Which kitchen design would you choose?

Nicole A
May 4, 2018
last modified: May 17, 2018

Hi Houzzers,

Our renovation/extension plans are finalised at last, and work should start in about 6 weeks. Some of you may remember I posted a kitchen design dilemma in February. With everyone's input (especially from the fabulous oklouise and Siriuskey), I got a much clearer idea of what I wanted, and ended up adding almost a metre to the extension to make the kitchen more functional.

I thought it might be wise to seek one more round of input, as now the dimensions are finalised I have fiddled a bit with the kitchen design (that tape measure of mine has not been put out of commission yet!).

Here are 2 options:
Option 1: This option takes advantage of the full width of the kitchen (at 5.7m) and has an island of over 3m. All the tall units (pantry, fridge, wall oven) are grouped together, then the cooktop benchtop continues around the corner (so plenty of room for appliances), with a view out the window to the front of the house. It will have a very open, spacious feel, and is sure to have a bit of wow factor.

Here is a kitchen that is very similar in design and dimensions (except our sink will be in the island, as our side bench isn't long enough).


Mona Vale Kitchen. Design and installation. · More Info



Mona Vale Kitchen. Design and installation. · More Info


Option 2: Has the benefit of a walk-in pantry, but the kitchen width is reduced to 4.3m (compared to 5.7m) and the island bench is 2.3m (compared to 3m). The walk-in pantry does not have a door, and I haven't added a wall between the fridge and the pantry benchtop to define the pantry space, so it is more like a continuation of the kitchen on that side. The real 'pantry action' is on the front walls of the pantry which will have open shelving, as it won't be visible from outside the pantry. There will be benchtop all the way around for appliances.

Here is a kitchen layout similar to option 2, but it is probably about a metre wider than we have - you'll need to use your imaginations to close in that left wall until adjacent to the wall oven pictured, and shorten the island by about 700mm (I've added some dotted lines to help). Also, in this picture there is a wall between the fridge and pantry benchtop, which ours won't have:


So which one would you choose?

Check out the designs drawn in the context of the floorplan to see the impact on the dining/living areas (and how it affects furniture placement and circulation in the living room).

I guess it comes down to spaciousness vs walk-in pantry ...

kitchen design 1.jpg
kitchen design 2.jpg

Comments (58)

  • siriuskey

    Hi Nicole, I wouldn't go for a down draft, had one, never again, you have several simple over bench options. 1) you can get the cabinet maker to either make chimney style box suspended from the ceiling or 2)
    a larger flat one suspended or mounted on the ceiling. You can use a very affordable extractor and have it ducted to the outside via the ceiling and out under the eaves




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  • PRO
    The Wild Heart Collective Australia

    Hey Nicole.... I get the feeling you are drawn to a particular layout :) what is your gut saying to you? Have you 'closed your eyes and walked the space in your mind' to see if the designs you have narrowed down to, function the way you want them to or hope they do?

  • PRO
    The Wild Heart Collective Australia

    If it were my choice, I think option 2 gets my vote. And if you needed to deepen your walk in pantry, could you change the access to either side of the island from 1000 to 900 to add another 200mm to your pantry to make it 1500 instead of 1300?

  • Nicole A

    Thanks Nik, good advice - you probably have also picked up on the fact that I walk that space a lot (in my mind at least, as not built yet)! As you say, could play with the sizes a little, but the more I expand the pantry, the more closed off the kitchen becomes. I guess I could always push the back wall out another metre (kidding!)

    Sirius, I hadn't seen that style of the large, flat design for exhaust extraction. I shall ponder!

  • PRO
    The Wild Heart Collective Australia

    haha - if I'm not walking the space in my mind, I too have an addiction to playing with the tape measure and putting it my handbag everywhere we go lol. I've tried to avoid measuring the dog ;) I think your design is terrific - and those beautiful large doors that open out onto your deck from your kitchen and dining areas will certainly make your space feel open and luxurious :)

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  • Nicole A

    Go on, measure the dog. Then we could design a dog house that would be the epitome of good design - perhaps Hampton's inspired, or more contemporary, depending on your doggie's preferences.

  • PRO
    The Wild Heart Collective Australia

    haha!!!! She has a great dog house already... but I really should decorate it and put a photo of her as a puppy with her (dog) Mum in a photo frame inside her dog house ;) Along with a little curtain on the window and update her bedding. Although she might enjoy some cladding and lighting too ;)

  • Nicole A

    Tiny house living at its best.

  • PRO
    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery

    Option 2 but I would re configure back wall.

    Working from left to right. Fridge then wall oven.

    Generally you should have 300mm from a wall to a fridge so door opens past 90 degrees to remove drawers etc.

    The back bench area should be made at the same depth as fridge so everything runs flush. You can achieve this by choosing a shallower depth fridge and also measuring fridge doors in open position to see what width you need to leave when fridge doors are open. Generally 50mm each side from my experience. You will probably need to roll out fridge to remove drawers completely for cleaning.

    So fridge then Oven/ combo oven or microwave , dropping down to low bench that wraps around to pantry.

    Using drawers the whole way to the pantry area and voiding off right hand corner.

    Wall cabinets across back wall from fridge stopping short of window.

    Foor drawers and wall cabinets to look symmetrical top to bottom. Clean lines with LED strip lighting under wall cabinets.


    I would also shift sink to one end of island to create more usable bench space.

    Probably right hand end and try line it up with cooktop as best you can.

    This will be your main prep area. On the island Sink 800mm-dishwasher 600mm- bin 500mm pull boy and drawers 500mm + stone or overhangs. You might be able to reduce walkways to 900mm instead of 1000mm to achieve this.

    Make island 1200mm deep to line up with pantry wall which is 1100mm + wall thickness of 110mm.

    600mm internal depth cabinets with 300mm deep cabinets on seated side of island for more storage the 300mm overhang to sit at so knees are free of back doors.

    You could also have your sink on the back wall if you would like a complete free island with bigger drawers and prep area. I would also look at this design. Having a sink facing a wall years ago wasn't great as people wanted to look out a window when washing up. Now you generally are just rinsing dishes and loading a dishwasher. Maybe that big pot every now and then. This also depends on your requirements and how you use your kitchen space.

    Will look a lot less busy and less messy from day to day. Also nicer when seated at island bench.

    Paul Snelling

    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery.





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  • oklouise

    without the pantry there's space for a 3m island but can't help adding the wo to the other side and a fire in the grate and a few books on the shelves would help.



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  • Nicole A

    Thanks ok, your visuals show that locating the wall oven at the end of that benchtop doesn't seem to close in the space at all - in fact, having that 600mm length of wall between the living room and kitchen maybe defines the space a little better than just open benchtop. And it also means extra benchtop where it is more useful, along the back wall (or room for a wider cupboard pantry). Nice touch with cabinetry for books - very cosy!

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful input Paul (CTI Kitchens) - so many useful bits of information. And a very unbiased vote to go for option 2 when the picture I used for option 1 is one of your designs - you know I love that kitchen!

    I wanted to clarify what you meant by "measuring fridge doors in open position to see what width you need to leave when fridge doors are open. Generally 50mm each side from my experience," Did you mean that you like to leave about 50mm gap each side of the fridge, or that the fridge sticks out about 50mm past benchtop to allow doors to open?

    Also, just out of interest, how much overhang do you usually allow for stone benchtops (not waterfall sides)?

  • PRO
    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery

    Hi Nicole A. You would need to leave 50mm each side of the fridge but this is different for different fridge models. Some fridge doors are thicker than others so this changes gaps.

    I generally measure each fridge in the appliance showroom with doors open far enough to side drawers out and measure point to point of doors to see what will work. I believe you could achieve the same design as the one you like of mine with a smaller depth island if thats your choose.

    Bench top overhangs depends on style of kitchen.

    Shaker profile 20mm to allow for handles and ultra modern 5-10mm if it was a shadow line detailed kitchen being zero handles.

    The difference from option 1 you have to my design is the length of return bench top on right but you have extended that in option 2 for pantry to around 2700mm from memory so my original design would go close to working with your specifications. mIne was 3000mm to yours being 2700mm.

    All this means is your island would be 900mm wide instead of 1200mm wide in my design. Thats it.

    You could even have the sink under the window in the same position as my design. Your wall length is actually bigger on the back wall then mine at about 5300mm.

    This means a bigger pantry for you and bigger drawers near cook top area.

    This would also make it more open planned and a 3000mm island with no sink on it!

    Paul Snelling

    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery.

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  • PRO
    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery

    Probably suggest to shift window to the right if possible to allow for wall cabinets to run directly into Wall instead of stopping short. This would also help with sink position.

    If its a new window its should be a problem its not being made bigger or smaller. DA and basix certificate shouldn't be affected but you would need to check.

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  • oklouise

    CTI Paul Snelling, thanks once again for thoughtful informative advice that we can all use, very much appreciated

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  • Nicole A

    Thanks again Paul and ok - after absorbing all this info and observing the voting trend, I have a best-of-both-worlds design in mind (just a simple modification of option 2 to allow for a bigger island) - off to buy some graph paper so I can post it!

  • siriuskey

    Paul I love the kitchen you designed with the small pantry/Fridge/Wall ovens banked together, better than having the wall ovens opposite the end of the Island, this is an access point into the kitchen and should be clear.

    I would just add a Nib wall at the end of the bench top replacing the ovens to make it look more finished and privacy from the living.

    As far as the Island size I have 2700 x 1200 and find that 2700 is more than long enough to walk around, having the extra depth 1200 instead of 900 is great and works better as a work/sit up to space, I think Nicole has enough room for a deeper island as against a longer one cheers

  • PRO
    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery
    Hi Nicole.

    Had some spare time today so here is a draft similar to what you liked as per my original design above

    This is with window moved slightly to the right if possible.

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  • PRO
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  • PRO
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  • PRO
    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery

    window measurement in width is guessed

  • PRO
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  • PRO
    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery

    You could even do a drop down servery top after sink to keep room move open as per option 1. Best of both worlds!!!

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  • Nicole A

    Wow Paul, that is incredibly generous of you to do that! Thankyou so, so much! I am about to pore over your layouts now.

    In the meantime, I'm uploading my (far less pretty) modification for option 2.

    Instead of an L-shaped pantry, I've gone with cabinetry at each end only. Overall there is a little less bench space, but what there is is more usable because there is no corner. Plus the overall width of the pantry is reduced to just 960 (allowing for a 900 bank of drawers), which means a bigger island.

    The advantage of this design for the little pantry is the window doesn't interfere with layout of the uppers (I've simply narrowed it from 1200 wide to 850 to allow for the uppers on the back wall). Also, the front side of the pantry isn't visible from the living areas, so it can have open shelves above and below the benchtop for easy access to everything without looking messy. (I didn't have room to draw the cross-section of the front wall of pantry, but hopefully you get the idea).

    And now to check out Paul's variations for option 1...

  • PRO
    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery
    Identical to my original design

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  • Nicole A

    BTW I should say that I think the 300 cabinet to left of oven in my drawing will look a little skinny (esp in shaker style), so I could make the cooktop benchtop 2550 (with 3x 850 sets of drawers), allowing that cabinet to be 450. Otherwise could get rid of it altogether and just spread the extra mm around (leaving 200mm as a nib wall to left of oven for elbow room).

    I'm keen on the Sirius SL906 EM-L 850 rangehood. The overall width is 850 but the cutout is 830, so I'm hoping that means it fits in an 850 wide unit?

  • Nicole A

    And another BTW, that window which is proving a little obstinate can only be made narrower, it can't be actually moved to the right, as there is an external wall running at right angles. The current width of the window is 1200, but I've made it 850 in the renovation plans to allow for uppers to run to the right-hand back wall.

  • Nicole A

    The votes are showing a preference for the design with the WIP - it seems the majority of people would choose a kitchen that is a little smaller in order to get a WIP.

    What do you all think of my modification to option #2, which keeps the WIP but makes it a little smaller in order to widen the island?

    It changes the WIP from an L-shape to benches on either end. It is a little narrower, which increases the width of the kitchen to allow for a bigger island (up to 2.65m). It is also shorter, so won't encroach as much on walkway circulation to living room. But It is still really functional, and has nearly twice as much benchtop and cupboard/shelves (1.9m) compared with the 1m wide cupboard-style pantry in the more open layout (option #1).

    This WIP has

    - on the back wall: a 600 deep x 960 wide benchtop to allow for a 900mm bank of drawers, with a set of upper cupboards above.

    - on the front wall: a 450 deep x 960 wide benchtop with open shelving above and below (not visible from living areas so won't look messy even without a door)

    My mixer can sit on the back bench, and the toaster/kettle/coffee maker on the front bench.

  • Laura Watson

    Just looking at your house plan. I've lived with sliding wardrobe doors and it's awful. May I suggest bifold doors as a great alternative.

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  • PRO
    House of Carveth
    To throw a little spinner in the works, if you’ve not yet finalised the design...a double sink is really unnecessary these days. One larger and deeper would be amazing. I def. wish I’d done this when building a few years ago. I also would prefer the sink by the window with the DW over there. Keeps everything ‘over there’ out of direct sight. Having a large, deep island bench is definitely the way to go. It becomes a feature and much better used when entertaining. Would you rather gather round a messy sink together with loved ones, or gather round a fabulous food platter with a glass of wine?
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  • PRO
    House of Carveth
    Here are a couple of photos to consider. The first shows a single, larger sink, the second a nifty under sink storage idea.
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  • siriuskey

    Love the big sinks House of Carveth but where water conservation comes in it's better to have 1 1/2 deep square sinks cheers

  • Nicole A

    Great ideas House of Carveth, as a single sink would fit better on the side bench. But if you only have one sink, how does rinsing dishes work?

  • Nicole A

    I wondered the same thing Laura. We pulled off the sliders on our wardrobe because the noise and restricted access was annoying. But they were 60+ years old, so I was hoping the newer designs were much improved. Bifolds have their own issues. Best would be normal doors, but then you would need 5 or so on the 3m expanse of cupboard in Bedroom 2!

  • Nicole A

    I notice my image for option 2 has been accidently deleted from my initial post. Here's a similar image that will give you the idea, although there won't be a door on pantry for mine (but again, keep in mind this one is a little wider than mine)

    Hamptons Project · More Info

  • PRO
    House of Carveth
    I rinse all my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Those remaining are usually pots, so you can still rinse out the insides under the tap as you do them. A half sink is never big enough to rinse pots n pans anyway. Or most posts can be put in the dishwasher these days too
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  • PRO
    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery

    Router draining board grooves in the stone top, or buy a single bowl sink with a draining board attachment that sits in the cabinet or on the sink when not being used.

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  • PRO
    CTI Kitchens & Designer Joinery

    Note if routered you will need an undermount sink

  • PRO
    House of Carveth
    Under mount always looks more expensive, is cleaner/sleeker looking. Router grooves look like this (much nicer than a sink with draining board:
  • PRO
    House of Carveth
    Here’s a better pic: (grooves are straight get these days;))
  • siriuskey

    I think it would be a big mistake to only have a single sink in a family kitchen, it would be OK if their was another smaller sink else where.

    When I think of how I use my kitchen have 1 1/2 deep square sinks with single drainer, double Dish Drawer F&P DW. The 1/2 sink can fit a dinner plate sitting into it and the other bigger plates if hand washing.

    You have to consider when cooking and needing to drain hot water from pots, rinse veggies and rinse/soak dishes it gets difficult with just one sink. Function first.

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  • Nicole A

    Agree Sirius, a single sink wouldn't work for me. I like to rinse everything after washing, and the sink would end up just about overflowing. Plus as you say, if sink is full because someone is washing up, you don't have anywhere to empty pots etc.

  • PRO
    The Wild Heart Collective Australia

    It's such a personal thing isn't it? We have a double sink in our kitchen and rarely use the right bowl. And we don't have a dishwasher - well, me - I'm the dishwasher lol. It's all about how you use it and what will work best for you. How you rinse your dishes, wash up, prepare etc. It's really only a rare occasion in our house that if I'm washing up, and someone wants to use the other bowl to wash hands or grab a drink of water etc.

  • siriuskey

    That made me laugh Nicole, I was going to mention rinsing glasses and not keeping the hot water running, one sink for hot water washing and another for hot water rinsing, but thought I might be bit old fashioned, can't wash your beer glasses in soapy water either

  • N H

    Option 2 definitely. But if you could I would put the fridge inserted into the WIP in pantry so it opens towards the width of the island bench. I think it would be annoying trying to get in and out of pantry while someone is standing with the fridge opening. That way it frees up back wall counter space too.


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  • Angela Dunlop

    Fascinating reading. I'm going through similar questions atm regarding a kitchen re -build in a house we will shift into in the future. To me the pantry is everything, and I've worked out how to get a walk in pantry by taking some of the over the top laundry for the pantry. When I've finalised my drawing I'll post up to these wonderful people for comments. I voted option 2.

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  • suancol

    full wall pantries, drawers not cupboards they will be appreciated as you age and knees and hips become an issue

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  • Nicole A

    The votes are now neck-and-neck, but there was a strong preference for option 2 (with the WIP) up until the example image in my original post for option 2 disappeared. I wonder if the voting is being swayed by the fact that option 1 has a pretty picture but option 2 now doesn't. I'm bumping an image for option 2 again: (but again, keep in mind this one is a little wider than mine).

    Hamptons Project · More Info

  • emailmarios
    I'm sure it's been said before, but having had both kitchen styles
  • emailmarios
    Oops. I was saying...
    Having lived with both, both have pros/cons. You should be guided by how you use a kitchen.

    If you value more bench space in the main kitchen and more seating (wider island = more seating potentially), then option 1 may suit you better.

    Lots of people have pantries because they want to prep out of sight, but end up with small pantries with tight bench space so end up prepping in the main kitchen anyway.

    If you genuinely want to prep out of sight, then make sure you make the pantry really usable, but remember the cons for the main kitchen, which isn't a major downside if you're a small family and don't entertain around the island often. Good luck!
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  • Nicole A

    Thanks marios, good advice!

    I actually went with a little galley-style pantry so I could have both! - an island that's 2.6m and a pantry about 930w (with 1000 standing room front to back):

    This is where we're up to:

    So that window on the back right gets bricked in on Monday, with the side window (out of the shot) being replaced with the window you can see there waiting to go in. There are big sliding doors all along the wall on the left.

    That right corner will be where the little pantry goes: 600d benchtop on the back with drawers below and cabinets overhead, and 450d bench on the front side with open shelving above and below.

    I'll post more photos once it looks pretty!