Dermot Bannon's room with a view: advice on creating an l-shaped kitchen
The architect and TV star answers your home improvement questions.
How can we create an l-shaped kitchen/family room?
Our dilemma is how to make the best of a narrow L-shaped kitchen in an uninspiring 1980s dormer with superb views down a valley to the resort of Fountainstown just outside Cork Harbour. The house faces more or less south-east. The kitchen has one window looking south and the entire length of the room facing west.
Our main concern is:
We want to extend the kitchen making it a bigger, all-purpose family room utilising the views and the superb light. I hope the photos will give you a good overview of our situation.
'I would relocate you kitchen to the back wall'
Thank you very much for your letter, that really is a fantastic view! There are hardly any other buildings between you and the sea and the lush trees in the valley are great. I'm sure that the light there is amazing as it changes throughout the season especially down towards the sea - Irish coastal views are some of the best in the world.
I can imagine how frustrating it must be to have all this in your eyeline, but in the area in which you spend the most of your time, the kitchen/dining area, there is only one small window overlooking your amenity.
This can be typical of a lot of houses built in rural Ireland over the last 40 years. With the advent of the standard house plan available in books, it made it far more accessible for the amateur home builder. However, these houses were designed as a one-size-fits-all and were designed in complete isolation to their site - meaning that most houses turned their backs on their setting regardless of how stunning it is. We have such a beautiful country, it really seems a shame that so many houses are built never responding to what's on their doorstep.
The big advantage of your site is that the front of the house is south-facing and this is where that spectacular view is, so it's a given that you would try to open up as much to the front of the house and extend sideways to capture as much as you can.
Due to the level difference from the front to the back of the site there appears to be a retaining wall running along the back of your home. The kitchen area is to the front of the house with the dining area at the back in the north-facing part of the house. You then have a little area for the couch in between these two spaces.
With kitchen units lining the two walls at the front of the house you will never get a large window to the front where you need it. It's also such a pity your dining table is to the rear of the house as this is, I'm sure, where you spend a lot of time as most people do.
Not only is the rear north-facing but it is also looking back over the retaining wall through windows that are quite high above floor level. Whilst the couch area is bathed in the evening sunlight it still misses out on the fantastic view. And being at the fulcrum of the kitchen and dining area, it is a busy route between the two and doesn't really leave you an opportunity to place any more furniture in that space to make it more sociable.
You say in your email that you are planning an extension. For me it would need to perform two functions; firstly, as mentioned above, to widen out your south-facing elevation view, and secondly, create a space outside. I would extend out at the side of your house from where your couch is at the moment, overlooking the front but still leaving enough space outside to the front to sit out. I would relocate your kitchen to the back wall of the house where the couch is at the moment, with an island in front looking back out towards the southern view.
I would then open up the front area of the house, where the kitchen units are on the outside wall, and put in as much glazing to the front and the side as possible. Then, I'd locate the dining area in this spot to take full advantage of the panoramic view, and in the extension to the side I would locate a living space which, again, is overlooking the view but also capturing the light to the south during the day and the west in the evening.
This will create an L-shaped open-plan space with the living and dining (the two relaxing spaces) forming the two arms and the kitchen located at the knuckle or middle of the two. The kitchen could extend partly into the original dining area but you could also locate some storage in this area or even a pantry for the kitchen. If you wanted you could also raise up the new living area by a couple of steps to give it a more elevated aspect over the valley. Good luck with the project!
If you would like Dermot to solve your house problems, email a detailed description to dermotbannon
@independent.ie. Please include photographs of the building.