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Full kitchen remodel, need layout help (update)

Okay, this time I've come better prepared with photos and labeled drawings.

It's time to gut our kitchen. It's too narrow for the island that is there, if for one at all. It is not good for multiple cooks in the kitchen and my husband and I do all the cooking together. It's solid but dated, not to our tastes and the cabinets have partial overlay doors with plinths that make getting larger plates, bowls or cooking utensils in and out a pain. We have to store some of our larger cookware and tools in the utility room down the hall. There's off-white tile with wide white grout that is a terrible match when you have three very large dogs and nearly an acre of dirt, grass God-only-knows-what for them to tramp through. And while there is space that is intended for an eat-in kitchen, we pretty much just use it to feed the dogs. It's all coming out.

That said, I'm working myself into a tizzy about how to improve the layout without removing load-bearing walls. We ARE however considering removing the doorway to the former dining room (future home office), the wall and weird reach-in closet between the kitchen and new dining room and the pantry under the stairs. (See the rough drawing, not to scale but measurements are there) For the pantry, we're thinking of moving it to the corner since that wall is really short and every cabinet configuration I've sketched out, on paper or using the IKEA kitchen planner, leaves me disappointed.

I have a potential mockup of what we were thinking here too (see last photo), but if we open up the wall between the dining and the kitchen, it feels like there is not a good transition between the rooms and it leaves weird dead space that I don't know what to do with and the space is already so long and narrow. We've talked about replacing the double windows in the "eat-in" space with French doors and closing off the door to the backyard that current exists in the dining room but that interrupts the flow. If we leave those windows, they're only 30" off the ground, so putting cabinets in front of them blocks them. Please help!

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