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beachem

Large vs. Small Kitchens - What is the definition

beachem
7 years ago

I've been lurking on here since my kitchen blew up (flood) and between GW and Houzz, I found that my kitchen is on the small side at 20'X11' (this includes the eating nook and work center that I blew out).

Our kitchen felt small due to the strange builder designed island and colors that our designer chose. It felt cramped and dark. After the remediation company took out the island and most of the lower cabs, I realized that I had a large kitchen (IMO).

However, as I did my research on Houzz and GW, it was insane to see secondary kitchen, pantries, or butler pantries that were the same size as my one and only kitchen. Houzz was listing 200SF kitchens as small.

What is small? and what is large? My perspective got so screwed up.


Comments (41)

  • javiwa
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Funny thing, I've recently been thinking the same thing about our kitchen (kinda oddly shaped, but basically 20x11 to14 in some areas). When we first moved in, the kitchen seemed huge -- could just be relative to the tiny kitchen my mom still cooks in, and the small apartment kitchens we made do with along the way. Not that I think it's small now -- I try not to focus on (especially) Houzz sq ftage any more. :) What gets me is that the kitchen I'd been planning (at least up until just this week) shows up in many peoples' before shots! Oh well...

    I think 'large' or 'small' is directly related to your own needs.

  • Nothing Left to Say
    7 years ago

    The kitchen in our first house was 8 x 8 with two doors. I laugh when people on here describe their kitchens as small.

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  • javiwa
    7 years ago

    crl - that describes my mom's current kitchen exactly!

  • Nothing Left to Say
    7 years ago

    javiwa, I bet she cooks great meals in it. :-). Our current kitchen is 9 x 10 with three doors. After the remodel it will be about 9 x 14, still with three doors. It will be the biggest working space I have ever had in a kitchen we own (our second had some eat-in space).

  • javiwa
    7 years ago

    Oh, crl...you wouldn't even begin to imagine. Decades of churning out 5-course meals outta that little space -- and for most of those years, w/o central A/C (my hometown would always be mentioned on the evening news as the hottest of the day during summer). People were definitely made of tougher stuff back then, I tell ya. Happy for your soon-to-be extra space -- it's all relative, isn't it?

  • Fori
    7 years ago

    I think it depends on the number of butts it fits at once.


  • dmeah
    7 years ago

    I've thought the same thing! My kitchen is a 9x8 ft corridor/galley kitchen, and I've seen pantries on houzz bigger than my entire kitchen! Funny, though- we are a family of 5, and while I would love to have a little more storage space, this little kitchen has served us well. Get rid of what you don't use, and it's amazing how little you actually need. (What you want, on the other hand, is a whole different story!)

  • badgergal
    7 years ago

    My house is a 2,500 sq. ft. ranch which is more than a decent size but the kitchen was only 10x11. I was able to borrow space from the adjacent dinning area to make my kitchen a whopping 11x12. The new layout and use of taller cabinets makes my kitchen seem huge even though it still is much smaller than most I see on this forum.

  • palimpsest
    7 years ago

    My first one was 7'6" x 6. My second 5+ x 11 and included W/D. The third is 7 x 10 but will end up 7 x 13.

    It depends on the overall size of the house what big vs small is though. I don't think I would have wanted any of them much larger, except the first also had a very low ceiling (under 7). They could've been larger ideally but that would've just taken square footage from somewhere else.

  • mrspete
    7 years ago

    I've read a number of places that 10x10 used to be considered "standard", and if you look at cabinet prices, they sometimes say X amount for these cabinets ... and in the small print it reads "for 10x10".

    Keep in mind, too, that the lines around "what is a kitchen" are a bit blurry. If you have an adjacent breakfast room, is it part of the kitchen? Should you include your walk-in pantry in the dimensions? What if the pantry is combined with the laundry, does the laundry become part of the kitchen? The island seating that protrudes into the family room?


    Also, size doesn't determine functionality in any way. Right now I have a large kitchen, and it is horribly disfunctional. Though I have 15' of cabinets on both sides PLUS a peninsula and a walk-in pantry, all the major players are crammed into one little section, and I only have good lighting in one spot.




  • wildchild2x2
    7 years ago

    Ten years ago I wanted to expand the footprint of our kitchen. My remodel never took place due to unforeseen circumstances. Now I am finally getting around to seriously considering getting it done. We are DIYers. I'm not expanding a thing. I have decided to view my kitchen as a food prep area not a great room nor a gathering place. Had I enlarged our kitchen I would not have been happy (what was I thinking). I like to cook alone, I don't like people hanging out when I cook. I want my cooking area tight and efficient with things that I need within easy reach. I like narrower aisles than the norm because I like to be able to pivot instead of taking unnecessary steps. I recently saw a post about someone putting in a 20 foot island or something like that. Personally I don't want to have to wear roller skates while cooking. My kitchen is roughly 15' by 11'. With two doorways, one narrow off the hall and one quite wide off the family room. We do plan to switch the window at the end to a patio door. That will bring in more light and air and I believe my new kitchen will feel a lot more spacious to me because of it.

    I have a grown son who loves to cook. The only counter space he has in his entire "kitchen" is the 24" of counter over the dishwasher. His kitchen is a cubby the size of a closer in an old victorian that was made into two units. He regularly cooks for as many as 50 people for events and has won local cook-offs. The layout is dishwasher,sink and small gas stove. On an L is a fridge. He put shelving next to the fridge that holds his cookware and a sous vidi. So the entire space is maybe 6' by 4' if that. Behind it is a narrow hallway so it is basically just those two walls.

    My parents had 7.5' x 8 foot galley. Wonderful meals came out of that small space. Plus, horrors!! lol, the fridge was directly across from the stove in 7.5 wide space.

  • powermuffin
    7 years ago

    I guess I don't see a reason to label a space as small or large - it is all about how you feel while you are in the space and what you use it for. Size has little to do with functionality, unless you are going to extremes on either end of the spectrum.

    Diane

  • scrappy25
    7 years ago

    I've heard kitchens compared to cars- you probably don't want a Yugo where the doors are falling off as you drive, the Honda Civic is a perfectly functional car that will get you where you need to go with little maintenance although , and having a Porsche does not necessarily mean that you are a race car driver (perhaps just a car lover). I guess you could apply that analogy to size as well- perhaps you don't need a 8 seater 4x4 for a small family or couple unless you regularly take more people or luggage along.

    Most importantly, kitchens should should be appropriately styled to the house that they are in. One of the larger and most popular kitchens I have seen on GW belongs to someone who frankly states that she does not cook, but the kitchen is thoughtfully and beautifully designed along with the rest of her house. She has been super generous with answers to many inquiries on her kitchen design which has helped many of us including myself.

    I don't think that anyone would object to a giant kitchen in a small house, but you'd have a hard time selling a large house with a small kitchen. The house size is a whole another discussion.

    For myself, my medium sized roughly 18 x 10 kitchen (including a 7.5 x 10 eating area and 4 doorways) is original to the house and I spent 2 rounds with architects planning expansions to the kitchen ($). Those fell through due to expense and I ended up remodeling in the existing space, utilizing custom cabinets to exploit every cranny, and with upgraded finishes and appliances from what I would have done with an expanded kitchen. Since I had spent years on Gardenweb by that time, I was able to apply all that I had learned and the result is just right for us- the kitchen itself occupies a U that has 5 feet between the arms but can easily accommodate 3 cooks and has scads of prep area. So I have learned an expensive lesson in $ and time that larger size is not needed for great functionality. Hopefully my experience might help someone else.

  • Heidi Adams
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yeah it is funny-small to houzz is pretty large to most people. One thing that I really had to stop and think about when I was planning my kitchen was size-you just cannot do the same things in a 10x10 space as you can in a 20x20 space...And yes, good design makes any space seem very large! Anyhow...my kitchen is roughly 12x17 with a 9x4 pantry(just with shelves for food)...it feels very large to me. But, maybe not so much in the land of houzz. :)

  • Nothing Left to Say
    7 years ago

    I think there are some reasons to use the small, medium, large type descriptors. One is that those indicators are meaningful in terms of layout issues and storage issues for example, to the ceiling cabinets might be more important in a small kitchen to maximize space. They are also somewhat useful in talking about cost. $30,000 might be a very nice budget for remodeling a small kitchen, but very tight for a large kitchen. And they impact cosmetic decisions for many people--a small kitchen might lend itself to a light, monochromatic design where a large kitchen might lend itself to a more detailed and layered design.


    As someone who has had small kitchens, I know I always gravitate to the small kitchen reveals because they are likely to have ideas that are particularly useful to small kitchens. And I have been known to look at the compact kitchens on houzz specifically when I'm trying to decide things like whether two different backsplash materials are too much for a small space.


    So while I agree that a functional and wonderful kitchen can be had at any size, that doesn't make the size descriptors useless or irrelevant.

  • funkycamper
    7 years ago

    My roughly 14x9 kitchen felt tiny and claustrophobic until I l tore down a wall to open to the small dining room. Now both seem huge to me. I am not expanding my kitchen but are slowly DIYing a change in layout. Already I have tripled my counter space and see how that combined with the upcoming move of my DW is going to make a super efficient layout. It is already much more pleasant to work in. I really wouldn't want it any bigger. I do have a a laundry room roughly the same size as my kitchen with lots of built in pantry storage so that helps.

    In general, I think houses are too big these days. I feel the same about some of those roller skate sized kitchens I see.

  • oasisowner
    7 years ago

    My first kitchen was so small there was no room for the refrigerator; it was in the dining room.

  • makaloco
    7 years ago

    Mine is 12x12' and seems huge because everything is along the perimeter with no island, peninsula, or table breaking up the space. There's also a 6'6" window and a half-wall opening to the living room. I love it because I have plenty of counter space and can move around freely. In a condo I owned previously, the galley kitchen was 10'x6" and I had to stand to the side to open the oven or refrigerator doors. That I would describe as small. :)

  • Bunny
    7 years ago

    I call my kitchen "small." It's 10x10 and G-shaped. For one butt, it is perfect. Lots of storage and counter space. Two agreeable butts would be fine.

  • zorroslw1
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I prefer a smaller scale kitchen. Cozier and easier access to what you really need for most of your cooking. I also prefer smaller master baths. My daughters guest bath is larger than the master we will have in our new build. For kitchens, I like everything pretty easy to get to without a lot of steps. For bathrooms, I don't like a large bath because I feel exposed when I am naked:/ LOL

  • Bunny
    7 years ago

    zorro, I'm with you. My kitchen is like a roomy cockpit. Even though my dish storage is not immediately adjacent to my DW, it's only two steps away.

  • beth09
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I have looked at some of the larger kitchens on Houzz and yearned for the counter space and cabinets, but also thought, I would be exhausted by the time dinner was ready with all the extra steps.

    ETA, but then, maybe a few pounds lighter too. lol

  • javiwa
    7 years ago

    beth - That's EXACTLY how I've been spinning the fact that our fridge has been parked in the family room since August (and kitchen table, at the other end of the house in the living room!): good exercise. :)

  • wildchild2x2
    7 years ago

    I never understood the large bathroom thing either. I use the bathroom for two functions, elimination of body waste and general hygiene. I don't throw parties in there. When I was young a 32" square shower was big enough for two. LOL Now that I'm older, shower time is my alone with my thoughts relaxing time. Our shower is 60" x 32". Plenty big for two but cozy enough for one.

    Funkycamper , we're doing the same. Layout and function trump square footage. Function trumps all. We're taking a spare room and turning it into a laundry/pantry/storage area using tall deep utility cabs with bottom drawers.

  • beth09
    7 years ago

    javiwa, lol!! I hope you are put back together soon, that's a long time.

  • javiwa
    7 years ago

    Thanks, beth -- I am a very patient person. :) I keep emphasizing to the crews that have come through that I'd much rather have the work done properly than quickly -- I don't want my rushing them to be an excuse they can use for subpar work.

  • Lavender Lass
    7 years ago

    I think the kitchen does include the pantry, the breakfast area, possibly a small seating area, and anything else that is IN the room. That being said, you can have a really LARGE kitchen and still have a compact work space.

    If we're just talking about the kitchen work area itself, then I think the most important feature is that it's easy to reach everything, doesn't take very many steps to prepare a meal...and there are no barriers to your work flow. Island placement (if you have one) is very important.

    Smaller kitchens often function very well, but many of the older, small kitchens we all remember had ONE cook. Great food, but usually one person making it. Of course, there are exceptions, but if a family cooks together and you have two or three cooks, then a small kitchen can be challenging.

    I will say that I have never been a fan of the 'roller skate' kitchens (LOL) but most of those I see in magazines. They're beautiful, but I always laugh to myself that they must have been designed for the caterers :)


  • mama goose_gw zn6OH
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I describe my kitchen as small-to-middling, but at 13.5 x 13.5 (ap 180 square feet), it takes up less than 3/4 of the space that might be allotted to an average room in a 2000 sf house.*

    It feels proportionate to my slightly-over-2000 sf house, but it could be as small as 13.5 x 8.5 and still function as well (or better), if I didn't need a buffet serving run for large family meals. 250 sf would seem large, IMO.

    *That's if one assumes that an average smaller home of 2000 sf or less, (2000 sf in this application) has 7 rooms. Three bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room, and den/family room--with 2 baths, laundry and hall roughly accounting for an 8th room--which would be 250 sf in each, or ap 16 x 16.

  • lmgch
    7 years ago

    our kitchen is 13.5'x19'. feels ok. not huge. not tiny. but not huge. this is the specific working space of the kitchen - there is a separate, yet connected dining table area and pantry.


  • ediblekitchen
    7 years ago

    A couple posts above crl said something very insightful about the general descriptions of small, large, etc. being helpful for those of us who are searching for ideas. I may enjoy looking at kitchen of all shapes and sizes, but it is particularly helpful to see other small kitchens and how they deal with design and space issues.

    My current (small) kitchen is about 12.5 x 11.5 and with a slight tweak to a cabinet the remodeled version will be only slightly larger - 12.5 x 15, but I think it will make a world of difference. And the ideas that I'm getting here on GW are helping me maximize every square inch.

  • robo (z6a)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I like size descriptors as I tend to find the small-medium kitchens the most interesting in terms of problem solving. I see small as 9x9 or 10x10, sort of a typical 60s ranch size. I consider mine medium at 11x14. Big enough to get everything done but not an eat-in and I have to keep serve ware at a minimum. I consider anything below 8x6 or so to be 'tiny' and likely in need of specialized solutions (e.g. 24" stove and 18" dishwasher).

  • Texas_Gem
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My grandmothers kitchen always seemed so tiny to me, it was a galley style and you literally could not pass through to the utility room if she was in there cooking.

    Imagine my surprise when I learned that she ACTUALLY remodeled the space to be that way on purpose!!

    We are talking about people born in the late teens, early 20s so of course, the woman did all the cooking and cleaning and for her, it was an efficient use of space.

    We couldn't help in the kitchen, even when we wanted to because there was simply no room. The best we could do was to be her runners, taking food from the kitchen to the dining room.

    My kitchen, by Houzz standards is probably small to medium-ish. In real world standards, I have a massive kitchen!

    It is difficult to quantify my kitchen in terms of size, space etc because I have two definite zones that are VERY clear.

    I have the work zone, which contains my main clean up sink, double ovens, range and fridge in a 12x12 area. Then I have what I refer to as my auxillary zone, where I have my microwave, coffee makers, wet bar, island for breakfast/casual dining, China hutch and access to my large walk in pantry and that area is 12x15.

    So all together, not counting the adjacent dining room, my "kitchen" is 324 sq ft. 378 if I include the pantry.

    I remember when we started planning our remodel almost 2 years ago that my husband couldn't believe I wanted to go through all the effort, hassle, and expense of adding on to the back of the house "just" to put a 12x12 kitchen on an already 3000 sq ft home.

    He initially was convinced that if we were going to go through the trouble, we should make it larger and grander.

    I had to explain (several times) that that WAS the size I wanted and that it would work perfectly for my needs and cooking style.

    At 12x12, I have ample prep space on 3 countertops. I am no more than 2-4 steps from my fridge, sink, stove, trash and ovens.

    Perhaps most importantly for me though was that I made my work area of the kitchen a strict work area. There is NO traffic through there, no one getting in the way while I'm cooking, no one coming in to get a drink, wash hands, etc. All of that is done through the auxillary zone, which is part of the original kitchen on the house.

  • mushcreek
    7 years ago

    I would describe our new kitchen (still a work-in-progress) as 'medium,' at 12'6" X 14'6". It is all work, with no table or island. I designed it to have two separate work triangles that don't overlap, as we are very much a two-cook household. It is G-shaped, and quite open to the rest of the house, separated only by a 7' peninsula. There are no upper cabinets, and three windows on two walls, so it feels very spacious and airy. There is tons of storage, with 33 drawers and two cabinets under the sinks. Speaking of sinks- I'm in love with having two sinks!

    Already using our kitchen (with particle board countertops), I wouldn't want it any larger. Compared to every house I've ever lived in over 60 years, it feels large, and any bigger would be a lot of walking. We put a small reach-in pantry in the adjacent DR, as well as the microwave. The MW location is actually handier for what we use it for than having it in the kitchen.

    For comparison sake, our house is about 1300 square feet on one level, with one bedroom for a couple empty-nesters. We only entertain small groups, and even that is infrequent. We cook out a lot- nearly every weekend, so that takes some of the commotion out of the kitchen as well.


  • schicksal
    7 years ago

    Where are the actual size definitions? When I hit up pictures I only saw small/medium/large/expansive with no actual square footage given.

  • funkycamper
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    After reading what Texas_gem and Mushcreek said, I realized I kinda misdescribed my kitchen because my laundry/pantry room also functions as an auxiliary kitchen and will fulfill that role even more after our remodel is complete. In addition to food and excess cooking gear storage, it will have a sink, undercounter fridge, microwave, coffee/tea station and snack center. Plus bar area including ample storage for the various drink glassware and mixers.

    The kitchen itself will be all work centers with no traffic route through it. So, while it is fairly small, the only people who should be in the kitchen itself are people who are baking, prepping, cooking or cleaning up. Three people can work without any squeezing. When complete, I think four could work together but it might feel a bit squeezed at that point. No real uppers, just a bit of open shelf, and large windows keep it spacious feeling.

    Anyone not working can visit from across the peninsula.

    Not done yet but we are far enough along to see that the the changes are great and I owe it all to the talented and generous folks here who helped me with my plan. My kitchen would have sucked without the direct help I received and the stuff I have learned from hanging around here. Thanks, GW!!

  • mama goose_gw zn6OH
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I googled 'size of kitchens' and found this (limited) info:
    What is the average kitchen size?

    "Let's look at several figures that attempt to define the average size of kitchens today:

    (following links were included in the article--linked to his other articles)

    • 70 square feet: In 2009, the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association defined a small kitchen as being smaller than 70 square feet and a big kitchen as being larger than this.
    • 100 square feet: Given that the 10' x 10' kitchen is a standard benchmark for estimating kitchen remodel costs.
    • 175-200 square feet:
      A more realistic look at the 10' x 10' kitchen, to include a dining
      area on the side. But this also begs the question: is dining space part
      of the kitchen or not? Where exactly does a kitchen end?"
  • cawaps
    7 years ago

    The house I grew up in had a U-shaped kitchen that was maybe 60 square feet--imagine an 8x8.5' space, then carve a rectangle out of one corner. It was a very efficient one-cook kitchen. Until my mom started using a wheelchair, you could squeeze in two cooks--not terribly comfortably, but acceptable. We using the mud room and basement for additional food storage (mud room for canned goods, basement for a separate freezer and mom's canning) ,

    The adjacent dining room would have been a nook in a larger home, but since we didn't have another dining space, it got the dining room moniker.

    I often scoff when I see the dimensions that articles describe as "small." I am also baffled when I see walk-in closets and bathrooms with dimensions larger than any of the bedrooms in my house.

  • sena01
    7 years ago

    NKBA guidelines no 27+28 re storage say

    1. ....... for a small kitchen (less than 150 square feet);

    2. ........ for a medium kitchen (151 to 350 square feet); and

    3. ......... for a large kitchen (greater than 350 square feet).

  • Buehl
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Regarding Kitchens found on Houzz...I've determined there are two types:

    GW Kitchen Kitchens - Kitchens done by real people who care about function (first) and looks and who actually use their kitchens. These are people who participate in the design of their kitchens and want what works for them.

    Houzz Kitchens (not from the GW side) - Most are posted by pros looking for work and trying to impress. Unfortunately, to impress, these pros post nice looking kitchens that may or may not be functional. After all, they don't have to cook in the kitchens.

    That's not to say that GW kitchens aren't large, nice looking, etc. But most were also thoughtfully designed to be a functional space. There are probably also well-thought out (functionally) kitchens on the Houzz side, but to be honest, I haven't seen them. [Full disclosure: a year or two ago I looked around on Houzz to see what was out there. What I saw looked like magazine shoots with staged pictures, etc. and the vast majority were dysfunctional So, I've stayed away from Houzz since then.]

    So, if you're looking for real, live kitchens, stick to the GW Kitchens side and the Finished Kitchens Blog (created and maintained by a GWer - StarPooh).

    Use the Houzz side to determine what you like regarding finishes, etc.. Then come to the GW Kitchens side for your design and the actual selection of materials and installation of your Kitchen. Also use GW Kitchens and the related Forums (e.g., Appliances, Home Decorating, Plumbing, Remodeling, Lighting, Building A Home, etc.) for problems and questions. [All the GW Home forums: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums]

    .

    Sorry that I strayed from the small/medium/large kitchen discussion! But I think all kitchens found on today's Houzz are being lumped into one basket - and I don't think they should be.

  • makaloco
    7 years ago

    I don't like the staged kitchens in the Houzz features, either. Once in a while there will be an interesting idea, but most of them seem huge and sterile. I do enjoy seeing real people's kitchens in the design dilemma section. The problem is when someone actually seems to be aiming for the "staged" look and tries to do away with everything that gives their current kitchen character.