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Kitchen Design/Product suggestions

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We will be breaking ground on our new home in the next few weeks. Close to retirement, this will be our forever home. I am getting a bit overwhelmed with decisions.

Must have, splurges and avoid at all cost advice welcome!

I am pretty well set with the actual cookware. Flooring, appliances, cabinet design, countertop, backslash, lighting....let me hear your thoughts!

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  1. Do you have a kitchen designer or are you working with your contractor/architect? If the architect has had experience with kitchen design and has produced good designs you like, so much the better. If not, try and get a kitchen designer that has a portfolio and plenty o' references.

    It's a new house so you have lots and lots of flexibility and should be open-minded about a few things. However, set a budget for this part of the construction, have a percentage overage you're comfortable with and be ready to change it. I once spec'd a "what I want" kitchen but never finished the list because it came to 700 square feet of space with an incomplete appliance budget topping $100K all by itself.

    What is the style of cooking you like to do?

    What is the style of house that you want to have? Country kitchens don't work in modern architecture and vice-versa.

    There are many threads on this here and on Gardenweb, but I've been partial to Miele appliances (esp the dishwasher), induction, and stainless steel countertops with integrated large singe-bowl sinks. You can butcher whole animals on these things. And magnetic knife storage (in a drawer or on the wall - you choose) and LED lighting.

    Since you mention that you're close to retirement, I do suggest that the kitchen be selected such that upkeep will be relatively straightforward (no awkward spots, smooth surfaces that are easy to clean etc).

    1. I have just a few non-negotiables with my kitchen:
      1. There has to be either an island or a peninsula with nothing on it (except maybe a small sink at one end) and nothing overhead. Give me counterspace baby!
      2. Double sink!!

      Would be nice if:
      1. Cupboard doors were simple. I love my kitchen, but it came with the house and has raised panel doors. They look nice, but are a lot of work to keep clean.
      2, I have a double level island but wish it was all one height.
      3. I have under cabinet ligthting, but they hum and so are never used!! Grrrrr

      I also warn against going too big. My parents recently built a new house and the work triangle in the kitchen is too big.
      Have fun!

      1. We're on the down hill side of a complete remodel and I can tell you what I like so far:

        The biggest surprise was the Blanco sink, it's a 70/30 split or 1 and 1/2 bowl. The thing is, the large part of the sink is much bigger than a regular double bowl or a 60/40 split. Also this sink is quite deep. It's the 440199 model and is 9.5 deep on the big bowl side. What really made me notice was the conversation on cutting boards on another thread, and this sink is big enough to fit just about anything into.

        The other really nice surprise was the LED lights both under the counter and the LED can lights in the celing. The under counter lights are from superbrightled.com and are a strip that runs the length of each cabinet unit, so the light is all across the counter below. The don't get hot, are energy efficient and provide a very nice light. The cans are Cree 6 which are about 10 watts for 65 watts of incandessent light. These are dimmable and provide a lot of light. Again, no heat and very energy efficient.

        The other new stuff either is for looks, or we haven't used it enough to really have an opinion yet, or it works just like we thought it would or as advertised. It's not finished yet, but we are trying to use what we have to a limited extent. At least with the sink hooked up I don't have to put the dishes in the Jacuzzi tub ;)

        I should add that we tried to use two different kitchen designers and were not pleased with the work of one where we had a reference we knew and not pleased with the design of the other after spending hours going over what we wanted, most if not all was left out of the design and what he wanted was put in. Rather than fight over it, we just moved on and used the wisdom of the custom cabinet maker on what works and what doesn't.