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I write about a lot of varied things on this blog.   Today I’m going to open my  mind to you so you can step inside the creative (or whatever you want to call what goes on in there) process, as it pertains to cabinet design.  The thing about designing kitchens and baths is that it  doesn’t  only require vision in the aesthetic sense but also in the functional sense.  We have to be creative in terms of the space constraints while being very aware of  function.


Yikes! I prefer to believe they left in a hurry. The pressure's on with all those doll eyes upon me.


This is a nursery equipped to serve the nanny.  She’s got an under the counter refrigerator to store bottles, baby food and wine whatever she wishes for herself.  In addition there is a small sink and a microwave.  There is also storage and counter top work space (underneath all the debris).  That’s a lot of function packed into less that six lineal feet!  The lucky owners of this oceanfront abode are away for the summer, as is the custom in Palm Beach.


I have been asked to replace this set up but to keep the same foot print and function.  The cabinets are to be more in keeping for this  traditionally styled beach house.


The backsplash (area between counter and upper cabinets) is really high, about 22″.  Not only does this mean less cabinet space but it’s a bit of a stretch unless you’re a very tall nanny.  In addition, there is nothing tying the upper cabinets to the lower cabinets and since they do not go wall to wall it looks as if the uppers are just hanging out, hovering over the base cabinets, not a great look.  In general the layout is off kilter.  The microwave requires a deeper cabinet and it sticks out unattractively on the left.


The appliances are old and will appear even older surrounded by new cabinets.  Remember that if you are investing in a new kitchen it’s penny wise and pound foolish to try to build your new cabinets around your older appliances.   I will suggest that we replace the microwave with a small built-in model in stainless steel.   For this I know I must use a minimum of 24″ out of the 70″ I have available.  The refrigerator is important too.  This one is old and it’s an odd size, about 19″.  The new one will have to be 24″ and I will reccommend that we build it in for a more custom look and to unify the small space.  These types of built-in panel- accepting- under- the- counter refrigerators are either 15″ wide or 24″ wide.  I certainly can’t detract from the function by going smaller so I will give them more refrigerator space by going with 24″ wide.  Now that I know what I’m doing with the appliances I will work the cabinet layout around that.

Testing the waters...


Here’s phase one showing the larger ref, a built-in micro and an attempt to even things up and connect the uppers to the bases but it’s still not quite there yet.  I usually draw a free-hand sketch to work out my initial thoughts.  The final solution (I drew it using Chief Architect) is to use 42″ upper side cabinets instead of the existing 30″ uppers.  Then since the microwave needs a deeper cabinet (15″), I moved it to the middle and raised it up to create some design interest and to take advantage of the tall ceiling.  I made the side backsplashes 16″ high with the center at 19″.  I centered the 24″ upper microwave over a 21″ wide sink cabinet which allows the bigger refrigerator on the right and does not lessen the size of the existing drawers on the left.  I’ll need a minimum of 3/4″ panel to the right of the ref.  That makes a total of 24 3/4″ with ref and panel.  I will duplicate that on the left making the 4 drawer cabinet 24 3/4″ wide as well.  This allows the upper side cabinets to be equal at 23 1/4″ each.  Last but not least, I am going to suggest using matching wood beadboard above the 4″ backsplash to tie the uppers to the lowers and add a small crown moulding on the top to finish it off.

There you have it!


Here are the goods and why I picked them:

Kholer faucet K7342 in brushed nickel finish– It’s a traditional faucet in a finish that will blend with the stainless steel of the microwave.  The height makes it user friendly yet it will fit perfectly in the space.

If you have your hands full the handles are easy to turn on and off.

Kohler undermount entertainment sink K5848– I love the shape of this sink.  I double checked the size and it fits in our 21″ wide cabinet.  It’s a more updated undermount model but it’s still cast iron.  I’m specifying Biscuit to go with the cabinets but I will also suggest a stainless option which would also work.

SHARP R1214OVER THE COUNTER MICROWAVE– This model fits into our 24″ wide space.  It requires a 15″ deep cabinet, check.  It has a light below and I happen to know that Sharp makes a kick-ass microwave.

CABINETS BY HOLIDAY KITCHENS– flat panel with applied moulding. Finish, selected by designer, to be Snowdrift paint with Mink Wash.  I chose Holiday cabinets because we have some custom size requirements and I can order Holiday in fractional increments.  They also offer a wide array of finishes and door styles which is important in a higher end application.

Cabinets are something like this.

U-Line Under the counter refrigerator – This model offers an overlay trim kit option which will allow us to apply a door panel to match the cabinets.

What do you think?  You see there’s no mystery behind the magic of design.  Those are the steps in a nutshell.  I would love to walk you through the steps of your own potential magic.  It’s really a lot of fun when it all comes together, kind of like solving a puzzle AND you get to continue to enjoy it everyday!





Last night I had the pleasure of attending the holiday celebration held by the NKBA Florida Treasure Coast Chapter.  The party was held at the amazing Florida Builder Appliances Showroom in West Palm Beach.  The event was a fund raiser for Hugs and Kisses, Inc. Not only was it a fun night out, but I also had the chance to browse all the latest and greatest of the appliance world.  At one point, appliance diva Stephanie Walsh said, “Come over here. Have I  got something to show you!”  She then ushered us over the one of the most intriguing appliances I’ve seen in a while.  Meet the Gaggenau Lift Oven.  It’s the quintessential space saving oven in a functional design installed right between to your upper cabinets.  Totally cool and I had a lot of fun pushing that button to magically raise and lower the unit.  (It doesn’t take much to entertain me).  Why the lift and not a regular oven door, you ask?  Here’s what Gaggnau has to say about the amazing “lift” oven.

Experience the unprecedented ease that brings sheer cooking pleasure into the kitchen. Gaggenau introduces the 24-inch Lift Oven with the LiftMatic function for unique oven loading and unloading. With the simple push of a button, the Lift Oven’s glass ceramic base lowers directly from the oven to the countertop, where food dishes can be easily loaded and then raised into the cooking cavity. Since heat rises, the heat remains in the oven cavity, resulting in minimal energy loss during the lift operation. The Lift Oven’s functionality increases safety, as the need to reach into a hot oven to remove food has been eliminated. Foods are easily moved from the workspace to the lowered base, including breads and pizza that can be cooked to perfection directly on the glass ceramic base, without additional trays or non-stick baking products. Workflow is maximized as movement between food preparation areas to the oven is minimized. Opportunity for spills in the time from the countertop to the oven door is diminished. The innovative design of the Lift Oven with built-in placement in top cabinet locations or on a kitchen wall provides versatile options for smaller kitchens and opens up additional cabinet space in larger kitchens.

This fully integrated oven features 11 heating methods, including convection. The oven also provides automatic temperature recommendation and precise electronic temperature control. Gaggenau, remaining true to the credo of “Form follows function”, maintains ease in all facets of the cooking process, including the task of cleaning the Lift Oven, with the highly effective pyrolytic self-cleaning program that burns off splashes and residues left behind by cooked food. The oven is encased in a sleek stainless steel-tinted glass front, illuminated by halogen lighting that provides a luminous view of the interior, displaying perfectly prepared food.

You too can see the Gaggenau Lift Oven and much more at Florida Builder Appliances.  It’s worth a visit if you are thinking of a new kitchen or just an appliance upgrade.  Stephanie Walsh and Florida Builder Appliances are listed as one of my favorite local resources on this site.  If you go, let me know what you find.



The Frankfurt Kitchen 1926 Wikipedia
So where were we?  As I recall, we were examining the roots of the heart of the home (Click on Part I here.) to see just how we got from our origins to where we are now.  Today I will show you the first MOD(ERN) kitchen.
Although cooking made it to the indoors pretty quickly, water pipes in cities were not commonly laid until the end of the 19th century. Open shelves were the original go-to storage and coal fired stoves ruled. Cupboards, or cabinets, were first used by the upper classes to protect contents from dust, steam and smoke.  The middle class kitchen was were the family lived with the living rooms and studies saved for special times.  Sound familiar?
The first standardizations for the kitchen came from the German brand Poggenphol (est. 1892).  In case you ever wondered, this is where we got the ergonomically pleasing counter top height of 36″.  These new guidelines were the result of time-motion studies  known at Taylorism.  As women increasingly found the need to aquire factory jobs, the need for efficiency in the kitchen increased and the Frankfurt Kitchen was born in 1926. I guess you could call its creator, Margarete Schutte-Lihotzky the first kitchen designer!  The design was influenced by railway dining cars of the day with two main objectives, to save precious time and make modern convenience affordable to the masses. These two priorities still endure so we’ll keep them.  What can we chuck?  Maybe the closed-in tight quarters and the limited counter space?
The pre-historic Chemex Coffee Maker also on show at the MOMA

Margarete’s Creation on Exhibit at the MOMA
Check out this exhibit which opened September 15th at the MOMA in NYC.  This examination of modern food prep is called Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen. spanning the last century of Western cookery — from the architecture of the kitchen itself to the introduction of newer and stranger gadgets, like Chemex coffee pots and even Tupperware!  The show runs until March 11, 2011, and yes I’m already planning another jaunt to the B.A.!! 
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