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Help Me Not Mess Up My Kitchen Renovation...

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I love our house. I knew it was meant to be our home the instant I walked in the door. Sure, every room was painted a different, non-complementary color, and it’s a pretty compartmentalized layout (true to its 1947 roots), but I could feel that it was the one for us.

Eight years later I still feel that way, and bit by bit we’ve made it our own. We’ve renovated a bathroom, added a front porch and a back patio, opened up the main living space, completely overhauled the landscaping, and generally have figured out how to make the small spaces work well for us.

Despite how much sweat equity we’ve put into the house though, there are some spots that just don’t work well. And that’s why I need your help.

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How a Forgotten Piece of Furniture Found a Second Life by Lindsay-Jean Hard

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How to Create an Entryway in a Small Space by Lindsay-Jean Hard


The kitchen is fairly small, without room for people to hang out in (comfortably, anyway), and is completely cut off from the rest of the main floor. Upstairs, our daughter is in a small, closet-less room, which is fine for now—she’s six, she doesn’t take up a lot of space—but definitely won’t work down the road. Also, the three of us currently share a small (are you sensing a theme here?) bathroom. Again, workable for now, but not great for long-term, and in all honesty, my husband is already craving a little more privacy. But I digress, back to the kitchen.

Current kitchen (as seen from outside of the west window).
Current kitchen (as seen from outside of the west window). Photo by Lindsay-Jean Hard

Because of how much we love our love our house (and how much we’ve already customized it and how much we love the location), we’ve opted to renovate instead of move. We’re nearing the end of the design process with our architect, we’ve found our builder, and we’re all set to start construction in the spring—so we’re well on our way, but still have a lot of important decisions to make.

We’re adding a (two-story) 15- by 12-foot addition, so we won’t be going from small rooms to enormous ones, we’re adding just enough to improve the function of all of them. For example, in the kitchen, we’ll gain an entryway, a sitting area, and direct access to our backyard—but not more actual kitchen. Given that it’s not a huge increase in square footage (it's the space above the dashed line in the drawing below), I want to make sure that we’re making really smart choices to maximize the spaces.

Our whole first floor, with addition.
Our whole first floor, with addition. Photo by Ed Weir


Above you can see the current (not finalized) plans for the renovation. I need help thinking through the eating area and the layout of the kitchen—I’m not entirely sold on the holy trinity of stove, sink, fridge layout as it's shown above. I think the fridge should maybe go where the stove is, with a tall, pantry to the west of it. The stove would then go on the east wall, with some open shelving between the stove and the fridge. And maybe one more window should be added at the end of the countertop? For access to the backyard, I’m also thinking a sliding glass door might be better than one that swings open.

As for the north side of the room, the half wall that you see at the top, across from the closet, I envision looking like this, and for the seating area, I’d like to incorporate bench seating, maybe wraparound seating or a wide daybed. (I’m admittedly, not entirely sure how a wide seating spot would work, I’m partly just dreaming about a space big enough for a catnap in a sunbeam.) Check out my rough edits in the image below where I've mapped those thoughts out.

My layout thoughts (pretend I have Photoshop).
My layout thoughts (pretend I have Photoshop). Photo by Ed Weir/bad edits by me


Flooring will be wood to tie in with the rest of the house, but countertops and cabinets are fair game for flooding me with opinions. (Thoughts on both what to use and what not to use welcome!) I only have a few guiding principles: I want it to feel cozy, warm, and welcoming, not sterile, and I want to respect the age of the house. On that last point, that doesn’t mean I’m putting in retro appliances, but I don’t want anything starkly out of place—so a completely sleek, modern kitchen is a no-go.

Hello, cozy.

Hello, cozy.

Sleek, but not stark.

Sleek, but not stark.

Oh, and just in case it impacts your advice in any way, we won’t be living in our house during construction, so we won’t need to set up a temporary kitchen.

So, what do think? Fill me in on all of your suggestions below and I'll share my learnings at a later date.

brainstorming makes me hungry

Tags: Home Renovation