Planning A Kitchen? Address Your Appliances, First — Here’s Why…

Continuing our “next life” series … the brilliant boomer, Carla Aston, agreed to chime in on the topic and provide a guest post on kitchen design. I’m so delighted she’s sharing her experiences and expertise with us! Enjoy this gem by Carla and read more from her at her Designed blog.


Thank you, Mitzi, for allowing me a little space over here on your blog to talk about kitchens and design with you! I must say, I feel like you and I both are getting more finely tuned these days with what we want out of life, what directions we purposefully want to go, and how we will get there. Maturity does that for you, it heightens focus and gives you clarity. 🙂


I love that Mitzi knows her mind and that I can humbly follow along with her journey, learning from her as I go.


Knowing your mind, taking a broad look at your future with the experience that your past has taught you, is really key in planning any kind of design project. Before you can remodel or build a kitchen or design any room in your home, you need to step back and define your goals. A designer, whether it’s a professional or the homeowner themselves, cannot deliver an end result if the goals are not distinctly defined.


Mitzi preaches this to boomers and I’m totally on board with her message. So many times, projects can get bogged down and even come to screeching halt, because homeowners cannot identify their end goals and take a realistic view of what they want. It’s easy to lose sight of your vision of the end result or have original goals change throughout the design of the project. Keep revisiting those throughout your project planning stage to make sure you’re keeping on track.


When planning a kitchen, one thing that dictates much of the expense of the project, is your appliances. Appliances can add value to a home and surely enhance and improve your lifestyle when adequately matched with your needs. When I’ve visited with the people at Thermador at KBIS the past two years, they have stressed the question that they want to ask their customers, “Do you cook?”


Thermador is definitely a great brand for a cook. However, if you take an honest look at how you work in your kitchen and how you spend your time, you might find that your kitchen is mostly there for show and only used in the morning to make coffee. In that case, minimizing big expenses on appliances might be in order.


Appliances are important to think about first, because the cabinetry and all the other beautiful surfaces are designed around these important pieces. This is one area where I want my clients to go shopping on their own and learn all they can about the appliances they want in their new kitchens. I want them to evaluate their cooking habits, what they like to eat and drink, and then, of course, we can find the appliances that will best serve that lifestyle. Once they have their wish list of appliances, we can plan them into the space or in fact, plan the space around them.


For example, I designed this kitchen for a homeowner who really didn’t cook that much. Although they wanted to remodel the kitchen to be open to the rest of the space and to the view beyond, they didn’t need a big gas range or want to focus on the “cooking” aspect of the kitchen.


If they had wanted a big gas range, I likely would have located it on the back wall of the kitchen where the custom designed “hutch” was built. Instead, we did a glass cooktop w/downdraft that blends in beautifully with the soapstone counter. The attention is now focused on what the homeowner loved and wanted to showcase, her collection of dishes and the cottage/farmhouse/country style she enjoyed so much.




Before - Farmhouse Kitchen_


Before 2 - Farmhouse Kitchen




After - Farmhouse Kitchen, Designer - Carla Aston, Photographer - Miro Dvorscak


After - Farmhouse Kitchen, Designer - Carla Aston, Photographer - Miro Dvorscak


In this next kitchen remodel, we had exactly the opposite scenario. This homeowner loved to cook and specifically wanted a Wolf cooktop. We expanded this cooking area, relocating the room’s return air and pushing the oven stack down the wall. We were then able to give the Wolf some visual breathing room with the area surrounding it. The curvy hood and custom tiles imported from Portugal feature that cooking area and highlight the homeowner’s love for cooking. It became the the focal point of the room.




Before - White Kitchen Overall




White Kitchen - Hood Detail, Carla Aston - Designer, Photographer - Miro Dvorscak


White Kitchen - Overall, Carla Aston - Designer, Photographer - Miro Dvorscak


I love how Mitzi has focused on the oven she wants for her next house and also, the appliance she absolutely can live without. I’m with her. As an empty nester, I am not juggling dinner for 4 served at 4 different times a night because of activities. While most people love their warming drawer, I’m simply at that stage where I don’t need one anymore. I put one in my new kitchen that I remodeled last fall and I think I’ve used it twice. 🙁


Okay, like Mitzi shared in this post of her kitchen must-haves, I’m going to share the #1 reason I decided to remodel my kitchen last fall. Yes, it was because of an appliance. And my teeth.


You see, I’m an ice-cruncher. I’m that annoying person that you hear at work in the next cubicle crunching on their ice! It’s a bad habit I’ve tried to break, my dentist has gotten on me about it. Wouldn’t you know it, she’s an ice cruncher too. 🙂 And she shared with me, the investment she made in her kitchen and I just about died. I made the same purchase!


The Nug from Scotsman:


Nugget Ice Machine-sm


It makes the most wonderful soft nugget ice you can possibly imagine. I adore it and although pricey, it was entirely worth the investment. I first learned of it when remodeling a client’s kitchen and it was top priority on her list. It had just come out at the time and we were excited to see it in action. While I was balking at moving forward with our kitchen remodel (I see the mess and fuss my clients deal with while remodeling and know it all too well). I was on the verge of just pulling the plug so as not to be bothered when my husband said, “I’ll buy you that ice machine you want.”


Okay! I was ready to remodel!


Now, my favorite want is not the same as someone else’s. You may want a triple compartment sink or a hot water dispenser or a high flame for wok cooking. Whatever the personal needs and desires, consider them carefully and prioritize.


Just remember not to get carried away. It’s easy to want all the latest and greatest tools and devices. I’ve been to homes where the kitchens were so full of appliances that there wasn’t much cabinet space.


So, take an honest look at your needs now, your future needs, and plan accordingly. Until then, check out some amazing appliances in your local showrooms and in your friends’ homes. There is so much information out there today, you’re bound to be able to access everything you need to make some smart decisions on one of the most expensive investments in your kitchen, your appliances.


BTW, I happen to be in agreement with Mitzi on this aspect of kitchen design when dealing with cabinetry. Great minds think alike! I think my post, about the most dramatic way to impact a kitchen remodel with cabinetry, went up around the same time as hers. 🙂


Thanks, Mitzi, for letting me share with your readers. Designing a kitchen can be challenging, but once you come to terms with the expense and the trouble, if remodeling, it is so worth it. My kitchen is so easy to live in and I’m thrilled to have a place I’m proud of and enjoy being in. I cook more, keep it tidier, and take great pleasure in the special features I incorporated into the design. My mantra, “design influences behavior”, has played itself out in my own kitchen.


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