New kitchen design goofs--why?

kitchendetectiveOctober 8, 2012

Thinking it might come in handy to have a place in the city, I started looking around for condos or townhouses in a couple of larger cities in Texas. Of course, the first room I checked out was the kitchen. It would seem that with new construction, one could do any layout, yet many of the brand new kitchens had the stove between the refrigerator and the sink, so one would have to take food out of the refrigerator, traverse the cooking area to get to the sink, and then backtrack to the stove to cook. That pattern really bothers me. I could understand, perhaps, if it were a remodel with plumbing in place, or something like that. Could there be a reason that a designer would build that pattern into the kitchen? Are you seeing weird patterns in new construction?

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The rationale behind that one is a lot of stuff doesn't necessarily have to hit the sink before it gets cooked, so not everyone is into the sink location or prep sink theory.

But the rote placement of DW on one side which ends up sometimes between the sink and the range, puts it in a bad location for simultaneous clean-up.

But I have been in new construction or rehab where the refrigerator hits the opposite counter or appliance doors interfere with each other, so I think a lot of it is done without really designing it at all, or thinking about it much more than getting the basic amenities in.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:13PM
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Our new build three years ago had the fridge between sink and range and we tore out and redid the entire kitchen because of it. IMO that was a terrible design but I guess it depends on how you use the kitchen and the size of family, etc.

For me, when cooking I really want uninterrupted passage between sink and range. It drove me bonkers that whenever I was going to the range it seemed like there was someone getting a juice from the fridge, or cream for coffee, etc. Sometimes it felt like I was running an obstacle course carrying a large pot of boiling water from the stove to the sink, navigating around family and stepping over the dog. To me, the best design is to have the fridge on the periphery.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:32PM
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I think most new houses (except high-end ones done with excellent KDs or those done with the help of GW) just aren't thought out. Builders seem to go through a mindless checklist for kitchens.

Sink? Check.
Fridge? Check.
Range? Check.

Its all there so kitchen is good to go, right? Who cares exactly where all the pieces are placed?

The huge majority of us have lived in poorly laid out, disfunctional kitchens for many years. It's so common that most people don't give it a second thought. Sad, isn't it?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 12:51AM
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Most new construction kitchens are "designed" by the contractor or a bean counter. That has been the case for decades. Sad, but OTOH without all those crummy kitchens I might be out of work.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:43AM
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We had a "tiny rental kitchen" thread the other day on which some posts promoted the thought that layout didn't have to be too good since local renters supposedly didn't cook much--but that it did need to look nice on glancing in. For some, size and location of little scraps of counter were not as important as their material--rental granite of course.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 12:07PM
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I appreciate the responses. Pal, It seemed that perhaps no designer was involved, but the condos I saw were purportedly upscale. I didn't look at the highest floors in the high rises, but lower down the floor plans were similar. At the purchase prices quoted, well, one would expect a kitchen designer to be involved. Taggie, a mid-path refrigerator would have driven me around the bend. We do a lot of stir fry and a lot of salads. Vegetables take up volume, and I try to get them all out of the refrigerator at the same time. I could see a total mess on the way to the sink and back to the stove.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 3:22PM
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A friend of mine with his partner put up million dollar plus houses. No kitchen designer. After discussing his last kitchens in his subdivision he said he'll have me review the designs from the architect. And yes - many architects are terrible kitchen designers.

My architect said he specialized in kitchens yet he couldn't think outside the box and I got a better kitchen design here than the thousands of dollars I spent on his design.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 4:12PM
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Carrying a pot of boiling water and pasta AROUND a fridge to get to a sink?! No, thank you!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 8:14PM
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A city condo may have more entertainment design considerations than a family home. A single wall of built-ins with a large rectangular waterfall stone island separating the living area is a popular setup. A catered buffet can be the most important potential perceived use for the owners. People who want a social kitchen with multiple users all working without interference are not buying these condos. The marketplace is varied.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 9:00PM
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Not many people cook anymore. That includes some KD's, but architects especially. Many couldn't even put together a simple stir fry if you put all of the ingredients in front of them already chopped, much less gather them all and then wash and chop them. "Menial" tasks like that just don't cross their minds. Making something "pretty" does. So, you'll see attention paid to the cabinet brand and doorstyle, but not the fact that the range isn't vented, or the sink is in the wrong spot.

If you want to get right down to the nub, there are plenty of people who come on here who don't see the value in a KD either. They think that all you have to do is throw some boxes at the existing layout after you've taken down a wall and it'll be magically "perfect". Hardly anyone analyzes themselves for how a meal is really constructed in a self time and motion study. That's why you see people coming on here with barrier islands or 19 feet between the sink and fridge, or island cooktops in a kitchen not big enough to swing a cat. They think they know how they cook, but the reality is, they don't know what they don't know. They may have adapted to the current poor design, and they certainly don't have the vision that it could be so much BETTER and safer if it had a different layout.

And people only really notice bad design, when it's bad enough to inconvenience them regularly and for them to gripe about. Good design, and things that function as they should, is invisible, and thus isn't "valuable" to many people. People simply do not realize the amount of work that goes into creating a good design so that a kitchen is a productive and pleasant space to occupy.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 7:52AM
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LWO-"good invisible". Absolutely- I like to say you should not see my fingerprint.
OTOH- I see a lot of people who cook, actually practically all of my clients. May be in part from what and how I design. Was just at a seminar where the emphasis was on zones and uses as a trend, so not so sure I'm alone.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 8:09AM
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