The design process on any project, whether big or small, can simultaneously be one of the most rewarding and frustrating aspects of what we as architects and designers do. Usually when it starts to become a frustrating process is when every conversation with the client starts with “well, what if we….(insert your favorite statement that leads to major design changes here)”. When a client first comes to you, they typically have some kind of image in their head of what they “think” their project should look like. Then they get a look at the first conceptual sketches based on conversations with the client, programmatic requirements and just general “architect-ness” and suddenly there are all sorts of things they never thought of before that are suddenly very important to the success of the project. You know you’ve been there.
Well, this little kitchen remodel has been a little like that. It began as a little kitchen remodel – some new cabinets, perhaps opening up to the dining room, but not getting too crazy with the demo and put-back. Then of course started the “well, what if we…”, and now, 8 conceptual floor plans later, we’re down to 2 winning candidates (seen below). Both are identical with only one change between them – the entry closet. Having lived in older homes for the last near decade I’m not a huge fan of having closets and storage for the sake of having closets and storage. It’s really just a place to hide the crap you never use, so why incur the expense? But I digress.
In each plan, the laundry area has been pushed into a small addition to the rear of the home adjacent to a storage/mechanical room behind the garage, creating a larger mud room. By removing the door and wall between the old laundry room and kitchen, I’ve created an opportunity to enlarge the kitchen and create a more open and direct flow from the garage into the kitchen.
Something new was to take the east wall, between Family Room and Sitting Room and shift it south to enlarge the Family Room. Again we also removed the two closets at the entry in favor of the single coat closet only. This keeps an open and free flow between entry, kitchen, dining and family room. By adding discreet built-ins at both the formal dining room and family room we can easily make up for any lost storage. The addition of the kitchen island will greatly add to the function and flow of the kitchen allowing for more informal family dining and entertaining.
This final conceptual plan, with small closet removed, is my personal preference. The only difference I’d like to see is to move the Family Room to the Formal Dining space and allow dining access to the rear yard. A planned change to this plan is to enlarge the island and add column supports at the header creating a soft division between kitchen and dining.
This project has been another in a series of interesting processes for me lately. As I continue taking on new clients in new and interesting places, the process of designing via remote (skype, phone, email, etc) can be challenging. It is always much preferred to be local and be able to physically inhabit a space to get a feel for how the design should take shape. But I think in an increasingly digital age, as with all things, we must find new ways to approach our clients and market our services. This is one way that has been fairly successful for me. Now if I can just keep the “well, what if we” emails and phone calls to a minimum. 😛