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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« Buh Bye 2009 - Hello 2010! | Main | Notes on a Kitchen Design Career »

Kitchen Design & Floorplan - Holiday Edition

We still have one more huge holiday to go this week, but for those who are just fresh from hosting visiting family and friends in your home or for those who endured challenging kitchen floorplans (sounds like a therapy session topic) tell me the following about functioning or visiting in your kitchen, or any kitchen you were in over the holidays:

what did you love?

what did you hate?

what must you change?

what worked surprisingly well?

what was a mistake?

what was frustrating?

what was the best idea?

These questions are purposely very open ended. Pick your kitchen issue (whatever it is-traffic, appliance placement, dish storage, etc. etc. and expand as you wish.)

Answer any question or questions you like, tell me all about your likes/dislikes, and add more answers over this weeks' experiences and New Years' weekend as well.

Image of Ina Garten's kitchen from House Beautiful.

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Reader Comments (5)

Oh I Ina Garten's barn Addition (or at least I think it's a barn). I am aware after 4 days of family cooking-I want more drawers and a place for people to sit at counter/island. Goal for 2010-reno 1983 kitchen.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

I did Christmas lunch in my father-in-law's kitchen.

what did you love?
The counters are at just the right height for me (a bit lower than the ones at home) and the sink with draining boards both sides are great for chopping on and throwing the waste bits into the sink.

what did you hate?
Old style cooker, so I had to crawl about on the floor to get the chicken in and out of the oven. No oven gloves just folded tea towels, so I've got a few burns from that too.

what must you change?
I brought the bin back indoors. It went outside to start with because the baby kept getting into it, but you really do need a bin indoors in this weather.

I prepared the cake and stuffing ahead of time because there aren't any helpful appliances (e.g. electric mixer, blender, kettle, toaster, microwave, freezer, etc). I'm glad this isn't my kitchen all year round!

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfrancois

(feel free to not post this Susan, Happy Holidays & best wishes for the New Year!)
I hate my kitchen I hate my kitchen I hate my kitchen.
That being said, I prepared the Christmas dinner for 13 and packed it all up & served at my daughter's larger condo.
The top of my stove that sits right against the wall (I've roasted enough turkeys now to know the place really won't burn down) is caved in (I think someone sat on it!)and 1 burner has never worked. When times were better, I had discussed renovating with my landlords, but we are not in a position to do that now.
There is about 30" of usable counter for prep. I bought an island, intending it to be work surface, but it has morphed into office space.

I find it very important in this situation to have the right small tools. I waited to make the spinach/artichoke dip at my daughter's and there was no garlic press and no cutting board to mince! (can you even believe she's going with an Italian fireman and doesn't have a garlic press)

Yes to extra side appliances like the crock pot, roaster, toaster oven etc - so I do see the point of the induction burner, but without counter, it would not be practical here. I made the appetizer meatballs with a Lingonberry reduction sauce in the crock pot, & packed the whole crock pot in a plastic waste basket to ride in the back of the truck.

In this situation it is imperative to clean as you go,
and make a game plan in advance.
I planned on letting the chocolate ricotta cake set up and chill outside in the snow - but that had to be thought through.
Enough about the prep - you were asking about the kitchens,
my point is to not be deterred from enjoying cooking even in the worst kitchen!

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChloe C.

Hi Susan, I just came back from visiting the family (my parents) and the kitchen was quite an interesting place.

I loved the counter-tops she had: so beautiful and heat resistant.

I hated the windows: way too old and shoddy, I wish they would change them already.

I think I would have to change the windows; they would look so much nicer if they replaced them with nice new ones.

The only real mistake we had was on the pudding: we accidentally put some flour into the pudding and as a result had an interesting concoction which was supposedly pudding.

The most frustrating part of the day probably was just getting there (it was all snow and ice on the roads, very dangerous).

The best idea of the night (that's a tough one) I guess would be to go with roasting the chicken instead of frying it; it tasted great and left a lovely aroma in the air.

I have to add that I loved the toaster: it had a nice sleek look and was great for making buttered garlic bread and it was so easy to clean afterword.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph A.

I like your blog site a lot because you make a lot of sense. The questions of what do you like, what would you change, and so forth are part of any logical sequence for a kitchen remodeling. But what I don’t see nearly enough (and I’m always looking for material for my own blog site) is what to do with a kitchen that is (1) too small and (2) destined to remain too small.

The picture you posted is of a kitchen that couldn’t possibly be wrong. But, if perchance, there were changes a person did want to make in that kitchen, with that amount of space, it would be easily done.

But what do you do with a cracker box? My mother-in-law has a kitchen that I would personally love to dynamite. And since she has already paid $13,000 to put in new countertops and re-face the existing cabinets, what she has for a kitchen is the news. But I do find myself thinking about that kitchen from time to time (because I often help with large meals). If I could do anything with that kitchen, what could I do to improve it, keeping in mind that it must maintain the existing footprint?

European minimalist kitchen designs are a solution, except that they don’t really belong in an American tract home. But some of those, with their round designs and such, would, if dropped into that space, solve the problem quite nicely.

The problem is that you have a small oblong kitchen with a dining area at one end, the stove at the other, and just about nothing in the way of countertops because everything is on top of everything else. And, when you install the traditional, monolithic box-style cabinets that are the norm in this country, the end design is both ho-hum and not particularly functional. So, what doe a body do then?

Not everyone is going to bang out a wall to expand an existing kitchen. So the too-small kitchen they have is what they will end up after remodeling it. What can be done to help them?

January 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

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