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Old 04-27-2010, 09:50 AM   #1
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To open up the kitchen or not


Hi there,
This might be more applicable to an architect, but I wouldn't mind getting some views here on the matter.

I'm slowly renovating an old 70's home we purchased last year which was in dire need of a makeover. Initially I was going to leave the basic layout of the design alone, but the more I keep thinking about it the more I want to change the design in a small but fundamental way that will alter the feel of the house. It revolves around whether to open up the kitchen or not.

The house has the typical formal/dining area at the front of the house, separated from the kitchen and family room. The sunken formal area is to the left as one enters the foyer, a 23' long room that leads to the dining area on the right at the other end. On the inside of the corner created by this arrangement, behind the wall, is the kitchen, with the family room at the far end.

What I would like to do is open up the corner of the kitchen facing the formal/dining area so that it looks out across the living space in an open-plan style configuration. If you thing of the kitchen as a square, the bottom left hand corner is the one I would like to remove. The top right hand corner is already open, facing over to the family room.

Question is, from an aesthetic point of view, am I compromising the design of the home, even perhaps devaluing it, by partially eliminating the separation of the formal area from the informal ones? Personally I like the idea, as it ties into what I think of as the more modern aesthetic of open plan design and living, and allows for a nice utilization of the height differential between the kitchen and sunken formal area (about a foot) to create a breakfast bar area with stools that is at conventional counter top height from the perspective of the kitchen.

The area in question was a bit of a dead spot anyway, as the traffic pattern from the foyer into the lounge room made this area not much good for anything but shelf space or cabinets.

The one down side is that opening up the corner takes away wall space for two wall cabinets, which I can live with, though my wife might have something else to say about the matter. It would leave us with two corner units, two 36" cabinets, and two 12" units either side of the microwave.

The only other point is whether to open up the wall completely to the ceiling, or stop a foot or so short to create a more windowed look from both perspectives.

I've attached a small sketch to help clarify the matter.

If anyone has any views to share, feel free to let me know your thoughts.

Thanks in advance
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Old 04-27-2010, 12:54 PM   #2
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To open up the kitchen or not


First and foremost there are structural issues that need to be dealt with. If the wall in question to be opened up is the one with the arrows pointing to it, it looks to me that it is load bearing. Proper header support will be needed so make sure to consult someone with the knowledge of that before blasting out the wall.

I recently did this in my 1920's house. We opened the wall between the kitchen and the formal dining room and it has made a world of difference. Gone are the days of small rooms and keeping formal areas formal. THe new style is open floor plans. The cabinet issue is something that will definitely need to be addressed but if you can get around it then go for it.

Again, make sure to properly address the load bearing issue before doing anything.

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Old 04-27-2010, 02:57 PM   #3
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To open up the kitchen or not


How wide will the opening be?
How big is the current opening ?
Slab or basement ?
Is there a 2nd floor ?
Myself I'd limit it to 4' full opening, rest 1/2 open with countertop
Is there a doorway between the kitchen & dining room ?
I'd leave a foot or so at the ceiling, especially if there is a 2nd floor
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Old 04-27-2010, 03:58 PM   #4
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To open up the kitchen or not


To both questions, no, I wouldn't be considering the transformation if there were load bearing issues. Because of the existing roof trusses, I could take out all the walls in the house if need be - none are load bearing. This isn't my first time round the block renovating houses. This will be my 4th project home, and I grew up helping my dad renovate homes.

The house is a single story structure in central Florida - we don't have basements here, if we did they'd be indoor swimming pools! It's a block home with timber framing within.

I'm actually going to take out the doorway to the dining area, which is about 3' in from the corner, and leave it open. The opening on the other side will be about seven feet wide - from the perspective of the kitchen, it will look like half that side of the wall has been opened up - meaning from the counter top up of course. So as far as that relevant corner is concerned, 6' on the dining side will go, and 7' on the other.

If I leave a foot or so of the wall to the ceiling than I'll place a pillar at the corner to help maintain support for the small wall sections left over the openings. I may consult a builder on the point, as it may not need the support given how little weight would be left for the trusses to support on their own - the weight wouldn't probably amount to more that a couple of lengths of 2 x 4 and four small pieces of drywall.

As far as the cabinets I'll have to sacrifice are concerned, I'm toying with the idea of hanging two 36" wide units over the open counter at the family room end of the kitchen, ceiling high, but making them only 30' high (versus the 42" cabinets I'm installing in the rest of the kitchen at ceiling height as well) so that I can keep the counter open to the family room and retain the sense of space. My wife would probably need a little stool or step ladder to readily access the cabinets, but at least it would replace most of the storage space we'd be giving up to take out the wall.

@ Ricky Bobby - when you opened up the area, did you take out the wall completely to the ceiling, or frame the opening by leaving a foot or so to the ceiling?

Last edited by timbo59; 04-27-2010 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 04-27-2010, 06:20 PM   #5
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To open up the kitchen or not


Some ideas.................
Attached Thumbnails
To open up the kitchen or not-house-1.jpg   To open up the kitchen or not-house-2.jpg   To open up the kitchen or not-house-3.jpg   To open up the kitchen or not-house-4.jpg  
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:53 PM   #6
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To open up the kitchen or not


What, you couldn't do the step down into the sunken lounge? Just kidding, that's a nice rendition of the ideas I have in mind.

I have a layout program of my own on which I've done all the work as well, right down to the exact plan and furnishings I have in mind, only problem is that I can't convert the plans into a conventional format like jpg to attach here - hence the rough sketch I included.

Nice of you to go to that trouble. Cheers.
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Old 04-27-2010, 10:06 PM   #7
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To open up the kitchen or not


Here are the file types that can be attached here.

If you have Vista or Windows 7, (and 'some' limited XP versions), you can use the "SNIP" Tool to save any image from any program as one of the file types listed below.

(I just used the "SNIP" Tool to save your drawing as a PNG. file so I could add it here.)

Attachment Key
Filetype--Max Filesize--Max Width x Max Height
bmp--100.0 KB--620 x 280
doc--100.0 KB--
gif--100.0 KB--620 x 280
jpe--100.0 KB--620 x 280
jpeg-100.0 KB--620 x 280
jpg--100.0 KB--
pdf--100.0 KB--
png--100.0 KB--620 x 280
psd--100.0 KB--
txt--100.0 KB--
zip--100.0 KB--

Ok, here's your sunken floor.
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To open up the kitchen or not-house-5.jpg   To open up the kitchen or not-snipped-image.jpg  
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:47 AM   #8
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To open up the kitchen or not


Quote:
@ Ricky Bobby - when you opened up the area, did you take out the wall completely to the ceiling, or frame the opening by leaving a foot or so to the ceiling?

I actually had to leave 18 inches to match an existing opening from another room. I used a 2X12 header and had to fur that down to match. I am glad I did because it does add some type of separation between the two rooms.
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:30 AM   #9
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To open up the kitchen or not


Yes, that's what I was thinking too, giving that sense of open planning while still maintaining a bit of separation - a window effect.
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Old 04-28-2010, 10:38 AM   #10
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To open up the kitchen or not


I think that rather than simply leaving a beam hanging down between the rooms, it would add a lot to continue the kitchen ceiling at the beam bottom.

Leave it flat, or make a coffered ceiling in the kitchen, or inset a whole ceiling full of fluorescent lights.

I did this with mine, from the bottom of the beam, and put 12 flo tubes in the ceiling. (See photo) The brown thing in the foreground is an indirect lighting valance for the living room.
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:31 AM   #11
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To open up the kitchen or not


Oddly enough, the kitchen already has exactly the configuration you're talking about, right down to the fluro tubes. But we're taking it out and raising the height to 8', firstly because the existing low ceiling makes the kitchen look small and cramped, and secondly to give us the height we require to put in 42" wall cabinets, which we'll need in particular if we take out the wall I mentioned.
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:55 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbo59 View Post
Oddly enough, the kitchen already has exactly the configuration you're talking about, right down to the fluro tubes. But we're taking it out and raising the height to 8', firstly because the existing low ceiling makes the kitchen look small and cramped, and secondly to give us the height we require to put in 42" wall cabinets, which we'll need in particular if we take out the wall I mentioned.
When you remove that wall, why take out the cabinets? I do many houses where those cabinets are made with see-through glass doors on both sides. Really looks sharp, and you lose no storage.

This gives you the idea......
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Old 04-29-2010, 03:31 PM   #13
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To open up the kitchen or not


Back to your original question about whether you should take out some walls -- we did something similar in our ranch house from the late 60's. It was an amazing tranformation that stunned my wife and I. We both couldn't believe how much it improved the home. An opinion that is shared by all of our neighbors & a couple of local Realtor.

Partly motivated by the principles in "The Not So Big House" by Susan (something).
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:47 AM   #14
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To open up the kitchen or not


That picture of the cabinets hanging over the counter is exactly what i was thinking of for the other side of the kitchen looking out over the family room. The area I want to open up to the formal lounge though is something I want completely open.

Question though - when you hang those cabinets directly from the ceiling, do you have to take into account what kind of trusses you have above to bear the weight, or is the weight negligible enough not to be a concern? And how do you work it if you only have one truss to connect a cabinet to and it's near the end of the cabinet? Even allowing for the fact that cabinets get screwed together, allowing for at least a couple of anchor points above to hold the joined cabinets in place, I thought it still might pose a problem. I thought maybe you might have to climb up into the roof, temporarily move the insulation out of the way (we have the loose woollen type) and fix a couple of 2 x 4 pieces between the trusses to screw into for each hanging cabinet.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbo59 View Post
That picture of the cabinets hanging over the counter is exactly what i was thinking of for the other side of the kitchen looking out over the family room. The area I want to open up to the formal lounge though is something I want completely open.

Question though - when you hang those cabinets directly from the ceiling, do you have to take into account what kind of trusses you have above to bear the weight, or is the weight negligible enough not to be a concern? And how do you work it if you only have one truss to connect a cabinet to and it's near the end of the cabinet? Even allowing for the fact that cabinets get screwed together, allowing for at least a couple of anchor points above to hold the joined cabinets in place, I thought it still might pose a problem. I thought maybe you might have to climb up into the roof, temporarily move the insulation out of the way (we have the loose woollen type) and fix a couple of 2 x 4 pieces between the trusses to screw into for each hanging cabinet.
Not between the trusses, but running perpendicular to the trusses, and sitting on top of the bottom chords of the trusses. Use 2 x 6's, spanning three trusses to help spread the load.

Support with 50"+/- x 1/4" all-thread drilled through just at the inside corners of the cabinets. A nut on the bottom can be countersunk and capped with a thin piece of wood for looks. The all thread can easily be covered with a diagonal strip of wood inside each corner... or you can slide a chrome tube over each one.

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