The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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A White Kitchen - Tricia's Interesting Design Choice

I'm pleased to show you a blogging buddy's kitchen. The kitchen is Tricia's from Avolli, the online store for Swedish antique furniture. Gorgeous stuff, all different price points, and some of my favorite things are the antique rag rugs. Just love them!

Tricia's kitchen is very lovely, but there is one feature that immediately jumped out at me...a feature that I have never designed into a kitchen, which is a big reason why I find her kitchen so compellingly interesting (besides the red, which I love!) I immediately questioned Tricia on it first thing. Questions surrounding any angle I could think of.  To my surprise, my questions were met with a "huh, should there be an issue here?"

OK, what's the issue? Tricia has her cooktop situated in front of her window.

I know it sounds as if I next expected to tell a story of the kitchen police visiting Tricia's home, but trust me when I say, this is a highly unusual location for a cooktop, let alone a range top.

Tricia reports (after my countless crack designer questions) that there is zero issue with cooking fumes, grease and moisture landing on her windows, woodwork or curtains above, zero. Tricia has a downdraft ventilation system behind the cooktop. I asked Tricia repeated questions all around this issue, and of course, I believe what she reports. Maybe it's a testament to the efficiency of the Viking downdraft.

Here's more on Tricia's kitchen, a Q&A:


What were your original goals? What was most important to you?

When we purchased this house in 1998, the original kitchen had builder made cabinets, which in our case were poorly constructed and designed.  There were no tracks on the drawers, there was dead space in the design, the appliances were outdated, and overall it was unappealing to us.  We wanted a brand new kitchen with top of the line appliances and beautiful details in the overall design but within the existing floor plan.

Were your goals achieved?

In my opinion we did achieve a beautiful kitchen with wonderful details.  The door panels on the cabinet ends, the dentil moldings, columns and plinths that flank the cabinet ends, the built-in hutch with internal lights all contribute to what I find to be quality and beauty.

Tell me about the window behind the cooktop. Did anyone try to talk you out of it? Were you nervous about it?

The windows are part of the original floor plan.  We could not remove them, or change the kitchen footprint, without making major changes to the rest of the house.  I was not nervous about having the cook top there because that is where the original cook top was so it seemed ok to me.  Honestly it never occurred to me to not have it there.  I enjoy being able to look out the window when I cook.

Did you work with a kitchen designer or cabinet maker or what? What was that experience like?

I did work with a kitchen designer and remember it as a good experience.  I had strong ideas and opinions and was highly detail oriented in the process.  It is my understanding that the installer took some issues with the designer though.  Something about designing a kitchen that was nearly impossible to install??? I don’t remember the issues clearly but do remember him grumbling throughout the installation.

What did you want in your appliances? What was important to you?

We definitely wanted high end appliances and felt strongly about an integrated Sub-Zero and dishwasher, double wall ovens and the six burner Viking cook top.  I wanted the double wall ovens because I have a bad back and bending down to put things in or take things out of a traditionally designed oven would not work well for me. We have loved having two ovens and not having to struggle or juggle when planning big meals or for holidays.  My husband wanted the large, single bowl sink for washing big pots, etc. We both wanted the island prep sink which had become quite popular at that time.

Do you cook much? Do you like to cook?

The first part of my marriage I absolutely loved to cook and would read cookbooks in bed at night.  It was fun to created elaborate home made meals to dazzle our guests…and I did all that on an old and outdated kitchen.  By the time we bought this house and renovated this kitchen my children were in 2nd grade and pre-school and were very picky eaters.  This became disheartening to me because I would create a wonderful meal and they wouldn’t eat it.  As time when by their willingness to try new things did change and I was cooking less and less and resorting to the easy meals that I knew they would eat.  Now that I have one off to college I am starting to rediscover cooking, to my husband's delight, and look forward to the weekends when I can devote an afternoon to creating something special.  

I think it's a very nice renovation, and I love the family room too. Thanks, Tricia, for sharing your kitchen with me! I'm secretly jealous of your cooktop under the window! 

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Reader Comments (18)

Ahhhhh, that range top in front of a window is setting off every alarm I have. With a downdraft no less. Ahhhhhh! It's the kitchen design equivalent of touching the third rail. I've always thought that the combination of a window, a range top and a downdraft would cause instant catastrophe and invoke the ire of the kitchen gods. I still wouldn't do it, but it's nice to know someone did and lived to tell the tale.

October 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Anater

It is interesting to hear the tale, isn't it? Funny, I heard from Tricia again. She said she had seen a similar installation on HGTV, and I told her that's the second installation of its type in existence.

Kidding aside, I'm actually very glad to hear that she's had no problems with this type of installation. I mean, it looks great...wouldn't everyone want to be able to make that choice with no concerns? I can't do it, but because of Tricia's experience, with some prodding, and a few sign offs, and some code checking, I would not immediately refuse as I normally would have. The woodwork could be changed to tile/engineered stone too as a thought, or corian, made to look like the wood molding, perhaps.

October 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I don't know... it just really seems like there should be problems with this idea. And especially so with what looks to be a gas range. I do know that thsoe who have downdraft vents with gas ranges end up not being as happy as they would like to be because they tend to pull the gas flame to the back of the stove, thereby heating only half of the pan! But, on the other hand, if it works, it works, and she's clearly happy with it. Thank you for sharing this concept.

October 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

I completely agree on an "intellectual basis" that it is totally wrong to put a gas cooktop under a window (heaven forbid you add a window treatment). And a downdraft is theoretically a disaster compared to any other venting option. But the heartstrings tug. In my case, I offset the cooktop (a GE Monogram 36" induction cooktop which you probably saw at your training) with an off center but relatively effective Futuro Jupiter 24" round just to the left of the window with the Pacific view. A very happy compromise!

The other side of the induction -- high BTU equivalent without gas where impractical -- is the ability to do low temp/long time stocks and reductions and melting of chocolate, etc. The low temp advantages of induction are definately under-reported!

Susan -- FYI, I commented during your remuneration discourse which was subsequently (and rightly) edited. Thank you for a cool outlook during stressful times.

With Aloha,
A fellow CKD

October 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOahu CKD

I have a smooth cooktop and a downdraft in front of a wall of counter to ceiling windows. Never thought it could be a problem to have a cooktop in front of a window. *scratching my stupid European head* I love to look out over the deck and pond when I cook!

But I see the problem with downdraft and gas. I have a gas cooktop in our outdoor kitchen and I only like to use it when it's absolutely calm.

October 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

Besides the cooktop issue, notice there is no countertop space next to either side of the refrigerator? A KD was involved so maybe the photo is an optical illusion?

October 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

Joseph, thanks for your comment. I'm not sure if that is a significant problem if the cooktop and downdraft are the same brands. I've never had a call back in regard to that issue, just anecdotally.

Oahu, do I know you? I think I may. :) Your view sounds beautiful, and again, the solution you found works for your purposes, and we know that's what is important. Love induction too!

Connie....you've been gone too long...but then, so have I, but I think I'm gearing up again. I'm absolutely jealous of your view! Thanks for adding the verbal description...sounds really lovely.

Doug, the oven is next to the refrigerator, which is on the end. Presumably, the island serves as a one step away countertop.

October 7, 2009 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Hi Susan!
The psycological discomfort would steer me away from the range/window dilema. But onto another thing: I bet the disgruntled installer has by now added this kitchen to his portfolio as his proudest moment.

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkatiedid

My oven is under a window that I added. The oven happens to be on center in a very long great room and absolutely is brought to life by the additional view to the outside. Sometimes constraints lead to new ways of thinking.

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnn A.

Hey katiedid....haha, of COURSE you're right about the portfolio!! :)

Ann, ok, you're the third in existence to do that. :)I'd love to see pictures of it, I really would.

October 14, 2009 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I am so glad I saw this! I bought a house with the idea of putting the kitchen appliances different places (the previous owner had done a cheap 'renovation') and wanted to put the stove in front of a window.

Everyone I talked to started shrieking about noooo it was a bad idea, yadda yadda.... but I would love to look out over the back yard when I cook... rather than a blank wall. I don't use the fan (its a recirculating one, so does zilch, really), and it would make the kitchen much more useable. So, I'm going ahead with this! Wooohoo!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

My kitchen is red very red I'm lost on the living room color. Sence these rooms run together I'm thinking of something in the orange hue not bright but muted color. I just don't know if this is to much? also from my kit/livi you can see the bath that I painted purple. I love this color and need this all pulled together. With the living room color any ideas


October 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGale C

I would say a rich cream color, maybe slightly on the orange/red side. You could even find a roll of that short wallpaper that goes just under the ceiling, a pattern that has the purple from your bathroom and the red from your kitchen. If you're changing the carpet, too, it should be safe to use a darker orange color, but like you said, not bright orange.


October 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJane

I am looking for pictures of kitchens with a window behind the stove. Please send one to my email address if your kitchen is set up this way. thankyou

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

Wow, yeah that shirk when I think of a cooktop there. I really think it depends on the cooktop though. Generally speaking, I don't think you would want to chance your arm.

April 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterR Fuessel

My gas cooktop is under a window with a downdraft as is my stepmom's! Neither of us have ever had a problem and both love it. I certainly wouldn't add curtains mind you. Lol.

June 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeartree

Neither of us have ever had a problem and both love it. I certainly wouldn't add curtains mind you. Lol.

December 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfind a cell phone number

I googled "has a designer ever placed a stove in front of a window" on the outside chance that I would find 'ONE' that had.... seems there are plenty of people who have, along with a chorus of nay-sayers. I guess I need to decide which side of the fence I come out on. I am in the middle of planning a reno for my 1970's kitchen, and am considering everything because I want to be sure my new kitchen is perfect for me! My cousin who owns an upscale appliance store was the first to suggest it.... she has an amazing wall of windows in her kitchen, and a cooktop with a telescopic hood situated above the window. Basically, the window is her backsplash. It looks great!.

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna D.T.

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