June 7, 2011

...And The Kitchen Sink

I've mentioned it before - we're gutting our kitchen. We don't know exactly when but it's got to be soon because knowing that there's a light at the end of this particular tunnel has made living in our current kitchen frustrating. The floor's uneven with grout falling out, the cabinets are crap and some of them are built over outlets and AC vents, and there's this one particularly vicious, carnivorous drawer that comes off its rails and chomps on human fingers whenever it gets the chance. And, of course, it's the one room where we spend most of our time.

We talked to our contractor and he set us up with what sounded like an easy, fun task - put together a list of everything you want.

- kitchen of the future that cleans itself
- walk-in pantry
- maid
- floors that don't fall apart
- french doors that lead to a back patio
- a butler
- double ovens
- pot lights (lights in the ceiling, not grow lights...sheesh)
- USB-equipped wall sockets
- masseuse (cos why not?)

This is by no means a fully thought-out list. In fact, its terribly malformed because I just came up with it off the top of my head since I don't have our real list handy. But here's where I need you - what are we missing? What's in your kitchen that you can't live without? If you could have your kitchen equipped with anything, what would it be?

Posted by Chris at June 7, 2011 7:03 AM

Two things, one I did, the other I didn't, when we did our kitchen....cupboards all the the to the ceiling gives us tons of added storage, and I kick myself almost every day for doing the black/stainless appliances....don't do that, for the love of God!!!!

Posted by: Dawn at June 7, 2011 8:05 AM

Definitely double ovens and a built in microwave with a nice range hood. Lots of counter space with solid counter tops (granite, or even Corian). Lots of lighting and plugs. Crap...I need a kitchen makeover...BAD!

Posted by: Jenn at June 7, 2011 8:19 AM

Ah - but the cupboards to the ceiling - who can reach anything? But yeah, that's what I have. Cabinet over my refrigerator is pretty useless though. Floor to ceiling pantry - now that's the bomb.

Recessed lights (Pot lights to you) are pretty much standard in any remodel we do. Don't forget pendant lights over the island and sink. DIMMERS. Put everything on dimmers.
If you can't afford the double oven, look for the free standing stove that has a smaller oven on top - it's fabulous.
Watch the location of the dishwasher if you're moving appliances. Don't have it near any cabinets that can't be opened while the dishwasher is open etc.
A floor you will be comfortable with. Personally I hate tile, LOVE hardwood. And hardwood is much easier (In my opinion) to keep clean.
Research your counters please. Don't just get something because everyone else is. Some types and finishes are a pain to take care of. Don't turn your nose up at formica - it's come a long way. Granite's come way down in price and Quartz is about equal the price.
Look at the cabinets, layout and drawers vs. doors you have now and decide what you like what you don't. Make sure what is designed, makes sense; get a feel for the cabinets they draw in. Just cus it "fits" doesn't mean it'll work well.
Make sure you have plenty of outlets (code anyway) but also in appropriate places! If you have an island, definitely there.
Did you know you can get a little vacuum system and it can be built into the bottom of your island?! You just sweep everything towards it! Saw it recently and couldn't believe my eyes.
That's all I can think of -- for now. :-)

Posted by: NancyB at June 7, 2011 8:29 AM

Beer on tap?

Posted by: COD at June 7, 2011 8:42 AM

Yes, stay away from stainless steel appliances! OMG! They are the worst things known to man! They actually RUST!

Posted by: Maribeth at June 7, 2011 8:48 AM

Lots of natural light, enough counter space (which I don't have now) and a window over the sink. Give me that and I'll put up with anything else.

My theory about high cupboards is that if you're storing anything so high it takes a ladder to get to it, you probably don't need the stuff that's in there.

Posted by: ann adams at June 7, 2011 8:53 AM

I'm talking out of my butt because I've never been able to design a kitchen, but I've lived with the most unfortunate kitchens and so consider myself an expert in kitchen fantasies.

Most simply, I would really really really like to have my sink in an island. I spend a lot of time hovering over the sink and I get sick of staring at the wall/out a window. And a built-in flat-screen TV, or, really, what would be better is a built-in wi-fi laptop/ipad-type/WHATEVER (I am soooo tech savvy, right?!) because hulu et al. (and most cable companies' on demand stuff, right?) is much more convenient. You don't have to be cooking whatever they have on Food Network at the moment, but you can look up that awesome 30 Minute Meals episode you saw last week and actually cook along with Rachel Ray!!! My dream!! (Except I might mute it. The "EVOO action" makes me want to vomit, but the simplicity of her meals keeps bringing me back.) Anyhow, back to this TV issue, have you seen the commercial for the new refrigerator/freezer that has a built-in wi-fi enabled tv/display/whatever?! Ummm... http://www.examiner.com/technology-in-national/samsung-s-3-299-touch-screen-refrigerator-with-wi-fi-and-twitter
Kind of ridiculously expensive considering the teensy screen and that you could just screw an ipad to the wall, but still, it's the IDEA that is amazing.

(And in case you're wondering why I don't just bring my laptop into the kitchen while I cook, I DO, but (1) the stupid speakers are too weak to be heard above the running water, even at max volume, and (2) it keeps falling off the microwave and/or getting shit splashed onto it while I work. I want a built-in!)

Posted by: Sabrina at June 7, 2011 8:56 AM

I'm a renter, but I have a tale of warning for you.

My landlord and his wife lived in and fixed up this house before renting it. They added an addition to the kitchen and completely redid the cabinets. What they forgot was drawers. There is not on drawer in any of the cabinets in this kitchen. It's ridiculous and makes no sense.

So please, for the love of broccoli, please put drawers in your kitchen.

Posted by: Lisa D at June 7, 2011 9:07 AM

Make sure you have one spot of long interrupted counter space - it's invaluable! (I have 12 feet and it's AWESOME!) And yes, lots of drawers.


Posted by: Heather at June 7, 2011 9:36 AM

Pot drawers are awesome. You know, for pots and pans. *eyeroll*

When I was a teen, my parents decided to redo the kitchen. I actually got to help design it which was cool. :)

Anyway, there were a few features that we had that I WISH I had had in kitchens since then and they were:
An instant hot water tap (i drink a lot of tea.. awesomeness...)

A Jenn Aire gas cooktop that had interchangeable burners so that we could have an indoor grill.

A garage. Which was just a corner storage place under the cabinets, on the counter, that had a wee little garage door-like thing, and we kept the toaster and coffee pot in it. It kept the counters looking uncluttered.


In this old kitchen we have now, there is a drawer under the silverware drawer, that was made to keep your bread in. A built-in breadbox, if you will. I LOVE it and would take it with me if I could when (if) we move.

Posted by: Jen at June 7, 2011 9:53 AM

Shoot, let me just send you a picture. We remodeled our kitchen three years ago and I love it now. Favorite things? Center island with six chairs; a big cutout in the wall so now the kitchen looks out on the living room; and a walk-in pantry.

Posted by: Brooke at June 7, 2011 12:12 PM

Not sure if this applies to you at all, but it's the thing I thought of immediately because my sister-in-law made the mistake of not adding it: If you have a central vacuum, route a pipe to a floor flap for when you sweep things up. It blows using a dustbin out of the water (or so I hear sometimes when I get a break from the dustbin clanking around my ankle tied to its chain).

Posted by: Martin at June 7, 2011 12:26 PM

30" deep lower cabinets with full extension drawers - all drawers, all the time. We even put drawers under the sink, under the cooktop, and above the fridge and wall oven (the upper drawers are the pantry-style open sided ones). The extra-deep countertops significantly increase the workspace. And definitely get slow-close drawer slides.

Silgranit sink - indestructible, almost impossible to stain, low/no maintenance required.

If you have any corner cabinets, get a super-susan (like a lazy susan, but with no supporting middle pole, and way more weight-bearing than the traditional model).

Also, an induction cooktop. Even Ikea sells them now. Quickest, safest cooktop out there. And I mean quick. Water boils in under a minute.

Posted by: Oana at June 7, 2011 12:54 PM

We gutted our kitchen almost two years ago. Things that we did that I love: lots of big drawers for things like pots and pans, built in cabinet for the trash can, undermounted sink (so much easier for clean up) granite that we bought in precut slabs, it was cheaper than getting laminate counters, and much much cheaper than custom granite counters. Things I wish we'd done differently: had some sort of desk built in, some kind of open shelves for books, and I dislike the floors we picked. We put travertine in a lot of the house including the kitchen, and I hate it in the kitchen. It's a pain to keep clean, certain things can etch it, and a lot of cleaning supplies can mess it up so it's really hard to get clean. Ours is the type that is more natural looking so it has grooves and holes and it's just a pain.

And also, don't remodel when the kids are going to be home, and it's really hot outside, because it's not fun to try and be out of the house all day for weeks when it's 110 outside and you have little kids. lol

Posted by: Stephanie at June 7, 2011 12:57 PM

Everyone else for the most part is offering serious ideas. I agree with all the above. But I would add a Starbucks kiosk with a barista, open 24/7/365. There must, and will, be chai latte...

Posted by: Julee at June 7, 2011 1:27 PM

My 3 favorite things in our new kitchen: (1) built in trash containers directly under the best working area. You can just slide out the drawer with the trash cans, scoop your stuff right into it and close the door. (2) slide out shelves wherever possible and (3) a slide out spice rack. It's a drawer that's about 3 feet tall and 2 inches wide and holds a bazillion spices. Love it.

Posted by: James Proffitt at June 7, 2011 1:38 PM

Really nice appliances make a world of difference. The little niceties we enjoy and would enhance even further are 1) a pull out, cabinet-hidden trash can and recycling bin 2) slide out pots and pans cabinet 3) the quietest dishwasher they make 4) cabinets and drawers that slide closed easily and don't bang. I would also change the location of my garbage disposal switch, and add an ethernet port on the island for working in the kitchen (wireless doesn't cut it for me).

Posted by: Brad at June 7, 2011 1:39 PM

Thing we did right: Silestone counters...yes, they cost more, but they have the anti-bacterial material and do not require sealing EVER!!

Thing I messed up on: No lazy Susan in the corner cabinet, no rack of sorts to keep the pot lids organized...every time I take one lid out 10 others fall on my toes.

Posted by: Krush at June 7, 2011 2:47 PM

A disco ball and kick-ass stereo system - Owen and Mia will love it!

My sink is too far from the stove and I'm messy when I cook so I have to clean more often than I would like. Although, if it is self cleaning and you have a cook, not a problem.

A shoot that sends whatever you call out for from the fridge and around the kitchen into your hands. I think that would be a lot of fun.

Posted by: Heather at June 7, 2011 2:50 PM

I second the stereo system. The best thing we've done is hang decent speakers. We don't cook a lot of greasy food, so they stay in good shape.
I'd put in a butcher block cutting board next to the cooktop, although a friend who installs kitchens says this is very old fashioned.
He and his wife have had hardwood floors in several houses and love them. She says they're the easiest floors to keep clean and durable. I'll never be able to convince my husband of this.

Posted by: Mary W at June 7, 2011 3:15 PM

One big, deep sink. No one needs that old fashioned double sink because no one washes dishes by hand. Via La Dishwasher!

Posted by: Doreen at June 7, 2011 3:28 PM

Instant hot water is great for tea, hot chocolate, instant oatmeal, ramen noodles, etc. Stainless steel appliances show finger prints and refrigerator magnets will work on only some of them. I love mine anyways. Tile floors are not forgiving if something is dropped on them and I bought gel mats for in front of the sink and the stove.

Super susans are a huge improvement over standard lazy susans. Pullout shelves are great for getting things in the back of the cabinet. I have them on my lower cabs. A walk-in pantry is really great and you can close the door on the mess, but even cabinet pantries hold a ton of stuff if your layout doesn't allow for a walk-in.

Allow an extra couple of inches between counters and/or an island if you can. It feels more spacious, allows for opening appliances & cabinets, and gives more room for the kids to stand in your way. They'll be teenagers before you know it.

And I love my microwave drawer which I have installed in my island. They cost more, and you may also need to buy a hood vent for over the stove. The kids will be able to reach it (maybe not good right now) without standing on a stool, you don't risk spilling hot food on yourself, and someone can microwave a snack without getting in the way of the cook using the stove.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Posted by: Debbie P at June 7, 2011 3:36 PM

Ditto on the hatred for black appliances. Specifically black stove tops. Don't do it. Unless it's an electric cooktop that can just be wiped down. If you've got a gas stove, let me tell you that black is horrible. It shows every little speck of grease and every spill and it constantly looks like it needs to be cleaned. I have never had to clean a stove top so frequently in my life. It makes me want to hurt whoever made that decision (previous owner).

Under-cabinet lighting. I would love to have this, and it's even more awesome if it can just be integrated and you don't have to think about it.

Cabinets up to the ceiling - also awesome. Sure, you can't reach that top space without a chair. But, it's free storage space, and as long as there are doors on the cabinets, it's better than putting something on top of the cabinets only to have it get greasy and dusty. In the cabinet it will stay safe and clean until you need that weird item four years from now. You know, the princess castle Jell-o mold or Super Bros Mario cake pan.

Posted by: Kelly at June 7, 2011 4:39 PM

You forgot to add an island. :)

Since you've got the kiddies, I've seen this house design with hidden chairs/step ladders so you can reach the top shelves. I should send you that photo... Oooh ooh!

Posted by: oakley at June 7, 2011 8:10 PM

Ok, I'm a home ec teacher, and I am in the kitchens ALL THE TIME. So I'll add my ten dollars to the pot.
Super susans are the way to go for lower corner storage.
under-cabinet lighting is a MUST. The parents have it, I don't, and I miss it.
Over the fridge, have a custom deep cabinet, that comes out further and there you can store cookie sheets and bigger things. Because it is deeper, you can reach it over your fridge, and then you don't have useless storage.
GO for deeper cabinets if you can.
Lower cabinet storage should ALWAYS include drawers. They make them big and flat, so you can pull out the drawer and see everything you have there.
If you don't have room for a walk-in pantry (we don't have one), consider a floor-to-ceiling cabinet pantry, again with pull out drawers. Container Store makes a great heavy duty rack-style drawer making every 24" deep shelf happily accessible all the way to the back.

As far as planning it goes, take some time to think about where you would ideally want to store things in your kitchen- appliances, tupperware, cake pans, bowls, all that. Think about how you want it all to play in relation to your dishwasher and where you eat and cook. Start to develop your kitchen based on THOSE ideas.

Next, think about where you/wife want to cook, and where you cook versus where you bake or prep or make snacks. Ideally, in a kitchen you would have sort of "stations" for the different tasks, which makes doing everything in the kitchen easier.

Once you have a plan, take some time looking at the plan, imagining where you are storing everything, and then using everything to prepare a meal. Mentally use the plan and make sure the function of the kitchen is as great as the look of the kitchen. Function is, after all, the most important part of a kitchen.

Oh, and if you do tile floor in your kitchen I will personally come in and rip it out. (except I'm not a stalker, I promise). Don't do it. They are KILLER on the legs/knees. There are TONS of other options. Wood floors. Cork. All kinds of fabulous new products that are sanitary, easy to maintain, and nicer on the legs.

Posted by: punkinnoodle at June 7, 2011 8:42 PM

We have under cabinet lighting and I used to think it was lame, but it is wonderful in the winter when it's still dark out and it's just enough glow to get the coffee started but not enough to make you want to poke your eyes out.

Two weeks ago we purchased an island with a fold out bar and our kids have not eaten anywhere else since unless we're doing full meals at the table. They love to sit there and chat with us while we cook and it is a very cozy happiness.

Also we bought a good iPhone speaker system that's really small but has great sound. We use it almost every day and the bonus, we can take it with us on vacations, etc.

While we're wishing, I'm gonna go with a lemon tree and a fresh herb garden in my kitchen greenhouse.

Posted by: Amanda L. at June 7, 2011 9:54 PM

Area of your pantry that will hold brooms and buckets and cleaning supplies, as well as extra supplies of papertowels, dishsoap, etc.

Posted by: Starfruit at June 7, 2011 10:44 PM

Lighting is key. I also would like to have a family "station" in the kitchen, with a bulletin or white board, a calendar, a family computer, a place for mail and bills -- just a general place where we can organize ourselves.

Also, wine racks! (Or, in your case, beer fridge?)

Posted by: Laura Gato at June 7, 2011 11:24 PM

i think you pretty much covered it :) :)

my husband works six days a week and i often do a little work on his one day off. so we usually spend that one day either doing something relaxing and fun OR getting some work done around the house but we can rarely do both. so i'm always annoyed by whatever got neglected. a house cleaner once a week would make me soooo happy :)

Posted by: kati at June 8, 2011 12:10 AM

Ceramic tile, granite, pendant lighting over the island, sink in island, floor to ceiling cabinets with pull out shelves for food items, and an under the cabinet radio is a must...I cannot cook without it :)

by the way I hate my side by side frig...love my mother's new stainless the freezer is below-- frig on top! love.

Posted by: kami at June 8, 2011 1:59 AM

As much storage and worktops as possible. We've just moved to a lovely house by the sea but the large kitchen doesn't actually have many cupboards or worktops. Never underestimate how much of those you need! But our last house had a tiny internal kitchen with no natural daylight so this is actually a step-up.

Posted by: Katherine at June 8, 2011 2:24 AM

Do an integrated fridge. It keeps things looking so much cleaner and it's fun to have people try and figure out where the fridge is :-) And a spinning corner cabinet to easily reach all those extra appliances. I'd also like some built in recycling center so I don't have all those bins all over the place.

Posted by: Tera at June 8, 2011 3:46 AM

Just thought of a few more things - hardwood floor is definitely easier on the joints, and make sure you have at least a foot of counter space on either side of the stove and sink!

Posted by: Heather at June 8, 2011 8:26 AM

We're 85% with our kitchen renovation, here's my two cents.

-We skipped the double ovens in favor of a regular oven and a microwave doubles as a convection oven (it even has a speed bake setting that uses both microwave and convection heat at the same time, love it).
-Cambria (quartz) counters. Less maintenance than granite. Beautiful.
-Get the "thingies" (forgot the name) that you put on your drawers and cabinets so they don't slam shut, but glide shut. Must with kids.
-Drawers in lower cabinets. Cabinet for cookie sheets/trays.
-Organizational tools from The Container Store. Delta magnatite faucet.
-Tall cabinets for more storage, deep cabinet above fridge (to prevent storing stuff on top of the fridge so that it doesn't look messy)

Also Major appliance stores have unwritten sales, try to negotiate for better than advertised prices. We also got a big discount on our counters for buying them at the end of the month.

Posted by: laurs at June 8, 2011 9:42 AM

The first house I build will be designed around the kitchen, which will probably take up most of the house in one way or another. I'm a big fan, is what I'm saying. I gutted and remodelled most of my current house, including the kitchen, and I can tell you without hesitation that the most satisfying part of the process (outside of finishing) was demolition. Send the kids to the grandparents or the basement, then you and Beth grab hammers, crowbars, chainsaws, machetes, grenades, whatever, and start channelling every damaging thought you've ever had into destruction.

It's glorious.

In answer to your question, although I kept things relatively simple, the one seemingly small thing that I did was knock out middle part of the doors of some of the hanging cabinets above the counter tops and replaced them with clear glass. I remain amazed at how much of a difference this makes. It looks better and adds character to what would otherwise be a wall of cherry-stained wood.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 8, 2011 11:01 AM

I had a pull out garbage can. If you miss the can, Mia and Owen will, it is a real hassle to clean and you probably won't clean every week so the garbage in the back corner will collect and mold. been there and done that. I suggest a Corian (et al) that have intergrated sinks. No gunk line. Remember harvest gold and advacado appliances? The same will happen to stainless steel. Go with white. No black cabinets. If they scratch, Mia and Owen, the natural color shows through. I have wood floors and love them. The person suggesting a plan is very correct. Also, get ahold of kitchen magazines and look for the things you want. When you go to the designer with all this info both parties will be pleased, I used to design kitchens.

Posted by: joss is boss at June 8, 2011 5:16 PM

Have you seen those new oven that are two in one? I would love one of those. Double ovens but using the space of a single. Here's a link if you don't know what I'm rambling about: http://www.lowes.com/pd_35066-46-KGRS505XSS_4294801849_44_?productId=3256864&Ns=p_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr|0||p_product_quantity_sold|1&pl=1¤tURL=%2Fpl_Double%2BOven%2BGas%2BRanges_4294801849_44_%3FNs%3Dp_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%7C0%7C%7Cp_product_quantity_sold%7C1&facetInfo=

Posted by: Dianna at June 8, 2011 6:55 PM

I remodeled my kitchen (haha) last year and these are a few of my favorite things:
Undermounted sink
Hot water tap
Granite counter (Here it costs the same as laminate)
Bamboo floor. I can't rave enough about our bamboo floor which is less hard on the knees/feet than anything Ive ever had in any kitchen and, because it is bamboo, has the same advantage as real, old, wood floors - it has asymetrical patterns of color which hide dirt like you wouldn't believe. Plus, it's beautiful of course. And renewable.

Posted by: That Girl at June 9, 2011 11:12 AM

I remodeled my kitchen (haha) last year and these are a few of my favorite things:
Undermounted sink
Hot water tap
Granite counter (Here it costs the same as laminate)
Bamboo floor. I can't rave enough about our bamboo floor which is less hard on the knees/feet than anything Ive ever had in any kitchen and, because it is bamboo, has the same advantage as real, old, wood floors - it has asymetrical patterns of color which hide dirt like you wouldn't believe. Plus, it's beautiful of course. And renewable.

Posted by: That Girl at June 9, 2011 11:13 AM

So many brilliant ideas! What I want in my dream kitchen is a pot filler faucet thing in the wall over the stove. I HATE lugging a full pot of water to the stove.

I also think the refrigerator drawers are amazing! And I'd add a second dishwasher, too.

Posted by: zanie at June 10, 2011 12:20 AM

Lots of counter space! We live in an old house and the kitch is small. But it seems even smaller because we have like no counter space on the one side that has counters, and the opposite wall we have various movable storage shelves/cabinets to give us storage space/counter space. Just no room to do anything.

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