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I don't want to face a wall when I cook....

So, I am in the VERY preliminary stages of designing my new kitchen ( haven't even signed the contract yet for the house) however there is **one** thing I know for sure: I want my stovetop in the center of my kitchen with a hood on top. Set in an island. I have given a perfunctory look into La Cornue and Garland Blue Star ranges and am wondering if they can be set up in this fashion.

Are there any cons to not having the stovetop against a wall?

Frankly I am not even sure that I am articulating this properly. I hope someone out there "gets" what I mean....

Many Thanks,

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  1. The placement of the stove would, I think, be dictated on where the vent is place/how easily it can get to the outside. I think a stove against a wall has a little safer in terms of small children (if I'm standing at the stove, I don't have to worry about them being able to get to the open flame as I am blocking it) but of course, that's my perspective and admittedly a minor issue. On the other hand, in a house full of adults, an island stove is certainly more convenient.

    If you are stuck with a wall stove, they have lovely mosaics in tile, stone, and marble that might make the "view" more pleasing.

    1. Since you're building a new house (at least it sounds like that), it should be easier than remodeling. I'm not a builder but have heard a few things. Building codes will vary, of course. A friend wanted a gas cooktop in a freestanding island but, because the house was built on a slab, code didn't allow for a gas line to be run through concrete. She would have had to have a column to bring the line in from above. She didn't want that look so put the cooktop against a wall. Also the vent hood has to be vented to the outside but that shoudn't be a problem. We had a downdraft vent in a cooktop and I liked it quite well but some people don't. My setup has the range against a wall but I don't mind that at all. When I'm cooking, I'm focused on that and a "view" doesn't matter. My sink, however, is at a window cause that doesn't need as much paying attention to :) Good luck. You're quite smart to be considering this at this point.

      2 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        I am firmly in the sink-facing-the-window camp.

        1. re: pikawicca

          Me too. I grew up with a sink overlooking a lovely farm and big pond, with houseplants tucked into the window. We'd watch the sun set while we washed the pots. That is still a happy memory for me, ten years out of that house. Can't say that about the wall, no matter how pretty it's painted.

      2. EM and COliver are correct in that it may be an issue for safety and also building codes. I do know friends that have their cooking counter in the middle of an island of their kitchen. It was a custom home but perhaps this may come as an option of where you are purchasing.

        That said - I think of the mess cooking causes - grease spattered everywhere - perhaps that's not an issue w/ an industrial grade vent - I dunno - I don't have one.

        I WOULD like to have a 'view' when I'm cooking however, most of the time, I either have tunes on or I'm talking to someone altho to the side of me or behind me. Really hate talking to someone behind my back - Ha!

        There's definitely a benefit to having a cooking station central. My current situation leaves a very short counter to one side (maybe 34") and a very long counter to the other side. And yes, it's a blank wall in front of me, which I'll look at and think "Sheesh! Someone really needs to clean that wall!" No, I don't have decorative tile, mosaic or a plasma TV back there.

        1. you might consider that prep work is generally the most time-consuming. time spent at the cooktop is, for me at least, not extended and constant. having the prep area (and sink) overlooking your living area (or whatever) is definitely a plus, but I wouldn't put a cooktop there, especially at the expense of island space (for prep, guests, etc). nobody wants to get splattered by your sauce as you're stirring it. :)

          2 Replies
          1. re: tommy

            I completely agree with this. if you only have room for a regular/squarish island, I would consider making it a prep area rather than a stove. I have a 3 ft or 4ft by 3ft or so island (yes I am bad at measurements). We designed our kitchen from the studs up (in an older house) so we had size constraints; the room is squarish as well. The island is all work surface, with room for two stool on the opposite side. If on the other hand you have a long galley kitchen, then you could put in a long counter/island. It my island was bigger, I would want a prep sink. I love a big work area, so I would have to more than double the island to get a stove in there.

            You know the way you cook best, it's just something to think about.

            1. re: tommy

              i'm in this line of thought myself... prep work is where i spend the most amount of my time and would like to not stare at a wall even if prep work does require some kind of concentration. cooking is messy and splattery and i'm almost never there for 20 minutes straight, unlike prep work. i stir something, i prod something, i leave it be until it's ready.

              i have a long island/counter/dining table and do my prep and plating on one end and guests sit at the other. the stove is at the prep/plating end so if i want to join in the conversation while stirring/prodding/etc, i turn and do what i need with one hand and face everyone at the end of the table and talk with the other hand. works marvelously... and i can ignore all the messy pots/pans on the stove a hell of a lot easier.

            2. I got to thinking about the size of an island. Assuming a 36" cooktop and 3' of counter space on each side, that's 9'. I'd think it would have to be at least 4' deep and that would still get anyone sitting or standing on the other side quite close to the cooking. That seems like a pretty big island to me anyway. But maybe you're going to have a realy big kitchen.

              My kitchen has a peninsula and then the range is several feet away from that and perpendicular to the peninsula. So guests aren't behind me while I'm cooking.

              1. I have a counter with bar stools in the middle of the kitchen. Everyone gathers around there while I'm cooking and I too hate to turn my back when I have to go to the stove. I have my cutting board there so I do all my chopping and mixing facing people. A stove top on the island would be great - but only if I still had enough space to chop and mix there too. It would have to be a pretty big honking kitchen.

                Think about how you spend your time when you are in the kitchen are you mostly at the stove stirring or do you turn and dump things in a skillet and turn back to your board. Are you constantly at the stove or just going back and forth?

                1. jfood has a 4' x9' center island with a 6 burner propane viking cooktop and a viking down draft. The sink is immediately behind him with a window over. So he gives good/bad from 8 years of experience.

                  Good -
                  - Viking great piece of equipment to work on
                  - 3' of counter on each side works great as the staging area and a gathering after sautee-ing and keeping spatulas within reach
                  - he faces across the stovetop to a small TV which he can watch as he cooks
                  - when mrs jfood is working on the front three burners, jfood still has easy access to the back three from the other side of the island

                  - downdraft is good but not great; if you can place a draft over and out that would be jfood recommendation
                  - would love to have a 48"
                  - have to be careful with kids around


                  1. The hood is the big issue. While I like the industrial look of mine, lotsa folks may be put off by something like that, in the middle of the room, over an island. Ducting is as real issue, and noise may be as well...And don't get me started on the pop-ups. And while on the subject of middle of the room cooking, I think this is a horrible trend, started by designer types, who don't really cook. Think about all the cleanup issues, and constantly having your stove on display, etc. Unless you are a scrupulous neatnik this can be an issue....Or maybe consider some kind of end cap on the back of the island, so the cooktop isn't readily visible

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                      "And while on the subject of middle of the room cooking, I think this is a horrible trend, started by designer types, who don't really cook" - False

                      Jfood is very happy with both his designer wife, the cooktop in the island in the middle of the room and his and her abilities to cook.

                      As far as neat is concerned, a mess is a mess whether the cooktop is against a wall or in the middle of the room. People know when they come over for dinner that the prep work is usually done and that pots and pans get dirty when they cook. Never been a problem in 10 years.

                      Sorry, but jfood respectfully disagrees with the preamble and the conclusion.

                      Wrt the downdraft, he probably agrees with your assessment, it works OK but not great and jfood wishes he had the room in the rafters above to have run a vent their for a real vent.


                      1. re: jfood

                        Biscuitboy respects jfood's monologue as well. And while he also has training in design and planning, he would never bow to the lowest common denominator in kitchen layout...or ever place a flatscreen above a fireplace because every biff and muffy magazine portrays it. You can bet island cookery wasn't conceived by a real chef, but rather by some house-frau with more money than sense.


                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                          I good friend has an island cooktop, and I love it. The two of us like to cook huge Lebanese dinners together, and this set-up allows as to cook at the same time without getting in each other's way. Great arrangement in a house where two people like to spend quality time together prepping a meal.

                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                            jfood thinks the TV over the fireplace is incredibly creative and fills a space that previously was used for art and items on the mantle. What do you think should go there? Likewise where doe one place a 50-60" tv? Fireplaces are normally a focal point, therefore fairly centralized? This is a real question, not being snarky.

                            Also why such vitrol about an island stovetop?

                            1. re: jfood

                              My husband and I recently toured an open house that had this fireplace/TV arrangement. We liked it (but I wonder if the heat might be not-so-good for the electronics).

                              1. re: jfood

                                We've got more art than we have wall space so the ginormous TV is NOT over the fireplace. I only have room for a peninsula but, if I had a big island I think I would like it for prep and sink rather than cooking but I don't so I won't - so there :)

                          2. re: BiscuitBoy

                            I dunno, I kind of like the stove-in-the-center idea. It means two people could stir at once.

                            One of the frustrations of my last TWO kitchens is that it was impossible for more than one person to cook at a time. My previous kitchen was in a trailer - if you've ever spent any time in an RV you know what a joke those kitchens are. Tiny stove and floor area exacerbated by (literally!) 1' x 2' of counter space.

                            I now have a kitchen which is actually almost spacious, but the stove/sink/fridge are so awkwardly arranged that only one person can cook at a time, even though there is plenty of floor space. Half the counterspace is wasted too - you can't stand in front of one counter because the stove is in the way. And my husband is a former contractor, so he KNOWS what that kitchen should be like. One day when he's able to work again or we win the lottery, we'll have a proper kitchen.

                          3. I have a rather large island in my kitchen/family room and the sink is located in the island. It is also the area where all prep work is done. My double oven and cooktop are directly behind it, against the wall.

                            When I have guests over (and we do somewhat frequently), everyone hangs out in the kitchen/family room. There are a few stools on the other side of the island. I would not want the stove there. It would be kind of weird to have a hot stove going with food possibly splattering and hot pots and/or pans on top of the stove while guests are sitting there eating the appetizers that I put out.

                            I guess what I am saying is that the island is the central focus in my kitchen, and putting a hot stove there does not seem logical. Plus, with my guests generally come a bunch of young kids (plus my own 2) and a stove in the center of the island would mean more exposure for people (kids and adults) to burn themselves. Just my opinion.

                            1. I would favor a largish island with 4/6 burners and a griddle/grill with a high power hood and dual ovens set somewhere in the walls. I don't think that codes/regulations would be an issue, assuming you have proper clearance etc... nor do I think that having a hood over the stove would be a problem with ducting, sight lines etc... I have seen this done quite tastefully in numerous kitchens. It absolutely does not have to look industrial. Honestly, I think that it can actually be lower than you think it should be, unless you and your family are 7 feet tall. I like having drawers under the stove top holding knives, utensils etc... and being able to mount a decent sized tv somewhere on the wall. As always, the big issues are counter/prep space (I would consider a second utility sink as well) and enough room for your appliances and maybe even an appliance garage.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: StheJ

                                My friend who had the problem lived in the Seattle area. They wouldn't allow a gas line to be laid inside the concrete slab. If she'd had a crawlspace, it would have been alright. The only way for her to bring the gas line in was from above through a column and she didn't like the aestethics of that. 'Course, get an induction range like I just did and don't worry about gas.

                              2. I too like to talk to friends and family while cooking. When (if?) we finally do our grand kitchen remodel, the plan is to put the cooktop on an island with a "step." The cooktop (as well as a prep sink / disposal and ample counterspace) will be at cabinet height. Behind that will be a backsplash, then a breakfast counter. Hopefully it will give us the best of all possible worlds.

                                You can definitely do it with a high-powered gas range, but you're going to need serious ventilation. And assuming that the vent hood is going to be at least 6' from the floor (doesn't do any good to face the room if you have to duck to see anybody) the requirements for size and airflow will be even greater. Mount the fan at the end of the duct or it'll sound like you're cooking in a jet engine.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  This configuration would look nice, but you couldn't cook from both sides of the island. This might not be an issue for you.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    Absolutely correct. If cooking from both sides of the island is an issue, a whole slew of other considerations come into play. Including the width of the island - most are at least 36", which makes for quite a reach to the burners, and many are 48", which pretty much precludes cooking from both sides.

                                  2. re: alanbarnes

                                    Sorry, ab, I gotta go my separate way on this one. Our Oregon house had the "breakfast bar" setup you describe without anything but prep space on the step DOWN. I actively disliked it. My preference is to have platters of "snacks" for our guests. That "bar" was too narrow (12-14"?) for anything but small plates and bowls. In addition I didn't like that height. Strongly prefer "counter" height. I think the "bb" works great when children (or others) are actually have breakfast or lunch there. For me, not. Different strokes.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Good to hear the input. As indicated, this is still a "virtual" kitchen, so better to discover its shortcomings before they become carved in stone (or Corian, or whatever). Although I was thinking more like 18-20".

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        I've found this thread interesting. I doubt that I'll have the space or money to do my dream kitchen ever but this has allowed me to think about it anyway. 18-20" sounds very exciting :)

                                  3. Lots of good feedback below, but something real to consider: Two friends have island cooktops and we tall folks are absolutely CONSTANTLY bonking our heads on the exhaust, which isn't really that big a piece of gear.

                                    I configured my workspace with a window to the left of the range, which is a good workaround. Another very important consideration I still haven't dealt with in my not-completely-finished redo: Any window coverings you go with must be absolutely impossible to blow into the heating element of the stove. At this point, I think we're leaving our window completely uncovered, but we look out onto woods. Not everyone has that luxury.

                                    1. My stove is against the wall. That's where the vent was already and the sink is in front of a window. You have to ask yourself how much time do you spend at the stove. In reality I don't spend that much time directly tending the food on the stove. I walk away and come back to toss or stir and that takes just a few seconds then walk away. There are few things that need my full attention for extended periods.

                                      Edited to add that cleaning oil spatter off the glass window will be no joy

                                      1. I'll be short...

                                        1. As others have said, an island with a cooktop--and any real counter--is going to be large, so if your kitchen isn't large, it's going to be more of a problem than you facing a wall, because something else will suffer.

                                        2. Ceiling-mounted hoods tend to DOMINATE a kitchen--they really break up the space, look like the Mother Ship landing. You should also check your codes to see how LOW such a hood must be, because you might find it to be an obstacle to what you imagine will be a clear view of company/the rest of the house/room. I have a beach cabin where I wanted the cooktop in an island, and hated the idea of a ceiling hood so much, I got a small radiant cooktop that doesn't require a hood.

                                        3. Try thinking about facing a wall AT A RIGHT ANGLE (but close) to your preferred view. I have another kitchen where the range is set facing the wall, but at the end of one leg of a "U"-shaped counter (the sink is in the U's base, the prep area on the other leg). I then put in a service counter/partition on the far side of the range, so my company stays close and can watch, but stays out of the way and spatter.

                                        Hope this helps.

                                        1. My parents had islands in two of their kitchens. One had the stove in it, and the hood above was quite low. Didn't bother me, nor did it block my view, but others did. One thing I loved was being able to do some flaming dishes in full view of guests, nothing better than setting things aflame to impress the guests! If you do an island stove, be sure that a sink is close at hand, in this case the sink was close behind me and worked nicely for all those pots. Also be sure to have enough space at the side of the stove for all yr prep items, oil, salt, chopped items, etc. If you don't have any space, the stove becomes a bit of a pain. A foot on each side would be the minimum in my mind.

                                          The other was just a prep island, but it was a better solution because the island looked out onto the family room, and a hood would have cut up the space too much. I liked being able to talk to people as i prepped.

                                          Of course now I'm just jealous because an island in the kitchen is impossible. 8' x 10' is a bit small. Personally, I always wanted a big farm table in my kitchen, for prep, having a cup of coffee, with storage under for my copper cookware (which I don't own...yet)