doors are impossible to really clean, and it drives us insane.

We’re definitely opening up the wall between the kitchen and living room. Originally, I was thinking it would come out entirely and be just a beam going across the two spaces, but I’ve revised my thinking and have settled on a cased opening like the below. This slightly separates the spaces, allowing them to feel more historical and intentional.

For reference, this is the wall in our home that I’m talking about, where the current doorway to the kitchen is just to the right:

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And now, on to the floor plans.

The Original Floorplan

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And a closer view:

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Original Floorplan Pros:

  • Lots of storage (more than we need, to be honest)
  • Keeping the same floorplan is way less expensive

Original Floorplan Cons:

  • Choppy layout is awkward to maneuver
  • Feels very closed off
  • You can’t open the dishwasher and the trash at the same time
  • Lots of corners and they are underutilized for storage
  • Can only seat two comfortably at the peninsula

Option One

In this option, we’re maintaining the same layout, but are killing the peninsula and carrying the cabinetry across the rest of the exterior wall. We then add a narrow 28″ freestanding island to run down the center of the kitchen. And we take the cabinetry on the right wall to full height to create a pantry and appliance garage / coffee bar.

Here’s the view of the full main floor:

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And then a closer look at the kitchen:

 

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Option One Pros:

  • The least costly option because we’re only taking down one wall
  • We get full use of the wall on the right for pantry storage
  • Maintain a good work triangle

Option One Cons:

  • The island is very narrow and won’t allow for much seating, if at all
  • The island is freestanding and won’t provide any additional storage
  • Can’t center the island on the range (unless the range isn’t centered on that wall), so everything is feeling imbalanced
  • Kitchen still feels a bit tight

For reference, these are some inspiration for the island:

Option Two

In this option, we’re keeping all the appliances in roughly the same location, but we’re pushing back the wall between the kitchen and the entryway to make space for an island down the center of the kitchen. Here, we have a vent stack to contend with, which makes the last set of cabinets on that wall quite shallow. We do think we could still make that space work for us, and do have access to a space just beyond the kitchen for a secondary pantry (our current setup is the 7’0 wall adjacent to the side entry has a coat closet in the left corner and a shallow pantry to the right.

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And here’s some inspiration for the island:

And the view towards the stove (except that we would have uppers alongside the stove or some creative solution to hide the exhaust that needs to go outside.

Option Two Pros:

  • Reclaim some space that’s being underutilized in the entryway to create a bigger kitchen footprint
  • Gain a full sized island (40″ wide x 7 feet long)
  • Gain four stools in the kitchen at the island
  • Gain storage under half the island
  • Cased opening to the kitchen becomes even wider (forgot to update in the floorplan) for better sightlines to the living room

Option Two Cons:

  • Lose full-sized pantry space in the kitchen
  • Added expense from taking down one more wall and adding another steel beam
  • Can’t fully push the cabinetry back into the entry-way space because of the awkward vent stack placement
  • Still can’t really center the island on the range

Option Three

This is a variation on Option Two that moves the range between the two windows, and moves the sink to the island.

Kitchen-Option3.jpg

Here, I like that the range has it’s own moment on the wall between the windows (except I’m not sure if it will bother me that the windows aren’t the same width?). It also gives the island more purpose, which I like as well. The one thing I can’t really figure out in this plan is what to do with the short wall now to turn it into a feature as you look through the cased opening?

Here’s some visuals on the range between two windows:

Option Three Pros:

  • Range becomes a focal point between the windows
  • Don’t have to worry about the island feeling off-center anymore
  • The view from the entryway into the kitchen can become less obtrusive, depending on how we treat the short wall
  • Reclaim some space that’s being underutilized in the entryway to create a bigger kitchen footprint
  • Gain a full sized island (40″ wide x 7 feet long)
  • Gain four stools in the kitchen at the island
  • Gain storage under half the island
  • Cased opening to the kitchen becomes even wider for better sightlines to the living room

Option Three Cons:

  • The work triangle isn’t as quite as good
  • Lose full-sized pantry space in the kitchen
  • Added expense from taking down one more wall and adding another steel beam
  • Can’t fully push the cabinetry back into the entry-way space because of the awkward vent stack placement

And I’m officially out of ideas! What do you think looking at the space with fresh eyes? If you’re a floorplan dork like me and want to take a shot at it, here’s a link to a full-sized version of the existing floorplan without any cabinetry.

One other note, one of Cory’s friends asked why we wouldn’t just leave the wall with the fridge open in Option 2 and 3 for a completely open floorplan. In case you were thinking the same thing and are wondering why we didn’t consider this, it’s because I like a balance in my ‘open concept’, where that layout feels like it would destroy the historical-ness of our 1940’s Colonial, where the front hallway becomes completely unnecessary. Also, having lived with a fully-open concept kitchen in previous homes, cooking can be really loud and smelly, so I want to keep some of that contained from the living room.  How do you feel about truly open concept living?

P.S. I use Homestyler for all my floorplans, they also have 3D Renderings, which help to visualize scale too. We have aspirations to learn SketchUp this year, but haven’t quite gotten to it yet.

Update: I realize I didn’t explain the room beyond the kitchen AT ALL, here’s a photo of its current state, where it serves as our mudroom. There’s a closet I forgot to add into the floor plans and a built-in shallow pantry to the right of the closet. I’m going to take some better, more current photos, but this is what I currently have saved on Dropbox.

This is the view towards the bathroom – kitchen is on the left, where there’s a wall with a bench that divides the space. On the right is our coat closet and the shallow pantry.

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A better, older shot from when we were painting the space:

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Our hope for the pantry space here had been to repurpose it for cleaning supplies, since those don’t have a great home right now, but that could move to the laundry room. We’re also planning on adding a built in bench with drawers for storage where the current bench lives because we have a serious shoe organization problem in this corner of the house.

19 thoughts on “The Kitchen Floorplan

  1. Jessica says:

    Honestly I think option 2 or 3. Even though you lose pantry in the kitchen you gain seating and one of my biggest regrets during our reno 4 years ago was creating a smaller island with only 2 seats. Everyone always hangs out around the island and if you have pantry options elsewhere I would definitely maximize your island seating.

    • erinkestenbaum says:

      That’s so true, and one of our biggest drivers towards one of those two floorplans. We eat most of our meals at the current island, so losing that functionality feels like it would definitely impact how much utility we would get out of space. Thank you!!

  2. Alex says:

    One caution with regard to option 3: my current kitchen sink and stove back up to each other, and it makes it much harder to have two people work in the same space. That said, you have a bunch of great options!

    • erinkestenbaum says:

      That’s so helpful, thank you! I totally didn’t put nearly enough thought into where the sink should go on the island, and that would definitely pose some huge problems!

  3. Linda Moore says:

    Swap the sink and dishwasher in option 3 at the very least so that you have good counter on each side of the sink. What about a pull out trash? Usually try to put one in the clean up area. Not sure what you use the room for behind the kitchen? Maybe you can do some pantry storage in there?

    • erinkestenbaum says:

      Yes! Definitely need to swap the sink and dishwasher, and consider the placement of the trash, since it’s currently a pain point in our existing layout (you can’t have the dishwasher and trash open at the same time, which drives us crazy daily). I added some photos on the space beyond the kitchen – it actually has a shallow pantry in it now, which we were hoping to repurpose for cleaning supplies, BUT it’s definitely an option to keep the pantry there and just add that storage to our laundry room when we make our way over there. Thank you!

  4. Julie says:

    As a mom of a big family – I still like the first plan best – it fits the style of the house, and is a little quirky and original. You have lots of work space and the pantry. You can have a stool or two at the end of the island for use- and why not eat your meals in the dining room at the table? It is more pleasant. Open concept is loud and it makes it so the kitchen has to stay really clean because it is always on view. I like the original feel of the first- plan- unique and timeless.

  5. houseography says:

    I think #1 because I think it will fit your house’s vibe the best. The others seem too modern. I also wondered about tearing down the second wall for a fully open space but I think you are heading in the right direction. I do wonder if you might want to have your table closer to your entry somehow because then you could have a really expansive living room space leading to your sunroom. I do have my stove between two windows (pics on my blog houseography.net) and I love it but I think the lack of symmetry will drive you a bit crazy. We have 2 kids and 2 stools at the island but room to pull up a 3rd. We mostly eat at our table though. I tend to work at the island though!

  6. vicki Maiorano says:

    I don’t think option 3 is worth the cost. And the range won’t be viewed centered from any entrance. Plus it is not centred lengthwise on the island. I like option 1 but if you really want the sit at island then…..

    • erinkestenbaum says:

      Good call on the range not really being visible in that plan, and I think for that reason (and a few others) it just doesn’t make as much sense. Thank you!

  7. Nicole says:

    I like option 2 the best and think it makes the most sense. Better work triangle, big island, statement with the stove/vent hood from the dining room. We have a similar set up to option #3 except that our fridge is on your bathroom wall which retains our work triangle better.
    Whatever you choose, make sure your walkway around your island is large enough. Our island is 4’x8’ and we have a full 4’ all the way around the island. I can be washing dishes while my husband (directly behind me) is cooking at the stove and we have plenty of space. Also the dishwasher in the island can fully open and you have another 12” or so where you can step around it if needed. My mother in law has an island and she doesn’t have nearly enough space around it – she can barely open her fridge without hitting the island.
    If you want to see pictures of our kitchen my blog is at basicbluehouse.wordpress.com
    Good luck!

    • erinkestenbaum says:

      That’s the one we’re leaning towards too (pending a quote for pushing back that wall!) – and totally agree on all the pros. That walkway insight is so helpful! We were planning for a 42″ walkway around the island, but I’m going to try to steal some space from the island width to see if we can expand that. Your kitchen is beautiful, and I’m loving your blog (just subscribed!). Thank you, thank you!

  8. Katherine says:

    I vote for option 2. I think the island being off center from the range won’t be so noticeable if you give the island it’s own language— different materials then the other cabinetry.

    • erinkestenbaum says:

      You’re so right, thank you! I hadn’t thought about the difference in materials but now that you’ve mentioned it, I’m realizing how much of a difference that will make.

  9. Al says:

    I like option #2, I don’t think the range being off centered is a problem, kinda reminds me of Room for Tuesday how the range was kinda off centered. As long as the kitchen island lines up with the end of the cabinets on the wall where the range is I think the sight lines will look good from the dining room. Also I like this island & you can do the backless stools that tucks under the island that way that aren’t in the way when not in use.

    • erinkestenbaum says:

      Yes! I didn’t even realize Sarah’s island wasn’t centered either, so I’m coming to the conclusion that as long as the placement feels intentional it should totally work 🙂 We were totally thinking backless or low-backed stools to tuck away mostly out of sight .

  10. Noél Emswiler says:

    Option #2 – you’ll want all the room possible around the island and the sink will get in your way on the island. Plus your work triangle works better with the range, sink, fridge in option #2 vs #3. The island doesn’t need to be centered on the stove…your eye will just want it to be centered in the space. I’m neurotic about balance and it doesn’t bother me. 🙂

    • erinkestenbaum says:

      Those are exactly the reasons why we’re leaning towards that plan too. Agreed, I’ve started studying the island placement in all the inspiration imagery I’ve amassed and it never occurred to me how often the range and island aren’t aligned! Thank you!

  11. Jacquelyne Allen says:

    I too would go for option #2. Why have an island and not get the function out of it? Personally, I don’t like the main sink on the island. Dishes can end up gathering there while they wait to be washed. I prefer the island for prep work and a place for others to gather around. Most important is how you use the space. Good luck!

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