By Rory Callaghan
Today, we will be covering both design trends and appliance offerings that are the best of the best for your next kitchen design. They’re higher end – and therefore not for everyone – but for those who want the best in functionality and technology, this will be educational. The best time to consider options is early in the process of crafting your new kitchen.
Even small kitchens can be deluxe, though they require more clever design than large ones because space is at a premium. Small kitchens often make use of convenient hardware features, and they can get pricey but are ultimately worth it.
The concept of top-level planning and equipment is for people who are remodeling or doing new construction and are looking for a 15- to 20-year solution. If you’re growing a family from toddlers to teens, this is for you. If you are young-ish empty nesters, this is for you. If you simply love to cook and want a kitchen designed to improve your convenience and your cooking results, this is for you.
Here is a list of some thoughts and items I consider essential for a kitchen to be a top-notch space.
We’re talking two separate machines here: a dedicated freezer and a separate refrigerator. Why? Because they are better used in different locations. The refrigerator belongs in the “pro chef circle” with a prep sink and rangetop.
The pro chef circle is fundamentally what we’ve called “the kitchen triangle” for decades, but it’s better because we’ve added a dedicated clean-up sink outside the circle. Inside the circle is only about cooking, not clean-up. Because we open the refrigerator door 20 times more often than the freezer, the freezer can be on the end of another wall, far from the pro chef circle.
Using the walls
Wall ovens and a cooktop offer ease of use that you do not enjoy when using even a very nice professional range. It’s simply not convenient to haul a large roasting pan out of an oven that is almost at floor level. Wall ovens eliminate stooping and lifting.
French door ovens are safer and easier to use than drop down doors found in typical ovens. Only a few brands offer them, every one of which is top quality. The difference between a rangetop and a cooktop is akin to the difference between a car and a race car. You get more power, control and cooking space with a rangetop because the controls are front facing and don’t take up valuable burner space.
For wall cabinets with doors, make sure you design them so that they open out of the way so you’re not constantly opening doors throughout meal preparation. I want your kitchen to have the efficiency of a restaurant line. That means no excessive reaching or bending.
The value of induction
Induction cooktops are electric with power, speed and control that rivals natural gas. They’re also safer and greener than flame burners. If you’re a devoted gas cook, consider modern induction if you’re up for a cleaner machine.
Combi steam ovens
The crew at the shop knows I’m an avid fan of steam baking. Everything comes out better in a steam oven – that’s a bold statement I have yet to see proven false – and they are not all expensive. Countertop versions are available between $300 and $600. Built-in units start under $2000 and can be plumbed with a supply and drain line for worry-free steam cooking forever.
Do not buy a steam oven if you don’t want to learn how to use it. You must be an aspiring or skilled cook to make this leap, but if you are, you’ll be rewarded. A combi steam oven does bagless sous vide. Ribs can be steamed to tender perfection, then glazed and crisped on bake or broil. There is almost no work, little clean up and it makes for better food. What’s not to like?
Beautiful and functional
For clever, mind-bending looks, consider including pull-out pantry base cabinets that appear to be a bank of drawers. You would do this for the sake of symmetry on either side of a rangetop: One side gets real drawers, while the other has different functionality with an identical twin appearance. It could house oils, sprays and spices.
We can do almost anything you can envision, while complying with the rules of physics.
I’ve been asked to make stuff that is impossible. When clients hear that, they respond, “But it’s custom, right?” Yes, it’s custom, not magic.
The writer is kitchen planning director at M&M Appliance & Cabinets on South Washington Street. Contact him for questions – or cooking tips – at [email protected].