Join Jamie & Gary this week as we go over some kitchen design problems our designers come across are and what some of their favorite solutions and rules of thumb are to follow.
Kitchen Design Problems & Designer Pro Solutions
Rules of thumb…
There is nothing worse than having a can light right above your head, or just a bit behind when you are working in the kitchen. When you bend slightly to do prep work on the countertop, then your head creates a shadow on your workspace. Adding indirect lighting (via under cabinet lights, etc), counteracts the can light shadow, giving you a bright and safe space to do prep work.
Same goes in the bathroom…
I use the analogy of an old-school Halloween face from a flashlight. If you just have a can light coming down over the sink, you will have shadows. Adding a wall-mounted light (sconce, light bar, etc), fill in the shadows that the can light casts, and makes the make-up application and shaving easier and more precise. – SM
Always want at least 48” of space when two people are going to be working back to back (say one at a sink in the island, and one at a range on the perimeter wall).
More is preferred, but any smaller than this, and it’s just too close to comfortably work. We try to shoot for 42” (or more) on the walkways in general – but that’s not always possible in the remodeling world. Smaller kitchens may end up with the NKBA minimum recommendation of 36”, simply out of necessity. Sometimes that’s a really hard conversation with a client – when people want to open their kitchen up, and want to go with an island, sometimes it’s physically just impossible to keep the walkways where they need to be, and then the island ends up being too narrow to allow for any real function.
Work Triangle vs. Work Zones
Sticking to the NKBA recommendations (or more) is how I try to plan a kitchen. I don’t focus on the “work triangle” as much anymore, but more on “work zones”. In larger kitchen spaces, keeping to the triangle can actually be counter-productive, and force the space into too small of an area, leaving a large portion of the kitchen proper unused. Instead, in those cases, we will talk with the clients about adding a second (prep) sink, or creative solutions to re-working the layout of the space (adding a walk-in pantry to fill some unused space?), or making one large island into two separate smaller and more manageable ones.
Fitting in those larger more specialized appliances
The appliance conversation has been more complicated lately than ever. I think it is important for clients to connect with one of our appliance partners early on in the process and nail down what are their “must-have” appliances are followed up by “nice to have”. We can then work with the client to come up with the best layout to meet their needs. This is where I see a big change in our process—designing for a standard package in the retainer phase and allowing the client’s to finalize their package once sold (before the order of cabinets) is no longer. When they are interested in purchasing professional appliances, clients need to shop early on so we can price the project accurately and come up with the best design layout during the retainer phase. This saves time and gives the client the best design (as opposed to making timely revisions and last-minute changes).
TRICKS & TIPS –
Short on Storage space?
-Getting creative with storage spaces (i.e. toe kick drawers, shallow cabinets installed perpendicular to the end of a cabinet run)
-Rethinking how items are stored on the inside of cabinets by incorporating accessories such as pot/pan holders, interior shelf risers to maximize vertical space)
-Easy Reach corner cabinets instead of Lazy Susans – easy reach allows you to utilize all space of the cabinet as opposed to the lazy susan that does not maximize the corner spaces. (can also incorporate the tiered risers in these easy reach cabinets as well)
-Utilizing open shelving to store plates/bowls, wine glasses, cookbooks, jars of frequently used flours/sugar, etc. This is a great solution if you don’t want the space to feel as heavy as sometimes it can by adding more cabinetry and also a less expensive option.
-Add Extra Shelves in existing cabinets
-Cabinet Accessories to help organize
-Two Tier drawers to double drawer storage
Short on counter space?
-Having more storage for items normally stored on countertops (pullouts for oils/vinegar/spices to the left of the range and to the right a pullout for utensils/knives)
-Incorporating a sink with accessories such as a cutting board, colander, and drying rack all in one area. (Franke & Kohler Stages)
-Adding creative storage spaces for small appliances (think a pantry with roll trays), helps get them off the counter space that is available, making the area actually usable for everyday prep work.
-Incorporate other rooms of the house for kitchen landing zones & drop zones/command centers
Insufficient counter space is difficult, too, as sometimes the kitchen space just is what it is, and short of adding on an addition (if possible), there is no wall expander tool. Adding creative storage spaces for small appliances (think a pantry with roll trays), helps get them off the counter space that is available, making the area actually usable for everyday prep work. There are drawer microwaves on the market now that are very common. They get installed into a cabinet under the countertop, which then leaves all of the countertop square footage open for use. The downside to both of these options is that then we’re taking away storage space for pots/pans, dishes, food, etc., and unfortunately, typically when there is low countertop space it’s because the kitchen is a smaller space, to begin with, so it’s not always advantageous to lose storage. We talk the clients through their daily functions so we can best counsel them on what options would be better for their specific situation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing. One person may make a smoothie every single day or use their Vitamix multiple times a day, so it’s not practical for them to be lugging the appliance in and out of a pantry. Whereas someone else may only use that Vitamix to make peanut butter once a week, and having the countertop surface available on a daily basis will function better for them.
-Vent hoods (to outside) – turn it on 20 minutes before cooking
-Pop-ups vs. downdrafts
-Toe kick recirculating
Problem: outlets (code?)
-Dedicated zones to cooking and prep – locate outlets according to needs
-Make sure you have a dedicated charging area if devices will the charged in the kitchen space or if the island is used as a work station for kids or WFH
-Chili cook-off party??? Make sure you can accommodate all of those crockpots.
Electric – code in Ohio is to have an outlet on all islands (At least one, maybe more if the island is gigantic). We use the Sillites that are a single round electric outlet with a cover…this makes them very small, and quite inconspicuous if you have cabinetry/design you don’t want to mess up. Same on a backsplash – there have to be outlets for convenience (and code), but sometimes adding an outlet or switch really messes with the design. There are angled outlet bars that we can tuck up between the backsplash and the bottom of the wall cabinets that don’t interfere with the flow of the backsplash but keep the function easy to access.
Also, we have been using a lot more outlets with the USB plug built-in. In my own home, this would be a huge advantage, as my children lose their “blocks” all the time, and then steal mine, so when I need to plug something in, I have nowhere to do so. With these built into the outlets, there is no way for the children to abscond with my resource