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katie_swerda

Layout challenge: large family, small kitchen - please help

Katie
4 years ago

After gleaning amazing information from hundreds of posts here, I have come up with a first-stab plan for my kitchen, and I'd be so appreciative of comments and critiques. My goal is to transform it into a place where two or three people can comfortably work while others hang out and chat with us. To achieve this, my particular goals are to increase counter space between the sink and range, add a second dishwasher, have a single-bowl sink large enough to hold my huge frying pan, have more efficient storage for both cookware and pantry items, extend the peninsula landing space closer to the refrigerator and pull-out pantry, and increase my peninsula seating overhang to 15". I'm curious to hear from this community if this is feasible in my small, odd-shaped kitchen.


Our family is composed of my husband, myself, and our six children ages fifteen to two. Our kitchen is in almost constant use and I cook three meals a day, usually with a helper or two. Our current peninsula is used not only for food prep, but also as a place where a child discusses schoolwork with me while I cook and as a buffet table when we entertain company (a frequent occurrence). we use our dining room three times a day, but it is too small for us. So another goal is to remove the wall (not load-bearing) between the dining room and the current breakfast room, allowing us to have a dining room table that fits eight people and extends to hold more when we have company.


The sink does not need to be under a window or centered; I do have a basement for moving pipes, and I have no gas. However, I am constrained to a budget of $30,000, so I'm not changing the exterior walls or the load-bearing wall down the spine of the house, and I'm keeping my current appliances (except for the microwave). We plan on being in this home for the long haul.


At first, I was hoping to change to a layout very different from my current one (with an island, or course!) but after reading all the advice here, it seems that the best use of my space is more of a tweaking of my current layout - thought I'd love to be corrected if I am wrong, as what I've come up with has some problems. If you think the general layout is the best I can get out of the space, I'd love comments about some of the, um, unusual details:


(1) Does adding a second dishwasher work in this space? The 24" of cabinet space I'd lose to have a second dishwasher isn't as great a loss as it seems, because with a dishwasher already next to the sink, putting clean dishes away in an adjacent cabinet in the peninsula would be a PITA while the dishwasher is open. We almost always have dirty dishes limiting access to the sink while they are waiting for the next load, so I am very willing to trade 24" of awkward cabinet space for a second dishwasher.


(2) To give a built-in look around the fridge, should I have the tall cabinet and upper cabinet installed flush with the walls of the fridge alcove? That would leave a few inches of dead space behind those cabinets.


(3) I'm struggling to find a good place for the microwave. I rarely use it and I prefer that it doesn't take up valuable real estate or be the focal point of the kitchen. I'm considering putting it on a shelf above the peninsula, since that's a lousy place for cookware and dishes (can't reach it when the dishwasher is open). In that location, it would be the first thing you see upon entering the kitchen and even upon entering the house, but maybe it could be "hidden" behind a cabinet door? Or should I give up on the hood and get an OTR microwave? Suggestions and thoughts are most welcome.


(4) Will the peninsula and wall cabinets above it look weird or crowded so close to the trim around the sliding glass door? (The sliding glass door opens on the other side.) This current plan allows only about 2" of bare wall between the trim and the peninsula.


Here is the current layout of my first floor and my proposed layout of my kitchen:



Thank you for your input. In fact, thank you for everything I have already learned here - I've grown rather fond of "the regulars" just reading posts here over the past few months.

Comments (178)

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    Katie remember that with any of the plans after you get some pricing that you'll need to keep a 15% contingency fund for those unexpected surprises. So on your $30,000 budget, I'd want the combined kitchen plus installation to come in right around $25,000.

  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    I thought I'd give everyone an update on my kitchen design. I am so very grateful to all of you for all the valuable (and fun!) ideas of how to improve my kitchen. Although what I plan on going with is not as wonderful as many had proposed here, it does keep in my tight budget. I can't wait and save up more money for this project because many parts of the kitchen are literally falling apart and kids' college is looming. So, although what I am posting here is far from ideal, I know that I will be getting a much improved kitchen given what I had to work with, thanks to all that I learned here.


    Mamagoose's idea of rerouting traffic through the laundry in order to have a larger kitchen was a stroke of brilliance, but I decided that my laundry room is too heavily used to be made into a hallway. Other compromises I've had to make were (1) to abandon the hope of having two dishwashers because storage was an even greater need and, (2) to keep the same kind of layout I have now with only tweaks.


    I'm in the final stages of figuring out drawer configurations based on what I need to store and where, but if people think that I am making a gross error within the confines of what I have to work with, I'd humbly and gratefully listen.






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  • herbflavor
    4 years ago

    the volume of cabinetry on the wall between window and patio door is "much" to behold. Do you think paring it back would interfere w storage ? I think I would look at that part and redo it for scale/mass.

    Katie thanked herbflavor
  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Thank you, herbflavor. I've struggled with this more than anything else in the design. Much of that storage is not terribly efficient because the peninsula makes things hard to reach and I'm short. In some ways I liked the look of the three 21" cabs because the end of that run could then line up with the end of the counter, but I've always been nagged by how overwhelming it looks.

    I'll talk to my designer about maybe putting a 42" cab there instead, which would also save me money. And I'll especially ask if the door on the right could swing on the stile and away from the sink. What I have now swings toward the sink and it is very awkward that way.

  • Molly
    4 years ago

    Can any of the cabinets have glass fronts to break it up a bit?

    Katie thanked Molly
  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    That's a really interesting point, Molly. I hadn't considered glass cabinets because they are more expensive and are more of a hassle to keep looking nice. But you make me wonder if the problem is not so much the width of the cabinets as the height. In this current plan, I have the cabinets going up the 8' ceiling. And the main reason I was doing that was for looks. Maybe it actually would look better if they didn't go up to the ceiling. I'd love opinions on that.

  • emilyam819
    4 years ago

    Maybe 2 24” cabinets with 2 doors each. narrower doors helps to make a bank of cabinets not look top heavy, i think.

    Katie thanked emilyam819
  • herbflavor
    4 years ago

    Were you planning 42 in tall doors? I wouldn't and not sure they are typically available..it's an oversized door....You can get the typical 30 in height or taller to 33 or 36 and fill the remainder w molding. Or 30 in tall with a small stack cabinet at the top[glass door]. Anyway, the first thing is calculate generally HOW MUCH storage do you need at this spot...and what will be stored there. that will determine how much shelf space and the configuration in terms :hinges on what side.... double or single doored cabinets. Things can be done many ways. Don't forget: vertical lift....and void door cabinets ….where reaching side hinged cabinets is problematic.

    Katie thanked herbflavor
  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    herbflavor makes an excellent question about how much storage I need there. I think I could make due with less if what I keep is the most efficient part. Would it look bad to put a 30" cab placed only an inch or two from the window? It would be way off-center but essentially be in the area before the peninsula starts.

  • kim k
    4 years ago

    I have a similar layout in the upper cabinets over my peninsula. Honestly when are you ever staring at your kitchen head on and also analyzing just how the cabinets look? If you need the storage I'd keep all the uppers - even if one is just for items you don't need often. Unless you are picking a very dark color I don't think it's going to matter much. Just my 2 cents :)

    Katie thanked kim k
  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Oh, and herbflavor also asked if I was planning 42" tall doors. I was planning 39" with 3" molding on top, which would then touch the 8' ceiling. Do you think 36" with 6" molding would look better?

  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    kim, you make a good point. Another reason I've always been hesitant about this area is if I lose some of those cabinets, seating at the peninsula may be a bit more comfortable and roomy. Tough choices.

  • kim k
    4 years ago

    Yes it will definitely make a difference for seating! We aren't having seating at ours.

    Katie thanked kim k
  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    You all have helped a great deal. Instead of three 21" cabs there, I am going to switch to three 15" ones, but put them only two inches or so from the window. I also am going to ask about going to 36" high instead of the 39" shown. I am hoping that both of these changes will both some money and look better.

  • emilyam819
    4 years ago

    Think about where you will end the backsplash. There are 536384 posts about it in situations like yours.

    Katie thanked emilyam819
  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    The backsplash issue was another reason I liked the end of the cabs lining up with the end of the peninsula. Now neither ending at the cabs nor ending at the counter looks right to me! I really don't know what to do!

    Would it be really weird to have the tiles go all the way to the end of the peninsula, but only 7" high? The backsplash will be 7" high where the sink is, and it could just continue at that height on that side of the sink. That way the backsplash doesn't call attention to the fact that it continues past the cabs because it doesn't touch them.

  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    I'm reviving this thread because I've read lots of NKBA guidelines, but I'm scratching my head over the right amount of space between two seating areas.


    In the plan below, I'm having a peninsula with seating placed in the kitchen area so that it almost touches the sliding glass door, and I'm widening the opening between the dining room and kitchen so my family of eight can maneuver around a table large enough for us. I'm concerned this will leave an awkward gap between the two where the current breakfast nook is.


    What is the right amount of space between these two areas? I don't want an odd, wide gap that screams "a breakfast nook used to be here." I need to replace the sliding glass door anyway, so changing it to a smaller one or moving it over a foot is an option (thank you to those above who made this suggestion). This would allow me to have a larger kitchen area (albeit with a peninsula rather far from the sink) and to close this gap, but I also don't want to spend this extra money only to end up with too little space between the seating areas for people to move around and go in and out the door (my budget is not large).


    Please help me assess how much space is the right amount between these seating areas. If I leave the slider where it is now, there will be about nine feet from the end of the counter to the end of the table - is that a good amount, or too much, for the stools at the peninsula, the chair at the end of the table, and people to move around?




  • tartanmeup
    4 years ago

    Katie, since one of your first kitchen wishes was two dishwashers, I'm wondering if you ever considered a commercial dishwasher? (Scanned your thread - apologies if I missed any mention of one.) There is a [Houzz thread[(https://www.houzz.com/discussions/choosing-residential-vs-commercial-dishwasher-dsvw-vd~316248) on them. There are expensive but someone found a used one at a bar or restaurant that was closing shop and paid a pittance for it.

    Good luck with your reno! Arduous but well worth the effort, I'm sure.

    Katie thanked tartanmeup
  • Buehl
    4 years ago

    60" (5') should be b/w two seating areas. That's table-to-peninsula/island counter edge.

    Katie thanked Buehl
  • kazmom
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    We have 5’ between our island and dining table (back to back chair and stool). That works well for us and doesn’t look like an unused open area. With 8 people in the family I might push it to 5.5’ to 6’ to give a little more room for more people maneuvering, especially if this is the access route to the sliding door (ours is also), but I would think that would be good. I wouldn’t go beyond 6’ or I think it would start looking too empty. I would probably mock it up and see where between 5’ and 6’ I thought was a good fit.

    Katie thanked kazmom
  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Wow! 5' to 6'! I'll have waaaay too much space if I don't either (1) completely remove the wall between the dining and kitchen so the table doesn't hang way out of the dining room, or (2) have the slider moved over so the peninsula can move closer!

    I thought option 1 would be less expensive, esp. since I have to open that wall up anyway. But with the crown in the dining area, a bulkhead in the kitchen, and textured ceiling in both, option 1 has become very expensive to remove the header. You'd think I'd be excited about option 2 giving me more room in the kitchen by moving the peninsula over, and, though I'd be very happy about the extra storage, I am wary of moving the big prep area of the peninsula too far from the sink and range. This requires discussions with both my kitchen designer and my GC!

  • kazmom
    4 years ago

    Looking at your plan above (if I am looking at the right thing), I would shift the peninsula down and also shift the sink down. That keeps the sink somewhat close to the peninsula and gives you more room between the sink and stove. I find that the space between sink and stove is my primary prep area for everyday cooking, I would want more space than you currently show, if possible. It might entail moving the window, but that shouldn’t cost a lot, we moved both a door and window in our remodel and it wasn’t an unreasonable amount.

  • Molly
    4 years ago
    Would your peninsula be where I marked red and your table the blue? Is there still another table in the dining room?
  • Mid America Mom
    4 years ago

    In your position I might consider moving the entire kitchen to the existing dining room. The "old" kitchen breakfast could house a fabulous sized table, that small area you wanted for the fridge could house a drink fridge and glassware, the corner near the existing sink could now house a couple of chairs and side table..

    Katie thanked Mid America Mom
  • bbtrix
    4 years ago

    MId America Mom, we spent a lot of time on that. Have you read the entire thread? Much detail and many alternatives were provided. We’ve been around the block. I wonder how much the kitchen designer is helping at this point. The designer should be providing views of the entire kitchen/dining space including new doors as we attempted. And correcting problems. Not even sure if the peninsula and the uppers that encroached space was resolved. I stressed over and over to put the budget in correcting the bones to fit the large family first and do Ikea. Can’t do much more.

    Katie thanked bbtrix
  • Mid America Mom
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I looked over some of this huge thread and it seems it was considered... now that she knows the limitations of the walls hopefully that will help with final decisions.

    Katie thanked Mid America Mom
  • colorfast
    4 years ago

    Hey, I just wandered back onto Gardenweb having gotten a notification on my email unrelated. This thread jumped out at me and I wish I had time to get down into the weeds and read it all start to finish, because I went through the process of a kitchen with limited space, the decision between keeping a peninsula, switching to an island etc. We talked banquets, the way the slider door opens... etc. A few things really helped me decide how to solve my own issues:

    One was the people here. Actually cut and paste the advice that means the most to you, the clearances or tips you wouldn't have thought of, and print those out.

    Two, switching to a contractor who had cool, updated software that generated plans easily and quickly and allowed us to look at our options. My prior guy did everything by hand.

    Three, when I got down to a final one or two decisions, taking some blue painter's tape and taping over stuff whether current cabinets or the floor to try to figure out in real life where everything would go. We figured out that even though we met code on one clearance, we thought it was still too tight and made the related opening larger.

    Katie thanked colorfast
  • Katie
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    I have received so much help from people generously giving their time. Thank you everyone, for your patience with me. It's been a long and frustrating process to get to this point. I had high hopes that I could do the plan that moved the kitchen to the current dining room. But I have had four contractors over to my house now, and all four strongly recommended against it.

    Their greatest concern is the bulkhead that sticks out two feet, goes over the stairs, and connects to the wall dividing the dining room and kitchen. They all say it's there for a reason, it's best to leave it alone, and that it would look odd without the wall under it. I can't do that plan with that wall in the way.

    They also argued that moving the pipes that far in a finished basement will greatly add the to cost, time, and inconvenience of the project. Two also thought it would look very odd and hurt resale (I mentioned that we don't plan on moving anytime soon, but they said I still should consider it.)

    So that's how I was persuaded to do the best I can with the peninsula plan. Is it as good as bbtrix's idea (plan C)? No. But at least I can find a GC who is willing to do it, and I do think the consensus here was that the peninsula (plan A) was better than the large island (plan B).

    I do genuinely appreciate the feedback you all just gave me. It is helping me do the best I can with what I have.

  • Katie
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I just wanted to say that I found a GC who said he could remove the wall completely. Whatever is in the bulkhead, he can move, or at least he make the bulkhead smaller. If there are pipes in the wall, they can be moved to the living room. And he can replicate the textured ceiling (It won't be exactly the same, he says, but it's a stump ceiling so he can come close.) He understood that it is worth the money and labor to do so because of the better layout.

    If it hadn't been for bbtrix's last post, I would not have tried again with another GC, and I would have ended up with a kitchen not nearly as nice as what I now will get. I also think I was not really emphasizing hard enough to the previous GCs that I strongly preferred plan C and am willing to spend more money on labor to take care of the problems they brought up. They were the experts, so I was just differing to them. I am learning to speak up more for what I really want. So I wanted to thank everyone here who helped me.


  • bbtrix
    3 years ago

    He understood that it is worth the money and labor to do so because of the better layout. I'm glad you kept looking. At least you know he is listening to you. I would have been infuriated by the other contractor's responses. It sounded more like they wanted an easier job without inconveniencing them. I also find it very interesting they would comment to you about the look and resale, especially since your intent is to stay. Think of all the poorly designed and constructed houses out there. There are many levels of contractors and it gets harder and harder to find good ones. So many just want to slap it up and get er done. It's also interesting they would make an assumption about the bulkheads. Did they poke a hole and look? Did they investigate the routes for HVAC ducting and return air? I would want to know what's in the bulkheads before proceeding. You've never posted pics of the space. Would be helpful to see the bulkheads, doorways, crown, and trim.


    My DH is a contractor. While he is excellent at what he does and can visualize very well, he is used to working off architectural plans. In all of the projects I have done with him, he never would have approached kitchens from the design perspective that I have, and he has installed hundreds of kitchens. Yet he listened to me and is happy with the outcomes. The best thing I have learned from him is to fix the structural issues first that prevent you from having the work/living environment that improves your everyday life. I have stressed this all along, remember your goals. If you are investing this kind of money, make it functional and love the end product.


    I hope you get a detailed estimate from this guy. I'm curious about the kitchen designer you are using. Is the person a real designer or a cabinet seller? I still highly recommend IKEA for your project.

  • PRO
    Capitol Granite
    3 years ago

    I hope everything works out in your favor!

  • Katie
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    bbtrix wrote: "I would have been infuriated by the other contractor's responses. It sounded more like they wanted an easier job without inconveniencing them."

    Business is really booming in my area for contractors, so, yes, I do think they are in a position now that they can take just the easiest jobs. I am shy, so after a few of them recommended that I just improve my peninsula plan, I wasn't infuriated, because I believed them - they are the experts, after all, right? But I was very disappointed because I really wanted layout C. I've learned that I really have to stand up for what I want. (You can read on another thread about the many people trying to push me away from white Corain.) But it is difficult for me to stand up for my wants when it's the professionals who are pushing toward something else.

    bbtrix wrote: "Did they poke a hole and look? Did they investigate the routes for HVAC ducting and return air?"

    No! They just said there must be something there, so leave it alone. I'm no expert (if fact, I'm pretty clueless) but my guess is it isn't HVAC because we have one unit in the attic which feeds the upstairs and one unit in the basement that feeds the basement and main level. My hope is that there isn't anything in there but the bottom of the above stairwell, and they found this the easiest way to finish it. My best guess is pipes because there is a bathroom above the light fixture in front of it.

    bbtrix wrote: "I would want to know what's in the bulkheads before proceeding."

    Maybe I should cut into it myself, and just off cut the power to the house first, just in case I hit electrical!

    bbrtix wrote: "You've never posted pics of the space. Would be helpful to see the bulkheads, doorways, crown, and trim."

    bbtrix wrote: "I'm curious about the kitchen designer you are using. Is the person a real designer or a cabinet seller? I still highly recommend IKEA for your project.

    To tell the truth, the best designer I have found so far is at Lowes. I know, I know, Lowes can be hit and miss. But she is a hit. She has a degree in interior design, has been doing this for many years, has understood my needs and wants, and we have a really good working relationship. When I suggested flipping the dining and kitchen to her a few days ago, she thought it was an excellent idea, and was excited to make the most of this space. I think she genuinely wants to help me get the best kitchen I can for my family of eight. However, this contractor that I finally found who said that removing the wall is possible works only with one certain local cabinet company and designer - and he seemed skilled, smart, confident, and honest - so I'll have to start all over with his cabinet company and their KraftMaid Vantage if I can't find another contractor who will say it's possible to completely remove the wall. I am hoping that I won't have such a hard time now that I know it is really possible, and now that I am learning to stand up for what I want. I brought up Ikea with the first two contractors who came out; they both turned their noses at it. I like Ikea - especially because it is frameless - but finding someone who has enough confidence to remove the wall is a greater priority. Not sure if I can fight the Ikea battle, too. It's frustrating to me that contractors in my area don't seem to have much experience with Ikea or really any frameless.

  • bbtrix
    3 years ago

    after a few of them recommended that I just improve my peninsula plan, I wasn't infuriated, because I believed them - they are the experts, after all, right? Contractors aren't experts in kitchen design, but I do understand why they would recommend just improving the peninsula plan if the bulkhead was not removed because it would not look good if it had to stay with the wall down. I wish we knew about the bulkhead from the start because that is a budget changer and definitely effects the design. That's why the contractor needs to know what's in there so he can give you a good estimate of costs. Is this last contractor planning to give you an estimate? If you are forced to use his cabinet company, my guess is this job will be pricey. Is he aware of your $30K budget? Also, what cost did Lowes give you for the cabinets?


    How are you approaching the estimate process? Are you asking for bids on a full kitchen remodel? What if you just ask for bids for the physical changes separately - a contractor to handle the demo, re-framing, windows, doors, drywall, plumbing, electrical, flooring, siding, and trim work. Do you have an Ikea in your city? If so, contact them about installation services to find out if they are provided in your area. It would save money if you and your husband got a babysitter for a weekend and put them together yourselves. It's not difficult. It is also possible that you can find a contractor that can possibly do the entire job. More and more contractors in cities that have an Ikea are adding installation to their repertoire. What area of the country are you in?


    If I were in your shoes, there are two things I'd do right away. First, call Ikea about installation services and see if they have a contractor list. Second, have a contractor determine the cost of removing the bulkhead and DR walls including associated changes. That will tell you how much you have left for the remaining project and what is feasible.

  • Katie
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    bbtrix, I don't think I have ever received so much help from someone that I have never actually met in person! I really appreciate all your suggestions.

    I wish we knew about the bulkhead from the start because that is a budget changer and definitely effects the design.

    So sorry! I really hadn't thought about it until contractors started coming to the house. I'm so new at this, and I was thinking only of what was literally on the floor when I was providing info about the floor plan! My oversight caused me a great deal of disappointment - even heartache - when the contractors were talking about how very much it would add to the labor cost to completely remove the wall and bulkhead and deal with the textured ceiling and crown molding. I am curious what people would have suggested had I thought to bring up the bulkhead.

    However, I think that everything can be turned to good, and perhaps all that exploring of what could have been by flipping has now helped me see a better plan that saves lots of labor expense. This latest contractor suggested I present him with two plans, one with keeping the kitchen in the current location while moving the slider, and one with flipping, and he'd give me an estimate for both. (Though I certainly will call Ikea, too, which is about an hour away from me in Charles Town, WV - thanks for the suggestion.) He warned that flipping would cost a few thousand dollars more, and I can compare the two prices and determine if it is worth it to me. So I'd like to explore this plan below with my designer; I think it keeps with a lot of the ideas that we were going for in the flipped plan. The only place the ceiling has to be touched is where the wall to the left of the current refrigerator juts out one foot - that will have to be removed and a small area of stump texture added -but the bulkhead, crown and all the ceiling above the header can all stay. Cost of moving pipes and electrical should also be less.


  • bbtrix
    3 years ago

    Thanks, Katie. I truly care about the outcome of smaller, modest homes with layouts that aren't ideal. I feel that you should get the best possible solution for your money. Your budget is limited, and it should be, which is why I keep suggesting IKEA. It allows the money to move from cabinet cost to structural work. This is only a good idea if it saves $$ in the long run.


    I think this contractor's approach is spot on and what a contractor should suggest! The bulkhead is going to look odd no matter what you do, but looks less odd if the partial wall is left. I would still want to know what's in there and pay that contractor to look. That way there is no guessing and you'd also know if it can be reduced or not. What are the exact dimensions of the bulkhead (LxWxH)? Can you take a picture of that entire wall from back door to DR wall? Do you plan on an exhaust hood or one within a cabinet? The range wall can use tweaking.

    A DW is never suggested between the range and sink but IMHO it would be fine in your case since prep is on the other side. What size susan are you planning? That corner will be tight with the pantry. I would center the range between the windows and prep on the island.


    Do you home-school the kids?

    Katie thanked bbtrix
  • Katie
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    What are the exact dimensions of the bulkhead (LxWxH)?

    74" x 23" x 12.5"

    Can you take a picture of that entire wall from back door to DR wall?

    Do you mean like this?

    The bulkhead is going to look odd no matter what you do, but looks less odd if the partial wall is left.

    In order to have good flow around my long dining table, the more wall I can remove, the better. Keeping all 23" of wall under the bulkhead creates the pinch point I'm illustrating below. Do you think it would still be very odd if only a few inches of wall is left on the sides, but the header is kept the same height it is now, which is the same height as the bulkhead?

    Do you plan on an exhaust hood or one within a cabinet?

    I'm not wed to either kind. I thought I'd choose the kind that looks and functions better once I have the layout nailed down. I'm planning on a 400 CFM one, if that makes a difference, because I have only a 30" electric range and don't want to spend $$ on make up air.

    What size susan are you planning?

    36", unless I void the corner as I showed in one plan below.

    Do you home-school the kids?

    Yes, six kids ages sixteen to two, but we do not use the dining room for school anymore.

    That corner will be tight with the pantry. I would center the range between the windows and prep on the island.

    I've been giving this some serious thought. Here are the pros and cons that I see of prep sink placement on the island vs in front of the window.

    (Island pro #1) Range would look way better centered.

    (Island pro #2) Ice, water, stone, fire. When taking things out of the fridge, it seems it would be a bit easier to place food on the island than in the corner. (Though placing items on the counter by the fridge is not horrible.)

    (Island pro #3) In my world, it's actually "ice, water, stone, fire, stone" because I need a long expanse of counter to prepare dishes in an assembly line of eight plates before serving. It would be a bit easier to do that on a long expanse to the right of the range rather than behind on the island.

    (Island pro #4) Without the need to get a good run between sink and range on the same run, the run along the wall can be shortened a bit. This allows for better flow to the sliding glass door - though the flow wouldn't be bad either way. (The con to this is the clean-up sink would be about 5" off center from the big window).

    (Island pro #5) The trash can be more conveniently located between the two sinks.

    (Island pro #6) Primary prep will take place on the island, much closer to people sitting at the dining table who want to talk with kitchen workers.

    (Island con #1) The primary prep zone seems to impede on the clean up zone. Will it be uncomfortable for the person prepping on the island to have a dishwasher open directly behind? Will the person emptying that dishwasher have to walk all the way around the other side of the island to put things away because the the way is blocked with a person standing in the primary prep area with an open dishwasher behind?

    (Island con #2) With the amount of people who are in the kitchen, I'm nervous carrying hot pots across the aisle to drain pasta and potatoes and such. Of course, the clean-up sink would be close by, but it would be an even worse choice when the dishwasher is open.

    (Island con #3) I use a food processor several times a week. I am concerned it would be odd and in the way on the island. My Breville is way to heavy to lug across the aisle, so I'd have lots of annoying dripping from island to counter and back again every time I use the food processor. I don't know where to put my beloved food processor in this layout.

    (Island con #4) Won't water splash from the sink onto the heavily-trafficked floor behind this narrow island?

    (Island con #5) I have 66 1/2" between the the trim of the sliding glass door and the trim of the window. If the range is centered between them, the uppers flanking it will have to be very narrow, making them not nearly as useful or efficient one large one to the side of it.

    (Island con #6) There's lots of beautiful countertop in the corner that seems would be neglected.

    (Window pro #1) Cost. Pipes are already in that location for the current sink. Additionally, one contractor told me it's much more expensive to put a sink on an island than along the wall. Though I'm not sure if that's true or not, and I don't plan on using him, anyway.

    (Window pro #2) There'd be 42" from sink edge to range for primary prep. Many here think that is a really good distance. And this straight run of "water, stone, fire" looks very convenient and easy.

    (Window pro #3) It seems to make the most sense in a multi-cook kitchen to put the two sinks as far apart as possible, but I've never actually read this anywhere, so perhaps that's not actually true.

    (Window pro #4) The food processor can live in the corner, out of the way when not in use, but when needed it can easily be pulled forward, right next to the sink.

    (Window pro #5) The dishwashers are closer to where most of the washed items are stored.

    (Window pro #6) When we entertain or eat buffet style, it would be nicer and better to fill the whole island with food without a sink in the middle.

    (Window con #1) Although the total counter space around the prep sink is greater in this location if you count the part between the fridge and corner, that space is cramped because of the corner. My primary prep space is of the utmost importance, so this may outweigh all other considerations. I'm thinking it's not so bad now that I have eliminated the tall pantry, but I'm still pondering this because I spend much of my time prepping food for my family of eight.

    Here are the two plans:




  • kim k
    3 years ago

    Katie- We have a prep sink in our island and it's great. I love it for so many reasons... mainly because it makes sense for work flow but also when I am trimming strawberries, peeling potatoes etc I don't have to worry about clearing the dishes in the sink first, I also love having a separate clean up area for when I have a helper. I am always prepping food (only 4 kids for me but they're all boys so they eat like 8 ;) and I find it nice to be facing the room and chatting with them. When I need the space for serving I throw a cutting board over it and it works great. I agonized over it but wouldn't change it now!

    Katie thanked kim k
  • Katie
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    When I need the space for serving I throw a cutting board over it and it works great.

    Excellent tip, kim k. I hadn't thought of that, and I'll do that if I go with that plan. I still am going back and forth between the two - I'll have to decide by Friday, when I meet with my kitchen designer. The more I think about it, my biggest hesitations with my prep sink on the island plan is that it (1) seems to encourage crowding in the center of the kitchen while not enticing anyone to use several feet of counter along the perimeter between the fridge and range, and (2) this island seems very narrow to have a sink. I googled "image of sink in narrow island," and no picture came up that had a sink in an island as narrow as this one. But I feel I can't squeeze the aisle widths any more than this to make the island wider :-(

  • bbtrix
    3 years ago

    Katie, I wouldn't put the prep sink on the island. I think it's too narrow. I should have elaborated when I suggested prepping on the island. I meant additional chopping after veggies are rinsed if you needed to spread out more. I prep on my island and my long expanse next to my range. I would keep it on the perimeter and have a helper prep on the island and/or the other side of the range. My main issues are the lack of balance with the range hood and lack of storage with the removal of the pantry. Of course the elephant in the room is the bulkhead. I've mocked up how your proposals for dealing with the wall. I don't think they help it blend but brings more attention to it. What makes the most sense to me is to build a reach in pantry in the space to the right of the basement door leaving the stub wall on the right (reducing the depth to be the same as the bulkhead) and framing in a new wall next to the basement opening. Add shelving and doors to create a nice pantry. Are you getting a larger DR table than you already have? I ask because you already deal with that pinch point and pantry storage is critical to cooking for a large family. I've just blocked out the space in this view so you'd get the feel for the space.


    Maybe it would look best to extend it to the hallway wall and hang interesting art or something like a long charcuterie board to draw the eye away.


    The doors would look something like this. Possibly add lights to the bulkhead if there is room as I did here.


    Here are the views of your idea of leaving a few inches of wall on each side and continuing the bulkhead.

    Or without the stubby walls


    If you decide to keep the bulkhead that separates the two rooms, consider a narrow pantry next to the MW area.

    And no matter what you choose get a workstation sink for your prep sink. I love mine! You can keep the cutting board in when you're entertaining.

    Ruvati 23"


    Ruvati 28"


    Of course, let's hope you are able to remove the bulkhead or at least reduce it!! I also want to recommend you go no less than 42" between the range and the island. Even 42" will be tight if you have lots of helpers.

  • kazmom
    3 years ago

    “I also want to recommend you go no less than 42" between the range and the island. Even 42" will be tight if you have lots of helpers.”


    i agree reed with this! We have 42” (counter to counter) between the island and peremiter counter and love the space it gives. A few more inches would be awesome with a lot of people in the kitchen, but I definitely wouldn’t want less.

  • Katie
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I wouldn't put the prep sink on the island.

    Oh! Sorry I misunderstood. I think I just assumed that your suggestion to prep on the island meant the sink had to come, too, because I have read many posts here where people have said that they end up doing their primary prep next to their sink, no matter how cramped that area is, and even if they have much more counter in another location. And I can see that happening to me - working at that counter between the prep sink and range, even if it is small, and only turning to the island if I absolutely do not have the room to do that task between the sink and range. And that is why I maximized that space at the expense of centering the range.

    My main issues are the lack of balance with the range hood and lack of storage with the removal of the pantry.

    Do you feel that the lack of balance is really that bad that I should sacrifice this useful counterspace for it? Having a functional kitchen far outweighs appearance for me, but I am conscious of the need to avoid a super-odd-looking space, what Sophie so aptly calls a "remuddle."

    All your helpful tips about pantries made me think that perhaps we could turn the alcove into a pantry closet. I could have shelving put in and a set of bi-fold doors put on. That's probably way less expensive than the cabinetry and countertop I was originally thinking of in that location. The microwave could still be stored there on one of the shelves because we don't use it much.

    Are you getting a larger DR table than you already have? I ask because you already deal with that pinch point.

    This is how our table is now. People just couldn't get around the ends when we tried it parallel to the walls. You can see why we are all eager to have this wall opened up, and why I want to make sure we have enough clearance around the table.

    If we felt confident that having two feet of wall remain on each side would be sufficient for clearance around the table, we'd do something like this below, with a pantry closet like you suggest or a hutch reaching up to the bulkhead on one side, and the kitchen cabinets reaching to the wall on the other side. But it seems to me we'd have under 36" clearance around those table corners. It also gives no extra room to add a leaf to the table for company.

    So that's why I was hoping to have stub walls while keeping the bulkhead. That would keep costs down because I wouldn't have to pay for labor on the textured ceiling, crown, chair rail, or bulkhead, but I could still have ample clearance around the table. To me, the floor plan below looks awesome, but it sounds that you think the ceiling would look weird, even if the header of the wall remains the same height as the bulkhead. It's a tough decision for me to dive into this can of worms with the bulkhead when I'd be spending money for something purely for looks and not function - on a house in a neighborhood that doesn't "deserve" sinking this much money in, and when I am being told time and time again by contractors to leave it alone. And the only contractor I've found so far who had the confidence to reduce/remove the bulkhead and imitate the textured ceiling works only with one specific cabinet dealer and won't do any work until I have paid for cabinets. But, as I mentioned above with the range, I know I do have to consider looks.

    BTW, thanks so much for taking the time to block out the space - it really helps me visualize. And I'll make sure to stick to 42" around the long sides of the island - thanks for the tip.


  • kim k
    3 years ago
    Oh that makes sense! I didn’t notice the island depth - ours is 38” so we have more space in the island. We do have our main sink in a peninsula however and the counter is only 28” deep. No issues with splashing etc. if you do a 15” square prep sink you’ll have some extra counter space around the sink.
    Katie thanked kim k
  • bbtrix
    3 years ago

    I do not have a large family to cook for, but all my cooking is large batch so I can freeze meals. I have a 45" sink on my large island and would never want to prep with a 15" sink. It is just too small for my style of cooking. It sounds like you prep similar to me with large amounts of vegetables and a food processor. I go back and forth from island to perimeter next to the range constantly at every meal. I find the pivot quite convenient with my 42" aisle. You will adapt to your new space. I can envision you doing veggie prep with FP to the right on the fridge wall and meat prep between the sink and range. You can move prepped, ready to cook veggies to the island if more room is needed. I cook mis en place, so I pivot and move items once prepped. The island can also be used for fridge and pantry items pulled for your recipes, waiting to be prepped. It looks like you have around 27-30" between sink and range in your last plan? I personally would make that work for me rather than live without the visual balance. My brain just would not be able to tolerate it, but maybe yours can. Creating a pantry in the alcove will be very useful and way less expensive than cabinets. It also puts the pantry items close to the island.

    2' of clearance is not enough. Keeping the header makes the most sense for you to provide a useful DR (I had no idea you had your table on an angle) and keep costs down. It really is necessary to take down that wall to make your DR work for your family. Stub walls look fine when incorporated into the architecture and surrounding space, but I really do not think it works with the bulkead and also creates a strange divider between the DW and sliding door. IMHO it would look best with just the header and no stub walls. Do some image searches to see soffit and bullhead treatments IRL.

    I'm curious what your kitchen gal will draw up. She should be doing the plan with the dining room wall the way you want it so you can visualize properly, including the bulkhead.

    Katie thanked bbtrix
  • Katie
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I can envision you doing veggie prep with FP to the right on the fridge wall and meat prep between the sink and range. You can move prepped, ready to cook veggies to the island if more room is needed.

    I have been doing mock-ups with this arrangement, and I think you are right on. With the range centered, I still have good choices near the prep sink for different activities. I was thinking that counter space between the sink and range would be useless, but it would be fine for some activities, like the meat prep you point out. BTW, my 5-year-old asked me, wide-eyed, what I was doing. When I explained that I was pretending to be in my new kitchen, she remarked that she didn't know adults pretended. :-)

    IMHO it would look best with just the header and no stub walls.

    The biggest reason I wanted to have at least stub walls was because then I don't have to deal with what to do with the chair rail in the dining room. I'm not sure what would look best or be the most cost efficient. Removing the chair rail entirely? Extending it to the DW and the door to the basement stairs? Keeping it where it is and having it ending mid-air? But I absolutely see your point about it creating a strange divider between the DW and sliding door. The DW will need some kind of countertop support on the side - what about making it a useful one that brings the cabinet run to the stub wall that sticks out 12", like this base end angle cabinet? Do you think think that would still look odd?

    I think 12" stub walls will still allow decent clearance around the table, but we'll see what my designer thinks when she plugs all the measurements in. And if we find that the bulkhead can be reduced to a foot depth without great expense, having a wall below it that sticks out just as much would look better, as you pointed out up-thread.

  • bbtrix
    3 years ago

    BTW, my 5-year-old asked me, wide-eyed, what I was doing. When I explained that I was pretending to be in my new kitchen, she remarked that she didn't know adults pretended. :-)

    ROTFL!! That's just what my nearly 4 yr old grandson would say!!!

    The biggest reason I wanted to have at least stub walls was because then I don't have to deal with what to do with the chair rail in the dining room.

    This depends on what your style is and what cabinetry you're choosing. You want it all to be cohesive. If you remove the chair rail it will be a more clean, contemporary look, especially without the stub walls. If you like the chair rail and the style fits with your vision, then keep it. It all depends on your taste at this point since you think you'll have enough room to move with the 12" wall. I'm not fond of angle cabinets, but if you don't mind them they can serve the purpose to transition. I would also plan to do something on the other wall like the hutch you mentioned and a slim buffet or console table on the the DR side. Then I assume you will plan to keep the crown on the DR side of the header and trim out the opening. This look is more traditional and gives you room definition. No rail and stub walls is more contemporary and open. What is your style? Do you have pics saved in an idea book of the look you are going for?

    Katie thanked bbtrix
  • kim k
    3 years ago
    Katie so cute about your 5 year old! My kids are 10, 9, 6 and 4. They were quite entertained by my constant measuring and walking around the house imagining the kitchen.

    prep sink size definitely depends on how you prep. I cook a lot of veggies and cut up fruits, potatoes etc. i need a lot of counter space but my sink is only used for washing each item before i chop on the cutting board next to the sink, for collecting the food scraps and then running the disposal. I don’t leave any of the food in the sink it’s all right in a pan or on a plate . I fill pasta pots, drain water etc. 15x15 is perfect for the way i use the sink. Larger would waste valuable counter prep space. Having a large deep clean up sink has been life changing though! Just sharing a different perspective from someone that also cooks for a mini army :)
    Katie thanked kim k
  • Katie
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    It's been several days since I have posted, but that is because I have been giving these ideas much thought and have been talking to many professionals.

    What is your style? Do you have pics saved in an idea book of the look you are going for?

    This is an excellent question. I have looked at thousands of pictures of kitchens, and I haven't seen one that I can say, "That's exactly what I'm going for." So, to best answer your question, I'll show you the materials I'd like to use: ginger maple shaker fronts, white solid surface counter, "oak" LVP flooring, "painted" backsplash tile, and, if I keep some wall on both sides dividing the kitchen and dining room, I'd put the blue paint in the kitchen, yellow above the chair rail and the blue below in the dining room, and yellow on the walls of the rest of the main floor.

    So I'm not sure what you'd call it - transitional? Although I am very excited about being able to see and chat with people at the dining table while I am cleaning up in the kitchen, I think I do prefer having the more traditional mental division between kitchen and dining room with even just stub walls, and I do like the chair rail, if I am able to keep a bit of wall on the sides. Maybe that is the very definition of transitional? But practical matters of the small house and large family and a limited budget must be considered above my personal preferences.

    Although the contractor said "it doesn't cost that much to reduce the bulkhead," "it doesn't cost that much to move the sliding glass door," and "it doesn't cost that much to move pipes for the clean-up sink," all of it together - with the cabinet vendor that he uses - did cost much. He just came out this afternoon to do some measurements and discuss ways to reduce cost. This plan below is what I discussed with him:

    (1) Instead of messing with the bulkhead at all, keeping the wall only as far as the depth of the bulkhead (about 23"), but then have little to no wall on the other side. I can't have 23" on the other side for symmetry, because that wouldn't leave enough room to walk around people seated at the table, but I'm hoping that would look fine if we put cabinets up to the ceiling in the corner where the bulkhead is. He liked this idea a lot, because you just don't know what's in there. (BTW, I offered to pay him to open it up and see, but he won't open it up to have a look, or do any work at all, until a full contract is signed, first payment given, and cabinets ordered.) He did warn, however, that the cost of the cabinets and counter there will probably cost about the same as what he was including for reducing the bulkhead - so this solution does give more storage, it doesn't actually save any money.

    (2) Instead of a sliding glass door, put in a 30" standard door using the opening for the existing window in the dining room. A sliding door would be much better than a swinging door that hits those seated at the table, but it will be rare that we have people seated while others are going in and out, so I'll do it if it saves a lot of $$. He loved this idea, and said it would save me about $1000, but when I asked about what he'd recommend about the HVAC register that is currently on he floor in front of the window, he said it would be too costly to move it, and I should just leave it. It seems the register plate would get kicked up and rusted with traffic in and out, so I am not sure how good of a solution this is, after all.

    (3) I thought having a pantry closet with shelves and doors would save money over the cost of cabinets and countertop in that alcove, but he said the labor to put the shelves, doors and drywall would be more, so I'll go back to the cabinets.

    (4) Lose the second dishwasher. If I have a prep sink, it won't be so bad having one dishwasher with dishes piling up in the clean-up sink. As you can see below, I'm concerned about clearances and flow; losing the dishwasher will cut the cost some but also will give better clearances if I have to keep the 23" of wall below the bulkhead. I played with a few designs with two dishwashers and only one sink, but none of them seemed to work nearly as well as this one. Bbtrix - the range is centered in this design :-) and I'd love to know if you think if the stub wall that would stick out about 6" would still create a strange divide between the dishwasher and door, now that the dishwasher and door are much further away from each other. He liked this idea, but it still requires moving pipes, so let's hope that "doesn't cost that much."

    (5) I've fallen in love with the white solid surface countertops and the painted backsplash I pictured above, but I may just have to go to laminate countertops with the 4" backsplash if that saves thousands of dollars. He recommended granite over laminate or solid surface. Many granites are beautiful, but my countertops are primarily a work surface that functions better if it is light-colored and simple, and I find granite dark and very busy, and the few granites that are lighter in color seem to stain easily. I've heard laminates have come a long way, I just liked solid surface more because it's more reparable, doesn't have seams, the integrated sink, and I like the soft feel of it - maybe that's not worth the extra $$.

    Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me and has been liking my comments - I warned in my subject line that this would be a challenge, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into!





  • emilyam819
    3 years ago

    Take a hammer to that bulkhead yourself to see what’s inside!

    Katie thanked emilyam819
  • emilyam819
    3 years ago

    Have you considered opening the wall to the living room more and turning the table the other way? Maybe that would solve some clearance issues around the bulkhead wall. Also make room for a sideboard.

    Katie thanked emilyam819