Kitchen Transformation: Finally, the plans

Some time ago, I promised before and after floor plans for our kitchen. We are about to take possession of the kitchen (it’s all over save for a walk-through, a few touch-ups and one last big hit to our bank account), and I figured I should post the plans before the final photos. For those of you who’ve been checking out the remodeling photos, and are somewhat spatially inclined, these drawings will hold few surprises.

Here’s the kitchen before:
existing kitchen plan
The most outstanding “feature” of our old kitchen, from a designer’s point of view, was that it had four doors. Four! Where did all of those doors lead? The door on the bottom wall into the living room, the door of the lower left onto the stair to the second floor, the door on the upper left onto the basement stair, and the doorway on the right into the laundry room (and to the powder room and back door). The traffic pattern created by all of those doors limited the space available for the kitchen itself; the room was really a big hallway, with a kitchen tucked in around the edges. The L-shaped cabinets, with sink and range, fit into the one corner not part of the circulation space. The refrigerator sat up against the wall between the two stair doors. And the microwave was on a butcherblock next to the chimney (the gray box between the two stair doors) for the boiler in our basement.

With help from my architect father, I fought with the layout of this kitchen for the first three years that Paul and I owned the house. We were trying to keep all of the doors, so our initial redesigns were attempts to shift and/or minimize the existing circulation paths through the kitchen. After generating one too many unsatisfactory ‘solutions,’ I finally talked Paul into giving up one door into the kitchen.

By closing off the door to the second floor stair (at the lower left), we turned a cross-shaped circulation path into a T. We would have more wall space for cabinets and appliances. The existing L of cabinets could be changed to a simple, straight run with the sink in the middle. All we had to do was work around the chimney. For several months, I worked on a design that wrapped the chimney in kitchen cabinets. It was rather fussy (not in a good way), and would have been complicated to build. Then one day, after I’d been thinking about and drawing and redrawing this kitchen for four years, I suddenly knew what to do to solve the kitchen layout easily and elegantly. I added one wall.

Here’s the kitchen after:
new kitchen plan
The new wall runs along the face of the chimney, parallel to the stair wall. Not only does it create a straight wall on which to put cabinets, the refrigerator and the range, but the spaces between the new wall and the stair wall are useful. At the lower corner of the plan, the new wall creates a closet off the stair landing. Our house had no hall closet, so even a small closet with room enough to hang a few coats and store the vacuum cleaner seems luxurious. To the other side of the chimney, the alcove between new wall and stair wall is just the right size for pantry shelves.

Those of you who know something about kitchen design will recognize that the work triangle (a triangle drawn between the kitchen sink, range and refrigerator) is a little oddly shaped, but it still works. We’ll cook with the kitchen we have, and be much happier than in its predecessor. We also moved the washer and dryer to the basement, freeing up that space, with its northeastern exposure and abundant morning light, to become a small breakfast nook.

We’ll be moving back into the kitchen this weekend. There will be photos. There will be cooking. There may even be photos of cooking. It’s going to be good.

7 thoughts on “Kitchen Transformation: Finally, the plans”

  1. The architect daughter needed no help from the architect father..just time, imagination, patience and persuasion. These are the invaluable traits of a good architect, and she has them all. Great solution, with lots of positives!

  2. I remember the remodel of my kitchen and I’m sure you’re glad it’s done. Love those little unexpected storage spaces. I had them take out the wet bar which was useless for me and put in a fabulous hinged pantry. I miss that kitchen.

  3. My wife and I are in the same process – it has been the first year (of 3 probably) to get this done. we have 3 doors (: – – thanks for the inspiration.

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