Re: How are your great room and kitchen connected?
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2008 11:38:54 -0700 (PDT)

On Tue, Mar 11, 2008 at 11:18 AM, Muriel Kranowski <murielk [at]> wrote:

> At 02:01 PM 3/11/2008, Kristen wrote:
> >Does your kitchen completely open to the great room/dining room? What
> works
> >or doesn't work about this?
> Our kitchen isn't completely open to the great room.  It's
> significantly open with two large open passthru counters and one
> small passthru space (and two doors).  The counters are very handy
> for meals serving and clean-up, and you don't feel isolated when
> you're working in the kitchen.

Songaia has a converted garage as our dining general purpose room, with both
large and small openings to our kitchen. (unfortunately, both openings have
a step, but a ramp is also available).

There are two serving areas that we use routinely - an easy one - across
counters from the cooking area and a double-line one that is more work for
everybody, but offers faster service. There is a naturally circular route
that one can take from the dining room, through the large opening, through
the serving line, and back into the dining room through the small opening.
The same route works well for handling your individual dishes (we have two
pro-sumer dishwashers that we individually load after dinner).

> >Are you able to completely close off the kitchen from the great
> room/dining
> >room? What works and doesn't work about this?
> No, we can't close off the kitchen completely, and noise from the
> kitchen can be a problem at times.  We've always planned to have some
> kind of anti-noise panels that can be placed in the passthru openings
> to completely close them off when needed, but have not settled on a
> design that would be easy to operate, durable, affordable, wouldn't
> take up too much counter space, etc.  I hope one day we'll figure it out!

This was a really annoying problem that Songaia solved at a fairly modest
cost - which
is generally how we like to do things here.

We're really pleased with our, according to code, "operable wall" - it
slides open
and closed - and provides a quite sound-proof barrier for the larger
opening. It only has
a handle on one side and is heavy, both by design to discourages its use as
a "sliding door."
It has become something of a symbol to close the wall and generally only
with some intention - for example, we close it when we celebrate residents'
birthdays by asking our traditional "birthday questions" - then we open it
as the special,
by-request deserts are brought to singing and blowing out the candles (we
had our first
monthly birthdays, just last night)

(Some solutions that don't look like they would involve rocket
> science evidently ARE rocket science, or are they brain
> surgery?  Anyway, harder to do than you would think.)

Our wall wasn't rocket science, but it sure was a nice juicy project for our
figure-it-out folks (two architects, one engineer, and one Mr. Fix-it guy).
They puttered
around with different designs and it was entirely a do-it-yourself project
that used two
heavy, solid-core doors as the wall.

My hope is that these types of innovations find their way onto the Cohousing
but that will require more people to jump into the fray and help us
transform it into a
more valuable resource.


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