I recently shared my list of top kitchen features and amenities
for my upcoming renovation, and then asked readers to chime in on whether they agreed or disagreed with my selections, and what they would add to their own list of kitchen must-haves. The responses were tremendous, with so many great additions that I hadn’t considered. So here are 20 of the top suggestions from those responses. Now if only there were a genie to grant us all our wishes.
1. Smaller kitchen.
One of the most interesting comments comes from magada
, who offers a plug for smaller kitchens: “A small kitchen means I can spend more on the quality, [such as] on a really good gas range.” Allison
adds that she’s a fan of smaller appliances: “I think I’d be fine with a 24-inch fridge and cooktop, as long as they had all the features of the larger ones.”
Many of you feel that the wide kitchen aisles — at least 48 inches — I desire are too wide, preferring smaller spaces. “Sounds like lots of extra steps,” says Nancy Herring. “Makes you think you want to wear roller skates to get around.”
It’s almost always more economical to build or renovate a smaller kitchen, and, when done well, it can be super efficient. The kitchen shown here, while not tiny, is a good example of a not-so-big kitchen that packs in the essential appliances, along with ample storage, work surfaces and seating. Bigger certainly does not always mean better.
See more on small kitchens everywhere
2. Direct access to the outdoors.
I couldn’t agree more with Hal Braswell
, who says it was “game-changing gaining direct access from the kitchen to the backyard and a future deck/patio. This allows us to go outside to enjoy a cup of morning coffee and to relax outside in the evening.”
Another benefit to a kitchen that opens onto a patio or deck is that it visually expands the kitchen, as shown here. It also provides additional space for dining and entertaining, which is especially useful for those who live in temperate climates.
See 10 ways to open a kitchen to the outdoors
3. Skylights and light tubes.
Many of you mentioned having kitchens that lack access to the great outdoors or are otherwise deficient in natural light. Skylights and light tubes can help let the sunshine in. Peggy
says, “I will always have a Solatube light, which is amazing and keeps my kitchen bright.”
See more on adding skylights and light tubes
4. Undercabinet lighting.
Abundant daylight is great, but many of you also pointed out the need for proper artificial lighting in a kitchen. Good-quality undercabinet lighting helps lighten and brighten a kitchen and, practically speaking, it provides crucial task lighting for meal prep and cleanup. I find it also serves as a good nightlight, especially if it’s dimmable.
Janisevans agrees, saying, “Undercabinet lighting is a beautiful thing. It adds ambient lighting and task lighting at the same time.” Mmdugaw adds: “Being from the rainy Pacific Northwest, one of the positively best features we went with was overhead and undercabinet LED lighting. Took away the dreary, gives sparkle to finishes and is energy efficient — well worth the extra bucks.”
5. Double-bowl sink.
By far the most controversial item on my must-have list was a single-bowl sink. Many of you say a double-bowl sink is a must in your kitchen. “Count me in the old-fashioned stainless steel double-bowl-sink faction,” Ibseyb
says. “Yes, a single huge bowl would be great for cookie sheets or my giant stockpot, but I will never understand how one-bowl-sink people manage to do the ordinary daily dishes without the second bowl to rinse in, no matter how often it’s described to me.”
The consensus seems to be that double sinks are best for those who hand wash most dishes, and single-bowl sinks are better suited to those who wash their dishes primarily in the dishwasher.
Read about how to select the number of bowls for your sink
6. Prep sink.
Prep sinks make life easier in a busy kitchen, and can also act as a relationship problem solver. Just ask Easterngirl
, who recently completed a total kitchen gut and remodel job. “I put a small Kohler trough sink into the island, because when my hubby and I clean up or prep food (he occasionally helps), one hogs the main sink and the other always needs just a splash to either rinse fingers or vegetables,” she says. “Now we don’t have to nudge the other away from the main sink or stand around waiting.”
If you are going to use a prep sink for cleaning and preparing fruits and veggies, think about adding a disposal to it. Even if you compost your food waste, small bits of food can still find its way down the drain, so it’s nice to be able to run the disposal occasionally to clear it out and prevent clogs.
7. Two sinks.
Another sink-related suggestion is to install two separate, full-size sinks. Monacro
has two stainless steel sinks, one a large single and the other a large double, both with disposals. This setup takes up quite a bit of space, but I imagine it’s handy if you have a large family to cook for or you entertain large groups frequently.
See how to choose the right kitchen sink
8. Two dishwashers.
Another item some of you want in pairs is the dishwasher. Christina405
makes the case: “We can clean up after a party in nearly no time. One is in the just-large-enough pantry, which also has a large one-bowl sink; the other [is] in the kitchen proper, which thus only needed a smaller prep sink. I use the closer dishwasher when baking or food processing. Just pop used bowls, implements, processor parts, etc. in and the mess is done.”
If you feel the need for more than one dishwasher but two full-size dishwashers would be excessive, consider adding a single dishwashing drawer in addition to the full-size dishwasher.
9. Counter-depth refrigerator.
Many of your suggestions concern the major appliances you would include in your dream kitchen. Melinda1977
favors a counter-depth refrigerator. Counter-depth refrigerators are less deep — and usually taller or wider — than standard refrigerators. This allows them to sit nearly flush with standard base cabinets, offering a cleaner, built-in look.
Stay Cool About Picking the Right Refrigerator
10. Steam oven.
As you can no doubt surmise from the name, this is an oven that uses moisture — steam heat — to cook food. This hot appliance is gaining popularity for its ability to keep foods moist as it cooks them. It’s also touted as a healthier cooking method, as foods retain more vitamins when cooked with steam than with dry-cooking methods. A steam oven won’t replace your regular oven, though, because it does not brown food. However, some manufacturers have remedied this by offering a steam combination oven, which allows you to cook the food with steam heat, then finish it with dry heat for browning before serving.
“In my recently renovated kitchen, I installed a steam oven, which has proven to be wonderful,” Ppbrrb says. “It’s a little smaller in size, so it heats quickly and is efficient in anything from reheating leftovers to baking a cake.”
Learn more by joining the discussion on steam ovens
11. Warming drawer.
Another hot kitchen amenity for many of you is a warming drawer. Most warming drawers range in size from 27 to 30 inches wide and 11 to 12 inches high. They tend to be sized to fit above or below a wall oven. Because of their relatively small size, they heat up quickly and are handy for keeping food warm as you assemble the full meal or as you wait for all of your dinner guests to gather. You can also use it to warm up your plates, restaurant-style, without having to take up space in your main oven.
“I added this to our kitchen remodel, and I use it almost every day,” Mfheryford says. “We entertain a lot and have a large family with grown kids who now arrive with spouses and in-laws. Coordinating timing is just easier with the drawer. Plus you can soften butter or warm plates while doing prep work. It’s not really a must-have, but it’s a great nice-to-have.”
12. Induction cooktop.
An induction cooktop transfers heat to pots and pans via a magnetic field. Unlike a traditional electric or gas cooktop, the induction cooktop has a surface that never gets hot to the touch. For this reason, induction cooktops are popular in households with small children and for those in hotter climates — there’s no surface heat to transfer into the air. Induction cooktops are also more energy efficient than gas and traditional electric cooktops.
Ginny20 says an induction cooktop is high on her must-have list. Monacro likes it because it’s safer around kids and very easy to clean.
Pamelatyrrell adds, “Our induction cooktop is energy efficient, better for the environment, responsive to quick temperature changes and easy to clean. It boils water in 90 seconds for tea.”
Read more about cooktops, including induction systems
13. Built-in ice maker.
Ice makers that come with refrigerator-freezers often have a small capacity, so if your household goes through a lot of ice, you might agree with the commenters who suggest adding a stand-alone ice maker to your kitchen must-have list.
Tatumok writes: “One thing I can’t be without in my kitchen is a freestanding ice maker. The ice is better tasting than refrigerator-freezer ice.”
Rts27959 hates digging around in the freezer for ice and finds an undercounter ice maker essential, especially “if you have the space and entertain frequently.”
14. Appliance garage.
Park your countertop appliances away and out of sight with an appliance garage. Typically set at countertop level, these cabinets allow you to keep your small appliances plugged in and at the ready, all while tucked neatly behind closed doors. Rts27959
is a fan of them, as is Jon Curtis
, who refers to them as “tidiness controllers.” He advises: “Assess your counter space carefully and determine just how many of those appliances need to be out on the counter.”
When sizing your appliance garage, think about the appliances you want to store behind closed doors on the counter — such as heavy and bulky stand mixers. Be sure to include an outlet in the cabinet so you can keep the appliance plugged in. Then simply slide it out when needed.
See more on appliance garages
15. Hot- and cold-water dispensers. Monacro
love their hot-water dispensers. If you drink lots of tea or hot chocolate, hot water on demand is a nice kitchen amenity. You can also use one to get a jump start on a pot of boiling water — simply use the dispenser to fill your pot or pan.
If you prefer a cold-water dispenser, or are looking to improve the taste and quality of your tap water, consider adding a reverse-osmosis filtration system. Reverse-osmosis systems use pressure to push water through a semipermeable membrane, removing contaminants and impurities. Gsmhdm uses one for purified drinking water as well as for cooking.
One complaint I’ve heard from homeowners who have added hot- or cold-water dispensers is the cluttered “chrome forest” look they get from having a water dispenser paired with a faucet, soap dispenser, dishwasher air gap etc. all gathered on the sink deck. If you prefer a clean and minimalist look, you may want to find an alternative way to dispense water, such as via your refrigerator. Most refrigerators with built-in water dispensers also have water filtration systems.
Learn more or join the discussion on dispensers for hot and cold water
16. Waste and recycling center.
A popular item many of you have, or would add to your kitchens, is a waste and recycling center or cabinet. Sarahfellner
says it’s her top must-have item, as it allows her to keep the recycling and trash hidden away until she’s ready to take it to the curb for pickup.
Off2acre agrees, saying a “small broom/recycling closet” to keep items out of sight before taking them to the dump would be great.
Nansdrew makes the excellent recommendation of a hands-free recycling and trash cabinet, which is a device you can install in your cabinet that allows you to open and access it with a slight bump of your knee or hip, or with a foot pedal. It’s great for those times when your hands are full or dirty and you can’t pull the trash cabinet open manually.
Learn more or join the discussion on hands-free cabinet openers
17. Pullout lift for the stand mixer.
For those who bake often, a pullout lift for that bulky and heavy stand mixer is a nice kitchen amenity. It’s an item Christina405
did not include in her recent remodel but really wishes she had. Bluemooncarole
sings the praises of hers; she likes that she can keep her stand mixer plugged in and simply lift it out and up from its cabinet as needed.
Read more about setting up an ideal kitchen for a baker
18. Built-in speakers. Gsmhdm
makes the excellent suggestion of wiring one’s kitchen for sound, pointing out that “there’s nothing like some good music while you cook. During a remodel it’s simple to add some decent ceiling speakers and tie it into an existing house system or a local cabinet-mounted control.”
Read more about integrating audiovisual equipment into your home
19. Open shelf for cookbooks. Giggles1949
offers a much-loved addition: “a 12-foot wall bookcase full of cookbooks. We are going to be building a new home, and I want to duplicate my kitchen!”
It makes perfect sense to store cookbooks near the room in which they will be most used. However, just be sure your ventilation hood is up to the task of keeping airborne grease off of your beloved cookbooks.
20. Hidden outlet strip.
So many of you spend good amounts of time and money selecting the perfect backsplash that it’s a shame to have to mar the surface with all of the outlets most building codes require. Cdve
offers a solution, saying, “I didn’t want outlets in my backsplash, so we installed cheap linear power strips underneath the cabinets, mounted on an angled block.”
If you’re thinking about installing a strip of outlets directly underneath your wall cabinets, make sure you are OK with seeing the inevitable cluster of dangling cords, or be fine with constantly having to unplug your appliances and devices when not in use.
via 20 Kitchen Must-Haves From Houzz Readers