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Building a New Kitchen

Hello all-

We are remodeling an old brick farm house and turning it into THE house. The one we'll be in for the next 20-30 years, where our kids will grow up (now 4 and 7), and where I'll continue to grow my love for all things culinary. This is my chance to design the kitchen of my dreams, which for me is actually quite simple . . . except when it comes to appliances. Here's what I'm thinking, based on research I've done thus far:

Wolf cook top, consisting of gas multi function burner, two burner induction top, and in-counter steamer;
Gaggenau or Wolf double oven (would love opinions here);
Miele dishwasher;
undecided on fridge.

Are there brands I've missed? Thoughts on a refrigerator that does not cost as much as college tuition? Thank you!

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  1. welcome!

    that's a great adventure. the kitchen is the best room in the house. it's where all life is supported. imagine not eating? gaggenau has great stoves. wolf, viking and others all have great features. dump all electric sources, they will cost you in the end. all gas is the only way to go. convection oven if you like to bake. throw out the induction in favor of an open grill and a griddle if you like pancakes and such. we're talking flavor here and electric earns zero points.

    next is the refrigeration. if you like wolf then check out sub zero. i recommend side by side fridge and freezer units. if you have the wall space that is the way to go. then washing dishes is certainly a big topic. check out the fisher and paykel two drawer washers. they make super wide units if you need the capacity. the only thing in your way is cost. if not a problem, go for it. have a budget? kitchen aid makes some really good mid pro units, washers, fridge and stoves.

    cabinets? kraft maid all wood construction. say no to flakeboard. even some high end names like thomasville are made of that junk. it's only about 20% more to go all wood. skip the fancy designs in favor of good construction. countertops of man made marble are getting very popular and the price is better than ever. it almost doesn't pay to use formica. for floors, porcelain is more durable than ceramic and is color through. correct installation is critcal.

    a good hood with adequate air volume especially with a grill is very important. make sure it has good lighting. i like farmhouse style sinks but that is up to you. use well placed lighting. forget those designer hanging dark glass fooba accent lights. they don't do the job. kitchens need light. simple track or recessed lights are you best bet. position your appliances and utilities to take advantage of window light and ease of plunbing. your life will be easier.

    finally, you know what you want, take measurements, make a drawing and work on it until everything fits where you want it. time spent planing is time and money saved. you will benefit from it forever. next the bathroom, next chapter.

    good luck, jerry

    1. I would definately put in two dishwashers. With our family of three, there are at least three days a week I could have two dishwashers running at the same time.

      My husband worked on a renovation of a large Victorian a couple of years ago and the owners opted for something I had never seen before. Instead of a sub zero or similar style built-in fridge, they used a full size freezer and a full size fridge set side by side and had the door swings set so they openned outward. The cabinetry (Wood-Mode) was installed around the units. I can't remember the brand of the freezer/fridge.

      6 Replies
      1. re: cleobeach

        Fridgidaire, Whirlpool,SZ, Thermador, Liebherr and others make this type of thing. There are commercial units too but they are noisy.

        1. re: wekick

          Maybe have been Fridgidaire. I know they weren't commercial units because the owners' told me commercial units also burn too much electricity. They had the cabinets set in flush with the edge of the units so it gave a built-in apperance.

          1. re: cleobeach

            I'm pretty sure it's this one:

            http://www.frigidaire.com/products/Ki...

            You can get a trim kit to combine the two into what looks like a single unit. Also available as an Electrolux for $600 more.

        2. re: cleobeach

          separate fridge and freezer....space hog for sure, but a clever idea

          1. re: cleobeach

            I put Wood Mode cabinets in my last house and I truly miss them. The finish was so durable and they were so well made. Sometimes I get the urge to go to my previous house and see how they have worn. They would be almost 12 years old now.

          2. It is so much fun planning a new kitchen. In addition to this forum, these forums are very helpful in getting information about appliances and kitchen planning in general.

            http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/appl/

            http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/kitch...

            There are threads about the best things people did when remodeling or this thread-
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/743667

            A book I found very helpful -
            http://kitchendesignwithcookinginmind... It is available on Amazon very reasonably.

            I think you would really like induction. Almost everyone that has it loves it. It have a full range of temperature and depending on what numbers you look at, almost twice as efficient. I would ask if three hobs will be enough. You can always add a portable induction hob if you need additional though. I have used gas all my life and would certainly consider induction "next time".

            Ovens-People seem to like Wolf ovens. I have a Wolf oven in a DF 36 inch range and love it. I also have an Electrolux wall oven, 30inch and love it too. Rather than a double oven, I would consider 2 separate single wall ovens so if something goes wrong with one, you still have the other. Electric ovens often will have additional convection elements that contribute to even heating when the oven is full. They can also have modes that allow heat to be directed more from the top for roasting and bottom for baking. Gas ovens typically have just a fan for convection. Both of my ovens have very even heating, but I think the dual fans on the 36 inch oven is helpful. I haven't used Gaggenau so can't speak to how it bakes.

            Our frig is a 48 inch KA because I liked the layout the best. It was only about $1000 less than SZ. It works ok but the fit and finish is mediocre.

            I was fortunate to have a neighbor who builds cabinets build mine. He just charged an hourly rate plus materials so it was cheaper than buying them ready made. Almost all my bottom cabinets are drawers, except a few shallow ones for stock pots and the like. On one wall I made the countertops extra deep(30 inches) to allow for leaving some frequently used small appliances out and still have the full amount of work area. My cabinets are extra deep as well but you can do this with standard cabinets.

            2 Replies
            1. re: wekick

              Thanks for all of the great advice so far! I have been a strong proponent of gas, and polled all of my friends with induction. They all gave me a resounding yes, so I'm excited to give it a try. Because we'll have the in-counter steamer, I think that three burners will be enough. I would do four (two gas, two induction), but there doesn't seem to be the right size for a wok on the Wolf gas tow burner option.

              I had not even considered two individual ovens. What a good idea. I have a line on two Gaggenau ovens at 50% off, although I think they might be 24" and I'm thinking 30". I'll do some thinking and research on that.

              I love, love the idea of a standing freezer and fridge next to each other. Oh the space! We had a GE fridge in our previous home that we loved, but it was a combo unit. Any recommendations on brands to look for here?

              Such a good call to raise the dishwasher! I don't think we'll do two, but I have seen some pictures of kitchens with two drawer dishwashers. It seems like a good concept, but wonder how well the drawer units work.

              As for cabinets, I'm planning on no wall cabinets, save for one or two with glass doors flanking the sink. Someone once told me to go for all drawers; any thoughts on that?

              1. re: hmizia

                I got to create a new kitchen in a mansion that had never had one "above stairs." We had no upper cabinets but rather a deep "closet" at either end. One was basically the breakfast center with a butcher block counter, coffee maker and toaster. The other was a pantry. Really made the room something special. As for drawers, we had them there wherever we could and have them in our new place. Love them a lot.

            2. I would second the comment on induction. It is a wise idea to have both gas and electric in your kitchen. We have had both for 20 years and have never regretted it. You'll need steel, flat bottomed cookware for the induction. I installed a 2 burner gas Jenn Air next to an electric induction smoothtop. We cook steaks and hamburgers on the Jenn Air in the winter.
              Also, another good idea on 2 separate wall ovens. go for two convection ovens.
              If your kitchen is large enough, a separate freezer and fridge is the way to go.I would not buy Frigidaire due to quality issues.
              If you can mount your dishwasher up around 14 inches off the ground you will thank yourself many times over for not having to bend down to reach the bottom rack. We put ours in a wall cabinet.
              Finally, make sure you can get good service and parts on any brand you choose before installing it. This is not always the case with Miele and Gaggenau unless you live in a large urban area.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Enigma3

                Any thoughts on Wolf vs. Gaggenau cooktops? I'd also love to know if anyone has used the in-counter steamer.

              2. To be honest, I wouldn't get hung up brands just yet, 'specially not the hi-zoot ones you mention. You will pay dearly (both purchase and service) for that "commercial" look, and glean few of the benefits. If you have the space, and it sounds like you have the budget, definitely plan for a wall oven...2? Seems like overkill, but if you truly have that kind of baking tempo, why not. Is this an open floor plan? Or open kawn-cept as my Canadian friends like to say? Invest in a good quiet dishwasher. Doesn't need to be a miele, bugatti, or maybach...GE and KA make really good units. In counter steamer? Do you really have the counter space to dedicate? Might sound cool in an Arch Digest piece, but how absolutely funtional is it, truthfully. I WOULD put some good money into the faucet and sink, this is going to be the most used tool in your kitchen. Again, the obscure european brands all look spiff-spiff, but you'll find great quality in Delta or Pfister, and easy to find parts as well. Have fun

                1 Reply
                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                  Hey, OP:

                  You listen to the BiscuitBoy, OK? Wisdom there...

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                2. Well, this is going to be an interesting exercise because not only will you have to choose appliances you will have to decide on layout and other things. I did a similar exercise about 3 years ago and had to start from scratch when the cost for the appliances hit six digits (the first *not* being the number one) and the requisite kitchen space went past 700 square feet (the total available floorspace for a single level was 600 square feet).

                  Didn't look too hard at Wolf for anything because gas wasn't an option and they were even more expensive than the Euro-brands. I have used other people's Wolf gas cooktops and they're very nice.

                  The Gaggenau ovens have an advantage of side-opening doors, which is a beautiful thing if one is lifting giant turkeys in and out. The one detractor for them was that pulling an oven rack gives out a loud metallic squeal. Depending on how much space you have, you can also look at the 36" wide Gaggenau oven, which is large enough to cook two turkeys side by side. It also accurately holds very low temperature.

                  Miele won the double-oven selection; easy to use, very even heating as measured by IR thermometer, two rotisseries for the top oven which is great for cooking porchetta for a crowd.

                  For a cooktop I prefer induction because it doesn't throw heat like open flames and radiant do, and it provides similar precision and speed as gas goes. However after watching the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy I can understand why a non-electric option might be wise to have unless you have a gas generator installed as a backup. Well, it is a farmhouse so that might not be a bad idea.

                  Fagor won over Miele (5-hob models) primarily due to the diameter of my stock pot and the edges overlapping the control panel on the Miele. Don't buy the Gaggenau induction cooktop - it uses a *removable* hockey puck to control the unit so think about how much that costs to repalce when someone loses the puck.

                  Another cooktop alternative might be Gaggenau or Miele combisets which would allow you to explicitly mix and match cooking elements to what you think you might like.

                  Side-by-side freezer and refrigerator for sure, though my understanding is that virtually all of these units are counterdepth so get as wide a unit as you have wall space for. Went with Miele because of the shelves, the lighting and the oversize hinges (saw a demo unit that had a concrete panel installed as a front). Support the flooring underneath your refrigeration units because they will be freaking heavy.

                  Since you do have young children, I am going to suggest that you also include a half-height refrigerator dedicated to milk, drinks, small snacks and fruit since you're going to be grabbing for those most often over the next 2 decades.

                  I have used an in-counter steamer and they're fine but somewhat limited in terms of height of what you can put in. The whole capon for white-cut chicken was too big for instance. Rather than this type of steamer you could look at steam ovens. Gaggenau has a combi-oven and Miele has steam-only. Both units are rather small (24") but quite functional nonetheless. The units come with racks, and perforated and unperforated trays.

                  Definitely a good quiet dishwasher especially if the place is large. I'm no sold on the two-drawer units because I've already had difficulty fitting things into these units.

                  If you drink coffee, have the walls and want to conserve open counter space, consider a wall-mount coffee machine. One that's plumbed will be always ready to go.

                  Go all-drawers if you can. Also consider drawers for horizontal knife storage (knives held in drawer by magnetic strips).

                  One thing to definitely verify is whether the planned electrical system for the structure can support everything that is planned. My selection draws 265A on the kitchen appliances alone.

                  1. A small point regarding the cabinets... Don't go for the "furniture look" that was trendy a few years ago, with a baseboard around the bottom instead of a recessed toe kick. The toe kick was invented for a reason, you really do want a place for your toes to go when you stand close. And that baseboard just becomes a little shelf to catch crumbs, stray spills, etc, and always needs to be cleaned up.

                    1. Oooooh. Lotso good advice here.
                      A few things I love after our kitchen remodel:
                      Drawers, drawers and more drawers. Yep, prefer them to cabinets with doors. All self-closing(or whatever it's called).
                      My walk-in pantry. Keeps the counters clear. Easy to find stuff on open shelves. Can eliminate upper cabinets in the kitchen when done well.
                      Under-cabinet lighting. I though it was a fad...then I lost 1/4 of my vision. Now it's a must-have.
                      Range hood with externally mounted fan. Huge suction, minimal noise.
                      Huge farmhouse sink. Soak those big pans!
                      Sink nozzle with high goose-neck/sprayer-nozzle thingie. It looks more "commercial" than "home" but boy does it work well for those big pots and pans. Has been copied by numerous friends after watching ours in action.

                      Have fun!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: pedalfaster

                        A farmhouse sink can be better ergonomically because it can be closer to you. Also don't get a sink that is too deep or it can hurt your back.

                        1. re: wekick

                          a real good point. i noticed a soar back washing pots for a long time. the solution was a farmhouse sink. they are deeper and being close to you are so much better on the back. having your work close to your body reduces fatigue greatly. having a deep sink is imperative if you use large pots, baking pans, serving trays, etc. also, a shallow sink splashes all over the place and is like washing in a puddle. the formica counter top with a drop in sink was the worst kitchen design ever. farmers wives do a lot of washing and the sink must meet the demand.

                          1. re: jerrymcc

                            I actually do better with a shallow sink. My grandmother had a real farm sink with a drainboard incorporated and it was about 6 inches deep. My favorite sink. You have to see where your arms are in relation to the bottom of the sink. It will be different for everybody. If you have to bend over even a little it can hurt your back.

                      2. Not a gambler but will buy 2-3 lottery tickets when Mega-Millions or Powerball has potential for REALLY big jackpot. IF I ever won, would have a smaller house built that was centered around the kitchen... all open floor plan... probably a bit out in the boonies.

                        Don't know much or have any opinions about specific brands, but DO know what this "dream kitchen" would have. Big 6-burner gas stove, with a killer hood. Massive fridge/freezer and an undercounter freezer for stuff I go for frequently, like ICE. LOTS of counter space, so lots of cabinets/drawers. Definitely NOT laminate counter tops... kind of stone... no idea. Built-in pantry cabinets.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kseiverd

                          Just FYI I love our soapstone counters. Not quite as "wow" as some of the granite tops I've seen, but I like their "patina".
                          A few sections are butcher block, for when I want a "softer" surface (although I never cut on them; that's what cutting boards are for?). I wanted some stainless work surfaces too, but will probably add that via a move-able work table.

                        2. we did it.....in 1998

                          a ccple of "after reminders we wished we had done differently"

                          1. If you get an electric cooktop...get the burner controls off to the side..a pain to clean around( ours are the flat glass type)
                          2. Warming drawer......we mostly store crackers and cookies in it.....sometimes use it for raising bread......but pretty useless
                          3. Disposals in all sinks.we left one as not....and it's the one that gets all the crud
                          4. Two dishwashers.....a friend had mentioned this...we thought.....nah............we should have!
                          5. Rotating Corner cupboards..........what a gawd-send!.....unless you pack them so full stuff falls off!
                          6. Mega hood on the stove!......Cook somethging like sauerkraut and the whole world (well, whole house) knows if you don't

                          1. LOVE my Miele dishwasher! I think that the two drawer dishwashers are wonderful for one or two people,but since you already have a family of four I am sure you fill it up and run it once a day,so I would pass on the two drawers.
                            I have a large piece of butcher block built into my countertop on top of drawers. In the back of it is dead space that I had slits put in for all my knifes...love it as it keeps them out of the reach of small hands plus they are exactly where I need them.
                            Defintinly two ovens....couldn't be without them.
                            Refrigerators are something I wouldn't think of reccomending.....have a Amana Frenchdoor which has had almost everything replaced and only five years old.
                            I have a very large walk in pantry which I love.
                            Grill on your stovetop?
                            Other then that,have fun!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Mother of four

                              Thank you Mother of four! I'm thinking full-size dishwasher for sure now. Love your use of the dead space for knife storage. Yes to the walk-in pantry!

                              1. re: hmizia

                                The 2-drawer dishwasher is probably not a good choice for a family of 4. We went to the other extreme and bought a Hobart commercial undercounter model. You typically see them at Starbucks. They're standard-size but use commercial trays. They're very handy for entertaining because we can run 30 loads an hour (although realistically 5 or 6 would be heavy, heavy use in our house). It's loud but the cycle ends in under 2 minutes.

                                http://www.hobartcorp.com/products/wa...

                                Certainly not for everyone but really unbeatable if you do a lot of entertaining.

                            2. No appliance recs here - I'm still stuck in Retro mode, so when I finally get my kitchen redone a 42" like-new Wedgewood gas range is going in (it's waiting in the garage). But the most important thing about the layout is this: do NOT have your primary workspace be the corridor through the room! Right now, my cooktop and oven are directly in the pathway from side door to both back door and dining room; only the sink and dishwasher are out of the way. As there is gas available on the other side, which now is pantry, dishes and tools, that is where the range will be, and the corridor side is where the groceries will get dropped off as it should be. The room is too small and boxed in to expand at all, but rearranging the available space will help a lot.

                              1. Yes, the dream kitchen aspect of this is so fun. It's definitely the heart of the house. It will be an open floor plan, with a HUGE island, no overhead/wall cabinets save for one or two flanking the sink (with glass doors), a pantry, and the cooktop will be on the island. Natural stone and wood throughout. Lots of light. And these amazing appliances!

                                It's true we have a budget, and we are lucky enough to have an enormous shop where we can store appliances and the like before the house is ready for them. This way I can score some deals through Craigslist, sales, and eBay. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and foresee that I always will. We upgraded the kitchen in our previous house, and it was nice, but not creamy, that's for sure.

                                1. A few questions that might improve suggestions:

                                  What sort of cooking do you do? You mention the in-counter steamer, do you want or need a grill or griddle? What do you use your oven for (e.g. do you bake pastries/breads or is it mainly used for roasting things, or do you do both, do you need a full sized sheet pan or will half pans work?)

                                  Is the kitchen it's own room or will it be open to a living room/dining room / great room? What is the size/shape of the kitchen area, do you have enough counter space, do you use a lot of kitchen gadgets?

                                  Do you have access to natural gas, or does the house have a propane tank hookup? Is your electricity reliable (splitting between gas and induction is a very good idea if you may loose power...)

                                  Fridge
                                  Instead of looking at a single large expensive fridge consider the possibility of some smaller efficient purpose fridges.
                                  1) Under the cooktop, consider installing a small reach in that holds items that you use only for cooking that you do not need to prep before using on the stove (or items that you have prepped and stored properly beforehand). Most of the movement in the kitchen is between the fridge, sink and stove. If you put the three in close proximity, then it can increase the efficiency of the kitchen drastically. This would also then suggest that you put a sink near the stove as well.
                                  2) Store the beverages in a separate beverage fridge. Beverages are what the fridge is most often opened for, and you loose a lot of efficiency each time the door is opened and closed. Separating the beverages to a different unit would increase the efficiency of the other fridges, and makes it much more convenient for kids to not have to root through everything. It can also store the beverages near the glasses and the door to the dining area (but not in such a way that it blocks free movement in and out of the kitchen)
                                  3) A general use fridge for storage of items that need to be prepped, leftovers, larger items or items that need to be stored. This fridge should be near the food prep area/cut board, as well the/another sink. Since you have offloaded some fridge functions to other fridges, it can be fairly small and super-efficient (like the fridges that have a regular door but drawers. If I had unlimited degrees of freedom to design a kitchen, I'd make the general fridge a large walk in that also served as a pantry…

                                  For the freezer, quite a few makers have small purpose built freezers as well. Again, what do you use it for? Can you use a chest?

                                  Oven/Cooktop
                                  If I had the chance to build from scratch, I'd install a combi-oven instead of the regular ovens and ditch the countertop steamer.
                                  Invest in a good hood, and if needed an air return system.

                                  1. So many good ideas! Thank you all!

                                    I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking with my kids and for the family. We do a lot of baking, and we also roast. We steam food with almost every meal whether it's a grain or veggies. The in-counter steamer seems awesome, and I also have this hunch that it will create a lot more headaches (read "expensive fixes") than a large pot on the stove top. I'm not really interested in a griddle or grille in the kitchen. We'll be designing the house so we have deck and grill access from the kitchen for an outdoor cooking space, and I simply love using my cast iron for all things griddle related.

                                    I'm really liking the idea of putting good thought into what the fridge and freezer are used for. I make stock, sauces, pureed squash, and the like often and freeze what we don't use. My freezer is constantly full. Making sure this space is large enough is imperative. We already have a separate chest freezer, which we use for buying local meat. I love the idea of a beverage fridge. But really what i need tons of space for is veggies. One or two crisper drawers really doesn't cut it for us.

                                    We've been rethinking the budget, and now I'm back to looking at an all gas range with 6 burners. The point that's been made a few times about losing power is very good, and one I've experienced first hand many times in our previous home. It's very comforting to have the availability of gas, especially with children around.

                                    Some have asked about the layout of the kitchen. It will be an open design with an enormous island that flows into the dining/living spaces (the cook top will be in the island with a utility sink). We'll have a walk-in pantry and no overhead cabinets. Double ovens on the side.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: hmizia

                                      My suggestion of the combi-oven and ditch the in-counter steamer was because the combi-steamer can do everything the in-counter steamer does and more (i.e. larger capacity for steaming multiple things at once, moisture control for roasts, ability to inject steam when baking bread, ability to proof bread, work as a regular oven, work as a broiler, etc.) Since you have access to gas, you can use gas for the steam generator, which reduces the electrical load of a combi-oven significantly (a regular single phase 15 amp 120v circuit vs a three phase 240v 30 or 40 amp circuit!).

                                    2. Get a full size La Cornue stove and then let the kitchen grow up around it for a few decades.

                                      1. How fun to design your own kitchen. Have your plumber check if your existing gas line can produce enough btu's for your new stove. Sounds like you got it handeled.

                                        1. I don't have a lot of input on appliances, but, just a quick note about cabinets... it might be worth it to find a local carpenter who can custom build them for you, versus going for a name brand. They often will be higher quality/durability, and will cost the same if not less than the name brand stuff, especially these days when local craftsmen don't have a lot of business. Also do not skimp on the hardware (hinges and handles).

                                          Also, I personally would definitely go for all drawers on the bottom, except for maybe a narrower cabinet or two with dividers where you can store things like baking sheets and trays if you don't want to store them in your pantry. Oh and get the soft close drawers/cabinets. I used to have a beautiful kitchen with all soft close drawers on the bottom and I absolutely loved it as I could move around while cooking and close the drawers with a bump of my hip and not worry about them slamming. I now live in a tract home with lots of deep lower cabinets that are half useless.

                                          Oh, and I would do a built-in (but removable for cleaning) butcher block somewhere.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                            I totally agree on the built in butcher block,mine is next to my sink,but I dont see any need to be able to remove it to clean it. I have had mine for 35 years in the same place and find it very easy to clean.