Learning to design #4: The ulterior motive for learning sketchup - aka what some women really want

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Blog entry by mtkate posted 10-14-2009 03:12 AM 2489 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Next sketchup version - thanks DaveR!!! Part 4 of Learning to design series Part 5: Kitchen - wall of cabinets - approved design »

So, naturally I did not start playing with sketchup simply to make a small tea box. I started playing with it to be sure I could make use of it… and use it to work out the design to something much larger that would hold the tea boxes. That would be a bigger kitchen ;)

This is really helping me to work out tons of design issues well before starting the cutting. I have done it in a previous life by cutting out scale model pieces in graph paper (remember those days???) but this is far superior.

I have a small galley kitchen, with a small room next door that is being knocked out to enlarge it and make it a decent sized room. Due to certain factors (as usual) there are design limitations. One of the first problems is to figure out how I want to build a wall of cabinets and use as much of the space as possible.

I am not finished the sketch, of course, but this is the basic layout. I will put frosted glass in the midsection. I have not finished the sketching of the corner pieces yet.

Draft of pantry/wall cabinet

Due to the fact that I have large hairy dogs I wanted the corner cabinet that will be closest to them to be closed – but I can’t match it on the right hand side due to the small space available. Does it look wierd? The hidden object in the front is my mocked in piece for the island. I figure you won’t really be looking at the cabinets dead-on anyway.

The window placement is really where it is in the pic – so I have to figure out something “creative” to do with the window casings that I can carry over to the other windows you don’t see when I knock out the wall.

Comments, opinions and suggestions are very welcome.

9 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3573 days

#1 posted 10-14-2009 03:18 AM

Looks good, wish I had those skills.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3350 days

#2 posted 10-14-2009 03:18 AM

AHA. I knew there was a reason that you used sketchup to mock up a tea box.. the plot thickens.. Looks mighty fine…You could go with double hinged angled doors on the ends. ie hinged at the wall and then hinged in the middle to make an angle door…then magnets to hold the doors shut.

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4017 days

#3 posted 10-14-2009 04:25 AM

Forget about symmetry and run your cabinets from the right corner toward the left side.
Looks like you will add about 2-2-1/2” to the cabinet doors.
That’s not a bad thing.

That is if you are not going to run a counter under the window.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3344 days

#4 posted 10-14-2009 07:07 AM

Working through a design problem it is critical to understand the ‘program’, to that end I would ask the following:

Do you want this cabinetry to ‘match’ the existing or could it visually stand alone in the room?
What is the specific storage requirements beyond ‘use as much of the space as possible’?
What is determining the basic dimensions of the cabinetry, both vertically and horizontally?

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3330 days

#5 posted 10-14-2009 05:09 PM

If you are going to have those end cabinets angled, why not have an angled bookcase running on the sides of the main cabinet to the top to provide more symmetry? They might be handy for cookbooks and/or plants or whatever.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3321 days

#6 posted 10-15-2009 01:40 PM

Some real cool ideas. I’ll pass it by the committee to see which one gets approval.

Larry’s idea got a “ooh, ahh. Hmmm…. interesting.”

Stefang – for sure. I will work on that drawing.

DaveR & Bob, those were version #1…. but the window is too close to the wall that the cabinets would not be deep enough to hold what I need (I need 12” inside the cabinets – the window is just barely past that – and when I mean the window I mean the glass part itself!) I am not running a counter under the window as I am not sure yet if I will leave the heater there (it’s not in the drawing yet). I was thinking angled corners because my committee prefers angles to rounded. I might consider squaring up the bottom cabinet even if it passes a little under the window. I’ll see if that idea gets approval. I agree – it would make more sense and give me more space. Then the open shelving above could be less deep.

Jlsmith – yes, I am going to have to try to get it to match other cabinets in a fashion and have already started that consideration… we want it vertically to look like it goes to the ceiling due to the low ceilings (only 8 feet). The horizontal problem, I described above which is governed by the depth considerations.

Looks like I have some work to do this saturday AM!

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3337 days

#7 posted 10-15-2009 02:08 PM

i’m not sure where you are going with this ,

but at least you have ,
a paddle ,
for your canoe now !

and a new upgrade in life ,
is a good thing .

keep us posted .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3344 days

#8 posted 10-15-2009 11:30 PM

If I understand you correctly you might consider the following:

The current design attempts to resolve the location of the window entirely within the space of the end cabinet. This is a lot to resolve in such a small and confined space, resulting in what seems to be the rather forced geometry of the end cabinet.

Perhaps if you tried to incorporate the need to reduce the depth of the end cabinet (in order to avoid the window) as a design idea you could turn a limitation into a feature. For example, you could take the idea of a breakfront and applied it to the cabinets. The middle cabinet could push forward, the flanking cabinets could stay where they are and the end cabinets could push back enough to miss the window (and its trim). Now this would violate your criteria for the cabinets to have 12” clear storage. However, it might be worth considering if you could find some use for this reduced storage.

If you decide that it is important to keep the angled cabinet the breakfront idea could still provide a way to integrate the angle motif into the overall design. For example, one idea would be to use an angled transition for each step in the cabinet.

This stepping idea could also be applied in the vertical direction. The middle cabinet could be the tallest and the other flanking cabinets could step down. Even small vertical steps would reduce the shear wall effect of the current design and it would also emphasize the vertical, something you mentioned you would like the cabinets to do.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3321 days

#9 posted 12-18-2009 10:09 PM

Just as a followup (yes, I know it’s been almost 2 months!!!) I took out the measuring tape and with very slight re-planning – the squaring up ideas actually won. I managed to fit the easiest solution. I am really happy, as it will simplify my life. Planning in earnest to get going on this after xmas. Work has been very demanding lately (good news, I got promoted. Bad news, I got promoted) leaving so little time to get ahead on the big projects. Then a flu got me for 2 weeks so I could not bear sawdust… very bad timing for this to happen right before the holidays.

Maple cabinets on their way, which explains all the experiments with maple finishing in a previous project post. I invested in the wood (300 board feet of hard maple) so that looking at it will drive me crazy. I used a small amount to make cutting boards (good practice). Just can’t wait to get back to it.

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