04 May 2009

The Plans

I figured it was about time that I posted an overview of our kitchen remodel plans!

A lot of people, when remodeling, enter the project with a statement like "I want a Tuscan kitchen" or "I just want some new appliances to make life easier." They make statements about style, form, function, utility, etc. To me, that is secondary. The first todo is to take a very big step back and think about the overall goals, and desired feel, for the kitchen. For example, here are some overall goals that we had:
  • nurture and foster a social family environment
  • enable casual and comfortable entertaining for large crowds
  • create a sense of connectedness to other areas of our home, as well as our entire site (i.e. our outdoor yards/deck)
  • celebrate food and encourage a healthier diet and eating habits
  • maximize efficiency and ergonomics* in daily usage patterns (* I have a bad back)
  • bottom line: create a space that feels good
A lot of people in design often debate form versus function. In most cases, I think the elusive quality of "feel" trumps both of those. Kelly at Kitchen Sync wrote a great post about feel just as I was starting to noodle on the idea of how to describe it and write about it. For now I'll just let you take in her thoughts and sooner or later, I'll try to organize my own thoughts about "feel."

Here is the kitchen layout that we inherited with the house:
From Kitchen - Gorsegner

There were a lot of "feel" problems with this kitchen. Here are some of the top issues:
  • When entering the front door of the house, you looked to the back and found yourself directly centered with a sliding glass door. As my husband said, the message was clearly: "welcome! come in! go out!"
  • The kitchen was entirely open on one side to the living room, to form a great room, but it was very closed and imposing on all three other sides. As you entered the great room, there was no gradual transition into the space, especially since your first view, of the glass door, gave no hint as to anything else in the great room. In just one step, you abruptly switched from hallway to kitchen... an entirely unnecessary constraint in a floor plan of this size.
  • The kitchen also had cabinetry 8' high that was 24" deep, on the three walls of the room. This might be ok for a larger kitchen but not a 12.5'x13.5' kitchen. It felt like a heaviness was bearing down on you from every direction. This imposing wall of storage - a pantry - towered over you as you entered the room:
    From Why Remodel The Kitchen?
    Note: I have a lot of kitchen "stuff" and I never used all the storage in the old kitchen!
  • The island was 10' long by 3' wide -- effectively serving as a barrier to general traffic flow in the kitchen. The island actually extended 3' past the kitchen and into what should have been the casual dining area.
  • The casual dining area was entirely cramped and uninviting -- primarily due to the intrusion of the island. Anyone sitting in the dining area obstructed access to the sliding glass door and thus the deck and back yard.
These are the new kitchen plans:
From Kitchen - Gorsegner

Of note ...
  • There is now a designated casual dining area
  • The food storage pantry has moved from the "social zone" to the butler's pantry
  • This enables the stair wall to be opened up and allows for a smoother, gradual transition to the kitchen/great room area
  • There is a speed cook oven recessed into the stair wall, under the halfway stair landing. Thus there is still function on this wall, without taking up floor space.
  • Sliding glass door is now in the living room, and no longer chops up the great room into two smaller disjointed halves
  • New island dimensions encourage a better social and functional traffic flow (through widened aisles)
  • The corner windows, which "connected" us to the neighbor's backyard, have been removed, and a new single larger window is over the sink (this window gives us a view of our herb garden and living Christmas tree)
  • We also switched out the butler's pantry door to a full height glass door, borrowing some light from the dining room into the pantry
  • This layout also creates a focal point of a red painted dish hutch as you enter the room. The hutch, with glass doors, will store our every day dishes of Fiestaware china, as well as drinking glasses and possibly some heirloom Fiestaware pieces. We are well known for Fiestaware love among our friends and family, so having this prominent hutch of Fiestaware is a really defining (and expected) statement in our kitchen.
And finally, here is a 3d perspective of the new kitchen. It is missing the all-important stair wall, to give you a feel for the new transition into the space, as well as includes several mistakes such as window sizes. It does, however, a fairly decent job of communicating the overall feel of the new kitchen layout:
From Kitchen - Gorsegner

I should mention that the first two color illustrations are quick sketches done by me in Powerpoint. This last 3D drawing was provided to me by the custom cabinetry firm I have hired. It was done using Cabinet Vision, with the primary objective being to send instructions to the CNC machine to cut my cabinets. It's an engineering tool, not a design tool. I would like to draw up my new kitchen on my own, in either Sketchup or Chief Architect software, to give you a better "feel" for the new kitchen. I would like to do a lot of things for this blog, however, so this 3D line drawing will have to suffice for now!

I've created an online album, annotated with captions, to show various aspects of our kitchen plans. There's a total of seven drawings in this album (three of which are already included in this post.)

The plans are not perfect, but we are really very happy with the overall direction. In a future post, I'll detail some sacrifices, concerns, and tradeoffs in our plans and decisions.


Paul Anater said...

Great job! The only advice I have for anybody is to increase the size of your prep sink. The little 12-inchers are too small to use effectively. If you get a larger sink (just a 24" single bowl) you'll increase the utility of that island ten fold!

Rachele said...

You caught me - I got a bit lazy in checking my dimensions at the end of the night. The prep sink is actually an 18" wide. I originally did have a larger prep sink in the plan, but needed to shrink the island to avoid a "gauntlet of corners" at that walkway between dining table, dish hutch, and island.

Our minimum prep sink size was actually dictated by the fact that we use it as an ice bucket when we host large parties. Imagine lovely carafes of fresh squeezed juice and milk nestled next to bottles of champagne with slender flutes lined up beside, beckoning...

Ace's Lady said...

Looks great, Rachele! Btw: we've started working with BH&G's PRO version and really like it! Can't wait to get started on one of our projects (kitchen being the biggest one, I think!).

Rachele said...

I think the BH&G pro version is actually Chief Architect, one of the ones I listed.

Ace's Lady said...

No, the Chief Architect is one higher up(but since you listed it, it made me think of that). I just found it interesting that we're using similar software!! Makes me think we picked a good one!! :)

the aug said...

what are you going to do with the spaces next to the corner oven?

Rachele said...

The space inside the wood panels next to the oven, will just be dead space. It's not very usable counter space anyways, since it's far back into the corner. The accessible space outside the wood panels are simply landing zones -- dirty dishes on left and hot items from cooking on right.

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