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Any Clever Offbeat Advice for My Kitchen Redesign?

For first time in my life, I'm going to have a reasonably serious kitchen, and I can use your help with the renovation. I have "kitchen remodeling experts" I can go to, but they're mostly about snazz and yuppie-craved trendiness.

I'm not aiming for splash. And I have no aspirations to do restaurant-style cooking. I'm a staunch home chef who doesn't do particularly ambitious recipes, and who mostly makes stuff up as he goes along. And, finally, I never cook large quantities. My socializing is in restaurants; when I cook it's for one or two, and that's it.

I can easily find the conventional wisdom on all aspects of this in other places. What I'd love from you guys are suggestions of offbeat, resourceful, cool things to add or to bear in mind.

Any non-obvious choices in stove, oven, or fridge?

Or for nice (not "impressive") looking countertops that are super easy to care for?

I do lots of steaming; shall I continue to use steamer baskets in pots, or is there a hipper way?

Is a wok at all viable?

A griddle?

Any other clever moves I won't hear about at the kitchen design place? E.g. resourceful ways to incorporate a chopping/slicing station in a home kitchen?

Budget-wise, I'll spend what I need to do do this right, but am definitely not looking to spend money just to spend money. So no $5K countertops, please.

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  1. rather than quirky cool stuff, my advice to you is to catalogue your kitchen and stuff and make notes on how you cook and then build around it. the coolest kitchen in the world is no good if it doesn't inspire you to easily cook.
    we are just finishing our brooklyn, ny kitchen gut reno (old kitchen was from 1953). we did go for soapstone counters - they are just amazing. solid, hard and you can put any hot pot onto them. pot drawers are a great thing and i'm hanging my old pot rack up agin.
    get a stove with one very high burner...you won't regret it.
    here are the photos if you want to page through a gut reno:

    good luck!

    7 Replies
    1. re: redgirl

      Redgirl, how's that wok working for you? You said in your photo essay that its' smoking more than your hood can really accommodate; if I install a more heavyduty hood, it might be more viable for me? Or would I do better resorting to an outdoor wok, per wekick's advice, below? I mean, can you get a real char at these temperatures? (I"m assuming that's the strongest possible gas flame under the wok).

      1. re: Jim Leff

        having now lived with my bluestar 30' with the 30" wide kobe hood (i think 800chfm?) my advice would solidly be: if you intend to seriously wok a lot - at proper high flame with a carbon steel wok sitting in the flame, seriously consider getting a hood that is wider than your range. it's not the cfms that are giving the process trouble but the side reach of the hood. the part of the wok under the hood is great. the sloped side that is to the side of it releases steam and vapors into the room.
        as for the can you get a real char ? omg. my bluestar has a 22k btu burner and the wok sits directly in the flame. i almost had it way too hot. it was like nothing i've ever seen in a residential kitchen. watch this:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgyfoF... i think this is the 1st of three parts.

        1. re: redgirl

          I do all the cooking that is supposed to be done in a wok in my dutch oven. Works great, tastes great.

          1. re: redgirl

            Woman, you're killing me here! I'm cooking on a hundred dollar (maybe) rental stove. I'm going to drool myself dry.

        2. re: redgirl

          Redgirl. Love seeing the step by step remodel pictures. I'm going to follow you to the end. Can't wait to see the finished product because that's the look I want in my kitchen redo. May I ask what cabinets you used and what the color is called?
          I'm always attracted to white cabinets, but afraid to pull the trigger on them, unsure how the finish would hold up under normal wear and tear and how seamless the touch up is at cabinet to crown moulding etc. Any thoughts or suggestions?
          I've heard of Bluestar ranges, but have never seen one in person. From your pictures it looks like almost half sticks out beyone the surrounding cabinets. Is your counter depth narrower than typical in that area or is that range much deeper than normal?
          Thanks and great job. Your floors and countertops are fab too!

          1. re: Island

            About white kitchens:

            there are few pros other than they look pretty IMO
            LP laminate - it WILL streak and look uncean in a short time DO NOT USE
            HP laminate - will hold up much better (think a laminte counter top) but the doors have to be flat
            termo foil - has serious issues with heat and needs heat barriers next to a range and specail care when using your self cleaning cycle for the oven
            paint - chips, crazes and can turn yellow

            As much as I LOVE, LOVE a white kitchen with touches of colour (or it looks sterile and lab like :( ) personally I would never do one. Bummer


            Prettypoodle (a former kichen and bath designer)

          2. re: redgirl

            Hi redgirl, I am in the middle of planning my kitchen renovation, and I was struck by how similar your remodel is to what I am trying to do! I have a 1940s-vintage house with dark-stained ash floors and white cabinets and am looking to replace the (cheap, white, no-name electric) range. I'm looking at doing white subway tile too, but with black accent tiles rather than the terra cotta ones you chose.

            Two questions for you:

            (1) I have a similar fridge (mine is a Fisher Paykel though), and am trying to decide between the 30" Blue Star and the 30" Wolf. Would you do the Blue Star again? I like the looks of the Wolf much better but have almost convinced myself the Blue Star is better in terms of cleaning and cooking.

            (2) Where did you get your soapstone counters? My cousin is trying to convince me not to get natural stone; she is a big proponent of Caesarstone (quartz) or similar countertops. I *love* soapstone though and don't find that Caesarstone or Silestone make anything that looks like real soapstone. Have you been happy or unhappy with your choice of countertops?

            Thanks! Your kitchen looks beautiful; hope you're enjoying it!

          3. Congrats on the new kitchen Jim, there aren't many things in the home more fun to design. I'll give you the two things I learned about after we did our kitchen and then one element that I'm sorry that I didn't incorporate.

            1, foot pedal controls for the kitchen sink for this times when your hands are a mess.
            2. baseboard opening for a vacuum system. I saw this in someones home that was upgraded with a central vacuum system where they were able to sweep the dirt from the floor into a hole that was attached to a central vacuum ssytem. Very cool.
            3. a faucet at the stove/cooktop.

            Have a great time!

            11 Replies
            1. re: jnk

              We had a home that came with a central vac system and I thought it was an incredible waste of money. You're still dragging that humongous vac tube around. And if you swept the detritus from the floor into that hole, you'd still have to run the vacuum to have it drawn away.

              Some friends built their dream home a few years ago and it's the most wonderful thing I've every seen. She's a great cook so the kitchen was very important. She had a pot filler that she said she wouldn't do again. Yes, you don't have to carry that heavy pot from the sink to the stove but the even heavier one that full of cooked food, i.e., pasta, still has to be carried to the stove to empty it.

              1. re: c oliver

                I agree; I've never really understood the pot filler idea for that exact reason. And having something that can potentially leak right above somewhere that doesn't have a drain.....

                1. re: c oliver

                  I talked to one guy who said he put a sink right next to the stove and it was the thing he liked most about his kitchen. He cooked a lot of pasta. I'm not fan of the pot filler either, but if you had it set over a sink and it reached the stove. that might be a good thing for some.

                  1. re: wekick

                    But if he put a sink RIGHT next to the stove, didn't he lose that counterspace?

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I guess he had some on the other side. I was thinking how much I wouldn't like it when he was telling me about it-but it was perfect for him.

                      1. re: wekick

                        Putting a sink right next to a stove top with out atleast 12 inches of counter space is not only a silly idea, but coudl also be dangerous. In a firre soemone may panic and put watyer on an oil/grease fire. BAd move:(

                        1. re: Prettypoodle

                          There are many dangerous things in the kitchen-fire, sharp knives, glass that can break,-quite a few things that people can get hurt on. This guy was a chef and it fit his cooking style-lots of choices and some are good for one and not for another. I do not view this as dangerous. People who panic might try to carry a pan outside or find something else to do to make things worse, but you can't protect them from everything. One thing I do keep people away from is my mandolin.

                          1. re: wekick

                            Good thing. I understand that mandolin wood is the best thing out there for smoking delicate meats.

                    2. re: c oliver

                      I always joke that carrying the Le Creuset full of water to the range is called a workout at my house, so I can't eliminate it ...

                      I would love to have two ovens for baking.

                  2. One small kitchen upgrade I made a couple of years ago was to get a nicer faucet. It's easy to overlook such a seemingly trivial and boring device, but the faucet probably the thing you use the most in your kitchen.

                    In any case, my new faucet has a retracting jointed metal hose so it can be pulled out about 3 or 4 feet, which is super handy for filling pots on the countertop and for washing around the sink. It also has a push button right at the end so you can easily turn the water on and off when filling pots. The button also allows you to operate the faucet when it's docked by simply tapping it with your elbow.

                    Also, I'd recommend that you consider installing an induction cooktop. I switched from gas to induction 5 years or so ago and would never go back.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: tanuki soup

                      wondering what about the induction makes you love it so - it seems that at this time frame induction is the wave of the future but I have major reservations - just of the unknown!

                      1. re: smilingal

                        It seems that induction is only just beginning to gain acceptance in the United States, but in Japan (where I live) and also in Europe, it is definitely considered mature technology rather than "the wave of the future". The advantages (and disadvantages) of induction have been discussed in many threads here at Chowhound, so I don't want to hijack in this thread with an exhaustive encomium. Top of my list are high power, instantaneous response, ease of clean-up, safety, minimal waste heat in the kitchen, use of the flat top as extra counter space, and high-tech control features such as auto turn-off, timer functions, and the ability to digitally enter and maintain the desired target temperature.

                        1. re: tanuki soup

                          I've had induction for almost a year now and would never go back to gas much less "regular" electric. As you say, there's LOADS of info on CH discussing it. Your list is the same as mine. I would encourage buying a new cooktop to seriously look into induction.

                        2. re: smilingal

                          Anyone who hasn't tried induction and wonders what all the fuss is about, should think about buying the Fagor #670040240. It's $188, it's 12x14 inches, and it's 110v. It allows you to try a induction cooktop for about 10-20% of the price. It will give you something to cook on during the remodel. Later, it can be used as an extra burner or a hot plate, or taken anywhere there's a 110 outlet. Next cold, dreary Sunday we have, I want to use it on the table w/ a small cocotte for cheese fondue.

                          For the reasons Tanuki Soup lists above, we love it.

                          We're restoring an 1884 Victorian townhouse and we're still leaning towards a black dual-fuel range from Europe -- because sometimes form & function have to walk hand-in-hand -- but we're trying to find a way to incorporate a small induction cooktop too.

                          The one we use: http://tinyurl.com/Fagor-670040240
                          Induction cooking 101: http://tinyurl.com/Fagor-YouTube

                          1. re: KansasKate

                            We just returned from a house exchange in Wash., DC. She had a very nice gas range but I thought I would scream trying to adjust to it after a year of induction. And cleaning it!!!! I wanted to lie on the floor and drum my heels in frustration. Okay, maybe that's a tiny exaggeration :) I didn't need convincing of the values of induction, but had it that would have done it for me.

                      2. I would recommend spending on good functional cabinets. By that I mean, more drawers than shelves, or pull out shelves. I can't tell you how happy I am that we sprung for rolling shelves all around the kitchen. For example, I've got all my baking stuff on one: baking soda, baking powder, chocolate, brown sugar,etc. and it is *so* easy to find stuff. Another one has all my mixing bowls; no having them all tumble out on you when you're looking for something.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: DGresh

                          Holy crap. I'm going to do everything everyone suggested. I've gotten my money's worth on this thread in under 60 minutes flat! Just what I hoped for, thanks so much, all!

                          Redgirl, I'll go carefully through your photos later when I have a real computer to view on (and may have questions!).

                          Top kudos to "sink foot pedals". That's the kind of simple little non-obvious tip I can especially use!

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            Just FYI, kitchen sink foot pedals aren't terribly expensive and can be installed in almost any existing cabinetry. Foot Faucet makes one that sells for $169. http://www.footfaucet.net/Standard.htm

                            As above, I'd spend as much as you can afford on the boxes and hardware. Appliances can almost always be upgraded later.

                            1. re: Jim Leff

                              There's also a touch faucet so you don't have to have the pedal.


                              1. re: chowser

                                Expensive (though, ack, I'm finding that even normal faucets cost $$$), but it's getting pretty good reviews on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASI...

                                This strikes me as simpler/better. And will help with my cross-contamination fears (generally, I turn on the sink because my hands are dirty, and there's an inherent logic gap that I have to touch a part of the sink both before/dirty and after/clean!).

                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                  With Delta's reputation and warranty, I think that's not something to worry about.


                          2. You do lots of steaming? Two words: "Steam Oven"

                            Multi-tiered, programmable, can be plumbed so you never run out of water. Will save cooktop space as well.

                            I like stainless steel countertops because they're easy to clean (can be seamless), essentially non-reactive and have that abbatoir look to them (esp with white walls and concrete panel floors). Great for breaking down a half-pig if that's also in the cards. They are available in brushed finish but yes, they will eventually scratch. If you're going this way, 16 gauge.

                            1. This may depend on your space and overall layout, but the best thing I did was to get all of my largest skillets, roasting pans, etc. out of the cabinets and onto a hanging rack- this gave me more storage space down under. The racks can be either be wall or ceiling mounted.

                              1. My dream kitchen will have a proper "waste area" to include a recycling container and compost bin.

                                The thing about a sink faucet (for me) is that it needs to be high or have a high arch, so that you have clearance when moving things to and from the sink. Right now our faucet is too low and I am constantly banging dishes and pots into it. Eventually, I just know I am going to break one.

                                I also want fully extending drawers.

                                And electrical outlets that run underneath the cabinets, as opposed to on the wall.

                                And an oven with a warming drawer.

                                And a small greenhouse window over the sink for herbs.

                                I wasn't going to go with sink pedals, but rather a one-lever faucet handle that one can maneuver with one's elbow. I have never seen an execution of sink pedals outside my high-school bathroom. Alas, it brings back bad memories. (HS in general, not the sink specifically.)

                                Also pay attention to the floor. While tile etc. is considered more luxurious, I have always preferred vinyl flooring (or hardwood), simply because my knees start to hurt after a while if standing on hard surfaces.

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: E_M

                                  I have the plugs under the cabinets and overall they are ok. the one downside is even though I am short, I have to bend over a little to plug stuff in. It's nice they are out of sight and all along the counter top but this is a consideration for some. Agree with all of your post-resilient floors are easier to stand on and if you drop something, it might have a chance.

                                  1. re: E_M

                                    I had a greenhouse window over the sink once and it was a total waste. Too hard to get to.

                                    1. re: E_M

                                      +1 for arched faucets!

                                      It doesn't cost much to buy one & install it, or hire a plumber to put it in. We haven't re-done whole kitchens but a high arched faucet has gone in right away in our current & previous houses.

                                      1. re: FishTales

                                        Absolutely on the high arched faucet. I don't understand why anybody would ever install anything else.

                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                          My mom hates them because they cause too much splash and pepper the counter with water droplets...but she's crazy, high arched faucets are awesome.

                                          1. re: cannibal

                                            Nice point. And I'm sure someone, somewhere, has figured out a solution. And that it costs $500.

                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                              There is a technology for delivering water in a smooth stream that does not splash when it reaches a hard or soft surface. It's called "laminar flow," and it is a bit pricey, but some of the effects that can be gained with it are quite remarkable, not to mention fun to live with. Kohler makes some laminar flow faucets. One that is particularly striking is a ceiling mount faucet that delivers a pure vertical stream of water to fill your tub. No splash! Laminar flow technology is also used with great impact in public fountains and such. I once designed a small indoor pool with three laminar flow faucets in the ceiling that had light from a revolving color wheel feeding into the water so that the three vertical streams of water looked very much like three neon tubes of colored light flowing into the pool. LOTS of fun and interesting things can be done with laminar flow water! I've yet to see it in a kitchen faucet, but that doesn't mean there aren't any out there. That would be a very practical application.

                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                If you have a normal faucet, and not a fancy kitchen one, you can get a laminar flow nozzle for five bucks from a plumbing supply house. (They're required by code in some places for health care settings. They reduce the spread of bacteria in the water supply.)

                                                1. re: dscheidt

                                                  I'd LOVE a reference! The best Google can find for me is a $700.00 deck mount laminar fountain. Any referrals will be greatly appreciated!

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    Walk into your local plumbing supply, and ask for a laminar flow device. It screws on the end of the spout in the place of an aerator. Available in assorted flow rates from 2.2 gpm down to about 0.5 gpm.

                                                  2. re: Caroline1

                                                    What a great post! Very interesting.

                                          2. re: E_M

                                            Yes to the full extension drawers and heavy duty ones for pots. I have a cabinet that we ordered with a pull out wire basket shelf for pots that's totally loaded and held up for 10 years, but it's definitely gotten harder to pull in and out. Next time, heavy duty drawers.

                                            I'd also like the outlets hidden underneath the cabinets. Worth bending to plug in rather than have to see them. We currently have full length granite blacksplash on one wall and I hate the outlets ruining the continuity. Undercounter lighting hidden by the cabinet or by adding a cabinet valance is a must for me too. Mount it closer to the front than back for better task lighting. Great overhead lighting is a must too. As much as I hated the original flourescent light bars, I hate the head shadow I have in some locations with the recessed lights; probably less of an issue with high ceilings. Next time better planning there.

                                            Faucets are such a personal thing. I prefer a single faucet I can turn on with back of my hand or wrist if I'm deep into cookie dough, etc and it's less clutter to clean around. I also prefer a pull out rather than a high arch because my sink is on a half wall that seperates the kitchen from the family room and I don't want to see it when sitting in the family room. So gotta think about location. I find with a deep sink the height is not a factor, especially with a pullout and if the kitchen isn't huge I don't see the need for paying for more plumbing and disrupting the look of the backsplash by adding one at the cooktop.
                                            I was thinking of going with foot pedals next time to, but I don't know anyone who has them at home. I work in health care and have used them on multiple sinks in multiple locations and there is always one that eventually sticks causing the faucet to run so not sure what the repair rate is like at home. Anyone have them?
                                            Undermount sink.
                                            Glass cabinet somewhere to break up the solid surfaces, add some lightness and color.

                                            +1 for cabinet to hide the trash. I didn't do that last time since it didn't fit the config and big regrets.

                                            1. re: E_M

                                              I have a Perrin & Rowe single lever faucet and it works great. Not really a need for a foot petal. Dirty hands is the #1 reason I picked the lever faucet rather than the prettier bridge faucet.

                                              I love my full extension, soft close drawers and pull-out trash cabinet.

                                              My favorite feature is probably my 36" single bowl apron front sink. I'd be miserable going back to my 30" double bowl, where I effectively was using a tiny 12" square (draining rack covered the second bowl).

                                            2. I don't like darkness in a kitchen. I like to be able to see what I'm doing, so white walls, light cabinetry, and white countertops are important to me. I

                                              Glass-front cabinet doors are another important thing. I don't mind keeping things in my cabinets organized--being able to see everything I might need is so important, I end up leaving kitchen cabinets open while I'm cooking. It's a subconscious thing. With opaque cabinet doors, I don't know I'm leaving them open until someone says something about it.

                                              Another thing is to make sure your countertops extend an inch past the cabinets underneath them. It's so much easier to clean the countertops this way.

                                              1. Jim, the absolutely best thing I have done in my kitchen is to replace the standard size 33" double bowl sink with a 39" one that has one slightly smaller than standard size bowl and one huge bowl that can hold a skillet laying flat at the bottom, my big cutting boards, all that stuff that you have to tip into a regular sink at an angle and try to not splash.
                                                The bowls are 9" deep, which I also love. Any deeper, and you get a sore back from leaning over too far to get to the silverware way down there. (Found that out at a family party at my sister's. By the time I was done washing all the silverware at the bottom of the sink, my back was killing me!)
                                                Stone or quartz countertops will serve you best. Easy to clean, hard to damage.

                                                1. I highly recommend this book. It was recommended by a chef on another forum and has quite a few different ways to look at the way things are arranged. One thing he recommended that worked well for me was to move the microwave away from the stove to over by the frig. We use it for reheating, so others can use it without getting in my way. that's just one thing but you might find some ideas that apply to your situation. It really made me rethink my design.

                                                  I would definitely look at drawers as much as possible with full extension glides. .I had pull outs before these cabinets but the drawers have more space.

                                                  I have soapstone counters too and love them, but they are a soft stone and not for everyone. I like the lab type functionality-totally nonreactive and takes any heat and they are beautiful. I have silestone on the island and it is the most practical I do not oil my soapstone..
                                                  We have extra deep counters in a prep area so that we can leave some appliances out and ready and still have a full 24" deep work area. We were lucky this worked out this way. Laminates are great too a lot less money and you can change them if you want to. I have also seen some beautiful wood counter tops. My contractor also put some big stone tiles as a counter top with an almost imperceptible thin grout line.

                                                  As far as a wok, I would put in an outside one if possible. The burners are true wok burners130,00-160,00+) and less mess inside.

                                                  Consider body mechanics- personalize your priorities-
                                                  Some have a lower countertop for baking(rolling out dough, bread kneading etc.
                                                  Consider a wall oven
                                                  Make sure you sink is comfortable-not too far away(apron sinks are great for this) and not too deep (hands should reach the bottom). 10" deep sinks are popular and can hide a multitude of sins if you kitchen is open but not always very comfortable.

                                                  I also have a drawer under under my coffeemaker that has a plug for the grinder and room for the coffee canister and tea.
                                                  I used air switches for my garbage disposal.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: wekick

                                                    Yes, a place to organize the often-used electronics: coffee bean grinder, electric tea kettle, etc.

                                                    1. re: wekick

                                                      wekick - How deep are your countertops?

                                                      1. re: Island

                                                        30" and the upper cabinets are 14" deep. They are just that deep on one wall. I had a carpenter build my cabinets and the drawers run all the way back. If you buy cabinets, you just pull them forward a little and you would need a board to cover the end.

                                                    2. Get a real water filtration system. I have a reverse osmosis system and absolutely love it. Other people prefer different systems, as discussed in the other thread.


                                                      12 Replies
                                                      1. re: cutipie721

                                                        Unless you have real problems with your municipal water (or are on a well) or are immuno-compromised, RO is way overkill. If the water is relatively soft, and you just need to get the chlorine taste out, a carbon block filter will do the trick a lot more reasonably. RO wastes a lot of water and the consumables aren't cheap either.

                                                        1. re: ted

                                                          We don't want fluoride in our water either. Unfortunately, choice of water filtration systems that can also remove fluoride is rather limited at the time when we picked ours.

                                                          1. re: cutipie721

                                                            I was reading an article the other day that was alarmist about fluoridation. Personally, I think it's hysteria. Fortunately, we've passed the age where we could decide it was a Soviet plot (see "Dr. Strangelove").

                                                            Of all the things out there that I do, touch or ingest that are likely going to kill me, fluoride in the water is about #10,000 on the list. Ditto for the Chowpup.

                                                            1. re: ted

                                                              Can I make a personal plea for the fluoridation debate to end right here? Both sides have been aired, and it's not relevant to this thread (or board...or site).

                                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                I agree. I was merely suggesting you to get a more powerful water filtration system if you're currently using a PUR faucet system or pitcher. Be it RO or carbon block, it'll save you lots of trouble in the future.

                                                                1. re: cutipie721

                                                                  Yup, thanks.

                                                                  I'm a little distrustful of filtration, in general, though. Every system I've ever seen (or heard described) has seemed to have potential for microbial build-up somewhere in the system. In the filter, in the holding tank, etc etc. Surely there are workarounds, but, idunno, I just lack confidence (and the whole purpose is to boost confidence, no?).

                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                    Are you currently filtering your water at all? If not, the thing is, water sits still in your pipes around your house whenever you don't use your faucet. If you're worried about standing water, the pipes themselves are a breeding ground anyway.

                                                                    When we started using our system, we had to discard the first batch of water to rinse out the disinfectant / cleaning solution. After that, the filter is supposed to remove all the bad stuff, making the water very uninteresting for any microbes to hang around, if there's any to start with.

                                                                    I can't tell you how it looks like in my tank right now, but the coffee machine that I have daily looks pretty good. It has a water reservoir which gets emptied out only every few days and I don't remember when I last cleaned it. There's no calcium build-up and no algae growth inside.

                                                                    1. re: cutipie721

                                                                      Yeah, I always run the water before using it for drinking or cooking.

                                                                      And, of course, you can't necessarily gauge bacterial growth by looking (unless it's really super out of hand).

                                                                  2. re: cutipie721

                                                                    I'm all for point-of-use filtration. But I think there are lots of folks out there who go to RO to deal with what's really a taste issue that only requires carbon. Extra expense in the beginning and to operate for going beyond what's necessary to address the perceived issue.

                                                                    I wouldn't run a line from a (say undercounter) filter to a fridge b/c it seems most fridges with dispensers have built-in filters that I don't know you can bypass.

                                                                    As for stuff growing in/downstream of the filter, I guess it happens, but the likelihood that it's something that could harm you is pretty minimal due to the lack of food or conditions to grow pathogens. The latest big Legionnaires issue was at a Miami hotel that filtered then distributed water all over the hotel (which you can imagine in S Florida is warm enough to be optimal for growing bugs once you've removed the utility's disinfectant- chlorine). Keeping your filter by the point of use, maintaining it properly, and when in doubt flush some water through should take care of any issues.

                                                                    1. re: ted

                                                                      "the likelihood that it's something that could harm you is pretty minimal due to the lack of food or conditions to grow pathogens"

                                                                      but immediately before the filter and inside the filter is all sorts of yummy food that's blocked by the filter. And the filter may keep the food from passing through, but it doesn't keep the cooties who feed on the food from passing through.

                                                                      Hey, we're off-topic. You're likely right that it's not a huge public health threat or we'd likely have heard about it. But I'm likely right that filtration may be closer to zero sum (unless you're filtering out truly evil stuff) than people realize. And, barring lots of scientific research, it'd be awfully hard to quantify it all out. So....there ya go....

                                                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                        Maybe you should just resign yourself to drinking beer instead. ;-)

                                                                        Nothing harmful grows in beer.

                                                          2. re: cutipie721

                                                            I've heard of people having filtration systems on a separate tap on their sink and also splitting that off with a Y fitting from the filter and routing it to the water line on the fridge. Definitely something I intend to do when I buy a house. Filtered water on demand is nice, but when it's cold as well? That's biscuits and gravy in my book.

                                                          3. If you are re-doing cabinets, I find the kind without the "bar" down the middle where the doors come together (carpenters have a word for this) much more efficent. You can easily place large platters, etc. without trying to fit them in at awkward angles. A little more money, but a good gain in useability.

                                                            1. We redid our kitchen a couple of years ago, and here's what I particularly like:
                                                              -the faucet is one of those restaurant types with the powerful spray. I use it to blast gunk from pots and plates.
                                                              -The sink is a single deep integrated stone sink. The counter is granite, but it has undergone a process called "flaming and wire brushing" which raises the nap of the stone and gives it a matte appearance. No one thinks the counter is granite and they always ask what the material is
                                                              -since our sink is by a window, we carried the granite backsplash up to be a windowsill so we can lean trays and things to dry without chipping the paint.
                                                              -the floor is rubber. It is more comfortable than any kitchen floor I've ever had and it doesn't show dirt.
                                                              -we entertain, so instead of 2 dishwashers, we got the Miele professional that does a load of dishes in 8 minutes using the rinse water from the previous load to wash the next one.
                                                              -we use our griddle but never the grill. Since the Viking stove is 12 years older than the renovation, if we were to replace it we would get the Blue Star with the salamander and a super hight BTU burner.
                                                              -warming drawer -- a great 11th hour addition. Use it all the time to warm dishes, proof bread, hold meals, etc.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                                1. re: E_M

                                                                  Yep, that's right, eight minutes for the rapid cycle. It's a great machine, and even on the regular, normal cycle, it's only about 15 minutes or so.

                                                                2. re: roxlet

                                                                  thanks for the intro to Blue Star - wondering why you might not consider induction?

                                                                  1. re: smilingal

                                                                    My husband is obsessed with the blue star, though he would probably love an induction burner or two for boiling water in a flash. He likes flames and cooking with cast iron skillets, not really an option for induction.

                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                      No flames, of course, but the CI works great on induction.

                                                                3. Spend money on the things you NEED. Decide what those things are. I NEEDED granite counter tops because I don't clean messes until I feel like it.

                                                                  Matching appliance name brands is silly if another appliance will do the job you need better than the appliance that kacthes the name brand of your other appliances. The colors will match just fine. Not many ppl will notice that the name brands do not match. Do not buy inferior products simply because they have the same name as your other appliances.

                                                                  Refrigerators keep things cold. Any off brand fridge will stay at 38 degrees just like a Viking does.
                                                                  HOWEVER - TEST the drawers of the fridge you'd like before purchasing. If the drawers feel cheap, and you have to struggle to push them back in, don't get it. You will hate it. I'm stuck with one like that. Stainless Kitchenaid full size one. The drawers SUCK!.

                                                                  Get plenty of outlets. PLENTY.

                                                                  Think things through, or be prepared to be stuck. Pinging crowds in a forum like this is a great way to get started thinking about things you might simply overlook.

                                                                  Get the nitty gritty on the appliances - you'd be surprised at how many appliances are just a new faceplate and name stuck on a different manufacturer's product. Whirlpool makes a LOT of things that other companies slap their name tag on and charge more for.

                                                                  Cabinets. drawers are sooooo much easier, IMO.

                                                                  Oh, here's something I learned. if you DO go with cabinets, you'll notice that the heavier the door, the more solid they feel when you close them. Usually equates to more cost, btw. Trick: self closing mechanisms that cost about 5 bux. Since the mechanism closes the door, it won't feel cheap.

                                                                  Most cabinets will outlast your need for them. If you spend 2,000 or 20,000 on cabinets, they will be replaced before they are no longer functional. Take that FWIW. Spend whatever you'd like, but you won't get more use out of more expensive cabinets.

                                                                  Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. What is important to you may not be important to others. You ask about a wok? For me, a wok is essential, and was part of the reason I bought the cooktop and vent hood I purchased. If you don't do a lot of high heat cooking, then perhaps it shouldn't factor too much into your decision. If you don't have to worry about staining, then granite/quartz may not be right for you unless you want the look.

                                                                  Here's mine. It will take a while to load, it's close to 100 meg:


                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: gordeaux

                                                                    Gordeaux. Holy crap is that the same place? Fantastic remodel! I need to go back and look more carefully cuz maybe you stated this.... Did you go witha standard depth fridge and build out the cabinet to look built in? I'm hoping yes, because that looks great and may be a solution to my problem. I don't have room for anything wider than 36" and I hate my counter depth side by side and don't anticipate I'll be any happier with the space inside a counter depth or built in bottom freezer.
                                                                    Can you please tell me what paint and color you used on the walls?

                                                                    Thanks for posting. I think this board needs a thread where people can post their kitchen remodel pics and info! I've found a few scattered in threads and some people like gordeaux and redgirl took the time to provide lots of pics and details and I would love to see more!!

                                                                    1. re: Island

                                                                      Thanks for the compliment
                                                                      Yes, standard depth fridge, and cabinet makers have built in look fridge cabs pre-fab. the sides of the fridge are just panels, and there is a standard fridge top cabinet on top. I'll ask the mrs what the color is, I have no idea. I'd suggest you take a gander over at gardenweb if you haven't already. Just do a search for gardenweb kitchen forum, or gardenweb appliance forum. Lots of pics of remodels, and discussions over there.

                                                                      1. re: gordeaux

                                                                        gordeaux. Never heard of gardenweb; thanks for clueing me in. What a wealth of info! Lots of people posting pics and many white kitchens so hopefully lots of brains to pick on that subject. Now if I can just find a way to keep track of threads. There doesn't seem to be a feature like Chowhound where you can go to your profile to see what you've posted to or are following. At least haven't found it yet. Thanks again and if you have any other sites to recommend I'm all eyes!

                                                                        1. re: Island

                                                                          Unfortunately, THS is very old school. So there's no user profile for posts unless the handle is unique enough that you can just search for it.

                                                                          If you're reading about appliances there, like everywhere else, you have to read lots and approach things with a healthy level of skepticism. There have been numerous folks over the years who have been on there with an axe to grind or something to market.

                                                                          For design and arrangement and that sort of thing, it's a great resource to see what others are doing.

                                                                  2. Jim Leff: "Or for nice (not "impressive") looking countertops that are super easy to care for?"

                                                                    Yes. We remodeled our kitchen a few years ago, and decided -- in retrospect it was the right decision -- to surface the countertops with large (6"x6") porcelain ceramic tiles. Before I explain why it was a good decision, let me get to the cautions.

                                                                    At the time we did the kitchen, we never had installed tile ourselves, and were a bit intimidated by it, and we hired a contractor for the entire remodel partially on the basis of his credentials as a tile installer. However, I researched the subject independently of the contractor, and by the time the counter cabinets were in and ready to be surfaced, I was sure that what we needed for the grout between the tiles (we have 1/4" grout lines) was epoxy, not cementious, grout. I was right.

                                                                    However, the contractor flat-out refused to grout with anything but cementious grout, and told me, on the basis of his expertise, that we really did not need epoxy grout, that by adding sufficient latex amendment to cementious grout, it makes a good seal, and is just as good as epoxy grout. He was wrong. Trust me: epoxy grout is what you want.

                                                                    (Two years after the kitchen remodel, we completely redid our main shower, and we found that, among all of the tile installers (we did not call every one, but we called at least three dozen) listed in our metropolitan area, not one -- NOT ONE -- would take the job if we required epoxy grout be used. That is how we decided to do the job entirely on our own, because we knew -- we were right -- that in a poorly ventilated shower, we HAD to have epoxy grout: mold formation on the cementious grout of the existing tile was out of control. When we purchased the epoxy grout -- at that time no area store, including Home Depot and Lowe's, carried it in stock, and so we had to special order it (from the Mapei importer through a local tile specialty store) -- and our grout came in and we went to pick it up, the owner of the tile store inquired of us what contractor we had found who would put the epoxy grout in for us. When we replied that we had not been able to find any contractor who would use epoxy grout and therefore planned to do the job ourselves, he scoffed and told us it it was impossible -- simply impossible -- for amateurs, especially amateurs in their first ever grouting, to install epoxy grout, and that we were just going to ruin a lot of good tile. We became, in that. our first ever, tile job, fairly accomplished tile layers, and -- just perhaps -- the only experienced epoxy grout appliers in the metropolitan area. We proved the tile store owner wrong, in spades.)

                                                                    Back to the advantages of porcelain tile. You undoubtedly know, or can imagine, how easy porcelain ceramic tile is to keep clean. It is a form of glass, and it cleans up like the very hard surfaced glass that it is. Second, the unit size of 6"x6" tile makes it easy to customize and fit to your counter. No special cutting of large slabs of granite or quartz or other materials, no possibility that the pattern cutter of a monolithic slab will make an error -- and what a cutting error of even 1/8" does to the appearance of the counter will over time work on your consciousness like a small chip in a tooth that the tip of your tongue keeps finding. Third, the small troughs of the grout lines actually aid in containing small spills, further aiding clean-up -- and an egg set down on the counter unattended will roll only as far as the grout line and not off the counter. Fourth, if by chance you drop the cast iron dutch oven onto the countertop from a height of a foot or two, you stand a good chance of making a counterwide crack in a monolithic slab, but on a tile counter, you might have to replace only one or two tiles.

                                                                    But insist on epoxy grout. We have sealed and resealed our kitchen cementious grout, and while hardly a Herculean task, resealing grout is not my idea of recreation. And the cementious grout's color has darkened over time. Epoxy grout is virtually maintenance free, virtually nonporous, so it keeps its color, and is just plain better suited to the task. Since the time that we redid our shower, Laticrete (an American company) has greatly improved the workability of epoxy grout (Laticrete calls its epoxy grout SpectraLock) compared to the working properties of the (Italian) Mapei Kerapoxy that was the basis of our education. You probably even can find a contractor who will agree to install SpectraLock (as long as you do not use the dreaded word "epoxy," which terrifies contractors).

                                                                    1. Put a floor drain in under the sink cabinet. If there's one thing I hate, it's cleaning the kitchen floor. I'd much rather dump 2 quarts of soapy water on the floor, scrub, and then squeegee it all down into a floor drain. Rinse and squeegee and you're golden. Since the sink has to drain somewhere, there's already going to be a drainpipe nearby, so the floor under the sink, just under the counter is a good location.

                                                                      Personally, I say skip a vent hood. Instead, knock an 8 to 12 inch hole in an outside wall and install a variable speed fan. You'll get much higher CFM than a hood, and can use the space where the hood would have been for other things, like cabinets. Unless you get a hood that overhangs your stove by 6 inches on all sides, and has a high CFM, some steam and smoke will escape around the sides. Might as well let it all escape and deal with the whole room. Saves you a lot of money, too.

                                                                      I put lights on top of my cabinets, facing up at the ceiling. They reflect off the ceiling so the kitchen is lit by ambient light so.... no shadows. You could also do the same with a centrally mounted hanging light that points upwards. I always hated the shadow my body cast blocking the light from getting to whatever I was working on in the kitchen.

                                                                      People suggested more outlets.. which is good but make sure you also get an extra circuit, too. Most electrical codes require two circuits to be dedicated to a kitchen. I'd say get three, and make sure they're all 20 amp circuits. I just got done rewiring mine because of the two circuits, almost everything wound up on just one, and the breaker would pop on occasion.

                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ThreeGigs

                                                                        I was going to suggest having your cabinets go all the way to the ceiling so you don't have to dust up there. But, I like your ambient light suggestion. Is it a pain to dust up there?


                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          I've got up-lighting on top of my cabinets, too, and really like the effect. All that's visible is the light, itself; the fixtures are hidden by a 3" molding. Truth be told, the area gets dusted infrequently -- maybe a few times a year. Dusting requires a hike up a small stepladder and a vacuum cleaner. Oh... I should also mention that I used to have a cat that liked to perch up there; I guess he liked the warmth from the lights.

                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            Dust? No, I never put dust up there, I'm sure it gets up there all by itself, but since it's so difficult to see I never bother to check.


                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              I agree - current kitchen cupboards were designed to go up to ceiling for that exact reason. No comparison, don't miss the stepladder or greasy dust layer.

                                                                              Sold cupboard doors, no glass, unless you are OCD enough to put everything away perfectly every time. Looks good in movie set kitchens, not real life.

                                                                              Also agree re extra outlets and circuits -

                                                                            2. re: ThreeGigs

                                                                              re outlets; one thing I did was make sure there was one close enough to the sink that I could put my bowl in the sink when I'm using the hand-mixer. I *HATE* having stray batter fly all over the place! And make sure that the outlet is such that your "handedness" works for mixing (assuming you use a hand mixer and not a stand mixer); my old kitchen had the outlet to the left of where I wanted to work and I hated having the cord in the way (I'm a rightie)

                                                                              1. re: ThreeGigs

                                                                                Some of this advice is either hyper-specific or kinda wacky. I'd only put a floor drain under the sink if I had a concrete or tile floor and an open sink cabinet. And if you have one that isn't regularly used, the trap will dry out and you'll have a stinky kitchen from sewer gases.

                                                                                And knocking a hole in the wall instead of putting in a hood is just going to leave everything between the stove and the hole coated in grease (cabinets, walls, ceiling, light fixtures). Unless you're stuck with the 1 in 100,000 case where that's the only thing that will work, it's a bad solution.

                                                                                With enough airflow, a hood that overhangs by 3 inches or is flush with the sides of the stove will work just fine. There's a good article on hoods in the current Fine Homebuilding Kitchens and Baths issue. Includes the different types of capture systems and the guidelines for airflow and placement.

                                                                                1. re: ted

                                                                                  I ASKED for advice that was hyper-specific or kinda wacky. I was looking for advice I couldn't get from conventional sources.

                                                                                  1. re: ted

                                                                                    You don't need an open sink cabinet, just a hole in the floor which is convenient from a plumbing point of view to put near a sink. I suggest putting it under the edge of the bottom cabinet to keep it somewhat out of sight. And it'll work with a tile, concrete or vinyl floor, or a cork floor, or a suitably sealed wooden floor, even.

                                                                                    Hole in the wall + fan = $300 and up to 1000 CFM. Not that you'd ever need 1000 CFM ( I hope), but it beats the cost of a hood vent. Plus a decently designed hood should hang 6 inches over the sides *and front* of a stove to capture smoke well. That means you'd need to mount it about 6 feet 6 inches above the floor to avoid hitting your head. And it turns a 30 inch range into a gap of 42 inches in cabinet space.

                                                                                  2. re: ThreeGigs

                                                                                    The drain under the sink is an excellent idea. I would add to that by having a galvanized pan with drain added under the dishwasher. The drain can be tied into the sink drain with minimal problems and what it can save you if the dishwasher breaks and floods the kitchen makes it a very good investment. I did the same thing with my water heater upstairs, but the plumber also added a line that runs from the water heater to the outside back yard so I can flush the water heater without carrying buckets of water downstairs. However, when I win the lottery I will be replacing the water heater with several "On Demand" water heaters that have MUCH shorter runs to the bathrooms and kitchen.

                                                                                  3. Another thing I remembered. When we were in the design stages of our kitchen, I visited my cousin, who is married to the CEO of a Fortune, lets say 50, company, and has this enormous house. She has a walk in pantry in her kitchen, but given that the kitchen is so large, is about as far away from her cooking area as my basement is from mine! Anyway, I realized that for a lot of pantry goods, you don't need them right underfoot; they can be somewhere else. And I realized that the landing on the way to the basement would be a perfect place to put in floor to ceiling pantry cabinets. That's what we did and it's a great place for things like extra bags of flour, or those large cans of tomatoes when they're on sale, canned beans, etc. Those things you like to have on hand but aren't using every day. So think about whether you can "expand" the footprint of your kitchen to places you might not have thought of.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                      I really like this idea, kind of sounds like a bomb shelter =P

                                                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                                                        My sister-in-law has a pantry down the hall from her kitchen (actually one of her TWO kitchens). The room is approximately 8-10 feet wide & around 15-20 feet long. It contains a refrigerator and LOTS of shelves. It's like having a grocery store in your house.

                                                                                      2. Lots of good suggestions. We just redid our kitchen and here are some lessons learned.

                                                                                        - make sure you have door clearance for everything. If you get a french door fridge make sure that you have clearance on BOTH SIDES - at least enough so that you can take out drawers for cleaning.
                                                                                        - I completely agree with those who have recommended (a) really good faucet (high arc), (b) at least one high BTU burner (actually a low BTU simmer burner is equally useful - braising a pork shoulder right now), (c) appliance caddy (d) microwave NOT over the range. I would have loved to do a vacuum/drain on the floor but were unable to for various reasons.
                                                                                        - we did reconfigure our cabinets for recycling, so there are two pull-out drawers, each of which holds two 33 gallon wastebaskets. We use them for regular garbage, glass/plastic, metal and paper. It's now become extremely easy to be conscientious. A couple of tips: the plastic fills up quickly and we've actually discovered that a 33 gallon basket for regular garbage can often lead to too heavy a bag, so you might want to scale down on that one.
                                                                                        - I agree lots of outlets all over the place. We prefer in the wall to under the counter - easier to get to.
                                                                                        - if you need extra storage for big pots and pans we've discovered that a set of revolving lazy-susan drawers in one of the corners works surprisingly well.

                                                                                        1. I have a picture a friend sent me, but can't get it in here. Shows spice cabinet in the backsplash next to the stove. They cut into the wall to use the few inches that's behind there and 2 glass doors sit flush with the wall and rest of the backsplash. Very cute. I've seen pictures in magazines of similar with sliding doors and open shelves. Another space saver that caught my eye were drawers in toe kicks for flat things like placemats and linens. Not for me, but clever use of space when it's a premium..

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Island

                                                                                            Keep in mind, heat and light and moisture are enemies of herbs/spices. Nothing will deaden the flavor/aroma quicker than storing them near a hot stove or window or sink.

                                                                                            My solutin ? My frig has 2 removable "totes' on the inside of the door. I use one for savory spices, the other of sweet spices. Sometimes I grab individual spices... other times it's easier to grab the whole "tote" and put it on the counter as I mise en place.

                                                                                          2. i'm not sure what your budget is, but i was reading an article recently extolling the virtues of ikea cabinetry. so i went in there with a girlfriend of mine who was redoing her kitchen to get the spiel. i have to say that i was pretty impressed.
                                                                                            bottom line: top of the line hardware (hinges, drawer glides, etc.), amazing customization, great price and a whopping 25 year warranty (which is pretty non-standard).
                                                                                            my friend is going to get the cabinets and have the doors painted a mushroom color. i can't wait to see it! :)

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: raygunclan

                                                                                              We've had Ikea cabinets for five years and love them. A total DIY project so that saved even more money. There's not a single thing we don't like about them. And there's a sea of options available.

                                                                                              1. re: raygunclan

                                                                                                Raygunclan please post back when you have more info how that's working out for your friend. Would love to see pictures too. I have a friend who is considering using them and a contractor we were considering for a project used them when she was flipping houses and won a local kitchen design award for one of them. Pretty stylish.

                                                                                                1. re: Island

                                                                                                  hey island
                                                                                                  she is in the beginning stages of her project. one of the cool things that i saw was that you can go online, enter all of the measurements of your kitchen and where your outlets and gas and water are and the sizes of your appliances and you can basically design your own kitchen. since i cook for a living, this is appealing to me as i know without a doubt how much storage i need, where i like my knives and cutting boards and salt. :) but i think that it would definitely be a good idea if you don't spend a ton of time in the kitchen to have someone lay it out for you. i know that the big box stores have design services that you pay for but then are refunded if you purchase from them.
                                                                                                  you should google ikea cabinets and read the reviews. it is pretty impressive. as with all products in this age of the internet, there are some tales of unhappy people, but the lionshare of the reviews that i read were positive.
                                                                                                  OH! and ii even read that alot of designers put ikea in their homes but put the expensive cabinets in their clients homes. that cracked me up! :)
                                                                                                  i will try to remember to get back as my friend moves forward. she has someone coming out next week to measure. :)

                                                                                                  1. re: Island

                                                                                                    My BIL did it in his house and they look great. He's an interior designer, though, and has a good working knowledge of cabinets. I talked to our contractor about it and he said they can be great IF they're done properly. The problem is people don't so they don't end up even. If every piece isn't perfect, it doesn't work and they look stylish. A contractor can obviously put them together well but if you're paying a professional to assemble them, then you might as well buy the preassembled cabinets. We just had our contractor put in a utility sink in the basement and used the IKEA kitchen cabinet and faucet. The cabinet was fine, but the nuts on the faucet were off. We ended up w/ a huge leak that ruined everything--thankfully we didn't have the carpet put in yet. IKEA replaced the cabinet and faucet but we had to pay the plumber to come back to install it and the painters but the contractor did his work for free. Trying to save a few dollars cost us a lot more money in the end.

                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                      Bob found the hardest part of assembling and installing the cabinets is that they were SO well designed/constructed that there was no wiggle room. Everything was really tight. We didn't use their sink or faucet set so have no opinion on that.

                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                        oh my gosh! i would have been SO pissed!!! i'm glad that you didn't have any other damage! that certainly could have been a nightmare!

                                                                                                  2. As much as I am a fan of high-heat burners, I'd probably shy away from a wok burner.. that's a lot of carbon to vent, and a lot of heat that you don't want catching the back wall of your kitchen on fire.

                                                                                                    Don't be afraid to mix countertop styles.. and a big sink means one important thing - you can clean BIG cuttingboards.

                                                                                                    And think of social aspect.. when I entertain, people end up sitting in the kitchen a lot.. a half-wall with a serving bar helps a lot.

                                                                                                    Hard-wire in your smoke detectors - most code requires it now.

                                                                                                    Oh - and wire in co-ax for a cable tv connection.. I like having a small flat-panel TV (or PC monitor) to watch when I am prepping away..

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: grant.cook

                                                                                                      yes, wire now for co-ax and computer during the remodel stage, even if you don't plan to use right away.

                                                                                                      Cheaper to wire with bare studs/ walls , then to try wiring years later.

                                                                                                    2. plenty of drawers well I like them for utensils, cloths etc

                                                                                                      good working height, plenty of workspace.

                                                                                                      1. "Any other clever moves I won't hear about at the kitchen design place? E.g. resourceful ways to incorporate a chopping/slicing station in a home kitchen?"

                                                                                                        Jim, I don't know how clever or resourceful this is but having a prep sink (more later) and/or trash close by the prep station is very helpful to me. With a large center island that I use for prep, I have both right where I do the most work and it's not far from the fridge which cuts down on trips. I wanted a hole cut in the counter directly over the trash but lost that battle ........... so now I do more scraping than I would have. A "prep sink" per se is usually too small to accomodate a garbage disposal so I chose a slightly larger model. I made certain this would hold a dinner plate which some of them don't.

                                                                                                        Knives mounted close by the prep area or (here comes another cut into the countertop) in a slot on the counter are very handy.

                                                                                                        When thinking kitchen design too many of the designers are married to the Work Triangle. Don't discard this idea completely - it has withstood the test of time - but superimpose the wet-dry, hot-cold thought. It means deconstructing your habits and figuring out what you do most; does it involve wet? or is it dry? cold? or does it require heat? When you stand back and watch yourself (metaphorically), some things pop. Whatever you learn, incorporate into your kitchen plan.

                                                                                                        Lighting is very important and unless you have targeted where you want to stand while doing the majority of your tasks, it is possible the lighting will be symetrical on the ceiling but cast shadows on your work area. I've found that undercounter lighting is lovely to look at but not all that utilitarian for me (and don't store anything that can melt in the cupboard abpove the lights).

                                                                                                        Ten years ago hardly anyone was using heavy duty full extension hardware for drawers in the kitchen. Not only the expected silverware drawer but actual drawers for plates, bowls and cookware. We hired a cabinetmaker who is a gem and made full use of all those odd inches that are often wasted. I love the drawers but know, from reading these posts, there are others who hate/despise them. You have to know yourself. Ditto for the potfill. I cherish mine and ignore all the talk about potential leaks -- if I worried about leaks, I wouldn't have a water heater either. With my lousy back, I would rather lug a heavy pot once instead of twice.

                                                                                                        I am not the "industry standard" six foot male so I lowered my cooktop to fit me, ditto for the island. My tall sons, who do not live at home any longer, do not like this but I couldn't be more pleased.

                                                                                                        ".................. home chef who doesn't do particularly ambitious recipes, and who mostly makes stuff up as he goes along......" Having your "stuff" where you can see it, both for inspiration and ease of availability, would be high on my list.

                                                                                                        Whatever you choose for a cooktop, listen to the excellent advice about having a heavy-duty fan. Do not mount it too high either, it loses much of its "oomph" when there are additional inches. Again, take measurements and make it work for you. I love having a shelf over my cooktop and use it constantly - plates warm for our supper, extra towels are stacked for my convenience, ingredients are lined up for use while I'm cooking, etc. Others hate this saying it only serves to collect grease.

                                                                                                        European pull-out pantries make great use of those odd 15" places that can creep into the design scheme. Everything is visible and available from either side. Yes, the yuppies have embraced these but it in no way diminishes their utility.

                                                                                                        Our griddle gets a daily workout but others use them only to cover with something attractive. Mine is a workhorse and I wouldn't dream of covering it unless it was with quesadillas (our lunch today).

                                                                                                        You're savvy enough to know that taking advice from:
                                                                                                        1. someone who stands to make money selling you goods
                                                                                                        2. will walk away at the end of the job, leaving you "his" kitchen
                                                                                                        is a horrible idea.

                                                                                                        Finally, despite all your talk about not having a splashy, yuppie, snazzy kitchen, do make this as attractive as you can manage. It's lovely to work in a handsome space.

                                                                                                        1. I haven't seen this posted yet, and it is probably unconventional: slatwall.

                                                                                                          Doing a DIY home kitchen reno right now, and my plan includes mounting slatwall. You typically see this stuff in retail spaces to hold merchandise hooks and such. The cool thing about slatwall is that the slots are industry standard and there are countless (relatively cheap) attachments you can get to hook into the wall -- hooks, brackets, shelves, etc. Plus, loads of flexibility.

                                                                                                          Most slatwall is sold in 4'x8' panels, but you can also buy slatwall "strips" that you can position with more flexibility. Many vendors sell slatwall both for retail and commercial buyers, and with many finishes, from plain unpainted MDF to bare aluminum to powder coated to melamine in various colors.

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: thebordella

                                                                                                            What do you mean "mounting"? As a standalone wall or over drywall. Sounds intriguing but can't quite picture it.

                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                              Oh, sorry -- you mount the slatwall panels (or strips) to regular drywall. The panels are usually 3/4 inch thick.

                                                                                                              Here is some slatwall mounted in a garage:


                                                                                                              Here is some slatwall in a possible kitchen usage:


                                                                                                              You can buy standalone slatwall displays but these cost a lot more than wallmount panels.

                                                                                                            2. re: thebordella

                                                                                                              Julia Child's Cambridge kitchen was moved to the Smithsonian (the Museum of American History). Most of the kitchen walls had boards with little holes to hang stuff - probably what you're calling slatwall. I just hung racks with "S" hooks on the side of my double ovens, and use that to hang things like the mandolin. Underneath the hanging implements, I have magnetic strips to hang my knives.

                                                                                                              1. re: Niki in Dayton

                                                                                                                Julia Child's kitchen walls were covered with Peg Board, usually a sheet of Masonite with 1/4 inch holes drilled in a grid all over it. It's still available, along with a gazillion kinds of hanging devices that fit into the holes. Slat Wall is just that. It has horizontal slats that allow you to use special made hangers to hang things at any position along the slats. With Peg Board, you can only move things to one siee or another, or up and down, in quarer inch increments. With slat board the limits are on the vertical repositioning, but horizontal is infinite.

                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                  Thanks for the clarification, Caroline. Seeing her kitchen inspired me to hang the implements I use often, and it surely saves time finding stuff!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Niki in Dayton

                                                                                                                    I used to hang everything on my ceiling pot rack. Not just pots and pans, but ladles, food mills, molds, champagne buckets, all sorts of things. This house doesn't allow it, and wow, the cabinet space that is taken up by things that never lived in cabinets before!

                                                                                                            3. My cousin gutted his entire house. Beforehand he found a not for profit that salvaged usable things like cabinets, windows, lighting fixtures etc for recycle. Keeps a ton of stuff out of the landfill.

                                                                                                              The under cabinet vacuum is great if you have a roomba which tends to shoot everything under the cabinets. You'll never sweep again!

                                                                                                              I don't know where you live but the misery that is a cold kitchen floor in the morning is totally avoidable with underfloor heating. It is so cozy.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Tumkers

                                                                                                                underfloor heating in my kitchen will come after I install the under bluestone sprinkler system around the pool to keep those feetsies from getting too hot! Both will have to wait till I win the lottery!

                                                                                                              2. Jim, something that I haven't seen mentioned, but a feature that I love is my pull-up mixer shelf. It is installed in a base cabinet and there is a plug in the back. The KitchenAid mixer lives on this shelf. It pulls up and locks for use, then unlocks and swings back down into the cabinet for storage. I've had one in my last two kitchens (since 1982) and have one planned into the one for our new house. (Hoping to start building next year.) You have to be willing to use some of your base cabinet space, but for me it is worth it to have the counter space free and to not have to lug the mixer around.

                                                                                                                I love black countertops and am looking into science lab table tops for the new house. As near as I can tell, they are virtually indestructable. I don't want stone or concrete counters because I don't like that hard of a surface. Got the idea from a friend who is a chemistry teacher and chose that route.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: decolady

                                                                                                                  Decolady I was wondering about those pull up mixer shelves. The shelf looks to be just big enough for the mixer so i picture more flour, sugar, etc getting on the floor. Not an issue or do you have to be extra careful?
                                                                                                                  Just got the latest issue of San Diego Magazine that featured a few kitchen remodels. One mentioned the designer included "a dedicated appliance cabinet with a pop up work counter that houses a gelato maker and a food processor" because friday night pizza and gelato is a regular affair. Unfortunately they didn't show it, but sounds similar so I'm guessing a pop up could vary in size?

                                                                                                                  Friend of mine just redid her kitchen. Wanted to get rid of the over range micro/vent combo. Didn't want to bend for a drawer micro, and the only spot in the upper would have been an eyesore so she has a stand alone hidden in a small cabinet with a pull up door and a plug inside. Like an above counter appliance garage. It blends well with the other cabinets and she saved a lot on the cost of the microwave.

                                                                                                                2. Standard counter tops are 24" deep. If you're able to make them deeper, go for it !!
                                                                                                                  You'll have more room to work, and the upper cabinets won't be so close to your face.

                                                                                                                  Standard counter are 36" high. If someone in your household does alot of rolling pastry or kneading bread, a lower height is more comfortable. You might consider having a lower section of the counter to accomodate. And if there's space underneath for a stool, it can double as a sitting area for a guest or two.

                                                                                                                  Skip the hardware on cabinets. Hardware becomes dated in a couple of years. And if later on, you decide to replace them, you're limited by your previous choice, ie 1 hole drilled for knob, or 2 holes drilled for pulls.
                                                                                                                  ... My current kitchen has knobs. I have some rather 'choice words' when my clothing catches on them. So my next kitchen - "no hardware for me ".
                                                                                                                  Or another solution : Design the countertop to overhang more than the standard 1 to 1.5 inches over the front of cabinets. Extra bonus - a little more room for your knees when you've been on your feet all day. And you'll find the front of your lower cabinets will stay alot cleaner.

                                                                                                                  What to STAY inspired to Cook ? Build a "cookbook nook" to showcase a few of your latest or favorite cookbooks : Make a recessed spot between a couple of studs - finish it off, and viola, instant display for cookbook.
                                                                                                                  Be sure the back can accomodate magnets or pushpins - for that ONE inspirational page of Bon Appetit or picture of your last dinner party. ( don't want this to look like a clutter refrigerator door . no, this is the place to showcase and inspire. Show off a work of art.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: LauraB706

                                                                                                                    Here's an alternative to having a 'pastry station" with a lower countertop. An EXTREMELY heavy duty pull-out work surface positioned at approx 28 inches high.

                                                                                                                    Fast forward to 3:22 in this video : ( Courtesy of Chow's Cooking with Grandma Paola )
                                                                                                                    That's one heck of a pastry station !!

                                                                                                                  2. My main suggestion is to make sure you have one counter top that is completely clear of big appliances, sinks etc. That way you have a dedicated work surface. I have a pretty small kitchen, but it is set up this way and am constantly pleased how "workable" my small kitchen is.

                                                                                                                    Many much larger kitchens seem to have less counter space than mine.

                                                                                                                    1. Also, I have been very pleased with using a drawer for my spices (keeps the heat & light etc out)... to keep them from spinning I use French Square spice jars.

                                                                                                                      I have a link to the ones I bought on #5 on this page http://globaltableadventure.com/my-ad... Generally I love them, except I'm thinking about replacing the lids as they don't lock as well as I'd like.

                                                                                                                      1. Things I like about our kitchen that I picked up mostly from THS:

                                                                                                                        - Frameless cabinets; the style works for us in Shaker style cherry doors; the advantages for full use of the boxes with all the drawers we have made tons of sense

                                                                                                                        - Add an inch of depth to the upper cabinets- another poster mentioned putting in 14" deep uppers; we just did 13" deep and that has worked fine and doesn't overhang the counter too much.

                                                                                                                        - If you have the time to get in their line for production and you have a design to take to them, Scherr's cabinets are a great bargain; we put in the equivalent of a Woodmode kitchen for about half what the local dealers quoted me. They can do all the custom sizes/features as a matter of course.

                                                                                                                        -Like others have said, lots of drawers with heavy duty, full extension slides (we have Blum ones); all of our dishes, serving trays, and pots/pans are in drawers and are much easier to get to. We have 2 pantries- the one in the kitchen cabinet is all pull out trays, which has worked out well.

                                                                                                                        - Pull out garbage cans in the largest size you can fit. We put in a Rev-a-Shelf one with 2 cans (one trash, one recycling).

                                                                                                                        -Countertop airswitch for the disposal (made even more sense b/c our sink is in an island).

                                                                                                                        -Never MT for the soap dispenser- we have a giant bottle of dish soap hooked up under the sink and a small soap dispenser sitting on the counter by the sink for hand soap.

                                                                                                                        -GE fluorescent undercabinet lights from Home Depot. We put these in and they're instant-on, great light color, and I've replaced one bulb in 5 years. No heat to the upper cabs like halogen or xenon. Haven't looked at what they sell lately, but they're the ones that are the thinnest and linkable. That and they are very reasonably priced compared to Kichler, et al.

                                                                                                                        -We didn't go with the full on pull-out-and-up stand mixer lift. But we do have all the countertop stuff (mixer, blender, food processor, etc) on a pull out tray in the bottom of a regular cabinet

                                                                                                                        -I'm not sure where ThreeGigs (see above) got the idea that a hood has to overhang by 6" either side, but ours is 42" wide by 27" deep over a 36" range and has worked great, even when wokking on the 22k BTU Bluestar burner.

                                                                                                                        - I was very against getting a fridge with a dispenser b/c of the loss of freezer space, but it's turned out to be a good thing that also keeps you from opening the door for ice and wasting energy. The proprietary water filters are annoyingly expensive, but I shop around and stock up when I find a good price.

                                                                                                                        Things I have seen and don't love:

                                                                                                                        - Microwave under the counter. Might make sense when you're really space constrained. But we recently stayed in a vacation rental that had one and it was just annoying to bend over to see what you were doing and what buttons you were pressing

                                                                                                                        - Don't forget about the work triangle. Someone else said this, but I'll reiterate just to put a lot of thought into how you cook and where things go. Our kitchen is pretty big, and one thing I don't love is that the everyday dishes are on the opposite side of the room from the fridge. When the Chowpup graduates from special cups, etc, the drawer that has all that stuff is going to get emptied in favor of the everyday dishes.

                                                                                                                        - I still need to make drawer divider inserts for our drawers of tools, etc. These would definitely add some order that we're lacking.

                                                                                                                        -Ice machines. Wastes water and energy 24/7. Unless you're a family of 10, you can buy bags of ice when you need extra for the next 10 years and still not spend as much. Classic big, wasteful American status symbol.

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: ted

                                                                                                                          May I suggest you make your countertups deeper than the standard 24" - you'll have more
                                                                                                                          workspace. More room for small appliances,canisters/ etc on the counter.
                                                                                                                          And the uppper cabinets won't be 'in your face' as your working.

                                                                                                                          You're then able to make your lower cabinets deeper - ie even more storage .

                                                                                                                          You mentioend you have a larger kitchen, so the following won't apply to you. But for those of us that have a smaller space, and debating if there's Really enough room for an island or if it woudl be too cramped : I'd opt for Deeper existing counters instead of having an island with cramped traffic area. just a thought.

                                                                                                                          1. re: LauraB706

                                                                                                                            Our island is big- approx 5' x 8'. The vast majority of prep work gets done there, so the overhang isn't an issue. I like what we have- the only thing I might change is that the sink and stove are on opposite sides of a 42" wide aisle, which isn't much room when you're working at both at the same time.

                                                                                                                            If I was going with deeper counters and base cabs, I'd definitely go for pull out trays/drawers instead of shelves so you don't lose stuff in the cavern under the counter. The one question I have is whether the slides are available longer. All the casework isn't a big deal to size however big/deep (if you're going custom), but the slides may not be available in different lengths.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ted

                                                                                                                              I just looked at mine to make sure and the slides are available in longer lengths, but if not, it would seem that you could cheat the slides a little.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ted

                                                                                                                                Knape and Vogt make full-extension slides at least 60" deep. Not available at Home Depot, but a cabinet maker will have no problems getting them.

                                                                                                                          2. This is very person specific but I'd have a bake area with a marble countertop where I could leave my kitchenaid up. I've seen those pull out drawers for kitchenaids but they're not heavy duty enough for heavy dough. Being short (again specific), I'd have the countertop lower than standard height so I can knead dough, cut pasta, etc. easily. I'd put in built in, pull out pasta rack holders, kind of like a laundry one for clothes, to dry pasta. I'd have a pull out cart that slides under the counter, where I'd have all the baking supplies, ingredients, etc. Because I'm limited on space, I could pull out the cart and use the countertop as a desk.

                                                                                                                            One thing I've seen on HGTV is a redesign w/ holes cut in the countertop that lead to trash/composting bins. I love the idea of just tossing and not having a garbage bowl, removing the lid, etc. I'd also get a kitchen composter, if I had the space. But, that's in part because it gets cold/snowy in the winter and I love not having to take it outside.

                                                                                                                            I don't know if you're looking to cut costs but I found a stainless steel hood, brand new, on eBay. The person was remodeling his house, bought the wrong size but had punched out the back to install and couldn't return it. I also found my granite countertops on eBay. The guy used to own a shop in my area, closed up his formal shop to surf and worked out of back of his van. I bought mine for less than $3000 but had gotten quotes for up to $10,000 for the same job. It does take time and patience, though.

                                                                                                                            As a side note, I'd avoid the GE Profile free standing stove. The back burners are partially under the back control panel so that you can only use small pans back there. I normally have big pots of stew, pasta, etc on the back burners and cook on the front ones but I can't do that. It's very poorly designed. And, I have to wash my dishes before using the matching dishwasher. Possibly the worst set of purchases I've made.

                                                                                                                            1. "E.g. resourceful ways to incorporate a chopping/slicing station in a home kitchen?"

                                                                                                                              I'm not familiar with that term. ???

                                                                                                                              1. We did our kitchen 4 years ago. The things that we did that turned out well include:

                                                                                                                                Big big drawers in the base cabinets, not doors and shelves. Our cabinetmaker built them with only three drawers, not the usual four--means less space is wasted, and you can get enormous numbers of big pots and other cookware in there. Would never do cabinets any other way.

                                                                                                                                Bluestar cook top with vent-a-hood hood. Love it, and I do a lot of wok cooking on the 22k btu units (standard steel wok from Chinese grocery) and it heats hot and fast. I've never used one of these big 130k burners everybody talks about, but the 22k unit works fine for me. OTOH, if I were to do it all over, I'd certainly have a hard look at induction.

                                                                                                                                We did a hybrid strategy on counter tops--Silestone top on the island, but to save money did laminates elsewhere (cooktop is on island). Not "cool," but they are fine, and certainly extremely easy to keep clean. Bottom line--you don't have to do expensive stone tops everywhere, just where they are really useful.

                                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                                  I don't want to dilute the thread by personally thanking every poster. Plus I'm sort of overwhelmed, and need to time to work through all this great advice. But thanks to all.

                                                                                                                                  This also makes me realize how personal it all is. A number of suggestions are really smart, but wouldn't be of any use to me at all. I feel sorry for people who put themselves in the hand of kitchen designers, as only you know what you need.....

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                    Kitchen designers, at least the one I worked with, gave me a very basic design, and then asked what I wanted and needed. I would recommend a designer to anyone contemplating a remodel. They gave me tons of good advice, and their software is pretty awesome. Real time designing of exact placements and measurements and 3d printouts of the kitchen was soo cool.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                                      I agree. A good kitchen designer is valuable. But of course only goes so far. He first suggested a spice drawer and showed a lovely picture of one with 50 identical bottles in it. I have 150 bottles of various sizes and shapes. I said that, so he showed me a whole spice (upper) cabinet that is perfect for me, with swing out inner sheves. You just need to keep thinking about whether what's suggested works for you. Our designer also did a great job of absolutely minimizing dead space in our huge island, and was also valuable in making sure that all the access ways were of an appropriate size. Another thing that was very valuable was before we ordered the cabinets, our contractor and the kitchen designer came to our house and put duct tape on the floor to show us where everything would be. As a result we shortened one run of cabinets by 12 inches so that we would have a larger opening to the family room. They showed us what all the view lines would be to other rooms as well.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                        Your comment about the tape is an excellent. When we were doing our whole house remodel and addition, the floorplan showed the hearth but didn't show that it was raised. If we had built the kitchen wall out to where it was designed we would have had a too narrow opening. It would have been a HUGE error. Great advice, DG.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                                        I agree, a kitchen designer can really help. We're do-it-yourselfers, with a strong idea of what we wanted and didn't want, but the approx. 9 hours (over 4 sessions) that we spent talking to a designer really improved the final result.

                                                                                                                                        Well, we're in the middle of the re-do, so final judgment isn't in!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                                          Ditto the value of a good kitchen designer. They will make all your "clever offbeat" ideas WORK in your space! (They should also have more clever ideas of your own that you've never though of.)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                                            Agree on using a designer especially if you plan to change lay out or move a wall as we hope to. problem is here, we can't find any designers willing to even do a rough unless you pay for it and it gets applied to the purchase if you go with them. Problem is if you don't like what they've come up with your stuck. We're out 8 grand because a designer we finally felt comfortable with couldn't come up with anything more creative than what we could visualize ourselves...and that's just for line layout done on a computer (not sure what you call it) and printed on large paper. No computer color, walk thru visualization, etc. I've seen his kitchens and he does beautiful work, but they've all been huge kitchens and with that space even I could probably have pulled something together, but what he's delivered is not working in our average kitchen. I'm afraid to pull the trigger and start over with someone else.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                              Have you tried going straight to any cabinet makers' showrooms?
                                                                                                                                              I'd also bet there are places online to get roughs of your kitchen if you provide dimensions.
                                                                                                                                              Our designer was simply a guy in the cabinet maker's showroom. We brought our contractor's measurements, and he came up with a very basic design. Sent us home with it, and said come back in a week, write down everything you want, and anything you do not like about the initial design. It was all free. (although it was semi understood that we would be buying their cabinets-but there was no contract in place.) We could have easily gone elsewhere with his design with no issues. If I were to do another remodel, I;d go to several different (free) designers, and see what they all come up with.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                                                We've been to kitchen designers, design build firms and cabinet makers. Since we were considering moving walls, swapping the kitchen for the dining room, stuff like that it was out of the scope of the cabinet makers and kitchen only shops. We want a company that can manage it all, need it since my husband and I both work full time and then some. If I wasn't moving things or considering white I'd go there in a flash

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Island

                                                                                                                                                Just try to compare the work to that done by an architect or an engineer - or a doctor or lawyer for that matter. You pay for their time and expertise whether you take or like their advice or not. You probably got working plans, the kind of thing that will need to be presented with an application for a building permit and also what your contractor will work off of. Hopefully the fact that he came up with the same thing that you did means that you had a great design in mind :) Good luck.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                  I agree, but I'd expect them all to deliver and that isn't the case here. We found a lot of things in his designs that were glaringly off: windows not centered, sinks not centered. Turning the design over to an office assistant to churn out, . Not 8K worth of design and completely missing the things we talked about, bringing us the same drawings we've already nixed. I never would have expected this and if I was smart I would have made him add an out clause if he didn't deliver. That's what my sister did, but she lives in a different area. We paid for a design we could walk away with and have someone else build and that isn't what we got. Even on the slim chance he works it out, with all the bad drawings I'm not feeling confident about him executing it. Yes you're paying for a pros time, but you expect pro work. If I wanted the same kitchen I already have I wouldn't need him. Sounds like many people here have been able to get good design advice without an 8K loss. Lucky you!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the additional info. Sounds like a total screw up to me. And we didn't pay $8K for our whole house design. And we live in a stupidly crazy area.

                                                                                                                                        2. 1) Design: Involve a professional. An architect, an interior designer, a kitchen designer. They have seen and worked on a lot of kitchens, and have a good feeling about what looks like it will work - but won't, and what seems strange but really does work. Someone experienced to discuss your quirky ideas with. A good designer will also be able to think 'outside the box' and ask you questions about some of the limitations you may have put in your thinking without realizing it.

                                                                                                                                          2) Your personal style. Everyone has a different way of doing things, as has been discussed before. I know I could never live with foot pedals for a sink, I never wear shoes in the house (its a Hawaii thing) and I'm a klutz - I have a small (narrow) kitchen and I would constantly be stubbing my toes. I've got a big lever styel faucet, so even if my hands are dirty, I still have my elbows. For others, foot pedals are a real time saver/convenience. One size does not fit all. If it did that enormous (and helpful) thread on kitchen counters would be three posts.

                                                                                                                                          3) Heights: It is really difficult to vary counter heights, appliances are all based on 36" counters. But if you are 5-1, 36" is too tall, and if you are 6-4, 36" is too low. for most of the rest of us, its a good compromise. same with deep counters. they are great if you are over 5-3 or so. Standard upper cabinets are 24" above the counter. For a lot of people, thats too high. but if you go much less then it can impact the usefulness of the counter, 18" is about minimum. I once designed a kitchen for a woman who was 5-1. The counters were all at 30" and the upper cabinets only 15 inches above that. Her son was 6-2, it drove him nuts, but it was perfect for her. Whoever buys the house next will just have to deal with it, or redo the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                          4) I just did a kitchen remodel for someone who's family has a history of arthritis. Except for one lazy susan i a corner, and the cabinet under the sink, everything undercounter was drawers. Most of them had only 3 (a shallow one on top, two deep ones under that.) She won't have to be bending over or getting down on her hands and knees to see what's in the back of a cabinet. And the cost wasn't that much more. She loves it. She didn't want pull out shelves because she thought it was silly to have to open the cabinet doors all the way then pull out a shelf.

                                                                                                                                          Have fun

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                            Couple of thoughts. As to spices, one additional thing we did was to have our cabinet maker leave about 5" room behind the cabinet doors. Then I went to Container Store and bought their standard 3 1/2" wire shelves (its a single strip that screws onto the door back, and basket shelves that clip in to the strips). This gave us easy reach to 3 1/2" basket shelves that are the right size for the large standard herb and spice bottles, which is how I buy most spices. We can also use them to store canned goods of all kinds, cartons of broth, etc etc.

                                                                                                                                            Appliances don't have any impact on having counters more than 36"--you just need to put in a little piece of filler above them, which is trivial. As to cabinets lower than 36", you don't have to have all your cabinets the same height--just do 36 for the DW (and probably the sink which must be adjacent), and lower elsewhere. Of course that makes the sink height an issue for a short person, but perhaps a cabinet maker could come up with a simple fold-out step below the sink that would solve that problem? Just a thought.

                                                                                                                                          2. Jim - I forgot to mentionjj in my initial note that the corner cabinets are a huge help. I have one on top that has a two platter lazy susan that holds most of my spices, very conveniently accessible.

                                                                                                                                            Under the counter is a corner cabinet - it has a folding door that opens to a cavernous space - great for large things like my rondeaux (most recently used for lamb/fennel stew). The size of the opening allows you to easily fit large items in. Only downside is that stuff can get lost in the great space that it has, but if ytou use it as intended - for big equipment, it is great.


                                                                                                                                            1. Corner pantry - great use of the otherwise a decent amount of dead space.

                                                                                                                                              You wouldn't believe how much I can pack in that pantry. There is absolutely no way I could have fit it into cabinets/counter in the corner of the kitchen, if I didn't have the pantry.

                                                                                                                                              btw - I'll admit he doors look dated - but it's been a few years.

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: LauraB706

                                                                                                                                                That is an excellent use of a corner in a kitchen! I will have to keep this in mind when I do my kitchen and hopefully it works out for my layout when I buy a house :)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cannibal

                                                                                                                                                  We just inherited a corner cupboard when MIL passed away. I have it in the dining room and moved all the wine glasses into which freed up a ton of space in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                  Laura, can you walk into that? It looks great.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                    Absolutely, walk right in.

                                                                                                                                                    Adjustable shelving on the back 2 walls (shaped like a "L" ) - approx 14" deep.
                                                                                                                                                    Light fixture on the ceiling.
                                                                                                                                                    Floor space ..... there's plenty of room on the floor for cases of water / other items from those crazzzzy Costco shopping sprees.

                                                                                                                                                    I used inexpensive 'rubbermaid containers' from WalMart to keep things organized on the shelves. They're sealable, and easy to pull towards you to get something in the back. For smaller items such as cake decorating supplies for the kids projects - I simply carry the containter to the counter.

                                                                                                                                              2. here is the best advice i received when doing my own remodel: once you have your kitchen design, sit down and really map out where you will store everything in the new kitchen. I loved my design and thought it had it all. But when I sat down and looked at what I had in my existing cabinets, I realized I hadn't accounted for everything.

                                                                                                                                                other random thoughts/suggestions:
                                                                                                                                                avoid a pot-filler. A good friend has had repeated trouble with dripping. unless your kitchen is going to be huge, get a gooseneck for the sink and save your $$$ for something else.

                                                                                                                                                dont skimp on a faucet. this is the single most used thing in your kitchen. and avoid the pull out sprayers - I had multiple people warn me about them not retracting right and not lasting.

                                                                                                                                                In an effort to free up as much counter space as possible I put the microwave in the island. an earlier post said they found it inconvenient there, but I love it. out of sight and I don't use it for much besides reheating, so the occasional bend isn't an issue.

                                                                                                                                                Take a look at honed granite counters. We started out with concrete (I didnt want a high gloss finish which i find blinding), but the sealer kept failing. we ended up replacing them with honed granite which has been fantastic. check out absolute black - looks similar to soapstone, but wears much better - no scratching. and no maintenance.

                                                                                                                                                I also wanted to limit the number of outlets/switches in my backsplash. My builder recommended against under-cabinet outlets, and I'm glad they did. while you dont see the outlet, you'll still see a cord hanging down. We did hide the disposal switch in the cabinet under the sink. air switches are another option.

                                                                                                                                                the soft close cabinet drawers are nice, but you give up drawer depth to have them. same with those lovely pantry pull out shelves. what I gained in space front to back, I lost side to side because the brackets and hardware take up 2-3" on each side of the pull-out. A 14" wide cabinet will NOT have 14" wide storage. Plan accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                in our last kitchen we had an electrician install a couple switch activated outlets above the cabinets and then we just laid white christmas lights along the top. we got that nice uplighting, but didnt pay for expensive fixtures you dont see anyway.

                                                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: sue_g

                                                                                                                                                  "once you have your kitchen design, sit down and really map out where you will store everything in the new kitchen. I loved my design and thought it had it all. But when I sat down and looked at what I had in my existing cabinets, I realized I hadn't accounted for everything."

                                                                                                                                                  I think this is great advice.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                    I did that also, and made some changes as a result.

                                                                                                                                                    Re: losing space on sides of pull out shelves-- yes it is as described, but I'd still never change and not have them-- it is still so worth it.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                      I have pull out shelves too - in a really long lower cabinet. I agree, wouldn't change them for anything. (My other lower cabinets are all deep drawers. Awesome.) In fact, my biggest regret in the kitchen is that I didn't do pull out shelves in the "pantry" cabinet. I know you lose some space - but I'm always losing stuff in the back of the shelves. It really stinks. I need to have pull out shelves installed in there before I lose my mind.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                      Agree, great advice about planning where you'll put things before finalizing the design. I keep thinking I want a bigger kitchen, but it's sure convienient to be able to grab from the pantry fridge and back to the cooktop or sink in a few steps or pivot.

                                                                                                                                                      Good point about remembering you'll lose some space with the pull outs. Also with drawers you can't pile as high as you can in a cabinet because you have to have clearance to open the drawer.
                                                                                                                                                      And if you go for insert doors and drawers you also lose space. For some manufacturers you can't fit a standard dinner plate in some uppers without going custom! I love the look though, but I think in general they're much more expensive??

                                                                                                                                                      I don't leave any appliances on the counter so cords dangling down from under cab outlets is not an issue, but it certainly would be if I did. Another good point!

                                                                                                                                                      Yes to the air switch. I just missed out on that with my last remodel. Where do most of you put yours? Sink deck, backsplash or wall right by the sink or ?

                                                                                                                                                      I love this thread!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                        That is great advice - and as a kitchen designer, a big part of my design process is deciding what goes where. I know some designers just do the aesthetic thing, and leave it up to you to figure out where your stuff goes, but since I cook and clean up every day, my focus is on function first.

                                                                                                                                                        Take a list of what is going in the new cabinets with you to your designer, and try to work from that point of view, rather than just making a pretty kitchen. (It certainly can be pretty and functional at the same time).

                                                                                                                                                        When I go to measure the old kitchen at the start of the process, I look into drawers and cabinets and discuss what is in each and how convenient that cabinet is. The fun part is when I ask why they have their mother's old skillets/blenders/pans in there and when was the last time they were used. One homeowner was thrilled to realize that all that stuff didn't have to stay in her kitchen, even if she wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons.

                                                                                                                                                        Which reminds me - here's a bit of advice I give all my clients. When you empty out the old cabinets, before demo, take everything to the garage or basement - glasses, dishes, pots and pans, appliances...
                                                                                                                                                        After the new kitchen is installed and ready to go, bring back each of your things only as you need them. Whatever is left downstairs after a year goes to charity, because you really don't need that cluttering up your new cabinets. (My rarely-used personal exception is the pasta machine, but it's small and out of the way)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                          "...as a kitchen designer, a big part of my design process is deciding what goes where. I know some designers just do the aesthetic thing, and leave it up to you to figure out where your stuff goes, but since I cook and clean up every day, my focus is on function first."

                                                                                                                                                          jmcarthur8 we need more designers like you! I think there are MANY designers who just do the "aesthetic thing". Often suggesting what's trendy, like the minimal upper cabinet thing when I already have a small kitchen and a lack of storage space! At least I know when I hear that I don't have to go further with that designer.

                                                                                                                                                          LOVE your idea about only bringing in what you need after the remodel. After our last kitchen remodel I tossed stuff as I packed it to move out of the old kitchen, but brought everything else back in after the remodel. That was 10 years ago and I bet there is stuff in there that hasn't seen the light of day since! Including my pasta machine. I should at least move that to the garage with the rarely used bread machine and the fondue pot I got for my wedding almost 25 years ago. I should try that. It's a Le Creuset and I didn't have a clue what that brand was 25 years ago. LOL.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: sue_g

                                                                                                                                                        A friend has honed granite (white, grayish) that you'd swear was marble. Stunning.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sue_g

                                                                                                                                                          I designed my own kitchen. The first thing I did, before any design was consider what I had to store and where it would be convenient to the task. I also took a hard look at what and how I cook. I read as much as I could. I was fortunate to have a carpenter who specializes in kitchens build all my cabinets. It was actually less expensive than HD.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sue_g

                                                                                                                                                            dont skimp on a faucet. this is the single most used thing in your kitchen. and avoid the pull out sprayers - I had multiple people warn me about them not retracting right and not lasting.....sue_g

                                                                                                                                                            If anyone has a problem with the faucet hose not retracting, it is a very simple problem to fix. You simply add a donut shaped weight on the hose under the sink. If you can't do it yourself, it's a simple matter for a plumber or a handy man. As for the hoses wearing out, how long do you want one to last? I have a retractable faucet in my kitchen and the sprayer can be switched from spray tostream. If I have to replace the hose every ten years or so, it's a bargain for what I gain in convenience. It's a ceramic faucet with no rubber washers to wear out. What may have been true a decade or so ago is no longer true today. Keep in mind that when a plumber tell you he has recently repaired or replaced hoses or pull-out faucets, he's NOT talking about today's model faucets. The technology has much improved.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                              I agree. I'd never give up my pull-out sprayer over some issue about it not lasting. My last one lasted approximately 20 years (from the original kitchen to when we redid the kitchen)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                Love mine too. Rather pull out to fill a large vase on the counter than have to put the vase in the deep sink. Also easier to swish it around and rinse my sink. Mine is 10 years old and going strong. However mine wasn't expensive. First had a $500 European (can't remember the name) model that leaked all the time, dripping down the spray hose into the base cabinet. I was able to return it and bought a < $200 Price Pfister at Home Expo. I wouldn't have spent that much except I wanted brushed nickel which was just starting to show up here and there weren't many options. I'm sure I'll be in sticker shock when I start pricing them again!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                                                  Hello Island,

                                                                                                                                                                  We're happy to hear you're enjoying your Price Pfister kitchen faucet.

                                                                                                                                                                  Best Regards,

                                                                                                                                                                  The Pfister Faucets Team

                                                                                                                                                          2. Just from my own perspective, I will never have white cupboards again. It is really hard to keep them clean.

                                                                                                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                                                              boyzoma. Bummer to hear that. How long have you had them and are they paint finish or other? I've had a white dream kitchen in my head for so long I don't even know what I'd go with instead. Natural cherry had been done to death here and then came dark expresso which has also been around a long time. I still like those colors of wood, but don't want to pick something that ends up a passe trend. It's such a big investment and one I'll have to live with for a loooong time.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                                                You do have to clean them more often than darker ones. But think of it this way, you're probably spilling just as much on a dark cabinet, only you wipe more often. So it's a bit of a wash (pun intended). Just wipe as you muck up, and that makes the monthly (or whatever) cleaning of your cabinets much easier.

                                                                                                                                                                I have an all white kitchen, and I love it. Also, since my kitchen is tiny it makes it feel larger and open. I also feel that white never really goes out of style, however the cabinet style can.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks cosmogrrl. Are yours paint finish?
                                                                                                                                                                  I have light cabinets , Maple with a white glaze that really only shows in the moulding detail. They're about 10 years old, but still look brand new even though I'm not a neat cook. Spill is my middle name. I guess the key is how durable the finish is. I regretted that color almost soon as I put it in though. trying to comprimise I wanted white and husband wanted wood finish and it looked too close in color to the crummy white wash oak builder grade ones we replaced. light years away in quality, finish and style, but about the same depth in shade. If I had a simle shaker I'd consider refinishing.
                                                                                                                                                                  Which reminds me..someone mentioned skipping door handles etc. I disagree with that. Prior to these cabinets we have ones that didn't have knobs/handles and the finish took a beating especially near the sink from opening with a wet hand. i would be careful when picking pulls though. Knobs would be easy to replace and update, but not so with bar handles. I love those long ones, but they're trendy and you're stuck with them once you go beyond standard sizes.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                                                    Something to think about on handles: a friend put in knobs that are not symmetric; they are like very short bars. She hates the fact that they are always rotating slightly and are crooked. So for knobs choose something "round"!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                      Mine are oval like footballs and no problems with those.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Island

                                                                                                                                                                      Mine are paint finish, about 10 years old and showing no signs of wear. The cabinets get a lot of spills because the countertops don't extend beyond the drawers. But even though I also spill a lot it's not too bad as i usually wipe up as I muck up. Eventually I can repaint when they start to look worn.

                                                                                                                                                                      I also have a deep counter top in my kitchen which is a god send in such a small space as it gives me space for the fruit bowl and toaster, etc. but still leaves enough room for a work space. You'd think that you would want to take out another six inches out of a tiny space, but honestly it makes it so much better! I know because the other apartments in this building have the same layout but minus the deep countertop.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                                                                  Our problem was that they WERE brown cabinets that we had redone to white. A chip? Brown :(

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                    This is what happened to us also. Maybe it is just having them refinished that is the problem. This was about 10 years or so ago.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                                                                      Definitely that was the issue. But I love the look and didn't find them hard to keep (reasonably) clean. Honestly? I'm not a big stickler about that :)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                        If any varnished or shellacked cabinet is painted, it MUST be completely sanded OR liquid sand paper OR paint remover must be used to take the surface down to a "toothed" or "buff" finish so the new paint will stick. If this is not done and done well, you'll have shabby chic before you know it and whether you want it or not. The last owners of my house painted varnished wood with green latex paint WITHOUT any prepping. What a mess! So I hired a "top" painting contractor, went into detail with him on the problem, he gave me a bid with all of the prepping and varnish removal written out in the contract, so I hired him and paid a super premium price because I wanted the job done well. He showed up with his painter, did a serious walk through opening cabinet doors and showing the painter the problem, explained it in great detail, and left. After he left, when I tried to talk to the painter I discovered the guy didn't speak one word of English! And of course, you know all of the instruction from the contractor was in English. The contractor did the exact same thing when he did my kitchen a second time to make good on the first. But it came out worse! They took off all 36 cabinet doors and only got four back where they belong. A nightmare! My attorney is handling it now... MORAL: Don't mess with varnished cabinets. Just buy new doors. It's easier.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry to hear that Caroline. So frustrating to hear about anothr case of paying top dollar for inferior work! Hope it's resolved soon. We had a similar thing on a much smalled scale happen with wood shutter refinishing. Original off white finish in perfect shape, but we put in new white doors, molding etc and wanted all to match. Started with one room and they started chipping immediately. Said they would sand off the old finish, but the didn't so they had to do them again, but doubt this finish will hold up in the direct sun exposure. Not going with them for the others. Refinishing is almost as expensive as new. The recycler in me doesn't want to toss what's in perfect shape, but I'm tempted to get new ones because I don't trust refinishing painted is ever going to be as good as the original finish. Another moral: pick your colors wisely the first time!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                            Actually I had divorced Bob at the time he bought that house! But I'd have probably made the same mistake. Actually they're not in bad shape at all so I guess we're lucky.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                              Everything got stripper, sanded and then refinished (I should know as I helped do them). But they just didn't hold up like we wanted. I wouldn't do it again.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                                                                                Bummer. And after all that work! One of the problems in today's world is picking the right paint. It requires a Ph.D. in chemistry to get it right, and even then it may be more hit and miss than "right on." When I win the lottery.... '-)

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                                                                        This has not been my experience. When we remodelled this house (12 or 13 years ago now) I had white cabinets put in and I love them. The finish is a very high gloss white and is super easy to maintain. Much easier to clean than the wood cabinets we had in previous houses. Even with children growing up in the house. My intention is to go with white again when we build our new home.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: decolady

                                                                                                                                                                          Good to know decolady! May i ask, are your's paint finish wood and do you know what type of wood? Did you go with a national manufactured brand I might be able to get my hands on or a local cabinet maker and finisher? We supposedly have some excellent cabinet makers here that can be more reasonable in cost than brand names, but I hear because of CA air quality standards anything paint finish is not as durable as cabinet finishes done in some other places. Just started investigating that so I'm trying to learn as much about the finishes as possible and hear what others have to say about their cabinets.

                                                                                                                                                                      3. Two things I like very much about my most recent kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Had the counter guy cut two openings in the counter top above trash and recycling bins in cabinet below. Thus you can toss/sweep/push kitchen trash directly without using a hand to open a cabinet or carry drippy stuff across the floor. Got the idea from restaurant design.
                                                                                                                                                                        2. Had counter guy actually rout out drainboard pattern in countertop next to sink. Clean pots pans etc drain naturally into sink, no separate drainboard necessary, also acts as countertop when required.

                                                                                                                                                                        One more thing, love my very powerful Broan exterior vent fan with warming loghts and SS backsplash with fold down shelves! It will suck the cat off the floor at full speed!

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gargantua

                                                                                                                                                                          Re 1 and 2, but then you've lost those areas for just regular countertop. When we have guests coming over, I move the dishdrainer into the laundry room and set up the bar there. I would think a routed/grooved countertop would be awkward.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Okay. I'm gonna come back with one more bit of sage advice, offered from the vantage point of seventy seven years of age. Jim, probability says that you will not always be as agile as you are today, so think carefully about placement of things. One of my compuslions is constant browsing of kicthen photographs -- how else would I know what to be disatisfied with in my own kitchen? -- and I am constantly amazed at the very impractical placement of things! Warming drawers that are practically at floor level. Island dining placement with display shelves under the dining ledge where you KNOW someone is going to constantly kick things over. Refrigerators that are awkwardly placed so doors must be shut to set something on a counter, then open the door again to get more. My own experience with sinks in islands that also serve as dining areas is that it is far too easy to knock things into the sink accidentally and you can get a lot of breakage that way.

                                                                                                                                                                          In picking a stove or a cook top, "trivet" burners are widely available and very dangerous simply because it is difficult to move boiling pots from a trivet that is two inches higher than the countertop. Water weighs seven pounds per gallon. A pot that holds two gallons is not unusual. In another ten or twenty years moving fourteen pounds of boiling liquid will probably not be as easy as it is today. Accident prevention is worth twenty pounds of cure!

                                                                                                                                                                          So don't fall for the trap of thinking only in the present. Think long term. If you can afford to remodel often and don't mind the hassel, that's fine, but it's just as easy to rip out stuff that would be serviceable for another forty years as it is to rip out stuff that no longer works for you! Good luck with your project.

                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                            Wise words. You've got almost 30 years on me and I'm already feeling the pain of not putting in pull outs in all the lower cabs 10 years ago. This time for sure. Have a 36" side by side fridge which I hate because i'm always having to move things around, down size leftovers in smaller storage containers as I use some up. All the tupperwear is in one lower cabinet and the in and out to get that stuff and stack it back in again is a back breaker, but it's the only location I have. Next time...
                                                                                                                                                                            Those trivet burners do look unstable. I have a 4 burner dacor range with sealed burners and continious grates and it's the best part about it. So easy to move the pots and so easy to clean, Just lift one double burner grate and wipe. Oven temp sucks though. :>)
                                                                                                                                                                            Also people talk about high temp burners. Well it's also inportant to make sure you have a burner that stays low enough to hold a simmer. I have trouble maintaining less than a full burner even with a simmer plate.
                                                                                                                                                                            Caroline ,good point about the sink in the island, but i'd much rather have that than a cooktop in an island. However sometimes layout doesn't allow much choice either way.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                                                              My cook top is in my island. It's all "electronic," with NO KNOBS....!!! Which means I can (and do) use it like it was just part of the counter. It locks so I can't turn it on accidentally, and I can roll pastry on it, or whatever. Well, if I'm doing pastry that needs a cold surface to work on, then I pack one of my granite counters with ice bags for about half an hour before I do the puff pastry or whatever. I don't think the cooktop would hold the cold as long as the granite, but for everything else it works just fine. It's also where the bags of groceries go until they get put away.

                                                                                                                                                                              If I had a gas cook top or stove, I would still want an electric cook top, even if only one or two burners, to simmer things on. Electric will keep a low heat without any worry of the flames being blown out by cross currents or the air conditioner kicking in. Of if I'm doing something that requires low and loooooooong, then it's just easier to do it in the oven without a hot pot on the island.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                Ah, but now we get back to induction :) My lowest setting is soooooo low.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, I'm fully aware of the (envied) advantages of induction! BUT... The pot of whatever is cooking is still hot and makes it hazardous for me to use the cook top as a counter top, Soooooo.... Even after I get induction, the oven will still be my choice for long and slow.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. If you have a stand mixer you might consider a shelf on hinges so you can store it, then lift it into place when needed. Something like this:

                                                                                                                                                                            Also I once read about a woman who had a pull-down cutting board built on her wall; when the board was down the knives were revealed. I thought that was kinda cool.

                                                                                                                                                                            If I was building anew, I'd consider one of those built-in appliance "garages" for the end of the counter. It would have to be the right fit though.

                                                                                                                                                                            And it's been mentioned above, but utilizing dead space is key, for instance lazy susans or pull-out shelves for corners; vertical slats for narrow spaces so you can store sheetpans and/or pot lids; tall narrow roll-out storage rack for pantry items (like Rachel Ray has on her show); pull-out shelves for pots and other heavy, bulky things.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. One thing I haven't seen mentioned much is low-cost countertops. We did a complete kitchen remodel about 6 years ago, and chose to spend our "discretionary" dollars on a blue-star cook top and custom made cabinets (in order to use space most effectively, we have 13" deep cabinets along one wall; standard cabinets would not have fit, but those cabinets easily double our storage capacity). So we went with laminate countertops, and we have quite a bit including a large 5x4 foot countertop separating the kitchen and breakfast room. Folks often assume our countertops are granite (we chose a textured gray with white fleck pattern), and they look as good as new after six years of hard use. We also got some kind of Swedish sinks that fit into the laminate so there is no "lip" between the counter and sink (like Corian, but way cheaper). The sinks have scratched a bit, but DH says he can fix that as soon as he gets around to it.

                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Niki in Dayton

                                                                                                                                                                                We opted for laminate about five years ago when the whole house remodel exceeded our original estimate by about 4X!!!!! I've never regretted it. Like yours, ours have the look of granite and are like new. I don't feel I have to be any more (or less) careful with them than other materials.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm very happy with the laminate countertops, but am lusting after your induction cooktop! At the time (six years ago) I didn't know about induction, nor did anyone mention it, and so I went with a high-end gas range (Blue Star, and I do love it, but as you mentioned above, cleaning can be an issue as well as adjusting it for a very low setting). Next house, though....!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Niki in Dayton

                                                                                                                                                                                    Can't remember if I posted here or not, but we just completed a house exchange and I used a very nice gas cooktop for almost two weeks. I could never go back to that. Never :)

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Niki in Dayton

                                                                                                                                                                                  I love my laminate countertops by Wilson art. Easy to clean, no scratches or stains. I've had them for 6 years now. They have a linen look to them, but I think it has been discontinued.

                                                                                                                                                                                3. Make room for a foot-pedal operated Simple Human trash can. It works so well and is so attractive that it makes me happy every time I use it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: janetxb

                                                                                                                                                                                    Prosaic, but I did a drawer cabinet garbage can, and I dearly love it. Never understood why people wanted a trash can visibile in the kithen. Mine looks like any other cabinet and disappears.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                      What I like about mine is that I can open it with my foot, really nice if my hands are greasy/sticky/goopy from cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. This device is called a TapMaster. It's located in the toe kick area in front of my sink. I tap it with the toe of my shoe and the water comes on so both hands are free to be holding a pot or filthy with the residue of raw chicken and I still get water without using them. http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm short. SHORT I tell you. So this drawer in the kick space of my cabinets is a life saver: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634... You may have all kinds of space that you hadn't considered using. Use it!

                                                                                                                                                                                    I do a lot of baking so I designed in a baking area with a kneading/rolling height counter. Under it I have these baking essentials: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634... It has all-purpose and bread flour in the far drawer. The near drawer has granulated sugar, a low container of brown sugar with small containers of salt and baking soda on top of it. Behind it (where you can't see are snap-top containers with pastry flour, rolled oats and confectioners' sugar. I LOVE these drawer and being able to dig into my essentials.

                                                                                                                                                                                    This stainless steel hotel pan fits on top of standard trash containers to capture my compostable scraps: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634... As you can see, it's large enough that I can peel directly into it and also sweep items off my veggie prep area on the counter above it without much chance of missing it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Can't get a decent photo of it but I have my small paring and utility knives on a magnetic bar mounted horizontally on the bottom of my upper cabs over my veggie prep area. They don't show but they're right at hand and very secure.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                      I wish you'd try again with a photo cause I can't picture this. If you can't see them then how do you know which one you're reaching for. I'm sure one picture will clear this mystery up.

                                                                                                                                                                                      On a separate note, I saw a picture of glass 'subway tiles' that were installed vertically over a range. It was very attractive.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                        OK. Here's a pic but it doesn't really show much. http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...

                                                                                                                                                                                        In the foreground is a light strip. Then behind it is the magnetic bar. Because I'm short, I just have to lean down a tiny bit to peek at what I want to grab. If you're tall I suppose a scrap of Plexiglas mirror in a convenient drawer would be enough to guide you to the one you wanted.

                                                                                                                                                                                        And, OK, here's what I was avoiding having to do. The upper cab at eye level (with an appalling amount of mail piled up =o ) http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634... And here it is from just below eye level http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                          Ah. I see...said the blind man who picked up his hammer and saw :) BTW, it appears you have a worm problem :)

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Oh, another lovely feature: above the oven, I have a generous space for over-size baking trays. They're separated by vertical dividers which help organize them and make access so simple. What a genius idea, low cost, and a time saver.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. It was mentioned before up above, but I cannot say enough about utilizing a good kitchen designer even if just to vet your own ideas. My in-laws recently built a beautiful retirement house in the Berkshires and have done (are still doing.....) most everything themselves (and with our help). We all love to cook and spend lots of time in the kitchen. They designed the whole thing themselves, and as it turns out, the design is really not that functional in many ways. For instance, they put in these tiny drawers for spices, but nothing fits well; it is a waste of space really. I think a consultation with a kitchen designer will help avoid these types of problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The other thing, mentioned plenty, is the faucet. Try it before you buy it! My MIL bought a very nice looking one, single lever (which I prefer), but it is not easy to adjust water flow - just not designed well. Also, I prefer to have a pull-out spray integrated into the faucet; I very much dislike the separate spray that comes out from the side of the sink. I find it much more functional to have the spray and the faucet be one.

                                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DMW

                                                                                                                                                                                          "The other thing, mentioned plenty, is the faucet. Try it before you buy it!"

                                                                                                                                                                                          How do you do that??? I have been in countless stores and none of them have functioning faucets. Im stuck only buying faucet that my friends have?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JudithC

                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm sorry, but I honestly don't know the answer. I only know that if I had wanted to buy the faucet my MIL chose, and I was able to try it first, the test run would change my mind..... maybe you are relegated to choosing only ones you've actually tried in someone's house. Can any designers weigh in here? Places to actually try out faucets?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DMW

                                                                                                                                                                                              Depends on where you are, but some manufacturers have live showroom displays. Check their websites and see what plumbing showrooms are nearby. Your chances are better in a larger metro area.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Having owned Delta, American Standard and Hansgrohe faucets with pull-out sprays, the only one that has a positive on/off button for the spray choice is Delta. The rest have a pressure sensitive spray that reverts to standard stream when the water pressure is turned lower. The positive on/off was one of my 'must haves' last year when I got a new one.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                                                                I have a kohler that stays on which ever mode it was last on (there's a button on the spray part). That is, if you are using the spray and you turn off the water, it will come back on as a spray. Personally I'd prefer it was the other way, but, whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The problem I had with it was that I couldn't spray at a low volume. It would just jump back to regular spray. I agree that I have to remember to switch the spray before I turn it off, but that's less of an annoyance for me than losing the spray feature when I turn the water down.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: DMW

                                                                                                                                                                                            The best use for those little drawers is for straws, cocktail picks, small utensils, measuring spoons - that little stuff that rattles around in the big drawers and gets lost.
                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree about the importance of using a kitchen designer (I am one!), and exactly for the reason you mention - function. That's what the designer helps you focus on, not just what's cute and trendy.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Sometimes I have 6" to fill up in a plan, and now and then will use the 'spice drawers', but I tell my clients not to bother using them for spices.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. I have a little 'bump out' space under the steps to the upstairs. About 4' wide, 8' tall and 24" deep. I bought one of those Costco metal shelving units and it fits great. Even added an additional shelf above it. Also had room for one of those over-the-door shelving thingies. AND a couple of short shelves in the laundry room. With all that I have NO food products in my kitchen cabinets. Sure freed up a ton of space.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Here's something i did in a tiny apartment when I renovated the kitchen; I mean super tiny. I only had to buy 3 bottom cabinets. I bought some of the pull out shelves that went with my cabinets. I then installed the hardware on the undersides of the cabinets. I then bought some wood that matched the cabinets and stained to match and attached this on the front of the pull out shelf. After the cabinets were installed I just popped in the shelves. This provided for some storage of canned goods (laid on their sides) and other things under the counters. Stuff that i didn't need all the time. When you looked at the cabinet it looked normal but it was very good use of what is usually a wasted space.

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