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Reconfiguring the Kitchen

April 2, 2014  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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Prior to tackling the floors, our kitchen extended into the dining area. It was always a little puzzling to us why the pantry was in the dining “room” when there was a blank wall in the kitchen. The only answer we could come up with was that 20+ years ago the builder accidentally made the island too big (it was an odd-shaped monster!) and was forced to put the pantry there? Who knows.

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Before we started demoing all the tile, you may remember we tore out the island and pantry, as well.

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“Tore out” really meant storing them in the garage to be used after the new floors were laid–and hey, here we are! That monster of an island actually had quite a small footprint of three normal-sized base cabinets once we got all of the extra trim and 400 lb tile countertop off, so we knew we could re-use the storage in a different configuration if we wanted when putting the kitchen back together.

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We opted to put the base cabinets in a straight line parallel to the new pantry location:

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Adding the pantry back in was as simple as driving a few screws into the studs–after we rallied 5 guys to help carry it in from the garage. We still need to find and reattach the base trim and crown molding and the doors on the island, too. Oops!

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If you just screw particle board cabinets together, the screws rip out really easily and it just doesn’t work well. For this reason, when making the island, we positioned the base cabinets where we wanted them before drilling holes between adjacent units, two toward the top and two toward the bottom. Then we pushed narrow bolts through the holes, equipped with washers, lock washers and nuts to draw the cabinets in tight and solid.

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We also connected 4 brackets to the screws on the top, so we could screw the counter top into them.

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Speaking of countertops, for the very short term, we plopped a cheap piece of plywood on top, screwed it in place from underneath and covered it with a plastic tablecloth so we could have full reign of our kitchen again right away.

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We knew it would be convenient to have the pantry in the kitchen, but we’re both surprised the difference it has made to have a straight island. We can open all of the drawers at once if we wanted–something we couldn’t do when they were on an angle. Unloading the dishwasher is a breeze. There’s literally a straight shot to the fridge now.

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We’ve come a long way from where we started:

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But we honestly feel like we are finally–finally–at a starting point now:

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(Yes, the dining chandelier is really that off-centered). In the coming month, we are going to update the island. DIY a legit countertop and open a can of paint on that island. I probably won’t get to painting the rest of the cabinets until summer, but forcing that orange wood out a little at a time has me so excited.

What do you think?

  1. […] storage issues. Right now, all of our pantry staples are crammed in a narrow standing pantry that used to be in the dining space, but we scooted in the kitchen (hey, that’s an […]

  2. […] Off of our kitchen, there’s a laundry room and half bath with a sink and a toilet. Our home is currently a five bedroom and 4 bathroom (2 full baths and 2 half baths) and as of now, we have a standing pantry we recently scooted into the kitchen. […]

  3. ennistbp says:

    What color are you going to paint your cabinets this time?

  4. Lisa, London says:

    SOOOO much better. Love the new layout. I finally just ditched our “orange” kitchen and by ditched I mean painted. Went with black sounds odd but looks gorgeous.

  5. Wendy says:

    Love the changes. I think the island will look fine facing that direction once you have the doors back on and a more permanent counter on – but of course by then you will also have a better sense of how functional it is this way as well. I think it makes sense that when eating at the island you wouldn’t have your backs to the living area.

  6. Amanda @ Our Humble Abode says:

    Those simple updates make a huge difference! Not just in looks, but function. I never fully realized how similar our layouts are until this post. Our pantries are also opposite the island and into the eating area, complete with an off centered light. Excited to see how you make the kitchen work.

  7. caroline [the diy nurse] says:

    Looks so much better already!

  8. Steph Nelson says:

    If you go white on the cabinets/island/pantry I painted with a product called cabinet restore. It is AMAZING. I painted over cheapo cabinets and the finish is rock hard. I was just looking at them last night thinking how amazing the finish is.

    I personally would want that island where I was facing the living room while standing at it, even it meant only having one entrance opening into the kitchen.

    Good luck these last few weeks, hope all goes well!

  9. Alli @ FergFinds says:

    I can’t wait to see what do with the countertop! Great progress. You bought a house with amazing bones and are making all the right changes. Love following along :)

  10. Emily S. says:

    The new layout seems so much better!

  11. Jennifer @ Brave New Home says:

    Great changes! Looking forward to seeing how you treat that blank wall in the dining room… : ]

  12. Tracy says:

    It looks great! Such progress you’ve made already. Any plans to stain or paint the the cabinets?

  13. Brit | House Updated says:

    Man, that is so much better! And great idea to keep the cabinets to reconfigure – I’m pretty sure I would have torn them out in a fit and then had to figure out what to do next. Looking forward to seeing that island painted…

  14. Laurel says:

    Looks soo much better with the pantry pulled back into the kitchen! ?- can you flip the island though?? Seems like it would be much easier on the eyes if it faced the stove/sink/window- a more natural fit. Just a thought. The floors look fantastic- so glad your hard work payed off!!

  15. Gaby says:

    The floors look great but the new island looks akward. The before makes so much more sense. You could stand at it and prep while facing the livingroom to talk with guests or watch TV. If you didn’t like the curve, maybe a square shaped island would work for you better?

    • Julia says:

      We initially thought we’d have the island parallel to the dining table, but that forced us to cut the work space way down so there would still be plenty of walking room on either side. A square island could work! For now, we’re just wanted to use what we had, but maybe When we do a full-on kitchen remodel down the road.

  16. Anne @ Planting Sequoias says:

    Holy smokes, that layout makes SO MUCH more sense. It would have taken me years to think of it, though! Great work! :)

  17. Stephanie says:

    Love it! much better function and it looks so much larger. From the pictures it looks like the island is lined up with the stove. Are you still able to open the oven and load it from the front?

    • Julia says:

      Yes. I should have included a photo of that. There is 42″ between the stove and the island–plenty of room to open and access from all sides. :)

  18. Colleen says:

    Wow that looks SO much better. It kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t design it like that in the first place…

  19. Jljacobs says:

    I am so, so impressed with all you have accomplished in only 6 months in the house – AND pregnant! I think your changes to the kitchen layout are just amazing and I can’t wait to see your next steps. Your blog is one of the first ones I check out each morning to see what y’all are up to next. :-)

  20. Jessica Anderson says:

    Love the new layout! Just curious, what is the width of your kitchen (from the dishwasher wall to the pantry wall)? I would love to do a similar layout but am worried mine is too small.

  21. Lisa @ truelu.com says:

    Crazy the difference of just pulling that pantry back into the actual kitchen. You guys must be busy busy up there in ID, yet make it look so effortless. Total pros! ;) looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with for the kitchen.

  22. Amanda G says:

    Cant wait to see what you guys do! Thanks for sharing your progress! :)

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