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Answers: Spot the Kitchen Errors #10

Soooo, I meant to get this out yesterday but we had some excitement in this part of the world: a 6.0 earthquake centered in Napa Valley which is only 30 miles from me.  The news makes it look like everything around here is devastated but it isn’t true. There were pockets of serious damage, but thanks to the time of day (3:20am) and the extensive retrofitting requirements for California buildings, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. (This is not to trivialize the damage that some Napa residents went through; my sympathies are with them as they start to rebuild.)

In the meantime, back to our kitchen example…

Answers to spot the Kitchen Errors 10

 In our last post, we looked at this kitchen with an eye to what went wrong. Thank you for all your responses! Here’s what I see:

1. Holy wall of cabinets, Batman!

Someone told the builder that pantries are a good thing and one should have the biggest cabinet pantry NO MATTER WHAT. Unfortunately, the “what” means by the time we add a refrigerator and ovens to this part of the kitchen, it looks overwhelming. This fairly large kitchen is now shrunk to about half its usuable size, and eliminated much needed counter space in the area one really needs it–between the refrigerator and cook top.

2. Pinata time!

AKA tetherball, which should really be played outside. Hanging a pendant over a table is not technically incorrect. What you want to watch for in this case is:

  • The height of the homeowners. Someone at 5’4″ isn’t going to have much of an issue reaching across the table. Someone 5’10” or taller (thanks, Sam C.!) is going to hit his or her head every time.
  • Is anyone ever planning on moving that table? If so, will need to relocate that pendant as well.

3. BFFs. Awwww. (Hey, wait a minute…)

The reason I said let’s discuss this is because technically the refrigerator and ovens should not be placed side-by-side, especially if the refrigerator is a double-door. Both appliances interfere in the operation of each other.

Having said that, I’m guilty of designing that very thing. Why? Because when a homeowner must have a refrigerator and ovens and a cooktop and a microwave, and when the kitchen isn’t large enough, something has to give. Sometimes, when a homeowner says, “Hey, I’m paying for this; this is what I want!”, one does what the homeowner wants.

In this space, a more technically correct placement might have been:

  • From left to right: a much smaller pantry, the ovens, some counter space, and then the refrigerator. This is tricky because you need enough space between the tall appliances so the scale and proportions are right.
  • Give up the ovens and add a 48″ – 60″ range.
  • Consider the one-door refrigerator with a left-hand hinge. Switch the two items so that the refrigerator has the landing space (*nodding at Lynn P.*). We use our refrigeration much much more than our ovens. I might put the pantry between the oven and refrigerator so the refrigerator door could swing wide enough to get the crisper drawers out.

4.  Um…

Why is the hood floating all by itself in that space? Was there not enough money to extend it to the ceiling and add a small soffit? There are always extra transitions to purchase. It doesn’t matter that the ducting exits at that point, DO NOT DO THIS THING!  An alternate solution if the duct cover is not going to extend to the ceiling:

  • Add a ledge above, raise the wall cabinets slightly and extend the crown molding over the ledge. Voila. It ties in the two cabinets too.

5.  Ouch.

That’s the sound you’ll make every time the left door on this double door wall cabinet hits against the hood fan.

Hood fans used to be 16″ deep several years ago. They are now 24″-27″ deep.  If possible, design the wall cabinets on either side to swing away from the hood. Unfortunately, the way this area is designed, it wouldn’t be functional (and would eliminate the only useful dish cupboard in this entire kitchen (barring any cabinet to the right of the window).

6. Scary face, dude!

And just in time for Hallowe’en, too. This could have been helped by the photography staging by not using black plates: cream-colored plates would have made it look less like a bad dental job.

That said, this is a thoughtless design choice. The glass is too small and the entire cabinet looks fussy. The real crime is that there is a lack of wall cabinet storage in this kitchen and an ordinary wall cabinet could have helped so much with this.  Plus, the entire set of cabinets could have been designed more symmetrically, including the one to the left of the range, which looks a bit small and lost.

7.  Outlets, you’re killing me here.

It would have been so easy to add a paint-grade apron below that window sill which would have hidden those two receptacle outlets and disguised the fact they are unbalanced, centered on nothing and are an unwelcome break on the backsplash.  Why are they tucked up so high?

8. What in the world is going on with the COLOR?

Perhaps it’s the photography but there is an unhealthy mix of someone not understanding color theory and properties of light. Or they selected the items without seeing them in the home.

The paint on the walls appears to have a  green-base, the tile looks red-based (and slightly pink), and the counter is green? Hard to say.  In any case, I’d specify the walls to be either a warmer yellow, or the tile to be more…something but less pink. There is way more to understanding color than this post allows but it’s a good post for the future.

9. There’s something about your legs…

…and it’s not good. While I would have tied in all three with a valance, there is cabinet storage underneath the seating area (also known as “honey, I cracked my head again under the counter” storage. Seriously. Professional designer term. Hah).  Although I might have customized that storage with a valance above it too, I don’t think that’s the only thing going on here. They look a touch too slender and something is off with the proportions. Your mileage may vary.

10. Table is lonely and needs to cuddle the cabinets.

This could be the photography again, but the table looks much too close to the pantry and refrigerator. If so, it’s blocking one of the most important areas of traffic flow in the kitchen. A family of four goes into a refrigerator somewhere between 150-200 times a day (less if there are teenagers in the house because they open the door and stare into the cavity for hours. I’ve heard).  While not eating at the table is a possibility, a differently sized table or better relocation would solve this.

Thanks for chiming in the comments of the last post:

Joe F: No, I doubt anyone paid for a kitchen designer in this case. I hope.

Wyn: Landing space on either side of the refrigerator isn’t as accessible with a French-door refrigerator. The island will get more use because once the doors are open, you’re swinging yourself and the ketchup and pickles around those doors.

Cyra D: The steps from the dishwasher to the wall cabinets look about 3 long paces, but agree: the wall cabinets are a bit far. Hopefully, there is at least one wall cabinet to the right of the sink that we’re not seeing here because the wall cabinet storage is woefully inadequate for a kitchen of this size.

Sam C:  Like I said, this is what kids are for: to get under that counter. *grin* Either that, or train the dog. Jockeys and hobbits are far-reaching last choices. Also, good call about the pendant light and taller people.

Lynn P:  All good points. I’m not a fan of the uneven cabinets either, especially when two of them aren’t particularly useful.

Carol in Denver:  Agreed about the comment with the plate cabinet being next to useless. That is too expensive a cabinet and this kitchen needs all the help it can get.  It might have been nice to have some good lighting closer to that island, especially when the ceiling is so high. And slanted. Can lights can illuminate differently on a slanted ceiling.

Lisa: Why, do you ask, are there so many fake plants? Someone was lonely for the ’80s?

May:  The design choices might have looked better with a better proportioned cabinet design. When one is designing with door onlays or arches, maintaining a similar size for all of them eliminates some of that busy-ness. Haha about a family that doesn’t cook and only takes boxes from the refrigerator. Who knows?

Until next time,





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