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What to do with area of kitchen?
Kayla Thomas
February 3, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Hi Houzz readers! We're remodeling! Yay! It's a total, 100% DIY job, and I've found a ton of inspiration here. One thing I haven't figured out, and need your help with involves a little nook area in my kitchen.

It's currently set up as a breakfast nook, but I really feel like it's just wasted space. It's an area that gathers clutter. We don't use it as an eating area (who wants to sit on barstools and stare at the wall?) and the seats are too high for my toddler to use safely.

We're most likely moving out of this house in a year and a half, so while I want this kitchen and area to be something I enjoy, I also want it to work for future homeowners. Our remodel involves new floors, ceiling work, new countertops, new lighting/electrical in spots, change molding on cabs, but the cabinets are staying. We're putting glass in the window fronts, painting, and changing out the hardware.

We're planning to build a cabinet around our refrigerator. The length of the recessed area is 83.5" and the refrigerator is 36 inches, plus a couple inches for the cabinet around it.

I'm thinking of adding a small (9-15") cabinet to the left of the refrigerator to allow the doors on the refrigerator to open fully (they can't now b/c of how the wall is recessed where the refrigerator and nook are), then adding a 30-36" base cabinet to the right of the refrigerator for pot/pan storage since the kitchen is rather small and lacking in storage- then open shelves above it.

Do you think adding extra storage is a good idea here (will it overwhelm the space?), or should I leave it as it is currently so it can be sold as an "eat in" kitchen? I've attached pictures of the total before job (lots has changed since then regarding color, molding on cabinets, cab valance, light, etc.) so you will hopefully be able to help me with this! THANK YOU!!!
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
As long as there is other space in which to eat in the kitchen, storage would definitely be preferable to bar seating, and certainly making sure that the refrigerator door can fully open is a must.

I think you should consider full height storage to the right of the refrigerator. That whole wide area could be a big pantry of whatever depth you want to make it. You would save the cost of a countertop and gain oodles of storage.

Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
February 3, 2013 at 8:35pm     
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Bellamira Design
As suggested above -- install pantry storage. Or, install a work space with good-sense desk space below. I have a clutter spot by my fridge. I have found that by working the cabinets below, the clutter can go away. The problem with cabinets these days are that they are primarily designed by men who do not even use them. Be strong. Make demands. And include pull out drawers below (negotiate the price!). Make it a space that works for you. Change the standards and the norms.
February 3, 2013 at 8:44pm     
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Kayla Thomas
Thank you. There isn't actually any other area in the kitchen to eat. I'll post more "overview" type pictures. It is right next to the dining room, and that's where we eat. We have a pantry area at the end of the kitchen- doesn't hold a ton, but it is food storage. I love the look of the large pantry, but would it overpower the space? It is a narrow kitchen, and I would personally like the area of countertop for work space (I bake and decorate cakes).
February 3, 2013 at 8:45pm   
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Kevin Twitty- IBB Designer
I do not think you could sell that as a proper eat in without a table.

Here is another idea: A lot of kitchens are not having "work stations" many families these days have a computer in the kitchen for when they need to look up recipes.

You could also put storage about the work space.


Classic White Landmark Home
Minimalist kitchen design
Ravenswood Manor Residence
Lake Keowee: Smith Private Residence
February 3, 2013 at 9:18pm     
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Kayla Thomas
Thank you. I don't know that it should be sold as an eat in anyway. It's a galley kitchen in a 1937 home. It was never meant to be one. I like the idea of a work area. Like I said, I think I would miss the countertop area with a pantry. With the kitchen only being 9' wide at the widest point, I'm afraid having a desk/chair area in there would be cramped too.

I LOVE the Lake Keowee picture. The way the refrigerator is built in is what I am planning for ours (new appliances too, did I mention that?), but really thinking of the narrow cabinet on the left of it (next to the existing counters) now. In a small kitchen, is a desk/work place more practical, or a cabinet...? So many things to think about!
February 3, 2013 at 9:46pm   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
You state that the dining room is right next to the kitchen. Can you open up a wall to join the two?
February 4, 2013 at 7:13am   
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Kayla Thomas
If we were staying here longer we probably would. I would love a more open floor plan, but we are likely selling in 1 1/2 yrs when my husband finishes residency. That's a larger and more costly project than we are willing to take on at this time.
February 4, 2013 at 10:10am   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
It might pay for itself in the price you get when you sell.
February 4, 2013 at 6:04pm   
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Kayla Thomas
Unfortunately, it's just not an option right now. My husband is a resident and working 80-90 hours a week, and I have two small kids to care for during the day, plus my own small business I run from home. We don't have the budget to pay someone else to do it for us, and time is the major constraint for us to do it ourselves.
February 5, 2013 at 10:26am   
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Bellamira Design
Your original idea for a. 36" cabinet on the other side of fridge is perfect. Take everything off the other side cabinet. Spend your time and energy on hidden storage underneath. If you aren't staying there, don't put alot of money or time into it. You can't sell it as an eat-in kitchen. Buyers would rather have cabinets and counter space given what you have to work with. The only other option might be to move the fridge toward the wall and have one longer counter and cabinets. You would have to measure, and determine if worthwhile.
February 5, 2013 at 10:54am   
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Kayla Thomas
Oi. I tore out the countertop thing to the right of the refrigerator tonight, and pushed the fridge around to different spots to try and imagine what it would look like with various options. Carolyn- you're right. Pantries. It needs a 24" pantry on both sides of the refrigerator. Putting a little base cabinet on the other side looks too diminutive and out of place.
February 5, 2013 at 9:57pm   
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Bellamira Design
BUT, with pantries, you lose your counter space. Balance it -- ummmmmmm.
February 5, 2013 at 10:20pm   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
I don't know about adding pantry on both sides,but certainly on one side would be great.
February 6, 2013 at 6:44am   
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Kayla Thomas
The headache is that the whole area is recessed from the rest of the kitchen. If I put a pantry on ine side, I'm left with a 2' hole on the other. I'd just add cabinets and countertop along with the existing if it would sit flush. I think I need a new picture. :)
February 6, 2013 at 6:48am   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Yes, another photo would be helpful to us. Many thanks, Kayla.
February 6, 2013 at 6:57am   
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Kayla Thomas
This is such an ugly picture (but really, my entire kitchen is torn apart and ugly right now...). I've moved the refrigerator so there is exactly 24" on either side of it. As you can see on the left, the whole section sits back further about 15 1/2" from the rest of that side of the kitchen with the cabinets.
February 6, 2013 at 7:14am   
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olliolli
I'm assuming that is the pantry next to the window..what's on the opposite side? You could take that pantry out all together to make a little area for eating with a small table and 2 chairs in front of the window with an overhead light....then put your pantry on the other side of the fridge.
February 6, 2013 at 7:19am   
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ann
I would put in a pantry with wood doors on it
February 6, 2013 at 7:21am   
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Kayla Thomas
Olliolli, you are correct. That is the pantry. The opposite of it is a doorway that leads to our basement. It is the only way to gain access to the basement. Unfortunately tearing that out is not an option either.
February 6, 2013 at 7:30am   
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handymam
I like the idea of more storage too. I think putting smaller cabs on each side would make the refrigerator look built in, but will it give the kind of space for storage that one wider pantry would give?
February 6, 2013 at 7:31am   
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Bellamira Design
As far as the recessed wall -- you can fix that with the cabinets. Put a pantry on the right side of the fridge. Then put a "frame" around the fridge with a finished side showing from existing cabinets/counter and a false back. That way you can have a deeper pantry and not have to push the fridge to the back.
February 6, 2013 at 8:02am   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
I think you aim for one big pantry by pushing the refrigerator to one side and adding the pantry. It could be a walk-in pantry with the extra depth and width.
February 6, 2013 at 8:48am   
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Kayla Thomas
So one large pantry cabinet to the right of the fridge (next to doorway)? And do you think I should use the whole depth of the recessed area so it would be flush with the cabinets on the other half of the room? How about height? The cabinets above go up 84" but I have added molding I made to them to raise them to ~92-3" (attaching pic). I plan to add a cabinet above the refrigerator as well. Was thinkin of making the basic cabinet around fridge and pantry ~90" so with the molding it would be ceiling height and totaly hide the recess. Thoughts on that?
February 6, 2013 at 10:56am   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
You can do it with cabinets as you explained, hiding the recess behind. Or you could frame in the whole 48" x 40" (is that right?) area to the right of the fridge and put a door on it. Inside you would have 12" deep shelving on 3 sides. Does that work or did i misunderstand the measurements?
February 6, 2013 at 3:41pm   
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Bellamira Design
Except, I don't think you need another door. Will confuse a small space. Keep it a double-door pantry with stack shelves on the doors and shelves inside (add pull-out shelves, wire baskets, etc to keep it organized.)
February 6, 2013 at 3:57pm   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Carrington has a good point. If you do it that way, I'd only make it 24" deep and put a false back on it.
February 6, 2013 at 6:44pm   
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jingstad
I've got the answer!!! Take out all the cabinets on the refrigerator wall. Move the refrigerator to the far right. Fill in the space up to where the wall juts out with base cabinet/counter and wall cabinets. Then either use wall cabinets floor to ceiling to make a pantry that is flush with the counter space, or use wall cabinets as a base with a narrow counter (could be used for small appliances...mixer, toaster, coffee maker, etc.) and upper cabinets with glass doors. It would open up some more floor space and the glass doors would also help to make the space seem larger. The cabinets being flush along the entire wall would also make the space look larger. The pictures show a shallow pantry and then a shallow base cabinet....I would add wall cabinets above it. You could use bathroom base cabinets which come shallower than typical kitchen cabinets
February 6, 2013 at 7:23pm   
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Kayla Thomas
I've done a lot of searching, researching, calling, and getting quotes for this project. Pantries are more expensive than I even thought.

I went over to Arthur, IL to do a consultation with an Amish cabinet maker who could match our existing cabinets. When I searched for his info, I found that there's a cabinet warehouse in the same small town, and decided I'd stop by afterwards and just see if they had anything. Holy cow. They did...and I bought them. They weren't 100% what I was planning for, but I was able to get ALL of the cabinetry for the entire nook area (plus a pull out mixer stand for inside a base cabinet) at 28% of what the other quotes were. I came home and drew it out to scale, and I think it will look fine. The pantry cabs on the right are full pull outs with cookie sheet organizers in the top, and a 6 place wine storage block on top them, and the one on the left has drawers behind the lower door, and an open storage area up top. They are 24" deep, so I'll have to affix 3 inch blocks behind them to studs to be able to attach them to the walls, and leave them flush with the existing upper cabinets (which makes it a perfect depth to make it look like we have a cabinet depth refrigerator, even though we don't). Can't believe my luck... :)
February 8, 2013 at 8:18pm   
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homedreamer
That will be absolutely beautiful. Great work!
February 8, 2013 at 8:30pm   
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