Let’s just get right to it tonight.
Here’s what my kitchen looked like before.
Those pictures are from the very beginning. If you look closely in the first one you can see the spindled entryway divider before we added pocket doors for a classroom. Also, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll remember that we got a new refrigerator several months ago. (And are using the old one in the garage. Boys!)
In the second image, you can see the window at the back of the kitchen that I said allowed enough sunlight that we could get rid of the sliders that are to the left back there.
I have three main objectives for the kitchen project. (There are several sub-objectives, like getting rid of the florescent lighting and dropped ceiling.) The primary goal was to open up the kitchen to the living room. Secondly, I wanted to get rid of that dang peninsula. Finally, I wanted to turn this into an eat-in kitchen.
I’ve already shown you the opening up of the wall behind the refrigerator and stove in order to make this an open concept.
Getting rid of the peninsula was nearly as important as opening up the wall. Peninsulas drive me insane. I suppose they can be great, if done correctly. Apparently I’ve yet to ever see one done correctly? Or at least I’ve yet to own a house with one done correctly. I almost always tear them out.
In front of the refrigerator seems to be a popular place for them. I get that it gives you a handy little spot to set down items that you’ve removed from the refrigerator for meal prep or whatever. But they’re serious traffic flow inhibitors.
I don’t know about you guys, but I do not need a traffic jam at the refrigerator. I used the counter space there for my main prep area since the section of counter between the stove and refrigerator was so small. I’m trying to prepare a meal, someone is trying to fill up glasses at the fridge, someone else is trying to go around to the pantry back there, someone else is going to the table or out the back door. It was always frustrating!
Peninsulas create a sort of divider so the dining area (it’s just an “area,” not a “room”) feels separate. This was a great idea that someone in the late 60’s and 70’s had. SMH. Early versions of it even had upper cabinets just hanging down from the ceiling totally blocking the view from the kitchen to the dining table. Because that’s cool. Or something.
The late 80’s and 90’s versions were much better in that they got rid of the upper cabinets and added breakfast bars. Not horrible. But not conducive to a family getting ready and out the door in the mornings if the peninsula happens to be located in a place that blocks traffic flow. Thankfully, my family doesn’t have that morning kitchen rush. I can’t even imagine how chaotic it would be in here if a family of five was trying to get breakfast eaten and lunches packed. In and out of the fridge for milk and lunch meat, back around to the pantry for cereal, bread and/or peanut butter. (I’m picturing big kids who make their own food, not toddlers.) Back packs on their shoulders knocking over a pitcher of orange juice on the counter.
Anyway, can you tell that I hate them? Peninsulas. Not kids. I hate the traffic blockage, but I also hate the separation…which brings us to my third goal.
I wanted to get rid of the peninsula for traffic flow, but also to create a true eat-in kitchen. I love a good, ol’ fashioned eat-in kitchen. Just like grandma used to have. You know what I’m talking about, right? Where the table is actually “in” the kitchen instead of at the end/back of the kitchen. They were the norm for years and years, with a completely separate formal dining room if you were fancy.
We tour new homes frequently. I’m very pleased to see a resurgence in the eat-in kitchen. Also, if Pinterest is any indication, eat-in kitchens really are making a huge comeback.
They’re great for many reasons, I think. Only one of which is the extra room they provide. It may sound contradictory, but eat-in kitchens provide so much more room for cabinetry. Think about your dining area and all the empty wall space. If the table is “in” the kitchen, the cabinets can go all the way back to the end/back wall and maybe even wrap around to the other side, depending on your window and door placement.
I’ve seen some gorgeous ones with the table dead center, which I like the looks of. But I’m not sure I’d like the flow. I don’t think I’d like walking around the table to get from the sink to the stove. (The following images are from here. See how you’d have to walk around the table?)
My preference is to have the table still be at the “back” or “end” of the kitchen where it would be if you had a separate dining area, but to have the kitchen flow all the way into the space. Does that make sense?
We doubled our cabinets in our last kitchen without adding a single square foot. Not only that, but it felt bigger rather than crammed full of more cabinets. We had nearly twice the storage, AND it was more open because the peninsula (and wall) was gone.
Here are some before pics of our last kitchen. This was the 90’s version of the peninsula, so it had the weird angle for the breakfast bar instead of being an L like in the 70’s and 80’s. Also, you can see that the kitchen was semi-open to the living room because the trend was moving towards “light and airy” when this house was built.
We took out that wall completely and replaced the angled peninsula with a huge island. Also notice that to the right of the range hood (behind the flowers in the first pic) was just two cabinets and then started the “dining area.” We were able to add two more upper cabinets and two more lower cabinets there, as well as carry the cabinets over the window and around to a new section for the microwave and broom closet. (The hubs made all the cabinetry and doors; isn’t it gorgeous?)
See how we have much more cabinetry but it’s way bigger? Not just feels bigger because it’s open to the living room, but with the peninsula removed, the floor area between the back cabinets (where the stove is) and the island is enough that I could be cooking, the hubs could have the dishwasher open unloading it and kids could be running laps in between us. Love!
That’s my favorite floor plan. Totally open! If I had my way, bathrooms and bedrooms would be the only rooms in my house. I want a huge warehouse conversion someday. I mean, in addition to my mid-century ranch in Palm Springs and my loft overlooking Central Park. I’ll have several retirement homes.
What’s the footprint of the new cabinetry in our current house? Not that. Womp, womp. You guys know that this is a two-story house. You know we had to keep a beam so the boys’ bedroom didn’t come crashing down onto the stove. And it was built in the 80’s; our first-floor ceilings are only eight feet high (second story is just 7.5). They were twelve at the highest spot in our last kitchen. Also, the entryway is right behind the double ovens. If we completely opened this up to do an island, you’d literally walk right in the front door into the end of the island.
So, I guess I’m technically going to be removing one peninsula and building another. Because you guys know how much I love a peninsula. 🙂 The new one will be way different, I promise!
You’ve seen the new pantry, drop-zone, and microwave cabinet which is in the old “dining area.” The wall opposite that is getting a built-in buffet. (We’ve finally finished off the very last green scrap wood from the boys’ bed reconfiguration.)
The upper cabinetry on the wall where the refrigerator was has all been removed, obviously, to open the kitchen up to the living room. The lower cabinetry has been extended to where the previous “back doorway” was (the “front doorway” is the one next to the wall ovens). There will be a bar on the backside of that run of cabinets.
The sink was previously in the bend of the peninsula. That has been torn out and the sink has been “swung back” (it wasn’t exactly that easy) against the wall that is in front of the old pantry.
The refrigerator has been partially recessed into the old pantry and a surround is being added at the end of the counter that houses the sink. A broom closet will be added between the fridge surround and the built-in buffet that I mentioned is in the old “dining area.” (Those shelf supports are just wedged in there to confirm the spacing…definitely didn’t stay like that.)
I’m sure it’s not clear, but the buffet cabinet and broom closet are to the left of the refrigerator. The buffet is in the area where all the scrap wood is in the corner in the second-to-last pic. Our table will still be right where it was in front of the back window.
Can you picture it all? Probably not. I’ll have more detailed posts of each section next week (don’t want to give it all away mid-project). Happy DST! Woot!