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. Lauren Spekkers says

    Wow – you guys are so speedy! I’m still drooling over the changes in the office, and before we all know it your kitchen will be well on its way to perfection! I love the new location of the fridge – and while I know you guys aren’t big drinkers and partiers (it’s YoungHouseLove after all, not YoungFratLove) – some open shelving right next to your barstool/peninsula area on that exposed wall would look fab! A great way to show off any nice glassware or dishes and super-convenient to serve refreshments to guests…even if its just a Shirley Temple in a sippy-cup for Miss.Clara! ;)

  2. says

    I like it! I am so jealous of the big fridges you all have in the US, here in the UK we only have teeny tiny ones as standard (and the American-style fridges are expensive, upwards of £600). We’re saving up for one!

  3. Jill says

    The new layout makes perfect sense – love it! We recently (with the help of a contractor) demo-ed our entire kitchen, including knocking down two walls and put in a new one (though we’re waiting to replace the appliances a bit down the road). I agonized over the layout, but think we ended up with a great space. Maybe you could house crash us sometime if you’re up in Alexandria again (though I’d want to finish up the other work first, which may be a year or so away!) xx

  4. Allison says

    I’m so glad you’re embarking on a kitchen re-do! Ours is tentatively planned for summer 2012, but we’ve already pulled out a pocket door and doorway trim (to fit our new fridge into the kitchen) and moved the fridge to its future location, complete with water hook-up (Woot! Ice maker!). It currently has a work-in-progress look to it, and I’m glad to see your kitchen in a similar state!

  5. says

    Love the blog!

    I get a bit confused with all the writing though. Maybe less words = more reader friendly (and not saying the same thing 3 and 4 times in a row)…definitely just some reader feedback though!

    : )

    • says

      Thanks Nicole! After four years and 2,000+ posts we’re still learning how to blog. Haha. Short and sweet is hard for us- especially with so many changes and questions that pop up as we go- but we’re trying!


    • Meredith says

      Ha ha!! I get it. YHL is really fond of using ( ) frequently. (You know, because adding extra details in parentheses to explain things more thoroughly is their style.) I just skim over it – the same way I go “yada yada yada” when my cute southern sister in law leaves us a voice mail saying the same thing over and over and over again.

  6. says

    Looks great! How exciting!

    After your “3 ways to 3D post” a little while back I was inspired to see what I could do with my kitchen. I used the IKEA tool and, even though I won’t be purchasing an IKEA kitchen, I’m really excited about updating my kitchen for the first time ever. It’s about the same size as what you had in your old house but my fridge is right next to the stove. Yeah, we’re moving that, it’s item #1 on the list! Thanks for the inspiration and have fun.

  7. says

    Love it! Any thoughts on adding a faucet for pot filling over the new stove? I know that is a little extra plumbing work but they sure are functional and look fantastic with a little coat of ORB!

    • says

      Since the sink is so close to the home of the future range we figured it wasn’t worth the extra expense – but in those spacious kitchens where things are further apart we love a pot filler!


  8. Christine says

    We also moved our fridge, and even though it was a pain and we had to also move the water line for the ice maker, it was so worth it. The kitchen functions so much better that it’s like a different room. Don’t you love being able to reuse the pantry but in a different place??

  9. says

    I love it! It makes so much more sense than how it started out. Nice work guys!

    I am very interested to see what you do with the backsplash. We have a peninsula, but we aren’t sure if we should bring the backsplash all the way out on the wall to the end of it.

  10. julianne says

    When we redid our kitchen two years ago (has it been so long??) we moved our dishwasher so it is next to the sink and put in a corner cabinet with lazy susan in its place. It’s so much more functional now I don’t know why it wasn’t there in the first place. Plus, who decided having cabinets with deep, inaccessible corners was a good idea? We got rid of two of them and now I can see my pots and pans. We also added two cabinets under our work counter that weren’t there before. Such simple things I don’t know why they weren’t done in the first place. Oh 1970’s builders, what were your thinking?

  11. Lisa says

    LOVING the new plan! Wow, you guys amaze me with your imagination and vision. And I’m so jealous – the cabinets in my 1950’s house were built in place and can’t be separated or moved – complete demo and replacement is the only option, and that is NOT in our budget. I am so excited that you are moving full-steam ahead on the kitchen reno and can’t wait to see the backsplash, countertops, and eventually the entire transformation!

    • Miranda says

      You’re not alone, Lisa. We’ve got an original 1950’s kitchen as well with all built in-place cabinetry and scallops over windows, too (ew) so the only choice we have for this completely dysfunctional for this day and age kitchen is to completely demo it…which, as you know, takes tons of dough. One day, though? ONE DAY! Good luck on yours :)

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