Posted on August 29 2018
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By far the most challenging and exciting element of our renovation was the new kitchen design. We were removing most of the interior walls, so really, our choices were far from limited. We looked at conventional layouts, unconventional layouts, space planning the cabinets here and there and everywhere. In the end, after many hours of thinking, planning and dreaming, our final layout was born.
But first, let's look at the most commonly configured kitchen layouts, examining the pros and cons of each.
I LIKE THIS layout because it offers good circulation space with a very evenly spaced out work triangle. There is a lot of counter space despite its overall tight configuration.
I DON'T LIKE THIS layout because no matter how big the "U", it still feels like you're spinning around in circles. And with only 1 point of entry/exit, it will feel busy with 2 or more people working in the space at the same time. The dishwasher looks quite pushed into a corner. It would be better to swap out the sink/dishwasher with the range, with the dishwasher located at the end of that line of base cabinets. This layout also forces you to have 2 lazy susan mechanisms, which is not ideal. I have heard from many people that they really dislike this option for inside corner access. Relocating services such as electrics or plumbing may seem like an unnecessary cost at the time, but optimal flow will in the end be so much better for you.
I LIKE THIS because there is a lot of countertop and storage space. And there is plenty of circulation area for multiple person working in this kitchen.
I DON'T LIKE THIS because realistically, the table and chairs may get in the way and the table top isn't tall enough for comfortable use as extra countertop space. Instead I would opt for an island with seating facing the sink and dishwasher. Unfortunately the island would have to be smaller than you might think as it would be advisable to have minimum 3 feet of circulation space around it. Also in this layout, the sink seems to be stuck in a corner. There is enough space on this run of cabinets/countertop to allow for a double sink swapped with the dishwasher, both centred along this side of the kitchen.
I LIKE THIS because this layout is generously spaced with plenty of working countertop. And a dedicated pantry area is always a big bonus if the space allows.
I DON'T LIKE THIS because the door, which may lead to the outdoors should be wider, whether it's a couple of french doors or glass sliders. This allows for more natural light into the space. Ideally, this opening would be a large window as you may not want the centre of the kitchen to be a high traffic area. It would be best if the door can be relocated. Personally, I've never really liked seating at a peninsula. No matter how long it is, the person closest to the wall always looks squished in. And in this example, the cook top at a short peninsula looks quite awkward and dangerous. And if an overhead hood vent is installed, then the view beyond is obstructed and the kitchen would feel more closed in. I would switch the stove with the sink.
I LIKE THIS because this layout is hard to fault. The working triangle is in good shape and there is plenty of countertop and storage space. Circulation is optimally considered. Openings at both ends allow for better in/out flow. This is probably the best one can achieve with a galley kitchen.
I DON'T LIKE THIS because no matter what, a galley kitchen feels small, like you're on a boat. This type of kitchen layout isn't a social space, more utilitarian. And I would try to make the openings as large as possible to give the area a larger feel.
I LIKE THIS because this cabinet layout is the most desired and works really well. There are 2 points of entry, plenty of circulation space. The island looks like it's at a good distance from the L cabinet configuration - minimum should be 3 feet, but if you have the space for 3.5 or 4 feet, that would be better. I like that the island seating does not impede on kitchen functions.
I DON'T LIKE THIS because this particular layout shows that the corner of this kitchen would be very dark without a window on one of the walls. As this configuration is considered one of the most popular, many try to implement it in their homes. Unfortunately, you need a great deal of space to do so successfully. In the end, so many are left disappointed that they do not have enough square footage in the kitchen area so they turn to plan B, which is to extend 90 degrees one end of the cabinets to create an unwanted peninsula, so that there can be some bar stools for seating. The location of the sink as shown is very awkward. One of the chairs is just too close and the dirty dishes would certainly migrate to fill the island counter space. So where does that leave you for perching and dining? Also with the dishwasher right next to the sink, there isn't much cabinet storage in the island unit. I would reallocate all the appliances and the sink for better flow and better functionality. See proposed layout above.
I LIKE THIS because it's no nonsense, has all your essential elements, which include a full-size fridge and a dishwasher. It's an open social space great for circulation and for having guests over. There is a decent amount of counter space, closed storage and efficient working triangle.
I DON'T LIKE THIS because for the obvious reason that it's quite a small layout, not meant for most people who cook daily. For this kitchen, I would opt for a large single sink, which offers better cleaning of larger items, yet takes up less counter space. If you don't mind a bit of hand washing, omit the dishwasher and opt for more base cabinet storage space. I would look for a wide and skinny piece of furniture to act as a standalone island unit, so there is more working space and this offers you a bit of separation between this petite kitchen and the rest of your living space. This little unit could be on wheels for flexibility, open below with shelves for storage of beautifully curated item.
I LIKE THIS because the layout is so efficient with great circulation. There is a good amount of counter space and the working triangle is in good shape.
I DON'T LIKE THIS because overall, there isn't very much closed storage space in both the lower and upper cabinets. It also seems a shame not to utilize the other wall. This would be a great opportunity to extend the straight into a 'L' configuration with island. This (before) layout makes the island not very useable for those who would like to sit by it for a meal. I've always thought that a range on a small island is a kitchen accident waiting to happen. And if a ceiling hung hood vent is installed, that really cuts the sight lines looking in and out of the kitchen.
Which direction did we go with our kitchen? We worked on a layout for many months. The main floor was going to be wide open so the new kitchen could be located anywhere - front, middle or back. We really tried to analyse how we use our home, optimize furniture plans, better the sight lines, flow, quality of light, etc. and came up with the below new layout. This was the best space plan for us, reusing all of our existing furniture and getting the kitchen of our dreams. We realised that as a family of 2, we didn't need 2 eating areas. So we just kept the one for formal dining. Our everyday meals are at our island. That allows us to have a much larger living/lounging area, which is what we really needed.
If you are in a position to completely renovate your kitchen, please consider the above layouts to see which would architecturally fit into your chosen space. If you are looking to do more of a refresh, reallocating what you already have, consider some of the I DON'T LIKE THIS comments to help you improve your cooking and eating experiences. Just re-positioning a couple of appliances or redesigning just the island can make your space feel like new. Let your kitchen work hard for you and not the other way around.
I look forward to some before/after photos and stories about your own renovations.
Coming up next month.....some final pictures of our new main floor. Please stay tuned...