Why Working with a Kitchen Designer Is Crucial!

Hi Guys,

About two or three times a year, in recent history, I have a day where I do a “Jenny” in Forrest Gump.

“She was so tired because she went to bed and slept and slept like she hadn’t slept in years.”


I set my alarm this morning, and I guess it went off.


I have no recollection. The next thing I knew, it was 2:00 PM. That’s not normal. Oh well. That fact has already been well-established. ;]

So, what’s going on with my renovation plans?

Before working with Crown Point, Susan Serra, a fantastic kitchen designer, was helping me sort some things out. The other day she asked me how it was going, and I said great and sent her the plans so far.

I haven’t gotten into the finer points with my fabulous kitchen designer at Crown Point, who’s just back from vacation. Although we know where everything is going, we haven’t worked out the minute details because I don’t need the cabinets for at least another six months. That’s not normally the case.


After I sent the plans, Susan got back to me immediately with the observation that between the sink and dishwasher was a 21″ cabinet.


She asked me: “Why is the dishwasher a cabinet away from the sink? Things will be dripping across 21″ when you travel to the dw. 🙂 There’s the sink, 21″ drawers to the right, and then the pantry cabinet. ”

In addition, Susan isn’t crazy about the sink bump out and thinks it’s too busy. If the sink doesn’t bump out, then the sink cabinet can be made as one piece, and I can eliminate several inches of inset.


That certainly gave me pause.


Final sink cabinet design by Crown Point Cabinetry for my new kitchen!


Above are recent plans and elevations of the sink cabinet.


back wall and sink wall in progress 7.19.2022
Above, you can see the dishwasher is the entire bottom of the pantry cabinet.

At first, I thought it was no big deal. And, in fact, the dishwasher is closer to where the dishes will be going– in the glass cabinet.

However, I realized later that it was TOO close. To empty it and put the dishes away, I will have to reach over 32″, including the fills, to open the glass doors and then put stuff away. Now, I do recall testing this out earlier, and I did so again. I can easily reach, but only the first shelf.


So, ideally, I should be standing in front of where the dishwasher is currently taking the dishes out of the dishwasher next to the sink.


BUUUUUUT, here’s the difficulty. I only have six feet to work with for the curved sink cabinet, and I want the two end sections to be the same size because of the panel moulding above.  Do I have to do the panel moulding? No, but it’s a lot of wall, and I feel the need for something, even if I put artwork up.

I thought maybe I could make both ends 24″. Nope.

The Mass building code says all passages must have a minimum clearance of 32″. It’s fine if that’s the way it was before the rendering. But, as soon as you change something, it must be up to code.

I tried working on this on Sunday but struggled to figure out the panel mouldings.

I want it to match in overall size to the fridge cabinet. That cabinet with fills is 32″.


range wall corrected soapstone counter counter French hood with Victorian coving crown

There’s a big fill on the farthest side of the fridge cabinet because that is the clearance needed to open the door far enough to remove shelves and bins.

So, the pantry also needs to be a 32″ cabinet.


Fortunately, the pantry does not need the big fill on the far end.


It can have the standard 1.5″ fill on both sides. None of my hardware is more than 1.25″ deep. So the drawers will have clearance. If necessary, we can make the fills two inches.

Remember how I said to be as visual as possible in Sunday’s post?

Now, this is more difficult to do without some training, but if you can see a perspective drawing, I find that very helpful. These days, most designers can show you a 3-D drawing or rendering.

I told Susan I needed to think about her recommendations a little longer. She’s very kind and patient. If you’re looking for a kitchen designer to consult with, she does that and does so beautifully long distance. Here’s Susan Serra’s website with contact info.


At one point, I was considering a built-in coffee station and a built-in microwave drawer.


I do love the microwave drawers and enjoyed Mary’s when I stayed in her home three times in 2021. But, I have always wanted a mini coffee station and a Dualit 4-slice polished chrome toaster. However, I don’t want the toaster on the counter. But, I’d still like to see it.

Below are two long-time favorite kitchen images.



Cheryl Clendenon


small appliance kitchen cabinet - photo: Phillip Harvey via BHG
Small kitchen appliance storage via BHG – photo: Phillip Harvey

After reviewing these favorites, particularly the bottom image, (Please ignore the mixer. lol), I realized I don’t need or want a microwave drawer. In fact, some of the new microwaves also act as induction ovens. And, some have “air frying” capabilities.


Laurel, what about the pocket doors?


Actually, I love them. Although, in all honesty, I probably won’t close them. One reason is that this is in the back of the kitchen. From the living room, you won’t see any of it. However, doors would be nice if I ever wish to close them.

The jury is out on that one.


Laurel, where are you putting the dishwasher?


Thank you, yes, I’ve decided that an 18″ dishwasher will suit me just fine. So, that will go next to the sink where I formerly had the 21″ cabinet with drawers. Again, Susan kept me from making a mistake.

The beauty is that the pantry really will be a pantry-coffee station with lots of storage space now. No, I will not be putting a mixer way up high. lol

However, I can have the bottom section used for drawers only. I love that!

The sink cabinet’s footprint stays as designed. Except it can now be made in one piece, and I can save some space not having to do the extra insets needed for the bump out. In other words, there will only be 1.5″ between each cabinet section.


Still, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work. So Monday, with fresh eyes, I decided that this would be Wednesday’s post, and I got to work.


Susan sent me a super quick rendering, and I used that as a base, making subtle changes to the two end sections.

But, here’s the really interesting part. When I did this exercise, I realized that she was right. The bump out is too busy. I would rather have that extra three inches inside the cabinet because that is where a pullout trash and recycling bins will go. Yes, they will be on the small side; that’s fine for me.


Here’s the other thing.


Are you guys familiar with the brilliant work of Jeannette Whitson? Either way, you must check out her Instagram account. (in the link above)


sectional fits perfectly in a small space - Designed by Jeannette Whitson via House Beautiful - photo - Simon Watson

Jeannette is the brilliant designer who did everyone’s favorite little library.

I rarely use the word “obsessed” because it makes me sound vapid. However, I am all of the words below regarding Jeannette’s work, particularly this kitchen you’re about to see.

Get ready…

Jeanette Whitson design gorgeous kitchen -@gardenvarietydesign

Jeannette Whitson on Instagram


This looks genuinely old, but it’s not. And, it looks European too, doesn’t it? Well, Jeannette is based in Nashville, TN!


Jeannette is seriously funny, too. She uses the hashtag #KitchensAreMyGatewayDrug.


Haha. Indeed!

I am so in love with this marble that I have decided I will do it, and a marble backsplash on the sink side. While I love the marble sink, I will stick to an undermount sink, most likely porcelain.

And, I am still planning on doing subway tile for the big backsplash in the dramatic range area. And no, not marble. I want porcelain or ceramic there.


Can you do that? Can you do two different backsplashes?


Sure, why not? They are two completely separate situations. I know it’s unusual. However, I love the look of the marble for the sink area, but not as much for behind the range.


Okay, As always, I spent the most time on the rendering. This one is part drawing, part rendering, but it is in perspective.
It’s not perfect, but I think it gives a good idea of how I’d like that side of the kitchen to look.


Sink wall and pantry rendering with pocket doors and 18" dishwasher



I decided to treat the area from the pantry to the curved end as one cabinet. I still have an extra fill there. Well, this is a conceptual rendering. We’ll get it sorted out. However, the reason is, I don’t want to get too carried away with the charming toe kick valance feet. Altogether there will be ten of them, and I think that’s a reasonable number. This might change, but for now, I very much like the look of this.


Again, Susan was right. Although the bump out is a beautiful detail, it is too much for my small kitchen.


I LOVE the gallery rail. I stole it from another fantastic Instagram account, @thelinenrabbit.

Her website has a fantastic tutorial on making a beautiful gallery shelf.

BTW, I am doing doors for the lower section of the back cabinet.

The two shallow drawers are fine, but four more will probably make me crazy(er).

Do you guys remember when I considered doing faux windows behind the sink? haha! However, it’s all part of the design process.


I’m very fortunate to have two amazing kitchen designers watching my back!


How do you feel about the pocket doors? I realize there are other types of doors. For me, it’s either no doors or some sleek pocket doors. I feel if I don’t do them, I might regret it down the line.


In closing, when working with a kitchen designer or even two kitchen designers, it is important to listen to them.


However, it is also important that they listen to you. It’s like that in all interior design working relationships. There is seldom one way of doing things.

So, don’t let a contractor or designer strong-arm you into doing something you know in your heart is what you want. Ask them to explain why. If the explanation is: “I don’t like it,” or “I’ve never seen that before,” but you have seen it and want it, show them. Nobody knows everything, no matter how experienced they are.



PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!

100 Responses

  1. Absolutely! Working with a kitchen designer is essential for a successful remodel. Your post brilliantly underscores the importance of professional guidance in achieving the perfect kitchen. Thanks for emphasizing the value of expertise in design.

  2. Well look what happens when you do a google search for yourself once in a blue moon. Thanks for showing off our tiny hidden coffee bar Laurel! Your kitchen plans look devine and looking forward to seeing it complete. Hope you are doing well! –Cheryl

  3. What a beautiful design. I’m learning so much from your clear and informative descriptions of the process.

    As to the microwave, we had one with convection, broiling, and grilling capability in Europe before they were available here and much prefer that. However, since our first here was installed with a kit to provide a more permanent appliance look as with our ovens, that’s been a problem. A shelf for the microwave that allows for simply setting the new one in place with doors to close over it would be great as (doubtless because they see so much use) our multi-function microwaves have had shorter lives. And a vote here for microwaves at counter (or higher) height, as you’re doing.

    Thanks for teaching so much.

  4. To George’s comments above, I cannot disagree more to the notion of brass being ‘trendy’. In the unlacquered state, it is the most classic material to use in the kitchen. Yes, I went through the era of ‘polished brass’, but always felt it so ‘plastic’ (these were not choices I made, it was what I saw growing up). We recently moved into a house that had been built in 1999 (we had polished nickel in previous house, my 2nd choice). The kitchen had pickled cabinets, brushed stainless hardware and speckled granite counters. First thing we did before moving in was paint the cabinets a warm white (thanks Lauren for your many posts on this!), replace the counters with soapstone (had in previous house) and knobs/faucet with unlacquered brass (I actually bought lacquered brass knobs and removed the lacquer myself). Faucet was DeVOL’s Aged Brass Filter Tap and she is the absolute QUEEN of the Kitchen! I will love this brass for many years. In fact, when I’ve looked back at some of my design books from the 1980s, I’ve found unlacquered brass used, these pages were dogeared by me even then. Going into old restaurants and pubs in Europe reaffirmed all I’ve always felt about it.

    Interestingly Lauren, I also did the gallery brass rail on a shelf that is above our kitchen windows. I found the idea on different blog site. My only mistake was ordering too small of the rail and posts, I wish I had gotten larger/heftier ones. Alas, my husband installed them and I didn’t realize the issue until they were up there. Rookie mistake.

  5. Hi Laurel. Looking great. In the Nashville designer’s kitchen that you have in this post, what is the marble? Is it Calacatta or something else? Love the sitting area. We are doing our kitchen over. Love the Plain English simplicity, but also love the prettiness of your kitchen and this one you featured. Got lots of ideas from this post! Thank you.

  6. Laurel – I agree with you 100% and now I am OBSESSED with Jeannette Whitson’s kitchen. Thank you, thank you for posting it and linking her Insta account. And I love everything you’ve done in your kitchen, and I’ve learned so much. It’s going to be OUTSTANDING.

  7. Hi Laurel, Read your reply and I have to say that since I posted my comments about a bigger dishwasher, I have been paying attention to mine…. So revising my opinion–as a divorced woman with my younger son at home for now, I have been thinking how nice it would be to have a smaller dishwasher for when it’s only my dishes…and the 18″ is a winner for being able to run it more frequently!

  8. I am so glad that you posted a link in your most recent column Laurel! I missed this and can only conclude that I was waiting to have time to digest the whole thing to read it. I get so excited to see your ideas on the kitchen coming together! Because your mock ups look amazing 💗
    And thank you @Nina for the information on the DeVole kitchen videos.

  9. Hi Laurel! I am sure you are having fun with planning your kitchen reno and how wonderful to have two kitchen experts to consult. Looks darling! Lots of ways to work things and you know how you utilize and want your kitchen to function best for yourself. Thoughts from your post that might be helpful from my experience: You have stated you don’t cook much, mostly warm items, enjoyed using a friends micro drawer, use toaster when your son visits, make pour over coffee generally and mostly kitchen will function as a butlers —- do you think you might want to squeeze some more counter space in place of the real estate taken by current pantry? Will you need counter/butler space for drinks/apps / place to set dishes to dry or unpack from DW? I would reconsider your current microwave/appliance pantry and review potential utility of the range wall for these items— work in an undercounter micro drawer, and a pullout under cabinet for toaster; incorporate a smaller pantry like your first inspiration pic for coffee pot and storage only to right of range. Current 42” between pantry and fridge is not much space to have fridge door open and someone trying to grab coffee or toast…. And/or trying to grab dish from storage cabinet. Just food for thought on work flow/function. Enjoy- will be gorgeous finishes for sure!

  10. My goodness, some comments are so entertaining! This reads like a subreddit. Do they call before they come in to check your hot wet garbage or do they show up unannounced?

    And I’m so happy for you, your kitchen will be gorgeous. We’re remodeling our kitchen in 2024, it’s going to be interesting. I very much appreciate your valiant efforts to educate us.

  11. Sending a vote of confidence for an 18″ dishwasher. We installed a Miele 18″ fully-integrated dishwasher in our guest apartment. It looks great and works well. Also, it’s quite roomy, IMO.

    Your kitchen design is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Well! LOTS of feedback on this post…is this a record, Laurel?

    I love your kitchen…”jewel-box” sounds just right. And I think the phrase that comes to mind is, “You do You.”

    If you ever decide to sell your beautiful home, the real estate agent will say, in hushed tones, “This is, none other than, THE home of the internationally-known and acclaimed designer…*gasp*….Laurel Bern!”

    And the buyers will swoon, and buy it on the spot, for double the value, and the kitchen will be left in all its remarkable splendor, because it was a GENIUS design.

    And Laurel will live happily ever after, having her Charming Prince of a kitchen.

    The End!


  13. Oooh, oooh! Pick me!
    I just did something similar to the coffee maker area you showed.
    I have a coffee maker and toaster side by side with a shelf above for a small counter top microwave. I did the doors that open up and slide back. Most of the time they stay open, but I love having the option to close them when I want a very neat, uncluttered look.
    Built in or drawer microwaves are expensive and can be difficult to replace, so I appreciate having a counter top version that I can hide away.

    Your kitchen to be looks gorgeous!

  14. Great comments from so many people! It’s really interesting to watch your gorgeous kitchen evolve and how you think and make decisions. I’m going to throw one thought out that I’m sure will make many readers cringe, but . . . Many years ago (maybe 30+) we gave up our microwave. Gasp!! My range heats the water, the warming drawer thaws frozen foods beautifully, and the oven cooks things perfectly. I’ve never missed the ugly machine. In one house we lived in, we did have an instant hot water faucet to make a quick cuppa, but turns out I love the sounds of my tea kettle coming to boil. It took about a day or two to get used to not having a micro, but I’ve never missed it after that.

    1. Hi Sandie,

      No cringing or gasping over here as I’ve considered that. No nuker would make my son ecstatically happy. Certainly, a far better range will help. However, I like the idea of having a small combo micro/induction appliance. (Like for making a baked potato or heating up samosas.) That way, I won’t have to use the big oven as much. Truth be told, I do not need a 30″ range. But, there, I feel that some might be put off by a smaller size. So, 30″ it is for the range.

  15. Appreciate your blog of space utilization ideas. You never have too much storage! I would NOT do the uber trendy brass hardware. In 5 years, it will look dated. Also, brass – even lacquered brass – will be tarnished. For knobs, that is an easy fix. For faucets, it is an expensive fix. My personal preference would be to use very high quality, classic polished chrome or stainless hardware. Yes, it may not have the immediate “pop” at the moment, but it will look good for many years and be easy to clean. Throw the gold look, the tuscan bronze and the brushed brass in the waste bin of history.

    1. Hi George,

      This is an interesting comment. However, I don’t see it as cut and dried as everything you said.

      I definitely want brass. However, I want it unlacquered, old, and somewhat tarnished. I’m all for authenticity. Of course, there are no kitchens we would ever want to have from the 19th century. Still, the metals you are calling classic weren’t back then. They used bronze, brass,copper and, cast iron. They might have also used silver for some things. There may have been some pewter, nickel, or chrome, as well. But, it would never have been polished for use in the kitchen. Stainless steel didn’t exist until around 1913.

      Brass is a classic and appropriate metal to use. I disagree that it’s going to look dated. This is not the gross lacquered brass from the late 20th century, often paired with pink for bathrooms.

      Natural brass is having a renaissance. That is not the same as “uber trendy.” Uber trendy would be brushed gold. Although both have a yellow or gold tone, there’s a big difference between the two. A lot of it also has to do with the style of hardware and fixtures.

      My second choice is nickel followed by bronze. However, I’ve never had anything but stainless steel or chrome.

      However, what you’re talking about in the last sentence, I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, brushed anything is not my cup of tea. Nor is fake looking antique anything. Or polished and then lacquered metals.

      Butchers wax (and maybe other types of wax, as well) on metals will help stop the oxidation process. Or, so I’ve been told. I’ve never tried it.

      I want brass accents because of the warmth, not pop. Pop is not a word in my decorating vocabulary. ;]

  16. Laurel,
    Have you sourced your brass pot rack rail yet? I’m having a problem finding brackets with screw holes big enough to install toggle bolts that will hold the weight of the pans…

  17. I’ve used flipper doors on an appliance garage in the past and it has been successful. All depends on available cabinet depth of course. Actually I’ve also used a tambour door. Something you don’t see often. But then I’ve been doing kitchens for 55 plus years so I’ve seen everything.
    Personally I think an unobstructed toe kick is preferable to one with the little bracket feet.
    It’s much easier to clean that way.
    When you do marble counters do you hone and seal? I personally like them honed so you avoid acid etching. Really works with black absolute granite counters.

  18. Yes to the pocket doors. I have them in my kitchen and seldom use them but am so glad they’re there when I need them.

    Your kitchen will be beautiful, so much so that no one will think about the lack of windows.

    Wish I’d known about Crown Point Cabinetry when I was renovating my kitchen!

  19. Laurel, I have a question. I am embarking on a kitchen renovation. I live in a rural area, and I do not know of a kitchen designer, except for those employed by Lowes or Home Depot. I have a litany of questions. You have worked with a kitchen designer long distance, but you are much better at communicating—elevations, etc. do you believe that I can successfully design a kitchen via a designer long distance? I have a trusted remodeler, and a cabinet maker that I have used on another renovation. Thank you

    1. Hi Beverly,

      Yes! Absolutely. You can have virtual visits using Skype or Zoom. And of course, communicate via email and phone. It works. I recommend Susan Serra. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and experienced. And, she loves doing consultations, long-distance. In fact, that she told me that since the pandemic, she prefers to do virtual consultations.

  20. You kitchen design is so beautiful and well-thought-out, Laurel! I don’t have any advice or insights to share, but I want you to know that I trust that you and your designers will make it the best kitchen for you :] Thanks for another informative and beautiful post!

  21. What a perfect jewel box of a kitchen…! I know that all choices in a kitchen are personal and individual.
    Appreciate the updates and details of your progress. An 18″ dishwasher is ideal.
    Today’s dishwashers have an express cycle and use about 4 gallons of water.
    (I wanted two 18″ dishwashers but lacked space.)
    You’re fortunate to have the benefit of two designers to brainstorm with…
    Looking forward to the rest of the journey…
    And thanks… for your sense of humor and insights…

  22. I might have missed the size of your sink. We have a double bowl low divide, undermount. The low divide is wonderful, both for accommodating a larger skillet to rinse, and also for washing items that i don’t put in a DW.

  23. Hi Laurel- Thanks for sharing your design thought process! I love the way you let us hear how you break the design details down in your mind. I had a similar design issue with appliances that I solved with a 30″ wide set of cabs – a 14″ depth with 2 pocket doors over a 24″ deep with 1 pocket door & pull out drawer. The lower cab allowed me to conceal a Lowe’s stock m/w bc I have zero interest in spending $$ on that item! I highly recommend having adequate counter space in front of your coffee maker etc and a less deep (14″) cab allowed for that. Although our kitchen styles are quite different, the design concept has worked well for us to store a lot of items we use daily in a compact space.

  24. Beautiful without doubt! YOU MUST DO A POCKET DOOR! No matter how cute an appliance, they are better behind a closed door when not in use : )

  25. I noticed the comment to use drawers in your back-of-kitchen pantry, and you said you would use doors there. Of course, because that cabinet is only 14″ deep. Drawers there would be too shallow and worthless. A standard door cabinet with adjustable shelf will allow you to place taller items as needed.
    Also, full width drawers by the range are more useful, and the 18″ DW is more than enough for one or two residents.
    (An aside, while your proposed four slice toaster is so attractive, that 24″ cabinet may end up crowded. The only time I needed a large one was while raising my three kids).

    1. Hi Kat,

      Most of the time when I use the toaster it’s because Cale is here and he brings bread. I always want one piece and he always wants two. I’m hoping for an interior width of 28″ – 29″. It should be fine. Of course, if I do pocket doors, I’ll lose more space. But I think I’ll be fine. The 4-slice is 14″ long.

  26. Hi Laurel! I LOVE seeing the design process for your beautiful home! We put a kitchenette in our office. The 18” dishwasher holds way more than you think and is kind of adorable. And yes, it really should be next to the sink. I hesitated putting a drawer microwave in our kitchen, but now love everything about it and would have a hard time going back to one in a higher position. We use the microwave daily, but if you don’t use one often then having it higher up would be ok. Your coffee / toaster station is wonderful! Consider a drawer for cups and mugs (as at least one reader mentioned). I’m pro pocket doors – it’s nice to be able to close things up! I’m also pro marble – put it everywhere! I’m anti bump out for the sink. This kitchen will be so gorgeous you won’t need the extra element. Thank you for taking us on your journey, can’t wait to see what’s next!

    1. I love the idea of a drawer for cups and mugs. The designer in me, loves the styling, but function follows form.
      Of course, the nicest mugs and cups (that I don’t yet own lol) will be in the glass cabinet.

  27. I agree with the other writers about half width drawers. I made the mistake of having a couple in my kitchen because I liked the look. The cabinet is 27 inches wide but the interior width of the half drawers is only 11 3/4 inches. So much space is lost for the slides, etc. I think you should ask your cabinet maker if they can make a front that looks like two drawers but attach it to a full width box. I would be surprised if they can’t. There are many wonderful inserts available that could divide your drawers making them function like two drawers instead of one. I have the same problem with narrow cabinets. Any under 12 inches are too narrow; hardly anything will fit in a 9 inch one.

    1. Hi Susan,

      That was taken from an old rendering and I left them as was done to make life easier. I haven’t presented final plans for anything. So, everything you’re seeing is conceptual.

      I will certainly consider a full-width drawer, however, the slides are on the bottom and my cabinets are going to be at least 32″ wide. I’m referring to the range side. I don’t know if I want a 29″ drawer, or if I want to drawers at about 13.5″ each.

  28. Lovely!

    We just had an over range microwave removed because my teen spilled hot soup getting it out. Luckily he wasn’t injured but we took it as a warning. Shortly after that my mother had knee replacement surgery and I was very grateful her microwave is at counter height. She also lives alone and loves her independence.

    I lived in a place with really cute half width drawers are like other commenter, they became annoying really fast. Wasted space in a small kitchen. Do you think it would detract a lot to have those full width? The mouldings and cabinetry trim are so gorgeous as you drew them in this kitchen design. 😍

    As always, love the updates on your apartment renovation plans.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

    1. Hi Allie,

      No worries. The microwave will be at a manageable height. Plus, I’m 5′-7″. Counter height is actually a little low for me, because I have to bend over to clean it. I have long-lived with over the range microwaves and never had a problem. Again, the images are conceptual. There will be no need to have the microwave any higher than 54″ off the floor, if that. The toaster and coffee maker will be on a pullout shelf.

  29. That mixer is sooo funny, and scary at the same time! Do they not know how heavy a Kitchen Aid mixer really is?
    I (we) are doing a renovation and I started with a drawer microwave, then found a photo, similar to what you shared, on Pinterest. Long story a bit shorter, I am now doing a simple countertop microwave, inside my cabinet. We really do not use a microwave very often, so it did not make sense to pay for a drawer version. I then went with two smaller fridges, and have my appliance cabinet between them. Two smaller fridges which cost less than one huge one. Only issue will be if one gives out and the other still works – but I will cross that hurdle when or forbid it happens.
    I have heard, “never saw” “never heard”, “never did”, “are you sure you want . . . ?” And have come back with “well now you have heard” “you will see”, “you will have done”, and “yes, I want . . . unless you’re going to pay for otherwise”. So fed up with some of the condescending attitudes I have encountered during our renovation process!

    1. Hi Linda,

      Eyes rolling. And especially when the homeowner is working with an interior or kitchen designer, and the contractor comes in with, “are you sure you want that?” When I was working with Mary the first time. (Mary of the beautiful kitchen with the awesome pantry.) We were all set to paint her living room Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls. Get this. Her contractor told her it was going to look like the inside of a refrigerator. WTF??? I assurred her it was a soft, warm white, very easy on the eyes. Well, she loved it and loved it in the dining room, and kitchen too. Although the custom “Cotton Balls” turned out looking like the next one down the fan deck. It looks wonderful!

      That is phenomenally unprofessional.

  30. Looks beautiful! Love the changes. The choice between an 18″ or 24″ dishwasher is a personal choice. There are lots of 18″ dishwasher models now…. including from some of top rated manufactures….think European brands. Only issue will be if you do a real storm of cooking with lots of pots! But that is was a sink is for!

    Love the coffee station and microwave. I think the idea of a pull out shelf for the coffee station and toaster. Easy access and more importantly you can have it pulled out when using the toaster. Have you considered making the top drawer deep enough so you can put your mugs etc in it rather than on a shelf? That would allow you to lower the microwave some. As having higher microwaves in my past houses, I have found more than 20 to 22 inches off the standard counter hieght a issue if heating bowls of something liquid…like soup.

    While the slide in doors are divine, think about how often you will really close them. In Canada the electrical code is such that you have to have a interlocking switch on the door so the plugs in the cabinet only work when they are open as if any appliance should be on with the doors it is a potential fire issue. This will add costs. And you would need two switches as the microwave has to be on its own circuit. Talk with your contractor to see what the code is in Boston.

    Can’t wait to see it installed!

  31. I agree with those above who recommended keeping the drawers in your base of your china cabinet. I hate having to reach in to get/look for things. Almost all my bottom cabinets are drawers, and I am thankful every day. Otherwise, I love this kitchen plan!

    1. I have sent my designer an email asking how much space I’ll have if drawers. That cabinet is only 14″ deep including frame front and back. That leaves just over 12″, plus the back of the drawer and the undermount glides. If there’s 10″ or more of useable space, yes, I probably will do drawers, but anything less than 9″, no.

  32. A stunning dollhouse of a kitchen. I cannot imagine anything more beautiful.

    Personally, I need a bit more room, but I am sure you know your needs. I seem to need a bunch of things when I cook.

    I would constantly check the measurements against how your body will move in the space as you tweak things. Pocket doors, yes, even if they will only be closed on the days you need less visual clutter.

    I do worry about the appliance brands available in 18″ size, the features, the durability, etc.

    Your finished kitchen will surely be featured in a magazine somewhere.

  33. You are such a delight to read, Laurel! After looking at Jeannette’s kitchen and Instagram (thank you for sharing!), and seeing how you will have a black and white floor, even though I quite love the white pendant you are showing, I can see how her stunning lantern light fixture in black might really work in your space.
    Just a thought. I love the delicacy of your designs! Also, have to say, that as I prepare for a kitchen re-do, you are so right about kitchen designers. Reno experts are usually not trained like a designer (and vv, of course). Together, both can create an exquisite kitchen!

    1. Hi Dee Dee,

      I once had a black lantern in the kitchen. Jeannette’s kitchen is at least six of mine. haha. I also have to be careful not to overwhelm the space with too many bold elements. In fact, there might not be a hanging fixture at all. However, yes, I do need to incorporate more black into the space. Great observation.

  34. We renovated a 1947 stone ranch home when we downsized in the midst of covid. I picked everything out online and I love every single thing about our “new to us” space. I am a really practical cook so I ended up choosing a Kraus Microshield for my sink—I loved that it easily accomodates for washing/soaking my huge stockpots & all my half sheet pans and is great for giving large plants a good deep watering….mine is an undermount….the “microshield” gives a bit of texture to the metal and it isn’t shiny. And the corners are rounded so it drains really well. Some of the other deep sinks I considered had really crisp corners so would be a pain to keep clean. Porcelain gets so marked up with heavy use. And the installer was so impressed I had ordered the proper gauge metal—it still looks like the day it was installed after almost two years and that is with 4 grown kids and their spouses, a husband, and 6 grandkids using it. Same goes for my Kohler Artifacts faucet—love love love it…..soft spray, stream, and hard spray—I ended up with simple taupe quartz counter which are great but I wish I had done calacatta marble and let the wear and staining become part of our home’s story. The bathrooms I did calacatta marble and they are holding up beautifully and I adore them.

  35. Love your design so far, Laurel! I agree with the smaller dishwasher, only because it takes my husband and I (like others have said) so long to fill our standard-sized dishwasher, and your kitchen is small so I think it works. I understand considering resale, but in the end all this work and money should fit you and your life. So, even when Cale visits I think the smaller DW is enough.
    One of your fav kitchen images shows a pot filler in the coffee cabinet- I LOVE that! I am constantly dribbling water that I have to wipe up when I fill mine. Your cabinet isn’t really close to plumbing, but to me it would be worth it!
    The only other comment I have is about drawers. I think someone mentioned before that they tend to take up so much less room than cabinet doors. When you are taking out or replacing things you don’t usually have to pull them out as far as a door sticks out- big bonus in a small kitchen. I am speaking as one who has had both, and deep, fully pulled out drawers win out for me every time! I had a spinal fusion, so it’s so much easier for me- or anyone, for that matter, to see what’s at the back of my storage than the back of a cabinet with doors. I know doors are more aesthetically pleasing. And even with pull-out shelves you still have to have those doors opened fully every time- so annoying in a small kitchen! So I would make sure to have some deep, pull-out-all-the-way, drawers for pots and pans, baking dishes, etc.
    I appreciate your blog so much- it has taught me so much as a designer! I really love your classicism and style to last beyond all the silly trends. If only people had listened to you we wouldn’t be stuck with millions of gray kitchens now! Oh well, keeps us in business, anyway.

  36. Gorgeous. You won’t want to leave your kitchen space because its so pretty. Have you considered a Silgranit sink in the truffle color? It looks lovely with marble and is durable and simple to keep clean. No scratches, chips, stains. I love mine.

  37. Gorgeous kitchen. I love how the brass rail- so lovely- enhances the curved sink/cabinet area. I had two windows open on my computer, both with your recent blog entry, so that I could follow your descriptions/words on one window along with various visual representations that you provided for us on the other. Such a generous description of the details. Ty. I learned a lot.

  38. Your new kitchen will be lovely! The wait, and all the consultations and redesigning will be worth it to get just want you want. Thanks so much for the link to Susan’s website. She has a great portfolio-all different styles-and she’s an aging in place specialist. What a great designer to have on your team. What does she suggest for the microwave? That would be a factor to consider.
    I have the same coffeemaker and a smaller toaster on a slide out shelf, which I love! I’m far too lazy to contribute to a chore of wiping or scrubbing the underside of a cabinet from the coffeemaker’s steam or smoke molecules from the toaster (which does build up over time) every time I make breakfast! When I have company, the toaster goes elsewhere, and I fill the rest of the shelf with a little flower vase, coffee & tea fixings and leave it pulled out; my guests love serving themselves there.
    I also would not want the loss of space or vacuum/clean around the pocket doors (think crumbs and coffee grounds which always seem to escape their rightful places!) For me, one that opens upward or none at all.
    As a single person, I can tell you that my full-sized dishwasher takes about a week to fill! I’ve stayed at B&Bs with 18″ DWs and still only need to run them every other day, so the smaller one makes sense to me.
    I adore the brass rail above the sink and the brass faucet! I would just want the rail high enough to avoid everyday splashing; patina is beautiful, but not wiping down spots, (lazy again)! But I would not give up my spray faucet, which is marvelous for cleaning crystal and China that don’t go in the DW (love them too much to be lazy about that!), washing & refilling flower vases, even cleaning the sink itself! I don’t know if they make them in brass, or if you could find one that fits with your aesthetic, but they are simply wonderful to use.
    Laurel, only you know what will work for you and your needs, so use what suits you and ignore the rest! Keep going for your dream kitchen, not resale.

  39. This is so beautiful and I am watching closely as we are going to redo our kitchen in 2024. My husband wants it enormous and I don’t. He wants walnut cabs and that seems too dark to me. I really really want white appliances which might be a challenge and would look weird with darker cabinets. The Cafe series is beautiful but the reviews are not good. The whole thing = challenge!

    Pocket doors are wonderful and the 18″ dishwasher is plenty big enough.

  40. Love the look you have chosen for your new kitchen. One thing I noticed on your range side is the half-width drawers on each side of your range in the top two rows. Three kitchens ago, I had a kitchen full of half-width drawers in wide drawer banks and just hated them. The drawer boxes and styles took up valuable space where a full width drawer gives that space back. In my past two kitchen, I chose drawers the width of the cabinets with either three or four drawers to a drawer bank. I have never regretted my choice. There are numerous organizational choices for keeping kitchen tools neat and tidy in drawers.

    I am new to your website and really love what you share for your readers.

  41. Hi Laurel, beautiful rendering of your next version of the kitchen plan. Maybe run by the Kitchen Designer friends: keeping the DRAWERS in the glass cabinet? I have family in Europe, and learned over 15 years ago there was a trend there to replace use of door cabinets with slide out drawers— all in the name of efficiency. In the one kitchen renovation I have been able to put that into practice— it was a galley with one side having doors, opposite side having pot drawers, etc., I noticed right away the ease of use— retrieving as well as storing the items. In two subsequent rental property kitchen renos I was not able to sneak in drawers, because of cost concerns. I know I can still “retrofit” sliding with rev-a-shelf/ shelf genie or similar companies— but that is kicking the expense can down the road. If you can test drive a showroom kitchen with actual pots and pans and dishes to pretend what it might be like on a daily basis, drawers might be what you would like after all?

    1. Hi Juanita,

      Yes, we are going to address the back cabinet next. I just made another comment about the depth. That is my only concern and I wasn’t clear about that in this post.

  42. I think your designer has given very good advice about the dishwasher being next to the sink. I see no problem with an 18″ dishwasher. For a single person, it is large enough. I think eliminating the sink bump out is a good idea. Especially in a small space, it would be something I would always be bumping into. Additionally, the few inches you gain and valuable space. As for the problem of the curve, the opening and the panel molding, I’m wondering why you can’t change the arc so the curve comes around to the edge of the wall where the panel molding is, while still meeting the required 32 inch opening. This would allow you to keep your panels symmetrical. If you go with an appliance cabinet, I would definitely have the coffee maker on a pullout shelf. If you are considering an induction microwave, keep in mind that you need at least 3 inches on the sides and 6 inches above it for ventilation. I agree with another writer about the danger of having a microwave too high. I like the idea of pocket doors to close over the appliances when not in use. However, your money could probably be spent on things that matter more. The cabinet is located in a place that no one sees unless they are in the kitchen. With all the planning and thought you’ve put into your kitchen, it’s going to be gorgeous and functional!

    1. Hi Susan,

      The wall can be whatever we wish it to be. I don’t want it extending beyond the base more than an inch or two. However, if for some reason, I need to extend it further, I will. (like for light switch/intercom). But, the panels will still line up over the corresponding cabinet sections.

  43. I have personal experience with an 18″ dishwasher in 2 homes. I designed my in-laws kitchen and they love the smaller dishwasher which they run daily. She entertains frequently and having a smaller dishwasher isn’t a problem. The larger sink that she has in return is more important. I also installed an 18″ panel front dishwasher in our beach condo where we sometimes have as many as 6 people staying. Love the 18″ in that scenario also. There are lots more choices in 18″ than a decade ago.

  44. Your kitchen looks fabulous. So many details that add to the total splendid completion. Pocket doors ,definitely.

  45. Kitchen design is a specialized field, and even an experienced designer such as yourself can profit from using one. It’s going to be great–love all your choices!!

  46. Absolutely lovely! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m so glad you decided to do checkerboard flooring instead of wood—so classic. Can’t wait to see the final result!

  47. I love pocket doors!! Showing the appliances is very practical for day to day use…but with the doors you can elevate your kitchen by hiding the day-to-day items.
    Rather than a microwave drawer I put it in my pantry (with a door) and it is so convenient so I agree with putting it in your “coffee bar”

  48. I have my microwave in a pantry cabinet and love it there- it’s hidden- but I have one and it was under $100 vs $1400 for the drawer option. I love the idea of pocket doors on your appliance cabinet- with s slide out shelf for coffee maker. I have the cuisanart coffeemaker “cup on demand” that has a pull up and off water reservoir – so it is easy to fill. I think for one person the 18” dishwasher would be fine..it will limit the brands and choice – though- great article! The planning stage is so important!

  49. Laurel, love the design so far! I would definitely go with the smaller dishwasher, larger sink and pocket doors. LOVE the brass gallery shelf a la DeVOL!! Recovering from shoulder surgery this past month I discovered the DeVOL series For the Love of Kitchens on HBO (you can also see the episodes on the DeVOL website). I binge watched both seasons of lovely kitchens. I’m so excited to see your kitchen completed!

  50. I love love love it! I am working on kitchen reno plans of my own and pinned two of your pics as ideas. Particularly the panel molding on the wall with the rail shelf. 18″ dishwasher will be a gracious plenty for one person. It takes several days for my husband and I to fill up our standard one.

  51. Laurel,
    That kitchen rendering is absolute perfection!!
    Every idea you have for it is going to work wonderfully.
    And love the idea of a smaller dishwasher. I have a regular sized one for my husband and me in our house and it’s a pain waiting to accumulate enough dirty dishes for 2 people.
    You are generous to invite comments, but you know how you live and cook and clean and what those needs entail.
    I am so inspired after reading this blog this morning – thanks for generously sharing with all of us!

  52. Hi Laurel! I am so glad you consulted with a trusted friend and kitchen designer. Her comments are spot on. It’s very easy to get caught up in how a kitchen looks and forget that it also needs to be functional. The design process can be very time-consuming, but it’s worth it to take the time to figure out all of the details that affect function or make a small space look too busy.

    I think the 18” dishwasher is a great solution. You have a one-person household, and unless you hold frequent dinner parties, a small dishwasher will serve your needs. A smaller sink base will definitely limit your choice in sinks. That’s a fact many people are unaware of unless they are in the design or construction business.

    Love the thought of using pocket doors, however, I am not a fan of microwaves placed high up. As we age, our shoulders tend to get weaker. Having pullout shelves can bring items closer, but height is also a consideration. If the coffee maker emits a lot of steam while brewing, you will definitely appreciate the ability to pull it out from the shelf above during the brew cycle.

    I look forward to seeing your final drawings and the finished kitchen! It’s going to beautiful and functional!

    1. All great points, Anne. Yes, I’m planning on a pullout shelf, ala Cheryl Clendenon (pictured, but obviously less wide). I’m doing a small coffee maker if I do one at all. I’ve been doing pour over coffee for years and love it. So, that section doesn’t need to be more than 15″ high if that.

  53. This will be so beautiful when you are done! However, I would like to agree that you will be happier with a bigger dishwasher than 18 inches! This may affect resale too. Could you move the sink cabinet over just a couple of inches towards the door? Alternatively, you could take a few inches the other way with the pantry instead. If I were in your finished kitchen, I am not sure that I would notice if the fridge cabinet and the pantry were exactly the same size! Seems like I have seen some “appliance garage” doors that swing up and in, rather than on the sides, so that may give more space.

    The marble look is beautiful and there seem to be some surfaces now that look like marble but are easier care and less staining.

    1. GGG,

      lol, no, I cannot move the sink over. That means moving everything over and as I showed, there isn’t enough room for that. An 18″ dishwasher is not going to affect resale. No one will notice. This is an apartment for one or two people, not a family of six.

  54. Can’t wait to see this beautiful kitchen! I would think again about pocket doors. They eat a lot of valuable space. And I would rather see nice looking appliances all the time, have easy access to the appliances, and not see the pockets when doors are open. And if you will hardly ever close them….

  55. I agree with Tracy. I would opt for a smaller sink and get a full sized dish washer. The placement of the coffee maker is fine, as long as the shelf above it is slightly recessed. My coffee maker is placed diagonally across the kitchen from the sink. The kitchen is small so not a problem.
    You are making great progress!

    1. The coffee maker will be on a pull-out shelf. My rendering is someone else’s kitchen. It is conceptual, only. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear. It’s very difficult to do these posts and remember to say everything I need to say.

      The 18″ dishwasher is fine. My other option was a SINGLE drawer dishwasher. A full-size dishwasher is usually too big for me. Sometimes I end up putting in dirty dishes with clean dishes and wash the clean ones again so that I have enough dishes.

  56. The only thing I think is awkward is having the coffee maker where it is because you have to pull it out to open the top to pour water or put the filter and coffee in. So you definitely need to plan around that. Can’t wait to see it finished!

    1. Yes, it will be on a pullout shelf. No biggie. One generally keeps these things close to the backsplash and has to pull it out, anyway to use. That’s if I have one. I’m not sure. I like the idea.

  57. Wow, your kitchen is looking stunning! Pocket doors seem great as others have said. Could you have the microwave in the lower cabinet as an option? We had a mishap years ago taking soup out of an overhead microwave and have kept it low in subsequent kitchens.

  58. Totally agree with Tracey. I think an 18″ dishwasher will be a mistake in the long run. I would consider Tracey’s suggestion of a slightly smaller sink.

    1. Sorry, it won’t work. I need space for garbage and recycling. Plus, it looks horrible with those skinny doors and I’ll also be limiting my choices of sinks. See, when you change one thing, it throws other things off. The 18″ dishwasher suits me fine as I’ve already said a few times.

  59. Looks beautiful!! I would do the pocket door, as I would not want a regret. And a pullout shelf for coffee maker, from a previous comment, makes good sense to me.

  60. I have a coffee station with top cabs above, also. The solution is to get a side mount coffee machine where the water is filled from a removable trough fitted to the side. No need to pull out the machine to the edge of the counter.

  61. Laurel, I know your refrigerator is smaller, but make sure your appliances will fit through that opening to get into the room. 30″ looks tight!

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Maybe you missed the graphic. Code is 32″. My opening is going to be at least 33″, I could get by with a 27″ opening as nothing is deeper than 26″. Of course, this is why one must work with a kitchen designer! Everything will be gone over and over. No worries.

  62. The pocket doors would solve the problem of having the doors in the way when they’re open, but what about bifold doors? I have a pantry cabinet in my kitchen that I modified for the microwave and changed the doors to bifold. I find them easier to operate than pocket doors.

  63. Hi Laurel,
    I love your design, and know it is going to be beautiful. One comment, about the small dishwasher. I had one and regretted it, both because of the capacity and the selection of dishwashers. So I wondered, have you considered narrowing down the sink cabinet by the 3 inches you need to accommodate the dishwasher where the 21 inch cabinet was? Just a thought. Thanks again for sharing!

  64. You nailed it. Looks amazing. I love the pocket door idea. What is the name of the marble shown in the JW photo? I’m also a fan of deVol and Jean Stoffer. This design seems to use elements of both. Now, you just need a gorgeous Staub Dutch Oven in a striking color to sit on the stove!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
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