Project Notebook #7 – Get the Planning Right for a Better Kitchen Remodel
I rarely do stand-alone kitchen design – the kitchens I work on are almost always a part of a larger remodeling project or a new home.
That’s because the “design” part of many kitchen-only remodels is too much about fixtures and finishes and not enough about solving the basic kitchen remodel planning issues that can determine the success or failure of the overall design.
A good example of that is the remodeling of this 1941 home. Years ago, the kitchen of the house was redone, but the design was limited by the center wall in the middle of the existing floor plan. In the “before” floor plan and photo below, you can see the major planning issue – the long, narrow kitchen wasn’t quite wide enough for an island.
That made it a difficult kitchen to work in, with a lot of walking back and forth and no place to sit except at a tiny peninsula at the very end of the kitchen. And it left a lot of unused empty space in the middle of the kitchen.
The “before” photo above shows that the kitchen was fairly wide, but not quite wide enough for an island. Which means it was both too narrow and too wide.
But the awkward kitchen wasn’t the only issue that needed attention – we also had to incorporate a useful mudroom, a walk-in pantry, and an improved entry.
In the preliminary design process we looked at a number of options, some more involved and elaborate, before we settled on the final, simpler design. In each, the extent of the remodeling was enough to justify moving the center wall of the home that was limiting the width of the kitchen – and add the sorely-need islands.
In the early plan above, for example, we considered moving the front door to the middle of the house and creating a new, formal foyer. The current TV room would become a large mudroom, and a new pantry would be added at the far end of the kitchen. The length of the kitchen was too much for a single island (which also would have limited efficiency) so we added two – one for cooking, one for eating.
Another option, shown in this redlined overlay, flipped the locations of the kitchen and dining room, keeping the new foyer, and moving the pantry next to the new mudroom.
Above: this was the most involved design, and wasn’t the one we used. But several elements from this plan made it to the final layout, including the pantry in the mudroom, the relocated half bath, additional windows, and the location of most of the major appliances.
Part of this project was improving the “curb appeal” of the home, and here, we also looked at several options. In the end, we chose to simply replace the existing front porch with a more substantial and appropriate design and improve the landscaping.
The changes are subtle, but they’re a big improvement (before and after photos below).
The final kitchen/mudroom/pantry/porch design (see below) solved all of the major issues the owners were concerned about, without adding any new space to the home. Moving the center wall wasn’t “easy” – structural engineering was involved – but it allowed for a far better kitchen layout.
Above, the finished kitchen – this view is approximately the same as the “before” photo at the top of this post. One of the subtle but significant changes is the additional windows on the back wall, opening the views and letting much more light in.
More photos of the completed project, including the mudroom and pantry, are here: https://rtastudio.com/portfolio_page/traditional-kitchen-remodeling-upper-arlington/