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Must haves in kitchen remodel?

hello all! After lurking for a while, I finally took the plunge and signed up to CH. This is my first post and I apologize if it is a repeat. We are talking about a minor kitchen remodel and I am listing the things I MUST have, like a bookshelf and pasta making area, and I don't want to finish up and say "I should have...". So I am asking, what should I absolutely include, in your humble opinion? Thanks!

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  1. I'm usually on these like white on rice, but have to know -what is the overall scope of your remodel? What equals "minor" to you? And, welcome aboard!

    1 Reply
    1. re: shanagain

      No walls moved, a reorganization of cabinetry for better use of space.

    2. A good size cutting board either built in butcher block or space to keep one and space nearby to put it on. Mine is a 24x20 board from IKEA and I use it everyday.

      1. A worktop you can mix and roll bread/pastry/pasta on directly.

        1. Are you going to change any cabinetry, or just reorganize what's in it?

          If you're going to get some new, I'd recommend give serious consideration to going drawers-only in undercounter cabinets.

          If you're just going to reorganize, I recommend looking at some of the past Kitchen Cures at apartmenttherapy.com

          In fact, that's an extremely helpful exercise whether you're going to reorganize or replace: accounting for all the cookware and utensils that you have, paring down to what you actually use (or use most often), and re-storing with use in mind. You're almost bound to end up with more space, or at least space into which everything you use fits better and is more accessible.

          Some of the things that come to mind as you're studying your cooking-traffic patterns may spark other ideas for the renovation.

          1. Going through the same thing right now.
            1) You want a really good vent hood that exhausts to the outside.
            2) A hardwearing flat counter top (for all the reasons already listed)
            3) Roll out storage trays in lower cabinets.

            These are my top three must haves, obviously the list goes on and is in many ways subject to personal preference, but I think the above are universal.

            1. DRAWERS!!! Why open a drawer then a roll out shelf? Trash and recycle center. Tray dividers for cookie sheets, trays, platters etc.. Plenty of pantry space with can storage on the door if that works for you. Linen storage, cook book area, deep sink, hard working long lasting faucet, a place for clean up after a meal that would include plastic containers, foil, baggies etc.. A cutlery tray and drawer dividers for utencils. A junk drawer. Small appliance storage on roll out shelves. Spice storage, also good for vitamins. A television/ computer/ telephone center.
              Best of luck!!!
              Jennifer (Kitchen Designer)

              4 Replies
              1. re: JEN10

                "DRAWERS!!! Why open a drawer then a roll out shelf?"

                I disagree with this - if what you meant to say is "Why open doors, than a roll out shelf?".

                I have doors with roll out shelves AND big deep drawers. They store stuff differently. The roll out shelves I have are quite long, almost 3 ft, and I store all kinds of stuff on them, like my stainless steel bowl set, hand mixer, stick blender, misc. small tools like rulers, some strainers, some baking dishes, pie weights, etc. etc. and they stay neat and I can easily see everything. If all of this stuff was in a drawer, I wouldn't be able to see it clearly and it would quickl;y become a jumbled mess. I use my large deep drawers to store all of my pots and pans.

                1. re: flourgirl

                  You are right I did mean to say door then roll out a shelf. I do like to use roll outs in tall cabinets for small appliance storage and baking goods. It all depends on the layout and needs of the cook. I was just trying to throw out some ideas to get the op going.

                  1. re: JEN10

                    I have this tall pantry that we stupidly did not install roll out shelves in and stuff gets lost in the back all the time. I really have to retro fit it one of these days....

                  2. re: flourgirl

                    I have both big drawers and the roll out shelves inside cabinets. Both are great, and I recommend either (or both). But either one is light years better than standard shelves inside a cabinet. Spring for it if you can at all afford it. It makes everything so much easier if you can see what you've got.

                2. An important thing to remember with a project like this is that you should only incorporate what you actually *want* or *need*. Lots of great ideas will come from this thread, most of which you've heard before I'm sure. But take a step back and think "will this help me function in my kitchen to any appreciable degree."

                  The good ol' pot filler behind the cooktop, for example. I balanced out the desire to have easy filling of that pot or 2 every few weeks, with the desire to have a beautiful, clean, backsplash, and the left-over money to have dinner at Per Se. I opted for the dinner and the clean backsplash. I can lift a pot of water every now and again.

                  1. Check out the Tapmaster hands free system for your faucet. Choose any faucet you want and operate it with your toes so you don't transfer grease or goop or bacteria to the facet. Also useful when you've got both hands occupied with a heavy pot.


                    I've been using them in my kitchen and baking area for a couple years and LOVE it.

                    I also second JEN10's suggestion of drawers. I have my dish and pot drawers behind doors (I prefer the look). But being able to get to the back of everything is heaven!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: rainey

                      Tapmaster looks wonderful. I have the Delta sensor faucet and I love it, but tapmaster may be better. I always thought of foot control. I would like it if they would incorporate some temperature control.

                      1. re: mscoffee1

                        With a Tapmaster you control the temperature and flow with the ordinary faucet features. You set it and then leave it "on". What the Tapmaster does is to inhibit the flow until you use your foot (or knee, there are two options) to stop the governor and let the water flow. This means that you can change temperature at any time and within the water stream so long as you use your hand for that part.

                        In addition to turning on by using your foot and holding you foot in place to maintain the flow, you can step down on the Tapmaster to have continuous flow until you release it by stepping down on it again. You can also work around the Tapmaster (tho I don't know why anyone would want to; we're so addicted to it we go up to other sinks and try to use our feet to operate them) by stepping down for continuous flow and then using the conventional faucet controls for on and off.

                    2. I have a small kichen and remodeled it about five years ago. The only thing that I didn't pay much attention to that I regret, was what to do with all of my spices. I have a lot because I cook a lot. I do have a small cabinet with them in it, but I have to drag out my step ladder to reach most of them. I am only 5'2" and wish I looked seriously into alternative spacing, or creative ideas. Because I did not want them to be out on the counter either.

                      I did add a 4 tiered hanging rack on the back of my pantry door, and that makes it so much better now.

                      And I wished I never had my microwave/hood installed either. Both are a waste. The vent doesn't work (it's not vented to the outside) and the microwave is never used except for reheating.
                      Good luck with your remodel. :)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mcel215

                        I have a ton of spices. I have a special spice cabinet (pull out shelves so that there are three "layers" inside, as well as a rotating rack on the counter for the common ones, PLUS two drawers for flat bags from Penzeys. It was worth planning for the spices.

                      2. We did not move walls, but really reorganized.. I have mostly drawers in bottom cabinets. I have a few shallow cabinets with shelves,by the range that hold dutch ovens, have dividers and hold cake pans and pie pans, and hold a few liquor bottles that I use in cooking. I have extra deep countertop at one end of the kitchen to allow appliances to be left on countertops and still have full workspace. The upper cabinet is also a little deeper(15 inches). I had a cabinet maker that charged by the hour and it was cheaper than buying ready made cabinets. I used apron front sinks(2), with a thin front and not too deep for better ergonomics. Some of the sinks especially with a stone countertop are set way back and kill your back. We put the microwave on a shelf by the frig, away from the cooking area because it is mostly used for reheating not cooking. We added extra light, over task areas. We used plugmold strips under the cabinets and airswitches for the disposals.

                        1. The biggest uninterrupted length of countertop possible, preferably next to a sink and drawers instead of lower cabs.

                          1. I'd look to the basics first. A good stove, a good oven probably are the most important components. Next? Easy, counter space that works with the way you like to cook. Please don't scrimp on this. Further down the pyramid is a sink/faucet combo that a time/motion expert would say is in harmony with your counter space.

                            No need to spend a lot of money. Figure out the drawer/cabinet thing after the above stuff. A library is crucial but you already know that. Appliances, pots, pans, knives, whatever comprise the supporting cast. Take care of the talent before dealing with the help.

                            just a thought...

                            1. I incline to agree with steve.h. The most basic is the most important. So start with what you use the very most and make sure those are not lost or diminish during the remodeling. For example, a good stove, a good oven (if you bake), a well designed counterspace....

                              1. This thread of Jim Leff's, one of the founders of CH, has a gazillion ideas.


                                I check out decorating magazines from the library. I can go through a year's worth in a really short period of time.

                                1. Instant hot water. Gets hot cereal for the kids and tea for me ready in the blink of an eye.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ola

                                    Or bite the bullet and get an induction cooktop :)

                                  2. After mine, I don't think I could live without:
                                    Full extension drawers
                                    Soft close cabinet doors
                                    Soft close drawers
                                    more drawers than cabinets for lowers.
                                    Single sink
                                    Powerful vent hood with correct size (we do a lot of high heat cooking, and Indian cooking)
                                    continuous grates on the cooktop.
                                    As much continuous counter space as possible.

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: gordeaux

                                      I agree with everything on here except the soft close drawers. This is probably just an idiosyncrasy of mine - but we have those in the bathroom vanity we recently installed, and I don't know what it is about them, but they bug me. It's been over a year & I'm still not used to them.

                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                        I've never heard anyone else complain about these things. But with everything, some implementations are better than others.

                                        1. re: tommy

                                          Well, I don't know about the implementation - I actually don't know anyone else who has them - but our vanity is a high quality piece of furniture, so, while I'm not sure, I'm not inclined to think that it's a problem of implementation. Upon further reflection on the issue, I realized that I don't like the feel of the resistance you get when you go to shut the drawer. Which I think is going to be an issue with evey slow close drawer, or it wouldn't be slow.

                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                            I'm not bothered by the resistance, because I never feel it. I believe that's part of the design and idea.

                                            I should have said implementations are "different." I've used some that feel cheap, or at least different than what I'm used to, and are not to my liking.

                                            1. re: tommy

                                              Again, there's nothing "cheap" about our vanity. And maybe you don't feel it - but all soft-close drawers have some resistance. Otherwise they can't be soft-close. And I actually just did a little research on this issue on google - and I am not the only one who doesn't like them. The point of this thread was the OP is asking for advice, and my input is that I don't like soft-close drawers that much.

                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                "but all soft-close drawers have some resistance." Yes, but I don't feel it.

                                                I simply do not agree with your issue. Not a problem, though.

                                                1. re: tommy

                                                  Right, tommy, but you had to make a point of saying that you've never heard of anyone else complaining about these things, which is a lot different from saying that you personally don't agree. And my point is that I'm not the only one who feels that way.

                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                    My point still stands. I haven't heard anyone else complain about theirs. I live in an area where just about everyone has a newly remodeled kitchen. Perhaps they know to not push all the way in (which defeats the purpose, as they know).

                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                      I'm not crazy about them either and I'm not fond of rolling racks in ovens either, which everyone seems to love. I like to shut my drawers myself and I change my racks around quite a bit. People just have different things they like.

                                      2. Extra money for those unexpected, unbudgeted issues that inevitably come up.

                                        1. Cabinet above the wall oven has vertical racks for baking sheets and oversize platters. Great to just pull out the one I want without having 'em stacked on top of each other.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: pine time

                                            That's one of my favorite features too, though mine is a skinny cabinet by my dishwasher - plenty of room for platters, baking sheets, cooling racks and a stash of paper bags. All in a roughly 7" wide cabinet.

                                          2. A ceiling fan! There are 42" ones which will fit in most kitchens. Yes, it will get dirty and have to be cleaned. But moving that air makes a big difference for me.

                                            1. Here's another current thread in regards to kitchen remodeling issues - lighting:


                                              ipsedixit's advice on budgeting for the unexpected is very important as well.

                                              If your budget allows for it, avoid tile as a counter material (not a big deal with backsplashes). Grout lines are a maintenance issue. On average, you'll pay more up front for solid surface counter materials, but you'll be a lot happier in the long run.

                                              Sliders in your cabinet space are very handy, but keep in mind that if something falls behind or under them, retrieving the fallen item can be a pain to do. Sliding shelf/rack design is important, as is quality. And of course, don't overload. The lazy susan type of rotating shelves are great for corner cabinets. If you are planning on having a cabinet space above your fridge, I would consider this to be the optimum place for a slider - this will probably be your deepest cabinet, and hardest to reach since it's up high. Also consider sliders/racks for pantries, particularly if next to the fridge - again, it's a deep cabinet.

                                              The cabinet space on either side/above your stove/oven/wall oven can get very hot - plan on cabinetry on either side/above to store things that won't be affected by heat, e.g., cookie sheets, pans, etc.

                                              1. Just found this thread, "What do you HATE about your kitchen?" on the "NOT ABOUT FOOD" board: