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. Heather W says

    Looks good, can’t wait to see it. It’s wierd though when I googled your blog today it showed that you had made an update to the site but when I clicked on your address to get to it still showed your last post from yesterday so, I just went to the comments on the house crashing post and saw the title of this post below it with the arrow and wound up here???? I didn’t see any other comments about it so, not sure if it is my computer here or not. I haven’t had that happen before…. Just wanted to let you know. Thx

    • Elizabeth says

      Kind of the same thing has been happening to me too! Recently, I went over to your blog in the morning. One day I must have hit refresh 1 million times (I was in class, clearly not paying attention), and then finally the page loaded and your new post already had over 100 comments.

      Then today I came over here and you had your new post up but it said it had 0 comments, but when I clicked on the comment button and it leads you to the post’s page it had over 100. Strange.

  2. LauraC says

    Wow, I can already tell it looks so much better, all the way from Washington State! ;-) You’re making me impatient to do our kitchen (a 1940s original), but I have several years still to wait!

  3. Christine says

    Looks like it is going to be great. I can’t wait for the backsplash ideas. That is the only thing we have left to do in our summer kitchen remodel and I just can’t decide on something I will love for a long time. I am in love with several Walker Zanger tiles, but too expensive for our budget. Still looking for something that looks similar.

  4. Kris says

    Swapping that pantry cab and fridge was perfect! Looks like a different kitchen and the way it should a have been from the start. Glad you bought appliances you really wanted. Speaking from experience :( nothing sucks more than not buying your dream appliance or at least the one you really really want as sometimes those dream appliances are so ungodly expensive they are out of reach for us average income folks.

  5. says

    I love the switcheroo. I do have one word of caution that I’ll give, based on the kitchen remodel where they went from a wall oven to a stove/oven. Make sure there is about a foot of counterspace between the fridge and the cooktop. You will need this space for pot handles, the container of wooden spoons, salt shakers, etc. There should also be at least a foot of space on the other side too, but that’s easy, since there won’t be a giant refrigerator that blocks the space.

  6. NatalieM. says

    On the topic of Sherry’s foe baby bump/fabric buckling…Can you believe the crazy talk going on about Beyonce’s fabric folding and people all up in the air about her baby bump deflating?? Crazy talk I tell yah Hahaha I mean nice kitchen

  7. Stephanie says

    You guys are sooo smart! It already is a major improvement – before with the fridge placement it was a little awkward, but now it totally flows just with the switcheroo.

  8. Rhune says

    Love the new layout! Better flow, and more importantly, you gain the happy-coincidence having the fridge on the same wall as sink/dishwasher. Easier plumbing work woot!

    I’m surprised that you are getting a vent hood, since I thought that’s what the OTR microwave is for. Is the suction power not strong enough on those things?

    Oh btw, my range looks similar to yours in the old house. After I popped my BarKeepers Friend cherry on the range yesterday, the “stainless” finish on the top control panel area was ruined… which was strange since the finish on the door/drawer was unaffected. Did you ever use BKF on your old range?

    • says

      Our over the counter microwave isn’t to code (it hangs way too low, we can hardly get a big pot on the cooktop without hitting the bottom of the microwave) and since it’s so low the steam and smoke goes right over and around it (steaming our cabinets- which would be terrible once we paint stuff since we don’t want the vent hood not doing its job)! As for Barkeeper’s Friend, I used it on my old sink but not the old range. So sorry!


  9. Abby says

    Love it! Love the open shelves and the new fridge/pantry locations–everything is starting to feel more custom. Way to go!!

  10. Kate says

    Can I say that I hate your luck? I’ve been jealous of your pantry and now you were able to not only keep it, but also move it into the perfect spot? I’ll say it again, I hate your luck!

    I have a tiny pantry closet near the kitchen, but it’s actually not very practical since it’s deep and very narrow with tall shelves, so things tend to get lost in there. I’m at a loss as to what to do with it besides just moving some of the dishes and cookware in there and moving the food to cabinets.

    • says

      Have you checked out insert kits from places like Home Depot and Lowe’s? You might be able to add some swinging interior doors or other options to make the deepness make more sense. Good luck!


    • Jill says

      Roll-out trays could be another possibility – we didn’t have room for a pantry in our kitchen, but installed some roll out trays in some lower cabinets. They work really well, and we can now fit loads of food in the (rather deep) cabs and still see everything.

    • says

      This may seem a little out of left field, but how about cutting the shelves to make them less deep and give yourself more move around space? Kind of like hollowing it out. :3 Just a thought!

  11. says

    That works so much better. We have done two complete kitchen remodels and will be starting on one for our new house in December. I’ve never tried painting cabinets though, we’ve always had to replace them. I’ll be interested to see how you do it.

  12. GretchenF says

    I agree – it looks fantastic and like that was how it should be all along. I am in awe of your moxy at just up and moving your pantry.

  13. Katharine says

    This makes SO much sense once you see it done! I really think your live-with-it-and-consider-all-options is the best approach to remodeling. That way you don’t rush in and do something you’ll regret later. (Been there, done that.) Also, I LOVE open shelving instead of big banks of cabinets – feels so much more airy and less claustrophobic to me (I might be weird, though). Can’t wait to see how that works out for you.

    Seeing how well this is working so far is making me want to tweak our kitchen. I hate our cabinets with a passion, though, so we’ve never bothered fiddling with them because we figured if we ever do anything, we’ll just replace them all anyway.

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