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your one kitchen design tip

Inspired by the "one cooking tip" thread on the Home Cooking board, I ask the same about kitchen design. We're designing a brand-new kitchen and have to decide on everything -- appliances, cabinets, counters, sinks, layout, accessories, etc. What's your best tip?

I'm sure I'll be posting again with more specific questions about appliance brands and things like that after I spend more time researching the board, but I wanted to start with a big, broad question.


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  1. A well-organized pantry. No matter what you have in the way of expensive appliances, counters, etc., you will be using staples, spices and the like every single day. You need a place to see what you have, store your extras, and restock with ease.

    1 Reply
    1. re: brendastarlet

      Well here are a couple. I spent plenty of time researching appliances, cabinets, faucets, sinks and so on. I didn't spend as much time on the hood and I got talked into getting a bigger one in terms of CFM that I needed. It is louder then I care for. It does the job but I think the one I originally wanted would have done the job too. My advice is find a place where you can test them out and see how loud they are.

      We have a combination of drawers and pull out shelves for the lower cabinets. I prefer the pull-outs for pots and pans becuase they are easier to get at. I know all drawers is the current fav but not mine.

    2. I know you said one tip but...

      This might be obvious, but make sure your dishwasher is conveniently located - the dishes, flatware, glassware etc. should all be stored close to the dishwasher for easy unloading.

      In the same vein, your cooktop/range should be located close to the sink. (In my brother's kitchen, the cooktop is located on the other side of the kitchen from the sink. This drives him crazy because he has to carry steaming pots of food across the kitchen if he has to drain anything etc. Particularly bad with 2 small children in the house.)

      If anybody who is going to be using this kitchen is a baker - a marble, granite or even stainless steel "baking station" is nice - provides a cool service for rolling out dough.

      Good luck with the new kitchen!

      1. I know that you asked for one tip, but five years after designing a kitchen from the dirt up, I cannot name "the best". So, some favorites off the top of my head:

        Install twice as many electric outlets as you think you'll need. They're dirt cheap during the build and pricey afterwards. I haven't been sorry.

        Task lighting (and lots of it) on dimmer switches - ditto for the $$$ as above.

        Buy the best of everything that you can afford. By "best" I do not mean most trendy or what gets a lot of press. Quality will naver be cheap at the onset but is a bargain over the long run.

        I love/adore/cherish my large drawers for storage. Several cabinetmakers refused to take this job because I insisted on them. I have never been sorry and their comment "it will look like a bedroom dresser" is 100% false. I use them for everything from plates & saucers to heavy platters and serving implements. Each drawer is rated at 200 lbs and I would rescue them in a fire if possible. I installed them under the cooktop, under the island and under the peninsula. The ready-to-go, easy answer for this storage is the cabinet with pullout shelf. No, thank you. This requires three hands (one ea to open the cabinet doors and the third to slide out the shelf.) Bad news if you're doing anything messy. Drawers take a single finger if you use good hardware.

        I've just returned from a long roadtrip and cooked in many different kitchens along the way. DO NOT install your cooktop in front of a window unless your hobby is cleaning grease off glass. Lovely view of the Mendocino Coast but a giant PITA for cleanup.

        Heavy duty garbage disposals.

        Both potfill and shelf over the cooktop are a boon and used for many other tasks than I originally envisioned.

        Installed very heavy-duty beams (4X12) for the potrack, electricity as well. I could dance on the potrack with nary a problem. I haven't found lighting under it to be necessary so I wasted $25 for the low-voltage hookups, but someday .......... maybe.

        Havr a wonderful time on your project.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Sherri

          Good tips.

          Here is one I like to remind folks: I can change pretty much anything BEFORE it is ordered FOR FREE, afterward, IT'LL COST SOMEBODY....

          1. re: Sherri

            enthusiastically seconding the recommendation on the huge sturdy drawers. So much better than any other form of storage I've come across.

            The other thing I can recommend is a place for someone to sit and keep you company without getting underfoot while you're cooking.

            1. re: Sherri

              Love the idea of the potfill over the cooktop, I definitely will try to incorporate this if it's not too much $$.

              1. re: Sherri

                May I add one more to my not-so-short list? On an unused wall in an adjacent room, I had a carpenter install floor-to-ceiling shelves (wall-to-wall) that are 4" deep. This is the perfect size for a single can, jar, box and allows everything to be seen at a single glance.

                1. re: Sherri

                  I like this one! Not necessarily just for whole walls, which I don't really have a good supply of that I would like to use for this, but I might have some small spaces where I could squeeze a few of these in to get just a little bit of storage for this and that. Gonna check when I get home. ;-) I'm thinking of next to a cabinet and need to see if there would still be room to open the cabinet door....

                  1. re: CrazyOne

                    Even using the space between wall studs (after removing the wallboard of course) where extra space is tight works. Also, the forgotten space behind doors is a good spot because this is not too deep. I used a large can of tomatoes as my benchmark and varied the heights of the shelves. It has been a boon!

              2. Smooth stove tops...my sister built this huge home in Chicago at the same time we were building ours in the Atlanta area. She really regrets the stove she bought-so many nooks and crannies to clean. I love my smooth-top range-cleaning is a breeze and the thing heats up so fast-I don't even miss my old gas range.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Bryarsmom

                  I am curious about the smooth cooktop. My stepmother always claimed she could burn water, and the smooth cooktop is proving her point. If any liquid (yes - even water) is on the pot when she cooks, she ends up with a burn't on mess that takes a heck of a lot of elbow grease to clean off the stove. Any experience with that?

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    my mom has a smooth cooktop and it seems like she is always cleaning it obsessively.
                    it also stays very hot for a long time after the heat has been turned off, and i've burned the everliving F&*& out of myself grabbing a red-hot prep bowl off of the top of the stove-- after the cooktop had been turned off for the entire meal & i was just cleaning up. these things are just dangerous imo-- but i cook with gas at work and home and so i'm used to that-- turn the burner off and the heat's gone, duh.

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      One summer we all rented a beach house that had one of those cooktops and I remember how we all kept remarking on how dangerous it was. Maybe new ones are better now? I don't know, but I'm sticking with gas and burners myself.

                      1. re: flourgirl

                        I have to say, this is the one thing I wish I had NOT done in my kitchen. The prior owners had electric and my husband talked me into keeping it instead of going to gas (even tho putting in the line wouldn't have been an issue). We have the glass top - it looks lovely, works fine (after a couple of weeks of getting used to it), I kind of like that I can use it as extra counter space when it's not in use), however, it can be dangerous as others have mentioned if you forget that it's been on, and; no matter how hard you clean it, never expect it to look as beautiful as it did the day it arrived. I'm pretty good about keeping it clean, but there are just some things which are a real problem to get off of it! I also miss being able to have that fine adjustment of heat, and even though I have 5 burners (one even oversized), none of them are small enough to accommodate some of the smaller pans I have, so you have to be pretty careful at times!

                        1. re: sivyaleah

                          We just got a flat top stove a couple months ago. Ours comes with warning lights that show which burners are hot (not on specifically, just if they are hot) and two burners which can be switched from a small cooking space to a large cooking space. We got a metal scraper and cleaner designed for it and it cleans up quite nicely.

                2. I did my kitchen a couple years ago. I love the large single sink that we installed. It is great to put large pots and pans to soak. And since we have a dishwasher, there really is no need for a double sink. Also installed a second bar sink on the opposite end of the kitchen, this also comes in very handy. Especially if there are two or more in the kitchen. Have fun and enjoy.

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: EWIOBR

                      yes a second sink somewhere if you have the space-- so nice, even a small wet-bar syle one

                      1. re: EWIOBR

                        A large bowl is great, and a gooseneck faucet. There are two bowl sinks with one large bowl that are fine, too. I'm not the greatest at doing dishes immediately so Iike having the little side bowl for cutting veggies over. And an oversink cutting board.

                      2. More ventilation than you think you'll need. I can't say this enough if you use a cast iron grill, a wok, if you fry food, make pungent sauces, make fish. I'm sorry -- real cooks make smoke and send cooking orders into the air. They also use all the burners sometimes and that can overwhelm a small system. Avoid downdraft as though it were a plague. The stores will be happy to sell you a minimal system. Buy one that is much bigger than the spec says you need. It should pose a sucking hazard to passersby.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: RGC1982

                          That is great advice. Is there a system you recommend?

                        2. jfood two biggest tips (buy one get one free concept):

                          1 - do not go for painted cabinets. they are very difficult for upkeep
                          2 - if you go natural stone counters go to the stone yard and choose your EXACT slabs and have your name written on the side of the slabs.

                            1. re: purple goddess

                              Can you make specific recs? Cork? Rubber? Something else? Thanks.

                              1. re: fauchon

                                I wouldn't trade my hardwood floors for anything. I've heard that cork is terrific too. Linoleum is super and now is available is trendy colors - wears like iron! Look for resilience.
                                Had beautiful tile and ripped it up. My feet, legs and back thank me every day!

                                1. re: fauchon

                                  Cork floors are sooo soft. But you can't lay them over existing flooring so the installation is pricy. My dad had a rubber floor that was actually pretty functional, needed a special sealer occassionally but held up well for 40 years.

                                  1. re: mlgb

                                    Don't you want to rip out the old flooring? When you keep layering floors, the transitions between rooms start to vary up to one inch or more in some cases. This is more than an esthetic issue -- you can trip over it and so can your elderly relatives (assuming you have them).

                              2. Pull out drawers in the cabinets. Don't skimp on this. Will really come in handy as you get older too :-)

                                1. Lots of drawers rather than doors, with pot and pan drawers use heavy duty glides. As for glides and hinges, make sure they are good quality.

                                  1. All these suggestions make me drool a little and, since I agree, I won't repeat. But here's another tangent to consider.

                                    If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, make sure it's not only functional, but beautiful. And not just beautiful from a design mag standpoint, but from your own.

                                    My 115 yr old house still has the cabinets carcases (inch-thick solid wood!) from a 1930s re-do, along with the not-so-expansive countertops, shallow drawers and limited storage. We've done some practical (good sink, good range, new floor)) and ergonomic (raising countertops, as we're all pretty tall) fixes over the past 20 years, but the number one consideration for us has always been: is this a room we want to *be* in as well as cook in. Our kitchen is aesthetically idiosynchratic, yes, but the center of our home in every sense. Make room for art (we have paintings screwed to our ceiling!), maybe a freestanding breakfront or dresser for linens if you can, odd colors that "only you" love and any other thing that you like but "nobody" else is doing and hence might be off the table. Be bold, and be personal.

                                    I know this doesn't help with work-triangle issues or product selection, But I hope it makes you consider the elusive ingredient that is personality. I hear the "we' in your question, so it's got to be collaborative (yikes, we've had quibbles about that over the years), but if you and your SO come up with a "feeling" for your kitchen end result as well as a "look", you'll be that much happier.

                                    (But now I am going to heckle my handy Hub on the deep pantry drawers he's supposed to be making for me. Deeply personal aesthetics are nice, but I also really, really want the drawer storage!)

                                    Good luck! I love vicarious kitchen projects!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                      Because many kitchens are designed around the location of fridge, range, dishwasher and sinks a proper-size food preparation area is often ignored. I would recommend at least 4-5 feet wide and 24-30" deep of unencumbered work surface in either wood or stainless steel with a large marble slab for baking purposes. And, if you can, do not install any cabinets over this prep area. Instead leave room for pot hangers and/or spice racks.

                                    2. A cabinet section with space for all the cookie sheets, trays, baking pans, etc. to stand on end instead of stacking. Why, oh why is the very one I want always on the bottom?

                                      Don't overplan. Make everything flexible. All those specially fitted drawers and racks for things run costs up and the way you cook today might not be the way you cook in 5 or 10 years. You can always buy changeable things to put inside cabinets and drawers that are adaptable.

                                      1. There was a thread on this already, but 2 dishwashers. It helps me hide dishes and clean as I go as there is usually an open washer to put stuff in as I dirty them.

                                        1. Get a year's subscription to Consumer Reoirts online (only $26 for a year) and check out their current article on kitchen design. They claim they can save you big bucks.

                                          1. Make sure you get a high end sink. One that is extra deep. The price may shock you, but it is SO worth it in the end. My Franke sink is a work of art, and functional, besides. The quality of the stainless steel is completely different from that of the mass marketed brands.

                                            As well, don't lt your head be turned by advertising when choosing appliances. Talk to everyone you know and/or can find about how the various brands REALLY perform. Salesmen often have a "commission axe" to grind. I found Consumer Reports on line extremely helpful in this area, as well.

                                            12 Replies
                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                              Yes, a really deep sink is great. I have a very deep sink and it makes it much easier to wash very large pots and pans.

                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                Very deep and very large sink -- I packed my biggest stock pot and full sheet pans during my kitchen hunt. So glad that I did because if they didn't fit, I moved on to another choice. I hate to imagine the rest of my life spent with a cramped sink washing large pans one side at a time.

                                              2. re: ChefJune

                                                Gotta disagree about a deep sink. For every one big pot, I have to bend over to reach to the bottom to get thousands of plates and knives and vegetables and other things. I'm only 5'3" tall and a deep sink breaks my back. I can fill a big pot with water in a shallow sink which is what I do now since I got rid of that awful back-breaking deep torture device.
                                                I have pots that don't fit in any home sink. The bathtub will do or outside with a garden hose.

                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                  It just goes to show how personal kitchen design is and there are no "one size fits all" solutions.

                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                    So true. Another thing to consider unless you absolutely KNOW that you are going to stay in your house for a very long time. Don't spend a great deal of money on something very personal that a purchaser might hate. Keep things mainstream.
                                                    For instance: extra height base cabinets for very tall people - great if you'll live there for years but could kill a sale to regular height purchasers if you plan on selling in just a few years.
                                                    I could easily replace a deep sink that I didn't like but not want to replace all the cabinets (and countertops) in a kitchen designed for a tall family. No sale!

                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                      Great advice from both flourgirl and Making Sense. I'm middle-of-the-road average height and lowered my cooktop three inches to peer inside tall pots and facilitate flipping skillets. We plan to be carried out of here feet first, so re-sale didn't seriously enter our plans.

                                                  2. re: MakingSense

                                                    I'm 5', and don't have that problem at all. Love my deep sink. I hated looking at dirty dishes peering out of the sink, the deep one hides just about everything when you don't have the time to get right to them. It's amazing the amount of things that can fit into it.

                                                    Mine is one of those composite granite ones, a nice pitch black, doesn't scratch, chip or anything and always looks clean no matter what.

                                                  3. re: ChefJune

                                                    I'll third the Consumer Reports recommendation. We have used them in selecting our dishwasher, our fridge, our washer, our dryer, and our wine cooler. We have been beyond pleased with everything we bought and have had minimal service issues.

                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                      Strangely enough, the Consumer Reports issue says it is NOT worth it to buy an high end stainless steel sink. I actually like my porcelain on cast iron (Kohler) which didn't cost me a whole lot. It's got one larger deeping bowl (10 inches more or less) and one shallow one for the disposal.

                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                        Consumer Reports is an OK resource for low-mid level appliances. They don't know anything when it comes to testing and rating high-end appliances. Talking to users of equipment you are interested in is a much better way to get real information.

                                                        1. re: SuperCorona

                                                          They had actually done an issue of high end appliances when we were looking for ours - Viking and Wolf ranges, Sub-Zero fridges, etc.

                                                      2. 1 - Undercabinet lighting (we have Xenon bulbs which have lasted 5+ years). It does WONDERS for the mood of my kitchen and removes that 'black hole' feeling that you can get on kitchen countertops. I have them on a separate switch so I can turn off all of the overhead lights and have a nice glow in the kitchen which can be seen from the other rooms on the first floor. Very inviting.
                                                        2 - If space is no issue have trash storage next to your primary food prep place (for me, it's a pull-out trash drawer the island) AND next to your sink. Makes it easier to have 2 people prepping.
                                                        3 - I love my dual-fuel Thermadore 6-burner range. The oven self-cleaning.

                                                        Enjoy!! I remember having such fun designing my kitchen!!

                                                        1. My mother always had two drawers lined in what can best be described as custom-fitted stainless steel boxes....one for flour and one for sugar. You just pulled out the drawer, slid back the lid on either or both and were good to go. Do they even make these any more? I've always wanted to add them to my kitchen.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: pilotgirl210

                                                            I remember seeing them in oooold kitchens. have always been afraid that those would get bugs.

                                                            1. re: xnyorkr

                                                              Yes, I would NOT put anything like this in my kitchen. I could just imagine the ant parade in and out of the house. Ugh.

                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                Actually, where we live, it is very arid and bugs have never been a problem. Just lucky, I guess. I'd love to have them in my kitchen. They were great.

                                                          2. I've never had a custom-made kitchen (ahh, someday...), but have known a couple of people who have. My single favorite feature in their kitchens is the easily accessible lower cabinets. The bottoms are made like "drawers"--you can actually pull them out so you can reach everything, even the way in the back stuff. It must be so nice to not have to empty out half a cabinet, then crawl in with a flashlight to retrieve the item you were looking for.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: foodstorm

                                                              I have two pull out lower shelves and two pot drawers. Love them all. Those pull out drawers really are wonderful. In fact, my biggest mistake in my kitchen was not having pull out shelves installed in the pantry cabinet. We cheaped out at that point and now I'm going to have to add them with a kit (because I am sick to death of losing stuff in the back and having to pull out half the stuff to find anything...)

                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                Check out a European pull-out whole system. I have a 15" wide, 4 ft tall cabinet with in insert that pulls out straight forward and is visible and useable from both sides. It is a wonder and I've been very happy that I insisted on this.. Don't know if there are USA producers of this, but Europeans have the market locked.

                                                                Because absolutely everything is instantly available, nothing is lost to the far reaches of the deep, dark back.

                                                                1. re: Sherri

                                                                  These are very cool but if they are very wide and tall, the are heavy once they are loaded.

                                                            2. redid our 47 year old kitchen. cork floors love them. stainless steell counter near cooktop which is gas 4 burners and grill. used stainless steel for backsplash too which makes clean up a snap. if there was 'one tip' i would recommend, it would have to be personalize it to the way you cook. i went through 4 designers who wanted to make their dream kitchen for me. picked the 5th because she wanted to make my dream kitchen. so think of the way you cook and your preferred traffic and plan around that. the rest will fall into place.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: foodwich

                                                                I need to redo my kitchen floor. Can you give me more details about your cork floor? How do you maintain it? Does it have a shiny or matte finish?

                                                                1. re: fauchon

                                                                  we used cork which comes in longish planks. its stuck on to the subfloor. we redid the whole floor so put in a new subfloor. very very easy to maintain. its not very shiny sort of midway between shiny and matte. cleaning is a breeze with hot water and at present i use lemon scented all purpose cleaner. so mopping with this every week or so and the floor is clean enough to sit and browse recipes on. the cork comes in different colors but we have what looks like cork. hope this helps.

                                                                  1. re: fauchon

                                                                    As a Realtor I have been in many many houses as you can imagine. I live in Bloomington, IN and it is a university town. Many of the older homes built in the 50's near campus have original cork floors in the,. Some have been waxed quite a bit over the years some have just been maintained by washing. They still look good.

                                                                    1. re: foodwich

                                                                      Foodwich, I think you've hit the nail directly on the head -- make it YOUR kitchen, not mine, not your neighbor's, not some fantasy advertisement. YOURS!

                                                                      CHs can talk all day about which countertop tops others, high-ticket appliances - I'm guilty of this myself. But for this to be YOUR kitchen, you'll need to do a lot thinking about what YOU want.

                                                                      I have a friend who was talked into extra-deep countertops and a really huge island by a "name" kitchen designer. Today she cannot open a window in her luxury kitchen because she cannot reach across what was someone else's idea of a great idea. Ditto for cleaning or even using the center two feet of the island. It is dead space unless she climbs aboard.

                                                                    2. Couple of thoughts:
                                                                      1) INDUCTION cooktop/double oven. Go to www.theinductionsite.com for a brilliant review of why induction cooking beats gas hands down (don't even need to compare with electric, they're obviously yucky.) And induction captures the pluses of a smooth cooktop surface-- plus no residual heat to burn messes on the stove or little fingers-- plus way more energy efficient-- kitchen stays cooler during cooking-- etc etc.

                                                                      2) Make sure you wire for the electric demands of tomorrow. Don't put in 10 wire/30 amp circuit breakers just because that's what your CURRENT oven requires. Put in that 6 wire/40 amp circuit, which allows for someone, someday to put in a 50 amp breaker for something that needs more juice. I'm facing a potential $15k rewire in my kitchen, or having to downsize my dream, to fit within the current 30 amp "footprint" and it's enough to make me want to kill the builder. Like someone else said, cheap during the build but hugely expensive later.

                                                                      3) Window seat if possible. Great place to hang while watching someone cook, or to wake up while waiting for waffles, or to chat during a party. Always the most popular seat in the house (and a great location for some big storage drawers too.)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: salsera

                                                                        Get another quote if the KITCHEN rewire is $15,000 -- I have built entire 4000 sq. ft. houses that don't have anywhere that much in electrical expense. I think you may have some misconceptions over how much amperage household kitchen electrical require. You cannot install a stove down the road that requires 50 amps if the circuit you install today is 40 amp. I suspect that if you got a range with enough induction units and large enough ovens it might require 60 amp circuits, but that is going to be one monster stove! If you have a home with only a 30 amp circuit for the stove you need to upgrade that circuit. If that total electrical load of your entire kitchen is greater than what your total current service will allow, all the service needs to be upgraded. In most homes that were built after electricity was commonly available a service upgrade should cost no more than a few thousand dollars. In some localities if you have very old "knob & tube" service or other outmoded wiring you might have to run new wires to every part of the old structure, and this would be more costly, but is fortunately not very common.

                                                                        You really can't build too much "for tomorrow" as the future might have far more efficient appliances and/or other dramatic changes.

                                                                        These kind of things are not just related to electric service. I have done work in older house where even the gas service was deemed inadequate and upgrades were needed, fortunately that was confined only to the kitchen and furnace. Oil burners can require an EPA-style clean-up for the buried tanks. Homes with very old plumbing can also require costly upgrades. If a homeowner has an old and poorly maintained septic system this too can effect remodels.

                                                                        I don't think most people think of these things in the same way they do of "design" issues, but they impact what a "dream kitchen" can be (and also what money is left over for cooking chow in it!)

                                                                      2. Second the several comments above about using big deep drawers. I put in several and my only regret is I didn't put in more.

                                                                        If you are a serious cook, as I would assume from the fact that you posted your question here, the most important single thing is to have a serious range or cooktop. If you don't want gas and will go to electric, I can't say much from personal experience but would suggest you take a look at induction. If you are going with gas, it's hard to beat the cooking power of a Bluestar. I'm very pleased with mine. It's the closest you will get to real commercial power in the home kitchen. Even makes Chinese cooking with a real wok a breeze. Only downside is, if you're a compulsive neat freak, its open burners are not the easiest to keep showroom spotless. But they develop a nice patina over time, and showroom spotless doesn't have much place in a serious kitchen anyway IMO.

                                                                        1. Be sure that you have a "cooking triangle" going. I can't tell you how many million dollar kitchens I have worked in that are poorly laid out for someone who really cooks.
                                                                          You want to have a manageable triangle between the refrigerator (be sure that it opens towards the active center of the kitchen), the stove and the sink.
                                                                          I love my Wolf stovetop, and I was able to buy the floor model at P.C. Richards for half price. fayefood.com

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: fayehess

                                                                            Make sure that you have work/counterspace around each element in your triangle. When you take something out of the fridge or oven, where will you put it down? If you add a sink to the island, will you sacrifice too much workspace or splash water on someone reading the newspaper?
                                                                            An island with storage under it and a heavy stone countertop weight a LOT. More than you might imagine. You might need to double the supporting joists in the kitchen to keep the floor from sagging.

                                                                            1. re: fayehess

                                                                              I have one of those kitchens--minus the million dollars. My kitchen looks like someone probably spent TENS of dollars on it, maybe, if they were really extravagant.

                                                                              I suppose, technically, I have a triangle, but it's not a workable one. The stove and the refrigerator are in the northeast corner of my kitchen, the corner that the chimney runs up. There is NO COUNTER SPACE anywhere near the stove. All the counters and cabinets are on the west wall of the kitchen. (This is a good-sized space, too, probably twelve by fourteen feet.) They're cheap cabinets, and they slope away from the sink on both sides.

                                                                              There is one of those pullout cutting boards--IN THE SOUTHWEST CORNER OF THE KITCHEN! Get the picture? Now let me add one more detail. The support in the cabinet for that pullout cutting board is broken, so it has a slope to it if you try to use it in its original place. I gave up fairly quickly. Imagine slicing green onions and carrots on this thing. I pulled it out and set it on the counter top.

                                                                              When they put in central heat and AC they lowered the ceiling in all the first-floor rooms. The one in the kitchen is about three feet lower than the original ceiling--it's a suspended acoustical tile ceiling. REAL BAD IDEA, especially since there is no hood over the stove, no exhaust fan, nothing. You can imagine how that tile looks after better than two decades in there.

                                                                              After a couple years trying to cook in this kitchen that was clearly designed by a non-cook, I got a little cart for my birthday. It has room on the counter for the cutting board, a little drop leaf where a cookbook can go, a utensil drawer and a cabinet, as well as a caddy for knives. But that's what it took to have a prep area by my stove. And because counter space is pretty limited, even though this is a large kitchen, last summer when I was away for a week Mike cut one of the cabinet doors so the microwave could go there, and took the door off the pantry space next to the kitchen (which, in another feat of design brilliance, OPENED IN) and we rigged up a way to put a light in there so it's actually a usable pantry now.

                                                                              How I would love to be made of money so I could make this monstrosity a more workable space!

                                                                            2. I'd love to have a foot pedal-operated sink, or at least an option to turn on the faucet using my feet instead of my hands, which would be great in those times when I've been handling raw meat, anything greasy, or dough.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: jacinthe

                                                                                Stupid of me to not know they made those for home kitchens. We have one on the boat and I LOVE it. So much easier than fiddling with hand-knobs.

                                                                              2. There are some very good ideas listed. My one tip is to make sure the kitchen functions the way you need it to. For example, if you cook while another person does the prep work then each of you need your own areas otherwise you will be tripping over each other. You can have the nicest appliances, newest countertop materials and deepest sinks but if your don't enjoy working in your kitchen you might find yourself making excuses not to use it as much.

                                                                                1. 1. Not only did Consumeer Reports find that many high-end/rendy appliance brands have poor repair records but the NYTimes reported that it can be really difficult to find repairmen outside of big cities.

                                                                                  2. For lower cabinets--yeah, drawers are find but always of fixed height, so there's always stuff that won't fit. And drawers eat lots of space and cost plenty. On the other hand, two dorrs opening to a cave w/a single shelf--often inconvenient and the doors are always blocking light and the hinges coming loose. So we pulled out the shelf and stuck in sliding weire baskets from effa or Ikea. wjhen rich, I will solve the door problem by having new cabinets with tambour doors. Doors that actually get out of you way--waht a concept!

                                                                                  3. At the building stage, adjustable-height countertops will cost more but are no problem for skilled tradesmen. Or a spring-loaded platform could be built into the under-cabinet space--the little setback rectangle that holds the cabs up and gives tioe clearance. it's always wasted pace.

                                                                                  4. If your contractor tries to talk you out of some special feature or other, saying it's not really any good, or otherwise vaguely running it down, here's what's happening. There's (probably) nothing wrong with the feature, it's just that your contractor has litttle or no experience with it and won't admit it). You can insist that he do it, but chances are he'll screw it up.

                                                                                  1. If you have corner cabinets, lazy susans are inexpensive ways to utilize the most space. Also, plan out where your trash and recycling station will be. If your area is like ours, we need to separate out our garbage from our recycling, and we have returnable bottles as well, so finding a closed up space in your kitchen for both or all three will be very useful to you.

                                                                                    Also, think about drawer pulls and door handles that are easy to clean, especially if you like to bake. Nothing's worse that trying to get little bits of dried dough out of a fancy-schmancy intricate handle that looked so good in the catalog.

                                                                                    I love having a space for trays and large items above my refrigerator. We put in an inexpensive tray divider that is perfect for utilizing that otherwise hard to reach place.

                                                                                    Don't let little areas go to waste -- we were able to use a small area on the end of our island for a cabinet that is just deep enough for cans and small boxes. Great use of space and easy to find things because they don't get lost in the back of the cabinet.

                                                                                    And if you don't have a good crock pot and toaster oven, invest now before your remodel. They will become your best friends when you do not have a kitchen.

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                                                                                    1. re: bards4

                                                                                      I love everyone's tips and I wanted to second the trash / recycling area. If you have the space for it, having a paper / cans / plastic and trash area is nice. That way, come recycle day, you don't have to seperate it.

                                                                                    2. One of the things I love most about my kitchen, and hate about others', is plentiful amounts of continuous counter space. My main work space is an island about 4 feet by 3 feet. I love love love to be able to set out ingredients, bowls, mise en place, whatever I need at the time. Three people can also use the island comfortably. It all depends on how you cook, of course. My architect suggested putting the stove in the island, which I did not want. I think I spend more time prepping than stirring pots, but it can easily go the other way. Our island has a lip and a couple bar stools, which is great when one cooks and the other wants to rest.

                                                                                      The other thing that works best for me is to think of the traditional kitchen triangle as stove, fridge, and work space, not sink. This is where I spend my time.

                                                                                      Kitchens can be too big. If you have to walk miles to get from one function to another, it adds up. I like having everything close to hand. The aisle between island and counter and stove behind me is not big, so I can turn easily from work space to stove. The downside to this is that it can get crowded with lots of people in the kitchen, or if one person is at the stove and another at the island. I think if we had kids I would want wider aisles.

                                                                                      If I had a little more space, though, I would add an extra sink. My husband and I cook together (or I cook and he cleans up after me), and one bottle neck is at the sink. I don't want to give up space on my island for a sink, but if I had a bigger island I would. The other traffic jam for us is the trashcan (under the sink).

                                                                                      My husband insisted on making sure that there was counter space by the sink to stack dirty dishes and counterspace between dishwasher and cabinet where the dishes would go. He was exactly right. I thought all the dirty dishes would go in our deep, divided sink, but I often need the sink available for cooking activities, so it's good to have another landing area for dirty dishes.

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                                                                                      1. re: cocktailhour

                                                                                        1)"Kitchens can be too big..." Having worked in professional kitchen that was too big, I agree wholeheartedly. Make sure the work triangle does not have you walking miles...
                                                                                        2)I now lust for a under-counter beverage refrigerator. This idea was mentioned elsewhere on chowhound and I so wish I had one now....

                                                                                      2. If I were to do it again I would have one counter lower than the others. The reason is for rolling out dough stuff. I am 5'4" and the standard height of countertops is hard on my back when working pastry etc. I should have installed 2 dishwashers too. One to wash and one to load especiallly when entertaining

                                                                                        1. Lots of good tips here which I incorporated in my recent remodel. Two that I don't think have been mentioned:

                                                                                          1) Foot-pedal operated trash bin. I have 2 built-in trash bins, one next to the clean up sink, one next to the prep sink. There's a kick pedal under each which pushes the bins out when my hands are full, which is really handy when you're trimming/boning chicken, etc. etc.

                                                                                          2) For the countertops we opted for a quartz material. I would definitely recommend going with a light-colored solid material (I have two different colors) as it makes cleaning the countertops easy because you can see the crumbs, spills, etc. at a glance. Part of my counter has a patterned look (like terrazzo) which is very attractive and "hides" the dirt, but it makes it hard to clean because you can't see the dirt. For the floors, though, I'd choose something that hides the dirt, e.g. a darker color.

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                                                                                          1. re: rcinsf

                                                                                            Absolutely agree with all these tips. We have light colored counters and fairly dark tile on the floor and it's a god send. I honest-to-god try my best to keep up with the floor cleaning but sometimes... let's just leave it that.

                                                                                            1. re: rcinsf

                                                                                              On that note about the color of countertops I've been told by friends that have black granite counters that they wish they never did it - they can always see the dust collecting on it. Are constantly wiping it up to keep it dustfree. It's amazing how much dust settles and how fast!

                                                                                              1. re: sivyaleah

                                                                                                i have shiny black granite countertop in my rented space and i hate it!

                                                                                                not only do you see the dust settling on it, but any dimness in sheen is immediately apparent. i've been dealing with a lot of grease from meats (a hundred pounds of smoked meat in one day) and it takes a lot of wiping down to really make sure it doesn't look like it's been greased up even if it doesn't feel like it anymore.

                                                                                              2. re: rcinsf

                                                                                                we moved into a house with white, 1 foot square tile in the kitchen. bone-chilling cold in mn winter, and constantly dirty-looking from the tiniest drip, dribble or back-door traffic with your arms loaded with cat food and groceries. what the *&^% were the people thinking? probably that a bridge would be a worthwhile investment. i can't wait to bash it out and put in some nice cork or wood. even restaurant high traffic terra-cotta would be better. anything!!! i could go on and on. don't put in white tiles if you plan on cooking in your kitchen at all. or if you ever plan on walking through the room. white tile is unsuitable for any room measuring over 50 foot square, or one that has more than one doorway leading into it. much less six, or any door which leads to the out-freaking side. it is a terrible thing to realize that you are enslaved to your kitchen floor. you're very apt find yourself first talking to the floor, then screaming at it, then arguing with it. then you find yourself committed.

                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                  I agree about white tile. The people we bought our home from put it in the master bath, and first floor bath. The master bath is HUGE and it shows up everything on it. It's impossible to keep clean. Even the first floor bath, which is rather small is a nuisance - every dust bunny that floats in from the front door winds up in it. Can't wait until we get around to re-doing both rooms.

                                                                                                  1. re: sivyaleah

                                                                                                    Yes, we're redoing a bath right now and the one thing I know for sure is we're using a slate-look ceramic tile on the floor with very dark grout.

                                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                      I like white floors. I always have. My M-I-L once asked me if I was sorry I had put in white and I said no. If the floor is dirty and needs to be cleaned I want to see it. I guess I am the odd one out here. In the food prep end of my kitchen I have dark green countertops, yes they show dust, finger prints etc. But I am wiping them down daily anyway. In the sunroom, dining end of my kitchen I have white ceramic tile flooring. I like it.

                                                                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                                                                        My girlfriend has white tile in her kitchen and it does look really nice. And she keeps it absolutely immaculate - with the help of a housekeeper. I don't have a house keeper - and what I DO have are a husband and a small son who seem to manage to drag in half of all the dirt in the world into my house - every day. If I had white floors in my kitchen I would be doing nothing but cleaning my floors constantly. I just can't be a slave to my floors - which is why we chose fairly dark tile in the kitchen.

                                                                                                    2. re: sivyaleah

                                                                                                      Like Candy below I like white tiles, but only in the baths. Jfood had large Mexican tile in his last house and knee and back pains were endless. This house the jfoods went with hardwood. A nice Persian runner in front of the cabinets allow for a nice look plus eases the back and knee strains

                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                        I asked my kids for a Gel Mat for a present, and it's great. I too have white tile in FL, and I hate it but it's too expensive to rip up. It was there when we bought the house, and tile is very hard on the body. I have and have had wood floors in my home in MI for over twenty five years, and I love them. Maybe when I win the lottery I can rip it all out and put in wood!!

                                                                                                2. Another tip: Google on "Arrol Gellner kitchen" (no quotes). He's an architect I know who has written newspaper columns on kitchen design.

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                                                                                                  1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                                                                    I know I am from the ark, but there was a time when the world's kitchens had vinyl, congoleum and yes, even linoleum underfoot-and, man, was it less difficult to spend a day slaving over a hot stove then than now! The years take a toll but so does stone/ceramic tile...IMHO

                                                                                                    1. re: LJS

                                                                                                      We've had maple flooring in our last 2 kitchens and swear by it. It is much softer on the feet than ceramic tile, and looks great. Every few years it does need to be stripped and refinished, but otherwise it is pretty easy to care for.

                                                                                                  2. Refrigeration drawers-- especially if you have small kids. Drinks could take up my entire fridge but we have a 48 inch subzero fridge/freezer with a wine fridge with double fridge doors underneath. Also, lots of drawers with glides that slowly retract instead of slamming. I spent 2 years researching our kitchen project. It has been finished for almost 2 years and I can honestly say that I LOVE it and would hardly change anything.

                                                                                                    1. My kitchen is old, 30 years, but what I put in then still works now. I had a large wooden block put in next to the sink, it is in place of the counter top, and in the dead space in the back I had the guy cut slits for all my knives. It is so convenient, and if you have small children, which I had at the time, there is no worry about them getting into them. I have painted the cabinets, have all new appliances, but the basic kitchen is the same. What fun to be able to do a whole new kitchen. Enjoy!!!

                                                                                                      1. The big, broad reply to your big broad question is TWO. Two sinks, two ranges, two separate work spaces.

                                                                                                        Jackp and I are usually in the kitchen at the same time and collide constantly (not neccessarily a bad thing, of course). When we expanded our kitchen we made sure we had plenty of counter space (yet we both gravitate to the same spot for food prep) and because we had enough room we put in a second full-sized sink and a second range.

                                                                                                        Having said that, here's what I'd change in my kitchen: the cabinet in which we keep the pots and pans in under the counter where we do most of our prep, so I'd certainly rethink that.

                                                                                                        Often it isn't the quality of the appliances you have, it's the layout of the kitchen that makes the difference between what is workable and what makes you scream. Take a look at traffic patterns and where you like to stand when you cook. It'll determine how you use your kitchen.

                                                                                                        1. Having an island in the kitchen is something I don't think I could do without.