Kitchen Design Challenge: Traditional Tract House With Awkward Kitchen Footprint

How many times have you seen large upscale production type homes with high ceilings, chair rail moldings, a spacious master bedroom suite, 3-car garage, and an excess of diagonal angles wherever you look (the latter being one of my architectural pet peeves, by the way — more on that later)?

The kitchens in these homes are typically plagued with poorly-placed entries and exits and awkward footprints.

I found myself faced with such a kitchen last year when I was contacted by two Fauquier County doctors, Tammy and Rob, for help with their kitchen redesign. They were both busy doctors, with four children in grade school. Well into two years of planning, they had visited a large kitchen and bath showroom, and had walked away with some basic 3D renderings of the space along with some cabinetry samples. And because Rob was eager to get going, they had purchased their high-end kitchen appliances, Sub Zero and Wolf.

Luckily, except for the appliances, they had not “pulled the trigger” on the project. Tammy put on the brakes as she knew something was not quite right with the proposed kitchen design.

On the cold February day I met with Tammy, she said, “We are about to remodel our kitchen and do not want to make a big mistake. Last year, we made a very big mistake by purchasing expensive wall to wall carpet. This mistake cost us thousands and now that carpet is lying in a roll in our basement — a complete waste. We do not want to repeat this experience with our kitchen remodel, so that is why I called you”.

Tammy and Rob’s kitchen was definitely a design challenge. Skinny in its footprint (by today’s standards in relation to the house), an easy but exorbitantly expensive option would be to bump it out the back of the house to expand the kitchen footprint. But was there another way to remodel this kitchen without bumping it out?

Beyond the challenge of the limited footprint, Tammy and Rob wanted to incorporate their pre-purchased appliances, which included a 30” Sub Zero refrigerator and freezer, a built-in Wolf microwave with single oven, and a 48” range. These appliances were “amazon-like” in relation to the kitchen’s footprint.

“Oh my . . ,” I thought to myself, wishing they had not purchased the appliances before they had a solidly executed design plan, as I would have advised them differently.

But I like challenges, and have yet to be stumped by any kitchen design conundrum, so I agreed to take on the project.

Smith Kitchen Before RemodelHere you see a photo of the kitchen after it was gutted. On the left is the existing diagonal knee wall. The column at the end was structural. It could not be removed because it provided essential support for the floor above.

There is no before photo of the other side of the kitchen which, prior to demolition, housed 24” deep base cabinetry including a tall double oven. This allowed little room for the existing small island which measured just 36”by 48”.

My first big challenge was, “How do I create an esthetically pleasing, balanced and functional kitchen while incorporating all of those big appliances?”

My first solution was to eliminate the “corner” in the kitchen by boxing it out. This allowed me to create two main wall runs for two of the essential work functions in the kitchen: cooking and food storage.

On one run, the focal point was the 48” Wolf range with a large decorative hood.

The second run, starting at the “blocked off” corner, I placed the 30” Sub Zero freezer, the 30” tall micro and single wall oven cabinet, and the 30” Sub Zero refrigerator.

Oven Range, Sub Zero refrigerator and freezer

I then created a large 135 degree island. On the shorter turn of the island I incorporated the essential support column. On the longer portion was the main sink and food prep area. We had enough room opposite for casual seating.

smith sink view 800

18 inch deep pantry storageFinally, we repurposed the far wall that used to house the double oven and 24” deep cabinets and transformed it into “decorative” pantry storage utilizing 18” deep base cabinets with counter wall cabinets.

We also were able to take advantage of Perlick’s wonderful Sottile Series Line which offers an 18” deep refrigerator. The latter served as cold storage for the kids’ drinks without having to access the large Sub Zero.

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs
Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget.