Kitchen Setup - What do you like and dislike?

Joined May 1, 2016
I've been reading up on your forums now for awhile, lots of great info here. I finally decided to take the plunge and join.

Over the next year I get to design my dream kitchen! And I'm fortunate enough to have the budget to do it right and not cut corners or scrimp unnecessarily. That said, I don't want to waste money either, I don't care about big brand names or any of that nonsense, I care about reliability, ease of use, performance and function over fashion. 

The first thing I'm trying to decide is on basic design/layout. Initially I had thought to have a big island in the center with the gas range in the center and butcher block counters on either side (chop and prep then right into the adjacent pan). Ovens would be installed at eye level on the walls along with lots of counter space and cupboards for storage and appliances, etc. But as I've started looking at layouts and designs it seems that most people go with an island for a breakfast bar type idea, often with a sink on it and stools on one side to sit at and they place their range against a wall. Is this more practical for running gas lines and ventilation and such? Or is it just a style preference for most people? 

Second question is much more open-ended...quite simply, what kind of things would you consider if you were me? What kind of design/layouts do you like? What have you found works really well? What do you hate when you have to cook in someone else's kitchen? What equipment or setup is indispensible to you? What would you do differently if you could do something over? Looking for anything you care to share here, anything that will get my wheels turning and guide me in my research and planning.

Much obliged, thanks in advance for the help!
Joined Dec 17, 2013
I've cooked in a lot of kitchens. While I can't speak to design practicality as far as construction (gas lines etc.), I do know what I've liked, and what I've LOVED about every kitchen I've been in. Here's my short list

-Sinks that are open on both sides, not in corners. One side is for dirty, the other for clean.

-I like built in over stove microwave and vent hood combos. It's a space saver, and microwaves on counters are an eyesore.

-Built in roll out drawers in low cupboards are a back saver, and way easier to keep organized.

-Building up the dishwasher so it's about 10" off the ground makes it easier to unload, and you can build a storage drawer underneath.

-small sunken in pantries with cabinet doors, only about 6" deep, are perfect for spices.

-A built in flat top grill is a must for someone who entertains a lot. Makes life so easy! No pans to clean!!

Those are my two cents! Hope you have fun with your dream kitchen.  
Joined Jan 20, 2016
About my kitchen:
I planned for years, poring over magazines, books, showrooms. I had the room and had wonderful memories of my grandmother's kitchen. I wanted my kitchen to make the same kind of memories. Most kitchen planners could not understand what I wanted. They just wanted to sell cabinets. It was frustrating to say the least.

Finally, a friend recommended a contractor who had done her kitchen. He was willing to listen and I got my kitchen. I did not want upper cabinets over my cooking area. I wanted a homey kitchen with lots of counter space and storage, a large island and most of all, my long, pine table had to look like it belonged. I wanted my kitchen to welcome everyone and after much waiting I got my homey kitchen.

I was fortunate to have the space. In fact, we bought this house because it had a large kitchen. the kitchen was ugly and useless but it had the room. It would be many years before I was able to build my kitchen, but it was worth the wait.

My island is quite large (96 x 48) I use it for prepping and or serving buffet style when we entertain. I do not have stools. Under the island top, it is all deep drawers for pots and pans, etc., except for a drawer style microwave and warming drawer under the microwave drawer. Like Workaholic, I, too, think microwaves are eyesores. A drawer style microwave solves the problem. It was more expensive than regular microwaves, but worth the extra expense. I love not only the ease of reaching in instead of pulling food out towards me, but also the fact that the microwave is out of sight. The top of the island is all wood. It is not "finished" so that it could be used for food prepping. It had to be oiled weekly to cure the wood. Although the warmth of the wood top is awesome to have, it has warped and stained, so I would consider other options. The stains do not bother me, it shows that it is used. The warp, however, is a bit of a problem so it has to be replaced. I am struggling trying to decide what kind of material to use next. I don't think that it was installed correctly If there is a way to prevent warping, I would use wood again....

Another piece that I would install if I were doing it again, is an apron, fireclay sink. Having a large, undivided sink is great. Large pots fit without a problem. A fireclay sink is very easy to keep looking new. I love mine and would not trade it for any other type of sink.

The old island had a downdraft Jenn Air grill. I had never used one and the prior owners had never used it in over 10 years they had lived in the house. (It still had packing tape on the ducts.) We began using it as soon as we moved in and by the time I began planning my new kitchen, I knew we had to include one. It is great for grilling indoors. However, it is my understanding that the duct work for the down draft has to be installed at the time that the foundation is being laid. I did not like cooking on the island, so I had it placed near the stove. (I prefer having the cooking appliances against the wall.) These grills do not seem to be as popular as they once were, but we love ours.

There is much more to talk about. If you have questions feel free to ask. A kitchen do over is a big undertaking so take your time planning and do not let any kitchen professional push you around. It is your kitchen. It has to make sense to you and I totally agree with you about the "brandname" nonsense.
Have fun!
Joined May 25, 2015
Unlimited funds huh. Biggest stumbling block for me would be the range. The prosumer" stuff is junk so that means a commercial range which means a commercial kitchen complete with hood and stainless steel. So throw in that flattop and grill. That's OK though because I'm not into the "homey" look and I frown on anybody in my kitchen that doesn't belong there.
Joined Jan 20, 2016
"I'm not into the "homey" look and I frown on anybody in my kitchen that doesn't belong there"
To some people, the kitchen is the heart and soul of the home. For me, some of my happiest childhood memories were made in my grandmother's kitchen, watching her cook. I'm so glad she did not frown on me being there. I only hope I can pay it forward some day when hopefully I will have grandchildren in tow.

In a professional kitchen, no one, that does not belong, should be there; at home, it is a totally different story, and as wonderful as commercial equipment may be for cooking, most homes are not suited for such equipment and building codes won't allow it....


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I disagree about the microwave hood combo. Most don't vent outside and those that do don't move enough CFM to be useful.
Joined May 25, 2015
Sorry, I didn't mean to burst your dream. Just my opinion of course, but I consider most residential kitchens "eye candy" with the more money you spend on "high end" appliances the worst it gets. The quality and serviceability just isn't there because they are basically for show. That's why I prefer commercial equipment. I know it could be an uphill battle doing that legally depending on where you are but we did suppose an unlimited budget. If that were reality I could make it happen.  I remember someone mentioning here at one time that they knew of a large house that had two kitchens, one "eye candy" high end kitchen that everybody could see but really didn't get used for much. Then, out of sight upstairs or out back there was a commercial kitchen where the staff actually did all the food prep.
Joined Jun 27, 2012
Two things things are coming back in style and I am truly excited about both.
Kitchens that are more closed off to the living area and cowgirl boots with a more rounded toe.
We are looking at campers and part of the process is renting different models, trying them on for size so to speak.
Have started a list of no never...and yes must haves.
Why not do the same with vacation homes?

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Joined Oct 10, 2005
Best thing I can suggest is to get yourself a scale rule, and draw out your kitchen on a 1/10 scale on paper, include all doors and windows. Now pick out your dream appliances, draw them to scale on paper, and cut them out. Then its just a matter of shuffling them around on your paper plan.

A couple of notes:

If you have a basement under you, its not a problem to move plumbing or gas lines, it'll just cost, but its not a problem.

Venting can usually be run along a wall and camoflouged with cabinetry or boxed in with drywall.

Butcher block counters require tremendous amount of maintainence, look like he77 when scarred with knife cuts or burns, and do not fare well around sinks. Other than bread or pastry, all food prep should be done on individual cutting boards anyway. Sanitizing a 8' length of wood countertop is a lot of work.

Ceramic or solid porcelain sinks are prone to chipping and are harder than s/s when china or glassware is dropped into them

The europeans make the best, most intelligent, and most practical dishwashers. Commercial dishwshers are simply impractical for home use.

Never buy a ventillation hood over $200 that has flimsy 1/4" thick filters. Most N.American makes are total garbage
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