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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Great Room and Kitchen Island

jayneodoOctober 29, 2012
We are building a home and this is the floor plan of our open great room. I love the concept but am having a hard time decorating the space in my mind. We have a few ideas for the kitchen island but would love to have your expert opinion on what may look great in that space. We are on a lake, want off white cabinets, have an antique dining room set, will have wood floors and everything else is a clean slate. Ideas for colors and positioning of furniture would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
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Mona Ives
L-shaped sectional or sofa and chairs combination. Depends on your lifestyle - casual I guess I would go sectional with some sofa tables behind.
    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 8:22AM
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My favorite kitchen layout is L-Shaped kitchen with island. You've definitely got plenty of space for it. Keep in mind to allow at least 4' space between the island and countertops for comfortable traffic flow. It looks like you will have a cooktop in your island? (I didn't see it elsewhere). So that would involve a oven vent hood descending from the ceiling so you'll have to be mindful of that appliance choice, it will have a big impact in the overall asthetic of the kitchen because it's so prominent. Of course, there is the option of the pop-up, in-counter downdraft, but I hear there are negatives to those (more so for gas burners, they will pull the flame under the pots sideways potentially). Another consideration is with the cooktop in the island, you'll want plenty of clearance around it on the opposite side. With your kitchen space, you can have a 4' deep island, so cooktop in 2' of it and a bar-type eating space beyond the cooktop of 2' deep. That gives plenty of clearance, whether you want it at counter-top height, or elevated to bar-height. I can't tell how long a space you have in the kitchen for the island, your pic is missing that kitchen length dimension.

Personally, I spend more time facing a sink and/or prep area. If you can swap and put the sink in the island, and the cooktop against the wall, I'd do it. It also solves the problem of venting an island cooktop. I personally like the vent hood and cooktop backsplash as a nice feature wall, rather than in a center island.

In terms of other seating, I agree with the first comment, sectional (L with one chair, or U), a sofa and two chairs, or two facing sofas, all make great choices. Definitely the console table behind a sofa works great to create a division between the space.
1 Like    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 12:44PM
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I agree this floor plan is set up perfectly for a sectional and great for entertaining.
1 Like    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 4:27PM
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Thanks so much for your ideas. The measurement from the corner to the end of the oven is 15ft and to the end of the frig is 10ft. My husband and I were trying to come up with an interesting island shape so it wouldn't feel boxy. Please let me know if you have any ideas or if you think any of our ideas are feasible. JB - The cooktop is indeed in the island and we are planning to use a down draft. We'd like to have a big island but don't want to overwhelm the space, what size would you recommend? Dytecture - thanks so much for the image, it's so helpful to have a visual!
    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 6:07AM
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We are building now also and have an open kitchen/family room combo. I totally agree with JB that the cooktop is better on the wall and the sink set up in the island. It's a safety issue also for us with lots of little ones around. Also I'm thinking that cooktop/hood on the wall is a more aesthetically pleasing combo for a kitchen - vs decorating over a sink. Not sure about the island shape because we are still working on ours! If you or I come up with an idea first...we can share!
    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 6:22AM
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Thanks for your ideas theheartmom2. In my current kitchen I have the cooktop on the island and love it there. When entertaining or even for everyday meals, everyone enjoys helping (or at least watching) prep and cook foods. Having the cooktop on the big island makes it easy, fun and spacious for everyone to gather around and participate. Our kids are adults now so we don't have the safety issue. Also, I don't think I'd like having the sink with dishes in the middle of the room but that's probably just because it's not what I'm used to. I spend more time at the cooktop than at the sink and we all enjoy looking out the window while doing dishes. We have spent many hours trying to come up with an island design and we are not in the area of our house so we can't "feel" how it looks on the actual floor. I'll let you know if we come up with anything else....

Of course now that some things are in place, we are second guessing why we chose to do certain things. Like the dining area where we have the opening on the left, I think we should close that as it's really not needed and the long wall could prove useful. It's not to late to do that, thoughts?
    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 7:14AM
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Is that corner on the left wall (where the 2 openings meet) necessary? Why not do a corner post and leave most of the area open? This would truly add to the inclusiveness of your entire room. Unless you just want a more enclosed space, i wouldn't close it off at all. I love the floor plan btw.
    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 7:28PM
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What you said about having the cooktop in the island is the exact reason why it would work for you, having that whole show/demonstration kitchen feel. If you spend time around the stove a lot more, then definitely, that's the setup for you.

I would put at least a 4' deep island there. If you're doing granite countertops, I think a slab of granite averages a bit over 4', like 4'6". Within the kitchen footprint (10'9" coming out from the wall behind the sink), you could fit a full slab (4'6"). You're spacing in that 10'9" direction would be 2' of cabinet on sink wall, then 4' of aisle space to island, then 4'6" of island depth gets you 10'6".

In the horizontal dimension, you'd have the 3'-deep fridge, 4' aisle space to island, then you could fit an 8' island to get to the edge of the 15' kitchen footprint.

I made a sketch for you (which I will attempt to attach later today. Instead of having seating all down the long 8' side, I'd skew it around the corner with two seats on the right side (facing the fridge wall) and two seats on the living room side (facing the sink/oven wall). Because your island is right up to the edge of the kitchen footprint, any clearance for seating extends out into the traffic flow coming out of the hallway. By shifting the seating down the island to the right a couple feet and around the corner, you allow for a 4' translation path coming out of the hallway to more comfortably bend towards the openness of the living room, instead of running immediately into the side of someone seated right at that corner of the island closest to the fridge.

One consideration for that would be that the two seats on the right side might encroach on the kitchen table space (I can't tell how big that space is; it also depends on your kitchen table size).

For countertop-height seating I think you should leave a min 18" overhang (kneespace). Bar stool height can get away with less overhang, ~12" min.

A possibility on the island height: you could make it all one height, or you could raise it up to bar height in an L-shape in front of the seating. That would give you further shielding from the cooktop too.
    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 12:46PM
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aforementioned sketch
    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 10:36AM
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JB Thank you so much for the sketch and detailed description. I love the ideaS. What do you think of the islands (above) that we drew? I was trying to get away form being too boxy (rectangular) but maybe that is the most practical option. We will be visiting the house next week so we're excited about making some cardboard islands and see how they look on the floor......
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 5:43PM
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I think the L-Shaped sketch is probably your best choice. However, you don't have too much space to play with. If you made the bar countertop facing the great room only 12" deep (not really an eating surface), and made the 18" deep part face the kitchen eating area, then you could have a decent L shape (short leg base cabinet could be 18" wide). If you wanted a full 18" bar around the L, then the short leg of your L-shape would only be able to be about a 12" base cabinet, which would seem a little tiny maybe. I'd rather have the full depth of the rectangle to allow for eating space on both side of the L.

Now I do tend toward putting functional space as a higher priority over everything else. I live in a small house and have to seriously optimize space everywhere, so in the curved options you showed, all I see is the wasted space between the base cabinets and want to figure out a way to maximize storage and counter top space. But that may ntot be a concern to you. Also, the curved islands could lend themselves to a more contemporary modern design due to the curves.

Of course you can make the rectangle modern too. You could have the rectangular island, and then have a more curved raised bar-height counter top on to of it, and do it like a suspended glass countertop. That could be a way to dress up a more traditional rectangular base shape.

Good luck!
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:28AM
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