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How functional is your kitchen?

MaggieRSN Dec 12, 2007 12:17 AM

In terms of equipment (large and small), appliances, space planning, work stations?

What do you like about it, and what don't you? Is it convenient, efficient, pleasant for you? Give it a grade.

I got to design my kitchen and a separate pantry when we built our house about three years ago. If I had it to do over again...I would have made some different cosmetic/finishing choices, but in terms of functionality, I did a good job for the way we cook, eat and live in the kitchen. But...I'm always looking for new ideas re equipment, storage, just making my kitchen (since it's pretty much my "office") easier to use.

How 'bout you?

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  1. flourgirl RE: MaggieRSN Dec 12, 2007 03:55 AM

    When we renovated our kitchen, we took down a wall that divided the kitchen from a small formal dining room. I love my big kitchen, but because we eliminated the dining room, I had to leave the table in what was the "eat-in" portion of the kitchen instead of installing an island. I have 2 roll away carts that take the place of an island, which works pretty well. but I would still love to have an island. Also, a seperate pantry would be heaven. So, all in all, I'd say I have to give my kitchen a B.

    1. f
      filth RE: MaggieRSN Dec 12, 2007 04:03 AM

      I live in a 1100 sf "luxury" condo. Unfortunately, the luxury did not extend to the kitchen which is pretty standard for a unit like this (regular home range, worthless "exhaust"). It works but I wish I had the scratch to improve it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: filth
        flourgirl RE: filth Dec 12, 2007 04:30 AM

        Oh, thanks for reminding me. Our exhaust system is pretty worthless too. It's on the list of more ways to throw money at our house.

      2. j
        jujuthomas RE: MaggieRSN Dec 12, 2007 04:34 AM

        personally can't wait to reno my kitchen. the island wobbles, the cabinets don't all close (loose edging), the floor dips in one place - eek - not to mention the worthless to me grill in the island and the glass cutting board installed in the counter next to the sink. OH. and no pantry - I use the closet in the next room. Only good parts - the new french door fridge, microwave and dishwasher, installed as part of a deal that DH gets to build the garage-mahal before I tear out the kitchen. Overall, a D because I can and do still cook in it, but I hate it. ;-)

        1. jnk RE: MaggieRSN Dec 12, 2007 05:45 AM

          We're very happy with our kitchen renovation. The only issue is that we planned the location with a specific refrigerator in mind. When it came time to deliver the fridge, we were told by the store that the it ws no longer in production and that we would have to pick a different one (Yes, they gave us an even better deal on the second choice). We did but didn't take into consideration how close the unit was to the wall and how far the handle stuck out. We now have a side by side (which I loathe) whose left door (freezer) opens wide but whose refridg. door opens 90 degrees. To clean the inside I have to pull it out of the abinet and rotate it. Ughhhh!

          1. h
            hollerhither RE: MaggieRSN Dec 12, 2007 05:47 AM

            Buying our first house and the kitchen is where all the reno $ is going to be spent...thank goodness the cabinets are okay, Maytag gas oven is almost new and the fridge seems fine, but no exhaust fan (just bought a floor model Zephyr at deep discount), no dishwasher (probably buying KitchenAId), no disposal, and one, just one, terrible overhead light. The countertop is kind of...flourescent (considering Corian or reclaimed wood). And the floor needs help (thinking about cork).

            So we're hoping to do a moderate reno but keep cabinets...should be interesting. The layout overall is pretty restrictive but there's good storage space. I've been searching the boards for recommendations, happy to take more!

            1. l
              lizzy RE: MaggieRSN Dec 12, 2007 06:41 AM

              Since the kitchen is one of the many areas we want to renovate in the coming years, I'm giving it a D.

              The bad....There is a total lack of counter space, I typically prep on my smooth top stove. All of the appliances barely miss the cabinets when open, the dishwasher & fridge almost hit the island and the oven door almost hits the sink. The appliances, while newer, are not very good. The kitchen itself is a decent sized room, but everything is concentrated on one side. This leaves a lot of dead space, the dog has tons of room to eat. It also leaves little space to work in the kitchen, I would say no more than two people can cook in my kitchen comfortably, and depending on the menu that could be a stretch. The cabinets are over fifty years old and original to the house. They are definitely showing their age, and there are too many glass front cabinets. There is no exhaust, unless you count the ceiling fan which, aside from a window, is also the only light source.

              The good....I love my sink. I have a deep cast iron double sink with washboards on either side. This is one of the few things in the kitchen that will live on when we remodel. I have a slim cabinet that doesn't have any shelves so it is perfect for storing baking sheets. I have a pantry, and it is easy to add more shelves if necessary. I have wood floors, and they may need some tlc due to water damage, but they look half way decent. The best part is knowing my laundry room is the same size as my kitchen so when we remodel I will double the size of my kitchen.

              1. f
                foodwich RE: MaggieRSN Dec 12, 2007 05:43 PM

                We redid our kitchen. almost gutted and now new, 3 years ago. put in cork floors, corian counters, cherry cabinets and stainless appliances. so its beautiful. i love to cook in it since i did most of the design around the way i cook. if i had to redo the kitchen i would expand the area more to give me more cabinet/storage space, larger pantry. so i would give it an A with A + being my ultimate.

                1. CindyJ RE: MaggieRSN Dec 13, 2007 12:23 PM

                  Although my kitchen is now seriously outdated, the layout is wonderful, and when I get around to renovating, there's little about the design that I will change. The kitchen definitely works well with our informal lifestyle. It's completely open to other rooms on three sides, so I never have to remove myself from my guests when I'm entertaining. One of those three rooms is the dining room, which we use every day; it's our primary eating area.

                  I've got about 15 linear feet of usable counter space. One counter is a peninsula with counter stools, so folks can hang out with me while I'm doing kitchen prep or sit and help me. I opted for wide, deep drawers instead of bottom cabinets, so I can store my stand mixer, food processor, toaster, blender, etc. in drawers, freeing up precious counter space. The bottom drawers are deep enough to hold even my stock pot and my baking sheets in an upright rack. And with drawers, there's no having to crawl into the back of a cabinet to get pots and pans out.

                  I have one 7-foot tall cabinet that's about 3 feet wide where I keep several sets of dishes and glassware, so everything is within easy reach. I use the top two shelves of that cabinet for cookbooks. And I have two closets, both with shelves from top to bottom, at the far end of the kitchen; one is 5 feet wide and that's where I keep all of my pantry food items, the other is about 3 feet wide and that's where I keep tablecloths, place mats, napkins, serving pieces, and miscellaneous items that don't seem to belong anywhere else.

                  What I hate, hate, HATE about my kitchen is my Jenn-Air glass-top cooktop, for all the obvious reasons. My appliances and cabinetry are in need of replacement, but the design will continue to work well for me. How would I grade it? Form, functionality, layout--A. Appliances and aesthetics -- C.

                  1. coastie RE: MaggieRSN Dec 13, 2007 12:49 PM

                    my kitchen is very functional, i spent a lot of time on flow and equipment - my hood works suprisingly well for a non commercial model /
                    BUT my favorite part and one that has really paid off is I put a small hand washing station in , in addition to the other sink area - its amazing how much it gets used. by myself but suprisingly its enjoyed and used by guests and the extra cleanliness is appreciated.

                    1. andreas RE: MaggieRSN Dec 13, 2007 01:04 PM

                      We had very little money left after completely gutting the ex rental Victorian we bought, knocking out all of the apartments and putting the house back together again. We bought free-standing stainless steel IKEA units that work but could be a little heavier for my liking. We use an old 1930's icebox as a pantry and an antique, very heavy, chest of drawers as a kitchen island. It works really well and we'll be finishing it off with a marble top - to create a pastry station - if we ever have money again. We bought a second hand commercial stove and exhaust from a food photographer who was upgrading his equipment to a six burner. Both I am very happy with. Plates and glasses are kept on open shelves, we cook enough to keep them in constant rotation so dust isn't an issue. We spent money on a decent Bosch dishwasher and a Fisher and Paykel fridge. I wanted to create a kitchen that has all of the functionality of a restaurant kitchen and I think we succeeded.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: andreas
                        stellamystar RE: andreas Dec 18, 2007 08:19 PM

                        I really like the idea of re purposing furniture for a kitchen island. I really need a butcher block counter space and, maybe, I will try to create one. The rolly ones seem so chintzy. Something to keep an eye out for.....

                        1. re: stellamystar
                          flourgirl RE: stellamystar Dec 19, 2007 04:20 AM

                          Well I love my "chintzy" "rolly" butcher block cart because I don't have the floor space at the moment for a permanent piece of furniture for a kitchen island. I have a big kitchen, but it was either a kitchen table or a kitchen island and the table won.

                          1. re: flourgirl
                            stellamystar RE: flourgirl Dec 19, 2007 07:13 AM

                            Where did you get it? The ones I have seen so far have been nearly collapsible looking - but, I'm still on the search.

                            1. re: stellamystar
                              flourgirl RE: stellamystar Dec 19, 2007 09:47 AM

                              You know, I think I got it at the Expo a few years ago. It's really not bad - the top is actually very beautiful and quite thick. And it has two storage shelves underneath which are very handy for me.

                              I will admit that when I am doing energetic things like kneading dough, it leaves a little bit to be desired. Even with the brakes on, it still gives (rocks)
                              a little. (I usually just push it up against my counters when doing stuff like this so that it doesn't move.)

                              So absolutely, if I had the choice I'd choose a stationary island, but this works for me given my circumstances.

                      2. andreas RE: MaggieRSN Dec 13, 2007 01:06 PM

                        We can attach photos now? Let me try this out:

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: andreas
                          hollerhither RE: andreas Dec 13, 2007 01:46 PM

                          Way cool. What is your flooring made of?

                          1. re: andreas
                            greglor RE: andreas Dec 14, 2007 07:29 AM

                            Damn. Is that a wheel of cheese on your counter? That's some kitchen!

                            I'm jealous. Our kitchen is tiny. And there's no point in upgrading it. If I thought we'd be in our house more than another year, I would knock the whole kitchen and put on an addition, starting the kitchen over from scratch.

                          2. s
                            Sherri RE: MaggieRSN Dec 14, 2007 02:44 PM

                            I too was lucky enough to get the chance to design my own kitchen (after some hair-pulling with the architect). I'll give myself an A- because, of course, there are some tweaks that I would do if I had it to do again.
                            Next time I would:
                            put an RO water dispenser on both sinks.
                            have my knives closer to the island where I use them, even if it meant cutting a storage hole.
                            lower the peninsula height 1" (stools still leave me sitting just a little low).
                            not have gotten talked into a kitchen desk - I don't use it and could have used the space for a big armchair instead.
                            should have made provisions for additional refrigerator for entertaining
                            wish that we'd mounted TV on swing-out arm

                            Things that I love and would do again:
                            tall, pull-out European pantry for staples and pull-out spice cabinet - both close to the cooktop
                            lowered cooktop w/pot-fill, warming shelf w/ warming lights and very strong exhaust fan.
                            lots of drawers for plates, bowl, platters, pots & pans, etc.
                            very large refrigerator and freezer
                            warming drawer (in convenient location) and double ovens
                            approx 4X8 island w/ large potrack above
                            very large single sink and a large prep sink at other end of kitchen - both w/ heavy-duty disposals
                            adjacent cookbook library
                            full wall of 4" deep shelves for cans of tomato sauce, pinto beans et al - nothing gets lost
                            lots of counterspace
                            undercounter lighting & all lights on dimmer switch

                            Instead of using just the traditional Triangle Design we included the Hot-Cold, Wet-Dry Design feature as well. It has worked very well for me. I love that I can cook in this terrific room and converse with family & friends while they're comfortably seated across the peninsula (instead of underfoot). When real cooks are here, there's plenty of room for everyone.

                            1. s
                              swsidejim RE: MaggieRSN Dec 19, 2007 07:32 AM

                              pretty functional. Our house was new construction & built in 2005, the large kitchen with windows, and a glass slider overlooking our deck, and wooded lot was a major selling point, . Lots of counter space for prep, breaking out the food processor, or deep fryer. Plenty of cubbard storage with 2 lazy susans under the counter for quick access to spices, or other dry goods. New stainless steel appliances for professional look, and ease of cleaning, and a 5 burner gas stove with convection oven for cooking. The kitchens sliding glass door provides quick access toour deck where the smoker resides, and nice integration with what is happening in the kitchen.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: swsidejim
                                stellamystar RE: swsidejim Dec 19, 2007 07:49 AM

                                lazy susan - good idea.

                                1. re: stellamystar
                                  swsidejim RE: stellamystar Dec 19, 2007 07:51 AM

                                  I really like them, they are under the counter, and at opposite ends of the cabinets where the stove/oven is. I gotta give the contractor all the credit for those.

                              2. b
                                bnemes3343 RE: MaggieRSN Dec 19, 2007 07:59 AM

                                The biggest mistake we made the first time we re-did our kitchen was to buy a cooktop with whimpy burners (largest was 12,000 btu and it went down from there). Stir-fry was more like a New England boiled dinner and there was no such thing as a 30 minute meal involving a pot of boiling pasta water... We have since replaced this with a five burner beast that has 4 18,000 burners and a 24,000 wok burner in the center (only a 30" cooktop by the way; gas of course). I LOVE this cooktop and it was worth every penny.

                                The second biggest mistake (now rectified) is to only have one oven. I don't know how anyone can function in a kitchen with a single oven. It's fine 90% of the time, but for big holidays or party's, you are sunk. I'm always amazed at most of the kitchens in ultra expensive new houses where I am that offer kitchens with only one oven. Maybe with all that money, they just eat out...

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: bnemes3343
                                  stellamystar RE: bnemes3343 Dec 19, 2007 08:22 AM

                                  LOL. Do you have two ovens in the wall? I really like this concept. It seems safer, also - to have something higher away from kids, and at eye level.

                                  1. re: stellamystar
                                    bnemes3343 RE: stellamystar Dec 19, 2007 08:30 AM

                                    Our wall oven is actually a single gas oven and a microwave above that (we had to lose a closet to put it in), so the second oven is under the cooktop. I'm with you though, I would probably prefer both ovens to be higher - with me it's not a kid issue, it's a 'oh, my aching back' issue...


                                  2. re: bnemes3343
                                    tsfirefly RE: bnemes3343 Dec 21, 2007 09:36 AM

                                    LOL...that's more true than you may realize! :(

                                    We've moved (thankfully), but we did spend nine years in a really REALLY huge home that at first seemed designed for entertaining...very small bedrooms but three living rooms, a formal dining room, a gigantic game room with a bar, etc. The kitchen was in pristine condition. We loved the location, but soon realized that the kitchen was more like a cardboard facade, all for show and not to be used, ever! They used very bumpy and textured wall tile on the expansive countertops, so it wasn't a flat surface so glasses and mugs constantly tipped over...the burners were so close together that even medium-small sized pots bumped into each other, and the back burners were so close to the wall that they were basically unusable except for very tiny saucepots...the only way to access half the cabinets was to literally crawl inside them to reach the usable storage space...the switch for the garbage disposal was a good jog from the sink, so when my kids would drop spoons, etc. into the disposal it was a relay race between turning it on, going back to the sink to hear the disaster, running back to the switch, running back to the sink, etc...the door to the very new-looking wall oven didn't open far enough to be able to remove and adjust the rack inside...the countertop height was ridiculously high, so I had to use a child's stepstool to do anything (and I'm 5'6"...not particularly short)...I could go on and on.

                                    After living in the house for a couple weeks I asked the previous owner how in the world they ever survived, and he told me they always ate out and never noticed!

                                  3. ms. clicquot RE: MaggieRSN Dec 19, 2007 08:17 AM

                                    I would give my poor kitchen a 'C' at best. It's quite small and limited in counter space. I'm dreading the Christmas dinner preparations because it always winds up a chaotic mess, no matter how organized I am at the beginning. I recently graduated from interior design school so I have many ideas of how I would improve it but unfortunately we have to have our foundation repaired first so a big kitchen reno is out for now. I'm planning to get new countertops after Christmas to replace the old, ugly laminate so at least it will look a bit better. One thing I do like though - I have a cozy chair in the corner by my bookshelf of cookbooks so it's a great place to curl up and read my cookbooks while things are roasting, simmering, etc. It's also a good spot for my husband or guests to hang out with me in the kitchen while I'm cooking.

                                    1. r
                                      Reston RE: MaggieRSN Dec 19, 2007 08:55 AM

                                      The Good:
                                      - 8 foot counter that separates the kitchen from the eating area. Lots of room for prep work
                                      - New side by side fridge with filtered water and ice dispenser. How did I ever live without an ice maker???
                                      - Separate pantry closet
                                      - Big window over the sink
                                      - Counter top stereo system Helps keep the cooking in rhythm : )
                                      - 50 gallon hot water heater... always plenty of hot water.

                                      The Bad:
                                      - Sink is too small. Too shallow, too narrow, and deep
                                      - Drop in electric stove. I'd rather have a stand alone gas range
                                      - No built in microwave
                                      - Limited task lighting
                                      - New fridge is a little too small (but still much better than the last one!)

                                      1. s
                                        sueatmo RE: MaggieRSN Dec 19, 2007 04:58 PM

                                        I like working in my kitchen which we remodeled about 8 years ago, on a budget. We kept the U-shaped footprint, but asked for several things which changed the arrangement. I did put my lone oven under the counter, and I like that location. I had 2 lazy susans put in at both corners, and had 2 "garages" put in as well. I left one corner open on the counter so I would have plenty of linear workspace. The garages shelter jars of flour, etc., blender, KitchenAid mixer and food processor. Above one of the garages are 3 cookbook shelves. I had a shelf built for the micro. Because we have no gas, I got a built in glass cooktop. I had an exhaust hood installed that actually exhausts to the outside.

                                        Here's what I would have done differently: My built in cooktop is too small! Pans butt up against each other when I cook. (The top works well though.) The convection oven vents to the kitchen. I had no idea it needed a vent to the outside; the kitchen people did not mention this. (Convection ovens must vent heat to keep the electronics from overheating. If you get a convection oven, be sure it is vented to the outside, like a range hood.) And I would not have gotten formica. I had so much counter space, we used laminate to save dollars, and it is not tip top after 8 years of careful use.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sueatmo
                                          renov8r RE: sueatmo Dec 21, 2007 10:46 AM

                                          I have seen the ovens that you describe -- it can be a literal pain to find out that these things blow hot air out at eye-level. I don't know about venting to the outside, like a hood, so much as having some kind of ducted vent that won't be so obnoxious. The brands that have more experience with convection seem to have better systems,

                                          The good thing about laminate is that it is far and away the easiest to fit and replace, coupled with its low cost (for most styles) you should not feel guilty if you replace it every 5-10 years -- you could also easily upgrade from laminate to stone, which while more costly ought to last for decades.

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