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Remodel of my teeny kitchen - seeking input!

13 years ago

Hi all,

I've been reading a lot about counters, islands, etc. on this forum, and decided to join. My husband and I just bought our first home. We live in Brooklyn, NY, and the homes here are pretty small. Our house is semi-attached, and needs a completely new kitchen. I'm going to post my rough sketch of the kitchen's dimensions. I've literally been through about 10 designs so far, and I still can't figure out how to best layout this kitchen.

NOTE: The bathroom adjacent to the kitchen currently has no sink (and no room for a sink), so we are going to move that wall out 12" to add a small corner sink. That means the kitchen wall shared by the bathroom will be 108" long, and the entry way (hallway) into the kitchen will be 36" wide.

Also note: As I was raised in Brooklyn in a large family, I'm very used to tight spaces! I just want to optimize what I have.

Here are my wishes:

- 2 sinks are a must (kosher kitchen), and one dishwasher that will ideally be next to both sinks.

-enough wall and base cabinetry for glassware; small appliances (including a kitchen aid mixer); two sets of (one for dairy and one for meat) dishes, utensils, pots, silverware, cookware.

-ideally two ovens: either a double wall oven and a 30" cooktop, or a single wall oven and a 30" range; no oven can be less than 30" wide (I cook A LOT); I would SETTLE for just a 36" range (and no second oven), but that would be settling.

-eating space for at least 4 people (ideally five). We currently have 3 small kids, and are planning on probably two more. I'd like the eating area to be kid-accessible, so I'm not very fond of barstools, or even counter-height barstools.

-a 36"W counter-depth fridge.

-a decent sized pantry cabinet (24x24 is great, but I can make do with a slightly smaller one, I hope!)

-I'd be willing, if completely necessary, to shorten or eliminate the window to the driveway, and to shorten or move (but not eliminate) the window to the backyard.

Are you up for the challenge? Any and all input is welcome and appreciated!! I'll scan and post a couple of my own designs tomorrow.

Also, are there any good online tools or programs that I could use to make plans? I've been using graph paper :)


From Kitchen Plans

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Plans

Comments (30)

  • 13 years ago

    Wow this is tough! I'm another kosher cook, know the types of houses you are talking about...I'm playing around with it, but honestly, I think you are going to have to give something up.

    I use Microsoft Visio. Some people really like ikea's software. There is also Google Sketchup, but I havent been able to get it to work well.

  • 13 years ago

    OK how about something like this? Its tight, but doable.

    From May 6, 2011

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  • 13 years ago

    Look..I just want to say that, perhaps, it is possible to redefine your needs as dictated by the kasher laws. That is, we kept kosher with 1 sink and 1 DW. The sink & counters were washed with ajax or comet after every use and the DW was run with only milk or meat dishes. That is, the kitchen was only one or the other at any time. No cooking is done in these appliances so I don't understand the need to have separate ones. My bubbe, an orthodox Jew who kept kosher only had 1 sink and my grandma, the daughter of an orthodox Rabbi, successfully kept kosher with 1 sink and 1 DW.

    Anyway, in the case of small kitchens, especially in urban areas that require a lot of stuff inside, I recommend a kitchen designer. Don't forget that you will have to assess the electrical capabilities of your home with all these extra apps.

    Will you be storing your Pesach dishes elsewhere in the house? IMHO, the overarching difficulty in kosher kitchens are the storage space required for 4 sets of everything. When you say you cook a lot, is it mostly meat or milk or both?

    Do you have a dining room? Are you able to combine the kitchen seating area into the dining room? My bubbe (who lived in an itty bitty urban apartment) had a small kitchen that opened into the dining room, where the family (of 6 + relatives and neighbors) ate.

    Sorry I wasn't much help but our solution was to move to the 'burbs and just build a bigger kitchen.

    I hope you'll keep us appraised of your solutions. I'd love to see what you come up with.

  • 13 years ago

    Saw50st - Oh man, I forgot to post that we're moving the door to the basement stairs to the adjacent 38" wall. (The steps are configured very oddly and, in my opinion, dangerously, with a 180 degree turn and no proper landing, so we're going to make a 90 degree turn instead). I'm going to look at your layout, though, and see if I can reconfigure for the new doorway.

    Enmnm - I cook like that now - one sink, two dishracks, but there's always (inevitably) dirty dishes from either meat or dairy stacked up on the counter waiting for the sink to be switched over. I cook about 60% meat, 40% dairy, so it's basically even. We considered moving out to the suburbs, but my entire (almost) side of the family lives/has just moved to our area. As for Pesach storage, we have 9ft ceilings, so I would like to put 18" high cabs above the 36" wall cabs - that'll help for storage. I also have a basement and a really spacious attic. I can't, though, open the wall to the dining room, since the stairs to the 2nd floor are between the two rooms, as well as a small bathroom under the steps.

    I have a feeling I'm going to have to sacrifice the double oven idea. But we'll see.

    I have some questions: how narrow can I make a table, with people eating on both sides? Can I put a sink that is long and narrow instead of wide and shallow (I was originally thinking a 21"Wx16"D sink, and I definitely need something with those dimensions, even if reversed, to fit my large trays, etc.). How narrow of a walkway can I have in any are of the kitchen? Is there a such thing as countertops shorter than 24"D?

    Stalking this forum has been a tremendous help, and major inspiration. Thank you all!

  • 13 years ago

    No problem! Its a slow day at work :-)

    How about this layout?

    From May 6, 2011

    I didn't show upper cabs but those would follow the lower cabinets.

    Also, under the table, I would put a shallow depth of cabinets for things you want to store but don't need all the time. This way, you get a "table" with seating for all 5 of you (but tight, buy small chairs!) but still get storage.

    I would also put the microwave above the cooktop. If you can avoid a rangetop, in this case I would because that will give you an extra drawer under cooktop.

  • 13 years ago

    Well, I have to tell you, moving to the burbs and adding on to the house certainly didn't improve the quality of the food! Really, I wish the fam stayed in the city.

    Newer DWs have REALLY long cycles. Because of THAT, I can see how having 2 would help (immensely) the situation. However, I still think 1 larger sink would be worth it, little sinks are...messy. Water all over the place.

    We had ceiling cabinets also, which is where we stored the Pesach stuff. Worked well.

    The reason I asked about your cooking prefs: I figured that if you baked a lot it would be worth it to have a separate electric oven.

    I know it saves space, but OTR microwaves and vents I have found to be useless. Get a real vent, unless you want to smell latkes 12 months of the year.

    Have you considered a warming drawer if you can't get 2 ovens? That will give you a place to keep if if you don't cook on the Sabbath.

    The other thing my parents did was to dictate that the kitchen was one or the other. If the kitchen was milk, no one was to have a burger. If we had steak for dinner, all the milk stuff was off-limits until Mom announced it was safe.

    Cabinets shallower than 24" really become a landing pad, or narrow counter for someone to eat at.

  • 13 years ago

    Would you consider a 36' range with double ovens?:

    Here is a link that might be useful: Verona range

  • 13 years ago

    Interesting range. Looks like a 24" and a 12". Not sure that would help, since I mostly use large trays or pyrexes in my oven.

  • 13 years ago

    How about something like this? You may be able to get two 24" sinks and two dishwashers along the bottom wall.

    I put in two 12" deep by 24" wide pantries. Since they aren't so deep, there's no need for pull-outs which helps to maximize interior space.

    A table with benches also saves space. You don't need as much clearance around them and you can fit a lot of little kids on them. :-)

    Click here to view these pictures larger

  • 13 years ago

    Have you looked into speed ovens? They combine convection cooking / baking and microwave functionality. I don't have one but have read that others on GW really like theirs. That way, you could have the speed oven and a wall oven (or range) instead of 2 wall ovens and a MW.

    A quick search on the appliance forum for speed ovens showed several threads. Haven't looked at them but might be some useful info out there.

    Here's one:

    Another in link below.

    Here is a link that might be useful: speed oven thread

  • 13 years ago

    Curious about a few things:
    Are you restricted at all on electrical or plumbing?

    What is behind the space to the left of the current basement door? Could you recess a cupboard there for rarely used items ie holiday dinnerware?

    How often is the basement door used, ie is your laundry there?

    Can you vent on the attached side of your home?

    I like the idea of benches and they can all be outfitted for double duty for storage.

  • 13 years ago

    Great problemsss! I'm loving this thread. My only thought is another very desirable option (to me) presented by the basement stairs and door to the outside in the corner. A friend with that layout opened it up amazingly by replacing the solid wall enclosing that corner with a banister (and a door at the bottom of the stairs closing off the unfinished basement). The utilitarian door to the back weedy mess was replaced with a glass door opening to a now closely related patio/outdoor dining area.

    The difference between the original visually cramped kitchen, isolated from the back yard, and the airy, visually much larger and more sunny after, with the addition of multilevel interest and invitation outside, was more than amazing. I've never forgotten it. If there is any way to make it all work, I strongly recommend considering it. The banister could, of course, be counter instead.

  • 13 years ago

    I didn't like the way the fridge and table were arranged in my last plan so I moved some things around. It's also another option if the plumbing is on the shared wall and cannot be moved.

    And if I'm reading Rosie's post correctly, this plan would make her suggestion possible. I think.

    This is fun! It's like a puzzle.

    Click here to view these pictures larger

  • 13 years ago

    saw50st8 - thanks for the updated design! I actually had designed something similar and one KD (not very long in the business) kept telling me it would be terribly awkward to stand by one of the sinks and fill that open dishwasher. Anyone have a similar setup who can chime in?

    chicagoans - I looked briefly into those ovens. I'll have to do some more research, but they seem to be on the small side (aside from expensive). The Miele I looked into (it broils, too!!) is just under 24"W. I think that would be less of a help to me at such a high price.

    cluelessincolorado - We're willing to do a complete gut, but due to the fact that the house is attached, we may be limited on the waste line. Although the GCs I've interviewed (I haven't picked one yet) don't seem TERRIBLY concerned about it. As for the vent - not sure (I really don't know much about where vents could and can't go, although I'd assume it could be run out to the wall on the backyard). The basement will be used a lot, and the space you see is for the actual stairs. The overhang built above the stairs may be a good storage space for us (accessible from either the stairs or through the kitchen), but I'm not sure where we can recess on that wall (up high or down low, etc.).

    Rosie - If I'm not using that wall for cabinetry or an appliance (i.e., if I'm putting the eating area there), I'd actually love to open it up from the table/countertop up. I agree - I think it will add space to the room visually (and this room could certainly use some opening up!).

    geokid - thanks for the designs! I definitely had something similar at one point in my design frenzy...I'm going to sketch it out and talk over the bench option with DH to see what he thinks. I like the idea for double duty storage in the benches. I just keep thinking about where I'd strap the baby's chair, and also about the fact that that kid makes a colossal mess whenever he eats - I'm always pulling out all the chairs and getting under the table to clean up half the food from the floor!!

    I'm so grateful for this forum - I'm going to try to use Ikea's kitchen planner now to get in some of my own designs and post them.

    Thank you!!

  • 13 years ago

    OK Folks,
    The Ikea kitchen planner didn't quite work for me. I'm working on Google Sketchup now :)

    I'm down to three designs that I liked best. I went today to a cabinet place, and will be meeting with their KD on Wednesday. I think I basically picked the style of my kitchen: Arctic White granite with beautiful veins of black and gray, a riverstone back splash (see - isn't it beautiful???), very slightly off-white shaker style cabinets with brushed stainless steel hardware, and a light gray matte porcelain floor tile.

    So, two questions...that beautiful riverstone? Quoted at $45 per square foot!! Any thoughts on where I can find something similar for a more "reasonable" price?

    Also, for the cabinetry: the cabinet store is working on quotes for Medallion and Wood Mode Brookhaven (which is apparently having a promotion now through the beginning of June). Any comments on the quality/comparison of these two brands? I'm also in contact with an Mennonite custom cabinet maker in PA that someone from another thread recommended for high quality and low price. (Anyone have any cabinet makers in Brooklyn or around Brooklyn that's also high quality/low price?)

    Thoughts are welcome!!


    Here is a link that might be useful: River Stone

  • 13 years ago

    Boy, do things disappear fast on this forum. What progress? Did their KD work for you?

  • 13 years ago

    I know! I worked with Google, but it's a slow learn for me. I only have a couple of very sleep-deprived hours each night to do anything and everything I need to do! I met with another KD last week, and by turning my table around in one of the setups, she made the whole thing work! DUH. I guess I've always been spatially challenged!

    Scanner is broken, so having DH scan it in on Monday and I'll post.

    Getting a quote on semi custom cabinets (WoodMode) and custom from an Amish cabinet maker next week...I'm really hoping it works out with the custom guy.

    About cabinets: I'm really on the fence here. Because the kitchen is so small, and I want a bright space, I was going to go with the french country-style off white painted look (and I picked a granite/backsplash combo that I loved, and decided to go with the off-white; backwards, I know, but it was the way I did it). At the same time, though, I love wood. I'm just not sure I can get that same bright, slightly rustic/slightly contemporary (I guess more transitional) look with a light wood...any one have pics of their bright, wood kitchens that they could post???


  • 13 years ago

    Speaking of, did you see ADH673's "Creamy French" kitchen? I was just thinking how it would take relatively little rich-toned wood to give you that element in a mostly off-white kitchen, and then I saw that post right below yours. That kitchen has somewhat more wood than I was thinking would be needed, though, for you to get to have both finishes, since rich wood has such a strong influence. If you went that direction you wouldn't have to look for a compromise with a light wood. Just as I type that I remember a real French kitchen with one beautiful old light honey-toned, antique cabinet the length one wall; no uppers, just a plaster wall and window. That makes me think the look of age and of good use (which your kitchen will certainly develop!), rather than a particular wood, would give you that look.

    Looking forward to seeing your layout.

  • 13 years ago

    I did see that post! And I was thinking the same thing. Now I'm thinking maybe wood floors would be the way to go. Three reservations:
    1. I have really old, not-so-good looking wood floors in adjacent dining room, so a little nervous about that doorway and how it would look with one going into the other.

    2. I am nervous about water damage/scuff damage from all the traffic

    3. I sort of wanted to stay away from dark floors because I thought it would make the kitchen look smaller, but maybe I can go with a more natural-colored maple?? Not sure. All of this is making my head spin!

  • 13 years ago

    Before I saw ADH673's (gorgeous) kitchen, you'd been talking about possibly doing all wood-finish cabinets, so my thoughts actually didn't even touch on the floor, whatever it is, while thinking of ways to have white cabs and incorporate some really good-looking wood elements. Like perhaps one stretch of base cabinet in an old wood look if there were a place that'd be appropriate? Or maybe an antique cupboard hung on a wall; perhaps an orphaned hutch hung and finished with a pair of anchoring brackets on the bottom. A well worn old tabletop, maybe. Of course possibly a section of antique (or just new well worked over with a rasp and plane:) thick work counter. Chairs. Etc.

    What were you considering for floors before? Durability does sound really good for the kind of activity yours will get.

  • 13 years ago

    Aside from the table, I don't really have room to throw in two tones anywhere....except the floor...I was originally thinking porcelain tiles (chip resistant), but I know that any tile (aside from vinyl, which I'm not fond of) is hard on the legs/back. I get that now in my rented apartment. But I guess I've been afraid of wood.

    What are your thoughts for/against wood?

    As for adding that touch of warmth to the kitchen, I'm thinking either rustic hickory floors, or a frosted wood cabinet, or both. Any thoughts on either of these design choices? I've only seen frosted oak in person - it was really pretty, still white with that woodsy/rustic look.

  • 13 years ago

    Wood floors - We put in natural Sassafras floors where the new kitchen is going - no stain - stain will DEFINITELY need touching up sooner than later in a kitchen. Sassafras is a light-colored wood with interesting grain, but it is soft (just barely harder than pine). Natural Maple is light-colored - very little grain though, so it is a more modern, clean look. Ambrosia Maple has character - worm holes and darker streaking. Where the new floor meets the antique Fir floor in the DR we will be adding a decorative strip between (probably Walnut and Ash). We hand-finished all our floors with Tung Oil; the benefit is that any wear-and-tear can easily be touched up with a bit of steel wool and new oil on just that area, rather than needing to re-do the entire floor. Search this forum for Tung Oil - there is one thread where I posted all the details on how to properly do it (April or March 2011).

    River rock tiles - the average price for those is about $10-$12 / sq.ft. Your link is in Polish Zloty, but I don't know the current exchange rate.

    I'm not Jewish, so I don't know the rules, but I agree that a small oven sucks! We have a 37" wide vintage Chamers Range, and the oven is SMALL! If I cannot get a separate baking center (where the laundry is supposed to go), we'll be putting one extra 30" electric wall oven under the counter in the island. Not so convenient, but a necessary evil - we NEED the counterspace, so wall ovens are out in our small kitchen. My kitchen is an "L" with an island - open fully on two sides to DR and FR; the cab walls are only 12' and 13'6" long. I am still able to fit a separate 33" fridge and 33" freezer, an extra 27" 3-burner electric cooktop with storage below, the 37"w Chambers range, one smaller 21-24"w sink with double dish-drawers next to the range, and a large 36"w sink for pots and pans and prep (next to compost drawer) on the island. Both sinks will be at least 9" deep, the smaller one maybe 12" deep because that will be the dish sink.

    Do you need 2 separate dishwashers? What about a double dish-drawer unit? They take up less aisle space when open, and for us the benefit is that smaller loads can be done more often, rather than waiting to fill up a standard D/W and running out of coffee mugs and spoons in the meantime ;)

  • 13 years ago

    We had original (90 year old oak) wood floors in our kitchen and I loved it. They were originally covered in a terrible tile and when we did a makeover we pulled them out and found the gorgeous old floor underneath. There were water stains near the sink from 90 years of use, but we just had the floors sanded and refinished in a dark wood stain. No problem. It was a tiny (In my new kitchen I'm replacing the cheap plastic laminate with real wood as soon as I can.

    The dishwasher drawers natschultz suggested is another great idea worth looking into.

    Do you have your layout yet? I'm excited to see what you decided on.

  • 13 years ago

    Would a double oven range with one oven stacked on top of the other work for you? See link below (GE is only one of several manufacturers that offer this type of range). Both ovens are 30" wide so they'll fit your bakeware. Click on "Product Highlights" to see images of the ovens open. Add a speed cook oven or MW/convection oven in addition and it might give you the cooking space you need without eating up all of the storage and counter space in your kitchen.

    Here is a link that might be useful: GE double oven range

  • 13 years ago

    OK folks, here's the layout!!

    From Documents

    I REALLY hope there's nothing awful about it. I know there's no good pantry here, but it was a compromise. I can put some groceries in the pantry by the sink, some in the one in the hall to the kitchen (if we can make that space - GC won't know till we see what's in the wall), and more in the cab above the cooktop (I'm 4'11" so this isn't ideal, but, again, I'm compromising). I will have additional storage for pantry items in the basement.

    The table can be pulled out and two seats added if noone is really cooking/washing and we're all sitting down for a meal.

    The walls by the table will be pony walls, making the space look larger, and allowing me to call down to the kids playing in the basement.

    I think the door to the basement will be a glass-paned door. We had to move the window to the backyard, but it'll keep its width, which is good.

    Let me know what you think!!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Lahav Kitchen Plan

  • 13 years ago

    Looks great!

    Are you moving that back window over to make room for the wall oven? Great idea!

    Suggestion? Maybe think about using a bench against the wall that can fit all the way under the table. It will be completely out of the way when you don't need all the seating. You could also get one with a flip-up seat for storing items you don't use a lot.

  • 13 years ago

    geokid - you're the gazillionth person to recommend this! I'm going to run it by DH. We're both not keen on benches, but I think it'll be a good idea here. It doesn't have to be a permanent fixture, so I'd be able to move it around to clean up after the kids (very messy eaters!).

  • 13 years ago

    An argument for sealing it to the floor and walls too. :) I really like it, Jlahav. It's such fun to see how you're pulling it all together and to imagine all the living it'll hold. You managed to fit in your double ovens too!

    Hopefully that little pantry in the hall will work. I have 12"-deep storage along a wall (copied from an earlier old kitchen I loved), and even a foot of it holds a whole lot. Campbell's soups 4 deep, cereal boxes with room to spare, the important stuff right in front of me because I'm 5'2". We like it so much, we used wall depth between studs for more storage in my tiny office in our last home. Huh! Speaking of...any usable wall area?

    Has a plan to muse over helped push your preferences on finishes one way or the other? Here in the country, I've never seen frosted wood, but it sounds pretty.

  • 13 years ago

    Hi, sorry for showing up late, but for "double everything" kosher kitchen I have seen this kind of thing.


  • 13 years ago

    reason for above is that most time in the kitchen with lots of kids is spent prepping and cooking and the last layout you have has little counter space near the sink. If you think about it, the most useful prep space is between the sink and the stovetop/oven, so this gives you over 40" of prep space on both sides. This is multifunctional depending on what is going on, i.e. cooking, dropping off dirty dishes, landing things from the range.

    Some drawbacks that I can think of are needing two separate gas lines/220 lines for two ranges, the dishwasher door when open will block the sink to range area (but how long do you leave the dishwasher open for anyway), your prep and cleaning areas will overlap.

    Other small things that will help are to use a pocket door for your bathroom to make the small room seem larger, and to make sure if you use a half wall near the table to have strong closely place bars above there so your kids don't stand on the table and jump over the wall to the stairwell (yeah, they will want to do that).

    sketch was done in open office drawing.

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