Shifting Cabinets And Appliances For A New Kitchen Layout

In Monday’s appliance post we mentioned a couple switches (like wall oven out, stove in) but that was just the beginning. And then yesterday we shared that we were contemplating a new spot for the fridge. Well, it has all been settled. And we’re excited about it. But before I lay out the new layout for you, let’s talk demo again.

This past weekend we found ourselves poised to purchase a slightly smaller yet not counter-depth fridge at the Sears Outlet (aka Scratch & Dent) – which was basically short and narrow enough to fit into the existing fridge spot but a bit deeper (so it actually would have stuck out into the room more since they don’t generally make fridges as small as they did 30 years ago).

But at the last second, something stopped us.

On one hand we were so proud for finally locating a fridge that fit our tight space, but on the other hand it felt like we were compromising on a few things (size and finish – we really wanted fingerprint-proof stainless). So we revisited a seemed-weird-at-the-time idea: moving the fridge to a new spot (which we had been thinking about on and off since embarking on this crazy kitchen adventure). Where might we put it? Why here, of course:

By coincidence, the big pantry cabinet on the opposite side of our kitchen was exactly the same width (36″) as the spot where the fridge currently resided on the other side of the room (this doesn’t include the cabinet that houses the wall oven – which is a gonner now that we’re switching the wall oven out for a range). So if the pantry could be moved, then the fridge could come over to this wall. That would not only allow us to get a taller fridge, but also a wider one. Meaning we could get the awesomely counter-depth-yet-spacious Frigidaire Gallery that we had our eye on (and eventually purchased, as mentioned on Monday).

Plus it would mean the fridge isn’t the first thing you see from the front door (after we add the big kitchen/dining room doorway). This move was actually suggested by a few friends of ours about a month ago in that “if-you-could-ever-move-the-fridge-to-the-other-side-of-the-room-it-might-be-nice-not-to-see-it-from-the-door-but-it-might-be-too-complicated-so-in-that-case-never-mind” way.

Taking those measurements was all we needed to run down to Lowe’s and buy all of our appliances at a deep discount – including the wider and taller but still counter-depth fridge that we wanted all along.

Which was kind of a bold move considering that we hadn’t actually moved the pantry into the old fridge spot to confirm that they were interchangeable. So true to “we’re paranoid” form, we couldn’t let a week or even a few days go by without making sure we could actually make the switch. So after removing the side wall and cabinet over the fridge on Monday night, it was time to move the pantry across the room last night. First we emptied out the pantry onto the counter… giving us momenatry flashbacks to our last kitchen makeover / disaster zone.

Then we used a hammer and flathead screwdriver to remove the trim on both the top and bottom of the pantry.

Then we had to remove this little triangle o’ granite that we use as a drop spot for keys and such. As functional as it was, we never liked the look of it. So we weren’t exactly distraught to see it go.

Having already removed some granite in our bathroom and on the other side of this pantry cabinet, we knew taking it out would be pretty straightforward. We just sliced some of the clear caulk adhesive and then pried it loose with a screwdriver and crowbar.

Ooooh, lucky us! More weird unpainted paneling sections to stare at.

See that heat/air register above? That will stay put (the fridge goes where the pantry is, so it’ll be to the right of that vent- not in front of it). Anyway, with trim and triangle gone, I unscrewed the cabinet where it was attached at the back (to the wall) and on the side (to the wall oven cabinet).

Then with a little bit of shimmying back and forth, we were able to walk the pantry cabinet out of its little hole in the floor. I pushed while Sherry pulled (and paused to snap photos).

Speaking of hole in the floor, it again confirmed that we don’t have hardwood floors running under this half of the kitchen. Just some gross underlayment and subfloor. Pretty.

Anyways, back to the little do-si-do between the pantry and fridge. With the pantry out, we unplugged the fridge and rolled it to its new home. Look how intense Sherry looks as she pushes that baby around (speaking of babies, she wants me to say that she’s not pregnant – her sweater just bloused out ambiguously for this picture).

With the pantry in its new home, I screwed it back to the wall (and into the cabinet beside it) so that it could be restocked with all of our food. Oh and when it comes to dropping in a water line for the new fridge location, that’s actually pretty simple. We did it in our first house when we moved the fridge across the room too (home improvement stores sell little DIY kits).

Now let’s look at the room tidied up a bit. But remember that:

  • the white fridge sticks out too much, but our new one is about 6″ less deep
  • the shallower fridge will be shifting to the right (away from the door behind it) so it will feel a lot less cramped
  • the tall cabinet next to the fridge will be switched out with a regular height bottom cabinet so that side of the room won’t feel like a giant overbearing armoire

We love the switch, and here’s why. It gives us an additional six inches of space between the corner of the planned-peninsula and former-fridge / now-pantry. Since it was already a comfortable walking space before, we’re gonna use the extra space to extend the peninsula by about three inches. So we get both a slightly bigger walkway and a slightly bigger peninsula.

Visually the pantry just feels less intrusive than the fridge did, since it now sits flush with the cabinets beside it. And once it’s painted white it’ll feel even lighter and more seamless.

On the other side of the kitchen, things are looking a bit worse (thanks to all of the now-exposed paneling) but that’s easy enough to fix with some primer and paint. Once the new shallower fridge is built in and shifted over a few inches to the right so it opens up that side of the room (once the wall oven cabinet is removed) it’s gonna look much better. Plus, it’s actually more convenient over here. I can get to it from the sink with one foot pivot, rather than a bunch of sidesteps. And the work triangle is actually a triangle now.

The best part? When we open up the wall to the dining room, you won’t see a big stainless fridge as soon as you walk in the front door. Of course the ceiling-height cabinet to the right of the pantry looks crazy but that’s going to get adapted too (as also mentioned here).

I know all of this furniture moving, cabinet demoing, and appliance purchasing probably has your head spinning, so we’ll try to clear things up. I’ve tapped my slowly-progressing Google SketchUp skills (mentioned here) to roughly render the kitchen as it was laid out when we moved in (with the exception of the peninsula and doorway to the dining room that we added in):

But here’s how it’s going to be after a few switches:

Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening:

  • Pantry and refrigerator are switching places (in case you missed it)
  • Cooktop and the base cabinet under it will be replaced with a range
  • Wall oven and the wall oven cabinet will be switched out for the base cabinet under the cooktop (so it’s not big and heavy on that side of the room anymore)
  • Over-the-range microwave is moving from over the cooktop to over the countertop next to the pantry & getting built-in (just like the one in our last kitchen)
  • Exposed vent hood is going up in place of the current too-low microwave/cabinet combo (it’s not to code)
  • Wall of cabinets is turning into open shelving (we know it’s not everyone’s jam but it’s ours, especially with all of the added concealed cabinetry thanks to the peninsula)
  • We also have a pretty fun idea for the backsplash that we’ll share (with inspiration pics galore) soon
  • Dishwasher is staying put – hip hip hooray!

Here’s another view to help you out. Once again, the before…

And the someday:

Here’s what we’ll gain:

  • better work triangle
  • less expensive appliances (buying a new wall oven and cooktop could have been 2K more than the range we got)
  • a much more open feeling (instead of being surrounded by upper cabinets & giant armoires/pantries of wood on all sides)
  • more space between the peninsula and the perimeter of the room
  • more counter space (since we’ll remove the wall oven cabinet that frees up more usable surface area)
  • more balance thanks to one tall object on each side of the room (the fridge on the right and the pantry on the left)
  • no more view of the fridge from the front door

Is your brain hurting yet? Sorry ’bout that. Lots going on! We’ll keep ya posted. Next on the agenda is getting our appliances delivered and building in the shallower fridge in its new spot and installing the dishwasher, microwave, and range (which necessitates removing the counter and a base cabinet to make room for it). Should be interesting. Anyone else have any experience shifting around some cabinetry and appliances to make their kitchen more functional (and hopefully more beautiful)? Tell us all about it.


  1. Ashley J says

    It is inspiring, the energy you two have! I love the re-arrangement of appliances. It will look great! Especially with painted cabinets!

  2. says

    I like the switch-up! The kitchen looks great. I can’t get over the fact that you can just unscrew everything and move it around. I think all the cabinets at my parents are nailed and glued to the walls. Do you need to bring in a plumber for the fridge so it can still make ice and get water??

    • says

      It’s actually really easy to run a water line for a fridge (we did it at the last house when we moved it across the room too). They sell little DIY kits at Home Depot and Lowe’s and it’s just some simple plastic tubing that goes under the house (from the sink base cabinet into the floor and then back up the floor on the other side). From the crawl space we can just poke it thought (there’s actually already an existing hole in the floor for it in the new fridge location- which makes us wonder if it was there originally!


    • Annette Young says

      Ahhhh. So it’s easy if you have a crawl space. Notsomuch if you have a concrete slab, like we do….

    • Mandy says

      We actually ran ours through the cabinets. Drilling a hole at the back of the cabinets, behind the stove, through the cabinet in between the stove and fridge. It was way easier doing it that way, for us at least. My husband and FIL did it in about a half hour

    • says

      karen, we have slab floors…. no crawlspace… no basement…. and when our water line to our fridge sprung a leak in the wall *gasp* we closed off that line… got some tubing (maybe he bought a kit????) and ran it through the very backs of the cabinets around the kitchen to the fridge! he just drilled a small hole in the side walls at the very back of the cabinets and where it goes behind the range he put a length of PVC to run the tubing through to protect it from the heat of the oven! it’s totally a DIY project!

    • Tia says

      I was so excited when you said “it’s so easy” because we need to do that. But we have a finished basement, so it isn’t easy at all. Cue the wop-wop music!

    • says

      Oh man- sorry! As someone else mentioned, sometimes snaking it around the back of your cabinets can work (if the sink and fridge are connected by cabinets).


  3. grace says

    This is going to look so much better and be so much more functional. Really great decision! Can’t wait for the rest of the makeover (even though I know it will take a while)! Awesome, awesome, awesome job. Love it!

  4. Thais Bessa says

    The fridge/pantry swap definitely looks better!

    Forgive my ignorance, but where is your sink? If I remember well, is it above-ish the dishwasher???

  5. Jenna says

    So glad to see you are starting your kitchen reno…i am doing the exact same thing right now so, i will pretend we are in it together! Just want to mention that i don’t see a sink in your layout mock-up?

  6. Lindsey says

    Very exciting! The layout definitely seems more practical. Have you thought about making the doorway to the office wider so it continues the open concept feeling? If one of you is in the kitchen and the other in the office it might make the rooms feels more joined together and connected for conversation/company.

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