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How to Plan Your Kitchen Project

Steve Sheinkopf  |  February 11, 2021  |  9 Min. Read

How to Buy Appliances

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Congratulations. You are now embarking on both the rewarding and stressful task of designing and building your new kitchen.

This article will cover all you need to know, from choosing a contractor to the exact place you should start.

Hint: You don't start your kitchen project with choosing your appliances.

You will then learn the most important appliance decision you'll have to make to dictate your kitchen's flow.

I will give you a couple of radically different case studies to determine what you want in your kitchen and home.

There will be plenty of resources at the end of this article, including a webinar and corresponding presentation.

There will be no brands in this article, just the framework to design a space right for you and your family.

Let’s get started.

How to Plan Your Kitchen Project

Below is a recent webinar we hosted about how to plan a kitchen appliance project.

Whether you watch the video below or read this blog, you'll walk away with sure-fire strategies for building your dream kitchen, choosing the right appliances for your space, and how to start.

For the full presentation, click here.

The ABCs of Kitchen Design: Architects, Builders, and Contractors

kitchen-general-contractor

 

Everyone talks about the ABCs or the basics of any process. In this case, it's literal.

Your first and most important job is to choose the best architects, builders, and contractors. You'll also need to decide which appliance stores and cabinet shops can meet your needs.

Spend 50% of your time researching your top choices in your local area.

It's easier to find reviews through Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Look at their portfolios, check their work and talk to their past and present customers.

I have finished two renovations and two store openings since 2014. One painful observation I made was good tradespeople solve problems. Bad ones cause them.

You want a sense of what they have done to understand what they will do.

Then get everything in writing.

Short on time? Get our free Appliance Buying GuideLearn More

Ask Yourself the Right Questions for Your Kitchen Space

Look at your space you’re renovating or building in for your kitchen project, and ask yourself a few questions.

  • How will you use your space?
  • Where do you find yourself doing the most in your present kitchen?
  • What is important to you?
  • How do you cook?
  • Do you cook a lot and have a big family?
  • Are there two people cooking and prepping?
  • Are you an empty nester and do not want to cook?
  • Do you not like to cook?
  • Are you trying to highlight any objects in your kitchen?

Each of the above allows or prohibits certain appliances.

In 2008, I hired Bergmeyer, a prominent architect company, to design our Framingham store. It opened in 2015.

We went to all the new formats opening, then Whole Foods, TD Bank, and a few others.

At the Burlington Crate & Barrel, one of the architects asked how I felt as we left the store.

It was an odd question.

However, Crate & Barrel's design focuses on having windows everywhere because people have a connection to their outdoor space.

Design your kitchen with that in mind. Windows, gardens, and other objects should be considered in your plan.

Lastly, and most importantly, ask who you are. What's your life situation like? Only you know that answer. 

Two Radically Different Case Studies

Case Study One

first-renovation-1First Apartment Renovation Fit for a Bachelor

 

You are looking at my apartment (featured above) renovated in 2014 with a big island, new lighting, floors, and bathrooms.

I loved this place and would still be there. If this didn't happen:

sophia

My 4th-floor apartment was hard with a baby.

You have to park the car in the front. Bring the baby up or bring the bundles to the first-floor landing, grab the baby and then battle for a parking spot.

She is now four-years-old, so it would have been easier. She could have walked into the apartment on her own.

But not when she was a baby. I had it on my brain when we moved to a Brownstone across the street.

second-renovation-and-new-lifestyleMy 2017 Brownstone Designed for Efficiency

 

I placed the kitchen in the basement of all places. It was easy to walk and place the baby on the sofa, and put the bundles away in the next area.

Case Study Two

Full-Kitchen-with-TV-in-Hood

As I had my daughter, my sister was saying goodbye to her kids off to college. She sold her house, her cottage, and bought a house on the water.

Her new kitchen (pictured above) has a beautiful view of the ocean.

In her words, all she wanted was to be able to look at the ocean with her coffee in the morning.

ocean-view-in-kitchenOcean View in Kitchen

 

She even designed her TV to be part of the range hood to not interrupt her view of the ocean.

So you have to figure out what is important to you, what to highlight, and pick the right people to help  you with your project. 

But now, where do you start?

Where Do You Start Your Kitchen Appliance Project?

This may come as a surprise to you, but you should always start your kitchen project with your sink.

You use your sink more than any appliance in your kitchen.

Yale-Appliance-Kitchen-SinksKitchen Sinks and Faucets at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

Kitchen designers always talk about centrally locating the most-used appliances. These appliances would be your kitchen your sink, dishwasher, and stovetop.

This is known as the Kitchen Triangle method.

You should not be more than a foot or two away from any of your most used appliances.

Starting with choosing where your sink goes makes sense.

You also don't need to vent your sink, so it's perfect for an island. As different as I am from my sister, the sink is on the island in all our kitchens.

Why Benihana May Not be Your Best Kitchen to Model

hibachi-entertainment-cooking

When I was selling appliances eons ago, clients would say I like entertaining my friends while cooking.

I always used to think of the restaurant, Benihana, where cooking is the entertainment.

You can place your cooking appliances on your island like Benihana, but you have to vent like Benihana with an island hood.

If you love to cook, it has to be a large, high CFM hood.

Do NOT do this.

You can downdraft a pro range. Downdrafts, in general, are last-resort options only. If you plan well, you won't need it.

The Single Most Important Appliance Decision for Your Kitchen

If you want to make your cabinet designer scream, tell them you are changing your stove and cooktop to a range or vice versa.

Choosing between a range or cooktop and wall oven are two different designs.

Range vs cooktop over wall oven

Your stove is centrally located with the stovetop over your oven. Stoves are better for smaller kitchens especially but can be part of any sizes from 20 to the largest sizes of 48 and 60 inches.

Stoves have become loaded with features, especially at the largest 48 and 60 inch sizes. Larger ranges have more features like Sous Vide, induction, grills, griddles, and French tops, along with steam ovens and warming drawers.

Stovetops now mirror stoves and ranges with the same features and sizes. Like a range, you should centrally locate the top.

However, you can place the wall oven anywhere because you are only checking on your oven a couple of times, not constantly stirring.

Advantages to a wall oven are more advanced controls. It is also easy to accessorize with steam, speed, drawers, and other options.

Choosing one of these options will determine the flow of your kitchen.

Choosing Ancillary Cooking Appliances

bosch-kitchen-at-yale-appliance-in-hanover-2Bosch Kitchen at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

The default for many people is buying a double oven. I think people are traumatized by Thanksgiving, thinking they need two ovens.

You may indeed need two ovens if you cook. However, you now have an array of speed, steam, microwave, and drawer options.

Placing a microwave or steam oven over a single oven makes a lot of sense to centralized.

However, most of these options now fold down or pull out so they can be placed anywhere.

For example, our microwave is way away from the wall oven because it's used so sparingly.

Know you have options.

Choosing Ventilation for Your Kitchen Design Plan

Wolf-Kitchen-at-Yale-Appliance-in-FraminghamWooden Ventilation Hood Above a Professional Range at Yale Appliance in Framingham

 

If you have ever been in a house that smells like yesterday's fish dinner or ever set off a fire alarm, then the kitchen is poorly ventilated.

I already mentioned downdrafts. Let's talk about venting properly.

CFM: CFM is the industry term for cubic feet per minute or how many air cubes are exhausted per minute. A 500 CFM hood will exhaust 500 cubes of air.

Capture: Capture is overlooked. It causes most of the problems. Capture is the height, width, and depth of the hood.

Smoke is never immediately exhausted.

It is channeled and then exhausted. A shallow 1200 CFM hood will not work because the smoke will billow past, especially on the front burners.

If you cook, buy a hood 24 inches or greater, especially over a pro range.

Duct Run: Follow gravity. Smoke travels upward. (This is another reason why downdrafts don't work effectively). Using elbows in your duct run decreases efficiency as well.

Duct Size: 4-inch duct is for dryers. You should have larger ducts of 6-10 inches, depending on the output of your stove.

Make-Up Air (for Massachusetts Residents Only): In Massachusetts, any blower over 400 CFM will require a return of the same amount. It's easy to plan with your HVAC contractor before construction and harder after the fact.

Choosing Refrigeration for Your Kitchen Design Plan

Counter-Depth-French-Door-Refrigerators-at-Yale-Appliance-(1)-(1) Refrigerators at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

It seems odd the sequence of planning. After all, a refrigerator with a stove is the focal point of your kitchen.

While that may be true, refrigerators are easy to incorporate into a design.

You can place a refrigerator anywhere because you aren't in your refrigerator as much and only retrieve your food.

They are available in standard sizes. With the acceptance of column style refrigerators, you can place a refrigerator anywhere.

Are you a lefty and want the refrigerator on the left and the freezer on the right? You can do that easily.

You can customize any type of refrigerator, all refrigerator, all freezer, or combination anywhere.

Choosing Ancillary Refrigeration

True-Undercounter-RefrigeratorsUndercounter Wine Coolers, Beverage Centers, and Drawer Refrigeration at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

Maybe it's because I have a small child, but having a set of drawers for her is convenient.

You can place small refrigeration, like wine coolers, beverage centers, and icemakers, anywhere in your kitchen design.

These items are commonly referred to as "point of use." Someplace them in convenient spots.

Have questions? Click here to check out our Learning Center.

Three Problems to Consider Before Buying Appliances

1. Delivery

In many cases, you will be ordering 600-800 pound appliances. Who you trust with your order should have a proven track record of delivery.

Read More: What You Should Expect From Appliance Delivery

2. Installation

Installation is the newest hot potato. The contractors have started to push back as the newest appliances have been harder to install.

So who does it? And better yet, can they do it?

3. Service

I have to mention this because nothing ever seems to work as it should in the appliance industry. The pandemic has only worsened a bad situation with the added availability issues.

Appliances break and need tune-ups while service is a well-documented nightmare.

Our service team logged 37,061 service calls from December 2019 to November 2020. We found the average appliance service rate was 9.7% within the first year.

As you can note below, we surpass any deliveries or installations with the number of service stops we have daily.

Yale-Today-Delivery-Service-and-Installation

 

Only 5% of the retailers have any type of service. Before you buy the Wi-Fi-enabled pro range with a steam oven, you should check to see if there is local, competent service.

Read More: Most Reliable Appliance Brands for 2021

How to Plan Your Kitchen Appliance Project: Key Takeaways

Sub-Zero-Kitchen-Featuring-Column-RefrigerationSub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

First, don't start. Plan.

Good people will help you from every perspective with much less stress. Spend most of your time finding the best in every facet.

I wish I had one in one of my renovations.

Understand the space, what you want to highlight, if anything.

It sounds strange starting at the sink, especially from a guy who sells appliances, but centrally locating a sink works on many levels.

Choosing between a range or cooktop and wall oven is the only important appliance decision to make for planning.

Vent properly. It makes a difference.

After that, understand your refrigerator and cooking options.

Additional Resources

Have questions about appliance? Get the Yale Appliance Buying Guide with features, specs, and detailed profiles of all the major brands. Well over 580,000 people have read a Yale Guide. 

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on September 6, 2019 and has been updated for accuracy, freshness, and comprehensiveness.

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

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Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.

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