Art Decor

Reader Question: How Do We Maximize Space With This Floorplan?

Today, Suzanne needs our help with the floor plan of her daughter’s home. Or more specifically, she needs YOUR help. I have stared at this floor plan and the pictures longer than I’d like to admit, and I seem to have a mental block where solutions are concerned. I know there has to be a brilliant solution to their problem, but it’s just not coming to me. So while I’ll offer some thoughts, I’m hoping that one of you will have the perfect solution for Suzanne and Kim.

Suzanne’s Question:

My question is for my daughters home. We bought land together. My HH and I built a smaller home and she and her family are in the big old house that they love. They’ve been living with it like this for at least six years. They’ve had to replace the roof and leaky upstairs bath so down stairs had to wait.

Our question is how to open the kitchen/downstairs up a little more for the large gatherings we host. The plan is to bump the peninsula back 10” or so and make it a little longer. I feel the gas stove is impacting furniture arrangement. We’re in the PNW so It gets used. It could get moved to sit flush against that wall but is that worth the expense as it might only gain a few feet max. 

Her friend suggested she open up the double oven wall to the hallway. That seems like a lot of lost storage. I thought maybe she could move the fridge to the oven wall and open that wall to the dining/playroom with a second peninsula to add more eating area. She’s also thinking about moving the pantry to the laundry room and the W/D to the mudroom 

I should add that she’s not wanting a “big” kitchen nor a total open floor plan. She’s happy with the size but feels it could be much better moving forward. She loves the quirky rooms and they all get thoroughly used. She also has no plans to ever use the dining room as a formal dining room. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you, Suzanne and Kim

Kim’s Current Layout:

Suzanne sent along this drawing of Kim’s current floor plan…

And she also sent these pictures so that we could get a visual of how these rooms/areas currently flow together and relate to each other. Here’s a view of the kitchen from the room with the gas stove and ceiling-mounted TV. On the far left, you can see just a sliver of the hallway that is behind the double oven wall in the kitchen.

This is the wall of the kitchen with the double oven on one end and the pantry on the other end. Behind this wall is the hallway that leads from the entry to the room with the gas stove and TV, and off of that hallway are the laundry room, half bath, closet, and stairway.

This is a view of the refrigerator wall in the kitchen with the dining/playroom through the doorway. And then beyond that is the very large living room. Suzanne said that Kim has no plans of ever using the dining/playroom as a formal dining room.

And then looking back the other way from the kitchen is the room with the gas stove and TV, although you can’t really see it from this angle…

But you can see it from this angle. This is the gas stove that Suzanne wondered about moving so that it’s flat against the wall rather than cutting this area into two spaces.

This is the hallway behind the kitchen wall with the double stove and pantry. On the far end, you can see the entryway to the home.

This is the dining/playroom, but Kim doesn’t ever plan to turn this into a formal dining room. And through the glass door is the sunroom.

Here’s a view of that same dining/playroom looking the other way towards the large living room, which you can see through that doorway, and with the sunroom through the glass door on the right…

My suggestion:

I always find a floor plan more challenging to change when (1) the homeowner isn’t wanting an extensive remodel and (2) the kitchen sits in the middle of the floor plan.

If you’ll remember, that scenario described my exact situation in our current home. I didn’t want to do anything extensive, like completely relocating the kitchen to the area that is now the breakfast room (which some people suggested, and would have been amazing, but it would have cost an absolute fortune). And our kitchen is centrally located, with rooms all around it. So that limited me in the amount of rearranging I could do.

In the end, I simply opened up the small kitchen to the rooms around it as best as I could, taking down the wall between the kitchen and the breakfast room and adding a peninsula, creating a cased opening between the kitchen and the living room, and widening the opening between the kitchen and the music room just a few inches. All of that combined made a huge difference while keeping costs as low as possible, and while keeping the original footprint of the kitchen. (My kitchen is still that same 10′ x 14′ that I started out with.)

I think this kitchen presents the same issues, and will require similar solutions.

My own opinion is that I would not open up the double oven wall to the hallway.

You would lose way too much storage, and then the rest of the kitchen would require some pretty extensive remodeling in order to find a place for the double ovens. And since you have large family gatherings, I’m assuming that you wouldn’t want to lose those double ovens.

But also, removing that wall then makes the kitchen the first thing that people will see when they walk through the front door. I know I have days when I leave dirty dishes piled up, or I don’t clean up immediately after cooking, and I personally wouldn’t want my kitchen on full display directly from the front door. But maybe that’s just me. 😀

I also had the thought of taking that wall down and doing a large island. At least that would preserve some of the storage area, and would allow a place for the ovens. But I don’t think that’s the best solution either. Not only does that take us right back to having the kitchen on full display from the front door, but generally when a kitchen has a large island, there’s something that you want to see on the other side of that island, like a large living room with a fireplace and TV. And generally the purpose of taking a wall down to create an island is to open the kitchen up to an area where people would naturally gather.

But I don’t think that people are naturally gathering in the hallway next to the laundry room, closet, and half bathroom. So while taking that wall down, or creating an island, might make the area feel larger, I don’t think it’s really worth the the cost when the end result will be having a laundry room, storage closet, half bathroom, and stairway essentially be a part of the “new” kitchen. I personally would want to keep those things separated from my kitchen if I lived here.

So if this were my house, the two things I would do two things to create a more open feel in these rooms, and both of those things are solutions that y’all are already contemplating.

First, I would have the gas stove moved so that it is sitting flush against the wall and is no longer separating that large room into two separate rooms.

Then I would arrange the furniture so that one end of that room has the table and chairs, and the other end is the seating area, just as it is now. But I would move the TV to that far wall on the right, and put the sofa where the TV is right now. That way, the room is open, but there would be two zones. Then when you have large family gatherings and you want it more open, the sofa can be temporarily relocated against a wall, and then moved back to create the two different zones for normal, everyday use. That would give more flexibility, whereas now, there’s no flexibility with a ceiling-mounted TV and a brick wall separating those two area.

The second thing I’d do is to relocate the fridge to the space where the current pantry is, and then open up the current refrigerator wall with a peninsula so that the kitchen and the dining/play room are more open to each other.

I think doing those two things will go a very long way in making these rooms feel more open to each other, making the whole area feel larger and more conducive to large family gatherings, while not requiring a huge and very costly remodel, and while also preserving the charm of the original home with the separate rooms that have different functions during normal day-to-day life.

Alright, folks! What suggestions do YOU have for Suzanne and Kim?

(Are you stuck with a DIY or decorating problem and want input? Click here to submit your question. I post/answer the questions in the order that they’re received, so please don’t send questions if your contractor is on the way to your house right this minute and you need immediate advice. 😀 )