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November 22, 2010

What do you love about your kitchen?

When I bought my house, I did some cosmetic updates to the kitchen thinking I'd do a complete overhaul in five years or so.  A fresh coat of paint, new appliances to replace the circa 1966 rusted-out avocado ones, and a new ceiling to replace the drop-tile ceiling and flickering fluorescent light.

Twelve years later, I'm still puttering around and cooking in a cramped kitchen with chipped countertops, circa 1973 floor linoleum, electrical circuits that make the coffee grinder whirr when you're using the mixer halfway across the room, windows that don't stay on their tracks unless they're locked, and a pantry door that falls off if you don't hold it just so when you open it.

So, I've begun budgeting and saving for a kitchen renovation.  I've been tearing pages out of magazines, collecting paint samples, and researching appliances and layouts.  My contractor came over to take measurements and give me some estimates and budget ranges (>gulp<). I'm taking all the advice I can get, because while I think I know what I want in a kitchen, my plans continue to evolve when I get ideas from other people.

I asked my Twitter friends to tell me what they love (or loathe) about their own kitchens, and here's what they said:

michaelnatkin:  I want two flush holes in the counter right next to my board, one for compost, one for trash, with continuous bag system below

hana_duel: LOVE deep sink, granite counters; WANT more light, pull-out drawers instead of cabinets, instant-hot tea-temp filtered tap H2O
 
sscoffee: hardwood for us. Things break on cement. 

sixy: I love the many-shelved corner pantry I can stand inside. So much to see, so much to eat. It's also the best place to hide

MarriedWDinner: had slate floors in a kitchen once -- never again will I have stone or something like it (backaches galore). Wood or cork from now on. this time around, we went for wood because we could find info about how cork stood up to dog toenails :)

MarriedWDinner: agree with @joylian - the pull-out deep drawers are awesome. also love the pull-out recycling/trash/compost sorter.

Ahaley: a giant sink & plenty of counter/storage space! We love our commercial sprayer as well! A great bar/seating for guests too.

capshockeygrl28: love granite tops can save money by buying it in squares instead of one piece also wish we had splurged on those touch faucets

capshockeygrl28: stained cement rocks

Morineko: Just put in a composite pseudo-slate tile in my kitchen thats really nice. Also <3 good undercabinet lighting & slightly higher cabinets so 6qt mixer can fit under cabinets. Corian counters and sink is nice too - smooth joint = no gunk

BAnnamama: I have small ceramic tiles on some counters - hate it! Dealing with grout is a pain. I love the hardwood floors, dbl ovens. 

fkhatibloo: Don't know if anyone mentioned cork flooring, but it's amazing stuff. I can't overstate the difference on knees, back.

bonniebenwick: And a counter-inset knife holder, (10 slots+) where knives are vertical, handles up.

aliceqfoodie: we have rough stone tiles and I HATE them. They are never, ever clean.

DCBrit: warming drawer and double oven?

mollymayhem: Wishes: MORE LIGHT! More counters, dishwasher, window over sink w/deep sill to grow herbs, bookshelf for cookbooks.

aliceqfoodie: wood is pretty but can't get wet. I want those painted french cement tiles, like at Bouchon.

aliceqfoodie: I wish I had marble counters and pull out shelves in cabinets. I also like cooktop/wall oven vs. range.

nhallfreelance: pot filler behind range; pot sink for dishes/prep sink for food; composting setup; lotsa nat light; open to living spaces.

heidi_robb: Wish I had a wall oven (electric), a stock pot filler. Anything that eliminates bending/lifting heavy items from low 2 high.

jwscoop: i put cork in my kitchen and it helped my back pain issues. tho it is scratched up now (from our cats). but i don't care

Deaners82: Love my big farmhouse sink and hardwood flrs. Wish I had a bigger pantry.

bonniebenwick: 2 snaps up: a toekick pedal for the sink/faucet, like hospitals use. An oven on wheels w/ French doors (see new Bluestar).

SaltySpoon: skip the painted cement unless you wear shoes every time you cook. Mega hard surfaces = murder in your back (stone tiles here)

samandholly2: love lots of plugs, loathe small cupboards and drawers

mraynal: painted cement would look cool but might cause aches/pains over time.

nhallfreelance: think of your feet, though. Cement would look rad, kill yr feet. A friend recently got cork and loves it. Beauty and comfort.

cj_wong: flooring definitely hardwood, but I have extra advantage of living in vintage Craftsman w/ribbon inlay. I love the faucet next to the stove to fill large pot & pulley lights over deep sink- softer, focused light.

hillaryhoffman: last thing, keep in mind water, that was my problem w/hardwood kitchen floor, cleaning it & keeping a finish, managing spills.

jamaila: we want to put in slate tile when we do our redo next year. only downside is it has to be resealed occasionally.

kristinagill: + 1 indestructable surface in 1 counter area, the rest laminate bc inexpensive can replace often. Floors not porous few joints

heidi_robb: If you love the look of cement, incorporate somewhere in a countertop, but not all.

hillaryhoffman: Keep in mind anything dropped on cement or hard tile will likely shatter. Same in heavy cast-iron sinks.

rscholtz: Love having lots of cabinet and counter space, wish I had a better vent hood and room to hang pots and pans.

kristinagill: above cabinets. Need a stronger extractor hood vented to outside also. I need function over beauty: easy to clean backsplash+

hillaryhoffman: Orig. wanted cork but our floor slants. Ended up w/high-quality vinyl that's padded, looks like tile. Not shiny.

heidi_robb: No, no cement! Pretty but will wreck your back. Hardwood, bamboo.

kristinagill: kitchen is abt 7.5'x11', stuff on 3 walls. 4th wall is window+ext door+radiator. Nothing is useless but havnt maximised wall

emptychampagne: either. as long as its heated.

celiacteen: I love that most of our cupboards have pull out drawers, so you can easily get things at the back, front and sides.

kristinagill: I miss uninterrupted counter space, easy wall access to everyday items (not on counter), adeq storage for storage items+bottle

hillaryhoffman: w/older pipes garbage disposal useless. Wish I had dedicated flat sheet pan/rack storage & would like to hang pots. Pegboard?

phstephen: a butcher block a great thing to have

MarriedWDinner: also wish we'd spent time figuring out how to get outlets hidden from camera angle & chosen more-neutral lighting for photos

hillaryhoffman: Love our diverse lighting and dedicated large chopping block. Love our deep stainless 2-part sink. Wish we had more outlets.

MarriedWDinner: love our deep/wide sink, honed slate counters; wish we'd spent the extra cash for an external exhaust blower (hate fan noise!)

lisalaudato: love my giant spice drawer and pot/pan drawers. seven ft center island is wonderful, too!

DGMarge: Also wish I had a hot water dispenser. And love my new french door fridge too.

DGMarge: LOVE my wall mounted oven. Baking at eye-level! Go with a 30", double if you have space. I only have 24" and it is too small.

nhallfreelance: storage, considered from cook's perspective. Low-boy, perhaps? Stove shelf for pans, plate heating. Hate low reach for broiler

SaltySpoon: love ample, open counterspace. Loathe: lack of proper pantry. Want: sink w/foot control for H2o (like surgeons use to scrub)

annrafalko: I would give me left pinkie for at least two sinks. Yes, *at least*. I could see myself going to three. Honestly. I love sinks.

doriegreenspan: Love my big kitchen sink - it's long and very deep.

So, it's Thanksgiving week... and I imagine that many of you will spend quite a bit of time in your kitchen, or someone else's kitchen over the next few days.  So, I'd like to ask a favor: will you let me know in the comments what you love about your kitchen?  What you wish you had?  What bugs you the most?  I want to hear what you love and loathe about floors, storage, appliances, countertops, cabinet depth, lighting... anything and everything.

Thanks so much.  I really, really appreciate it.

*  *  *  *  *

If you're stuck at work over the next few days with not a lot to do, here's a link to the Harvard "Science and Cooking" lecture series.  Chef Achatz's lecture -- "Reinventing Food Texture and Flavor" -- is here.

*  *  *  *  *

Oh, and I'm getting ready to kick off my fourth annual Share Our Strength fundraising campaign.  Details coming soon.

Happy Thanksgiving...

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Being in an nyc apartment, I am grateful that I have gas appliances and a dishwasher. I love that I found the perfect size industrial wire shelving that lets me store a ton of dishes and appliances. Since its wire shelving you can see the back of the top shelf easily.

Hate the size of my oven and fridge.

Such a fun project! For our kitchen, here are my thoughts:

Love:

* Wide, deep, undivided sink
* Cork floors!
* Commercial faucet
* Wall-mounted pot rack - like this: http://www.amazon.com/30-Bar-Pot-Rack-Material/dp/B0014SUAU2/ref=sr_1_15?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1290483523&sr=1-15
* Dim-able lights (perfect for pre-coffee mornings)
* Microwave installed inside a cupboard with a door you can close

Hate:
* Tile counters or floor - never clean and so disgusting with the grout

Wish List:
* Tall, thin pull-out pantry cabinet - like this but better: http://www.cabinetdoorshop.com/proddetail.php?prod=5225-20CR
* Second oven
* Pedal control for faucet

In counter knife slots - WORST IDEA EVER
Industrial sprayer - fabulous
Disposals in both sides of the sink - fantastic
Warming drawer - excuse for poor timing of courses, entirely unnecessary and wasted space
Water filter - now used in 3 different homes, more and more appreciated
Exhaust vent over range is good, another ceiling fan even better
Well constructed counters with an integral lip to hold spills back is nice, but not enough lip that you cant wipe over the edge should you desire is also key to design nirvana
No flooring with seams, no counters with seams, no grout, no nasty crud build up designs - get something uniform, easy to wipe up and sanitize, and if its not the most comfortable surface to stand on, then get a gel mat
If space allows, an island butcher block or otherwise with some guest seating on the far side is fun and convenient
Never allow an idiot of a designer to put a spice rack above a hot oven/stove - really! I had one of those, must have been the bathroom designer working kitchens for the day!

Love our single bowl sink! This wasn't a display option when we were at the store looking but we asked - it was an option and cheaper! That's my best suggestion - ask if what you want is available! You won't know unless you try!

What I miss the most about my last kitchen was the flow. It was an open floor plan with a U shaped kitchen. One large counter with seats on the other side (3 to 4 feet deep). People could prep on the other side without getting in my way. But the U shaped offered the best flow. It was a well shaped diamond between the main prep area (the tip of the triangle) and the stove and fridge as the two other points. Didn't waste time moving through the kitchen trying to get to the fridge, stove and prep area. Having a view of the 72" TV didn't hurt either. Very efficient.

My refrigerator is too small (and cannot be bigger without major reconstruction to the space) and I regularly use another one in the garage. The double ovens are important but again, too small. I cannot fit a 16" roasting pan in them. Important to have a heat-resistant surface (tile, stone, etc.) for setting pots and pans down. Love the cooktop and the huge island which also serves as informal eating space and is great for buffets. I have lots of light (both artifical and natural), a dedicated pull-out for recycling, a trash masher (we only have garbage pick-up every two weeks, so it is essential). I need a bigger pantry for storing larger, less-frequently used appliances (think coffee roaster, ice cream maker) and pots/pans (romertopf, big serving dishes, etc.). Also need more space for cookbooks (or fewer cookbooks). Love the desk area with computer connection. Have a porcelain double sink (one side deep) which has held up beautifully for 20 years) and a garbage disposal for non-compostable food.

This is all dream, since I'm in a rental for at least a couple more years.

No tile countertops (including granite tile). It's almost impossible to get flour out of grout lines. Personally, I'm fine with decent quality laminate.

Lots of cabinets, including ones up high for the things that get used a couple times a year.

A gas stove (I'm so tired of electric), with a good oven.

A really good range hood so the smoke detector doesn't go off if the oven is hotter than 400.

One of the things I like best about my mom's kitchen is a separate baking pantry and station. I can bake while she's doing other prep, or vice versa.

I'd like counter space that can be a buffet/bar, but I think wet bars are a fad. My parents installed one two years ago (because their contractor said everyone looks for a second sing these days) and never use it.

A double sink that's big enough to wash a half-sheet without getting water everywhere.

And under-cabinet lighting.

I feel like I should say - I know normal ovens don't make the smoke detector go off. I cleaned it every night for a week and it still does it - if I stay another year in this place, I may offer to split the cost of an upgraded stove with my landlord.

We remodeled our kitchen last year, so I have lots of learnings to share...

Floor: we went with a product called DuraCeramic -- it's ceramic tile with vinyl mixed it -- makes it warmer and softer, so dropping things is less traumatic (to both floor and item dropped).

Cabinets: We have pullout drawers almost everywhere -- instead of cabinets with pullout shelves behind doors, which mean two steps: open the door, and pull out the shelf. Big, deep drawers hold everything from our dishes, to pots and pans, to snacks, to ziplocs, etc.

Raised counter/bar separating kitchen from rest of house: This depends on your layout, but we took out the wall between our kitchen and dining room and replaced it with a peninsula with a raised top. It hides dirty counters from the dining room, and also (with stools) gives people a place to perch and eat appetizers/drink wine while we finish up in the kitchen.

Pull out skinny pantry -- between our fridge and our double ovens, we have a ~8 inch wide, 5 foot tall, full depth cabinet with shelves that pulls out as one unit. You access it from the side, and it's great for backup supplies/storage of heavy stuff that you don't use everyday.

Lazy susan for small appliances -- we used our corner cabinet space for a lazy susan which is where we store all our small appliances. Keeps them out of the way but easily accessible.

Last minute we added an instant hot water tap to the sink and we *love* it. We use it almost daily, for tea/cocoa/bouillion/rinsing a sticky knife/opening a stuck jar. It's awesome.

If you have enough room, it's nice to put baking stuff on one side of the kitchen, away from the oven/stove. It keeps the baking area cooler.

Cabinet above the double oven with vertical dividers for cookie sheets/cooling racks/big cutting boards.

We didn't want a built in microwave since their longevity isn't great, so we just have a shelf sized to hold our old one, with a plug in the back.

Happy to send photos/product info/whatever if it would be helpful. I designed the kitchen with our design/build contractor, and we're super happy with the results.

We haven't done anything with our kitchen since we bought the house 3 years ago. There are plenty of things we like, but also a list of things we would change.

LIKE
big island with cooktop
extended surface on island, we keep counter stools underneath
solid surface back splash
open floor design, easy flow into other rooms
computer nook with shelves for cookbooks

WOULD CHANGE
glass cooktop under gas (horrible to keep clean), prefer stainless
single wall oven, prefer double
light colored grout with highly textured tile (horrible to keep clean)
tiny, tiny pantry
small refrigerator space
replace some cabinets with deep pot drawers
replace plastic shelves in spice cabinet with wood (plastic cracks)
replace corian counters and sink, scratches and stains too easily

I love having a hanging pot rack and a magnetic knife holder. I'd love to have a larger window sill over the sink for bigger herb pots.

I absolutely love that the drawers in our cabinet pull out all the way so that I'm not wasting the space at the back because I can't reach it. I just wish for more counter space. Constantly.

hate hate hate my hardwood floors. hardwood is not waterproof. one disaster (like a backed up dishwasher; i speak from experience) and you have to replace it all. one unnoticed spill or plop of something colored (tomato, wine, soy sauce) and you have a permanent stain radiating out from the seam between the planks and it needs refinishing (or you live with the stain, which is what i do). i guess most people are neater than i am....

love my inset canister lighting with multiple switches (so different ones can be on or off depending on where i'm working) and dimmer switches.

hate my european, high-efficiency convection oven. it uses less power than an american oven, yes, but it's only 14" across on the inside. doesn't hold a normal cookie sheet or a turkey over 14 pounds!

I have a speed-rack in place of a cabinet next to the stove that holds 9 half-sheet pans. The *best* thing for a small kitchen. And even for a large one, i'm sure.

Good luck with the renovations.

Double ovens rock. However, I went for a large range and the ovens are low, which is hard on the knees. Should have gotten 2 extra large wall ovens.

Prep sink on the other side of the kitchen is perfect for having another cook in the room but not getting in the way.

Granite countertops are the bomb. Easy to clean with an under-mounted large sink.

Wish I had had the room/money for two dishwashers . . .

Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

I updated my kitchen recently. I highly recommend my custom cabinet maker, Richmaid Kabinetry. I have contact info if you need it, he is located in MD.

I love my extra wide drawers for cutlery and cooking utensils. Very handy to have deep drawers for pots and pans.

Love having a single deep sink with a shallow garbage disposal. I think it is called a D sink. TIP- i bought my sink on ebay for $99, the same one was over $300 at Lowes/HD.

Regret not taking cabinets to the ceiling and regret not having a tall narrow cabinet to store cutting boards/cookie sheets.

Just redid my galley kitchen...here are my faves:

1. undermounted sink - makes cleanup a breeze
2. undercounter LED lighting - great for tasks
3. tall, skinny cabinet for storing baking sheets upright
4. spice drawer with many dividers next to stove
5. big drawers for pots and pans

Hardwood floors are great - why do people think water is such a problem? My kitchen floor are at least 100 years old and look great.

Open shelves - no more cabinets - yay! When there are two or more people in the kitchen cooking/serving breakfast (we are a B&B) open cabinet doors are a hazard.

Wish I had a better stove, cooktop and fridge. Also, a prep sink in my island. But DH won't crawl under the kitchen floor to run pipes for me.

Oh fun!! Here's what I love about my kitchen:

- lots of light - windows on two sides
- big island in the middle
- corian countertops
- solid wood cabinets

Here's what I don't love:
- red ceramic tile on the floors - I cannot keep these floors clean no matter what I do. Dirt LOVES ceramic tile.
- too small fridge - we have a SubZero side by side. I love it but it is TINY. We actually bought a mid-size dorm-style fridge just to have some extra fridge space. The side by side format is not helpful. You can't put anything wide in there.
- too small oven - we have a built in Thermador. Wonderful appliance but so tiny! I'd really prefer to have two ovens since we cook and bake a lot.

Good luck Carol! This is gonna be an awesome project!!

I've always liked some of the facets of a French Country Kitchen - especially having a nice cozy fireplace. I spend more time in the kitchen than most other places in the home so a fireplace would be fun, charming and nice. But I suppose not the most functional thing.

http://www.artfactory.com/images/Kitchen-23.jpg


I had the joy of building my dream kitchen when we renovated this house. Some of the practical aspects I really love, in no particular order:
-Separate cooktop (induction!!), with deep drawers underneath for pots and pans. I offset the oven underneath the counter, and now baking/roasting never interferes with stovetop cooking when you have multiple cooks in the kitchen.
-Single bowl sink, but with a raised area and divider...the bigger area is large and deep enough for most of my bigger pots and pans to lie flat, but the smaller area makes for an excellent prep sink (and the divider is a handy spot to rest a stockpot while filling with water. If I need the full sink, I can fill both sides all the way since the divider is below counter level.
-Double drawer dishwashers. Total splurge, but they make perfect sense for small families or big cooking projects. And now I never run out of "top rack" space.
-LED undercabinet lighting...we used the LED strips from Ikea, ran the wires up behind cabinet posts, and dropped in an outlet above the cabinets (behind the crown molding). They look fabulous, give a good amount of light, and avoid the spotlight effect of the hockey puck-style undercabs.
-Drawers or pullout shelves for bottom cabinets. Less bending over, less unused/forgotten space.
-Open shelving for pantry area - easier to find everything, or cram in those slightly-too-big items that wouldn't fit behind doors.
-Extra-deep cabinets above the fridge. An excellent spot for hiding lesser-used small appliances.

I live in an apartment and the kitchen isn't optimal, but I do like the nearness of the fridge to the oven. A book that gave me a lot of good ideas vis a vis kitchen design was Pierre Franey's Kitchen, published in 1982. He discusses his ideas about kitchens and even though 1982 is a long time back, his ideas are sound.

WOW, this post is invaluable. My fiancé and I are in the process of buying a house and while the kitchen is much larger than the one I have now, it definitely needs some updates. What a great resource this will be! People have brought up a number of pros and cons that I would never have thought of.

1. Make sure your architect takes your height into account when placing hood over the cooktop. I have a scar on my head from slicing it open so many times on the corner.

2. It's been mentioned a bunch but CORK FLOORS. We got talked out of it by designer for hardwood which kills your back and as mentioned above doesn't wear well with the amount of abuse we dish out. We ended buying a shitload of gel mats to make it better but looks like crap.

3. Music. Can't cook without tunes. There are some very cool wall docking ipod/pad systems now that work great.

4. Filtered water at tap.

5. Dedicated ice maker. Just retrofitted one in and its a life changer. Clear ice on demand -- great for both cocktails and shocking veg.

Blanco sink, granite resin composite one big deep bowl! Doesn't show all the wear of stainless.

I rent and was very lucky to find a place with a beautifully renovated kitchen.

Love: Granite counters, island with a slightly lower-than-normal work surface (I'm short), great stainless steel appliances.

Hate: Corner cabinets that require me to practically crawl into them to get anything b/c they're so deep. There's no pantry since our place is small.

What I want (someday): Pull-out cabinets for those corner areas. A big room to serve as a pantry.

I love having a walk-in pantry with lots of shelves. Just put a second fridge in there, having stupidly let go of our old one. It's already very useful!
Loathe our sink that is divided into a section about 8 inches wide for the disposal, a complete waste of space that renders it unusable for anything else. The other side is, thankfully, nice and deep. Would love to have a double sided, deep sink with a big farm style apron on the front.
Thanks for asking this question so I can read all the comments! Good luck with your project.

I love that my kitchen is open to the living room with a nice bar dividing the space. I also love my knife magnet and hooks for hanging pots - both from Ikea.

I dislike the tiny sink and hate the induction stove with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. But maybe that's because it's a crappy induction top.

I always wish for more storage space and more counter space. I don't know what kind of space limitations you're working with, but here are some pictures of two kitchens I've outfitted in Parisian apartments: http://croquecamille.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/welcome-to-my-new-kitchen/
http://croquecamille.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/saying-goodbye-to-my-kitchen/

Have fun! Someday I hope to be able to build my dream kitchen!

We only have about 800 sq ft in our condo so it's super important to have the kitchen be a part of the living space, it's all open. We all know that everyone congregates in the kitchen anyway. It all flows like one big open space.

I adore my poured concrete countertops. They get beautifully stained with use and stand up to any possible abuse.

I wish I had more storage space for pots/pans/appliances.

I love having pull out shelves in my small cabinet pantry! Nothing gets lost in the back!

I have a built in wine rack and glasses rack right next to it, super handy when you drink as much wine as we do.

I love having COLOR in my kitchen! It's a warm gold with lovely red fir cabinets and shelves. Feels very homey.

Good luck with your revnovation!

Marmoleum for the floor! It's fairly forgiving on the feet, easy to clean, and comes in gorgeous colors. Even better, it's allegedly "a natural linoleum floor that is made with 100% natural ingredients: linseed oil, cork, limestone, tree rosin and natural minerals."

I used it in a former kitchen, chose a color that resembled cork. Gorgeous! I miss it.

We have that toe kick sink pedal at work (science lab) and I love it. Someday in the very distant future, when I buy a house, I want those pedals in my kitchen so I don't have to touch the sink handles.

I live in a 1920/30 house that had a kitchen update in the avocado green era. Since we moved in we replaced the fridge with the biggest that would fit in the space. We also removed the carpet (really who thinks carpet in a kitchen is a good idea?) and refinished the wood floors. We put 3 coats of poly on them and they still look pretty good. Only major scuffed area is under the trash/recycle cans. The double sink was a selling point on the house. The main light fixture was replaced with one that gives a ton more light. I usually have a light over the sink that is currently missing and really missed. Under cabinet lighting is really helpful in prep areas. I only have a couple drawers and wish there was one or two more. I have two corner cabinets and two corner turntables and really dislike all of them. I wish the cabinets went up to the ceiling so I could store more in the kitchen. My biggest daily pet peeve is the counter tops have a rounded lip that keeps me from setting a cutting board near the edge (I'm short)

My dad recently redid his kitchen (I'm in college so it will be a while for me!) and here are things I love about his new kitchen:

Excuse my lack of technical terminology, but he has these air cushion things for the drawers and cabinet doors so you can slam them shut but they will gently close. Sort of fun actually and potentially very nice for you with the neighbor kids. =)

Matching cabinet doors: when he had the cabinets made by a local woodworker, the guy bought matching pieces of wood so that when they were hung next to each other, they matched...sort of like a book opening or sliced bread. The slices match which is subtle but cool.

If you have a bar area in your kitchen or dining room (his opens to the dining room) put an outlet there either on the wall above or on the cabinet front. For entertaining we put all the prepared food there and we almost always use slow-cookers. It's a great set up and the outlet is definitely handy.

I don't know where your kitchen is in relation to your door to the outside, but one handy thing in my dad's house is that the lights above the cabinets (little ones shining upwards) come on automatically when you walk by a sensor at the entrance to the kitchen. He's shortish so it would have been impractical to have the cabinets go all the way up so he put lights there instead. It sounds silly but it's really helpful when you have an armful of groceries or when you walk through in the middle of the night to get water. It's not too much light to hurt your eyes at 3 a.m. but it's enough to not stub your toe or run face-first into the fridge.

My dad finished his kitchen right before a friend of his started hers and she had her granite cut so that there was no lip between it and the stainless steel sink. You can sweep crumbs and food directly into the sink and you avoid that extra place to clean. Awesome.

Another thing we don't love about his kitchen is his ceramic tile. He has these heavy dishes that, if dropped, chip and crack the tile. NO GOOD. If you must have tile (or already do) you can coat the grout with a darker color to hide the dirt. He has white tiles with dark grey grout and it looks really cool.

Trash compactors are a totally personal choice since most people love them or hate them. I am a fan since it takes up less space both inside and out. It sounds antiquated but they come in nice finishes and can even match your cabinetry.

In my dream kitchen someday I'll have an inset butcher block (but removable so I can clean it and under it) and one of those gel mats in front of the sink and another in front of the stovetop/main counter area (ideally the stovetop would be on an island). I like it when the stove top is separate from the ovens so you don't have a super hot oven making you sweat at your counter. I also like the idea of having open shelving under the stove for things like plates and platters..you load them up there at the stove anyway. And if your sink isn't in front of a window, I like the idea of putting open shelving there for your prettiest dishes and cookware...if you can't look out a window you might as well look at all the pretty things you spent a fortune on at Anthropologie (maybe that's just me?).

Hope this helps a little...Shoot me an email if you want pictures.

Kitchen gutted and remodeled 4 yrs ago. LOVE--granite, cork floors, pullout shelves for pots, pullout pantry, mixer cabinet (KitchenAid is stashed in its own cabinet on a shelf that pops up and out), under-cabinet lighting, undermount sink. DO NOT LOVE--quirky expensive under-cabinet lightbulbs (who'da thought to ask how long the teeny bulbs that break my fingernails every time I replace will last?!) and counter-depth side-by-side fridge. Def go french door if you go with counter-depth. Good luck!

When we moved, I gave up my HUGE kitchen sink. Sure, I got an island, a walk-in pantry and granite countertops in my new place, but I miss my sink. I can't replace mine without busting into the granite, so I'll have to live with it. I know, me and my first-world problems.

My concrete countertops are beautiful but not practical -- they stain with oil AND acid.

The wood floor has to be dried immediately-- so not so practical

Get a Wide sink.

I have too many deep pullout drawers so my baking and roasting pans are stacked in each other. I hate that.. I would prefer just one deep pull out drawer for the tall stock pots and three less deep ones for the pans/gratins/casseroles so they are not stacked on each other.

I should have made my vertical stacking cabinet twice as wide (for sheet pans, pizza paddles, cutting boards, lids)

Pull out shelves are good for jars of flour, etc and for food processor etc but not for pantry cans and boxes of pasta. Better to have those on stationary shelves so you can stack.

Gas burners with open flames --not closed burners. I made the wrong choice there. But I love that my burners go from 140 degrees to 18,000 btu. 6 burners are terrific.

Open kitchen so you can talk to your guests but with a bar that keeps them out of the kitchen itself.

The only thing- and I mean only thing- I love in my kitchen now is the gas stove. As for the kitchen I've been dreaming about since I bought my house 4 years ago?

-Cabinets that go to the ceiling
-A large, undivided sink
-Deep drawers for the pots and pans
-A good range hood
-Open the wall between the kitchen and family room and put a bar so people can visit while I'm cooking
-Electrical outlets every 4 feet along the counter
-Small computer moniter that flips down from under the cabinet that I can use for recipes/videos/music while cooking and not take up counter space
-Walk-in pantry

Love; the walls, iMac playing movies, the smell...

Hate: My Kraftmaid cabinets that are peeling and the fact that my smoke detectors go off every time I sear meat.

I updated my small kitchen 7 years ago. Love my DCS range/oven, Miele dishwasher, Frigidaire refrigerator (had to replace GE after 5 years). Wouldn't get a GE advantium microwave again. Deep drawers that pull out all the way are great. Pull out pantry is great. Lazy susan and deep corner cabinet store a ton. Vertical cabinet next to range stores cookie sheets and cutting boards, love this. Granite countertops are beautiful, but make sure the seams are far from the sink. Have fun with your remodel.

We just renovated our home. It was a 1960's time capsule. Tiny kitchen. Pink appliances. We knocked down a wall and made an enormous kitchen. I've got 3 small kids, so we put in a frigidaire full size fridge next to a full size freezer. Best decision ever. I also did double ovens and a 6 burner stove. We I stalled propane, since natural gas doesn't come onto our island
We put Vermont danby marble on the countertops, and it is lovely

We have the original terrazzo on the floors, I love that there is no grout. I wanted wood, but it was just too expensive...someday

I have a pullout spice drawer which is wonderful, pullout drawers for pots, a hidden trash/recycling drawer and a full height pantry with pullout drawers. In the corners, I have something called a 'super susan' fantastic for my baking supplies

Good luck!

I just did a kitchen remodel and the most important change was to improve the layout and partially open the kitchen to the dining area. Those changes are so much more important than the finishes. But, on the topic of finishes, I hate the stainless appliances we chose. The fridge and dishwasher are always smeary and smudgy.

We did a gut-reno ourselves 3 years ago and learned some lessons

LOVE
- how much fun we had doing it!
- deep sink for washing stockpots
- lower cabinets raised 1.5" (I'm 6'4") have saved my back (my 5'2" mother-in-law doesn't love them!)
- will second all the love for pullout drawers, but they are now a pain with a toddler. Narrower ones would be easier to lock/open
- wood floors are definitely a good idea, though our dark ones show every speck of dirt, so we sweep alot
- the bottom mount freezer is a godsend
- eliminated the microwave!!!
- IKEA cabinets were the BEST value for $$$
- IKEA granite was also great value (they subcontract it out)
- chalkboard for menu planning

WISH WE HAD
- included a cutout for steam table pans like these, which would have been a great prep tool, but would also have made a fantastic in-counter wine chiller! http://www.vollrathco.com/catalog_product.jsp?id=5519&cid=6
- opened the kitchen to the rest of the house
- installed a gas stove instead of flat-top electric
- added more task lighting - A LOT MORE
- put in a second sink (even bar-sized) and prep area (even good for guests)
- gone for the french-door fridge
- added an upright freezer in the pantry (we buy our meat by the side and put lots of things up)
- opted for a faster, quieter dishwasher (this would be worth the extra $$$)
- included an area to store/display cookbooks
- taken upper cabinets all the way to the ceiling. there's never enough cabinet space

HAVE FUN WITH IT!!!

Back in 2005, we added an addition on to our very small house so that was my time to get the kitchen I wanted.
My advise:
1) Clip out pictures from any and all reno mags regarding kitchens to get a style you like. I gravitated to a tradition, warm white kitchen.
2) Take a look at your style of cooking. Since you have several items that many home cooks do not, you will need to take your "toys" into consideration when designing your kitchen.
3) Can you acquire more space to enlarge your kitchen?
4) Once you have an idea about the size, start looking at the work triangle. This as you know is very important, especially if you cook alot and I know you do. :-)
5) Next comes surfaces. Cabinets, countertops and floors. What do you like, what can you afford.
6) Do you need new appliances? I budgeted for all new appliances and glad I did.
6) Go shopping!!!! Get a least three quotes. Ask about references. Have a look at several kitchen design stores, including Ikea.

What I like about my kitchen: it's bright, it's large, I have an island with sitting, a great gas stove, large fridge and two floor to ceiling pantries. (I have a number of "toys" too.)

Enjoy the process.

I can so relate - we did the same thing when we moved into our house, and now we're in the fifth year with no remodel in sight. I can't complain too much though - what I have is more or less functional.

I'm kind of surprised to see all the love for pull out drawers - I have them now, and I grew up with them in my parents house, but in between I always had a pot rack and I plan to go back to that eventually since I much preferred it. Drawers collect dirt and bits of food, and everything is always stacked up in a big jumble.

My friend has a nifty rig that keeps her Kitchen Aid mixer stored under the counter on a louvered shelf. When she wants to use it - she opens the cabinet and lifts up the shelf it sits on, locks it, and it's ready to go. I like having an under-mount sink, and I like my six burner gas Dacor cooktop - the rack space is great for cooling pans out of the oven.

The chef friend of mine I mentioned earlier has a Bertazzoni range, gel mat floors, Ikea cabinetry & a SMEG fridge and swears by all of it.

Anything grouted is the work of Satan. Wood floors look nice but are a nightmare to keep clean. Ventilation Ventilation Ventilation.

Cork floors. Gas range, but electric ovens (get two of them). Pull out kitchen shevles in the cabinets. Lots of electrical outlets for the appliances. And just storage, storage, storage. And if you can afford it, a Miele dishwasher. It is the best dishwasher ever, and so silent, you don't even know it is on. For real.

hey,its capshockeygirl28 from twitter. its way too short to tell you a couple things i forgot lol. these are space saving ideas for working in tight kitchens! i am however, going to tweet you pics of what i am talking about :)

my mom splurged on her cabinets, she had them custom done so that she could have drawers put in that hold up to 100 lbs, that way she had plenty of storage for her pots and pans and it is so much easier to find things in the drawer than in a deep dark cabinet. also she was able to put them below her gas cook top for extra convenience. all her drawers and cabinet doors have a rubber piece you can get at lowes or home depot and it keeps them from slamming shut. if you push them, it catches and gently slides the drawer or door shut. you can put them on stock or custom cabinet hinges.

but her favorite thing about her cabinets is one that has a slide out shelf and electrical outlet inside it for her kitchenaid stand mixer. you know how heavy those are! well this one is low enough to stand over and use, and she never has to pick it up again. it is always plugged in and ready to use and she can simply slide it back into the cabinet and shut the door. i know you have a small kitchen and this could really free up some counter space for you!

HI Carol,
My parents remodeled their kitchen a year and a half ago: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/kitchen_remodel_update/ some good ideas there. I love their marmoleum/linoleum floors. They're beautiful, easy to clean, made with natural ingredients (wood), soft on the feet, last a long time, etc. I have wood floors in my kitchen which I just refinished, only to have them warp terribly a month ago because of a refrigerator water line leak.
I really love my mom and dad's pull out drawer pantry. So easy, and such a good use of space.
All of their drawers have this thing that make them close on their own for the last inch when you close them.
In my house I pulled off the cabinet doors from half of the cabinets just so I could have more open shelving. I have plenty of deep drawers which I LOVE, especially for plates.

I live in an apartment in Chicago, so I love the hardwood floors and naturally I wish for counter space - I don't even have enough room to roll out a pie crust!
But, after that, I'd wish for pedal-operated sinks, open shelving and pull out cabinet shelves.

Kitchen is 1 year old. So here's what I love:
1) Large pull out heavy duty rev-a-shelf drawer units. $$$ but worth it.
2) Big, deep single sink.
3) Really Really good range hood.
4) Freezer on the bottom
5) Caesar Stone counters without seams
6) vertical storage next to stove and sink for baking trays and cutting boards
7) Speakers in the kitchen

Wish I'd:
Opened kitchen up to living area.
Bought a better stove (Went for GE Cafe - it's just OK not heavy-duty enough for me) but it was really all I could afford
Went with dirt colored grout on the floor
Had room for the Rev-a-shelf pull out pantry.
Remembered to leave more room for a dish drainer area.
Had room for the Kitchen Aid lift gadget.

And the drawers that pull themselves shut are mounted on Blum constant motion slides. They are worth every penny.


Carol, What a great post! We hope to do our kitchen remodel within 6-8 months (saving up), so this is a big help.
What I like about current kitchen:
-French Door Fridge-the more drawers/organizing elements in freezer drawer the better
-Storage for pots and pans under the cooktop
-Oven at eye level (would like another underneath)
-Dishwasher to right of sink-planning on installing a pull out recycle bin/trash can or composter on left side. Read somewhere that this allows you to rotate to each side to scrape plates then load dishwasher for max efficiency. Hate that when the dishwasher is open it blocks cabinets and access to upper cabinets because it’s in a corner.
-Vertical storage for cutting boards and baking sheets-Mine is a homemade version using wire rack from Container Store, but very helpful, so I’d like built in ones.

I second the person who mentioned how much better pull out drawers are than pull out shelves. I have pull out shelves in one cabinet, and while it’s better than the blind corner disasters that are most of the lower cabinets, it still requires opening both lower cabinet doors and pulling out the shelf.

Things I’ve seen that I plan to copy:
-Strip lights mounted underneath the upper cabinets
-Electrical outlet strips that run all along the underside of cabinets as well. They don’t mess with the backsplash, you don’t have to move things on the counter to access them, and you have more in an area than you could use.
-Cabinets to the ceiling-smaller cabinets on top for less needed items
-Island/peninsula with seating

Love: my larger-than-most-rentals sink, normal size oven, counterspace (for an apt), open access to the LR so i can talk to friends while I cook dinner; open shelving - i want this in my future "dream" kitchen, where you can see everything.

Want: More open shelving :); TWO or THREE ovens because honestly I would use them all, two refrigerators and a space specifically for serious batches of cookies (like cookie shelving racks they have in restaurants; 8 burners; more wallspace for my peg board for more pots; space for 2 mixers and all the appliances, an island, counters that serve well as photo background; NATURAL LIGHT; lots of electrical outlets; a butcher block and counter space TAILORED TO MY HEIGHT; 2 REALLY DEEP LARGE sinks; more stainless steel - it's eternal and looks good; a really good dishwasher that can take a lot of dishes and is quiet!

Love my central kitchen island that is pretty big, serving not only to prep food, but to eat (sitting comfortably 5 or 6 persons on one side)

Hate the double sink, wish I had a single one, deeper and larger - will never ever EVER have a double sink again

to save money, we did not buy an oven with convection, I regret that, wish we had gone for it. And a higher quality over the stove hood, ours is a little weak, cannot cope with Oriental type stirfrying

Love love love our skylights, that allow us to have natural sunlight coming in, and also has spotlights incorporated at the corners to use after sunset.

I will stop here, since you've already gotten hundreds of suggestions, I just wanted to play too :-)

Love: stainless steel prep tables along formerly "useless" walls. Open shelving is highly underrated.
Wish I had: a massive granite island with an overhang ledge on one side to store stools for seating.
Hate: Counter-space deficiencies. Painted drywall for back-splash.

Mine is more of a warning... while we haven't reached the kitchen yet (ours sounds slightly better than yours but not by much) we have done three bedrooms and two bathrooms in the past 5 years. Here is my warning....

For whatever they give you for budget add in an addition 33% minimum. And for whatever time budget you have... double it. It has run true to form for every single room in our house. Then if you have extra you can fly to Chicago for dinner:)

I think one of the best things that I have seen in a kitchen is a loveseat. The kitchen is a gather place and having a loveseat in the kitchen for guests to sit down at, or even the chef, is a really nice thing.

A very good family friend has one in their kitchen and it is probably the most used part of the kitchen.

Great topic!

Love:
*Deep stainless sinks with nice pullout sprayer/faucet.
*Drawers instead of cabinets for below counter storage
*Pullout garbage can
*Island with access on both sides
*Easy to clean gas range (two big pot holder things instead of individual small ones) with a super hot and a super low burner.
Would change:
* Corner cabinet space is wasted, need big lazy susan, or something that you can pull out.
* Tile floor - hard on feet/back, things shatter when dropped, grout is gross.
* Sharp corners on granite counter tops - hurt kid's heads and adult hips.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my carrara marble countertops, deep pull-out drawers underneath my cabinets rather than typical cabinets, deep sink (wish it could have been a Shaw's Fireclay but I still love the stainless variety I ended up with), two ovens plus a speedcook technology microwave, gas stovetop ... love, love, love cooking with gas! (Ovens are electric of course.) HATE my built-in fridge ... the freezer on the bottom?? Lovely concept except for the ice that falls to the floor of the freezer EVERY TIME you move the drawer AND there isn't even a water dispenser in the fridge. That was the biggest mistake in my new kitchen. I love my wood floors but my feet and back get tired even on wood ... wish there was a way to avoid that! Also would have liked a built-in trash thing but I wasn't willing to lose that cabinet space since my mean hubby had an issue with me taking over what would be the dining room for a huge pantry/storage area. :o)))

Re-doing your kitchen????? What fun!!!!!!!

I am also thinking about this. A pot-filler is high on my list. Wood floors are out as my kitchen is off the pool area-not sure what I want yet. My parents' kitchen had big lazy susan cabinets in the corners, which I want to duplicate. Want some marble for a baking station top, but not all over.

Have been cooking in our updated kitchen for 4 years now, and my two big decisions really paid off:

1) Get a hood that really sucks! Like sucks lots of air ... my standard was to see if the hoods in contention could handle recreating a 60 minute pork deep fry session for amazing carnitas that I made in a weekend class at the SF culinary academy.

2) Really think about your movement patterns. We moved the garbage / recycling drawer (a must have!) to an unconventional space, but it totally works for us. The person prepping in the preferred spot that looks out over the lake has plenty of counter room for a large cutting board and a mixer or food processor with the sink / disposal on one side and the garbage drawer on the other. Prep food in the middle and toss trash and trims without moving a bit.

The best idea I ever had was to put a foot pedal on my kitchen sink (like at the doctors office!). When my hands are all goopy from chicken or whatever, it is amazing to just step on the pedal and clean your hands! Inexpensive and fabulous!!

I redid my kitchen 7 years ago and still love it. Best things:
A huge pot rack hanging over my island
A butcher block on most of the island big enough to easily fit two cooks
A counter on the back end of the island at the right level for sitting OR for rolling out pastry
A pull out drawer that holds dozens of spices
A tap filler
Lots of windows with shelves for "pretties" (teapots, martini glasses) running across them
Try to get something completely yours - I have some handmade wall tiles from England with potted herbs. No one else I will ever meet will have these same tiles
Wish: I want a bigger stand mixer, but it won't fit under my cabinets easily.

I always had a galley kitchen in the apartments where I lived before we bought our current house. I about died of happiness when the kitchen had not only a ton of counter space and cabinets, but it had AN ISLAND!! I do 90% of my food prep there and I seriously don't know how I lived without it. It's just a beautiful thing.

I also love that one set of counterspace serves as an excellent buffet line. We entertain quite a bit and it's nice to keep the food in the kitchen and let folks cycle through to help themselves.

We may eventually remodel a bit more to update the cabinets and oven areas - I'd want ones that are built a bit sturdier and I'm feening for a double-oven. We shall see.

Good luck on the kitchen overhaul! I can't think of anyone who deserves it more than you!

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