Kitchen Remodel/Rough layout

The rough layout edit

To develop a rough draft of a new or remodeled kitchen is by far the most demanding, but also the most interesting part of the planning process. If you are not educated in this field, you should take copious amounts of time for this assignment. It took me half a year to come up with what you see in the sketch further down on this page. During this time, I gradually did not only remove the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining area, but I also completely boned the kitchen, that is I removed literally every single wall within it. In order to find space for an important additional storage cabinet, I also moved a bedroom door to a different spot, and I added two new walls and extended an existing one. Expect endless revisions and discuss your drafts with as many people as you can. Criticism can certainly be tough on anybody, but I admit I couldn't have come up with what I have now if I hadn't absorbed the honest feedback that in particular my husband volunteered to contribute.

But the most precious advice that I got (this came from a professional) was the recommendation to try to completely forget the old layout. What would you do if there were no limitations in terms of walls and connections (water, gas, electric)? To really ignore the old layout may be easiest for you if you do the following steps:

  1. Pick the axis configuration (see previous chapter) that appeals most to you.
  2. "Translate" your axis configuration into an arrangement of legs of cabinets (including peninsulas and islands).
  3. Add more legs, if you want.
  4. Last do the reality check: would you have to remove walls or to add new walls to accommodate your design?

My example edit

Situation before the remodel
The new rough layout

Next, I will explain my drawing.

Traffic ways edit

First check out the traffic ways (dashed arrows). In the old layout, there is no direct access from the dining area into the kitchen. All traffic goes through the hallway which also leads to the bedroom section of the house. A problem with that hallway was that it was not just narrow and very long, but also had a low ceiling which sort of gave it a tunnel appearance.

In the new layout, there are two alternative traffic ways (green and light blue). I decided not to give up the old hallway altogether, but to make it my pantry. It is also much shorter now and you don't even have to use it as a passage way because there is the alternative route through the kitchen.

Elements edit

Now to the new kitchen's elements. There are three:

  • a U- or rather J-shaped ensemble of base cabinets and appliances
  • a double row of high cabinets that stand back-to-back and also include appliances
  • an additional high cabinet (the "extra")

The "extra" edit


The simplest element in my layout is the narrow extra cabinet at the left side of the image. This is a high cabinet for food storage. I placed it there because…

  • I needed all the space for cabinets that I could reasonably get (there is not too much usable wall space in this kitchen)
  • it would be aligned to the side of the J where the cooking takes place (this is an aesthetic consideration),
  • it gives the tunnel-like passage way (green arrow in the image above) more pleasant proportions, by making it shorter

The high cabinets edit

This is an ensemble of two rows of high cabinets (including appliances) standing back to back…

  • one facing the passage way and serving as a pantry,
  • the other facing the kitchen and accommodating the refrigerator, the oven and and the microwave oven.

This is a rather unusual cabinet arrangement, conventionally you would have a wall in the center. But we figured that a wall isn't really necessary here and that omitting it would save us 5" (12 cm) of precious space. A few additional remarks about why we did it this way:

  • Both our refrigerator and the oven-microwave combo required integration into a row of high cabinets.
  • All three elements also require a landing area, which in our case is provided by the nearby peninsula.
  • The landing area that we assigned to the refrigerator is the very spot where we naturally land our shopping bags after coming home from the grocery (pink arrow in the image above)

There was the requirement though to provide the refrigerator with a water line (for ice making). But since we had the ceiling demolished anyways, this was easily done. The water comes from the connection that also feeds the sink, under which we even had a device installed that filters the water for the fridge.

The "J" edit

In my layout, wall cabinets would not have been functional.

The J-shaped ensemble of cabinets and appliances obviously is the nucleus and main piece in this kitchen. It will accommodate a dishwasher, a sink, a cooktop, and a wine chiller. Although I was aiming for a lot of cabinet space, I also decided against wall cabinets, for the following reasons:

  • The only wall surfaces that there are in this area are those two left and right beside the window; wall cabinets would have ended up above the peninsula and therefore would have been hard to reach.
  • They would have blocked some of the natural light that falls through the windows.
  • I also didn't want wall cabinets because those would have visually messed with my cabinet composition which very much stresses the horizontal.

The "J" comprises three parts:

This sink row edit

The center row includes the sink. I heard people saying that a kitchen sink belongs in front of a window for the reason that the window will provide a view (while you do something as dismal as washing dishes). But I think the stronger reason is that the sink is a working place where you need a lot of light. This is the place after all where you would do delicate operations such as gutting a fish.

I designed the sink row therefore not only with water drawing or hand dish washing in mind, but also as a work station where food preparation takes place, including rinsing, cutting, and garbage disposing.

The cooktop/bar peninsula edit

The longer of the two peninsulas I designed as a kind of hibachi setting, with a bar on one side and the cooktop on the other. In my family we don't do genuine hibachi, but we love dishes like pancakes, crêpes, potato fritters, poached eggs or waffles that need to be prepared subsequently and in single servings. In a hibachi setting, there is not really a designated cook needed, but while some people are eating, others can take turns preparing the food.

The inner side of this peninsula will not only include the cooktop, but also storage for the most important things that are being used while cooking: pots and pans, utensils, measuring cups, thermometers etc. To break my own bad habit of serving foods in pots and pans, I was also planning to store our beautiful serving bowls and plates directly at the cooking workstation.

Keep in mind that things that you need for cooking should better not be stored directly under the cooktop; because when you are working on the cooktop, you won't want to be forced to step away from that place to make room for a drawer or a cabinet door.

Notice the little cabinet at the left end of the bar side. I place it here as a corner cabinet alternative, for static reasons (additional weight support for the countertop), for some extra storage, and for aesthetic purposes: this peninsula is almost 12 ft (325 cm) long and needs some visual structuring to make it more interesting.

The tableware peninsula edit

The J's shorter leg is another peninsula. It links the kitchen to the dining area which already belongs to the adjacent living space. This peninsula features back-to-back cabinets and a dishwasher, and its main function – besides providing countertop space for all sorts of purposes – is storage and machine washing of table- and kitchenware. It will also serve as a landing space for clean and dirty table- and kitchenware that goes in and out the kitchen.

As I already mentioned in the chapter about appliances, there is no need to place the dishwasher immediately beside the sink. I would argue that in many cases the sink isn't even a good neighborhood for a dishwasher, unless you actually want these two elements to be close together because your dish washing habits require such proximity.

For best workflow, it may make much more sense to use the precious space around a dishwasher for storage of cutlery, coffee mugs, everyday drinking glasses, everyday plates or other smaller tableware that you use the most. If you store those right around the dishwasher, you will be able to clear the dishwasher out with virtually no walking.