Kitchen Layout Breakdown

I am excited to share with you how we are going to reconfigure the kitchen layout to better maximize space, storage, and efficiency. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but we are making some small changes that I hope will create some more storage and counter space and add up to a more organized kitchen.

To orient you, here’s a bird’s eye view of the first floor of the house so you can see where the kitchen is in relation to the rest of the floor.

First Floor Layout

Each of the appliances shown above are generally going to stay in the same place. We are moving the dishwasher over so that it’s right next to the sink and the sink is shifting just a bit so that the faucet will be centered on the window above it, but those are the only changes to the appliance layout.

The new layout adds some additional cabinets and counter space.  As you can see from this picture there is a tall pantry cabinet to the left of the range.

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In the new layout, the tall pantry cabinet will be replaced with a slanted upper and lower cabinet with a small triangle-shaped countertop. We are also adding an over-the-range microwave which will actually vent outside instead of simply recirculating, which is what our current hood does. I am so excited about this! The upper cabinets to the right of the range are just a standard 33″ cabinet. Here is a rendering of what that wall will look like.

Range View

Here is a what the sink wall currently looks like. Sorry the photo is so dark, the lighting in this room is tough to wrangle! We are going to try to salvage the gingerbread detail around the window and re-install it once the new cabinets are in. I have no idea if we will be able to do that or not, so stay tuned for that drama!

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As I mentioned above, the dishwasher will slide over and sit right next to the sink and the sink will slide to the right a little bit so that we can center the faucet on the window. This will also allow us to add a 18″ wastebasket pullout cabinet to the left of the sink. Yay, no more visible trash can! The upper cabinets on both sides of the sink are blind corner cabinets, which means that they don’t have angled shelves or a lazy susan layout, they simply go straight back towards the other wall. This is the same layout that my left upper cabinet on this wall has now, it’s not the most ideal cabinet configuration in my opinion, but the length of this wall combined with the size and placement of the window didn’t lend themselves well to the other upper cabinet options that this cabinet company offered, so we are going with blind corner uppers on both corners of the sink wall.

Sink View

And instead of a large, two-bowl sink, I am going to go with one smaller bowl. Currently the width of both bowls is a combined 29″ and the new sink will be 21″ but I think it will be more functional for me as the width of the individual bowls on my current sink are only 14″ so many of my pots and pans can’t be set easily in the sink, which is a major pet peeve of mine. Since I have such limited cabinet and counter space in a 10 x 10′ kitchen, I think a medium size single bowl sink that will fit with in a 30″ sink cabinet is the best choice.

Sink selection for Bilger

Swinging around to the sun room wall, here’s where things start to get exciting. As you can see in the photo below, and as you may remember from the mini-kitchen makeover of April 2013, there are a couple of narrow shelves that Mark and I installed for extra storage. These are going to be removed and we plan to eventually replace them, but we are going to tackle that part ourselves after the main job is done.

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What we are going to add to this wall is a 16″ deep lower cabinet and countertop.  We couldn’t add a full depth (24″) lower cabinet because it wouldn’t fit with the dishwasher, which we obviously didn’t want to give up, but we liked the idea of having the additional countertop space. This does mean we are losing a little bit of storage space in the corner of the sink wall, but I think we are gaining that back with the storage we will now have on this wall.

Sun Room View

And last but not least we have the fridge wall. This wall currently has no original cabinets or countertops. I don’t know what was originally on this wall, but it wasn’t the fridge. Originally, the refrigerator was were the range is now, which is explains why the outlet is so high on that wall. The original range/cooktop was on the sun room (formerly the back yard) wall.  You can tell because there is a patch in the brick where it used to vent outside. This wall may never have had cabinets and might have housed a small table or a desk. Either way, this wall currently houses some cheap IKEA upper cabinets, a shelve for the microwave that Mark and I made, and a portable IKEA kitchen cart.

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Obviously this wall is going to receive the biggest transformation because the cabinets are finally going to match the rest of the kitchen and will properly frame out the fridge. To accomplish this, we’re moving the fridge over about 5″ and adding full depth cabinets above. To the right of the fridge we’re including a 24″ wide tall pantry cabinet with both shelves and drawers. In order to not overly close off the entrance to the kitchen from the living/dining room, the depth of this cabinet will only 18″ deep, but I think it will provide a wealth of really usable storage for pantry items, linens, etc.

Fridge View

So that’s the wall-by-wall layout of the new kitchen. Here’s the bird’s eye rendering with dimensions in case that’s helpful to see as well.

Bird's Eye

Before I end this post, I would like to share a few last thoughts about the layout and the idea that renovating a space means you can get exactly what you want. First, although our options were limited given space restrictions, we did consider a couple of other layout options and ultimately decided that this one met our goals the best. It provides alot more counter space and a little bit more storage. However, we did not get everything we wanted. We had to go with those blind corner cabinets which are not as user-friendly as the lazy susan options, but work better for our space. Over-the-range microwaves aren’t my cup of tea, but it made the most sense for this kitchen both visually and function-wise, so we went with one. There’s also a little bit of “dead space” next to both the fridge and dishwasher, which were trade-offs for other features.

So in the end I am very happy with the new layout, but it didn’t come without some compromise. I wouldn’t say that I am getting my dream kitchen, but as I mentioned here, that’s not really the point. What I do think is dreamy is that this kitchen should add value to the house as a whole, as well as be more functional and better looking.

In my next post, which I hope to have up next weekend, I will share with you what cabinets, countertops, appliances, fixtures, etc. we chose along with more information on the storage solutions we are incorporating. We are ordering the cabinets first thing tomorrow morning and should have a delivery date by the end of the week, so I hope to also be able to also share the timeline for this project as well. We’ll see!

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Something’s Cooking

One of my favorite things to hatewatch are episodes of House Hunters that feature a young couple who are buying in a reasonably-priced area (read: they can afford to have “must haves” that go beyond a roof, a semi-solid foundation, and running water) and who go into homes and complain about the kitchen because it’s not “updated.” They always say things like “this has got to go”; “a total cut job”‘ or my personal favorite, “I could never cook in here.”  Every time I hear someone say that, I always want to yell back, “yes you can!”

Because the truth is you can cook almost anywhere.  Contrary to what HGTV will try and tell you, food can still be cooked on non-commercial grade ranges, non-stainless steel refrigerators still keep food cold, and non-granite counters are still counters. Now don’t get me wrong, if you’ve seen my Pinterest page, you know I love me some kitchen porn, but I will be the first to tell you that no one needs to have a gourmet kitchen to cook good food.  I really love the food blog Smitten Kitchen, because Deb always reminds me that space is not a limiting factor in what you can cook.

Point?

We’re renovating the kitchen. Not because we have to, but because we think it will add value to our house.  Home values in our neighborhood and area are going up and we now have enough equity in our house to safely make a large investment in an area of the house that usually sees the highest return for your money.

I am not saying my kitchen doesn’t have some issues.  The semi-broken and super leaky faucet, non-venting range hood, and a layout that doesn’t maximize space are not ideal so I am certainly more than excited to be upgrading.  But I am glad that we waited and lived in our house for 4 years first, and I am glad that we waited until both our finances and the value of the house were in a strong place so that we have the piece of mind that we are making a good financial decision.

What we will not be getting, however, is a bigger kitchen.  While we are making tweaks to the current layout, there’s no real feasible way to increase the size to anything beyond the current 10 x 10′ footprint.  Here’s a floor plan of the lower level of the house so that you can see what I mean.

First Floor Layout

Before we embarked on the sun room project, we talked about our long-term goals for the kitchen and the house in general and decided that we likely wouldn’t be living in the house long enough (read: forever) to justify the type of full-scale renovation/add-on that would be required to increase the size of the kitchen by extending it out towards the backyard. And we didn’t want to lose the main floor bathroom, especially since it wouldn’t yield very much more square footage, so we decided to live with the kitchen’s current size and went ahead with the sun room since it was in such bad shape.

Last fall, as we put the finishing touches on the sun room, I began to think seriously about our options for the kitchen.  We met with a couple of kitchen designers, consulted friends and family, and spent countless hours playing around on Ikea and Lowe’s free kitchen design software.  Working with a kitchen designer from a local kitchen and bath renovation company, we finally came up with a layout that we think will give us the best functionality within the constraints of our current size and layout.

This was both a fun and frustrating process.  Fun because you can start to see what the options are and frustrating because you realize that you can’t get everything that you really want.  It took about 3 months of serious back and forth with the kitchen designer before we settled on a final layout.  Then it took another 2 months to get the installer out to our house to discuss the few structural changes we wanted to make including the addition of an outside-venting range hood, some better task lighting, and a little bit of HVAC shuffling. That finally happened this week and we are ready to move forward with the ordering of the cabinets and generally making this renovation happen.

I have lots more details for you about the final layout we decided on, what materials we are going to use, costs, timeline, etc. but I will save those details for the next post. See you soon!