What you thought you knew about your kitchen!

Cheryl Kees Clendenon In Detail Says, kitchen design, kitchen design tips, wonderful ideas 5 Comments

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This is another article I wrote for PNJ Home and Garden Weekly. Reprinted for those who might have missed it! Let me know your thoughts or if you agree or disagree! Comments always welcome!

Planning a kitchen design, whether a remodel or new construction can be a Herculean task filled with many more decisions than you ever thought possible. To complicate matters, people sometimes buy into myths about kitchen planning that can cost you the look or function you really desire. Here are some common misconceptions on kitchen design and planning.

The dishwasher location: Conventional wisdom says if you are right handed then it belongs on the right side of the sink. Simple,right? Wrong! It can be on either side but most people become used to it on one side or the other and that is just preference. I like to put it where it works best for the design and accessibility to storage. And while on the subject, please disregard the raised dishwasher idea that came and went as fast as platform sneakers. Raising a dishwasher sounds good in theory but think about how silly it would look and function having the counter right next to your sink raised 6 inches or so? Sort of like, hmmm, platform sneakers!

Dishwasher on the left even though client is right handed! Do what works for the layout!

Dishwasher on the left even though client is right handed! Do what works for the layout!

The trash pullout next to the sink: If you are dreaming of a well appointed kitchen, place this nifty feature high on your list of “must haves”. But, don’t be locked into placing it by the sink which is the default location of most designers and architects. Place it where you are doing the most prep work…where you need to swoosh scraps and debris. A bonus is to put it close enough for other people to access it without bothering the cook’s flow of work.

Trash pullout in island and accessible to others not getting into "main" area of the kitchen.

Trash pullout in island and accessible to others not getting into main work area of cook.

Marble counters won’t work: Yes, heavy sigh ,it is more maintenance than some other materials. So is a foreign import car. Does not keep people away from them does it? Marble has been around for centuries and is a classic choice. It is a beautiful, organic and living material than can be used in kitchens or bathrooms .Honed is best for not showing acidic etching and yes, it does need to be resealed periodically. And that is as easy as wiping down your tops after a meal. Don’t be a wimp. If you love it, use it.

Raised bar hides “the kitchen”: If you prefer a raised bar on your island over a single height island, usually this is just personal choice, although some designs work better one way or the other. Just don’t say it is because it hides anything in the sink or on the cooktop. How much can you hide behind 6 inches? Make the decision based on what works for the space not because you think you are fooling anyone into believing your dirty dishes are not really in the sink.

No need to hide this beautiful kitchen from anyone!

No need to hide this beautiful kitchen from anyone!

Break out of the work triangle: Simply, kitchens have evolved into a multi-dimensional aspect of the home. We do not live as we did in the ’50’s when the work triangle was determined to be the arbiter of all good kitchen design. Better, contemplate the ergonomics of how you move about the space. To quote my favorite designer, Johnny Grey, “The working triangle is a very limited and out of date concept”. A point to point path is good common sense but today you are better off thinking of dedicated work areas and targeted storage. Basically, what are you doing and where? And who might be in the space with you?

Flooring: The chicken and the egg debate. What goes in first? The floor or the cabinetry? Put the floor down first in almost every application. There. I said it. Let the feathers fly!. Insist on this if you want a well executed kitchen plan with no transition issues that molding has to try and cover. And, if you are in the middle of a remodel right now and you are keeping existing floors…bet you wished they were underneath your cabinets don’t you?

Comments 5

  1. Great post!

    The dishwasher on the left, for righties, is actually fewer moves to load; because righties hold the dish in the left hand while scraping it. With the dishwasher on the right, they then need to transfer the dish to their right hand to place it in the dishwasher.

    I don’t agree on the flooring though.


  2. You are absolutely right Peggy about the dw…mine has always been on left and so much handier..no pun intended! However, sometimes it really has to be placed for the best use of space for what the architect has given us with windows and such. Interesting comment on the flooring. Almost universally in my market, floors go first..for several reasons….the most important one being the transitions. I hate shoe molding! And with a lot of designs you have to factor in ref cabinets etc..as well as island legs that must rest on the floor.It can be done where the cabinetry is held off the floor but much more work for cabinet maker or installer. I also have found over the years that my people are much more careful with the flooring that say, the hardware floor installe…they tend to beat up the cabinets pretty badly..this is how I have convinced builders to do floors first…they sign a waiver saying they are resp for any damage if cabinetry installed first..and it always happen and after they pay a few times..they see it my way. Also, in our area, which is diff than yours…we are subject to hurricanes that might mean you are pulling up cabinetry…and much easier to do when flooring is beneath it. Esp with tile as then we have no reason to replace. I am doing job now, quite exp home, where the tile is EVERYWHERE but under the cabinetry and we are forced to follow the existing tile footprint as there is no more available. Believe me, the client wishes they had put it under the cabinets! Share with me your reasons for NOT doing it this way?? May be regional! Thanks for the comments! Cheryl

  3. We are in earthquake country here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The older homes tip and tilt every which way, and the floors are never all that level. I have done kitchens where the cabinets have to be shimmed up several inches to get them up to level.

    We also do a lot more hardwood floors here; and little tile, because tile tends to crack and break under the stresses and strains of earth movement, whereas hardwood “conforms”.

    I like to see a hardwood border, three or four boards wide, going around the cabinets. It looks more finished than if the floorboards just go under the cabinets.

    I DO agree that the floor people are notorious for damaging cabinets. That’s why I usually specify recessed toekicks on the ends of runs, and all around islands, and loose (overheight) toeboard to be applied after the flooring is laid. Where toekicks need to be flush, I specify furniture base for the same reason.

    Obviously it really is true that regional differences in kitchen planning have their basis in solving problems as well as local preferences.


  4. Love the strong point, feathers flying, concerning continuous flooring running under cabinets, pre-installation. I couldn’t agree more.

    Having been in residential construction most of my working life, this (or the lack thereof) was the root cause of many headaches on innumerable projects. I never quite understood why it kept rearing its ugly head, over and over. Several scenarios would unfold, some of which you have touched upon:

    Cabinets would be reconfigured and there would be attempts at patching.
    The flooring installers would butcher the cabinet faces.
    The toe kicks and shoe molding would look like bandaids and packing cleats tacked on as an afterthought.
    There would be gaps and seams at the toekicks from poor accessibility when installing the last bit of flooring.
    Visible face nails at last hardwood course or gappy grout lines/partial tiles.
    And the one that always stole the show: the #@#% dishwasher wouldn’t fit under the counter!

    The only reasons for putting in flooring after the cabinets are:

    To save money (very poor, but very common)
    To save time (at the time; again, poor choice due to poor planning by the GC).


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