The Kitchen Remodel. So Many Decisions Where Do I Begin?

Hi everyone,

People ask me all the time, “Where do we begin?”. To many homeowners on the verge of a kitchen remodel, the numerous decisions seem overwhelming. I have a process that I guide them through. Before colors and cabinets are chosen and counter, flooring and backsplash can be selected, we need to finalize a great design plan. Just one thing before I can work up a design, I need to know what appliances we’re working with. Let’s face it, the appliances eat up lots of the kitchen’s real estate. Although I may not need specific brands and models at the onset of design planning I will need a wishlist of what you want. I suggest to my clients that, as their first assignment, they spend some time looking at appliances to know what their options are. Appliances today are evolving rapidly with lots of innovative technologies. Options now include things, such as column style refrigerators that are offered in narrower widths separated from a column freezer, which can be installed away from each other or side by side. Cooking appliances now include speed cook ovens, microwave drawers, steam cooking features. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you definitely need to go look at appliances. In the DC metro area where I am, I highly recommend places like ADU which is Appliances Distributers Unlimited or ABW Appliance Builders Wholesalers or Fretz in Columbia.

Be realistic if you have an 8-foot long galley kitchen. Don’t fall in love with a 48” pro range. If you do have a very small kitchen and live somewhere that a family of four is, then consider smaller appliances such as an 18” dishwasher or a 24-30” wide refrigerator instead of the standard widths, so you can maximize storage and counter space.

Please don’t buy any appliances until we have figured out the final plan together, but do your research and get an idea of what you might want to have. Do you want the appliances to blend in seamlessly with surrounding cabinetry? Then you might want “fully integrated built in” refrigerators and dishwashers that are “panel ready. “ More new terminology to learn is “flush inset installation” versus “standard overlay installation.”

This appliance installation option is best seen in a large high-end appliance showroom, such as those mentioned above by comparison. Over the past few years, this has created some issues because a client will see a flush inset refrigerator in a store but fail to mention that is the way they wanted the installation. The typical school of thought was if you were getting full overlay cabinets doors which sit on top of the cabinet box, then your refrigerator and other built in appliances would follow suit by having their front panel overlay. Now, more and more people using full overlay design on cabinets prefer the appliances flush between surroundings end panels or overlay panels for oven cutout.

Miele appliances have been an excellent example of this option and have lead the industry for integrated appliances. I should also mention Subzero/Wolf and Thermador, but varying levels of flush integration can be found in many other brands now. Some of these brands are better at it than others. Also, if you have an electric range or cooktop, the new preference is induction cooking, which provides more precise temperature control than a glass smooth top electric. Do you want a cooktop with cabinet drawers below it or a single built in oven beneath, so the countertop runs through between the two versus a range, which is one appliance that combines both. Would you prefer your oven in a tall oven cabinet positioned at a higher level so you’re not bending down? Perhaps you want pro style gas range. All these choices will have a huge impact on the placement of the appliances in the room I design for you. Now, I’ve only scratched the surface, and we haven’t even talked about the vent hood. It’s very important to provide proper ventilation over the cooking surface and now they are a big part of the overall design aesthetic statement as well. Options in this category include chimney style stainless hoods, professional style hood, built in hoods into a decorative hood style that could be made from cabinets or something, such as stone, stucco, or a metal like copper.  I’ve given you a lot to think, about so get out there and start looking at appliances. However don’t buy them yet or that would be pulling the cart before the horse as they say. Do your research and compile your appliance wish list then the kitchen designer will take it from there. Happy shopping!

Tanya Dugan, CKD