I Had A Brilliant Idea For My Kitchen

A couple of weeks ago, I shared what I would do with the breakfast room (after we build our addition) if I could do whatever I wanted with no constraints. You can read about that here, but the very short version is that I’d double the size of my kitchen, expanding it into the breakfast room and moving the sink in front of the windows in the breakfast room.

There’s probably no way that would ever happen, but as I’ve been thinking about how I want to use this space once we have our addition finished, I think I may have come up with a way to maximize this space without doing a major floor plan shift.

Let me back up and explain a few things.

First, the whole idea of changing anything in my kitchen came about a while back because I desperately want to get rid of my concrete countertops. They’ve long outlived their welcome (I’m so tired of fighting stains), and I want quartz countertops so much that I dream about them.

But I’ll be really honest with you here. I don’t see any way that these concrete countertops can be removed without destroying the cabinets. It’s not like they were poured elsewhere, and then moved into place like any other solid surface and simply glued down to the cabinets.

No, these aren’t glued down. The concrete board was screwed into the cabinets, then the edge forms were screwed on, and then the concrete was poured in place. You can read all about that process here.

So it’s not like I can just unscrew something and move the countertops out. No, those screws are buried underneath concrete. I can’t even imagine that they can be removed without destroying the cabinets.

With that realization, I’ve resolved myself to the fact that if I ever want to get new countertops, it will probably involve getting new cabinets as well. While it’s a bummer, I’m not too sad about that, either. The cabinets I have are cheap (it was all we could afford a decade ago), and some of them are so narrow that they won’t even hold a dinner plate. I’ve made the most of them, and I’ve had fun adding my own organization to these plain stock cabinets, but I won’t cry about getting rid of them.

So the whole idea of redoing the kitchen is something I resolved myself to a long time ago. That’s why I’ve felt the freedom to play around with ideas like adding a passthrough from the kitchen to the new family room, which would require all new cabinets, new countertops, etc. Since these things seem inevitable, I may as well dream about exactly how I want it to look and function.

So I started off with the idea of a full opening between the two rooms…

And then that evolved into this idea with a passthrough between the two rooms with “pocket windows” so that the rooms can be closed to each other when the passthrough isn’t needed. A reader did this amazing mockup for me.

Anyway, our kitchen is very small. It looks and feels open due to the cased openings I added to the kitchen, but the actual room is something like 9.5′ x 14′. The cabinets and drawers that are actually in the kitchen hold things like pots and pans, skillets, spices, cooking utensils, cooking oils, cups and drinking glasses, plates and bowls, eating utensils, plastic wrap and foil, etc.

Do you notice what’s missing from that list? FOOD! Now you might think that the food goes in our pantry, right? Wrong. The pantry does hold our upright freezer, where I store meat and Cooper’s food. But the rest of the storage is filled with things that I don’t want to get rid of, but I don’t use often enough to keep in the actual kitchen — food dehydrator, juicer, Instant Pot, meat grinder, air fryer, large soup pots, baking pans, and on, and on. But there’s no food in there.

So where do I store the dry food, canned food, etc? Right here in these cabinets on the breakfast room side of the peninsula.

To say that it’s not convenient would be an understatement. It’s a very small area back there behind the chairs, so when Matt is actually sitting in his chair and reclining while I’m cooking, it can be a real pain.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to keep this as a sitting room. I want to turn it back into a breakfast room, but even with a table and chairs there instead of recliners, it’s just not convenient to have our food pantry in that area.

But I’ve come to realize that I don’t need a whole kitchen expansion with major remodeling like moving water lines to the room with the concrete slab foundation, which would also require messing up a lot of the hardwood floor. All that I need is a more efficient area for a food pantry.

So now my idea is that I can remove the cabinets on the back of the peninsula and create an actual bar with bar stools there. I think that area will fit four barstools. And then I can add cabinets here to use as a food pantry. That would be so much more convenient!

I love these areas on either side of the walk-in pantry, with the cute lights, the colorful artwork, and the bench. But these benches are never used, so right now, this is just wasted space.

And if I have wasted space sitting right next to a kitchen where I don’t have enough storage, it would make so much more sense to add a pantry here!

And I wouldn’t just do it on one side. Y’all know about my need for symmetry, so if I add a pantry on one side of the walk-in pantry, then I’d have to have the same on the other side.

So the current walk-in pantry (which no longer has those French doors because I used those here) would be flanked with cabinets.

They would be the same cabinets I use in the kitchen, painted the same color as the kitchen cabinets, so it would just look like a continuation of the kitchen. No structural changes needed.

And there’s also the possibility of adding the same lower cabinets to this wall as well. As of right now, I wouldn’t want to change the shelves or TV. Since those are above countertop height, I think they can stay. I love the color they add.

As much as I would miss the color that the artwork, pillows, and credenza add to the current sitting room…

I just keep envisioning what it would look like to turn this whole area into an eat-in kitchen with loads of useful pantry storage, and with cabinetry continuing into the current sitting room to create the look of a huge kitchen without actually spending the thousands of dollars it would take to change the layout completely. I can envision the cabinets flanking the current walk-in pantry, and I think it would look great!

I’m pretty excited about this idea. It feels a lot more peaceful to me than doing another huge remodel that would require tearing up the flooring and the concrete foundation. And while I’d love to be able to stand at my sink and look out of those windows, I also really like that my current sink faces the TV, and will, in the future, face the small breakfast table and chairs. That way if someone is sitting there, I can easily converse with them instead of having my back to them like I would if my sink was at the windows.

So those are my latest thoughts. I absolutely love thinking through the various plans and possibilities, and dreaming about how to use these spaces. And it may take me a few more tries before I land on the perfect kitchen plan, but as of this moment, this is my favorite idea so far.



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  1. Breakfast area .. yes great idea . I think a lot of people did concrete counters back in the day and regret them now but hey we all try things . But the peninsula is too big for this space . With your skills you could build an island that looks like furniture . It would be more balance and you have space to go around to the left and right . You have a pantry so there should be space for everything.

    1. Yes, but you see where Kristi stated that she didn’t want to do a big remodel where water lines and pulling up pipes and relocating the sink would be involved. The sink is in that peninsula, so it would be nice, but a lot more work involved!

  2. I don’t know if this would be of interest to you, but I have seen advertisements where a new quartz (or maybe other stone as well) is placed on top of existing counters. It’s obviously thinner, but basically covers what’s there.

  3. Would you really need to do the solid door uppers if you did the food storage cabinets in the “new” breakfast room? Glass doors might be worth considering for the uppers (obscure glass if it’s food, clear if you have serving/dinnerware you’d like visible).

    Another option might be just lowers, with nice countertops. You could set one up as a coffee bar and the other could be a snack/serving bar for light entertaining.

    Just a thought.

    1. Forgot to add – just doing lowers would let you leave the current sconces and still have some artwork above the counters.

    2. I have two pantry cabinets like Kristi is considering that flank my wall ovens and refrigerator. The lower cabinets have pull out drawers which make it so easy to reach things! The upper cabinets have pretty curved muntins that look like the Jesus fish symbol with a tail at the top and bottom with antique mirror behind them. The mirrors give a feeling of openness like looking through a window or glass would but hide the contents. It feels less like you’re looking at a solid wall. I love the purple credenza and I’d consider keeping it to add interest to the space.

  4. I’m liking ALL about that plan. You get a lot more storage for the Kitchen, get back your breakfast area, and change out all the counters and cabinets to match all the new ones without doing major tearing up construction. Definitely seems like a win/win to me! That would make a HUGE difference in the functionality of your kitchen for sure!
    I think you thought of the perfect solution! It will be the perfect eat-in kitchen!

  5. Great ideas for food storage! I find that storing food is a lot easier in cabinets that aren’t too deep.
    And the best part is if you get all new cabinets, you can get IKEA cabinets, now that you know how great they are!

    1. That’s what I was thinking. I love the new ideas, for the future, but for now, it seems like the cabinets behind the recliners is a much better spot for big pans, dehydrators, and air fryers–assuming they will fit there–with the food going in the pantry, at least for now.

  6. So glad you would be keeping the breakfast room! We are in the process of redoing our kitchen and added a pantry cabinet and banquet. Love the function

  7. I don’t say this often, if ever, but that looks awful. I would eek out a cabinet in the pantry or the ones where the pass through will go. But to say those benches and art are wasted, I say bah, humbug! Art and furniture are rarely wasted in my world. And in this room it’s a place to rest your eyes.
    Love the bar idea though.
    There’s only a couple of things in your home I wouldn’t do and this is an biggie. Again, please take this as my opinion.

    1. Just so we’re clear, you do realize that that’s a two-dimensional rendering using basic rectangles and one solid color, right? So the actual finished cabinets wouldn’t “look” anything like that. They would match the other cabinets in style and color,and would just be a continuation of the kitchen.

  8. That sounds great. I also like the idea of cabinets at top and bottom and a counter top between . Like a beverage station or desserts. I never have an area in my kitchen to set up for tea, etc

  9. I like the idea of the peninsula becoming a spot with bar stools. Understanding your need for symmetry when adding storage but I would make it shallow storage the deeper the cabinet the harder to find stuff. I would hate to see you lose the credenza for more kitchen cabinets, it’s such a pretty piece that truly adds character to the room. I have a stand alone credenza in my kitchen that is used for storing napkins, table cloths, place mats and some specialty serve wear. It’s a great spot to put out food/desserts or a beverage station when entertaining.

  10. We had the similar issue when we moved in 12 years ago and we solved it with a banquette with storage in it, and we were able to open up our old table and add two more chairs and it feels like we have more room, and all we did was shorten the windows to accommodate the new banquette. I love having a table full of people while I am in the kitchen cooking or cleaning up afterwards. We find we couldn’t live without our breakfast nook and everyone who visits the farm feels the same too. It is just where everyone gathers at.

  11. A couple of years ago, I tore out a badly functioning kitchen, bought a used kitchen and reconfigured it. I had been expecting to resell my home, but now I would never part with the efficiency of this new kitchen. Never underestimate the joy that a well-functioning kitchen brings. It makes one’s life so much easier. You know yourself best and your needs. Small things make a difference.

  12. I really love what a reader did with the pass through. The glass matches the french doors in the music room. And also like the idea of only lower cabinet in the breakfast room and having a coffee bar. With that in mind if someone in the family room wants a coffee or food, the pass through is very handy and you don’t have to walk all the way around and possibly spilling. And you could also keep your paintings and sconces.

  13. I love those ideas! I especially love not changing the shelves and TV because those shelves and their artwork is one of my favorite things.

  14. I think your new tall panty cabinets are a great idea. Since you seems to be planning new cabinets for this new plan, might I suggest drawers instead of lower cabinets in as many places as possible. Drawers hold more, and the contents are more accessible, as you know from the rollouts you have now. And with drawers, there is only one motion to pull them out, as opposed to two with rollouts. The older you get, the more you will appreciate not having to kneel on the floor to reach the back of the lower cabinets. Here is a discussion about drawers vs. cabs:


  15. Storing food in those cabinets under the peninsula would drive me nuts. I have a small pantry in my kitchen and love the convenience of having all the food there.

  16. In the interim, what if you stored supplemental dishes behind the two recliners and moved the food to those kitchen cabinets? Since it’s usually just you and Matt, and you wash the dishes up after every meal anyway, couldn’t you get by with having say 4 plates of each type handy, plus a few glasses? Then you’d only need to access those cabinets when you were hosting a big gathering.

  17. I’m glad you decided not to move the sink. You already have new windows there, but they are too low to accommodate cabinets in front of them. This way multiple people will be able to see your little garden area.
    I like the idea of a doorway to the family room, with sliding doors matching those in the music room. I think you will really get tired of walking through the music room to refill drinks from the family room. I also like the idea of having space for a coffee/tea station. The pass-through only works if there is someone on each side.
    You may be able to use the benches in the family room. They would be great for occasional seating.

  18. I appreciate how you work through solutions that are true to your priorities and preferences while realizing what you can accomplish while being prudent and practical.
    I like the plans and imagine that art and benches might work in the new den space or another spot in the addition! Onward!

  19. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the things that you don’t use often in the cabs in the breakfast room and put your actual food in the food pantry?

  20. Here’s another thought…what if you put some of those less used appliances and dishes in the cabinets where the food is now and move the food to the pantry. You could still put cabinets outside your pantry. I like the idea of half cabinets there too with countertops on them. If you’d like extra dining area that is not permanent you could place a nice narrow folding table or homemade table right behind the peninsula for people to sit at. Just some extra ideas. I’d also see if there were some way to reface the tops of the cement countertops.

  21. So the plan is to get new cabinets and new countertops, plus wrap the cabinets around the sitting room so it looks like a continuous kitchen? The color of your cabinets is beautiful.

  22. Why don’t you put your seldom used appliances in the cabinets on the backside of the peninsula and keep the food in the pantry? I’m sure whatever you do will turn out fabulous…I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of that kitchen needing even MORE cabinetry. Especially considering reworking what will become the pass-through wall, which will rework some of those super narrow cabinets.

  23. I’m a “you can NEVER have too much storage” girl so I’m with you, but you’ve got a lot on your plate-always-so I would try to get some immediate gratification by moving your seldom used appliances to where you’re food is stored. Swap this out today if possible. Hopefully you can do it without buying too many “containers” If your appliances don’t fit I would move them somewhere else. Your food needs to be at eye level-you access this daily, it will be life changing.

  24. Kristi…. Sounds like “a plan”. Just one thought…. Why not change places with your food and the small appliances since the appliances are only an “On occasion, as needed” thing?

  25. Your kitchen is the most beautiful kitchen I have ever seen….in person or in any magazine. It looks like there would be enough space and storage for everything needed in a kitchen. But I don’t live with the reasons and needs that you do. Whatever your decisions end up being I know will end up as beautiful. I’m so glad you keep all of your past, present, and future remodeling work in photos and directions on your web site. Reason is I show all of your work to all of my friends and family members when they visit. I enjoy looking at and showing your work…..especially your kitchen.

  26. One of the things I love about reading your blog is that you are so incredibly creative! You have so many ideas, and you have such a gift for reimagining spaces you’d already dreamed and created because you were inspired to explore ways to make it even more beautiful, efficient, etc.

    I saw a few other commenters already asked the question I was wondering- why not put the rarely used appliances in the breakfast room cabinets and the food in the pantry? (I’m wondering if it’s a space issue since you mentioned that some of those cabinets are not as spacious as you’d like.) What about the narrower cabinets that are on the kitchen side? You’ve figured out what will fit where … but would it make sense to play a game of musical chairs with all the items between your family room cabinets, your kitchen cabinets and your pantry? I know this is something I need to do in my own space – reimagine how to lay out everything to maximize the accessibility of what I use on a more regular basis.

  27. Absolutely LOVE your ideas for “extending” your kitchen. It all would look amazing and truly intended and planned that way from the start. I think I’m as excited as you about how it all would work perfectly. 🥰

  28. What about including a couple of well placed mirrors that would bring the outside in so you could still look out and see the garden ,,without major renovations,

  29. Before making any changes, you could try shifting the not-often-used items currently stored in the pantry to the peninsula and the food items to the pantry. Live with it for a while to see if you like it.

    I would also recommend making your pantry cabinets no deeper than 12″, the depth of upper cabinets. In my very small kitchen, I have one upper cabinet (12″ deep) filled with 10″ long X 4″ wide (or thereabouts) stacking containers of various heights for “dry” foods such as grains, pasta, sugar, and lesser used spices and baking needs, plus a few boxed foods. I also have a very shallow “can pantry” that is the depth of a large tomato can where I store canned, bottled, and jarred foods. I love that I can see and access everything without having to move things around.

  30. Your plan makes a lot of sense, Kristi. Consider this alternative:
    Instead of tall cabinets, why not counter height with pull out pantry drawers inside? Then you can keep your beautiful artwork and you have one more serving surface for guests- maybe a drinks bar?

  31. 100% like the pantry cabinets plan. I think it’s nice for the breakfast room to be tied into the kitchen with more cabinetry. We have one floor to ceiling pantry cabinet like that and I love it. I have drawers on the bottom and closed shelving on the top, and really like the configuration.

    Eventually I’d like to add pull out shelving to two of the shelves, but that is the only thing I would change. If I had your configuration I would definitely do two!

  32. I really like this new idea, except I would put all the dishes, etc. in the new cabinets and put food in the kitchen area. You said the current kitchen cabinets are too narrow even for a dinner plate, so this will give you a chance to make the new cabinets deep enough for dinnerware, etc. For me personally, this would be more convenient for setting the table and for cooking the delicious meals. (Kristi, you have no idea what an inspiration you are for all of us! Thank you!)

  33. Have you thought about putting your food in the pantry where it’s easy to get to and put the rarely used items where the food is now? Then you can leave your pretty artwork and benches. Plus there won’t be an overload of cabinets. Just a thought.

  34. These are all GREAT ideas! Making the best of the hard-to-move stuff, and adding in the cabinets that make this a useful space. I love it!