Anyone who holds the same disdain for today’s residential architecture and design will certainly have a conversation buddy with me. I recently read a post at one of my favorite blogs that lambasts kitchen design in today’s homes as unfunctional and unusable. The last two “Parade of Homes” I went to featured homes in the $1.5M-$3M range. Few of them had kitchens that made any sense. This seems ridiculous to me until it dawned on me that most of the people who live in these homes probably don’t cook for themselves.
I’ve been blessed to be able to design the home that I live in. My home is not a modified stock plan. It is a bona fide, from-the-top-of-my-head, unique design, all the way down to drawing the blueprints and overseeing construction. In this post, I’d like to show you my kitchen. It went through numerous designs, and we researched many products. My tastes are somewhat minimalist, but not to the extreme. I know that many people will dog on me for the cliché items like the stainless and granite. So be it. I hope you can steer clear of what your personal tastes are and just focus on the design. I’m proud of the design and the look we have achieved and it has served us well. So, here it is:
The living room, dining room, and kitchen are an open design. I can watch TV while I cook or keep an eye on the kids. It is designed for entertaining in mind so that I can interact with guests while cooking. The view in the picture above is taken standing at the dining table with my back to the living room. Its a U-shaped galley with plenty of granite counter space and lots of cabs. The main peninsula is 12′ long and 4′ deep. The cabinets (as well as almost everything in my house) are from IKEA. It took me by surprise to find cabinetry at IKEA while I was designing my house. It completely changed how I did things. Generally, a cabinet maker won’t even start building custom kitchen cabs until sheetrock is put up. However, IKEA cabinets come in set dimensions, so it was critical to design the the kitchen to precise dimensions, and to monitor the framing to ensure it was done right. We chose the Eucalyptus veneer, and we liked the pattern because of its horizontal nature (very modern, ya know?). The long handles also emphasize horizontality (is that a word?). These cabinets, including installation, cost less than what a cabinet maker would have charged for half the cabinets, and they come standard with full extension drawers, allowing you to use the entire drawer easily. We installed soft closers later on. The two large cabinets to the right of the oven are the pantries. Each has 5 shelves inside, giving me 40 sq. ft. (yes, I said square feet) of storage space.
I’ve always liked the look of an all fridge/all freezer. However, I could never get past the $4,000+ cost (for each, that is). Turns out that Frigidaire makes a pair (Professional Series) and even sells the trim kit with grille above (paid under $2k total). Each is about 16 cu. ft. What I can’t stand in modern home design is that the only space for a freezer is in the garage. First of all, a freezer will work harder out there. Second, who wants to traipse over to the garage for the frozen broccoli? Notice that there is plenty of counter space available as a landing pad for fridge items. One thing I really wanted was an ice maker (in the corner) and we use it all the time. Also notice the counter space above the ice maker. Its a convenient place to put cups as you fill them with ice, but we have been using it as the catch-all for keys, mail, etc. At parties, guests can use the ice maker without entering the work area and interfering with the cooking.
There’s a whopping 4′-6″ of space between the cabinets here. The other day, my wife, my daughter, my dad, and myself were all preparing food here without getting in each other’s way, can you believe it? The space here was very important to me. When we have parties, 6-8 people normally gather back here without a problem. We didn’t think we needed a double oven, but we did install a Frigidaire oven and warming drawer below. The dishwasher to the left is a Bosch (so quiet you can’t tell its running without putting your hand on it). Now, although our house is not 100% Universal Design, most of it is. We decided to install drawers throughout the bottom cabinets instead of doors so that the space could be better utilized. I designed the house so that there are no dead corners either. All of our plates, cups, and silverware are in the lower drawers to the immediate left of the oven, the perfect place when unloading the dishwasher. A wheelchair bound (or height-impaired) person could easily store all kitchen needs in the lower drawers. The trash can is under the sink. And yes, we did splurge a little on the hand-scraped black oak flooring. There were a lot of little details involved in the construction and installation of the cabs, but I won’t bore you here unless you ask.
The stainless steel square sink by Blanco (over $1k retail, found for about $600 online) simply goes better with the design of the house (we even have flat roofs). The faucet is made by Grohe (about $1k at a local dealer, paid about $400 online). The sink is 31″ long, 18″ wide, and 10″ deep (it is huge). We also made sure to put outlets in smart places, like the one to plug in our phone (its very convenient there, ok?).
The picture below is a closer picture of the appliance garage, or rolltop cabinet. It keeps everything out of the way, but easy to pull out and use (the other rolltop houses my collection of alcoholic libations and related paraphernalia). This “cubby” area has four outlets (for just in case). And of course, our fourth child, the Jura Capresso Impressa S9 (which I will probably bring up at a future date).
It really makes an incredible cup of coffee, which my wife and I are passionate about. We’re not the kind of people that drink a few pots a day. But, when I do drink coffee, it needs to be excellent. Its kind of like drinking booze – if I’m going to drink any at all, it better be the highest quality.
As you can see, my design doesn’t follow the “work triangle” recommended by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. The two main problems with this “triangle” design are that it assumes that there are only three major work stations (the sink, stove, and fridge), and that only one person is cooking. After using my kitchen for over a year now, I am convinced that this “lateral work zone” works much better.
A couple of notes:
- The workspace between the sink and cooktop is 42″. Two people can work side by side without getting in each other’s way. There is another small work area to the right of the sink where I usually mix drinks at parties. There’s a work area at the end by the window, and another where the coffee maker is;
- The cooktop is a Wolf electric. I prefer to cook with gas, but I can’t get it out where I live without considerable expense. Yes, the Wolf cost about $2500, but it cooks incredibly well;
- There is no cross-traffic in the kitchen;
- There is no bar to hide the counter. I like this because plates can be easily passed back and forth. Buffets are easy since you can serve from the sitting side of the counter without entering the work area. Plus, conversation is just plain easier.
- Recessed lighting allows me to spot light each work area. The pendants are actually the only non-recessed lights in the whole house, and we used them to dress up the area.
- Since this area of my house is an open plan, I varied the ceiling heights to delineate the areas. You can see an example of this in the first picture. You won’t find this kind of treatment in new home construction.
- There is plenty of natural light from the windows at the end of the galley. You can see about 10 miles away.
- The wall on the seating side had been tiled with the same travertine we used on the floor to prevent shoe marks, and the same tile is used on the backsplashes.
- Instead of resting the granite directly on the counters, we installed an off the shelf counter with a stainless-type edge that emphasizes the horizontal continuity of the design.
Vent hoods are designed to be mounted around 30″ above the cooking surface. Any further and it cannot produce enough suction to remove all smoke and cooking debris. Well, 30″ is a bit too close and resulted in my nose resting on the vent hood as I cooked. We mounted it higher and it captures only about 70% of the smoke.
The brackets supporting the counter hurt the knees really bad if you hit them. They may not actually be necessary, but its better to be safe than sorry.
Wish I could cook with gas.
What kind of questions do you have? What do you think?