The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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Kitchen Week At Design Hole Blog

Lots going on over at Design Hole, on my blog roll for a long time. Jennifer Mitchell, an interior designer, is quite intense about her work, and what she's doing this week on kitchens are, well, kitchens on steroids! Go and take a look, and while you're at it, take a look at my little chat on kitchen trends.  It's all very good stuff. All this week.


Meanwhile, I've played around with my apartment floorplan for a little bit. It's funny how taking a wall down makes one rethink the entirety of the space, not just the kitchen! That's what I'm doing, having had no previous intention to do that. I felt the furniture worked. Now I'm not so sure, and I never really loved the sofa against the half wall.

Here's the thing. My husband and I require, NOT the typical sofa and one or two chairs in our living space, as is found in nearly all apartments of our size. We need the ability to stretch out and gaze mindlessly at the tv, in between napping, doing computer work, or yes, even talking to one another! Stretching out is an absolute must and non negotiable. Forget a chair/ottoman, it's not really nap-worthy.

So, am I really crazy to consider a huge, I mean huge, sofa in this otherwise small apartment? I'm almost embarrassed to say the size of it. It's nearly 12' (yes, 12') long. Oddly, to my eye, it seems to work. We should both be able to stretch out at opposite ends. It would have to come in two pieces. Here's what I'm considering. I'm not afraid to go beyond what's typical, and sometimes, doing something oversized can be exciting, and in this case, MAYBE it would serve to elongate the room as well, especially if it's on legs and in a light color?





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Reader Comments (22)

I think you should go for it. Only you know how you and your husband will 'live' in the space. I would suggest that the two chairs you have at the table do double duty meaning that they are comfortable enough to pull away from the table in the event you have guests. So excited for you. I can't wait to see more!

January 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commentererinn

This looks great! Can't wait to see the finished product.

January 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Mitchell

Erinn, thank you! As an architect, your opinion is important to me!

Jennifer...thanks, glad to have your blessing too, bigtime! I'm open to all feedback, whatever it is.

January 15, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Your newer layout looks really great. Yes, sofa will be dominant, but large scale pieces in small space help make space feel more important. Wondering if perhaps a pair of coffee table-use pieces (upholstered?) could be shoved together in front of sofa, and then can be separated to serve as seating for entertaining (or for you and Hub to enjoy).

The built-ins...will they go to ceiling? Bookshelves? Love the ideas!

January 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

Thanks Wendy, appreciate the feedback. Oh, I forgot to put the window on that rear wall, 3 windows, two small, one wider, covers the rear wall. If I do built ins there, and it looks like it may close the space up just a bit too much, so may only do them on the rear wall and not wrap them around, they'd be under the windows, maybe shorter than the radiator in the center.

And, yes, that's a great idea about upholstered pieces, which could serve as additional seating across the way. Great idea. I'm grateful for the support! It's slightly scary territory, going so large.

January 15, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I like the second layout and the built-ins under the window, incorporating the radiator. Maybe something like this: http://www.livingathome.de/wohnen_einrichten/vorher_nachher/detail.html?vnid=17&bid=1.
It would pleasantly streamline the wall under the window, besides providing additional storage space.
A large sofa in a small place can be very cool. As it sits along the wall, it'll take up less visual space than a much smaller sofa in the middle of the room.

January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

Thanks Connie, I appreciate your input. Yes, that image is what I'm thinking, thanks for adding that. I, too, seem to get a feeling of a better flow for the room as a whole. The long sofa can double as a desk, being able to spread out papers too...in a sense, of course, not like a formal desk, but I'll bet there will be additional uses for it that will come in handy.

January 16, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I like option B as well. It feels more balanced with the sofa leading directly into the built-ins, which wrap around the end of the room. It balances off the kitchen side nicely.I think the BIG sofa is a good idea as well. Plus it keeps the opening into the area cleaner - without the ottoman/coffee table right there. Also, note, that you should have typically 18" clearance between sofa and coffee table, which means your ottoman will be pushed further out than it looks in the floorplan. Another reason why it's better at the far end of the space. Very exciting!

Linda, thank you for your comments. You're right. It's balanced. You know, I knew it worked, I was quite sure of it, but I couldn't put my finger on why, plus, doing it for yourself makes it 100 times more nutty, you know how that is. I might even position the ottomon in front of the radiator, on wheels so it can move on a diagonal in the corner for extra seating (seating across from the sofa) or whatever. I like flexibility...where I can find it. Thanks so much!

January 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Susan, it is really flattering to give suggestions to a designer, especially such a great one as you are; this is a lifetime opportunity, so I’ll bite.

I love the idea of a long sofa, go for it. You may also consider using a more narrow (i.e. less bulky) museum-style bench in place of a coffee table, you can add some pillows and use it as additional seating as needed. If you’d like to be able to watch the tv from the kitchen (as you’ve stated before), then you have no choice but to use design one. I also like the upper layout in general. However, I’d also add some built ins to it: start on the rare wall under the window and wrap them around to become a desk. You can make a folding desk, so that you can fold it down and away to free up space when you have company or when you don’t need to work. A wrapped portion of the built in cabinetry can serve as a small computer desk (when the large desk is folded away) or as a bookshelf or a counter, depending on your needs. Look at the pictures in the “cabinetry” section http://thrandsons.com/ I am thinking about a “fusion” between the first picture (on the left) under “Custom Desks & Tables” (except that you don’t need a corner desk) and the second from top picture in the right column under “Custom Built-ins”, the latter picture also shows an option of extending the built in into a wall panel to hang a TV set, though it may be unnecessary.

With this layout, you’ll have an office-like area in the far right corner near the window with more privacy and better day light (plus you can fold the desk away when you’d like) and a lounge-like area next to the kitchen, seems more functional too me. Just my $0.02... Whatever you choose, I am sure it will be as lovely as your other projects.

January 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSheva

Sheva, I'm open to all suggestions, thank you. That IS a good suggestion, as at one time, I was thinking it would be nice to have a work desk in this room, as I will be spending more time there down the road. What a great idea, the fold down/lift up countertop could be to the right of the radiator, and I could sit and look out the window. Thanks for opening up the possibilities, I appreciate it!

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

susan, I love your work in kitchens, but I have to say that 12 foot sofa is awkward in the space. I think you are thinking like a kitchen designer and not a space planner. The goal is not to fill all the space up wall to wall. Look at your negative spaces on the plan.

With that 12 foot sofa, all you can do is watch TV, eat while you watch tv or lie down. You cannot have a conversation unless you are sitting next to each other and conversation is best at an angle.

The next thing to consider is flexibility. There's no room for a lamp next to the sofa-- what if you want to read there...You'll need a floor lamp or a table lamp.and end tables. That sofa in the corner is just too tight.

I really don't think you should put a 12 foot sofa in there. Try an 88 or 84" sofa-- standard size -- and use the remaining space for somethign that makes sense. storage? extra seating that can be at an angle?

Also why such a small table for eating? you have more space for a larger dimension.(look at the negative space between the kitchen and the table) Also, the coffee table should be centered on the tv.

If you were a client I'd completely talk you out of it.

I know everyone else seems all for the 12 footer but I am a bit miffed as to why? really....

January 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAbbeyK

Abbey, LOVE your no-holds-barred comment! I'm totally open, a sponge to all advice.

But, let me say this, and this doesn't mean I'm 100% on this, but hear me out:

The coffee table can be something upholstered and on wheels to move it in the corner. It's rare we have company in the city...napping ability may trump other furniture configurations.

Proportionately, more time is spent "living" rather than eating at the table. We never eat at the table now, it's such a small area, we eat on the sofa with the food on the coffee table. My son/his girlfriend do the same thing.

You're right about lamps...didn't consider that. We have an overhead light that's very bright, purposely bought it for that reason.

I'm thinking and open to ideas. I'll look at the negative space, definitely. Thanks for your upfront comments, appreciate them!

January 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

OK well if you eat at the sofa, you'll want a hard coffee table, not an ottoman because you cannot eat on it easily. You have to put a tray down.

I like the configureation of a sofa with a chair and ottoman.This gives a lot of flexibilty and allows 2 people to nap! Divine!

OK to keep the DR table smalll. If you rarely eat at it, How about a drop leaf table them? Or gasp... none at all. That would give you more seating.....Or if you want it, think about turning it the other way and then you can get a chair and otto in there. Just so you know, a 12 foot sofa allows one person to lie down and one to sit, but I'd rather see you have a 7 foot sofa and a chair/otto. More versitile.

Love the idea of cubes or upholstered ottos can act as extra seating on those rare occasions when company is over. In small space, dual purposes are a great thing. Not a huge fan personally, but the end table / reading lamp,combo is coming back.

If you want to email me a floor plan to scale (1/4) I can rework it for you if you want.


But I dont think that your concept is fully thought through.

January 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAbbeyK

Abbey, I'm going to take you up on that. Appreciate your thoughts, but I'm not sure about taking a real, quality, nap on a chair/otto combination. I'm not a believer, you'll have to convince me. Don't you think the long sofa is just different/modern looking? Why do the typical 7' sofa/chair, yawn combination? Come on!

January 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I am living vicariously watching you renovate your NYC apartment. I miss living in the city! I would love to layout my living room as you did. Do you use a complicated computer program to do these layouts or is it something a regular person like me could use?

January 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

I sleep all the time on the chair/otto in my LR. Read a book, fall asleep.

Maybe think about an 8' sofa....a bed isnt 12' long, so why does your sofa need to be 12? hmmmm.

a seven footer isn't boring it works! That's why everyone has one :)
email me your floor plan and I can take a look.....I am around.


January 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAbbeyK

Abbey, the reason is so we can each stretch out at opposite ends and have a quality nap! :) That's the singular reason behind it. Will so, I'll send it to you, thanks!

January 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Janet, thanks for the comment! Tell me, where did you live in the city? I use a software program for the kitchen industry, named Planit. It is very detailed, although I did a simple version for these drawings. But, there is lots of good consumer software out there as well.

February 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Today is the 1st day I have seen your blog, and I'd like to tell you how much I have enjoyed it. I put it in my favorites after the 1st article. I am by no means a kitchen designer; my only quaification is that I am in the final stages of a remodel that I designed on my own - my 1st decision to be to toss out the very expensive architect's plans!
So it is with some embarassment to offer my opinion to a designer of your abilities but I believe I see a difficulty with your plans. Having been a caterer my main focus is geared toward the ergonomics and usabiity of the space. If it is not designed according to ease of use, it will not seem beautiful after living with it for a while.
How this relates to your plan: from what you have written, the room is geared around casual meals while reclining. I confess this is how my husband and I frequently eat now that my kids are grown and the traditional family meal is not of so much importance. I have no problem with the size of the couch in general principle; oversized works much better in a smaller space than most people believe. What I see as more of a problem is the placement of the tv. If you expect to have 2 people be able to stretch out on this luxurious couch, I think neck problems will ensue. Also, as you want to be able to view from the kitchen, remember that plasma tvs cannot be viewed from a side angle. In the2nd design, the people at the small table would not be able to see the tv. In the 1st plan the armchairs are not in a good spot for either tv viewing or conversation with anyone on the couch, even if they swivel..
Pardon my ignorance, but I'm not sure where the windows are placed. Unless you are a fan of blackout curtains, glare and visibility are an issue.
I guess my point is that the question is not whether the couch is in proportion with the room, rather whether it or not it allows enough flexability of placement in order to best meet the purpose of the space.
As this article was written so long ago, I'm quite certain your decision has already been made and I hope it is working; I just couldn't help putting in my totally unqualified opinion! In any case, I am excited about having found this space. Thank you so much for the work and talent you obviously put in to it. It is a veritable wealth of information..
Yours truely'
Nora Howard- Gitlin

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNora

Nora, thanks very much for your input! No, we are moving at a snail's pace here, so all opinions and insight are welcome and is considered. I like to be open to all ideas and all possibilities. As I get closer to making commitments, I will revisit these comments.

July 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Hey these are nice idea, thanks dude

September 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark

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