Friday, December 08, 2006

Would You Move Your Kitchen?

Currently our kitchen is in a state of limbo as we finish the upstairs. The thinking is that once the upstairs is complete, the kitchen must be next. We’d like to replace the really awful garage-grade cabinets, plastic countertops, beat-up sink, ragged floors, and the stove/range with only 2 working burners. We’re talking a complete tear-down overhaul. However, there are two big problems with our house that have really been bugging me lately.

Floorplans: exiting dining is top right (southeast), kitchen bottom right (southwest)

Problem one: Our "dinning room" (which was originally a bedroom before a previous owner added a doorway to the kitchen and double doors to the backyard) provides the only convenient access to the backporch and backyard, creating traffic right down the center of the room. Not a good place to put a dining room table, not to mention chairs, a sideboard/buffet, or other dining room furniture.

Problem two: Our kitchen is a rather small dead-end space with no room for expansion. I mean there is no way we could expand the kitchen in any direction. Either we learn to live with a small kitchen, or...

What if, rather than rebuilding the kitchen where it is, we move it to the adjacent existing dining room and make the kitchen a dining room?

It wouldn’t hurt the kitchen to be a room with high traffic, since kitchens tend to be high traffic areas. In fact, since we often entertain on the backporch during summer, having the kitchen closer to the backporch would be much more convenient. Having the dining room in the dead-end space would be fine since, even though it is a small room, we will be able to center a table and still have the ability to walk around the table to get to the chairs (not sure about sideboard/buffet, etc., but stay with me here...).

When I presented this idea to Jenn, she said "I’m tired of living in a house that’s always under construction." OK, good point. But, consider that we both agree the existing kitchen needs to be torn down and rebuilt some time soon. One bonus of building the new kitchen in a different room is that you still have the fully functional existing kitchen while you’re constructing the new one. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have a kitchen at all during the time it would take to rebuild in the same spot. Jenn agrees that this is a good point, but is still looking at me like "why did I marry you again?"

The next obvious question is, how much is this going to cost? The main difference with moving the kitchen to the dining room is the new plumbing rough-in and the electrical. I’ll need city permits and to hire pros to do that kind of work. Not sure how much that will cost, but it shouldn’t be too much, I hope.

Either way we won’t take on the kitchen task for at least several more months, possibly a year. There is too much left to do upstairs and we both need a break from the construction chaos, if only for a while. But, the idea of swapping the kitchen and dining room will provide some food for thought.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it sounds like a great idea. Plus how handy that you can use your old one while the new one is constructed! Many people will be jealous of that. You could also gain a larger room by designing the closet in the dining room as a pantry OR using the closet space and a portion of the bathroom (just above the closet space) to make the kitchen even wider. But I'm not sure what your bathroom looks like and if it can handle the loss of space.

Your post caught my eye because Jason and I have been thinking about redesigning the space for our kitchen/pantry/mudroom remodel...


7:14 AM, December 08, 2006  
Blogger Kristin said...

The kitchen/dining swap sounds like the perfect solution. And your complete redo of the kitchen will already create plenty of construction mess. Throw in professionals, and I imagine your cost goes up quite a bit. You could start saving for it now, though!

7:33 AM, December 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless you really NEED a formal dining room, I would use take out the wall between the two spaces and use all that room to create wonderful a kitchen/dining space. You can move the appliances to the dining side (while using the existing kitchen, as you stated) and have a fantastic living space with built-ins or furniture pieces that you already have.

9:06 AM, December 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like a great solution! Just think about how easy it will be to get from the grill in the backyard into the kitchen...
We are working on our basement kitchen now. Our blog has some food-for-thought on the pros and cons of total kitchen remodel. Hiring professionals to rough-in plumbing and electric isn't cheap though... we have managed to do most of it ourselves, thank God.
If you haven't mapped your plumbing system (figured out where the drains are, etc), now might be a good time, just to be sure it will all work over there. :)

9:13 AM, December 08, 2006  
Blogger Greg Emel said...

Thanks all for your comments!

Andrea, you're right about the bathroom. I was going to steal part of it to make a built in sideboard for the dining room. But, if that is the kitchen, it might still be useful.

Nadja & Sean, as far as plumbing, the dining room is adjacent to the 1st floor bathroom and there is another bathroom above on the 2nd floor. Lots of pipes to tap into, I think.

10:39 AM, December 08, 2006  
Anonymous Leslie said...

I'm drawn to comment by several things - that our kitchen is tiny with sawdust cabinets and no flexibility in its current space; that we're considering options that include moving it entirely (though for us it would be taking it back to where it used to be before the PO's butchered our house, or at least combining those spaces to make one large dining room/kitchen), and the combination of seeing your floorplan and the typo in your text of "dinning room", since the floorplan professionally created by the PO's for permit purposes had the dining room marked as "dinning room."
And ironically, the original dining room in our house is now a bedroom (in yours an original bedroom is now the dining room).

Anyway, I'll definitely be following your plans on this as we attempt to work out our own.

6:06 PM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Greg Emel said...

Wow, Leslie, that is strange. Sounds like the previous owners of your house were horrible!

Although I'm very excited about building our new kitchen in the new space, we're going to have to wait a while before we can do it (probably a year). We just have too much going on with the house and with our lives in general to take on that project right now. But, when we do get going on it, I’ll definitely write about it. :-)

7:12 PM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Iris Jones said...

My parents made the kitchen/dining room swap shortly after they bought our house in the 1960s. We had a similar situation -- about a 9x12 dining room and a smaller 9x9 kitchen. Both had doors to the back porch. Dad turned the old kitchen into a utility room/mud room and made the old dining room into a kitchen/dining room. It's worked fine for many many years. I'm so glad he did it.

At the same time, he opened the two ordinary doorways to the kitchen to double their size so they became archways. This made the kitchen/utility area feel like an L-shaped space and gave more light to the kitchen.

If your project lends itself to such treatment, I'd suggest considering archways. They can be capped with Craftsman style wood work -- even podiums and columns if you have the space. It will give the room an entirely different feel.

4:42 AM, January 02, 2008  
Blogger Greg said...

Thanks Iris. I would like to turn the kitchen into an entrance/mud room of sorts. But, that would leave us with no dining room at all. So, at least for now, the front room will be a dining room.

2:33 PM, January 06, 2008  

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