Kitchen Design

· Designing function and form for the most important room in the house ·

Mar, 09, 2022

It may not seem like it, but we’re moving (slowly) along in the farmhouse renovation. You know, the HGTV person in me wants to complete projects around the house myself (all while wearing a smile on my face and a cute outfit that never gets stained or ruined). The reality of my life is that I have a job, two kids with lots of extra-curricular activities, and not much more than basic construction knowledge. So while it’s romantic to think that I can make a big difference with this renovation other than providing opinions and writing the checks, it honestly isn’t happening.

You’re not here to listen to me whine. What I hope you’re here for is the process. So, let’s move into the kitchen.

This is the area where we are working. It’s currently the kitchen (b, above) that was originally a bedroom. The Ramseys made it a kitchen in the Great Remodel of 1957 (according to a diary from matriarch Margaret Ramsey). This is what it looked like when we moved in.

Kitchen A was part of an addition from the mid-1970s and is currently a utility/mud room. Here’s what it looks like:

The biggest issues: 1) there’s an obvious difference between the original house and the addition – crossing over between the two, it definitely *feels* like you’ve moved into a different part of the house; 2) the ceilings are different heights; and 3) it’s obviously got a weight bearing wall between the two. Combining the kitchen into one room would be a challenge.

This is the third kitchen I’ve remodeled, so I have some previous experience (and could write 17 posts about what I learned from each), but this one was tricky. I spent hours literally taping out layouts with blue painter’s tape (the visual learner that I am), drawing out ideas on paper, and my husband regularly caught me standing in the corner of the kitchen, imagining what could lay where. (I know, you’re jealous of my social life. I get it.) The chimney in the current kitchen is a challenge to work around, and the 15-foot wide layout is *just* wide enough that there would be too much empty floor space for a U-shaped kitchen, but it’s not quite wide enough for an island in the middle of a U-shaped kitchen.

I found a designer using Upwork, and she helped me come up with this plan:

I liked how she thought outside of the box and combined the two rooms in a functional way. She put everything in it that we asked for, including room for a powder bath. But I just wasn’t *in love* with it. For example, the sinks are too close together to be useful (but where else do you put the second sink that we would actually use? Do we even need a second sink?), and I just wasn’t loving the idea of the fridge and range both being in that old utility room – I knew I wanted to spend most of my time in the current kitchen, where there is a ton of natural light.

Once my cabinet guy came over, we realized her measurements were somewhat off, and that got us collaborating. I’m not sure he loves working with me (Hi, Tim! I know I have a LOT of ideas!), but, together, we came up with this plan:

To my Upwork designer’s credit, I had originally told her that I wanted to expose the chimney and keep the pantry, so she worked with the instructions she was given. But my instinct kept nagging me to consider putting the range where the chimney is, and maybe use the exposed brick as the backsplash. So when I talked to my cabinet guy about that possibility, he suggested ignoring the chimney and pantry altogether, closing it up, and making that entire wall full of cabinets with the range. Now, it feels like the sink and range are more in line together. We also moved the entrance to the kitchen over and widened it considerably, so it doesn’t feel like you’re walking smack into the island right as you enter the room.

What do you think? The cabinet design has changed slightly since this drawing, but the overall layout remains the same. Are we missing something? Sound off in the comments and let me know.

Next up: the mood board and appliance choices, and why I will begin accepting donations if people want a tour of the house one day. Stay tuned.


  1. Reply

    Elaine McCollum

    March 9, 2022

    Molly, I love the new design! I realize what a task a kitchen redesign can be. I believe a good cabinet man is the best expert you can have.
    Two sinks are really nice if you have two people in the kitchen working at the same time, and I think the placement is great in the last drawing. Are you going to have a laundry/mudroom in the new design? They are really nice to have. Thanks for letting us see the progress.

  2. Reply

    Janet Greene

    March 10, 2022

    Molly, I love your creativity. Are you trying to create an eating space at the cabinets with the microwave? It looks like they might be better placed on the wall behind them making the microwave face the stove. That would open the feel of the room. You might find a tall round table like the have at some bars for seating in the middle? I have no idea about the amount of space, but I’m concerned the cabinets will make the room feel too long and narrow. Just a thought. Love your posts.

  3. Reply

    Sue Hirsch

    March 10, 2022

    Love your latest plan! (I was about the only person who suggested closing off the chimney when you first started posting. There is a fine between keeping the old & living in the new.) This whole project is amazing!❤️

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Molly, lover of history, old homes and wine (maybe not in that order). Discover our journey of renovation and restoration of an 1870s farmhouse in Southern Appalachia.

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