Part 2 – Stein Residence, Alberta

Part 2 – Stein Residence, Alberta (PDF)

  • Belle, Toronto

    John I was interested to see your solution because the exercise presented many challenges wherever the kitchen was located. I have one question about where you placed the stove.Is it possible to put a vent over the stove as this is a two story house?

  • Brad Waters


    For me, your plan is not differentiated enough from the original design. In effect, the corridor is retained with the wall at the back entry and the cooking station. Wasn’t the goal to open this up? If cost permits, I do like straightening the back wall.

    By closing the south window, the fridge, stove, pantry, etc. can be moved to the south wall. A large island with sink completes the kitchen. A console, shown in grey, and visible from the front entry provides storage and an opportunity to display art or to create an indoor green space (a nod to the 70s). The overall effect is spacious, open and light filled.


  • John Brown

    A perceptive question.

    The solution for venting in this kind of situation is a downdraft unit. It is installed behind the cooktop and extends up about 8″ when the fan is turned on. It sucks the cooking fumes down and through a flue concealed in the floor, exiting out the wall. It is an effective way to put a stove in the middle of a space when you either don’t want, or can’t have a vertical flue.

  • John Brown


    I appreciate the criticism.

    To some extent I agree. The existing corridor is not really wide enough to be a good entry. On the other hand, I think that opening up the entry entirely to the kitchen runs the danger of making the whole lower corner of the kitchen messy and cluttered. It would take a fair bit of discipline to get a family to put everything in the closet.

    By the way, I really like your solution for the powder room. Relocating the door to the side wall is much nicer.

    Although I didn’t really think about this at the beginning, I am starting to feel that a proper resolution of the back entry is actually one the most important aspects of the design project. As yet I don’t think we have seen a scheme (including mine) that really addresses it well.

  • Louis Pereira

    John – I was reviewing the Design Brief again but couldn’t find much on the back entry. What are the Stein’s specific requirements for that space? There seems to be adequate room, in my opinion with that Walk-in Storage of the back door, so is it more floor space or width of entry that you think is the issue?…

  • John Brown

    I agree about the walk in closet – it is actually a luxury at a back door. My concern is more about creating some kind of transition space that is separate from the main kitchen space. Two teenagers tend to leave a lot of stuff at the back door.

  • Louis Pereira

    Not sure if this resolves matters much for the back entry. Just thought i would attempt an improvement on my scheme from yesterday.


  • Roy

    Brad – agree that access to the back garden should have more consideration. Especially if the client does any outdoor cooking – we use our BBQ all the time. Also agree with John that the back entry needs more thought.

    I think the corner glass is a feature that is very special and should be an important part of the final design.

    Have uploaded a very rough drawing using some of Brad’s ideas but with a raised eating bar island and garden doors for an entry. Great spot for family and friends to gather and discuss the day’s events or sample a glass of wine before dinner. Perfect for breakfast too.

    Sorry about the ugly proportions ;) Hopefully it contributes to the discussion.


  • Paul C

    Your design helps me reconcile one of the questions I had regarding the demolition plan. I suspected given the vintage of the home (likely conventional lumber joists with shorter spans) and the location of the “hallway” walls that these partitions may have been used as mechanical and or bearing walls. By removing all of them, this could have posed a costly retrofit if the floor structure and mechanical had to be rethought. By including a new partition (behind the fridge) this may offset some of those retrofit challenges.

    Again, I was making some assumptions as to joist direction and location of mechanical/bearing walls but looking at the existing plan, it seemed reasonable.

  • Gerard Cadger

    I would like to see more use made of the corner area in terms of interaction with the outside environment. Instead of turning the Steins away from the window, I propose building a curved bench to face the window and provide a pleasant reading or thinking nook. That kind of cob bench could provide storage behind the backrest and an opportunity for some stained glass? I personally think tradition requires every person in the room to see the person entering the door. The way John opened up the room is great, but creating the constricted corridor seems counter-intuitive. A more dynamic environment could be generated by “layering” the perimeter of the kitchen. I think this space is crying for columns, artistically aligned to give the flow some character. The flow from right-left could be manipulated by sliding doors which retract into the wall at the top left of dining room. Kitchen becomes open or closed on that side, while defined on the left by the curved cob bench. The layer on the left would be wooden columns rising from the bench. I also think the kitchen should stretch along the top wall in one continuous counter, but the stove must be a part of that like Brad said. What I think is great about this open space is how it could be used for everything from an intense cooking night to a high class dinner to a party… it leaves room for change. There is a nice private nook to contrast the openness, which in turn can be closed by sliding doors which extend down enough to create a relatively closed dining area. Wonderful space… very open.

  • John Brown

    I think this scheme for the back entry works quite well. Thanks.

  • Garry, Calgary

    Hi there,

    I just want to thank John for such a user friendly website. I must apologize because I have no degree in architecture, I live in suburbia (I admit that I am an evil contributor to urban sprawl but hope to move to inner city one day), and I really have no experience in design whatsoever. However, I do hope to learn from this website and only hope to become a fraction of all you amazing, creative, architects.

    I had a lot of problems with the mac version of paint brush and I am so disappointed because I love everything mac. So I will be doing most of these exercises from my pc.

    I guess to explain what I’m trying to do. The big boxy thing in the middle separating the dining room and kitchen is a fridge. I was thinking one of those nice sub-zero type fridges with the see through glass doors. It’s surrounded by some millwork and I thought of having a frosted sliding glass door to partition the open galley-way for more privacy.

    On the other side I decided to have a drop down eating bar but still an extension of the island. I liked the idea of having a wall to partition between the kitchen and the mudroom. I loved the idea of the entrance to the powder room through the mud-room but also wanted to include a little bench.

    Sorry for the hack job and my poor proportions but I do hope to learn loads from my first post. Cheers.


  • Brad Waters

    Is too much emphasis being placed on the back entry? During the photo shoot things can be put away. Real life for most means some clutter. It also means living in the kitchen. The client has teenagers soon off to university and their own lives. Better to have a well designed kitchen than the ultimate back entry.

    For me, the space needs to be open and I am willing to compromise on the back entry. This is not to say it does get consideration. Further, I wonder about the client’s desire to reduce the number of dining areas. I would think it would be wonderful to sit, eat, drink and read at both the front and back locations as in the original design but with a great island and art console dividing the space. I also really like the idea of a folding back glass wall (an expensive option, but John inspired it by straightening the back wall – what is a little more steel). Integrated with a great patio you could blur the boundary between the inside and the outside to extend the space dramatically.

  • Louis Pereira

    Speaking of Back Entry…(HAHA)

    What about this option? – note the change to the Back Door Entry. Also, you can see that i’ve maintained that distance away from the South Wall – something keeps pulling me away from there – i think it’s because i’d rather widen the kitchen (up and down) instead of it. I think this proportion better suits the space.


  • John Brown

    Congrats on the first plan. I know what you mean about the Mac. It is really odd that Windows has a much more elegant drawing program.

    In terms of the kitchen I think you have done a good thing by creating an object between the dining and kitchen areas that both separates the two spaces while still allowing them to feel connected. I don’t think you really need the glass sliding door.

    I can also see the advantages of transforming the end of the island into an informal eating area with stools on both sides.

    This scheme does, however, leave a fairly large undefined area between the island and the stair (see sketch).


  • James Scott

    I’m still attached to Louis’ first plan from yesterday. There is still plenty of light coming into the kitchen from other areas of the home, it’s open and each area invites you to the next. As well I liked the concept of varying the degree of separation between the kitchen and the dining area with the options suggested in the duscussion.

    From MY personal perspective I really like the away room or study or quiet room concept. I come from a family of nappers, as well we like to read and some times you need to get completely away. Some days everyone naps, great, but others you may be the only one and need to hide. Unfortunately a good nap just doesn’t happen in one’s bedroom. This quiet space could be the best room in the house. IMHO

  • Thea

    I like Louis sun room as well. Eastern light in the morning for coffee sounds great to me! I would however put a half wall between the kitchen and the coffee room as we don’t have time for coffee every morning and it would still be nice to get some eastern light. Opening us some of that southern wall would be nice as well.

  • Louis Pereira

    Thea – Interesting point about allowing Eastern light into the kitchen from the ‘sun’ room. In an earlier discussion John had with Belle, he mentioned the use of a downdraft for the Stove. With no need for a range hood then, you could incorporate some sliding glass panels – like David suggested in a Part 1 discussion – in either a clear or frost for finish.

    Photo: Mantel Residence by Splyce Design


  • Lisa

    I liked the wall John added in the back entry, since I had just about the same thing in my drawing (I can’t do it on my computer–lack of proper program!) I retained the entire walk-in closet, however, and put a bench along the new wall next to the door. The wall in my drawing wasn’t as close to the door so that there was room for the bench.
    A way to make the ‘hallway’ less dark may be by adding openings or windows high in the wall–but only if the ceiling is high enough.

    I also like John’s little sitting spot by the east window. I might prefer a separate spot not a part of the kitchen counter, though (so people wouldn’t have to turn around completely for the view).

  • John Brown

    I like your idea of moving the wall over to make room for a bench. I think that would be a very convenient place to sit and take off your boots, etc.

    I am also very happy to hear you are drawing on paper. That was the original intention when we first started doing these exercises because that is how first year architecture students start out. If you are going to continue doing the exercises by hand, which I heartily recommend, I suggest that you go and buy some (transparent) tracing paper. You can buy it in 8.5×11 sheets or in a roll (yellow or clear available form any drafting store or perhaps art store).

    Place the tracing paper over the original printout and then trace the parts of the plan you want to keep and draw in the new parts. You can overlay another piece on top of the first to try a different option. You can also trace your furniture on it and then move it around on top of the base plan. When you are finished you just put a fresh piece of trace on top and trace everything.

    Even in this digital age, architects use tracing paper and a good felt tip pen ALL the time. I go through a roll a week in my practice. It is a really good way to learn about design.