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Designing My Kitchen – Wanna Help?

The pace is picking up once again on our building work, with the laundry now demolished and the last of the verandah work commencing in preparation for re-roofing the ‘old house,’ it’s time to make several major decisions. Such as Designing our Kitchen. Building is like that, there is always a flow on effect, one job leads to another, one decision means several others now have to be made.

Once the verandah is completed, load bearing posts will be erected in preparation for the roof trusses. As the ‘old house’ walls are lower than the ‘new house’ we need to ‘build up’ the walls, while doing that we will replace old windows with new, thus we now need to make decisions regards the layout of the ‘old house.’ Once the new trusses and iron are on, none of the internal walls will be load bearing, essentially this means if we so desired we could gut the entire ‘old house’, rather exciting, yet it means it’s crunch time decision time.

Our plans include enlarging the study, opening the library entrance and moving the ‘position’ of the learning room, we’ll also add a huge window, translating to more light and warmth.
I now have to design my kitchen and I’d love your assistance!

Already we are making a major ‘modification’ to our original plans, ones that have been submitted and approved. A benefit of living in an incomplete house is you sometimes realise what looked feasible on paper doesn’t work in reality.  Our error is our dining room is too small for our family size. Since we first planned our dining room we have welcomed new children and we’ve begun to experience the impact of grown children on our seating arrangements. Although our grown children have left home, they return for week long visits, when that occurs we need to butt two tables together, when our daughter moved home we added half a table permanently. Our foreseeable future includes further children leaving home, yet then returning with girlfriends and boyfriends, future spouses and grandchildren,  our needs will only continue to be ever changing, our priority is to provide a space that can be adaptable to the moment.  Fortunately we can ‘grow’ our dining room by encroaching on our planned kitchen area.  After adjusting my vision I realised I can still have a large kitchen if I move it ‘sideways’ though this means decreasing the size of our learning area, upon reflection I realised this would be okay, though I remain a tad concerned regards potential lack of windows.

The picture above shows you the current dining and potential kitchen area. The dining in the foreground will stay but continues till a little past the ‘bend in the wall.’ The kitchen will then begin and continue through to the ‘chair in the distance. The study is beyond the open door in the far distance, it will come out to the chair. The pool table sits where the bench will go and there will be an open passage way between the bench and the glass doors. The wall beyond the pool table with the corkboard and blacking currently attached will be removed so the kitchen and walkway can continue through.

Last year Anna Maria (then 21) and Einstein (then 17) catered for 35 people at our annual homeschool camp.  After working in their industrial kitchen Anna Maria was keen for us to adapt several ideas into our plans, features that would make cooking for a large family easier, these are included in the list below.  PC has been toying with the idea of building the cabinets himself, I have every faith he is capable, however we’re thinking the Bunning’s flat packs will be an affordable possibility.

I’d love your assistance with designing my kitchen to meet the needs of a large, ever expanding family. The kitchen space is 7m by 3m (24ft by 9ft10),  I may decrease the length and  increase the width a little.

Thus far I have on my wish list:

  • A Deep Sink with possibly a second sink on the opposite bench
  • Flexible Swivel Sprayer Tap
  • Hot Plate – laid into the bench next to the stove top
  • Walk in Pantry
  • An Island Bench (I’m not sold on that yet as I don’t think the space warrants it)
  • Plenty of Drawers – maybe all drawers?
  • One Bench on Industrial Wheels – planning to move the bench against the wall when large crowds visit, making the dining room larger and using the bench as a servery.
Any suggestions for layout? Bench top material?
If you could design the kitchen of your choice what are your must haves? 

ETA: Our oven has just died (right in the middle of baking dinner for 20 people!) We need to buy a new one asap.
Looking at 90cm freestanding electric oven with gas burners,
What would you suggest for a large family? 
Also as our appliances are white what colour would you buy? 
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  • Nicole Cox

    I love Caesar stone for a bench top, easy to clean and maintain, however laminex now offer very similar looking products that are also easy to keep clean. Both are quite economical. In our last home, we had a large island bench on wheels, and it was so helpful when we had a large crowd to cater for. We also had just about all draws, with only a few cupboards for the bigger electrical goods.

    • Erin

      I thought stone was an expensive option, will check it out then.
      I'm thinking for the appliances of having a hutch cupboard, we did in our previous house and I loved it, though I own even more appliances now.

  • Karen @ Pieces of Contentment

    This is all sounding very interesting Erin! With the benefit of having lived in the house you can more easily see what works and where your future needs will take you. I guess by pushing through into the learning room area you also provide easy access for shopping etc through that door. Do you plan on locating a deep freeze in the kitchen or just a fridge? Can you add a window from the learning room out onto the new deck area? This would let in much more light for both. I really like the idea of a movable bench giving you much flexibility between dining and kitchen – or using it as a server for larger crowds.

    • Erin

      Actually I was planning on that door going, but mm you may a great point re unloading shopping. I did mention at one stage having an external door opening into our walk in pantry but the idea wasn't received with enthusiasm;)
      We haven't a deep freeze, but am thinking of buying a larger upright freezer, would prefer to have matching to the fridge.
      Yes either a double door and/or massive windows.
      The movable bench is appealing, except we will have to be vigilant regards dirt underneath.

  • adelle

    I've never commented on your blog before but I enjoy reading it. We owner built a house 8 years ago (and are still finishing it off). I am very happy with most aspects of our new kitchen. We only have 3 children but frequently host large extended family gatherings, and our kitchen functions very efficiently. It is a large square shape so we have room for an island bench, which I love. We use the island bench for food preparation and to serve food buffet style. People walk around it as they fill up their plates. At the other end there is seating with 7 stools, since our dining area is not huge.

    I highly recommend having as many drawers as you can afford. They make it so much easier to access items without getting down on hands and knees. Also things stay tidier – its easier for kids and visitors to help put things away properly.

    We have a second sink just inside the walk in pantry. It is laundry tub sized and is great for putting ice and cold drinks in – this area becomes the drinks station when we have visitors, away from the cooking areas. Also my husband has his coffee machine on the small bench next to it.

    Our walk in pantry is very long and narrow, with a tall deep cupboard at the far end. The pantry dimensions are not functional, but it was the leftover space when other rooms were designed. We've put narrow shelves along one long wall, and they are much more useful than the big cupboard at the end. So I recommend making sure your pantry space is not an afterthought!

    All the best with your kitchen plan. I had a lot of fun thinking mine through and sketching it on grid paper.

    • Erin

      I'm so pleased you did comment, welcome and thank you!:)
      Great to hear from another owner builder!! and really appreciate your tips. Love the laundry tub tip, for a drink station:)
      Though I'm wavering about a walk in pantry, wondering if I would just be better in making my pantry double the size it currently is, what do you think?

  • Bron Maxabella

    I think you should do the island bench, but have it on casters so it is flexible. It will then take the place of the servery bench you were talking about. The two sinks are a must and preferably one would be located in an area that could also function as a 'quick fix' area. So the jug would be there for a quick cuppa and possibly snacks and fruit could be housed here too. That way the kids can grab and go, even if someone is cooking in the main part of the kitchen.

    I have no idea what colour appliances you want – what do YOU like? Also, go the induction cooktop if you can – they are brilliant.

    Good luck with it all. x

    • Erin

      Lots of votes for casters:) and for two sinks:)
      I've been researching ovens this week, feel as if my brains are leaking out;) anyhow have given induction cooktops a much closer look and am leaning that way if my power board can take it. Actually it probably can't, will have to add another cable.

  • grace

    hi we are builders/designers and I would recommend a galley kitchen for functionality and ease of cleaning you need to make it a bit wider so people can work both sides at the same time. Think work stations, so if bill is cutting in that area and fay mixing over there and I'm at the sink can three more people work in here as well (this is for big events you will have them and need 'all hands on deck' the standard gallery kitchen made a dishwasher/cupboard wider will accommodate the above unless you are all above average size. If you are tall make sure at least one bench is correct for your height you back will thank you forever. If you have dreams of the open country kitchen I would advise you to think again Research shows miles of extra effort is need to use this design not to mention double the floor space to wash, the space saved by using a slightly wider galley style can be better used else where, I would recommend granite benches around the stove and sinks a darker colour is best and glass (light colour to bring reflected light into your workspace) splash backs for ease of cleaning and maintenance (no grout to clean) use granite behind the sink or if the space is not suitable matching tiles placed as close as possible with about 2mm grout between (use a dark grout). A wooden bench top on the island bench especially if you put it on castors make it a feature the colour of the wood must be complementary with the colour of the granite, If you wanted a commercial look you could go with stainless steel benches which look good with wood but be aware they scratch badly. A well sealed wooden floor is kinder on the legs and easier to clean than tiles it needs to be a hardwood to cope with the traffic and will need resealing about every 5 years if cared for properly (less if it was just a couple of people about 10 years) You can use bunnings flat packs and put your own doors on them this is an economical way to an amazing kitchen

    • Erin

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience with us! Love the idea of work stations, makes complete sense. Certainly plan on wide benches and as we are all a tall family they will be taller than average. Hee hee being a large family we are big events at all times. Appreciate the dark and light tip and the island bench suggestions. Will definitely going wooden floor.

  • grace

    Also assess your cooking habits do you use a mixer everyday then design it to be out. Don't want to see it then design it to be hidden – roll down cupboard front on bench or work station in walk in pantry are the most common solutions. I would say yes to a walk in pantry with a proper work station but no sink ( the extra plumbing is expensive and it's primary use is a storage area for drygoods so no water is a good idea. make one wall full of narrow shelves say three small cans deep plus some even narrower for spices and condiments if they are not seen they are not used, have a bench top made that has a rolltop for comfort (colour match it to your other benches maybe same colour different tone) and goes all the way around narrow one size deeper at the back and wider on the other size like a misshaped U also have power in it. a deeper space is more useful than a wider so a little wider than a shower and twice as deep would give you the space to buy in bulk (large storage containers under the wide side of the bench) and still be used every day. Shelves at the back and above the bench designed to fit your jars and your lifestyle design it properly now and you will save energy everyday and it will be a pleasure to use. the difference between a great kitchen and a bad one is not cost it's design So get out those pens, paper and rulers make up two dimensional cut-outs of the components (fridge stove sink possible benches to scale and don't forget access and light. Write down everything the kitchen needs to do and your dreams of colour etc you can design the perfect kitchen and enjoy it for years to come. Have fun!

    • Erin

      I actually use a number of appliances daily but I am thinking of an appliance cupboard, easy out, easy in. My friend has a walk in pantry like you suggest, she loves it.

  • SandyJ

    Hi Erin, I’m new too 🙂 One of the things that we still really love about our new-ish kitchen is that the double sink also has two taps. No more time wasted waiting for someone else to finish with the tap! We also have two ovens – one is quite large and the other a standard size. When feeding a big crowd we use both, and have the option of using one or the other for when it’s just us. The bigger oven takes longer to pre-heat and also uses more energy (but obviously fits more), so it’s good to have the smaller option for when we just want something smaller baked quickly.

    • Erin

      Welcome 🙂
      Have added two taps back on the list 🙂 We were thinking two ovens, both standard size, but maybe we should consider one extra large. We’ve recently discovered big ovens do take alot of energy. and as you say smaller ones heat quickly.

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