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Favorite Kitchen Fixtures and Features, etc.

We are re-doing our kitchen and I'm on the hunt for cool kitchen designs/features. We have enough budget for some high end features. I'd love to hear of anything people have done in their kitchen that made cooking easier or more fun, or just things that are cool to have.

I have an espresso machine and I plan on getting a knock box in the counter. I also thought about knife slots, but I read on this board about them and I'm not convinced it will be a great idea. Links to websites you love with kitchen ideas would be awesome as well. Thanks very much!

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  1. Hi, Amy:

    I don't have any yet, but at some point I'm going to have foot-actuated valves on all my sinks.

    Other ideas: dedicated wine/beverage coolers, a "stillroom" closet for making wine, beer, cheese, pickles, kraut, etc; deep-well sink for icebaths; laboratory-grade rubber or soapstone countertops; deep rolltop back counter to hide all the countertop appliances; restaurant-grade plate warmer; salamander/grille unit; zone lighting; cork flooring; tip-out stainless bins for staples; custom herb/spice rack; freezer for chilling half-sheet pans.

    You might also use the search function... I think there was a thread about a year ago on dream kitchen ideas.


    1 Reply
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Thank you kaleokahu! Great ideas. I will do some searching for bin style cabinets. We will probably not have room for the stillroom but that does give me an idea to somehow separate the coffee/espresso station from the rest of the areas. And the spice rack... Oh my yes that is an excellent idea. Right now I keep birthday candles, liqueur, water bottles and spices in the same cabinet!

    2. This may sound strange, but be sure to plan for counter space on either side of the sink and stove. I used to live in an apt with the stove right up against a window, and it was such a pain in the backside.
      Clearly a cook did not design that kitchen!

      3 Replies
        1. re: iluvcookies

          Not strange, that's one of the basics of kitchen design, you should always maintain counter space adjacent to cooking areas as well as the sink. Failing to do so opens you up to a world of hurt.

          The old philosophy was to maintain an open triangle with the cooktop, sink and refrigerator at each point of the triangle with open space between them to easily move around. You then wanted to maintain counter space adjacent to each element.

          That's no longer a firm rule because islands are commonplace and the oven/cooktop are often separated.

          The emphasis is on minimizing steps between the most-used areas, so the connection between the cooktop and sink should still be emphasized, but the refrigerator doesn't need to be in the immediate vicinity. You just need to make sure you have plenty of adjacent counterspace for loading/unloading the fridge with minimal steps. Wall ovens can really be anywhere in the kitchen because they don't require constant attention when cooking, but you still want the sink/cooktop close enough to each other and you always want counter space to either side of the cooktop (18" at a minimum, 24" preferred) and the sink (no less than 24" either side.

          1. re: ferret

            Ha! I meant strange that anyone would think to put the stove next to the window.

        2. My "Wish list" would include under counter fridge/freezer for most frequently used items. Enough counter space that my usual clutter isn't apparent within a few days of organizing. A BIG/deep sink with high faucet.

          A few years ago, did a custom painting job in a FABULOUS kitchen in a ritzy area of NJ. Huge island in center... small sink and TONS of storage all around perimeter. Massive triple door pantry. Six burner cook top. Siink big enough to take a bath in. Immense fridge/freezer. When a commented to home owner about how WONDERFUL it must be to cook in a space like that... didn't know which I wanted to do more... smack her or CRY... cuz she said she DIDN'T COOK!?!

          2 Replies
          1. re: kseiverd

            "didn't know which I wanted to do more... smack her or CRY... cuz she said she DIDN'T COOK!?!"

            I live in a fairly ritzy part of NJ and I see that ALL the time.

            1. re: kseiverd

              Storage, yes good point. I have way too much out on my counters now.

            2. Funny you should ask this now. I just got my new kitchen installed two days ago and am in love with its features. It turned out very different from what I had originally planned. I needed my kitchen to be:

              1. ergonomic for a bad back,
              2. convenient for juicing on a big scale- prepping LOTS of fruits and veggies
              3. guaranteed not to offgas formaldehyde and other chemical fumes (I have MCS). That last bit was hard to find.

              Surprisingly IKEA worked on all three counts. Wish I had gone there first, but I had assumed their wood products would be too toxic for me.

              For my bad back, this forum gave me the idea to make all the base cabinets be drawers instead of shelves. Each base cabinet is three drawers deep: shallow drawers on top for little things, two deep drawers below for pots and pans and other big stuff. After struggling for so many years to lift heavy cast iron from base cabinet shelves, getting down on my knees to see what's back there, I will never again have a kitchen with bottom shelves. From now on it's drawers all the way.

              For the blind corner, IKEA makes a base cabinet that has pullout shelves on a swivel. They spin around the corner like a lazy susan, but they're on a rail that lets you pull the shelves completely out of the cabinet. They can hold a lot of weight. It's awesome! My back appreciates it so much. I put all my tall pots and pressure cookers in there.

              Comfortable pulls that don't snag clothing.

              I went from a 33" twin-bowl SS sink to a 33" single-bowl SS sink, with the drain in the rear and a grate on the bottom. Not too deep because that's hard on my back. Now I can fit big things in the sink without a stupid divider getting in the way. Plenty of room for washing 15 pounds of produce at a time. Dishes can dry on a dishrack right in the sink. The single drain in the back gives me more usable cabinet room underneath.

              I recently learned that 99.9% of bacteria like e-Coli and salmonella disappear on a wood surface within 3 minutes, without cleaning, but only if the wood is not sealed. No other work surface is as sanitary. So I got butcher block countertops from IKEA. They ended up being less expensive, easier to install and lighter weight than any other countertop I looked at. Wood is friendly to china and crystal, and it feels so soft and warm.

              Hope I didn't ramble on too long. I'm just really jazzed about this stuff after so many months of planning. It's my little dream kitchen come true.

              7 Replies
              1. re: shiny

                Congratulations on your new kitchen! I think there are lots and lots of people here who can totally relate to the idea of kitchen dreams coming true - whether or not they've happened yet. :)

                1. re: flourgirl

                  Thanks, flourgirl. I'll post a link to some before and after pictures once I get the backsplash done and the walls painted- hopefully in the next few weeks.

                2. re: shiny

                  +1 on the big single sink with offset drain and grate. My sink has now effectively doubled the amount of workspace on that run of counter.

                  I've also hugely enjoyed the vastly increased effectiveness of a faucet with a pull-down sprayer that can stream or spray (and stays on without holding down a button). The head is magnetic so it locks easily when put back. It's a Delta 'touch' faucet, another feature I find convenient.

                  Am envying you your base drawers and pullouts, which I hope to have before too long. Pots and pans are heavy, and crouching and reaching are getting old -- as am I.

                  1. re: shiny

                    Thanks shiny! Drawers for lower cabinets sounds like a wonderful idea. Our fridge has a big freezer drawer at the bottom of it, so I can imagine that it is useful for cabinets too. Great idea on the drain in the back of the sink, seems like all sinks should be designed like that. I'll have to do my homework on the countertops... I'm a germaphobe!

                    1. re: amyk00025

                      I'm a germaphobe, too. So I was flabbergasted to learn how wood is so sanitary. Here are two articles you might find interesting:

                      Food Safety: Comparing Plastic and Wood Cutting Boards: www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/infxtra/i...


                      On the Chopping Block: http://www2.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForu...

                      1. re: amyk00025

                        I have all drawers and roll out shelves in my lower cabinets and I love them. No wasted space, nothing gets lost and it's easy to keep it all organized. My regret was not putting roll out shelves in my pantry cabinet and now I need to do it after market.

                    2. This book helped me quite a bit. I just posted it on another thread and you can buy it on Amazon, used inexpensively.

                      Also this forum is all about design.

                      They also have an appliance forum
                      For me the cooktop and oven would be the first consideration. Educate yourself about what is available and how it would fit with your cooking style.

                      Consider the ergonomics of the kitchen. Deep sinks while seem good can be killers on your back. We also used apron sinks with the thinnest width on the front wall to bring the sink forward.
                      If you bake, you might want some of your countertop to be lower to knead bread.

                      We had a cabinet maker make everything just exactly how I wanted it. He worked @ an hourly rate and was cheaper than Home Depot.
                      I have soapstone on my peripheral counter tops but Silestone on my island. Soapstone is gorgeous but you must be willing to accept the patina of life. My island takes a lot of wear and tear so Silestone has been a good choice for it.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: wekick

                        Awesome! Thanks, I'll get that book and read that forum. Lower counter in one area may be good for kids helping and when they get older, making their own snacks/breakfast!

                        1. re: amyk00025

                          Lower counters doing double-duty for kids and baking. What a great idea!

                          OK, here's a few photos of my new drawers and pullout so you can see how they work. The kitchen isn't finished... I still have to make the backsplash, tile over the pony wall and counter above the sink, and paint over that gawdawful wallpaper.

                          There is no stove anymore. It took up too much room and generated too much heat so I ditched it for induction and a countertop oven. You can see my new stove in the drawer! This is an old mobile home and I don't have a lot of money, so please be gentle:





                          1. re: shiny

                            Nothing to be embarrassed about there! Looks nice and clean and super functional. I'm (about to be) a first-time homeowner and also hoping IKEA will give me some real functionality and usability for a price I can manage. Would love to know how your countertop holds up, especially around the sink.

                            1. re: togijiru

                              shiny, it looks fantastic! Congrats!

                            2. re: shiny

                              It really looks great! I would be perfectly happy cooking in that space. Bright, clean and functional. Great job!

                              1. re: flourgirl

                                Thanks for the kind words.

                                I'm curious myself how well the countertop will hold up around the sink. I rubbed four coats of mineral oil into it top and bottom, and rubbed some beeswax around the sink hole cut. Water beads up on it. The other day I spilled a some carrot juice while I was juicing. Wiped it up a few minutes later and there was no stain.

                                If it splits or cracks within 25 years IKEA will replace it.

                        2. not really a build thing per se, but i recently moved into the first home i own and put a bookshelf in the kitchen for all my cookbooks and (ridiculous number of) food magazines. I vaguely collect obscure kitchen stuff on my travels so it also makes a nice display for them and some of my treasured pots and pans. It's a long and low slung shelf, just abve waist height, so it also makes a nice sideboard for laying out plates and glasses before guests arrive and bowls of snacks for people to nibble on while they mill in the kitchen while i cook.. More a furniture thing than a design thing, but i just love it.

                          1. After interviewing three architects, we hired a friend who designed building trusses, as he was the only one who listened and didn't discount our requirements.

                            Solid wood cabinets. I rehab houses and nothing else lasts. Especially in high humidity Florida. Ensure that the shelves and drawers are also solid wood.

                            As I do not like an audience when I cook, we retained the load bearing wall and my galley kitchen with a 3X4 window facing south. Task lighting was supplied undercounter as well as track lighting. A large fan with lights was in the hall leading to the back bedrooms.

                            With a high ceiling, I hung my pots, pans, and woks from two 8 foot long pipes. I bent my own hooks to length so all were in easy reach.

                            I lowered one large base cabinet and had a 3 inch thick slab of granite hollowed out and fitted with a cold plate to cool it for pastry making. Also easier on the back.

                            The stainless sink had an integrated drain board. Interestingly enough, it cost $1100 here in the States. Common in Europe, I flew to Germany, visited friends for 3 weeks, bought one for less than $70, and still saved money.

                            As the manual dishwasher is left handed, the quietest dishwasher we could afford was placed to the left of the sink. What this means is plan your kitchen with who will be using what, as opposed to the experts.

                            Kitchen wiring and circuit breakers were upgraded to 20 amp and outlets every 3 feet of counter space.

                            Installed an industrial squirrel cage exhaust fan and vented out the side wall. A sligh downhill run of less than eight feet. Great for getting rid of smoke, smells, and heat.

                            Tile floors with coir area carpets. Cheap enough to just throw away when you spill grease all over it. Laminate flooring so far has been a great collector of grease and germs whenever I encounter them.

                            My knives were kept on magnetic strips. The long ones that would not fit under the cabinets were kept diagonally in a drawer with dividers.

                            Built my spice cabinet away from the stove and with shelves so I could readily identify each bottle.

                            Would have loved to have had a built in oven at chest height, but lack of space. Lots of shelves for reference books. The ugly battered ones were closest to the stove.

                            My kitchen is a work area, not a social area. I had a sign that stated, "If you want to help the cook, make me a Manhattan."

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                              We built onto our kitchen because everyone was right on top of me when I was cooking. We now have and area with a table and fireplace and the actual kitchen is divided by an island. On one side is the dishwasher, sink and storage for all the dishes. The microwave and coffeemaker are also there. The other side is set up for prep and cooking. Still though, I have everyone on the cooking side. Go figure.
                              One thing I wish I would have done was use the baseboards of my cabinets as additional pullouts for trays and the like.

                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                Indianriverfl - I LOVE your help the cook sign!

                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                  IndianRiverFL, by chance do you have a source for your stainless drainboard sink?

                                  1. re: ccccintx

                                    Check out ELKAY from Chicago. The have a variety of sinks with integral drainboards. The $1400 price seems outrageous.

                                2. We did a minor redo and replaced the double sink with a single and wow, what a positive difference.

                                  My next kitchen will have two sinks, the main sink and a second smaller sink for hand washing, prep work, etc.

                                  1. Just a quick note to say thanks for all the great tips, I've gleaned some cool ideas from this thread. Would love to hear any more that come to mind!

                                    1. In two of my homes, I have replaced the standard double bowl sink with a 36" model that has one side the size of a single bowl sink (about 24"), and one smaller sink for draining dishes. I have also had the larger 33" single bowl, but it was not as functional to me. I really like to have two bowls.