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"must haves" in kitchen

Ginny Ginny
11 months ago

I'm renovating a 25 YO kitchen. Basically starting from scratch. What are some of your must haves? what is worth the splurge, and what could be skipped? For example, what about the narrow roll out spice racks? Worth the money, or is the money better spent elsewhere? What have you spent money on then after living it for awhile figured you could have lived without OR so glad you spent the money and added it?

Comments (48)

  • jad2design
    11 months ago

    I ended up with a pull out spice rack in a space that wouldn’t fit much else. Mine is useless for that - can’t read the labels, but nice for storing extra sponges and dish towels. Im with the rest of the commentators - don’t go for a lot of special fittings for now. Almost anything you could order today can be added after-market if you decide you have to have an appliance elevator, for instance. Heavy, good quality glides and (I was surprised to find) soft close doors are a joy every day. BTW, think about what kind of cook you are. I’m the kind that realizes a need for a third bowl or spatula when my hands are already coated in dough. Handles I can hook a pinkie around, or wide shallow pullouts where I can lift out a vessel without smearing everything else - these are the things that make me happy. I think drawers are nice if they are wide and shallow. I think roll out trays are also wonderful. I see no harm in planning for both. I’m going to try to attach a picture of a kitchen drawer with bamboo boxes added afterwards. I found doing that far easier, cheaper and more flexible than trying to figure out spoon placement in advance :). And maybe a pix of a roll out tray for baking equipment.



  • boernegal
    11 months ago

    One thing I didn’t think of because I wasn’t aware they existed is a n in-cabinet lift stand for my KitchenAid mixer. It lives in a lower cabinet and I can handle lifting it out, but the lift would’ve been a great addition. I’d need to rearrange my storage to add one now.

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  • artemis_ma
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Adding: I do like the soft close drawers. They're worth it. Use a low maintenance counter top surface.

    With budget, Formica is fine - just get a style that eliminates those open ridges on the edges, which will do more of a full-connected effect for your kitchen. Won't cost that much more, and the kitchen Formica I moved from a year and a half ago had been in that kitchen without an upgrade since 1968 or 9. Other than those open ridges on the edges (the only way the stuff could be purchased at that time) it remained resistant to anything I or previous residents threw at it!!!

    I went with quartz in the kitchen and Corian in my baths in this current home. No yearly maintenance, and quartz countertops are friendly to my highly-acidic cooking style.

  • artemis_ma
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Need to know the logistics of the space you are renovating.

    But until:

    80% drawers on the lowers, ie, a lot more than standard contractors will put in. You do probably need some lower cab area too.

    I have wall spice and herb racks, and my microwave is ON my counter. (The latter cost $70, and was and is still functional, so no need to buy something new of potential iffy-functionality...)

    Get a good prep space.

    DO splurge on quality faucets. Metal interior parts are far superior / long lasting than plastic interior parts, which is what is at much of the big box stores.



  • beachem
    11 months ago

    Still in the midst of doing my kitchen but these are the things I’ve put in and been using while I’m finishing. I’m only listing the things I love.

    1. Deep large single basin sink. I have the Kohler 45”. I cook and bake a lot and the sink gets filled up quickly. Love love.

    2. Drawers - I squeezed in about 100 drawers in the kitchen. I designed and measured everything. Don’t do drawer in a drawer. I did drawers with false front. I get 6 drawers per cabinet which includes the toe kick.

    4. Chef’s or oil drawer. Keeps my counter clear since I use a lot of condiments and oils.

    Haven’t had time to organize all the liquids into similar bottles for more storage. The little bottles also will go below once I free up that drawer from construction screws etc.

    5. Zones. I separated the kitchen into zones. ie baking, canning, storage, pantry, snacks etc. It’s so helpful in training my husband. I don’t have to answer “Where’s _____” all the time. When he dries and outs away dishes, he knows where to go. Same thing with snacks - the man nibbles constantly.

    6. Soft close. So important. The drawers all have soft close but I haven’t gotten around to the cabinet doors yet. DH bangs the pantry door about 20 times a day.

    7. Large section of countertop. This will depend on your usage of the kitchen. It’s not for everyone. I put in a large island that I use completely because I bake and cook in bulk to freeze. It’s faster to prep when I have 6-7 full size sheets out and do assembly line.

    Best of luck with the new kitchen.

  • goldfish252000
    11 months ago

    Thank you everyone for ALL your comments. SUPER helpful

  • Sue 430
    11 months ago

    Personally not a fan of all drawers. For me must haves were trash/recycling pullout, drawer in drawer for silverware, I see others complained but I love mine, stores so much, so neatly,induction stove. I didn’t think so in the planning stages, but super Susan in corner cupboard has been wonderful, also tray divider.

  • ceh4041
    11 months ago

    Durable, stain-resistant countertops. This can be a major cost but you use it every single time you prepare food so it is well worth doing it right. Also it is a major design feature. Take the time to research your choices. I have only one window in my kitchen so I went with pure white quartz. Looks as good as it did on the day of installation.

  • J J
    11 months ago

    following

  • Julie Berry
    11 months ago

    Echoing what others have said, skip the spice roll outs for a drawer with inserts. I used the rubber ones and appreciate their ability to accommodate different spice bottles of different heights.

  • wilson853
    11 months ago

    Things that I recommend and would do again:

    1. Custom height drawers under the range top. Two equal size drawers would not have held my tallest stock pots or skillets on their sides so there's no nesting.

    2. Chef's drawer for oils, vinegars, and cooking wines in the top drawer of a two-drawer stack.

    3. Large prep sink with ledges which holds a cutting board and keeps the mess in the sink.

    4. Rev a Shelf pullout for utensils and knives. Wanted these items off of the counter to keep them dust-free. Can see everything at once without opening multiple drawers. Absolute best use of 15" in my kitchen.

    5. Two DWs. I didn't realize how much I would use both at the same time and not just for parties. You will not regret this if you have the space. Hardly anything is hand washed anymore.

    6. 15" deep uppers to accommodate bigger plates and serving pieces.

    7. Hidden drawers which allow me to layer similar items and keep deep drawers from becoming a jumbled mess. The hidden tray can easily be removed if needs change. I use one for dish towels and aprons, one for Pyrex and Corning Ware and one for paper and plastics.

    8. Deep wide drawer for everyday dishes. Two shelves of dishes fit in one drawer.

    9. Pullouts under the clean-up farm sink. One holds a trash can for scraping dishes. Other pullout trash is next to the prep sink.


  • ILoveRed
    11 months ago

    Didn’t really think I needed two dishwashers and that it was an indulgence, but when family is home they are both in constant use.

  • ILoveRed
    11 months ago

    -Window over sink. Had my sink in island in last house and found I missed this.

    -Combi oven. Had one in last house. The most often used appliance in my kitchen.

    -Good hood with good coverage that wasn’t too loud. Last house sounded like jet engine.

  • Pam A
    11 months ago

    I'll add something not listed yet ... a seltzer faucet. I don't mean a Soda Stream, I mean a big ol' chrome faucet that looks like a bar tap for beer, but it's ice cold seltzer (and still water on the other head).


    Other thing that is more normal is EASY access to everyday dishes. I used a corner cabinet and had it built without doors. Since my cabinets are frameless it made the dimensions different than the other cabinet boxes. I LOVE being able to reach in and grab plates so easily, and it turned an underutilized corner into something super helpful.


    This is an in-process pic that shows the seltzer faucet on the left side of the sink and the open dish shelf in the corner. Easy access to dishes is nicer than I expected, lots of people accomplish this with drawers as well.



  • rhay
    11 months ago

    I personally love my work station sink. Mine is from Amazon which works great for me but there are higher end ones if you have the money. I love being able to use part of the sink as a cutting board and the other side as a drying rack and the versatility. (https://www.amazon.com/Ruvati-33-inch-Workstation-Undermount-Stainless/dp/B007BZ834M/ref=asc_df_B007BZ834M/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167134152438&hvpos=1o4&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6458492115493360403&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9028731&hvtargid=pla-274573288721&psc=1) I don't use the wood cutting board, but instead found large one that my husband cut down for me.


    I also vote highly for drawers, a good vent, good lighting


    Nice to haves: Gel Pro mats, 36" stove, steam/combi oven, all refrigerator/all freezer combo

  • AJCN
    11 months ago

    #1, 2 and 3: A professional, independant kitchen designer (not the cabinet seller), who will create a functional layout for your family, understanding how you want to use the kitchen, in context with the rest of you home. And that designer will work for you, not the cabinet company.

    #4: A lighting plan. Your kitchen designer probably will do this, but if your kitchen is large or complicated, have the designer bring in a lighting expert. It'll be money well-spent.

    #5: Drawer, drawers and more drawers: designed and sized exactly for what you want to put in them.

    #6: The appliances and fixtures you want. For me that means an induction cooktop, really good vent hood, double wall oven, no built-in MW (we put it in a wall pantry cabinet with retractable doors), a very large single-bowl clean-up sink (prep sink if you have room, we didn't), and a touch faucet.

    #7: Dishwashers: So, IMO if you have lots of kids and cook from scratch daily, if you entertain a lot, or if anyone in your household bakes frequently, you should put in 2 dishwashers (if you have space for them).

    #8: If you have an island, no short-order-cook-diner-style-seating. Adjacent seating is much more social and conversational.

    #9: Cabinets to the ceiling to eliminate the gross dust shelf up there.

  • daisychain01
    11 months ago

    Clueless, I was just coming on to say the same - deeper cabs (unless you are very short). They don’t have to be super deep, but even a couple of extra inches feels luxurious.

  • shivece
    11 months ago

    For me, good design and a gas cooktop.

  • cluelessincolorado
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Deeper counters. 27"-30" = wonderful.

  • J Corn
    11 months ago

    A concern with pull out rash bins is that some people are in the habit of pushing down on recyclables and other items to make room in the cans. When a bin is pull out, there’s a risk of damsging the roll out mechanism.

  • Jeanne Cardwell
    11 months ago

    BIG window and a good vent.

  • Deb
    11 months ago

    We’re still in the midst of construction but one thing I’m looking forward to vs the house we’re staying at right now is having two trash/recycle pull outs— one by cleanup sink and one by the prep sink. I find myself really needing/wanting one by the prep sink and it’s annoying to have to walk across the kitchen to throw things out

  • J Corn
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Deep drawers are a must. I love having roll out drawer/sheves in the cabinet where we store pots and pans and lids. While we do have a trash can cabinet, I mainly use it when guests visit and I want the kitchen to look uncluttered. Otherwise it’s simply more convenient to have the trash cans out of the cabinet and nearby , especially during meal prep. .

  • Shannon_WI
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    I couldn't imagine not having my undercabinet lighting. I turn it on every time I use the kitchen. Also it's good first thing in the morning when you don't want the glare of the ceiling lighting, and want something softer. It does need to be placed correctly for best function. It needs to be installed toward the front of the upper cabinets. Electricians find it easier to install at the back, cause it's less craning for them, and about 15 minutes less work. But then in that position it mostly just lights the backsplash. If installed toward the front of the upper cabinets, it is shedding light on the middle of the counters where it is most needed. So with some electricians, you have to insist on this.

  • H202
    11 months ago

    Only must haves are drawers, and carving out as much storage space as possible. What I skip: gimmicky and special purpose anything: narrow pull outs for spices, or for a dustpan. Or a pullout with lots of specially designed inserts for baking sheets. Or drawers in drawers. Each one of those things uses so much space relative to had you just made the cabinet beside it bigger. And my favorite tools change over time so I don’t want to lose space and spend money to commit to something that Might not work in five years. Give me a a small open walk-in pantry any day over 10 separate special purpose cabinets.

    also, not a popular opinion, but I don’t need under cabinet lighting. I’ve lived in kitchens for years that have it and have literally never turned it on. But that’s how I function: I like can lights at their brightest combined with natural light. I don’t even want a dimmer or island pendants.

  • HU-587273708
    11 months ago

    I love the in cabinet trash arrangement. It is a good size, the enclosure is easy to keep clean and the look is so much nicer than the free standing can. In most designs it is placed right next to the sink which is so much better than under the sink. It tips out at a useful angle. Also I have a dog and I never have to worry about the dog wishing to or accomplishing dumping the trash all over the kitchen. More than one kitchen door is also nice so you can get cross ventilation. I have a bay window which is wonderful for houseplants and keeps them completely out of the way. I am one of those older people who still wants a big T V that I can see while prepping, cooking and cleaning up. I pay a lot for that cable and the kitchen is both my work and paperwork space. If I had to go in the den to watch the news and just sit there doing nothing else it would drive me crazy.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    11 months ago

    I'm with mainenell on lighting. I like lots of light, and the older I get -- I started to need reading glasses when I hit 45 -- the more I like/need it.

    It's worth keeping in mind that a good, functional kitchen has layers of light -- general lighting, ambient lighting, and task lighting. You want a good mixture.

    We also like our undercabinet lighting in the evenings, and sometimes as a "nightlight" when required.

  • mainenell
    11 months ago

    I like lots of light, so under cabinet lighting is a must.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    11 months ago

    We do a lot of baking here, so one of our must haves -- in addition to much of the above, esp drawers drawers DRAWERS -- was one deep base drawer that could accommodate two large rectangular food service pails, one for flour and one for sugar.

    Lots of uninterrupted countertop space. And I quite like my second (prep) sink on the island.

    My other kitchen must have is the Kitchen forum FAQ thread, with oodles of good advice. Because it has more than 500 posts (most of them just bumping the thread to keep it current), you need to click the link for all of the replies, because the earliest posts are part of the FAQs,

    "New to Kitchen forum? Read me first!"

    This is also a very helpful post,

    "Looking for layout help? Memorize this first: Ice. Water. Stone. Fire."

  • bouncy5
    11 months ago

    Lots of drawers and induction cooktop.

  • Kirsten E.
    11 months ago

    I think drawer in drawer has it’s place. We’re doing it in 2 wide and deep drawers for pots&pans and Tupperware, and one more in shallow drawer for silverware, with the fancy stuff on the bottom. Other must haves were: all drawer bases, pull out pantry, roll out drawers in the cabinets above the fridge, open faced paper towel drawer above push to close trash/recycling cabinet, tray cabinet, pull out spice rack in the uppers (not lowers because I didn’t want them next to the range), frameless cabinets which requires extra planning for undercabinet lights in the front and angled plug molds in the back, and super Susan for large appliances in the corner. . I’ll probably think of more!

  • Shannon_WI
    11 months ago

    Nope. Just using my mother’s when I visit, it’s a pain. It’s so annoying to be moving that thing back and forth.

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
    11 months ago

    What you've shown for the drawer in drawer is what I was thinking would be helpful. My drawer is wide and deeper; I am thinking that the top drawer would be for the nearly every day knives, stirrers, can opener, spatula, serving utensils, and silverware, while the bottom would be for the more rarely used items like the cherry pitter, the canning utensils, the big carving knife, extra knives and so forth.

  • Shannon_WI
    11 months ago

    “chain mail for the skillet”

    Oh - chain mail is a must-have for the kitchen too!

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    11 months ago

    Combi Steam Oven

  • bpath reads banned books too
    11 months ago

    drawer in drawer? No! I have one. I end up using the top drawer for, oh, the Sharpie, my lip balm, used to have the Box Tops for Education, scissors for opening packages, chain mail for the skillet, and just because it's flat I also keep the rubber spatulas in there. Gee, I guess it is useful after all, but not for stuff I have to get at all the time. but I'd rather have more, and wider, drawers. (I could write a book about all the wasted storage space in my kitchen. I dream of remodeling...)

  • Shannon_WI
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    “Would like to have gotten:...a drawer-in-drawer for my big utensil/cutlery/silverware drawer”

    Raee - you haven’t missed anything. My mom has that. It’s a PITA. The visibility of the lower contents of the drawer is curtailed by the drawer-in-drawer over it, which you have to push forward to see what’s underneath. Then if you’ve pushed that drawer-in-drawer forward to access underneath it, you then have to pull the drawer-in-drawer back toward you to access all what is in IT. I‘d rather just have one wide drawer. I’d never ever get the drawer-in-drawer in my own kitchen. This image displays what I mean.





  • mdln
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Must haves: DRAWERS, single basin sink, walk-in pantry

    Skip: undercabinet lights, trash can cabinet (wish I made it a drawer cabinet), pantry cabinet, prep sink in island

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
    11 months ago

    Must haves: #1 is frameless cabinets; a really good hood that vents outdoors; a single basin sink with offset drain of the largest possible for my cabinet; a pulldown faucet; drawers instead of lower cabinets; a 24" deep over the refrigerator cabinet with dividers for sheet pans etc, and pullouts for the rest of its space; easy to clean pullouts in the sink cabinet that hold trash, recycling and compost bins; good LED lights in the ceiling. Drawer dividers. Heavy duty full extension drawer glides. I think these are all practical choices, not splurges, except that some do come at a higher cost than more common versions.

    Have because it was most practical: pullout for the 9" cabinet next to the stove. In a small kitchen I had no drawer space that I wanted to dedicate to spices, and this really was the best place for spices, works quite well for me, and they are easy to find. And no wasted cabinet space!

    Would like to have gotten: maybe a Silgranite or equivalent sink, or toe kick drawers, and a drawer-in-drawer for my big utensil/cutlery/silverware drawer (was hitting my budget limits there). And soapstone counters. And a better stone fabricator, LOL!

    Could have skipped: undercabinet lights. Rarely use them. Maybe I'll change my mind as I age.

  • StephanieM
    11 months ago

    My must haves were cabinets to the ceiling (9 ft) and as much cabinetry generally as we could afford.

  • Shannon_WI
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Single bowl sink

    Good canopy-shaped exhaust hood with baffle filters with the right-sized duct (8” or 10” diameter)

    Low-maintenance counters - I won’t be a slave to streaking, staining, fingerprints, chipping, or etching. There are many great counter types, but you need to be well-informed and well-researched to choose the one right for you. I have granite counters that don’t need to be sealed. Wipe clean, done.

    A layout that is the best it can be.

    Regarding spice pullouts, I can’t stand them. Here’s a thread about them.

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/3866883/pullouts-next-to-cook-top

  • THOR, Son of ODIN
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago
  • HKO HKO
    11 months ago

    A good vent hood
    A quality oven and stove
    Ample storage
    Quality faucets

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    11 months ago

    DRAWERS, DRAWERS and MORE DRAWERS, LARGE single sink with a large window over it, drawer with spice holder (Rev-a-Shelf), Rev-a-Shelf pullout for kitchen tools (3 cans) and a shelf for oils, vinegars and cooking wine, counter-depth refrigerator, one lower or over the refrig cabinet for trays (I keep my silver ones in there as well as baking sheets etc), and Glacier White Corian countertops.


    Since I have dogs, I also adore my custom-made stainless drawer bin insert with sliding lid for the dog kibble.







    Since I don't like in-cabinet trash bins, I love my Simply Human stainless one that fits perfectly at the end of the cabinet near the sink. It opens to the front so it's SO convenient.

  • johnsoro25
    11 months ago

    Certainly depends on the size and needs of your family, but 2 dishwashers was my must have.

  • GreenDesigns
    11 months ago

    Good design is the #1 thing. Everything else will follow from that.

  • vinmarks
    11 months ago

    Agree. Drawers. Not a fan of roll out spice racks. Not sure how you even see anything. I put my spices in a shallow drawer with labels up as well as some in upper cabinet. Makes it easy to find things. A trash pull out was a must for me.

  • sushipup1
    11 months ago

    Drawers drawers drawers