Appliances play a very important roll in Kitchen design.

In my private design business a discussion of the client’s appliance “wants” is always part of the initial needs assessment.

In this VESTA Blog post I want to walk you through a case study on appliance choices for a new home build.

Interviewing the Client

If you are a regular reader of the VESTA Blog, you will know I start all of my personal design projects with a needs assessment survey.

By interviewing the client, I get to know them better and begin to understand what is important to them when it comes to the design of their Kitchen.

Here are some of the questions I ask that help me understand the appliance needs of my client:

  • Are there any Universal Design features you would like to include in the design of this Kitchen?
  • Who is the main cook in the home and who else performs some type of cooking in the home?
    • How tall are they and what is the measurement from their bent elbow to the floor
  • Will there be two or more people cooking or working in this Kitchen at the same time?
  • Are there additional people regularly using this Kitchen? Children, grandchildren, parents, friends, caterers, house keeper for example.
  • Are there any special cooking activities that occur regularly in this Kitchen? For example: Home canning, baking, ethnic cooking, gourmet cooking etc.
  • Will you have a secondary Kitchen or Kitchen area in the home?
  • What brand of appliances are you considering for your Kitchen?
  • Are there any specialty appliances that you would like to include in your Kitchen?

As you can see, I do not list out all the different types of appliances available and check them off, but instead ask probing questions that will help me recommend the best appliances for the space based on the design of the room.

Appliance Shopping

As part of my process, our first step is appliance “shopping”.

In most cases this entails making an appointment at an appliance distributor’s showroom or at an appliance retail showroom.

In either case, I let the appliance representative know we are coming in for education, not to purchase that day.

After evaluating the answers to my survey questions, I will have a good idea of what direction they should go for their appliance choices.

In this case study, I knew we needed to look at built-in and integrated products to meet the design aesthetic and specific products to meet functional needs.

Let’s explore what we chose and why!

The Cooktop

It was determined that a gas cooktop was the best fuel option for my client’s cooking style, so this eliminated looking at electric cooktops.

The client requested a unit that was easy to clean so that narrowed our search down to sealed gas burner units.

Ideally a cooktop with the control knobs in the front would be great since this would make them easier to clean since grease or sauces could not easily splash on to them.

We came across a flush mount gas model with front controls in our search and it was perfect.

Flush mounting the unit into the countertop put the grates down at counter height rather than the standard 1″ to 2″ above it.

The client was not tall so this installation produced a much more comfortable cooking height than a standard top-mounted gas cooktop would have.

With the cooktop chosen it was now time to specify the hood.

The Hood

The choice for the hood was both a functional and an aesthetic one.

From a functional point of view we would need a strong blower and I specified a 1200 cfm model that allowed the motor to be mounted outside.

This would provide the power to remove grease, odors, and smoke efficiently from the greatroom, and keep the noise down since the motor was up on the roof.

Looking at it from an aesthetic point of view, the homeowner wanted something special and the sleek “sky slope” shape gave him that.

Where I was envisioning placing it, between two windows and across from the main sink, would also make it a focal point and this custom fabricated hood ended up being the perfect choice.

The Ovens

Our tour of a manufacturer’s showroom introduced the client to steam cooking and we decided this would be the perfect addition to their cooking zone.

To supplement steam cooking, a thermal/convection oven was specified as well.

We spent time looking at the different options available and choose two ovens that paired well aesthetically, picking up the same lines and handle design in both units.

When it came time to decide what height to place them at, I had the ovens positioned to place the top control panel of the steam oven at her eye level.

Since she was going to be the main user of this appliance I wanted it convenient and safe for her.

The thermal/convection oven is lower, but still functional for the times when they entertain and need both ovens.

Main Refrigeration

Large refrigeration units can dominate a Kitchen when they are finished in stainless steel.

My recommendation was to choose a paneled refrigerator so that the refrigerator would blend into the cabinetry and not become another focal point in the space.

With that in mind we then looked at the capacity needs of the homeowners.

A 30″ refrigerator column and an 18″ freezer column were paired up for the perfect solution for this family.

I placed it at the end of the island, beside the walk in pantry to make it convenient to the food storage zone, the prep zone, the cooking zone and the serving zone.

It was also important to me to provide drop off counter space on both sides of the units so there was always a place to set down an item coming in or out of the refrigerator or freezer.

Additional Refrigeration

Since this home would host a lot of guests, it was important to provide a beverage refrigerator to supplement the main refrigerator.

It was place at the opposite end of the Kitchen from the main refrigerator to provide function to the coffee, tea, wine and bar service areas.

The model specified accommodates a variety of beverages offering flexibility beyond just a wine refrigerator.

While entertaining, the end of the island with it’s wood countertop becomes the bar, and when it is just the two of them this refrigerator is handy to the cozy banquette to share a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

The Dishwasher

The final appliance to be chosen for the main Kitchen was the dishwasher for the clean-up zone.

Again, I recommended a model with a cabinet door panel so it would blend in with the island cabinetry.

Functionally we were looking for a model that featured a pullout top basket for cutlery and settings for pots & pans as well as china and crystal.

I also recommended they stay with a brand that was from the same distributor as their refrigeration and cooking equipment to make any inquiries in the future easy. They would just need to keep one number handy!

As with most of my Kitchen designs, appliances played an important roll.

Because of this I will be presenting a FREE Workshop on appliances this fall.

You can register for it here:

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I love hearing from you so if you have a comment about this blog or any others of mine, please leave me a comment below.

Founder Vestabul School of Design, Jan Rutgers

Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

4 Comments on “A Case Study: Appliances in a Custom Kitchen

    • Thanks Janet! I so glad you are still following. We should arrange a call so I can hear how you are doing on your kitchen designer journey.

  1. As always love your approach to the design and even more the end result. Thanks for share your knowledge with us!

    • Thanks Brian! I am thrilled with the hundreds of people reading the VESTA Blog each week and very much appreciate your comment!

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