Layout help - knock through or not(16 Posts)
Hoping to get some opinions on our potential kitchen/dining layout as we keep changing our minds!
We have an Edwardian house that is tall and thin. Three floors plus an unconverted cellar, fine for storage but not living space. Six bedrooms so plenty of space upstairs, then big lounge, big dining room but relatively smaller kitchen. Kitchen doesn't have direct access to the garden, you need to go through utility room. Also the kitchen and utility room are not on the same level as the garden, you need to go down about five steps. So we want to have better access to and visibility of the garden so the kids can play out there while I am in the house, and a bigger kitchen.
So our plan was to move washer dryer to a big airing cupboard upstairs, then knock through kitchen and utility to make a bigger breakfast kitchen. This would give us a decent but unusually shaped kitchen, about 7m long and then 3,5m wide for two thirds of it and 2.5m wide for the rest (the bit we are knocking through), with patio doors to garden at the back. Should be enough space for a decent kitchen plus seating area for a family of 5.
Disadvantages are no separate entrance at the back (and we park our cars at the back so come in that way a lot) so would be coming in straight into the French doors or having to walk round to the front door.
And kitchen would seem relatively small compared to rest of the house.
This would leave us a with a 5m by 5m separate dining room, which we currently use as a playroom/dining room. We also have a playroom upstairs but that will eventually become a bedroom for dc3.
I am questioning whether we are being foolish not to knock through at least partially to the big dining room. If we did this we could have a big porch/utility/boot room at the back of the house as we wouldn't need the table in the kitchen area itself. But would only have two separate rooms downstairs.
For those with older kids, is it useful to have that extra room downstairs? We entertain a lot so eat in the dining room then but will eat family meals in the kitchen. Am guessing the kids will probably spend more time in their rooms as they get older? The dining room is a lovely big square room and we want to retain as much character as possible in the house. But I don't want to end up with a largely redundant room. Third dc due imminently so is going to be a busy kitchen.
So I guess I am asking what is more useful particularly as children get older. Bigger kitchen or separate room downstairs?
Thank you! Sorry that was long...
As children get older? Definitely more separate rooms. They will want to entertain their friends but not necessarily in their bedroooms and take it from me, it's a pain having a posse of teenagers lounging round the place when you want to cook or sit down and relax. Much better to have a completely separate second reception so you can close the door on them and let them socialise in private. Open plan is lovely with small children but massively stifling with older ones. I've lived with both and now I'd pick separate rooms every time. Do the kitchen utility thing by all means, but don't ruin a lovely house by desecrating the second reception you are so lucky to have.
Agree with pp. I am an architect and have noticed people going back to separate rooms as their children get older (some even replacing walls or doors they themselves took out!). Mark my words, the current fashion for open plan will burn out as parents find their kids living at home ever longer, unable to afford a place of their own even into their 20s and 30s. Separate rooms gives you so much more flexibility.
I also have an Edwardian house and I'm planning on knocking through my kitchen and utility room the same. I also echo separate rooms. My DD and I not only like it if her friends and her are in a separate room (the living room) but also that there is a whole empty room (our dining room) between them and me in the kitchen!
We've just done what you describe - have a large living area and then one big kitchen/diner/snug downstairs (with a small utility off it, and downstairs loo). Also have 3 children (2 senior school age, 1 primary school age). We also entertain a lot, mainly other families (including children) and the lay out we have now works a million times better than when we had separate rooms.
If the children have their friends round, they do usually hang out in their bedrooms or in the lounge. I think if you have 6 bedrooms (I presume you only really need 4 even with 3 DC, you'll still have a couple of "extra" rooms that could work as a TV room / playstation room when you have teenagers wanting to hang out.
For us, if in say 10 years, and as other posters have suggested, we end up with 3 children back at home after uni, then we'll reconsider the lay out. I think a house sometimes has to be fluid - what works now might not work in the future, but we have no way of knowing. I only know that our current layout is perfect for how we live now and how we will live for the next 4 or 5 years so for us, that makes it worthwhile.
If you are currently pregnant, its a long way off trying to second guess how you'll use the space when your children are teenagers.
I think there is a problem with a washer and dryer upstairs due to needing to iron and hang it out elsewhere. I value my laundry room.
I think many roomed houses with small self contained kitchens isolate people. My children's friends were happy to be in the kitchen or the lounge. We didn't push them out elsewhere!
Make the kitchen the hub of the house. Put in a laundry if you can and a downstairs cloakroom. Informal seating in the kitchen is great. Weird shaped rooms never really work or feel right. Nor does coming in through French windows. You won't. Can an architect not come up other better alternatives?
Thanks all. Lots to think about.
I think laundry upstairs will be fine, we iron up there and hang washing up there anyway, so would only need to take washing down when wanting to hang outside on (rare!) sunny days, so will be less lugging of washing up and down stairs than I do now.
Good point about older kids being a long way off - just want to make sure we are not making decisions based on pre schoolers/toddlers!
One option could be to put an opening from kitchen into dining room so the space flows but still feels a bit separate. That would mean we wouldn't need space in the kitchen for a table so could build in a lobby/boot room area. I do have a concern about not having a separate entrance at the back (i.e. Not patio doors) as will have muddy children coming in that way with all their paraphernalia! And ideally would have a separate sink for muddy shoes/boots etc.
I think it's back to the architect to see if we can get a separate entrance in somewhere
Watching with interest
OP your house and dilemma sounds very similar to mine.
We currently have what is your original idea - we have two large reception rooms (sitting room and dining), then a smaller kitchen which has been extended out into the garden to make a long but fairly narrow kitchen breakfast room.
Like you we have 6 bedrooms upstairs though one will become another bathroom in due course. Like you I plan to put laundry upstairs and already hang and iron up there anyway.
I don't like our current arrangement because the kitchen is narrow and dark (even though it's long, it still feels cramped, and the kitchen bit is dark as the light from the garden doesn't reach it). The kitchen is where we spend most of our time so that feels silly. The lovely dining room is a playroom/TV room and the front sitting room never gets used.
I want to knock the kitchen through to the dining room so we have a separate sitting room at the front and then a big square family room (kitchen/living/dining) at the back.
Like you I have been wondering whether that is silly and we should keep a 3rd room on the ground floor. All in all my conclusion is no. I like having everyone around and DCs bedrooms will be big enough if they want to be separate for playdates, homework etc. And there will be 2 spare bedrooms one of which could become a teen TV room if necessary.
namechangedtoday15 are there any pitfalls of the big family room which I should be aware of/try to plan for if we do the work? Things like always seeing the washing up? Thanks!
minipie your house sounds very similar to ours!
Can I ask what dimensions your kitchen is? If the kitchen was small I would definitely knock through, but think it is on the borderline of being big enough to retain the extra room (this option would also be significantly cheaper, and we do have some challenges around access to the garden if we knock through as the cellar access is a bit awkward). The current kitchen is 3.6m by 3.3m and the utility which would become breakfast area is 4.2m by 2.4m. Can't work out whether it will feel small or not. It's outh west facing so is light and we would be taking out a wall and effectively adding patio doors and two extra windows so should be even lighter.
It's about 11 foot wide, 30 foot long - so 3.4 by 9 metres approx. one end is the kitchen the other is breakfast area.
I'm being rather princessy as it's not a small kitchen, it's large by most standards, we have room for lots of cupboards, an island, a dining table and a sofa... so no actual need to knock through. It's more that it feels long and narrow and the kitchen is at the dark end so just not a very appealing place to be iyswim. We are south facing so it should be light but the extension is built in a way that actually blocks the light to the kitchen part <sigh>
I think a lot will depend on how you do the knocking through. Can you put some skylights in where the kitchen joins the utility - to get light into the kitchen part?
I think we can get enough light in, kitchen is nice and light now and will be more light when we knock through as the extra bit has French doors and two more windows. I am worried about it feeling long and narrow though, especially the breakfast area which will only be 2.4m across.
Do you have a spare bedroom (after dcs and guests and yourselves etc)?
If so make it a nice big one at the front or back (whichever gets the most light), and make that the living room to relax in on an evening.
Then turn the whole of downstairs into a large dining kitchen with space for a sofa, and a small utility with loo.
Actually, yes you need a big utility sink for muddy wellies and football boots etc.
Yes to separate utility with lots of storage. Dishwasher usually in kitchen so go for quietest one you can find.
Check carefully the recommended BTUs required for the room and make sure you factor in the amount of glass you're having. Think about where you'll sit in the evening in there and position a radiator (we have column ones) near there.
Plan for storage and lighting for each of the "zones" all on separate switches (we have 6 switches for the lights!).
Decent extraction (powerful and quiet) and deep sink so you can't see the odd item that hangs around waiting to be washed up (most things go straight in the dishwasher,).
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