If you love to cook...

powermuffinOctober 14, 2012

And have your range against a wall, does it bother you to be looking at the wall? I spend a lot of time at our range, which now faces the family room so I can relate to guests or see the TV. In the new, expanded layout, the range will be against the wall and this bothers me.

My optional plan has the range in the island, but the island is only 30" deep. I would put a raised trim along the back edge to make it more safe. This option allows me to interact more with guests. Please let me know your feelings about this.



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Here is my rational for NOT putting my range in the island (as my brother tried to convince me to do).

When I cook, most of my time is in the prep. That's when I like to be facing people and chatting. When I am doing something at the stove, my focus is on the food being cooked and I don't want to be distracted from that. Rarely am I standing over the stove long enough miss something important. It's usually to stir, add spice, etc.

So, since, say 80% of cooking for me is prep, there is no way I'd want to be prepping against a wall.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:17AM
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In my previous house, the cooktop was on the island. In this house, my range is against the wall. I think my experience is more like what "Houseful" described. I'm back and forth between both, but mostly toward the island for prep/sink work. Plus, my cooking style/techniques/type of cooking has changed so much now that the kids are older. I do a lot of high heat cooking, wok cooking, etc...that I like having the range against the wall and a hood to capture what comes off the cooktop more effectively. In the previous house, the kids were so young and just ate bland, yellow foods (chicken nuggets, fish sticks, pasta, potatoes...you know the diet), so I didn't really experiment much. Island cooking for me then was just fine. It wouldn't work for me now.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:40AM
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I agree with what Houseful said. Furthermore, if I am cooking at the stove, and chatting, I am, like, "wait, did I just put in 1 tablespoon or 2?", or worse, "ouch, I was talking and forgot to grab the potholder when I grabbed the frypan", and the like. I am always mystified by people who can talk in front of open flame. My range is against the wall, in the past 4 kitchens I've had, and wouldn't want it any other way. Prep work though, face the crowd and chatter away!

Also, remember that if you have a stovetop on an island, you will need more powerful exhaust because there are no walls to contain the smoke and grease. An island hood is always more money. Also, you will need to have enough room around the cooktop on the island to set things down, and, if people are seated at the island, you will need a buffer space between them and the cooktop.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:13AM
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I had the range in the island in my previous house, also. Previous previous house had the range on the wall. After cooking on the island, I could not imagine going back, but I really like the current(newly remodeled) kitchen, with the range against the wall. This kitchen is very easy to work in, and a much better layout than the previous 2 kitchens, so that may have a bearing on my feelings.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:36AM
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Cooktop is against the wall - even though I cook a lot, I don't spend tons of time watching the cooking process. I kept the window over my sink - I know a lot of folks put cabinets over the sink and windows in the prep zone but I was so far over budget without moving windows around.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 12:20PM
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I have my cooktop on the island, though previously it was on the wall. For the way I cook, that suits me. I like keeping an eye on things that are on the stove. In addition, if I had kept the cooktop on the perimeter, I would have lost upper cabinet space.

That said, I would not be thrilled with a cooktop on a 30 in. counter. I would feel like there wasn't enough space behind the burners. You really need to think about the way you cook. If you're messy, 30 in. could be tough. If you're super neat, it might not be a problem.

To me, there's no easy rule about where the cooktop should be, and I think it really comes down to the individual cook and the layout options and choices in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 12:36PM
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Well I will be the one to disagree. For almost 30 years I had an island range. Large open kit/din/liv rms. I loved it. I redid the kit and repeated the floor plan. After washing veggies etc I prepped on the counter on either side of the range.
In my present kit there was no way and the range in on an outside wall. I now have the advantage of better venting but I really miss the previous set up.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 12:41PM
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Most people are poor observers of how they use a kitchen. Actual cooking IS only about 10% of the time you spend in a kitchen. Take last night's meal and analyze it.

Take chicken out of freezer and place in sink to run cold water on it and thaw. Wash hands. Pre heat oven to 400.

Take broccoli and cauliflower out of fridge and rinse. Grab cutting board and knife, chop both. Pull out baking sheet and line with non stick foil. Spritz with olive oil. Place cut up broccoli and cauliflower on baking sheet and spritz with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place veggies in preheated oven.

Take out rice cannister from cabinet and measure out rice into rice cooker. Add water to line, a pinch of salt, and push button.

When rice goes "ding", veggies should be done and it's time for the chicken to go onto the grill pan. Preheat grill pan for 5 minutes until up to temp, meanwhile spritzing chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkling with salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and paprika. Grill chicken breasts 4-6 minutes each side and allow to stand a couple of minutes while you fluff the rice and pull the veggies out of the oven.

Total time spent prepping is 20 minutes, 15 minutes spent doing nothing but waiting, and 8 minutes spent "cooking" and that's it.

Even if I were making something time intensive like spaghetti sauce from scratch that does involve a bit of occasional stirring, it's still mostly the prep work of chopping everything up. Then a very quick saute, and let simmer on low for an hour. If you get your temps right, you don't need to stir but for 10 seconds every 10 minutes or so. That's 10 seconds of "cooking", not an hour. You don't need to keep watching your roast chicken in the oven for the whole hour it's in there either. That's 10 seconds of setting the dial to temp and 10 minutes to wash the chicken and rub it with spices and put it on a baking sheet. Then no attention needed.

The most attention cooking activity that I can think of is making something like risotto, and well, I make that in my rice cooker these days because it comes out just as nicely without all of that stirring.

"Cooking" is PREPPING! And that's why it makes much more sense to use an island for that than it does the hot stuff. And it's MUCH MUCH safer and cheaper to plan a cooking zone for the wall than an island. A 30" island is NOT wide enough to have a cooking zone on it at all. It would be a safety hazard that wouldn't pass inspection in most places. And while you may think you can live with that, any future buyers down the road will want BIG price concessions from you to fix that defect.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 2:10PM
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I'm with houseful for the same reasons. I spend more time on prep which is either next to the sink which faces the family room or the peninsula which faces the outside windows. I prefer the range against the wall and probably always will. I have friends who have a range in the island and seating on the other side and I don't like sitting near it. Just seems messier to me. Also don't like hoods that aren't attached to walls. Just my personal preference.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 2:13PM
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Never bothers me to be facing a wall, because when I am turned that direction, I am cooking and watching what I am doing, how ever long that takes. If I'm not watching what's on the stove, I'm turned looking and chatting to the breakfast room and family room on the side or facing the other direction working at the island -- in which case I can still turn to chat or watch TV as well as look out my window at birds and squirrels. I don't stand and just watch the pot or watch the wall.

What would drive me crazy is an island with a cooktop and not enough room to work. This house had a touch of that, but our last one was terrible and made me hate cooking. The house across the street had a hard time selling more than once, in part because of the kitchen and the tiny island with a cooktop and no work room. The depth may not be as important as the space to the sides and behind it and the work flow around it.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Thank you for all the feedback. I should have said that I have lots of space on either side of the range if it is in the island, so I will be doing my prep there as well. There would be room for a prep sink there too. My cabinets are the original cabinets in the house (1908) so one of the problems I have is that they come down low to the counter as compared to today's kitchens. I love them and will not replace them. The island gives me wide open space on which to work. There will be no seating at the island. And this layout allows me to have the refridgerator up against the wall in a much more convenient spot, next to the microwave, coffee, etc.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 3:10PM
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I agree with those who say that prep takes more time than actual cooking. Also, I use small appliances (slow cooker, pannini press, waffle iron or griddle) frequently, and I tend to do that cooking in my prep area.

And I'll add another reason (maybe) to put your range against the wall: It might allow you to vent your stove directly to outside, which is easier and superior to other options.

Off topic:

Live_wire_oak, will you share details about how you use your rice cooker to make rissotto? I'm very interested.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Our range is against the wall, and it works great for us. Our island is so narrow (24") that I prefer our setup, which leaves the full island free for prep work and/or to lay out appetizers when we have people over.
Even if we had a larger kitchen and island, I would not want the range in the island.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Diane, I'm one who hates working staring at a wall. My desks always face out into a room, etc. My stove's on a wall, but there are plenty of windows on both sides, so none of that oppressed feeling.

Since you already know what you like and do actually want to keep it, I'd go with that. Being a messy cook, the 30" does concern me though. Every additional inch you could scrounge for extra depth behind the stove would probably be well worth it. And a nice open space with a scrubbable floor beyond. :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:17PM
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I think what you're actually saying is that you like having the range next to your prep area, right?

My cooktop is angled behind my island prep area and the ovens are opposite the short side of the island. It's all very compact, and works very well for one cook up to four cooks (plus a couple other preppers elsewhere in the kitchen). I don't like prepping right next to the stove even though there's space to do so. I do it once in awhile, like when I'm midway through and decide to throw in another onion. There is SO much splatter on the backsplash and to the sides of the cooktop, I wouldn't want to deal with that in an island. I have a really big hood that captures really well too.

So my question for you is do you really like prepping next to the stove? Do you alternate chopping and stirring most of the time? I start the onions, etc., then prep other things while they're cooking, and turn to stir now and then, and find it very easy. Perhaps turning to mind your stove is hard for you?

I layered and overlapped my island top because I didn't want it only 30" deep just for prepping. I would never do it with a stove if I could help it. My friend has an '80's kitchen that has just the cooktop in a small island that's about 30" deep, and has a little more space on either side, plus huge island hood. He only uses it for rice, pasta or hot cereal, and never more than one pot at a time, so it serves him fine, but I HATE it. The built up back you mentioned would help the safety, but what the configuration also does is run a lot of traffic by three sides of the stove. With your larger prep areas, again, that wouldn't be as bad, but it would still be an issue you'd have to mind all the time.

Before you do it, why not try prepping across from your stove for awhile and see if you really dislike having to turn to the mind the stove? That will not only tell you if the trade offs of putting the stove in the island might be worth it, but also show you how much time you really spend facing the stove.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:40PM
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I'm one of those who truly does know how I work and why, and add to that my disdain for cooking against a wall, I knew what I wanted.

I don't like moving food once it is prepped. I prefer having lots of space on both sides of my island stovetop. I'm constantly prepping as I'm managing a bunch of pans cooking away at once.

Yes, I had a bit of a learning curve cooking in an open kitchen, as before, the kitchen was in a separate room - rarely did people come in to talk while I was working. Whether I'm working at the sink (against a wall) or the island, people are chatting away. I've had to learn to stay focused, or ask for pardon while I focus. It is much easier now, but not so easy at first.

I agree with the themes above - know what layout works best, analyze your style, etc.

Either way, I bet you will love whatever you choose.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:51PM
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I have to agree with everyone on the amount of prep time versus actual cooking time at the stove.

Although I think it's partially how your kitchen is oriented. The way mine is now my stove almost looks out to the dining and living room (I just have to half way lean over to see). So I don't really feel like I'm looking at the wall. My prep area is the island directly behind the stove so the dining and living room are readily visible. Although it will be completely different in our next house where I really will be 'looking at the wall.'

Like others have said though I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I cook and even writing down how I cook, and what I would like to do in the future. I think you can adapt to whatever you have even if you don't like it. I think in this case safety should come first though. I'm a messy cook and splatter would be a very real concern. :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 8:09PM
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We have an island with prep sink, prep space and rangetop. It was that way in our original kitchen and we kept that arrangement in our kitchen remodel because it works well for us.

I really like prepping next to the rangetop so if the rangetop was on the wall, I'd end up preping facing the wall or have to work with an arrangement I like less.

I do sometimes cook things that need lengthy tended cooking times such as frying falafel or making fondue. When making many other things like soup or chili, I like prepping next to the rangetop and adding things in and giving it a stir as I go.

When making a stir fry, I prepare the ingredients and then cook because of the rapid cooking time, but for many other things, I don't.

Our island is 51" deep to provide 18" seating overhang plus 12" of counter between that and the rangetop. I don't find that my cooking or prep splatters on to the far 27" so a 30" counter without seating should be fine. (I've got no idea why other people report more far flung splatter. Perhaps different pans?)

In redoing the kitchen, we removed upper cabinets over the island. If we put the rangetop against the wall, we would lose some wall cabinets and we weren't willing to do that.

We have a one story so venting for an island rangetop was no problem.

I've had other kitchen layouts and like this the best.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:58PM
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I am another one who has the cooktop in the island and I love it. In my old kitchen I had the cooktop against a wall, and the sink was on a peninsula that separated the kitchen and FR. My kitchen apace did not allow me to have everything against a wall, so I had to choose. When I entertain, I do my prep work before guests arrive, so I can focus on them until its time to do the actual rangetop "cooking". I don't fry often, so greasy smoke and spatters were not a major concern. I did not want my sink in the island since it would end up full of dirty dishes. My prep area is right across from the cooktop, so its a turn and a step. And my sink/prep area is perpendicular to the FR so I can easily see whats going on in the FR and on the the TV while I prep.

I think you need to do what seems right for YOU, for YOUR space, and the way YOU cook. Not all of us have unlimited options, and there has to be compromise somewhere. Don't let others dictate your choices. Having said that, a 30" deep island is pretty narrow for a cooktop for safety reasons. I might have done mine differently for that reason alone.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 10:59AM
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I stare at the wall, now...and I don't like it. I've played around with an island cooktop, but would need enough space for prep on each side (probably 6 1/2' minimum) and a raised counter behind it...for stools.

If you don't plan to have any seating at the island, then 30" should be okay. If you do want seating, I'd have at least a 42" deep island. Just my two cents...and thanks for bringing this topic up, again :)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 2:54PM
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I don't mind the idea of an island cooktop but I do believe you will need more than 6 inches behind the cooktop even if it is designed to not have people sit there. If you are cooking on the other side, people will come and lean against the island to talk - 6 inches does not even clear the handles on most pots. I'm not sure what code is but I would want at least 12 inches clear beyond the cooker.
Also, please check this with your local ordinances...it might be OK for you but might really impact your resale if it is considered dangerous by others.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 6:51PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Island cooking needs at least a 36" deep counter to be safe. Anything less generally won't pass inspection, and would be a huge financial hit at resale time as most people would be itching to tear something so dysfunctional out.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Diane- You mention adding a raised trim...how tall would that be? If you did something at least 6" tall, it might work.

Here are a few ideas :)

From Kitchen plans

From [Kitchen plans](https://picasaweb.google.com/113704953485102437421/KitchenPlans?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNSqlv3Ilr70Yw&feat=embedwebsite)

And Sarah Richardson's cottage kitchen...

From Kitchen plans

With the range behind this half wall...

From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 10:07PM
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Dysfunctional??? Geez, it will function just fine. I acknowledge that some of you are opposed to this in general, but it isn't a black and white issue as it relates to safety or resale. There is 3.5 feet of island on each side of the range and there will be a backsplash all along the island back and coming around the ends as well. I don't have a picture of this but it is a style that suits our old house. Currently, the range butts up to a narrow doorway into the family room. So it is much more dangerous now and nobody has had an incident. I don't have any cookware with long handles since most of it is Le Creuset, and again, never had a problem. In any event, before we finalize the layout, I will lay it out with the current stove and build an island out of scrap material to see if we even like the idea of the island. Thanks for all the feedback. I will consider everything discussed.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 12:47PM
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Before my reno, I cooked on a peninsula, so it was like an island. My favorite part was that it allowed me to "show off." I would purposely delay my prep and cooking to showcase me. What I hated about it was the ventilation. Because I cooked while guests were present, everyone would smell of food and smoke. It was also very hectic as guests would ask questions and draw my attention, mostly when I needed to focus on a task.

For my reno, I said to hell with showing off. Function was most important. I now have my range against the wall. I love it so much more. The ventilation is so much better that I can deep fry and there isn't a hint of it in the house. I can even grill inside. I've also changed my habits when entertaining. Since I can't really show off anymore, I pretty much have everything done before or just as guests arrive. My timing is better and I'm more efficient now. I spend more time talking to people face-to-face and focusing on them instead of splitting my attention cooking and hosting. On a few occasions, I did have a few "a la minute" items. In those cases, guests still gathered to the side and behind me to watch. But it was only briefly. When done it was back to entertaining. I think my results are more consistent and generally better now.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm not accusing you of showing off. But I am admitting that it was one of my motivations. I still talk about food with my guests, but now it's while eating and not while cooking.

I also used to teach my little preschooler to cook on the peninsula. I was concerned that I couldn't do that anymore. She's now a kindergartener and I'm still able to teach her. The range against the wall has not been an issue for us.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 2:41PM
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Powermuffin- Do whatever you like, in your kitchen. But, one thing I've learned on GW...if you ask, they will answer. While there are some very good safety points that have been discussed, it sounds like you've already taken these into consideration.

Here's my very favorite island cooktop example :) From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:10PM
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Hi all,

I had a cooktop on the island. I HATED it. The whole kitchen renovation started from that cooktop with the meager downdraft. I didn't want a hood over the island obstructing the view, so the only option was to move it on the wall. Having a hood changed everything- with the downdraft everything smelled like the stuff I was cooking, and we cook with A LOT of garlic and onion. I adored the hood and the position on the wall, no unwanted smells lingering in the bedroom above the kitchen, easier cleanup, I was able to focus on my cooking, handle the splatters better. It just worked for me.

In the end, it's what works for you that matters. If the island position is what you like, go for it. As far as I am concerned, the wall is it for me. :)


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:46PM
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