Ten Top Secret Kitchen Design Tips

It's all in the details! Who knows why, but I just started thinking of how small, pesky, planning details, if overlooked, can cause pain and heartbreak if not addressed. OK, "top secret" may be just a little stretch, but not by much!

I came up with these planning secrets, largely unknown to the typical consumer, off the top of my head, and trust me, there are MANY more that I must be aware of as I slowly and carefully go about editing a kitchen plan for the last time before putting the order "to bed" as I call it, at which time there is no more time for changes. The factory begins to produce the order, and the result of these planning exercises will be known....upon installation. It can be the stuff nightmares are made of, if only thought of, say, during cabinet production, or as a surprise, during installation!

Here are just SOME of the details I'd like to share with you:

1. Size (width) of window and door casings - If cabinetry must fit between, say, a wall and a window, the size of the window casing is critical. Likewise, cabinetry fitting BETWEEN window or door casings. Casings being changed? To what size, and how will that affect cabinetry?

2. Casings and moldings colliding - Will your cabinet crown molding and window or door casings collide? That's just not right! Check floor, cabinet, and ceiling junctures.

3. Is there adequate room on the wall planned for receptacles, primarily when one walks into a room? If tall cabinets align a doorway, would there be room/depth planned in for receptacles, even if they have to be cut into the cabinet side?

4. Backsplash height - What height is perfect for you? This is adjustable, unless it is driven by the height of a tall cabinet, but should be planned in advance. Are you short in height? Or, do you have tall countertop appliances? Another critical area to look at.

5. Floor level - Is your floor wavy, as most are? Are you designing in decorative feet, valances, toekick details, or columns, which reach the floor? If so, and the above mentioned items are too short, you will experience gaps, as the cabinets are first installed at the HIGH POINT of the floor...as the floor dips, that's where you see the gaps. The cabinets in the low points are propped up with shims so that the tops of all cabinets are level to receive a level countertop.

6. Microwave - Don't assume it can easily be built in snugly, for a great, tight, look. Many microwaves have trim kits which MUST be used or the warranties will not be in effect. I've not come across any microwaves that can be built in tightly, ever.

7. Large sinks - You love the large sinks, but beware of how deep they are front to back, and if undermounted, add the rim size to determine if your faucet will fit underneath the countertop. More and more recently, I am making sink bases deeper to accommodate these large sinks. This also effects adjacent cabinetry!

8. Cooktop and oven brands, one above the other - In this configuration, make sure you use the same brand of appliance. Typically, if two different brands are used, each warranty may not be in effect. A bad scene...

9. Downdrafts - Downdrafts are tricky. If you do not use the same brand downdraft as the cooktop (this IS typically allowable) the configuration underneath the countertop may not fit with the height or depth dimension of the cooktop under the countertop, making the combination uninstallable..something to check.

10. Where do your cabinets end on a wall? Me...I HATE little slivers of wall, say, 1-2". I think it's tacky. i like to leave at LEAST 3 1/2", more typically, 4" at least between a cabinet side and, say, door casing.