The changes aren't drastic, but we think this is the absolute best way to use the space we have, and let me tell you, what a difference this layout makes! It's not quite the kitchen of our dreams; okay, who am I kidding, it's nowhere near the kitchen of our dreams, but compared to what is was, it's heavenly. We never quite intended to gut the original kitchen, but that's exactly what ended up happening. In fact, the day Jack was born, this is what the "kitchen" looked like. Somehow, in the two and a half weeks Jack was in the NICU, the kitchen got put back together. The walls got painted. The cabinets got installed. The stove was acquired. The washer and dryer were installed. The water heater was installed. I know I'm probably leaving out things, but I was with Jack in the hospital, so I wasn't there for any of this!
Moving the water heater freed up space to put the fridge and to add a pantry. We haven't bought the pantry cabinet yet, so for now we have a pantry fridge, but we at least know where the pantry is going to live. It's so much nicer to have the fridge in the alcove where the water heater was, instead of looming in the middle of the kitchen. Just tucking the fridge into the alcove makes the kitchen feel so much bigger.
We thought about the possibility of putting a stackable washer and dryer in the alcove and putting the fridge in the place of the washer and dryer. We decided against this idea for a couple of reasons. First, keeping the washer and dryer in their original spot meant we wouldn't have to do any massive plumbing work. Second, we were gifted hand-me-down front loaders from my sister-in-law and brother-in-law (thanks, Linda and Mark!) and keeping them in the original spots let us extend our counter space. Third, putting the fridge in the alcove almost makes it feel like it's somewhat built in. If we had put it next to the back door, it would've felt as massive and imposing as it was in it's original spot. We're also able to put shelves above the washer and dryer for more storage, and couldn't have done that with the fridge there.
We did swap the washer to the dryer spot and the dryer to the washer spot. The dryer vent is on the right and we can't quite figure out why anyone would've put the dryer on the left at all. In fact, when we pulled out the old dryer, it wasn't even vented to the outside of the house! Dennis also recessed the plumbing into the wall so the washer could sit a few inches back and that also makes a world of difference. The entire door frame is now visible and the washer and dryer actually look like they fit into their spot. Small changes really can make a big difference.
The sink and dishwasher stayed in the exact same place, and the upper cabinets were replaced and actually centered around the window. Dennis had to pick out the cabinets and sink without me, since Jack and I were in the hospital (and I wasn't willing to leave his side), and I think his choices are perfect. Dennis said he picked a cast iron porcelain sink instead of a regular stainless steel one because Jack would look cuter in the cast iron sink!
The last thing we needed to figure out is where to put the stove. Moving the fridge into the alcove meant we couldn't leave the stove where it was; the stove would've been in the way of the fridge door. Obviously, the only place left was where the fridge had been (against the wall that makes up part of the master closet). We measured the distance between the fridge, stove, and sink (the kitchen triangle - our triangle is less than ideal, but the best we could do with the space), and the stove seemed miles away from the sink. Plus, there was no way to have any counter space on either side of the stove. What to do, what to do? After a couple of days, we finally had a stroke of genius. We'd make an island out of the stove and put a cabinet on either side (more storage space, yay!), giving us counter space to prepare food (yay, counter space!), and making the distance from sink to stove feel less like a hike (less steps, yay!).
We're not quite sure what to do with the space behind the stove. At first we thought bar stools would fit nicely back there, but we still needed a place to put the cat bowls. After actually living with this layout for a few months, we're going to extend a counter from the back of the stove to the wall (yay, even more counter space!) making a peninsula instead of an island, and probably put a few shelves in (yay, even more storage!), leaving enough room to put the cat bowls. We still need to get the cabinets for each side of the stove and the pantry, and we also need to hang the shelves above the washer and dryer, but for now the kitchen is functional, and we know where everything is going to go. There's also a long list of other things to do to the kitchen like paint the cabinets and install a backsplash, but those things will come in time. Right now, I have a baby to take care of! We definitely have plenty of stuff to keep us busy.