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My kitchen remodel a year later

by admin on April 16, 2013
McKee Kitchen

McKee Kitchen


It was just over a year ago that I finished my kitchen remodel. I’ve now had many months living with the real-life impact of all my decisions and am happy to report that it’s actually worked out very well, though I still sometimes pivot left instead of right when going for the silverware. That’s just me getting over a twenty year run in the old kitchen. Now we don’t have to squeeze around one another at the sink if the refrigerator door is open, and that is a beautiful thing.

Guests seem to like the new design and coo over aspects of it. In particular, there are positive reviews for the wide eyebrow arch over the sink counter. At the center of this arch is a rack to hang pots and pans. Because it’s above the sink, we can hang wet pots there to drip dry which I find very useful. Storing these pans out in the open makes it easy to quickly access them. It’s the look of a working kitchen, kind of like you would find in a farmhouse or like the kitchen that belongs to that retired chef guy in the movie “Tortilla Soup.” We have a few cupboards with doors to hide the visual commotion of things like cereal boxes and syrup bottles, but our plates and bowls are stored on open shelves. It’s useful and ergonomic that way and looks pretty good, we like to think.

I have clients who want kitchens with places to put everything away and hide it all from view. They want mixers on platforms that retract and disappear under the counter. That’s a completely valid approach, and we design accordingly. But I have a few who want the emphasis on immediate usability. To them a well-functioning commercial kitchen has a certain beauty in spite of (and perhaps because of) the visual busyness. If a bottle of olive oil is stored on a stainless steel shelf next to the stove – well, that’s just fine. I suppose my kitchen exists somewhere in the middle of those viewpoints.

Here are some other ideas I tried out in my kitchen that worked out well:

Extra deep counters

This idea is so good that I feel like I’m giving away a trade secret. Where space allows it, you can make the counter an extra 4 to 6 inches deep (resulting in a 28 or 30 inch deep counter instead of the standard 24 inches.) This means that things like wooden knife racks and toasters and such can remain in easy reach along the back, all while leaving us a big counter surface in front for food prep.

This is an especially valuable idea for remodeling all those Southampton kitchens that have an extra wide walking aisle (five feet wide or more) but with limited space to expand the kitchen sideways without messing up a family room or dining room.

You can even use standard cabinets and still achieve this – just have them installed slightly out from the wall and run the extra deep counter over the top to the wall.

Deep drawers

We have many drawers deep enough for pots and other random big things. So much easier to open and access the contents than cupboards. This is now pretty standard in kitchen designs.

Undermount sink

With the edge of the sink attached under the edge of the counter (instead of overlapping the top) you can wipe counters directly into the sink because there’s no protruding rim. I chose a large double bowl porcelain sink mounted in the classic farmhouse way (under the counter but protruding slightly out from the face of the cabinet.) I find the porcelain easy to keep clean. Some clients are dedicated to stainless steel and I respect that. Either way, if you add in a tall faucet with a detachable nozzle that can be aimed at any angle or pulled out for cleaning corners of the sink then you’ll have a highly usable sink set detail

Two drawer dishwasher

Our new dishwasher has a big compartment on top and a smaller one below that can be run separately. I was looking forward to the idea of alternating back and forth between the two compartments and thus allow myself the luxury of not unloading the clean dishes all at once but instead just pulling dishes as needed from the clean batch for each meal. Turns out I use the smaller lower compartment only for rare times when there’s too many dishes for the main. But this two drawer dishwasher still is a favorite simply because the constant use of the top compartment eliminates the need to lean over so much to load and unload. This helps make this chore go a bit smoother and that’s a help with that thankless chore. The machine is very quiet too. Just about all the new ones are.

Quartz countertop

This is the countertop material that is like granite, except it’s synthetically made from quartz rock. It’s harder than steel (therefore knives don’t leave marks) and doesn’t require sealing like granite does. Industry names include Zodiaq and Silestone. It comes in a wide variety of colors and speckles, or can be a solid color. Some of these patterns resemble stone but don’t have the continuous veins and swirls that granite does. I personally prefer the more neutral backdrop of the quartz, but I have some clients that really like the extra visual interest found in real stone.

Some other features

A non-electric “air switch” for the garbage disposal is an easy-to-find button on the counter next to the faucet. . . . Cabinet knobs were selected that are smooth without any protrusions that can accidentally hook on cargo pants pockets. . . . We chose white subway tile for the backsplash to contrast with the dark solid counter. It helped avoid a monolithic look and connotes a sort of timeless design.

The life of the design is found in such details. You just need to know what type of kitchen you want.


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