How an Online Kitchen Design Consultation Helped a Client Living 1500 Miles Away
At the end of my last post, I promised I would talk about the online kitchen design portion of our consultation with our Houston client.
ONLINE KITCHEN DESIGN CONSULTATION: THE AGENDA
Our clients’ questions seemed to be straight forward.
- Comment on the current layout.
- How might the upper cabinets engage the ceiling and crown moulding?
ONLINE KITCHEN DESIGN CONSULTATION: WHAT I KNEW
Going into the 90 minute consultation, I had made it very clear that since I had minimal conversation with them regarding information about function and aesthetics, my comments would be conceptual. We would be discussing options and possibilities. Here’s what I knew.
- Family of 6, with 4 young children.
- Casual lifestyle.
- Host weekly family gatherings of up to 30 people.
- Walk in pantry.
- Nearby storage room with large chest freezer.
KITCHEN LAYOUT CRITIQUE
The basic kitchen layout and work triangle were okay. There was ample counter space and cabinet space. Access to the pantry and chest freezer was easy and convenient. The relationship of appliances one to the other was good, but they needed tweaking. Sizes and quantities were off.
During our online meeting I made the following recommendations:
- A – Dishwasher: Based on family size and their entertainment schedule, recommend 2 dishwashers.
- B – Eliminate double sink. Locate a 30” sink toward the porch end of the island.
- C – Locate a 21” prep sink toward the fridge/freezer end of the island.
- D – Add trash compactor.
- E – Double oven location is fine.
- F – For once in my life, I can comfortably say a 48” cooktop is the right size. It will actually get used! Increase exhaust hood accordingly.
- G – Relocate microwave.
- H – 24” fridge tower.
- I – 24” freezer tower.
- Increase size of island to accommodate sinks and dishwashers. Fringe benefit? Seating for 6 at the island would be more comfortable.
- In a galley style layout, I like to stagger appliances/plumbing so people aren’t standing back to back.
UPPER CABINET AT CEILING DETAIL
On the surface, this is a pretty straight forward detail. Generally, there’s a spacer between the crown moulding and cabinet that allows for irregularities in the ceiling/crown moulding assembly. (Nothing is ever perfectly square. Even new construction.)
I showed our client this sketch to illustrate how the upper cabinets might engage a large cornice assembly. (The combination of ceiling height and cornice moulding profile create an interesting lighting challenge… Another blog post perhaps???
Looking at a kitchen designed by Minnie Peters, we talked about using a ladder to access the very upper cabinets.
WHEN IS A KITCHEN WORKING TOO HARD?
I wrapped up our online kitchen design consultation by talking about when a kitchen is working too hard. A typical symptom is when a kitchen is “wall to wall” cabinets. I can understand this when a kitchen is physically small, such as our tiny townhouse kitchen. But when a client has a large kitchen with lots of floor area and additional pantry and storage space, perhaps one doesn’t need ALL those upper cabinets. I suggested taking the time to really think through how much upper cabinet space they really needed.
I showed them the following two images of kitchens as we talked about kitchens that are part of a larger living space.
Online Kitchen Design: CONCLUSIOn
By the time we finished taking about kitchens as part of a larger living space, we had run 15 minutes over our agreed upon 90 minute meeting. I asked them for feedback. Had they gotten what they were looking for and needed? Our client told us the consultation provided them with exactly what they were looking and hoping for. Much of what we discussed they had not even considered, noting, “We didn’t know what we didn’t know.”
WHEW!!! I felt pretty good!
While I didn’t offer any design solutions during our meeting, after our meeting I felt compelled to sketch a few ideas I had floating about in my head. (In case they call back, I want to be prepared… )
For the cooking wall I drew three possibilities. The first sketch continues to maximize storage, while adding warmth via the use of wood cabinetry.
My second sketch begins to explore/develop the notion of “kitchen as part of a larger living space”. I minimize the presence of the cabinetry by creating two white “towers” at each end of the wall and adding open shelving. The range hood becomes more decorative.
The third idea for the cooking wall eliminates a great deal of cabinetry. Essentially I am saying, every day stuff can be stored in the kitchen. Everything else goes into the nearby pantry and storage room. Now the cooking wall is taking on a much more “relaxed” feel. It is much more expansive. Less restricted visually. More room-like. Less kitchen-like. Potentially, a large painting on the range hood could mirror a large painting hung over the fire place at the other end of the room.
Lastly, I had to do a data dump on what might furniture-like cabinets housing the refrigerator and freezer look like. My intent was a piece that felt more like an armoire. Frankly, I have mixed feelings about the sketch as drawn. All that wood. Perhaps it would feel more furniture-like if it were painted.
But that’s for another day…
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