KITCHEN RENO CROO: How big of an island should we have?

Which do you like better?

  • Option 1 FULL ISLAND

    Votes: 17 27.0%
  • Option 2 SMALLER ISLAND

    Votes: 46 73.0%

  • Total voters
    63

B-Line

Stand Up Philosopher
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Mar 8, 2009
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.but the two floorplans show a set of sliding doors in the closed position. Those doors will be open 99.9% of the time. Since they're open, I honestly don't feel the flow suffers that much. Coming from the mud room to the kitchen, we'd have to walk around the island with groceries anyway, and it's literally zero extra steps. It's only a form problem, because we have a wall at the end of the island rather than an opening. It's my take that even if the wall wasn't there, the flow isnt' impacted at all.
I'm gonna beat the hell out of you until you fight me IRL or put me on your ignore list.
If you are preserving the wall for the benefit of the glass doors, but you are going to have the doors open 99.9% of the time, you are ENTIRELY sacrificing what could be a magnificent kitchen and combined dining room for something that might get used .1% of the time.

Here is what I would do. Go back to the space planner, architect, designer and say: Can you show me a drawing of what it would look like with the entire wall busted out and a much bigger kitchen and combined dining room space. Start from the drawing board. Place the kitchen and island and dining room in new configurations. Let me see the options.
 
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DasVWBabe

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Think about your two major worries; 1) fear of not having enough storage and 2) not having enough counter space.

This style really embodies lazy-ish design to me because in order to maximize your counter space, you're relying on one cabinet which ultimately, interrupts flow and closes you in. If one 30" cabinet makes or breaks your kitchen design and creates a lack of useful counter space because of missing storage, it's probably time to look at a major layout revision, imo.

If this was mine and knowing the property out back is beautiful & green, and assuming you didn’t want to incur the expense of fully opening it up so you could see the beautiful backyard throughout the entire house, I would:
  • Close up the direct access to the dining room and create an L-shape out of that south wall of the kitchen with additional cabinetry/stove alcove, flip the island 90 degrees so the person doing dishes gets a view out of the windows to the backyard - making sure I had plenty of lighting in both the dining space and the kitchen to account for the lack of that pass-through; orrrrr
  • Exactly like @whatever said, double up the base cabinets in the island so that it's deeper and you have storage access from both the back and front of the island + move the sink further to the right. As 6.5 years of experience has taught me, you probably don't want the sink directly across from the cooktop anyhow or you'll be bumping each other if you're both in there at the same time. Add a pot filler to keep traffic clear if you still want to keep the galley-esque style.
With that large of an island you're going to need book-matched slabs, which I'm sure you already know since you're water-falling the island, but has it been brought up that you miiiight have to go from 2 slabs to 3 with a 12' one-sided waterfall?

Don't forget that one of the rarely considered intangibles of having a fully accessible island is that during conversations and normal gatherings with family and friends, the space becomes more collaborative rather than feeling a bit like a face-off. People don't pay attention to it until they live it, but we went from a galley-style like you're proposing (wall at the end of a sink/dishwasher prep island we lived in for 10 years) to a fully accessible island and I found that during parties and family gatherings, I now feel way less stressed/trapped and people feel much more welcomed. Everyone congregated on one end of the peninsula in the old kitchen and created a massive roadblock. And yes, you could say they could just hang out in the dining room, but now they're no longer part of the larger group in the great room.

If I was more stressed about having enough storage, I would take a good hard look at the stuff I have (I'm in moving mode and somehow I have 3 springform pans!!!) and donate, toss, or sell what you never use. That part helps so much with the whole concept of feeling like you are not optimizing every square inch.
 
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Samcanadian

Samcanadian

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Lol long story. Guy made his own homemade security system. It's hooked up to motion sensors, strobe lights and alarms on interior and exterior of the house. He'd set it before leaving his home by turning on a remote sensor from outside his basement window, and would turn it off when they returned.
 
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Samcanadian

Samcanadian

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Jul 30, 2005
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Think about your two major worries; 1) fear of not having enough storage and 2) not having enough counter space.

This style really embodies lazy-ish design to me because in order to maximize your counter space, you're relying on one cabinet which ultimately, interrupts flow and closes you in. If one 30" cabinet makes or breaks your kitchen design and creates a lack of useful counter space because of missing storage, it's probably time to look at a major layout revision, imo.

If this was mine and knowing the property out back is beautiful & green, and assuming you didn’t want to incur the expense of fully opening it up so you could see the beautiful backyard throughout the entire house, I would:
  • Close up the direct access to the dining room and create an L-shape out of that south wall of the kitchen with additional cabinetry/stove alcove, flip the island 90 degrees so the person doing dishes gets a view out of the windows to the backyard - making sure I had plenty of lighting in both the dining space and the kitchen to account for the lack of that pass-through; orrrrr
  • Exactly like @whatever said, double up the base cabinets in the island so that it's deeper and you have storage access from both the back and front of the island + move the sink further to the right. As 6.5 years of experience has taught me, you probably don't want the sink directly across from the cooktop anyhow or you'll be bumping each other if you're both in there at the same time. Add a pot filler to keep traffic clear if you still want to keep the galley-esque style.
With that large of an island you're going to need book-matched slabs, which I'm sure you already know since you're water-falling the island, but has it been brought up that you miiiight have to go from 2 slabs to 3 with a 12' one-sided waterfall?

Don't forget that one of the rarely considered intangibles of having a fully accessible island is that during conversations and normal gatherings with family and friends, the space becomes more collaborative rather than feeling a bit like a face-off. People don't pay attention to it until they live it, but we went from a galley-style like you're proposing (wall at the end of a sink/dishwasher prep island we lived in for 10 years) to a fully accessible island and I found that during parties and family gatherings, I now feel way less stressed/trapped and people feel much more welcomed. Everyone congregated on one end of the peninsula in the old kitchen and created a massive roadblock. And yes, you could say they could just hang out in the dining room, but now they're no longer part of the larger group in the great room.

If I was more stressed about having enough storage, I would take a good hard look at the stuff I have (I'm in moving mode and somehow I have 3 springform pans!!!) and donate, toss, or sell what you never use. That part helps so much with the whole concept of feeling like you are not optimizing every square inch.
Ok this is a ton and I really appreciate it. I'm going to break down my response as point by point as I can.

Lazy kitchen design:

This one's tough for me to accept because it's a pretty massive renovation, not a new build. I understand there's really no limit to what you can do in a reno with beams, engineering etc, but at some point some of the fun/challenge of a reno is limitations of the building. We're working around a supporting wall in the middle of the house, and the additional work to get rid of that wall in addition to the HUGE aesthetic shift to the main living area is one we're just not interested in. We LIKE the wall there. We LIKE the delineation between the Kitchen and the DIning Room. Sure open concepts are great, and this area IS open...but I don't want to make the entire thing one big gymnasium.

"If this was mine and knowing the property out back is beautiful & green, and assuming you didn’t want to incur the expense of fully opening it up so you could see the beautiful backyard throughout the entire house, I would close up the direct access to the dining room and create an L-shape out of that south wall of the kitchen with additional cabinetry/stove alcove, flip the island 90 degrees so the person doing dishes gets a view out of the windows to the backyard - making sure I had plenty of lighting in both the dining space and the kitchen to account for the lack of that pass-through;"

I THINK you're meaning something like this? (Very rough)


1679082560202.png

Yes, we had originally considered this layout early on, but the factors we didn't like were the lack of natural light from the western side of the house, and sun in the winter afternoon/summer evenings. The sun absolutely pours into the dining room and into the kitchen through that doorway and my wife did not want to sacrifice that. We thought we could maybe add some clerestory windows in the same wall we just closed up, but ultimately decided that we didn't want to eliminate our view into the front yard, as it's just as nice as the back yard. Wife can see when someone pulls in, and can also monitor the kids if they're playing out front. It wasn't a light decision to go away from this, but we felt the pros outweighed the cons. Plenty of lighting is fine, but there's no substitution for natural light when you live as far north as we do.

Exactly like @whatever said, double up the base cabinets in the island so that it's deeper and you have storage access from both the back and front of the island + move the sink further to the right. As 6.5 years of experience has taught me, you probably don't want the sink directly across from the cooktop anyhow or you'll be bumping each other if you're both in there at the same time. Add a pot filler to keep traffic clear if you still want to keep the galley-esque style.

The doubled up base cabinets has always been the plan with either the small island design or the peninsula design. Seldom used bowls and items will go on the chair side of the island, just to help declutter and offer a few more spots for odds and ends. Good advice about the sink and the cooktop btw, Wifey and I weren't 100% sure where we were going to locate them. How much room in your alleyway do you have in your space between the sink and cooktop? We've got (I think) 44" or 46".

With that large of an island you're going to need book-matched slabs, which I'm sure you already know since you're water-falling the island, but has it been brought up that you miiiight have to go from 2 slabs to 3 with a 12' one-sided waterfall?

We're getting quartz or possibly porcelain, so I'm not concerned about bookmatching our slabs.

Don't forget that one of the rarely considered intangibles of having a fully accessible island is that during conversations and normal gatherings with family and friends, the space becomes more collaborative rather than feeling a bit like a face-off. People don't pay attention to it until they live it, but we went from a galley-style like you're proposing (wall at the end of a sink/dishwasher prep island we lived in for 10 years) to a fully accessible island and I found that during parties and family gatherings, I now feel way less stressed/trapped and people feel much more welcomed. Everyone congregated on one end of the peninsula in the old kitchen and created a massive roadblock. And yes, you could say they could just hang out in the dining room, but now they're no longer part of the larger group in the great room.
Interesting angle, and I appreciate you bringing it up. If we're speaking subjectively, I'll admit to liking the feeling of having the kitchen be a work space, almost commercial, and the island be a "sit and talk" space. Having the peninsula limits access to one key part of the kitchen where a lot of the action happens, out of the way and at arms length, but still within range for conversation and interaction. It's almost like having omakase sushi at a bar where the patrons can watch you work. I don't really need a collaborative feel in my kitchen interactions....if I'm in the kitchen, I'm working, and I need my space. i definitely get what you're saying though. Something to run past the wife, for sure.


If I was more stressed about having enough storage, I would take a good hard look at the stuff I have (I'm in moving mode and somehow I have 3 springform pans!!!) and donate, toss, or sell what you never use. That part helps so much with the whole concept of feeling like you are not optimizing every square inch.

We've already done this, and I'm not concerned with having too many things. I would rather have too much space and not enough things to fill it than have to start throwing things away to make up for my kitchen with limited storage. Great thought though, and with the switch to induction I'm already having to toss a bunch of cookware lol.
 
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Samcanadian

Samcanadian

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I'm glad that I was able to at least get you to shift to "You have to change the whole design of the kitchen" rather than stick to why I should do the small island :rofl:
 
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Samcanadian

Samcanadian

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I'm gonna beat the hell out of you until you fight me IRL or put me on your ignore list.
If you are preserving the wall for the benefit of the glass doors, but you are going to have the doors open 99.9% of the time, you are ENTIRELY sacrificing what could be a magnificent kitchen and combined dining room for something that might get used .1% of the time.

Here is what I would do. Go back to the space planner, architect, designer and say: Can you show me a drawing of what it would look like with the entire wall busted out and a much bigger kitchen and combined dining room space. Start from the drawing board. Place the kitchen and island and dining room in new configurations. Let me see the options.

I like having the dining room as a quiet, intimate setting that's separate from the kitchen and dishes and mess. I don't need it combined. I think the big thing here is that you're coming at this from a subjective angle of it needing to be as wide open as possible. That's fine for some people, but not for us. The kitchen, in my opinion, should not be part of the dining room, just like the dining room shouldn't be part of the main entrance to the house. We have the privilege of a huge living room connected to the kitchen and entry way, but it's a specific design decision to keep the kitchen seperate from where we eat.
 
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Samcanadian

Samcanadian

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small island.
giphy.gif
 

B-Line

Stand Up Philosopher
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Mar 8, 2009
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Honestly, I think i'd accept your angle of just redesigning the entire kitchen rather than saying the small island is better than the peninsula. It's a better argument, for sure.
Small island that can extend into a peninsula.

Anything except that horrible one-way prison you call a functional kitchen. 😜
 

DasVWBabe

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I'm glad that I was able to at least get you to shift to "You have to change the whole design of the kitchen" rather than stick to why I should do the small island :rofl:
I think you are greatly underestimating how big a water-falled 9'6" island actually is and how much function you'll get out of the short side. We prep long sheets of pasta on the short end of ours (~4'). Thanksgiving buffet is on the short end too since we also have a wall between kitchen and formal dining. Outlets for appliances on both sides of the island makes prep a breeze - with a waterfall you'll have to accommodate for that and with the wall it ends up, well, on the wall. Five counter stools fit at ours, but we opted for 4 super wide ones.

Go look at new construction with huge islands. Ignore the style and bring a tape measure. Think I'm out, but good luck. :rofl:
 
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Samcanadian

Samcanadian

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I think you are greatly underestimating how big a water-falled 9'6" island actually is and how much function you'll get out of the short side. We prep long sheets of pasta on the short end of ours (~4'). Thanksgiving buffet is on the short end too since we also have a wall between kitchen and formal dining. Outlets for appliances on both sides of the island makes prep a breeze - with a waterfall you'll have to accommodate for that and with the wall it ends up, well, on the wall. Five counter stools fit at ours, but we opted for 4 super wide ones.

Go look at new construction with huge islands. Ignore the style and bring a tape measure. Think I'm out, but good luck. :rofl:
I think the short side will be the dishes only area, if the sink stays there. If we slide the sink all the way to the end I think you’re right, and that it would maximize the 9’ island but we’d still be losing a significant amount of cabinet space so we still don’t feel like doing it. I just can’t reconcile losing the countertop space and cabinet space for subjective/personal preferences.

I appreciate your input. I’ll probably start a thread at some point of the build and will likely need some more constructive criticism down the road.
 
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Samcanadian

Samcanadian

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Oh and you’re probably right. The island is huge even at 9+ feet. I guarantee we’re underestimating how much space that’s gonna give us lol.
 

borazhasleftthebuilding

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Feb 11, 2005
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I think the short side will be the dishes only area, if the sink stays there. If we slide the sink all the way to the end I think you’re right, and that it would maximize the 9’ island but we’d still be losing a significant amount of cabinet space so we still don’t feel like doing it. I just can’t reconcile losing the countertop space and cabinet space for subjective/personal preferences.

I appreciate your input. I’ll probably start a thread at some point of the build and will likely need some more constructive criticism down the road.
That you'll ignore
 
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Samcanadian

Samcanadian

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I don't think everyone realizes how close we are to still potentially going with the small island :rofl:
 

B-Line

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I don't think everyone realizes how close we are to still potentially going with the small island :rofl:
The small island should have a hibachi built into it. And you can make volcano onions and smash salt and pepper shakers on it while flipping shrimp in your shirt pocket.
 

CitznFish

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Jun 12, 2002
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Go with the peninsula. Then in one year when you've realized it was a huge mistake, make it an island.
 

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