Kitchen designer not so helpful - Need your help!

jessraeDecember 19, 2012

Hi Everyone,

We're building a new home (a bit about our family - currently it's the hubby and me plus our two boys ages 5 and 3, but we're in the process of adopting a third. I'm also the only one that cooks in the house.) I hired a kitchen designer to help with the plans. I was hoping she'd have some suggestions, but hasn't been too helpful.

My contractor is waiting on the kitchen designs so that plumbing, electrical and heating can be put in the appropriate places. I don't have a final version from the designer, so attached below is my rough draft I did in Excel. I will have upper cabinets along the range wall, but didn't include them on the drawing.

My main concern is appliance placement, which I need to finalize ASAP. I'm not sure where to put the second dishwasher and does anyone know, can a microwave drawer be put next to a beverage fridge? I've asked both our project supervisor and the kitchen designer this question and they were going to check with the electrician but I haven't heard back yet.

Do you have any suggestions? Do you see something that could be troublesome? Thanks for your help!

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Hi jessarae. One thought immediately came to mind: why not swap the micro drawer with the dw next to the advantium oven? I personally wouldn't want a dishwasher across the kitchen from the sink (I have visions of dishes with half rinsed-off food bits dripping acoss the floor as I would walk back and forth from the sink to the dw)They both need 24" so it would be an easy swap without changing much on the plan. I would also prefer the micro drawer not so close to the sink, as, at least in my kitchen, the counter area near the sink is always the most used area already.
As far as micro next to beverage fridge: I personally don't like the idea of any kind of oven next to any kind of ref. (though I know it is done all the time) because ovens (even microwaves) generate heat and the ref. has to work harder to keep things cool. It just doesn't seem like the most energy efficient placement--but sometimes it is the only workable solution. Just a thought. Best wishes with your new home!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:09PM
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where is the beverage refrig door facing as it would be hard to access w the overhang? I have an advantium oven and love it. I would prefer it closer to the refrig. Currently its at the end of the run and seems inconvenient when taking food from the refrig to put into the microwave. Also, if the aventium oven door is open is someone coming into the kitchen from hallway going to run into it i.e. kids. I can see someone taking hot beverage out as the kids storm in.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:21PM
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Also, try to invision where you will be making the kids lunches. The sink area with the dish machine and microwave will be a busy area with dirty dishes and food in or out of the microwave. Therefore are you making sandwiches, food prep next to the stove? I would prefer doing food prep on the island overlooking the family room. I would not be comfortable with the dish machine handle on one side and the microwave drawer on other, rethink that. The advantium oven is a microwave, not sure why you need two.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:27PM
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Thanks for your fast responses!

Fun2Learn, I had thought of moving the 2nd dishwasher to the other side of the sink, but I also liked the idea of the microwave drawer being so close to the fridge - we microwave a lot! I don't typically rinse off dishes, but I do scrape them into the garbage or sink. In our current house, the dishwasher is always full, so I usually scrape the dishes and pile them up until I have the time to run and unload the dishwasher. I'm hoping that having 2 helps eliminate this! I've never had a dishwasher next to the sink - they've either been across in the island or peninsula, but the current placement of the second dishwasher is a bit further than I'd prefer. Maybe I can put the 2nd DW next to the sink and put the microwave drawer where the Bev fridge is??

Sofla - The beverage fridge was going to open from the side of the island. It was originally put there so that the kids could have easy access to it for their juice boxes, yogurts and such. Although I've been considering getting fridge drawers instead and using them more for extra fridge storage. I'm so glad to hear you love your Advantium! I'm not planning on using it as a microwave very much (I'm getting a drawer mic for that), but more as my 2nd oven and for speed cooking. Since they require it installed at countertop height or higher, I couldn't figure out another place to put it since we only have one long run of cabinets.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:47PM
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I'm assuming your beverage frig is going to face the banquette. I don't think it'll be a problem with the MW. Also, I hope you plan on keeping infrequently used items in the drawers under the overhang. Obviously, access is an issue. Theoretically, you should consider a 42" hood over a 36" range; though others have gone with same measurements and its worked out.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:00PM
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Here's another version moving 2nd dishwasher next to the sink, sliding down the trash, moving the mic drawer to the side of the island and changing the bev fridge to fridge drawers and putting them next to the fridge. Does this work better? Is the mic drawer placement okay with it opening towards the table?

Does anyone have an 18" dishwasher? I wonder how functional that size would be. If I did one 18" dishwasher, I could move the mic drawer back into the main work aisle. many options!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Sofla - Great point about the prep area. I was planning on that being on the island to the right of the sink with the dirty dishes on the left side of the sink. The dish washer will be paneled, so there won't be a big handle, just regular drawer handles. I'm planning on getting the Thermador Mic drawer which is mounted flush and doesn't have a handle for the reason you mentioned - the Sharp Mic drawers jut out a bit from the cabinets.

I was supposed to be getting a wall oven, but instead thought the Advantium would offer more flexibility with its speed cooking option. So I'm thinking if it more in terms of an oven. If I didn't have a different microwave, I wouldn't want to put anything in the Advantium that would take more than 5 minutes since there's many times a day that I just need to pop something in the microwave for 30 seconds and I think I'd be impatient waiting that long.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:33PM
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Sophie Wheeler

I'd suggest making the back of the banquette bench that faces the fridge house the MW drawers and the beverage fridge. It won't take much to engineer that, and it makes that corner the snack zone and keeps the prep zone clear of cross traffic. You will need at least a 3/4" full height panel between any two appliances in order to support the countertops. Additional cross bracing may be needed, (such as at least a 1 1/2" filler attached to the panel in an L) depending on how else the counter will be supported.

I'd also suggest not centering the sink in the island. It will create a butt to butt conflict with another worker at the range. It also would give you more prep space to have the DW on the left side be the end of the island (With a panel like I described above) then the sink, then the DW then the trash and whatever other cabinet you'd use to end the run with. That will give you a nice long space for your prep.

You might also think about adding a secondary sink into the mix. It could be a beverage sink over by the banquette where you show the 21" drawers, or it could be a prep sink next to the fridge. It will be immensely useful to have a secondary source of water so that multiple users don't crowd around the only source for diverse functions.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:36PM
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Remodelfla - Yes, the back of the island cabinets will be stuff I rarely use - I seem to have a lot of that! Thanks for pointing out the hood size. I can easily change that to a 42" if that's the size that's recommended.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:38PM
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Holly Springs - I love your idea about the snack area. But I'm not sure I have enough room to move the mic and bev fridge to the back of the banquette. Wouldn't I need another 24" which would push the banquette table back 2 feet towards the patio door? But I could fit the bev fridge into the cabs along the window.

For the second sink, do you think I'd still need one if there's one in the dining room just on the other side of that short wall across from the island?

I've also tried to convince myself to move the sink off-center. But I'm a bit OCD when it comes to symmetry and I think it would really bug me. But I'll do some more thinking about it. Thanks for your tips!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 9:22PM
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Jessrae, regarding looking at the stove wall from the family room: I don't know what you intend for that wall, but I have a 36" stove topped by a 42" custom wood hood, which is flanked by windows, not cabinets, and the hood is relatively dainty looking in spite of its mass (the back steps back to create a shelf across the front and ascends vertically to the ceiling). It's not out of scale, but styles these days are fairly beefy, even the lighter scaled ones, compared to times past, and I wouldn't want it even an inch less wide than it is.

As for the banquette, I'll sail alone by suggesting, don't build it in. You don't have to do a banquette to squeeze a table in at all, after all. You have plenty of room for a table and chairs. So maybe just a sturdy, good-quality custom one set there like a sectional would be so you can change it as your needs and whims change with time and styles.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 3:43PM
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Jessrae, What about moving the beverage refrig over where the 21 in drawers are next to the banquette. It could be a beverage center w wine bottles above and a small sink for the kids to hand wash before eating or a wet bar.
The advantium oven is both a speed oven and a microwave. Use the glass turn table to microwave and it comes with the graphite trays for cooking. It would eliminate the micro drawers and free up some options. There are so many settings for all kind of foods to reheat /melt/etc , it would be a shame not to use it. It is preset w all the beverages and foods to reheat at the appropriate time less than 5 min., more like 30 sec.
The prep area to the right of the dish machine with dirty dishes to the left realistically won't happen as people clear dishes from your table to the counter above the trash and dish machine. Revisit the prep area.
The recent updated drawing with the undercounter refrig next to the refrig seems redundant.
I was looking at my overhang and would not want to reach under it even for items not used often. With the banquette there, I would eliminate the overhang where it is and have an overhang to the right or left on lsland to be used not as a family eating area but for one to visit w you while you prep or for one to read paper w cup of coffee or use a lap top as an alternative to sitting at the banquette.
It will all come together for you.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Rosie - Thanks so much for your advice! I will definitely get the 42" hood. Interesting idea about just going with a table and chairs. I grew up with a banquette and it was such a great spot for playing board games, doing homework, etc. Much more comfy than a dining room table. We'll have an actual table in the dining room too, but I was thinking this would be the a cozy niche for enjoying a morning coffee and a great place for the kids to color, do crafts, and so on.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 8:54PM
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A word of caution...

"...I'm also the only one that cooks in the house."

You're the only one working in the kitchen now. Your children will grow up very quickly and will be helping out in the kitchen - hopefully both cooking and cleaning up - before you know it. There will be more years of kids helping than there will be of them not helping.

If you have a DR open to the kitchen, do you really need Kitchen table seating + island seating + DR seating so close to each other?

You have a decent size kitchen - but the banquette takes up a lot of you really need it?

How high off the floor are those windows? You show drawers under them on the "bottom". Are they low drawers or are they normal height cabinets?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Thanks so much for all the suggestions!

Sofla - Moving the bev fridge and making that corner a beverage center is a great idea! You're right, we probably don't need the overhang on the island where it currently is.

Buehl - Good point about the kids growing up. I can only hope that they'll help in the kitchen more than their dad! I think we'll eliminate most of the island seating. We really do need a table in the kitchen in the neighborhood we live in. Plus we didn't have one in our last house, we only had kitchen seating at the island, and that was one thing we really wanted to change with our new house. Islands are too difficult for little kids to sit at and the booth type seating is much more comfortable to me. I can't remember exactly how high the windows are. There are high enough to have a back on the banquette seats. The drawers behind the banquette are low drawers underneath the bench. They will be the kids craft drawers with all their coloring books, crayons, paints, etc.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 9:48PM
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I worked in a house for Christmas open house, the owner has 6 grandchildren. She had a refrigerator drawer that was in the lower half of the end of her island so the kids could get their own drinks. It was perfect, the drawer slides easily and inside were juice, milk and water whatever else. There was a drawer over it that held other type of beverages, but the kiddie drinks were in the lower drawer so they could just retrieve at will.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:15AM
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Gr8day - Thanks for your input! I was hoping this fridge would be an easy place for the kids to get their drinks and snacks. I'm glad to hear it worked so well!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 2:53PM
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"Symmetry is not balance."

Way back that remark helped me get past the OCD 'centering' thing. If you reflect, you may see it is balance you really crave, not symmetry.

Rigid adherence to symmetry is the enemy of function. And 'function over form' has power due to the fact that designing a kitchen is designing a work space, a fuctional space with hefty demands for flow and order. The umpteenth time you haul glassware from the DW two steps further to the 'symmetric' cabinet, you may wish you had sought balance over symmetry.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 8:36PM
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Celticmom - You may be right. I think it is balance that I'm looking for. If you have any ideas on how I can achieve this, I'd love to hear them.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 9:38PM
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