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Kitchen design mistakes you CAN avoid

Currently, I'm doing some kitchen design work for clients who are essentially "starting from scratch".  One is a remodel, so the current kitchen will be completely gutted, and one is new construction.  When planning a remodel, or selecting fixtures and cabinetry for a new home, there are things a designer takes for granted--things we just assume that everyone knows to be "right" because we plan and design this way every day of the week.  This is not the case, however, as many homeowners (and even builders who should know better!) make these easily avoidable mistakes: 

1.  A single door refrigerator that swings the wrong way
Recently, I've seen so many plans and photos that have beautifully designed kitchens with an incorrect swing on the fridge door.  Next to the actual placement of the fridge this is a critical piece to a well-functioning space, and should be thoughtfully considered.  The fridge door should never open into the kitchen--always have the hinge located on the side furthest from the work triangle:

 2.  Choosing a standard-depth fridge instead of a counter-depth one.
Knowledge is power, and when you know what is available before you hit the appliance stores, you'll be better equipped to navigate through the sea of options.  When purchasing a new (full-height) fridge, in my opinion there are only three types to choose from--integrated, built-in, and free-standing.  All three of these are (of course) counter-depth, and the installation application varies depending on how much you want to spend.  If you're making the investment anyways, you can absolutely find a counter-depth model in your price range. 

Sub Zero Built-In Refrigeration

The first image shows a fully integrated fridge that is completely flush with the adjacent cabinetry.  The second image shows a refrigerator that is still a pro-style built in model, but the door stands proud of the case, and is not in the same plane as the cabinetry.  The third image shows a free standing model, that has the look of a built in, but not necessarily the expense.  This one has been paneled to match, but does stand slightly proud of the surrounding cabinets.  So there you have three great options, all of them at varying price points, and all of them giving you a nice, uninterrupted plane.  A standard depth fridge would stick out an extra 6 to 8 inches beyond the cabinetry and potentially interfere with walkways, sight lines, etc.  A typical 36" wide free-standing counter depth fridge has about 20-24 cubic feet of storage space, compared with a standard depth fridge that has about 25-27 cubic feet.  The couple of cubic feet of lost storage space is a small price to pay for the improved look and function of a kitchen with a counter-depth appliance.

3.  Alternating heights of upper cabinets.
Although I'm sure there's an exception to this rule out there somewhere, this trend is OUT (I'm not sure it was ever in, actually).  Regardless of this fact, however, I continue to see builders and cabinet shops doing these types of installs all of the time.  To me, its a case of trying to add "interest" to a space and going about it incorrectly.  Instead of having a jarring mix of heights that cause your eye to be unsettled, why not keep things simple, have a continuous line, and add interest elsewhere?  Perhaps gorgeous countertops or backsplash, or an interesting color on the island.  Just a few thoughts.


Both of the above kitchens have a somewhat rustic aesthetic, but the second one has a much more deliberate and serene feeling.  To me, the first kitchen is chaos--so many alternating heights, and for no apparent reason.  Add to that the overdone materials and finishes, and your eye doesn't know where to land. In the second photo, by carrying all of the upper cabinets to the ceiling and keeping that continuous line, the aesthetic is dramatically improved, and the design looks intentional and consistent.

4.  Thinking that granite is your only option for stone countertops.
Everyone is talking about the beauty of white Cararra marble, and it is such a hot stone right now.  I think it is the perfect choice in so many applications, and quite frankly, I'm tired of everyone "fearing" this surface because it is more porous than others.  I say know what you're buying, live with the limitations, and know that there will be (minimal) extra maintenance.  That said, if you can't get over the fear of putting in marble (check out this link if you need convincing), please know that granite is NOT your only alternative option.  Granite is so expected these days, and designers are always looking for something else to add uniqueness and style.  Among the laundry list of great alternates are soapstone, wood, Cambria (quartz composite), stainless steel, glass aggregate like Vetrazzo, to name a few.  So its not that granite is a bad choice, its just not the only one.  Now you know.

So there you have it.  A not-so-extensive list of my main pet peeves that are completely avoidable when approaching your own kitchen re-design, or new construction.  I could list a few more "mistakes", but I'll save that for a later post.  Stay tuned!


BunnyTwoShoes said...

I LOVE your blog! I am thinking about updating my kitchen and its SO helpful to have the tips and ideas you put on here.


FrankParsons said...

This is a very informative article for home owners to know that what kind of mistakes they have need to avoid when design a kitchen. Here given all points needs to consider for beautiful kitchen design when designing a kitchen.

kitchens Melbourne

Unknown said...

100% agree that one should avoid these kitchen design mistakes if really want to achieve that perfect balance between high end kitchen design and a low cost budget. It proved to be an eye opening post for me!!

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