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Range hood solution for open peninsula: Downdraft? Unobtrusive hood?

We're remodeling our kitchen, and in the process are taking down the wall between it and the dining room to make everything feel more open and spacious. The range (a 36" Viking drop-in 6 burner) will go in a peninsula that separates the two rooms - really, the only spot it can go due to the limitations of the space.

Now we're struggling with the problem of what to do about a hood. A big hood will make the whole point of taking down the wall moot - it'll close off the space we just spent thousands to open.

We've come up with three options:

1) Downdraft pop-up, like the Thermador 600 CFM. I know people poo-poo these, but it would save the open feeling.

2) Trying to find as unobtrusive a hood as possible. Maybe something glass. (Any suggestions?)

3) Installing a ceiling mount, in-line exhaust fan like this: http://www.ventilationdirect.com/cata.... Our kitchen designer said he did this in another house, and it worked well. We're a little dubious.

Can anyone make any recommendations?

Thanks!

Janelle

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  1. How about something like this?

    http://www.ventahood.com/hoodmodels.j... or

    http://www.ventingdirect.com/range-ho...

    1. We have friends who's kitchen designer made the same suggestion as #3. Almost a quote from your post. It sucked all the hot air out of the house in the winter, didn't get any of the smells, smoke, grease, etc. that you want it to get and leaves a large stained area around the vent on the ceiling. In short, it doesn't work and they are now going to have to install a vent. There are a number of reasons why this doesn't work, mostly because of the increased number of cfms (air flow) needed to make up for the added distance this is above the range top. Typical is 24 to 30 inches, these end up being 60 or more inches. The other thing is without a hood you don't capture all the things you want to exhaust. We had considered this kitchen designer, but after this fiasco we decided not to, it was a very poor idea.

      The downdraft, well people poo-poo it for a reason. Hot air goes up and you are trying to defy the laws of physics by pulling it down. We have friends with this set up and although it works much better than the ceiling vent, it still isn't very effective.

      If it were me, I'd look for option #2, without a hood exactly, you won't get as good a ventalation, but that's the best option of the three. Just don't do option #3, it really doesn't work, regardless of what the designer says. I would run very fast.

      1. a lot depends on how and what you cook. are you mainly worried about steam and smells or do you do a lot of frying and grilling where the concern is more oil/grease and smoke?

        a friend put his hood up close to the ceiling in a small soffit. works fine for the way he and his wife cook. because of the climate here, he wasn't worried about sucking precious heated or cooled air out of the room, and he did get a hood with a pretty high CFM rating (with a remote/roof mount fan for noise control.)

        Most 'serious' cooks tend to find downdraft hoods to be pretty ineffective. they pull the heat away from the pan more than trap vapors.

        i grew up in a house where it was just an exhaust fan mounted in the ceiling. But nothing in our house was ever fried, so oil and grease weren't an issue (dietary restrictions due to a medical condition.) I think i was in my teens before I found out that meat/poultry/fish could be cooked on the stovetop, ours was always either roasted or broiled in the oven.

        4 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          We grill outdoors and rarely fry. Our cooking habits are more like sautéing, soups, stews. And we live in LA so the heat is less of an issue.

          Our layout is tricky - either we put the cooktop in the island, or the sink. Always figured it was worse to have the sink in there because you've have to look at the dish rack.

          If we did do a downdraft, it would be the Thermador 13 inch one.

          1. re: janelle

            i'd go with the hood up high in your situation. as to the choice between the sinnk and the range, again it depends on you. if the dishrack is out all the time then I agree with you.

            1. re: janelle

              "Always figured it was worse to have the sink in there because you've have to look at the dish rack."

              It seems to me that there are several inexpensive or free and completely effective ways of not having to look at a dishrack in an island sink configuration vs. all of the options for venting an island range that either suck or are a compromise.
              I agree that island ranges are just for cooking shows--besides venting issues, it's messy and dangerous.

              Maybe just reconsider the island sink and how you do things re: sink use. If you don't want to look at a dishrack, either keep your "clean" dishrack in one bowl of a double bowl sink, or get a flat plastic drainboard, dry and put away your handwash stuff straight away, and stow the drainboard on edge on the cupboard when not in use.

              1. re: splatgirl

                Yeah, I'm seriously considering this option. I hate double-bowl sinks (Unless you get a massive one - which we don't have room for) both bowls end up being too small to be really useful).

                I suppose if you got a great-looking dish rack like this one by Simple Human, it might be less unsightly:
                http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/produ...

          2. Keep in mind that the "openess" of the new arrangement will contribute to the noise level in your dining room from what ever appliances are active while eating. If your exhaust fan needs to be further removed from the cooking surface it is going to need to run harder to be effective futher aggravating the noise level.

            I'd really reconsider the island cooktop.

            IMO they're really only for cooking shows.

            jim

            1. You need to look at the math to determine if you can use option #3, and it's complicated but I have worked out a few cases for examples so you will understand what you are asking a vent to do.

              For a hood to be effective you need air to be moving fast enough to pull the fumes with it. Typically you need a capture veloicty between 0.15 and 0.20 meters/sec. Capture veloicty (V1) equals air volume (q) in cubic meters per second, devided by 2 times the distance the hood is above the surface (y) in meters squared, times the circumfrance or parimiter of the hood (c) in meters. To solve for q air volume it's q=2v1 x y² x c

              Take a regular hood situation over a cooktop where v1 remains constant at 0.20 and the hood is 0.85 m above the rangetop and the perimiter of the hood is 4.5 meters you would need a volume of air equal to 1.01 cubic meters per second. If you now move that same hood up to an 8 foot cieling height you increase the air volume required to 4.29 cubic meters per second. If your walls become your hood perimiter and for simplicity say you have a 10 foot by 10 foot room, your air volume needs to be 14.7 cubic meters per second. I'll assume your remodel provides you with a much larger space than my example.

              My point is that there is a tremendous amount of air that has to be moved for a vent in the cieling to be effective in the kitchen. Vent hoods in the US are rated for cubic feet per minute or CFM so it's difficult to make a direct comparison but 900 CFM (a good range hood) is less than half a cubic meter per second.

              18 Replies
              1. re: mikie

                Your math is still making my brain spin. I'm wondering - What if we used the downdraft (and got the Thermador which rises 14 inches high), but supplemented with an overhead vent like #3 to catch the stuff that gets missed during super heavy duty cooking (which I do rarely, but on those occasions...)? I'm just speculating here, but perhaps the downdraft would capture the grease & stuff while the excess smoke & steam would be captured by the fan?

                j.

                1. re: janelle

                  My head is spinning a bit too with all the math, but air movement is really about physics and the neat thing about physics is that most of it can be explained with math. Saves a lot of trial and error.

                  The ideal situation would be to go to a kitchen show room that has the Thermador downdraft set up with a cook top and get a real life demonstration. I know this is probably asking the impossible, but that would be ideal. I'd be concerned that the Thermador pulling air down would be hindered by a cielling vent pulling air up, I'm having a hard time seeing the advantages to this.

                  I spoke with my better half, and her opinion is to put the sink in the island given your choices. We have adult children that like to cook and when they're home they always help out in the kitchen. My wife figures with a sink in the island, someone could prep from both sides of the island and use a common sink. I'm glad she thought of that after our kitchen remodel, as I would have hated to relocate our plumbing to accomodate this idea. Keep in mind if you move the sink, you will likely need to move the dishwasher as well. We're scrapers and rincers, I never put a dirty dish in the dishwasher, so having it near the sink is a must for me.

                  1. re: mikie

                    right. i think there's a thermador showroom in LA, will go check it out.

                    besides the "dirty dishes in the middle of the kitchen" issue, my main concern with the sink in island question is how big the island would need to be. Our kitchen is 14 x 18 - one end will have the peninsula that opens to the dining room, the island will be in the middle of the room. The other end of the room has a bathroom & a small eat-in nook that pops out another 3x7 feet.... Worry that the island would have to be 7 feet long to accommodate sink + dishwasher + prep space on other side of sink... too big for the kitchen?

                    My head reels...

                    1. re: janelle

                      Having just gone through the remodel of our kitchen I know how difficult it is to sort through all the issues. We took a pass on the first kitchen designer after checking out our friends kitchen as mentioned above. The second kitchen designer got dumped after spending an afternoon explaining all the things we wanted and our concern over loosing space only to meet a couple of weeks later to review the plans and see none of our concerns were addressed. So we struck out on our own. If you managed to land a good designer, they should be able to help with the logistics.

                      1. re: mikie

                        Well, after a 2 hour meeting with our designer and contractor this morning, we came up with the solution: Put the sink in the peninsula, with a bar height counter right behind it to address any splashing, hide some of the potential dish mess, and allow people to sit at stools and chat. The oven goes on the wall with a traditional hood. And the small island stays a butcher block work space. Whew!

                        Thanks for all your input.

                        1. re: janelle

                          Glad it worked out for you! Kitchens have to be functional for your needs, and it sounds like you have the right solution for you.
                          Just FYI, I put in a huge kitchen island (more like a continent, actually), with a DSSS and a cooktop with snorkel downdraft and couldn't be happier. But this works for us and isn't for everyone. Glad you found a solution.

                          1. re: janelle

                            That sounds like a fantastic plan that will serve you well. Congratulations and enjoy the new kitchen. We've been months without a complete kitchen and it's really nice to have it back. Well everything is there but cabinet doors.

                            1. re: janelle

                              janelle, you made all the right choices. The raised bar is the perfect solution to the mess around the sink. I've designed (literally) thousands of kitchens in the past 15 years, and deal with your issues all the time.

                              If you had kept the cooktop in the island, here's my experience:
                              The #3 option is one I have used in my one of my own homes, where the ceiling was only a standard 96", and my cooking habits tended toward steam producers like soups and pasta, rather than frying. As the kitchen was at the back of the house, we actually used a roof-mounted fan that had a duct straight down to the kitchen ceiling, rather like a commercial exterior fan, but not the roaring behemoth that restaurants must use. It did a good job, and kept the noise outside and the weather out, even up in northwest Indiana where it gets cold as the dickens in winter. The inside ceiling grille and the exterior blower each had a self closing damper inside to keep cold air from flowing back down the duct. Only one occasion gave us a problem - we had a fierce blizzard, and the snow backed up into the exterior housing, then melted and dripped inside as the relative warmth of the attic melted the snow stuck up there.
                              Otherwise, it worked just fine. If you had a high ceiling, that's another issue - the condensates have more time to disperse into the room before the fan catches them, so a glass hood (i.e. Serius) about 66" above the floor would be recommended.
                              Hope all goes well with your remodel. You'll love your new kitchen.

                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                Thanks for the feedback. I am increasingly convinced we made the right choice!

                                1. re: jmcarthur8

                                  Snorkel downdraft. Highest one you can find. Keep your big pots at the back to capture. Works great, sinks into the countertop when not in use. Paired my Thermador 36 inch induction with Thermador snorkel downdraft with a 14 inch rise. Three kitchen designers, not one with this solution. Sigh. Works amazingly well. And yes, it vents to the exterior, down through the cabinet, under the floor between the joist spaces. I have pics posted, too. Works really well.
                                  http://www.thermador.ca/cooking/venti...
                                  if you look at the banner picture on the page I linked to, this is what we have. Couldn't be happier.

                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                    I'm interested in your opinion of option #3. The friends we have that had a ceiling vent, didn't feel it worked well at all, that it sucked all the hot air out of the house without really addressing the issues stovetop. Now, I have no idea what or how they cook and that may be where the difference in opinion on the effectiveness of such a vent lies. We've been in our house over 20 years and only had a recirculation hood that was maybe used a half dozen times, It was noisy and obvously not effective at venting anything, and other than the few times something was burnt on the stove, we saw no ill effects of not venting. We now have a very good vent that goes up a couple of feet and out the side of the house, I can actually see the vapors being drawn out by the fan. Is it possible the ceiling hood did little more than no vent at all, it just wasn't noticable because of what and how you cook? Aside from the potential differences in what one cooks and how one cooks, as an engineer I would like to know how the ceiling hood overcomes the basic physics associated with venting. You still need a certian amount of air speed to pull the vapors up to the vent. How much air did your ceiling vent move? And how much more air was that than if you had a hood at the more standard 30" above range top?

                                    1. re: mikie

                                      mikie, I wish I could answer your questions with the specs on the fan, but it was 1995 when we installed that kitchen, and I divorced that particular husband six years later. He still has the house, my sons cook there regularly when they visit, and they are still satisfied with the fan. If I had to guess, I'd say at least 600+ cfm, but it is a guess, that's all. I agree with you that the efficacy of the fan would depend strongly on the type of cooking done in that kitchen, and it may not be sufficient for some cooks, but I do know that when I made enough smoke to set off the smoke alarm in the hall next to the kitchen, that fan would pull the fumes out with no problem. As I said, a higher ceiling would make a difference - as would an open kitchen like the ones that are popular these days. That kitchen was 12' x 20' and had 3 doorways leading to adjoining rooms, rather than the great room type we have now.

                                      I agree with janelle about wanting to avoid any type of hood when you spend that much money opening up the room. Even the glass hood makes a visual barrier that takes away from the openness of the room. I like her final solution of keeping the cooktop along the wall and bringing the sink out into the room instead. That's what I have now myself, and I like having access to the sink from the backside if I need to, even though there's a raised bar behind it.

                                      As I am not an engineer, I design a kitchen based on the specific needs of the clients' storage and cooking habits, and on my experience cooking in my own kitchen for 40 years. I have to admit that the cubic feet of air moved in any given residential structure is beyond my expertise, and I would refer a client to an appliance manufacturer's rep for advice on the products the client is interested in, if we have a situation that is questionable and a potential for fumes that may overwhelm.

                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                        Thank you for your honest response. Engineers are a strange bread, we put a lot of faith in numbers. I know I've read manufacturers literature referencing how much more air is needed if a hood is raised higher than the reccommended height and it's substantial. I did some of the math in a post above. The people we know that had such a vent have a huge, I mean huge open kitchen, easily well over 500 sq ft. That too probably didn't help. Their range top is on an island, but I don't think the vent was directly above the range top. That didn't help either in my opinion.

                                    2. re: jmcarthur8

                                      Thanks, jmcarthur8... This description of your ceiling fan solution sounds perfect for my situation. What brand of fan did you choose?

                                      1. re: ridervb

                                        I wish I could tell, but it's on the roof of a house I left to my ex 10 years ago! I don't have that long a memory. I do recall that it looked like a flying saucer sitting on the roof.

                                  2. re: mikie

                                    Dear God this makes me feel better. I thought I was alone in my frustrations with our designer. DH and I just had the exact same experience with our designer at our first viewing of the designs she came up with.

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      I don't want to bad mouth designers, as I'm sure there are many good ones out there and a few who frequent CH have always been extremely helpfull. But it's critical you pick the right one. One designer we spoke with, wanted to put in a galley sink system, these are either 5' or 7' long, I don't have a 7' streach of cabinet in my kitchen, much less that much I can give up to a sink. This was before she even looked at a drawing of the currrent layout or came to the house. We had several meetings with the designer that made a presentation and I don't think he heard a word Mrs. mikie had to say. However, I heard a lot on the way home ;) It just seems that they get a design theam that works and want to use it for everyone. And with kitchens, one size does not fit all!

                                      1. re: mikie

                                        That galley sink system sounds crazy!
                                        We are into this with the design fee paid. It's early in the process, so I wonder if we cut ties (and I'm about *this close*) if we could get some of our money back.
                                        We're just scared to go forward with such an enormous project when the ground is shaky already.

                          2. trust your kitchen designer. share your concerns as you have with us. if you don't think your designer is hearing you, find one who does. these people are professionals, and yes they are trying to sell you stuff, but they have also worked with more kitchens and more concerns than any of the rest of us.

                            im not sure i understand your concern about a dish rack as i've never kept one on my counter. when dishes need to be hand washed, it is pulled out from under the sink. dishes are washed, stacked in the rack while waiting for me to use the dish towel to dry them. the dishes are put away and the dishrack goes back under the sink. i understand a lot of people don't live that way, just the way my family has always done it.

                            edit: looks like you have it all worked out. great.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                              KaimukiMan, thanks for being a champion of the kitchen designers. Let me know when you're ready to have help with your kitchen!

                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                As an architect I know that people often think professional designers are only interested in appearance and that we don't understand function, budget, and individual tastes and habits. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have met one or two designers who appeared more interested in their percentage of the final cost, but those were by far the exception, not the rule - and were not in business very long.

                                As for anyone hiring any kind of design professional I have a few of pieces of advise. 1) Be sure that your designer is listening to you. 2) Be willing to listen to your designer when they are telling you things you don't want to hear. 3) Listening and agreeing are not synonyms.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  I'm sure there are good designers out there, the difficulty seems to be in finding one. We liked the work of one designer that did the kitchen displays in the appliance show room, but imeadiately got into a log jam with his partner, and this was before she even saw the kitchen. We got a reference from one designer and he was the one that put the vent in the cieling that didn't work. We spent hours with a third designer and he totally missed point number 1. When we went back to review the design, he hadn't taken into account any of the issues we pointed out and his design was more or less kitchen design 101 with no thought to our needs. We ended up just working with a custom cabinet maker.

                            2. I did the downdraft and am perfectly happy with it. It works fine. The view is not blocked, we installed it ourselves, and after 3 years of frequent use it is doing just fine.

                              1. Popups are not designed to work on a free standing island. They work better when they are used against a wall. At least, this is what I was told by several appliances dealers. If you watch how smoke and steam flows from your cookware while cooking, it kind of makes sense. So, I went for a good downdraft because I was concerned that a hood might be too much in the way, and would ruin the look of my kitchen.

                                Well, it works okay. That said, I am the type of cook who uses a wok, indoor grill pans, a fryer, fry pans and blackens things in skillets. So, if you are the type of cook who generates a lot of stinky smoke, suck it up (pun intended) and go for the most unobtrusive hood you can find. No matter how high I set my downdraft, which has been specifically designed for my GE cooktop so it is matched correctly, you can see that some amount of smoke or steam ALWAYS escapes the downdraft and flows up toward the ceiling and the rest of the room. This is the main reason I have never put a pretty pot rack above my cooking -- too much grease and dirt. It all heads up. If you don't cook stinky and smoky food -- you might be satisfied with a downdraft.

                                Go for a really nice looking hood and set it high enough so that it will not get in the way of your line of sight to the rest of the room. If you are too tall for this to make the hood work effiiciently, consider glass/metal combo models. They open up the space a little more than the all metal ones.

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: RGC1982

                                  Nope, the appliance dealers are wrong. They are used especially for island applications. Look at the photo on the banner of my link. I also don't have much, if any fumes escaping from my snorkel downdraft. I agree that countertop downdrafts aka one set flush with the surface of the cooktop and don't rise are completely useless. We suffered with one of those in our rental place 10 years ago -- one of those Jennair cooktops with removable units aka plug in 2 burners! or remove and plug in a grill!
                                  But snorkel downdrafts are absolutely for peninsula or island use. It eliminates the need for an overhead hood in those cases where it would be unesthetic to use.
                                  In our case, it was.
                                  Yes, I cook alot of curries and fish. Yes, I do soups and stocks. Yes I make preserves. And yes, over 90 percent of our meals are made from scratch. My cooktop/snorkel take a kicking and are doing a wonderful job -- and have done so for over 5 years now. Ceiling looks like brand new, too, I don't have a grease mark on the ceiling nor do fumes escape PROVIDED that you consider the height of the pot and its location on the cooktop. Tall pots get put to the back, the downdraft is 14 inches high (highest in the industry), the cfm is strong, very very little escapes. If I'm boiling anything, it goes right to the back of the cooktop on the back burners. You can actually see the steam being sucked right out of the air,, especially on the High setting (high meaning the fan is on maximum, not high as in height). Of course, the most important thing is the height of your snorkel downdraft. I wouldn't consider anything less than the 14 inch rise that we have. I believe yours is only 8 1/2 inches and in that case, you're not going to capture much. The higher the better because that's what counts, and if you added another 6 inches or so to that, I'd bet you'd have had a better experience.
                                  We certainly have had great success and couldn't be happier. Especially since we went to this from an overhead recirculating hood over the range on an interior wall. The VAST majority of homes have this sort of hood, which does absolutely nothing. So to move to one that actually not only works but vents to the exterior was fabulous.
                                  Did you check out the pics? You'll understand why we didn't go with an overhead hood.

                                  1. re: freia

                                    Hi Freia,

                                    I've been struggling with this aspect of our kitchen design, especially as my cooking can be fragrant and I truly wish to place the 36" cooktop on the island, so that I can be facing my sweetie/guests (who would be around the island area) while cooking. A properly implemented downdraft could be the perfect solution. Would you please be so kind as to post some photos of your kitchen?

                                    Is your blower integrated only? supplemented by external blower? external blower only? CFM? What size vent piping is adequate? 4" 6" 8? ...

                                    Thanks!

                                    Jeff

                                    1. re: jkling17

                                      Hi there...this is just my personal experience in sorting out our kitchen reno and picking products, and as in everything, your experience may differ. SO here goes:
                                      You need to decide exactly what type of cooktop you'll be using and the brand. This will affect your options. For some companies/brands, downdraft/snorkel type of exhaust systems are not recommended with a gas cooktop. Viking won't pair the two together, for example, at least, not when I called them directly to ask. Thermador will. I think the difference between the two depends specifically on the rise of the snorkel downdraft. If the company offers an 8 inch rise, then they don't recommend it paired with gas because of the thought that it can actually extinguish the gas flame. The other factor is in the design of the cooktop itself and how it vents or cools. More on that later.
                                      This link gives you a good idea with what will pair with what, depending on your cooktop and your requirements according to Thermador.
                                      http://www.thermador.com/public/docum...
                                      Other brands will have different requirements, but the link will just give you an idea of options available according to Thermador. Other companies have their own pairings.
                                      Second, its really convenient (but not necessary) to pair the cooktop with the same company's downdraft. For example, I was most interested in Viking products. I looked at the Viking gas cooktop (because I love gas cooking) and found that Viking didn't pair gas cooktops with any snorkel downdrafts whatsoever. And that necessitated an overhead hood which I didn't want. And actually couldn't have, because the way these things are designed, there is a distance required between the bottom of the hood and the top of the cooking surface. Because of engineering requirements, we had to triple joist the ceiling above with 2 x 6 joists. Our house has 2 x 4 framing (old house). The result was that the ceiling dropped by 3 inches (!) which meant that any ceiling installed hood would sit 3 inches lower than normal. And that is hard to compensate for in the overhead hood world especially when you are looking at the newer glass ones with a nice metal chimney. We HAD to look at alternatives, and that's when I started looking at induction.
                                      (All I can say at this point was thank GOD we did the kitchen design early on and picked simple cabinetry because the wall cabinets had to be cut down by a few inches in order to maintain the distance between the countertops and the bottom of the wall cabinets to be installed. Fortunately we had chosen slab doors and a modern style, so cutting them down wasn't an issue, but I would have been seriously torqued if we had picked a craftsman style cabinet door or anything fancy because that would have meant serious custom door work. And it is interesting to note that not ONE kitchen designer came up with this concept -- we had the stove previously on an inner wall which made venting to the exterior horrible. We wanted to remove the old u shaped kitchen with the sink and small window, blow out the wall and take advantage of the view. After 3 unsatisfactory consults with kitchen designers -- all of whom created the traditional U shape or galley style with the back wall as a wall not glass as none of them could wrap their head around what we REALLY wanted -- this is what I came up with on my own and I love love LOVE it, but I digress LOL).
                                      Our journey then became an issue of finding a cooktop and downdraft system that matched. I looked at a Viking induction cooktop paired with the Thermador downdraft and they wouldn't match. The reason is because of where each cooktop is vented. Viking vents out the back so they don't want any downdraft or item placed behind the cooktop. This made a Viking induction cooktop incompatible with any downdraft system. Thermador vents out the front so a downdraft is completely compatible. This is why we paired the two. The thing to do is to pick the cooktop (or understand your particular cooktop) then research like crazy, and call the company Customer Service to be absolutely sure that what you have is compatible and will work together. Usually these companies won't recommend mixing and matching brands (lol go figure) so the main thing is to tell them exactly what you have and specifically ask them. As in "I already have X, can I use your downdraft Y". Ask for an explanation of their answer, then confirm it with your research. As in, a Viking induction will NOT pair with a Thermador downdraft because of the venting. I researched the venting of both to confirm and it was indeed true. SO do your research, and if your cooktop vents or cools out the back then a downdraft won't work as its physical presence will prevent your cooktop from cooling.
                                      As for the actual unit itself, we really debated cfm and so on as I wanted maximum venting. We wound up with the Thermador 600cfm downdraft.
                                      http://www.thermador.com/cooking/vent...
                                      The way Thermador works is that you buy the downdraft, you pair it with a blower, and the blower will determine the diameter of exhaust and so on. We had a short run with one 90 degree turn (and by short, I mean around 36 inches) so we opted for the integral blower because there wasn't any point in having a remote blower (which is mounted to the roof or external wall) or an inline blower (between the kitchen and external wall). The latter two are if you have a big run of piping and need the assist. This unit called for a 6 inch exhaust. We've run the exhaust through the base of the cabinet, where it takes a 90 degree turn and runs through the floor joints to the exterior of the house, 36 inches away. Nice short run, only 1x90 degree turn. I insulated the bejeebies out of the floor joist space, and we have a flapper on a spring that was put in the ductwork just before the 90 degree turn during installation so cold air doesn't flow into the house. The air pressure makes the flapper open when in use, and it closes automatically when not in use. It is easily accessible, too, if there is an issue.
                                      I think the best thing to do is to find a higher end appliance store with an EXPERIENCED installer who has done these before, because you'll have to cut into the countertop to install.and there isn't alot of room for either error or practice. We had a great installer, and the whole thing went smoothly.
                                      Here are some pictures for you:
                                      The last one is the ceiling above the snorkel downdraft, which hasn't been repainted nor retouched since the snorkel downdraft was installed 5 years ago. And you can see with the kitchen design exactly why we opted for a snorkel downdraft. Also, the pictures with the pot on the cooktop were taken today and you can see the downdraft intake is above the height of the pot by a good few inches which is why you want the tallest downdraft you can find.
                                      Hope this helps?
                                      :)

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      1. re: freia

                                        Wow that looks AMAZING and so modern. It's hard to make out some of the details of the countertop - are those 12" tiles or a single surface? Would you mind posting a few shots kind of looking more down at the cooktop with vent up and the surrounding tile?

                                        The cooktop that I bought is a 36" Thermador gas range - about 10 years old, that I will convert to propane. I guess that I'll have to check with Thermador to make sure they are cool with pairing the two.

                                        You mentioned some stuff that I didn't quite grasp - venting out the front vs rear. Are you talking about down below the counter, as to which direction the vent can push after it's already pulled it from up top by the cooktop? I don't see why they wouldn't be designed to be connected to an appropriate duct in any direction that the installation might require. Can you please clarify?

                                        Thanks!

                                        Jeff

                                        1. re: jkling17

                                          Hi there!
                                          I'll post some more photos tomorrow (not at home right now lol).
                                          Countertop is tile, which yours truly installed herself. Finding a 13.2 ft x 40 inch wide slab of granite was impossible. It would have had to be seamed and the weight would have meant more triplejoisting, but of the floor this time to support all that weight. Meaning another 3 inch loss in room height, so I decided to use thick floor tiles at a 16 inch x 16 inch size to minimize grout lines, and to pair it with the Schluter system, which is an impermeable barrier system. I paired this with their edging system so that there woudn't be any "raw edges" of exposed tile, that it would be smooth, the corners rounded with no exposed tile edges. There is a double layer of plywood forming the countertop, glued and screwed, covered with Ditra mat, then the floor tiles. I wanted big tiles to minimize grout and the grout lines are fairly thin. Technically I could have done a butt join of tiles (because of the Ditra mat) but that didn't appeal to me.

                                          NOW, what I mean by venting is that all cooktops need to have some form of cooling for the electronics/wiring and so on. This venting is for the actual cooktop itself so that the cooktop won't overheat. This isn't about venting the byproducts of cooking out of the kitchen and isn't about the snorkel downdraft or any other hood system. It is about the venting or cooling of the componentry of the actual cooktop itself.
                                          Sometimes a cooktop relies on simple space underneath the cooktop to let the thing cool down. Some of them, though, have actual vents built onto the sides of the cooktop to let air recirculate and cool the components of the cooktop itself. They look like a grill or a mesh, and if you look at the diagram on page 6 of this link
                                          http://www.thermador.com/DesignCenter...
                                          you'll see the grid like design at the front of the cooktop. Thats what I mean by "vents". This is where air will recirculate, and for this particular cooktop, a heat shield is also incorporated to ensure that air circulates properly. This grill or vent in Thermador is at the front of the unit. Now, in Viking, this grill or vent is at the BACK of the unit.
                                          What this means is that if you have a cooktop that needs to let air recirculate with the vents (or grill) at the BACK of the cooktop, and you slide a downdraft unit behind the cooktop, you've physically blocked off the recirculating vents (aka that grill in the picture) that let air recirculate to the componentry of the cooktop itself. Viking has designed its induction cooktops to have the air recirculating to the cooktop from the back of the unit so this grill or mesh is at the back side of their cooktops. So if I put a downdraft in behind the unit, the cooktop won't cool and which is why I couldn't pair a Viking Induction cooktop with a Thermador (or any other brand) of snorkel downdraft system. Thermador has the vents or grill at the front of their induction units. This means that air recirculates from the front of the unit, so sliding in the downdraft behind the unit won't affect the cooktop.
                                          And this is why you need to know about the venting of your cooktop and to phone and ask if the downdraft you've chosen is compatible with your cooktop, be it gas, electric, induction, halogen, or whatever.
                                          Usually these vents or grills aren't an issue as if you pair your cooktop with an overhead hood it becomes a moot point (but the heat shield on an induction cooktop still needs to be installed) because nothing will be blocking the vents regardless of where they are located on your cooktop.
                                          I think that you're probably in good stead right now with your Thermador gas cooktop. I suspect those also vent out the front (or rely on space between the cooktop and anything underneath it), meaning a brand-matching Thermador downdraft might be a perfect match. it seems to me that you can pair a new Thermador gas cooktop with a snorkel downdraft as detailed in the link I provided and I'll bet their design hasn't changed too much in the past few years. However, I'd call Thermador about your specific model just to be on the safe side. Its as simple as saying "I have a Thermador AB12345 36 inch gas cooktop, can I use your 36 inch snorkel downdraft with it?"
                                          :)

                                          1. re: freia

                                            I have an absolutely worthless Dacor downdraft exhaust system that was installed about 2-3 years ago when we put a new Dacor gas cooktop into a kitchen peninsula. We chose downdraft for three reasons -- (1) we had a downdraft system in there previously with an old Jenn-Air electric cooktop and it worked surprisingly well; (2) we couldn't vent directly upward because there's no access to the outside (there's a bedroom directly above); and (3) there's no exterior wall nearby.

                                            But now, looking at your photos, freia, I'm sensing a spark of hope as we embark on a kitchen remodel in which I'll be using the same gas cooktop. I can easily see the reasons why your downdraft works whereas mine doesn't. First, your pots sit directly on the cooking surface -- my cooktop has raised grates that allow heat to be "sucked" when the exhaust fan is on. Second, and maybe more importantly, your pop-up is WAAAAY higher than mine. It almost creates a wall that prevents steam from passing beyond it.

                                            So now I'm wondering whether to take a gamble and get a downdraft system like yours. I was actually thinking of having NO exhaust system with the remodel -- that's how absolutely worthless the present system is (and it cost us as much for the exhaust system as it did for the cooktop).

                                            I think you're the first person I've ever heard sing the praises of downdraft. Now I realize that with the raised grates on my cooktop, I still might have the problem of heat loss from the exposed burners. BUT, I think the height of the pop-up unit will go a long way toward fixing the problems I've been having. Definitely something to consider.

                                            A question -- how loud is the blower? Adding insult to injury with the system I have, when I turn it on it's so loud it makes conversation in the vicinity almost impossible. And another question -- what do you mean, exactly, by "snorkel downdraft"?

                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                              Hi Cindy!
                                              First, what I mean by snorkel downdraft is one that pops up through the countertop and slides right back down when not in use. Kind of like a snorkeller LOL when you think about it -- pop up and pop down! This is different from a downdraft that is fixed in place like I had on the Jennair cooktop in my previous home (rental home) where you flipped a button and the inset downdraft tried to suck the fumes down and out. THAT was not only aggravating but ineffective -- a fixed cooktop - level downdraft takes the heat away from the cooktop plus fails to catch any fumes whatsoever.
                                              The only pop up or snorkel downdraft that I considered was the Thermador downdraft because of its rise. Most others in the industry are 6 inch rise or 8 inch rise, whereas ours is a full 13 inch plus rise. I took a hard long look at our pot size and figured that this type of rise is the only one that would be effective. If the rise of the downdraft is below the height of your usual pots it will be much less effective.
                                              As for the noise -- well, on high it is relatively loud, but I only use it on high when I have water at a full boil or I'm frying something. That's when I need the exhaust to be most effective. On medium or low, it isn't too loud. In any event I have a feeling that any strong blower is going to be loud.
                                              You also may want to consider an exterior vent on your system. I know that there is no exterior wall nearby BUT you could actually go down through the cabinets and through the floor joists to the exterior. This is what we did -- draft down and out via the joist space, accessible via the basement ceiling. Just insulate well and see if you can get a spring-operated flapper installed that would close off the vent when not in use (prevents air loss). If there is an extended run, you could definitely use an external blower, which is attached to close to the exterior vent and will work to pull the fumes out through the vent. I'm not sure if you would do both an inline and exterior blower -- I have a feeling that depending on the run, you may get away with a simple exterior blower to pull the fumes out. But that's something for the Thermador people to help you decide!
                                              I know you can pair this downdraft from Thermador with a gas cooktop and because of the rise, I don't think you'll lose any effectiveness from a pop up or snorkel downdraft because the downdraft action is some 13 inches above the grate. If this was a fixed, cooktop-level downdraft, you'd definitely be losing cooktop heat.
                                              Hope this helps!
                                              :)

                                              1. re: freia

                                                Hi, freia, and thanks! That's VERY helpful. Interestingly enough, my old, fixed, cooktop-level downdraft worked much better than my new Dacor snorkel (LOVE that description!), but I think that was because with the old JennAir cooktop, the pots sat directly on the cooking surface.

                                                It really irks me that I spent so much for this worthless Dacor piece. The Thermador really does seem to be a very viable solution. I wonder if there's a way to use the Dacor blower (which was a pricey part of the set-up) with the Thermador snorkel. I suppose that's a question for an appliance person, who would have to look at fittings, etc.

                                                You also pinpointed another problem I have -- namely, the exhaust path. Re-routing and shortening the exhaust sounds like a smart idea, as does adding an exterior blower. How'd you get to be so knowledgeable about these things?

                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                  :) Research, research, research LOL...I wanted a new kitchen as part of a massive home reno, but wound up doing the kitchen design myself as it is considerably outside of the box, at least in this area. It took alot of time and effort to do all the research, and I wound up purchasing all of the finishing details for our kitchen and home reno myself aka sourcing them and even driving out to collect the materials in Toronto (3 hours each way) with a bigass truck LOL. 3000 lbs of stone, sinks, I did our bathroom vanity design, bathroom layout, kitchen layout, tile, you name it. The General Contractor we had didn't have alot of experience with out of the box solutions, so I wound up "pushing rope uphill" so to speak for our 10 month renovation. Tons of work, but so worth it in the end!

                                        2. re: freia

                                          Hi Freia!

                                          I'm so impressed with how much you know about downdrafts! I've been looking for information online and through appliance retailers and haven't been able to understand the system until I came across this page. Your kitchen looks amazing and I love the sleekness of the cooktop and snorkel downdraft. I live in a condo building where venting out is not an option. I have to have my cooktop on the island because of space restrictions. I'm looking at an induction cooktop with a recirculating downdraft. I know that both Thermador and Bosch have these options. Do you have any information about these? Also, what is the model that you have?

                                          Thanks!

                                          1. re: chocoholix

                                            Aw thanks, chocoholix! I have Thermador for both. The key is to match the cooktop with the downdraft -- mixing and matching can be tricky.
                                            I went with the Thermador for a couple of reasons: for the cooktop, I liked the metallic finish that looks like stainless steel. I wanted to avoid the look of a "black hole" in my countertop, if that makes sense. But the driving factor for Thermador was specifically because of the downdraft, because at that time, Thermador had the highest snorkel rise, and the higher the better!
                                            Today, both Bosch and Thermador have snorkel downdrafts with 13+ inch rises, and the cfm is the same, and both can be fit with a recirculation option, which is what I think you'll need because you can't vent to the great outdoors. So the key factor will be the look that you want. Bosch only makes black induction cooktops, and Thermador has the stainless steel look. Bosch is IMHO equally good as Thermador, so I'd say go for the look that you love!
                                            AND, just so as you know, there is a killer sale on at Thermador, where if you get the induction and the downdraft at the same time, you will save a ton of $$$
                                            http://www.thermador.com/about/promot...
                                            Pics! When you're done! Mandatory! LOL
                                            :)

                                            1. re: freia

                                              Thanks freia! I'm going to call around and check on the cooktop/downdraft combos now. Will check on the thermador deal. Appreciate the heads up! I love the stainless steel look as well. Will definitely post pictures when I'm done. Though it'll probably take a while. :P

                                              1. re: chocoholix

                                                Looking forward to it!
                                                I have the 36 inch induction with stainless steel look, and the matching 36 inch 13+ inch downdraft, and I love them!

                                      2. re: freia

                                        I wish I had this info when I was forced into my purchase a few years ago. This was supposedly a very reputable dealer. You sound like you cook like me, and my flush, flat downdraft is really not adequate. I didn't want a hood, so I suffer with this thing.

                                    2. DH and I are just beginning to do a kitchen remodel and I'm more frustrated with our first drawings than I'd ever thought I'd be.
                                      We had our first sit down to view 2 versions of a kitchen design that really didn't come close to what we thought we communicated. There are many issues, but one i'd like to address before I think I'm the crazy one is this: we have a range cooktop with a range hood and external ventilation. It's great, except for the fact that the hood is too low and I can't get my head over my pans to taste and smell as I want to, but that's easily corrected by replacing the hood with a newer, nicer and higher one. Right?
                                      Not really.
                                      Our designer wants to move our cooktop to what will become a peninsula countertop (once the wall is taken out), to the space where my sink is now. For some reason, she thinks a sink at an island is not a good thing. Something about have a "hole' there.
                                      Now the big problem is that she's really pushing a downdraft cooktop and I'm thinking A) from what I've read, range hoods are optimal given your choice and B) I've already got a spot for the cooktop, against a wall (looking forward to putting a nice backsplash behind!) WITH the ductwork ready to go for a nice new hood.
                                      I think this is change for the sake of change and makes little sense, even though we might eek out more cabinet space with this shuffling of sink and range.
                                      Thoughts? Would anyone go down this rabbit hole?
                                      Thanks! (and help!).

                                      38 Replies
                                      1. re: monavano

                                        You are correct. You want a hood. In our last house, we went with the range in the island and a downdraft. It was okay for sauteeing (we rarely fry), but was pretty terrible when we used the indoor grill.The house would smell for days because the downdraft just couldn't get rid of the vapors.

                                        In our current house, we have a Thermador cooktop with a hood, and the difference is unbelievable. I would never go back.

                                        Kitchen designers seem to have a thing against sinks in an island, but they are just fine. You don't have to leave the dish rack out and you don't have to leave the sink full of dirty plates. And I think a sink is a lot easier to keep clean than a range.

                                        1. re: Isolda

                                          Thank you! I also have a Thermador range and hood and love it. They just are about 20 years old and need to be replaced. Moving them was not in my grand scheme of things!
                                          We tend to get dishes into the dishwasher and wash pots and pans and put them on drying pads to drip a bit before we dry and put away. That's what happens on a daily basis, but certainly if we had company, we'd keep the countertops and sink tidy.

                                          1. re: monavano

                                            My honest opinion for what it's worth. You are the ones that are going to live with that kitchen for the next, what, 20 years, so I believe you should make the major decisions. The designer is out of your kitchen as soon as she gets paid and you are left with whatever problems they create. If you leave your cooktop on the wall, if you have for instance a 36" cooktop, you should get a 42" vent hood, and it should be at least 24" deep. If you do this and get enough CFMs, say 600+ (depending on what brand you buy), you can put the hood 30" above the cook top and have no issues. With a little more CFMs you can move it up a few more inches if needed. We just put in a 6 hob slide in range top and there is a clear shot to all burners with the standard 30" clearance. If you put in a lesser hood, say the minimum size of 36" x 20 or 22", they typically suggest only 24" above the cook top. That's a little tight to me, so we went wider and deeper, you can even get hoods that are 27" deep for even better vapor collection, but that would need to be even a bit higher off the range top to be out of the way.

                                            1. re: mikie

                                              I have a 36 inch cooktop now and our hood will definitely need to be higher and wider. Our hood starts about 22 inches above the cooktop now, so, changes are needed! Thank you.

                                              1. re: monavano

                                                Go with what you want. You are going to be doing the cooking, not your kitchen designer. You know, if you are certain about what you want you can do the design work yourself. Familiarize yourself with the code requirements (aka 18 inches fall on either side of a range, no range next to a fridge if possible, and so on) and go for it if you need to.
                                                A range hood overhead with a cooktop is the ideal solution IMHO, and if you can make it work by raising the range hood so you can see into the pots, go for it. You may need a stronger fan, so check this out with respect to height and cfm requirements.
                                                I did my kitchen without a designer because what WE wanted was really outside of the box, and no one would provide this sort of design. If you go to my profile and click on photos, you'll see the results. Our general contractor and his staff HATED the kitchen, the City Inspector for code LOVED our kitchen, but what matters is that my kitchen works for ME. And yours needs to work your YOU. Best of luck :)

                                                1. re: freia

                                                  Your kitchen is gorgeous. I saw the pics above!
                                                  We need a designer because we're looking at taking out a wall to get a more open space. Further, said wall is our main cabinetry, so we'll need peninsula cabinets and lots of planning to open it up.
                                                  We did consult with a very nice designer that our neighbors have GUSHED about, but decided to go with a one-stop-shop approach with a kitchen design company that handles everything.
                                                  Bad move, I think and perhaps time to cut ties and go with proven results. In fact, my neighbor was driving by the other day and pulled her car over to ask if indeed we were getting our kitchen done. I said yes, but we decided that maybe our job was too big for Mike X, and we went with Company Y.
                                                  She said "Oh we love him! The job is going so well!".
                                                  I thought, "oh merde, maybe we passed over the wrong person!".

                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                    It is never too late to change, I think? The bottom line is that you are spending a boatload of cash to get what you know will work for you. Hopefully Mike X can get things done...and btw, Ikea online has a great online kitchen planning tool that even I as a techno-doofus could work and use. It lets you place cabinetry on a floorplan you create, then switch to 3D views and "walk through" the kitchen to get a feel for what you are doing. You might want to try this regardless of who you use, just to get a feel for the space. It's hard to visualize things, IMHO. I used the free IKEA tool, then when the kitchen was clear as in gutted without anything in it, I bought UHaul boxes and used those on the open floor to make final adjustments. That was helpful, too, as I was able to physically experience the run and position of the peninsula and cabinet placement instead of thinking that the 2D plan would work. I found that I needed less space between the coffee wall and island (continenet? LOL) than technically required by conventional kitchen plans, and by shifting the continent I would have adequate space for my dishwasher door! It's all in the details, yo!
                                                    Go with your gut instinct -- I find this is helpful in the long run. Maybe Mike X is the guy for you. I'll bet Mike X can do the work and if not personally, he has a list of subcontractors that he's comfortable with.
                                                    Best of luck!

                                                    1. re: freia

                                                      Yes, Mike X is the designer that has done 3 or so kitchens for my neighbors, I'm just not quite sure that anyone knocked out walls. He has great relations with contractors and I think I know we communicated really well and he was appreciative that we called and explained exactly why we chose Comany X.
                                                      So, the ties are still there should we choose to go back to him.

                                                      Plus, is it a prerequisite that a kitchen designer know a thing or two about cooking? I get the sense that our designer orders in and dines out a lot!

                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                        Um, as far as I know, kitchen designers by the most part are well versed in code requirements and standard kitchen applications. At least, that's what I found out. There are basic rules for kitchen design, and from what I experienced, that's exactly what I got. I went through 3 before I took the reigns into my own hands. The thing is this -- you know how you cook. You know what is going to work for you. As long as the basics are covered (i.e. don't jam a range into a corner wall for example), you should have free reign and a designer needs to listen to you. Often they get hung up in the magazine appeal of the finished product and not the functionalitly that you need.
                                                        Go with Mike X I think -- taking out a wall can be an issue if it is load bearing, but it isn't a huge problem -- and I'll bet Mike X knows people who can do a bang up job for you and will really listen to what you want and need.

                                                        1. re: freia

                                                          Thanks for the words of encouragement! It helps to talk with intrepid kitchen owners who have been through the obstacle course before. Isn't this supposed to be exciting at some point?!
                                                          I'll keep y'all updated on the range/hood too!

                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                            I would strongly suggest you not use a downdraft vent. Before the crash (*sigh*) I managed the construction of many, many high end homes. Even when we advised against the downdraft, some clients insisted...guess who they were mad at when they discovered it was ineffective. They do not vent well, and they suck heat from burners.

                                                            1. re: dulcie54

                                                              Have one, paired with induction, works really, really well. Can't suck heat from a burner that doesn't produce heat!
                                                              In any event, sounds like monovano has a good handle on what is needed for their particular kitchen situation....:)

                                                              1. re: dulcie54

                                                                Thank you. I really was surprised at the proposal to move my range away from it's hood. They're like peas and carrots!

                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                            As a kitchen designer, I think that, yes, a designer should know about cooking! But in fact, they don't all cook. That's actually what got me into the business 15 years ago. I did my research and tons of homework and did my own kitchen because I couldn't find anyone who could give me the kitchen I wanted. And the rest is history.

                                                            Finding a kitchen designer who understands your needs is very much like finding a therapist. Someone else may think they are great, but if you are bringing a person intimately into your life, and trusting their judgement, it just has to be the right fit. Designers aren't cookie cutter. Each of us has our talents and our styles. You can't pay someone by the hour to understand your needs; it's really much more like a relationship than a business contract. I hope you find the right designer, and that you end up with a kitchen you love.

                                                            1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                              Thank you so much! After escalating our problem(s) with our designer, we are meeting with a senior designer in the company to see if we can go forward with them (we've paid a design fee). The problem may be just never connecting with our initial designer (on soooooo many levels) and not the company itself.
                                                              I will be very happy if the company can rectify our situation and work with us in a professional, customer service-oriented fashion with lots and lots of good communication going forward.
                                                              I think after our meeting this weekend, we will know whether or not they can meet our desires on our budget.

                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                Fingers crossed, wishing you well. Let us know what happens. Renos are stressful enough, you really need someone you have a rapport with.
                                                                :)

                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                  Because I'm in the very early stages of a kitchen remodel (trying to choose a kitchen designer), I'm curious to know how you came to choose this particular designer. If you could rewind the clock, what, if anything, would you have done differently?

                                                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                                                    Good question!
                                                                    Three of our neighbors had/have a designer that they love. We saw one neighbor's kitchen and along with their relating that the process was smooth, on time and adhering to budget/cost projections (this gentleman has good, long standing relationships with contractors), we got a consultation from him (the designer).
                                                                    The consultation was free and went really well, but I got a bit nervous that our project is bigger than our neighbors' kitchen projects since we really want to remove a wall. So.... I equivocated a bit and sought out a local "all in one" kitchen/bath firm that had the connections to master carpenters/electricians/plumbers.
                                                                    So, we went with the firm that I thought would be "one stop shopping" and so far, we paid the design fee, which is to be folded into the cost of the redo.
                                                                    However (right? here it comes), the process has been painful in so many ways. I think it comes down to not connecting with the particular designer assigned to our project. On. So. Many. Levels.
                                                                    As of today, we have escalated our complaints up the proverbial chain and will be getting a visit from a senior designer who will take over our redo if we can all get on the same page.
                                                                    The biggest point of contention is that after 6 weeks, we are not even close to seeing a design that we're happy with (seen 2 so far, and were stymied) and have not been quoted an estimate for the job-- even for the designs she's come up with.
                                                                    Our first designer (who we will not work with anymore) started to hedge about whether or not she could possibly meet our budget, and this is after:
                                                                    1) An initial consult at their office where I brought photos, video AND floor plans
                                                                    2) A visit to our house
                                                                    3) Our clearly stating what we wanted

                                                                    If this firm can not meet our needs on our budget, we of course will part ways and certainly seek part or all of our design fee returned since it should have been clear, given the plethora of information they had, that they could not meet our budget which number was clearly stated to them upon our first visit.
                                                                    It feels like bait and switch to us at this point, but, the "higher ups" that we've spoken to are quite upset that we are so unhappy and angry actually, so they are, at this point, all over trying to redeem this relationship and redo.
                                                                    Our visit with a new, senior designer will happen this weekend. So far, the communication with her has been professional and she is personally assigned this task to make us happy.
                                                                    I'm very, very cautiously optimistic. This is a "shit or get off the pot" moment.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      The first designer we talked to had a non-refundable design fee, when I asked what if we don't like the design I was told they would come up with something we did like, but if they couldn't, they wouldn't stick us with the fee, not sure if that's true or not, but that should give you some hope. The second designer, the one we went down the path with, didn't have an up front fee, had there been one, I'm not sure we would have even started with him. But I certianly know what you mean by not connecting on any level. We had several meetings and when we went to his office to review the initial design, we might as well not done anything but provide the room dimensions, as there was nothing we asked specifically for and a bunch of things we specifically stated we were not interested in. In the final analysis, we saved a ton on cabinets and they look fantastic, much better than what the design firm could provide for double the price. It has taken longer and it's been a lot more work on our part, but the final result was worth all the time and all the extra work.

                                                                      A picture of the results:

                                                                       
                                                                      1. re: mikie

                                                                        Exquisite cabinets! I really want lighting in my peninsula cabinets and maybe a couple others...
                                                                        Wow, your story is just like mine. Regarding your saving money on the cabinets etc.-- I'm more than willing to do the work to find ways to save. I have a feeling that the cabinets are going to be the sticky point, in that I think their price points are just plain higher.
                                                                        Although the designer says she has already put in X amount of hours (what is promised in the contract), her saying that she has spend that amount of time on designs that are not going to be used is not a deliverable.
                                                                        I hope if we part ways, the company will do the right thing and just refund our money, having not delivered what it was supposed to buy.
                                                                        Thanks again!

                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                          So she thinks that once she puts in X hours on a design, even if you aren't happy with it that she has fulfilled the contract? I'd love a contract like that, you don't have to meet any of the requirements of the customer, just put in your time, they must by kidding. I can only wish you good luck with the senior designer, they have to have some responsibility to come up with a design you like that meets your budget, or they should have stated up front that your budget was insufficient to get the results you requested.

                                                                          1. re: mikie

                                                                            Thanks. So far, we have not said "we're done and btw.... we want our money back". We have documented everyyyyyyyyything, believe me. So, if they push back, we have a strong case. We are giving them one more chance, hoping that all of this utter BS has been because of our designer's miscommunication and well, who knows what, and not because it's the way the company works in general.
                                                                            They seemed genuinely upset that we even went there with "bait and switch".
                                                                            It's a Fortune 500 company, so they've got a reputation on the line.

                                                                        2. re: mikie

                                                                          Your cabinets are beautiful! How did you end up saving so much with them?

                                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                                            Thank you, they are unique. They just sort of evolved and we were fortunate to find someone that wanted a challange. We used a local cabinet maker, so what we got was truely custom in every aspect. He was just so much less expensive than what the designer was going to use, which were what I would call semi-custom cabinets. Also, the semi-custom would not have allowed us to have the unique design that we ended up with. Our house is rustic, so we wanted to go with an Arts and Crafts look in the kitchen. In semi-custom that means flat panels and square stiles and rails, a rather plain look. We decided to incorporate style elements from Greene and Greene designs, including the pillowed ebony square pegs, cloud lift rails, and then the sunburst design in the upper cabinet doors. The cabinet door maker took this on as a challenge and wanted to be as design correct as possible, so he made the stiles and rails different thicnkesses, a lot of extra work considering how cabinet doors are typically made. He did drawer fronts with bread board ends, that are also differnt thicknesses. I made the square pegs the cabinet door maker used, this saved quite a bit, there are almost 600 of those pegs in all the cabinets that were made including two floor to cieling corner cabinets in the dining room. He also made the ebony escutions for the glass doors. The lighting in the cabinet is LED tape. What we sacraficed was time. Because of the detail in our cabinets, he had to fit them in between regular jobs, so instead of regular doors that would have taken a couple of weeks to complete, we waited several months. Actually, several doors jsut went up today. Like I said, we were very fortunate to find a cabinet door maker that was looking for a challenge and was willing to make the extra effort to make them look the way they should.

                                                                            1. re: mikie

                                                                              You're lucky to have found a craftsman who was (1) willing and (2) VERY able to take on your challenge. Your end result was well worth the extra wait time.

                                                                              There's a whole path of kitchen remodeling I haven't even considered until now, but maybe, while I'm still exploring options, I should look into it. I live very close to a number of Amish craftsmen who do custom cabinetry, and, from what I've heard, there are a couple who do meticulous work. I haven't even begun to address cabinetry, so maybe now is a good time. You've definitely given me something to consider.

                                                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                Amish craftsmen usually do very good work. Both designers we talked with use a large cabinet company for the cabinets, that's all these places do is make cabinets and cabinet doors. Thus why I call them semi-custom as the designer has options with regards to unit size and door style and finish, but they don't make an 8 inch deep cabinet for example that can hold spices like we have on one side of the built in refregerator. The cabinets these companies make are very high quality, but they are very expensive and they don't include installation or tear out of the old cabinets, which raises the overall cost considerably as that's a different set of contractors. Simply, it puts more people in the food chain that have to make a profit. Working with a cabinet shop, that does the tear out and installation saves extra contractors. It also allowed me to divorce the other things I bought from the "designer/contractor", so instead of paying the designer's price for the Blanco sink I was able to buy it online for about half his price. The same for faucets, I found them for about of half what the local plumbing showroom was asking and even they were much less expensive than Lowe's. The designer really pushed certian appliances and really pushed one retailer hard. That was a red flag for me as we had already been to that retailer's show room and they really weren't very interested in showing the appliances. By dilligent shopping and finding better deals than the designer, we saved additional thousands on top of what we saved on the cabinets. It's a lot more work, but you get what you want and can save several thousand in the process. The cabinet maker we worked with had many good ideas to contribute, things that he had learned over a number of years doing kitchens and commercial cabinets and displays. For example he was against the large roll out shelving units, but was in favor of pull out shelving. He also came up with the shallow cabinet beside the refegerator for the spices, you just access it from the side not the front, so it's a nice 24" wide unit that's about 8 inches deep, it works great and uses otherwise wasted space.

                                                        2. re: monavano

                                                          Hope this works, here's a picture of our range top and hood to give you an idea of what it looks like to have the hood 30" above the counter height.

                                                           
                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                            To explain a little bit about the layout, the cabinets that run floor to ceiling on the extreme right of the picture are pull outs up to about mid chest high, they are next to the door to the utility room. The designer didn't have those cabinets there and had the oven right next to the door leaving a much larger spece for the range top but eliminating a lot of much needed pantry space, as we have no real pantry for can goods, etc. This is very similar to the origiional kitchen, there just isn't anywhere else to put things and we couldn't afford to loose storage space. Mrs. mikie spent most of the meeting addressing the storage situation and he still didn't get it. Our kitchen has a penensula and because of the vintage had cabinets over it, something they just don't do anymore. It really closed off the kitchen, but that was a lot of cabinet space to loose, so we couldn't aford to eliminate more cabinets.

                                                            Hope this helps some with your hood issue.

                                                            1. re: mikie

                                                              Storage is a primary issue and sometimes you have to made do with what you have. Looks very nice! Are you finding it functional for you?

                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                Thank you, yes we find it works very well for us and our situation is a bit unique. The kitchen isn't really all that large, so space is an issue. We have a dining area in the kitchen, on the other side of the penensula, and I really thought the designer would suck in some of that space, but he didn't. That was one reason we went to a designer in the first place, to get some "outside the box" thinking, it jsut did't happen. On our own we didn't strike out too far afield, so the changes we made were minor. We widened the penensula so we have cabinets and drawers on both sides, to capture some extra space. The dead corner is deep, but contains plastic storage containers for the most part, so it's not a big deal that it's deeper than normal. We put in an all regrigerator (no freezer) in the kitchen, but our 2nd fridge is just a washer and dryer away, so it's about 5 or 6 steps from the all fridge. The all fridge is counter depth so it cleared up some passage area and gave us more room overall of refridgerator. There are floor to ceiling cabinets on each side of the fridge, one set being just like the ones to the right of the oven with the pull outs. Can't say enough for pull outs. The other cabinet is shallow and holds spices up top and can goods below. There is a row of cabinets above the counter to the left of the sink (not in the picture), I'll post a picture of these another time, but the doors are quite unique and considerably more involved than the other doors in the kitchen.

                                                                1. re: mikie

                                                                  It is sooo tricky to figure out where everything is supposed to go and where everything should go when doing a reno. We had the same issue with over the peninsula cabinets --- ugly, dated but OH the storage space! Sounds like you have the best solution available for your space. Out of the box thinking can be tricky -- some things look great on paper but don't work well. Pull-outs are fabulous -- no room for any in my kitchen given the design but on the upside we have a pantry (broom closet converted into pantry with shelving done by yours truly). I think your kitchen is great -- looks good and functions as you need it. Kudos!

                                                      2. re: Isolda

                                                        I've had a 36"-wide double-bowl sink in a peninsula for about 15 years and I don't even own a dish rack. I use the smaller bowl to drain the hand-washed items, which are then dried and put away. As we contemplate a kitchen remodel, I know I'd choose a double-bowl sink again in a heartbeat.

                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                          Hmm.... will have to consider this for our redo. Our sink is (I'm pretty sure and it better) going into what will be a peninsula once our wall is gone.
                                                          I'm wavering between a very large, deep sink or a double that is useful on both sides.
                                                          Also going to do undermount.

                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                            Although it probably isn't right for everyone, we put in a 70/30 sink from Blanco and I think it's great. What it does is differently than our old 60/40 split sink is I can get a 6 qt sauté pan flat on the one side to clean it. The waste goes in the small side, the dish rack only needs to be up while the dishes are being washed, but usually we both do clean up so one washes and the other dries, at least the stuff that doesn't go in the dishwasher. Just something to think about.

                                                            1. re: mikie

                                                              My present double-bowl sink is a Blanco. I just measured the inside width of each bowl and found that the larger is about 22" and the smaller is about 9". That's probably close to a 70/30 configuration. I don't have any pots or pans that don't easily fit in the larger sink. Also, the smaller sink came with a plastic "drainer" insert that has it serve particularly well for draining hand-washed items. My plan is to get an undermount model that is as close as possible to the one I have now. And, FWIW, I wouldn't ever get another sink that wasn't stainless steel. One bad experience with a supposedly stain-proof material (also a Blanco sink) has made me a convert to SS for life.

                                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                                Our last house had a white sink and OMG, buffing out scratch marks was such a pain in the ass. Totally looked good, but never again.
                                                                I love that you never have to worry about banging pots around in a SS sink.
                                                                I wonder if there's any other finishes that are so sturdy and practical.

                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                  This is the sink we put in, Blanco Silgranit Diamond http://www.google.com/products/catalo... We saw this sink in a number of houses on the kitchen tours we took and the owners raved about how industructable they are and nothing scratches them. One home owner said the dealer actually took a sharp object and drug it across the sink and it did nothing, that sold them on it. Ours has only been in for a couple of months now, but it's great so far. Enameled cast iron scratches, mars from pots and pans, and chips if impacted, SS scratches easily, we've had both of these in the past. So far this seems to be the best sink we've had.

                                                                  1. re: mikie

                                                                    Whoa, very cool. Never even heard of that finish on a sink. Thanks again! So much to thing about...

                                                    2. Have you thought about a hood like this one?
                                                      http://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajma...

                                                      I'm strongly considering it for my own kitchen.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: SeaKoz

                                                        Before you make a purchase, please do a lot of research on hood dynamics.

                                                        There are a number of reasons why this type of hood doesn't work, for starters, it's too high off the surface you are trying to vent, typical is 24 to 30 inches, in the cieling this is likely 60 or more inches from the stove top. That will not create enough air flow to draw the heat, steam, grease, smoke, smells, etc. from the stove top. Secondly, it's only moving 500 cfm, a good hood that's within 24-30 inches from the stove top typically moves more air than that. With nothing to chanel the air, no wall or cabinets, you need more air movement not less. It will however suck all the heat out of the house in the winter as it will work like an attic fan. Try turning on a fan and standing 2 feet from it and feel the air flow across your body, now move back an additional 3 feet and feel the difference you feel in the air flowing across your arms. Granted this is backwards from what a hood does, but you will get the idea of what happens to air flow with distance. You not only have to move volume of air but air velocity is also a factor in getting smoke, etc. out or away from your stove top.

                                                        1. re: mikie

                                                          agreed. it's a nice ascetic but not functional unless you paired it with a big external vent fan. And even then it's pretty darn high from your cooktop.

                                                          We've started out kitchen remodel - mostly gutting and rough electrical at this point and we'll need a good island kitchen vent. My cooktop is 36" so I'll probably do a 42" model to help catch more of stuff - and STILL also pair it with a vent fan outside to help pull and reduce noise at the vent itself.

                                                          1. re: mikie

                                                            Yeah, I figured it was too good to be true, the version I was looking at allowed you to put up to a 1500 CFM exterior blower on it, but I don't think that'll help.

                                                        2. New to this post....I have a Jennaire Gas/Electric range which has a middle unit downdraft (not retractable) and to be frank, it sucks (a lot of heat and some fumes).

                                                          I've created a "shield" of sorts out of cardboard and foil to deflect some of the sucking at heat level because it sucks too much heat. I've always felt that I should create a tube of sorts like a snorkel only manually added when needed.

                                                          I recently found this and thought it might be worthy of some discussion.

                                                          Gaggenau VL051 - Vario telescopic swivel downdraft

                                                          http://www.gerhardsappliance.com/gagg...

                                                          video

                                                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OW-B...

                                                          I'm thinking of perhaps creating something like it (McGyver style) for testing purposes.

                                                          It's telescopic (like a snorkel - maximum 15") and swivels (more direct sucking).

                                                          Anyone see one of these? Perhaps it's the answer we've been looking for?

                                                          1. I'm perfectly happy with my pop up downdraft. It works very well.

                                                            1. Janelle,

                                                              did you survive? what did you end up doing?