From the February/March 2014 Issue:

Kitchen Design Tips

    Compiled by: Mary Vinnedge |

Try these tactics — from our new series called "The Takeaways" — to create a distinctive, practical and pretty hangout for the cook


Article Photo
enlarge | A trapdoor atop the prep island makes cleanup a snap for homeowner/interior designer Barbara Savini of Interiors Divine in Newtown, Pennsylvania. February/March 2005 Photo by Patricia Burke
We introduce a six-part series of articles called “The Takeaways.” The series revisits great lessons from Design NJ going all the way back to the Spring 2001 debut issue. Our launch topic is kitchens, which star in every February/March issue, and we offer up the following always-good-to-know tips, tricks, inspirations and best practices for the cook’s domain.

Counter Points
Don’t cut directly on granite because you can scratch its surface as well as dull your knife, advises Frank Turano Jr. of Kitchens by Turano in Montclair.
February/March 2006


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enlarge | Photo by Tom Grimes
$avings $trategies
Are your cabinets well made but tired? They can be removed, refinished and reinstalled for a budget-friendly room revival, says Deborah Leamann, an allied member of ASID and principal of Deborah Leamann Interiors in Pennington.
June/July 2011


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enlarge | Photo by Marisa Pellegrini
Riverdale homeowners wanted soapstone countertops in their Colonial-style kitchen but balked at the price tag. Instead, they opted for green limestone.
Summer 2001

Separately, to keep costs down, kitchen designer Joanne Drastal of Design Line Kitchens in Sea Girt recommends that homeowners substitute a large pantry for costlier cabinetry.
Spring 2002


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enlarge | Courtesy of Crown Point Cabinetry
Can-Do Cabinetry
Glass doors provide a visual break in large spaces loaded with cabinetry (these Arts and Crafts-style cabinets made of quarter-sawn oak are by Crown Point Cabinetry in Claremont, New Hampshire) ...
February/March 2004


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enlarge | Photo by Tom Grimes
... But when there are so many glass-front cabinet doors that storage of cereals, baking supplies and other basics is too limited, replace at least some of the glass with mirrors, as designer A.J. Margulis did in this Princeton-area home. Margulis, then with Deborah Leamann Interiors in Pennington and now owner of A.J. Margulis Interiors in Pennington, left two glass-front cabinets for display.
February/March 2012


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enlarge | Photo by Bradley Olman
Or use ribbed glass (or frosted glass), which allows the color to come through without showing too much.
February/March 2006

Want a classic kitchen so it won’t quickly appear dated? Here are two ideas:
• Frank Feldman of F.L. Feldman Associates in Asbury Park says to paint the cabinets off-white with a satin finish.
• Michael Laido, certified kitchen designer with Laido Designs in Franklin Lakes, suggests cabinets made of a basic wood (cherry, maple, oak or hickory) and stained a traditional color, with or without a glaze.
June/July 2005 (both tips)

For easier access to stored items, opt for drawer banks instead of door-and-shelf cabinetry (or put rollouts on the shelves behind doors).
Design NJ staff


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enlarge | Photography peterrymwid.com
Here’s a clever idea for storing silverware: labeled mini-drawers. Certified kitchen designer Randy O’Kane of Bilotta created this cleverly appointed Morris County kitchen.
April/May 2009


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enlarge | Photography peterrymwid.com
The slanted sides of many range hoods can lead to triangular gaps—awkward aesthetics and a cleaning challenge—against flanking cabinets. P.J. Salerno of Salerno Custom Cabinetry & Architectural Woodwork in Saddle Brook boxed out this hood for a graceful alternative.
February/March 2005


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enlarge | Photo by Bradley Olman
Kitchens often lack wall space for displaying artwork, so a Rumson homeowner turned the end of her island into a mini-gallery. The golden pine island is from Christopher Peacock Cabinetry.
February/March 2005


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enlarge | Photography peterrymwid.com
Perfectly Repurposed
Reclaimed tin ceiling panels cover this range hood at the vacation home of Tracey and Peter Salerno. Peter is a certified master kitchen and bathroom designer and principal of Peter Salerno Inc. in Wyckoff.
August/September 2010


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enlarge | Photo by George Kopp
A farmhouse table, too tall for comfy dining, is just the right height for an island in a new Convent Station kitchen with a vintage vibe by Sawhorse Designs in Millburn.
August/September 2003


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enlarge | Photo by Wing Wong; lighting plan by Helicon Hall Design Associates
Lighting Lessons
New York City lighting designer Gary Gordon, a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society and International Association of Lighting Design, offers these tips for kitchen lighting:
• Provide shadow-free light in work zones.
• Choose light that renders people and food well. “You want to be able to judge the freshness of food—meat, for instance—based on accurate color.”
• If you have upper cabinets, put lighting under them to illuminate countertops.

Appliance Intel
When a traditional fridge is not an option (because of space constraints or an open design plan), undercounter refrigerators and freezer drawers can be the answer, says Dot Taccarino of Asbury Kitchen and Bath Gallery in Ocean City.
April/May 2012

Check your refrigerator to be sure it’s airtight and keeping its cool. Close the door on a dollar bill with half the bill remaining outside the door. If you can readily pull out the bill, the fridge may need a new seal.
December 2004/January 2005

Mount a range hood no more than 32 inches from the cooking surface. The recommended minimum is 25 inches for electric ranges and 30 inches for gas ranges.
April/May 2005


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enlarge | Photography peterrymwid.com
Clever Cover-Up
Millwork can be a great camouflage for remodeling obstacles. In this New Jersey kitchen, woodworking specialist Daniel Minzner of Minzner and Co. in Easton, Pennsylvania, hid a support beam in the overhead grid of rift-sawn white oak.
October/November 2006


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enlarge | Photography peterrymwid.com
Wood panels on the island hide plumbing lines and air-conditioning ducts in this Maplewood kitchen designed by Ginny Zonfrilli of VHZ Design Group in South Orange.
October/November 2007

In addition, for a period-look kitchen, hide appliances such as a dishwasher or an ice machine behind a cabinetry panel that simulates a drawer and cabinet door.


Article Photo
enlarge | Photo by Marisa Pellegrini
Make a Splash
Mary Fran Brassard of Brassard Design Associates in Red Bank likes to use mirrored backsplashes because they make a kitchen seem larger. (Clients who expect mirrors to be a maintenance headache are pleasantly surprised, she says.) Her one caveat: “Be careful where you put plugs” because you want the mirror to show off attractive objects; a basic design tenet is that mirrors should reflect something attractive.)
Spring 2002


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enlarge | Photography peterrymwid.com
A swirl-finished stainless steel backsplash is more forgiving of fingerprints and scratches and maintains a modern look. Kitchen designer: Sandee Dervalics of D&D Design Kitchen Innovations in Chester (she is now with True Leaf Kitchens in Basking Ridge).
February/March 2007


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enlarge | Photo by Alexander Monker
A platter substitutes for the usual tile design in the backsplash of this Summit kitchen by Diana L. Hoffman, AIA.
February/March 2003

For a Minor Facelift
Atlanta kitchen designer John Oetgen suggests replacing wood cabinet doors (or just the inset sections, if they have them, which allows you to reuse the door frames) with glass-front doors.
August/September 2005

Marcello Luzi, a Philadelphia-area interior designer, says his trick is to install metallic-laminate backsplashes, a less expensive option than stainless steel that gives a similar look.
August/September 2005

10 More Kitchen Tips
We turned to the Internet to find additional expert advice for designing your kitchen and choosing products for it.
• If you are setting up a traditional work triangle (positions of the refrigerator, sink and range), allow the proper amount of workspace without too much walking. The distance between any two appliances should be no less than 3 feet and no more than 7 feet. When you add up the measurements (in feet) of the kitchen work triangle, the total should be 12 to 21. diynetwork.com
• Position the sink between the range and the refrigerator in your work triangle because you will use it most often. tlc.com
• There’s no such thing as too much counter space. Choose a surface that’s easy to work on and care for; grout between tiles is hard to maintain, and stainless steel can scratch easily. rd.com
• It’s tempting to place a tall refrigerator and built-in wall oven next to each other, but try not to; each needs its own landing space on both sides of the appliance for safety. tlc.com
• It’s aesthetically awkward to leave slivers of wall where cabinetry stops; leave at least 31/2 inches. TheKitchenDesigner.org
• Consider barrier-free design and products. They make life easier for children, pregnant women, seniors and anyone with disabilities. They’ll also add to the longevity of your kitchen. tlc.com
• Be sure to allot space for moldings in your design. For example, the window casing shouldn’t bump into the crown molding that tops a run of cupboards. TheKitchenDesigner.org
• White subway tile never goes out of style. TheKitchn.com
• If you are happy with the existing layout of your kitchen but want a facelift, change your work surfaces. To take the transformation further, replace cabinet doors and/or hardware. telegraph.co.uk
• Limit your equipment. A stockpot, 10-inch skillet and a 2- or 3-quart saucepan will cook most food. Likewise with knives: You need a chef’s knife or two, a paring knife and a bread knife. saveur.com

Mary Vinnedge, the first editor of Design NJ, would love to redo her kitchen in Texas using many of these ideas. Contact her through WritingGenie.com or EditorForRent.com.