Kitchen Chronicles: The plan!

July 12, 2010

Bet you thought we’d abandoned this project, huh. It does feel a little like that, since I’ve had to redirect energy to several other big projects this spring….but we’re still hoping for a summer start on our renovation. My original goal was to be in our new kitchen in time for our third anniversary of being in the house in September (which is now looking a little on the optimistic side, but hey). We do finally have a close-to-final plan, though. This has been through a lot of iterations, and as we started to get bids on the structural work, we realized we’d bitten off a little more than we could chew with our original visions of pocket doors and grand entrances. So instead, we wound up with Kitchen 2.0, the new-and-improved version of what we already have.

As a reminder, here’s our current kitchen (but imagine it upside down):

Our kitchen

And here’s our new plan. Update: Here’s a diagram that includes the hypothetical furniture, too (not to mention a few tweaks, since this is a work in progress).

Kitchen with furniture!

It’s not so different, but it fixes a lot of the critical flaws. It also creates a few new ones, namely breaking the work triangle rule by placing appliances a little too far apart and across a major corridor. We haven’t figured out a good way to avoid this, though, short of some serious structural work that would blow our pretty modest budget. The vast empty space will house some sort of breakfast table, plus a little bench and space for shoes, coats, and dog-related paraphernalia. I’m also still fiddling with the refrigerator wall to try to consolidate that cabinetry without completely blocking the view from the doorway to the backyard…we’ll see.

Anyway, the next step is to refine the plan a bit more as we try to pick out cabinets that will respect the style of the house and also respect our meager post-wedding bank account…we’re inching closer, but still not quite there yet!



  1. I think the plan is looking good with a more limited approach. Is there a counter next to the refrigerator? (i.e., above the 2×2 drawers).

    We’ve got a similar ‘violation’ of the workspace triangle, and we’ve found it not to be a big deal as long as you’ve got some counter space next to each.

  2. Thanks Gene—Yep, hard to tell in this 2-D representation, but that section above the refrigerator in the diagram is a counter with glass uppers above it. Still playing with flipping the counter and the refrigerator to get it a bit close to the sink and range, but we’re not in love with being greeted by the refrigerator panel as soon as you come into the kitchen…we’ll see! I’m also trying to pull the broom closet into that run of cabinets so it’s not hanging out by itself, too.

  3. Current theory on the “work triangle” is that the connection between anything and the refrigerator is less critical than Mrs. Gilbreth thought. The important strong connection is between stove and sink, and you have that. It’s also important to have a staging area near the refrigerator for placing items you take out/put in.

    What you will want is some place near the stove to set down utensils or hot pans. Even a fold-down table would work for that, maybe along the chimney breast there. It doesn’t need to be a work space (though that would be ideal), but it does need to be closer than the cabinets along the outside wall there.

  4. Thanks Ayse! I should add that the first image there, where the stove counters are sorely lacking, is actually our current kitchen layout, which has resulted in fun things like me putting down hot pots on top of the garbage can, kitchen chairs, and once, in desperation, on the floor. 🙂 The second image is our vision for the new space, which gets rid of the chimney (we’ll push those vents into the wall) and adds the much-needed counters on both sides of the stove.

  5. Ah, of course, I misread the “current plan” and “current kitchen” descriptors. 🙂

    I have a preference for a center table in the kitchen when there is room for it: a place to work where you do not have upper cabinets looming over you threatening to knock you on the head. You can’t quite put a sitting table in the center there, but a narrow island that can be moved out of the way when needed would solve a lot of the issues in the space. That also acts as a sort of bridge between the food storage area and the work area, and allows you to have two people working in the same space at once, one on each side of the table. That’s more a furnishing issue than a renovation issue, of course.

  6. Ayse, that’s actually exactly what’s in our furniture plan! If we keep a center worktable to 24″ wide, we (just barely) keep a 36″ aisle on the sink side and a 42″ aisle on the refrigerator side, which seems workable. I should really post a version of this with the furniture shown, since it helps clarify what we’re thinking. Basically, it’s two benches up against the wall below the windows in the lower left corner, with a small table for breakfast; a bench between the broom closet and pantry on the right; and a center work table of some variety. We debated skipping the counter next to the refrigerator altogether, putting floor-to-ceiling pantry there, and relying solely on the work table for the extra counter, but it means we can’t really use that space for appliances (short of running electrical up through the floor), which seemed problematic.

  7. That is going to be a mighty fine kitchen. I think you will like the very simple layout more than a more complex layout, and you’ve got a very functional work area designed.

    If you don’t already have the island furniture, here’s a plug. We have a Varde drawer unit from IKEA that inspires envy in everybody who visits with its many drawers and places to keep things. It’s a little harder to move than a more basic piece of furniture, and it took us four days of cursing and complaining to put it together, but has been totally worth it (our kitchen has a total of 3 ft of built-in counter space, very badly arranged). There’s a pic of our wonderful Varde here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrspie/4792362376/

  8. Thanks! I’ve been leaning towards Ikea for the island, in part because we’re not at all sure if we’ll like it, so a $200 investment sounds far more appealing than a schmancy custom piece, even if it means we have to fudge the sizing a bit. (Also, the part where we can ride our bikes to Ikea and actually look at everything is a bonus, too!) I’ll have to check that one out.

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