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Kitchen appliances - Function over form?

Shre J
3 months ago

This is my kitchen layout the way I thought would work best for my cooking needs and the family’s needs. I talked to a couple interior designers and they pointed out that I won’t like it once it’s built this way because the prep space by the sink would be too choppy when I put the wall microwave there. We ran through multiple configurations of moving the fridge or oven and keep coming back to this layout which I like for the following reasons:

  • all frequently used appliances like the stove, fridge and oven are on one side
  • the cooktop faces the great room and has prep space on both sides
  • there is enough landing area next to both the fridge and micro.
  • I don’t have to bend to use the micro as would be the case with an under counter microwave.
  • we thought about putting the micro in the pantry but kids sometimes make a mess and I’d rather keep the micro in the kitchen. I am fine with moving the oven anywhere bc I don’t use it much.

Any photos or thoughts on similar configuration? I feel like there is 5.5’ of counters between fridge and micro so should be okay but I am second guessing myself. We looked at top cabinet microwaves but those tend to be much smaller. Help!

Comments (30)

  • Shre J
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Looks like Houzz finally published this post. Any takers? Thanks in advance!

  • anj_p
    3 months ago

    It's been up for awhile...

    I think the biggest issue you will find is that no one will be on board with the island cooktop. It's driving your design, and not in a good way.

    I'm not a big fan of the oven microwave combo breaking up your counter. You have a huge kitchen but it's choppy, as you said in your post.

    I would put the range on the exterior wall and properly vent it (downdrafts are not it). I would also use a range, not a cooktop. I would put the prep sink in the island. Most work in the kitchen is done during prep, not at the stove, and prep is easiest next to a sink. The area next to a stove is generally a "staging" area - where prepped ingredients are placed. But generally you'd put the cutting board by the sink, so you'd be chopping veggies etc. under cabinets. I would put the microwave under the counter in the island. And then I would make sure I could open my fridge door next to the wall. I also wouldn't want the fridge and range across from each other like you have it - if anyone tries to grab a drink they could get in the way of the cook.

    Anyway, those changes would eliminate the choppiness of your kitchen. If you can't possibly imagine cooking with a range on the wall... You could do an under counter oven and a microwave in a cabinet next to the fridge, or put it on the side of the island near the fridge.

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  • anj_p
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Also, you don't have 5.5' of counter. You have two 2'-9" sections of counter with a sink in the middle of it. The minimum recommended space next to a sink is 3' for prep, and you won't have that minimum. I have 5' next to my sink (which is on the island) and I use every inch of it (and actually I use a lot more than 24" of width as well - my prep bowls etc. probably go at least 2'-6" if not 3' into the counterspace I have).

  • Shre J
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Hi Anj_p, thanks for your feedback. I make rolled out stove breads and spend a good amount of time in front of the stove and prefer to keep an eye on the kids while doing that. That’s why I have the cooktop in the island. I have it in my current home too and it is working well.

    I agree about limited space around the prep sink but maybe I move it off center so there is a little more than 3’ on one side. I also saw sinks that have a cutting board cover so you can still use the space. But it’s my first time building so definitely a little nervous. I think under the counter microwave might be my saving grace.

  • anj_p
    3 months ago

    Well think about the other things I mentioned as well - the fridge and cooktop conflict in particular. That would be enough to drive me bananas. I don't know what rolled out stove breads are so I have no idea how much stove time that takes, but unless it's like risotto where you're constantly working it...I dunno, it's your kitchen. Would be a deal breaker for me.

    If you put your oven under the counter and microwave at the end of the island you won't have a choppy kitchen.

  • wdccruise
    3 months ago

    I have a small, galley kitchen an its most annoying attribute is that the range and prep space are on opposite sides of the room. As @anj_p suggested, I'd replace the oven with a range to get rid of the cooktop on the island* and slide the prep sink towards the refrigerator to allow more counter space between it and the range.

    *There are very few downdraft cooktops -- Appliances Connection has only 16 -- and downdraft hoods don't work very well. The Elica ENS436BL and Fisher Paykel CID364DTB4 are the only two induction models.

    -- light-duty cook

  • Shre J
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Anj_p good point about the fridge and cooktop. I emailed my architect about it.

  • Shre J
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks wdccruise. I will check out the link!

  • anj_p
    3 months ago

    You'll hear a refrain on this board often, that architects don't design kitchens, kitchen designers do.

    If you end up keeping this layout as is, consider reducing the width of your island by 1' and giving more space to the aisle with the fridge. A 48" fridge if it's split evenly will open 2' into your aisle. Someone standing in front of it will take up the rest of the space. This situation would probably land me in divorce court or result in putting my kids up for adoption. Teasing of course. But really, space conflicts like that would end up testing my patience big time.

    My dishwasher opens right next to my rangetop. They don't overlap, but I've already tripped over the door a handful of times. Just sayin.

    And check your fridge specs to make sure you don't need a filler next to that wall (you probably do), which will push your fridge over even farther.

  • Shre J
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    That’s helpful! Any leads on where to find a kitchen designer on short notice? And love the humor :D

  • mcarroll16
    3 months ago

    Anj has great advice. If you take no other suggestion, move your microwave next to the fridge. Either undercounter in the island, or countertop or built-in right nect to the fridge. Fridge and microwave are the two appliances frequently used by non-cooks. You don't want people crossing the prep zone to move food from the fridge to the microwave. This goes double when that prep zone is a sink opposite a cooktop, with a cook moving back and forth across that aisle.


    How much redesign are you open too? Because I would recommend posting a fuller houseplan and asking the talented people (anj, for a start!) for fuller design advice. Issues I see at a glance (and you may have good reasons for them).

    1) You have your dish cleanup at the farthest side from the eating area, which seems inconvenient. You could rearrange so cleanup and dish storage are closer to eating.

    2) There's a butler's pantry with a third sink? Lots of sink, counter, and storage, but so chopped up.

    3) The island is very wide for an island with no seating. Is this for rolling out the breads? Here's a wacky idea for your kitchen, since you've got a lot of space, and some unique cooking styles: What if you used built-in griddle unit (look at Wolf offerings for example), or restaurant grade portable induction unit, for efficient bread production on the island. Put a separate range on the wall, so you can have effective venting for other kinds of cooking.

    4) The serving bar. Is it for counter seating? Buffet service?

    These are intended as genuine questions, not criticism. Looking at your design, I see someone with some unique kitchen needs, probably cooking for a lot of people. Understanding more about what you need, why you've put in these various elements, will help other Houzz people give you the best advice.

  • Shre J
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Mcarroll, thanks, I like the griddle idea too! And the sink being far away from the dishes is also not ideal. Thanks for pointing it out. Eek I wish I had shared the layout with this community before asking the architect to do it this way. But hopefully I can still tweak some since we haven’t got to plumbing or electrical drawings. the short story is that there will be kids, parents and grandparents in the home everyday who like to cook/heat up and we entertain additional 4-8 guests every month. The bar seating is overflow. And biannual family reunions mean 50 people in the house and at least 5 in the kitchen hence the extra counter space and small dw in the butler. Pantry is big bc Costco and certain ethnic groceries take up room.

  • Shre J
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Bigger layout with great room, formal dining, Butler and kitchen.

  • Sherry
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Delete the prep sink. Keep frig where it is, then sink, and then dishwasher. Move oven to side next to butler pantry where dishwasher is now.

  • mcarroll16
    3 months ago

    Wow! You have a lot going on! I'm glad you can built a big kitchen to handle all of that. I'm going to be thinking about this all day, and also hoping other people show up to give advice. Here is one quick idea, now that I've seen a larger floor plan. It makes sense to keep the main sink and dishwasher as is, so that they flow well with the butler's pantry work area. What do you think about narrowing the island to 42" wide, maybe 48" wide, and then putting 15" deep floor-to-ceiling cabinets along the "east" wall of the prayer room? This would give you primary dish storage that is close to from the main cleanup area and the butler's pantry. And people using the breakfast area can reach it without crossing prep zones. With the family size and entertaining demands you list, I'm guessing you have a lot of of dishes and serveware to store.

  • anj_p
    3 months ago

    This wasn't your question, but I would strongly consider adding an opening between dining room & living room. Your overflow seating at the peninsula isn't connected at all to the dining room or breakfast room - it will feel like diners are miles away from each other. Having to walk through the rotunda (not sure what that room is but sounds appropriate) just to get to the dining room seems awkward.

    Also put the DW on the other side of the sink in the butler's pantry, so it can be open as dishes are being cleared from the dining room and no one will trip over it.

    If you are going to have that many people cooking, you will definitely want bigger aisles and clearance between fridge and cooktop. I would also consider venting with an overhead hood.

  • anj_p
    3 months ago

    And FWIW it's very challenging to have sink and dishwasher and refrigerator all in the perfect spot. Most of the time, something will be less than ideal. Assuming you'll be dining most days at the breakfast area, the dishes will be a bit of a hike, but at least a drink or salad dressing will be easy to grab. As long as dish storage doesn't bring people through the work zone you'll be fine.

    (Although I have to say I think our custom kitchen was as close to perfect as you could get but I'm biased. Prep sink in this plan would have been changed to the other side of the island.)


  • mcarroll16
    3 months ago

    Oh, I hadn't noticed that the dining room isn't open to the main living area. Anj is right, you need a wide doorway where you have the arched niche.


    Please forgive cultural ignorance--do prayer rooms need to enclosed without windows? Asking because I think you could get a better layout if you moved the prayer room to the bottom left, where your big dining room window is. The dining table could rotate with the long side running along the butler's pantry. You could still enclose the dining room partially to screen it from the kitchen and butler's pantry, if you want formal dining room.

  • PRO
    MDLN
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Sink between the fridge and stove / cooktop / oven.

    MW in upper cabinet area next to fridge.


  • opaone
    3 months ago

    "I have it in my current home too and it is working well."

    The harmful VOC's, Carcinogens and PM from cooking are largely undetectable. If you are set on keeping the range in your island I'd strongly suggest an overhead hood. More here: https://bamasotan.us/range-exhaust-hood-faq/


  • rainyseason
    3 months ago

    With your busy household, consider placing both of your dishwashers in the butlers pantry. I currently have split dishwashers, much like your plan, and I’d not do it again. When there’s a lot of dishes I’m filling one and then carting dirty dishes to the next one. Guests get annoyed—since often one is loading while the other is washing— where do I take the dishes now? It is a hike to clear the breakfast room table, but not much farther than the current dishwasher in your plan. It’s also nice to get all the clean up out of view. This would give more exterior wall space for your range/cooktop and good venting too. Also, I second the recommendation for a true kitchen designer. You’ve got some fabulous space to work with, it (and you!) deserve the expertise to make it function and look its best.

  • wdccruise
    3 months ago

    @rainyseason: "It is a hike to clear the breakfast room table, but not much farther than the current dishwasher in your plan."

    Well I know where I'd leave my bowl after scarfing down cereal before heading out: on the breakfast table.

  • Shre J
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thank you all! Lots to think about after reading your suggestions. I am also trying to find a designer to talk to. I placed a few calls to local kitchen ans bath designers but waiting to hear back. Alternatively, would you recommend using online services like Modsy or Havenly or Lowe’s designer?

  • anj_p
    3 months ago

    Havenly and modsy are interior decorators. I'm a big fan, but they're not going to design a kitchen for you. The big box stores will lay out cabinets for you but likely won't know much of anything about good functional kitchen design. A certified kitchen and bath designer is what you need. Good luck!

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    3 months ago

    IMO get an independant kitchen designer not just an ID and for sure not your architect . I agree unless that cooktop can be venter properly through theroof where it is it is bad placement. I really dislike walkin pantries and for sure when they are not in the main work space . This is one of those kitchens where it is big and not functional. Walking through the breakfast area to the outdoor kitchen is not good design and either are kitchens in the center of the house with virtually no windows .A 60" island is too wide for cleaning easily MWs IMO belong on a shelf or sitting on the counter since they do not last forever. If you must have a disposal it belongs beside the prep sink and that aisle where you have all the works areas needs to be wider and you do not show the meaurement of those walkaways and BTW you need 60 from the edge of the island to the wall if you want seating at the island .IMO to cross infront of a cooktop to get from fridge to prep sink is bad design . Get some help now before this is a nightmare to function in .

  • mcarroll16
    3 months ago

    Shre J, you might try starting another post asking for recommendations for virtual kitchen designers. There was a thread a few days ago where a couple of pros gave some recommendations. Sadly I can't find it now.


    Lowe's is not the place though. Many of their designers aren't trained. And you're building a kitchen for heavy use, in what looks like a high-end home. A lot of Lowe's cabinet options are lower grade than what you need.

  • Andrea C
    3 months ago

    It seems unusual to have such a long stretch of wall without a window. If you decide that for you the cooktop is best in the island, I suggest centering the window at the front of the house, moving the oven to the corner next to the butler’s pantry, moving the main sink to the right side, and adding a large window to the right wall. That said, I am squarely in the camp of not having the stove in the island. The kids are little for only a blip in time and though I don't know how time intensive stove bread is, I can‘t imagine that it anywhere near the combined time spent cleaning dishes and prepping three meals a day (plus snacks).


  • Shre J
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Even without kids around, it is so much nicer to prep and cook looking at an open space rather than a wall. Often times I will prep and cook at the same time. We have a skylight over the island and one big window over the main sink but will have to think about adding one more window in the current prep sink area. One idea is to move the fridge where the oven is and put a microwave next to the fridge. But then all family will have to walk past the 10’ island to get water or rinse plates. This is hard! :(. Trying to get professional help but can’t get a response soon.

  • anj_p
    3 months ago

    Most people would prep next to a sink, which is why the prep sink would be in the island. The way your kitchen is set up now, you would be prepping at the wall. The best prep space is next to a sink. The amount of time most people spend prepping in the kitchen is 70%. The remaining 30% is cooking and cleaning combined. Most people don't stand at the stove while stuff cooks...you stir it, then do something else, then stir, then do something else, then flip, then do something else, etc. Again, none of us knows what stove bread is and how labor intensive that is on the stove - or how much you're doing that in a day. As @Andrea C said, the specific example of stove bread is probably not enough to outweigh all the rest of the time you spend prepping in your kitchen...making sandwiches, cutting up fruit, chopping veggies, etc. But it seems like you are not going to be swayed - and it's making your kitchen less functional, unfortunately.

    Don't put the fridge where the oven is. The fridge belongs on the edge of the kitchen. The only place it can go in your current set up is where it is. You would need to revise the prayer room and bulter's pantry to make it work anywhere else.