Category Archives: Kitchen Design

Five kitchen design blunders and what to do instead

Kitchen Blunders

Kitchen BlundersEven if you don’t expect every last detail of your kitchen renovation to turn out perfectly, you probably plan on coming close, without any major mistakes. Yet remodeling goofs—like boxing in the fridge or mounting the cabinets out of reach—happen more often than you might think. Consumer Reports talk to some kitchen pros on how to avoid five common mistakes.

Squeezed-in island
“A 12-foot-wide kitchen is too narrow for an island,” says Chelly Wentworth of Craftsman Design and Renovation in Portland, Ore. Yet many people add one anyway and wind up with cramped aisles.

Undersized refrigerator
Cabinet-depth refrigerators, typically 25 to 29 inches deep instead of the standard 30 to 34 inches, don’t protrude as far into the room. But less depth also means less capacity. If you want the streamlined look and have a family, consider a wider (and pricier) built-in fridge. To find a cabinet-depth or built-in refrigerator, check the results of our refrigerator reviews which list dimensions and other features and specs.

Misplaced the microwave
It’s a popular convenience, but it often ends up in an inconvenient spot, says Duval Acker of Kitchens by Design in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Putting one above a range can mean you’ll have to reach too high; putting it below a counter means bending. A simpler and cheaper solution is to leave it on a countertop if you have the space. Countertop models typically cost less than over-the-range models. Our 18 top countertop microwave picks range in price from $100 to $380.

Too trendy
“Watch out for the things you’re seeing in every magazine,” says Curt Schultz, a realtor, architect, and contractor in Pasadena, Calif. As with clothing, you’re much safer choosing styles with classic, timeless looks.

Ignoring the future
To accommodate aging eyes, plan ways to get plenty of light, says Jean Marie Courtney of Creative Designs in Cambridge, Mass. And provide at least one spot where a cook can sit down.

Kitchen Design Trends in 2012

Kitchen Design Trends

1. Stainless steel kitchen appliance finishes won’t be going out of style any time soon – so go ahead, go steel. Stainless continues to be an overwhelmingly popular choice for kitchen designs, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

2. Pantone, the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, forecasts nine directional color palettes for home furnishings and interior design in 2012, including such luscious-sounding names as Nonchalance, Subtleties, Resilience, Indigo Effects, Transcending Time, Back to the Fuchsia, Reflections, Nouveau Neon and The Comics. Leslie Harrington of the Color Association of the US also tells us to expect more soft pink, purples and a pretty green resembling the new growth on a tender young plant.

3. Frugality is in for 2012 – but the kitchen is still the heart of the home. In times of financial uncertainty, the kitchen and the home will become even more important as Americans develop a greater appreciation for experiences and quality family time, says Chris Christopher, economist with IHS Global Image.

4. Kitchens remain at the top of the list for homeowner renovations in 2012, says Remodeling Magazine. Minor kitchen remodeling and design came in at the highest price among projects under $25,000, but “the project represents a relatively inexpensive “face-lift” to what is for most prospective buyers the most important room in the home.” A bonus: homeowners in the market to resell their home recoup an average of 81% from their kitchen remodeling investment.

5. Setting up kitchen zones as part of the overall kitchen design, while doubling up refrigerators, sinks and ovens is a prominent 2012 trend, according to HGTV Magazine. Multiple refrigerators include the traditional standup model and another in a bar or kitchen island. “Hosts can chat to their guests in the kitchen while mixing a drink or the kids can grab an apple without getting underfoot,” says the authoritative online magazine.

6. Smaller, more environmentally-savvy homes with fewer rooms will be a growing trend, while family rooms and kitchens will grow larger, according to a late-2011 survey of 2,000 International Furnishings and Design Association members. Big kitchens will remain high on To-Do lists, thanks to North Americans’ escalating interest in quality home cooking, members agreed.

7. The formal dining room may be facing its demise: 71% of International Furnishings and Design Association respondents doubted that there would even be a separate dining room in most homes by 2020, part of a trend toward the blurring of lines between separate rooms into spaces that serve many different purposes.

8. Computer ‘apps,’ particularly for the new iPad 2, will become an increasingly popular tool for consumers in 2012, says Home Accents Today online magazine. A good example: DuPont’s mySurface, an iPhone application that allows users to search for DuPont™ Corian® solid surface and quartz surface colors by hue.

9. Smartphones or iPhones will become even more important shopping tools. In fact, nearly half of smartphone users (48%) say the phone is their “new BFF” when it comes to shopping, according to an October 2011 study by Shopper Sciences, a retail marketing and shopper insights consultancy.

10. Traditional kitchen cabinetry designs will trump trendy designs as consumers aim for greater longevity and increased practicality. The National Kitchen & Bath Association says consumers are clinging to more classic designs and styles: Shaker has recently supplanted contemporary as the second most popular cabinetry style used by NKBA member designers (with traditional coming in first).

11. Quality will be the ultimate goal in kitchen designs in 2012. Bill Esler of Closets Daily predicts: “A homeowner remodeling his kitchen cabinetry in stages over many months or even years, will want a durable wood product in a classic style, that can be matched and which will consistently accommodate additions and changes over time.”

Selecting the New Kitchen Range for Your Kitchen Remodel

Ranges for new kitchen design

Ranges for new kitchen designFor anyone who enjoys cooking for their family, the kitchen range will most likely be one of the focal points of a kitchen remodel. It is one of the more expensive, yet integral parts of a beautiful, functional kitchen. There are many options to consider in order to choose a range that will fit both your functional and budgetary needs.
Gas or Electric

When it comes to ranges, most people who are professional or even amateur chefs will prefer a gas range. The heat is easier to control on the stovetop burners, which is important in preparing certain dishes. However, not everyone has the option of gas, although most urban homes will have natural gas available. Here are some benefits and down sides of both electric and gas ranges.

Smooth surface tops available, for a more stable surface
No igniter needed, just turn the knob and it is on
Dual ring burners for more burner size options.
Easier to install, just plug it in
Slow to cool down


Heats faster than standard electric and often faster than gas
Cooktop remains cool except for the area in contact with the pan while heating
Precision control of heat
Requires specific types of induction cookware
Easy to clean


More even, easily adjusted flame heat on stove burners
Natural gas is inexpensive, making these ranges economical to operate
Once the flame is turned off, the heat source is gone; less likelihood of burns
Flames heat both the bottom and sides, making it heat faster

If you want the best of both worlds, you can also choose a duel fuel range. These have the perfect combination of gas for the stovetop and electric for the oven.
Range Type

While the most common and least expensive option is a freestanding range, there are many other options to choose from as well. Besides freestanding, there are also drop in models, slide in models and custom cook tops with separate wall ovens. There are benefits and drawbacks to every choice.

Less expensive and easy to remove
Mave have a storage drawer or warming oven
Come in standard sizes


Front can be flush with cabinets
Easily installed
May have a storage drawer or warming oven

Countertop with Wall Oven

Very custom looking set-up
Allows for cabinet storage under cooktop
Provides an island install option
Easy access to raised oven
Can be more expensive than a one piece range

Design Options

Although the old white stove is considered passé, they are the most economical as far cost goes. Most people are looking for a much cleaner or custom look for their new range to go with their newly remodeled kitchen.

Stainless Steel. Many people will choose stainless steel, if given the option. It presents a sleek look that fits with most any decor. As with any finish, there are different grades of stainless steel finishes to choose from. To avoid fingerprint smudges, you’ll want look for fingerprint resistant stainless.
Designer Colors. Another hot trend is to go with colors for the kitchen range and we are not talking black! There are appliance companies that are offering 190 or more choices in colors for kitchen ranges. From ruby red to powdered blue, you can choose any color you can dream of. Of course, the price will depend on the brand, but you can count on paying a bit more than for your standard colors and finishes.


For those who love to bake, the type of oven you want might be the selling point on any range. There are two main choices, convection and conventional to choose from. For most people, conventional will be the way to go. However, those chefs who are savvy in the kitchen may want the benefits of a convection oven.

Conventional. This is your standard oven that most ranges have, both electric and gas.
Convection. These ovens are typically used in restaurant and professional kitchens, having a fan that circulates the air inside the oven and cooks food faster.

Convection ovens tend to be more expensive. Some people who choose to have wall-mounted ovens will have one of each or choose an oven that has a conversion option that allows you to switch between the two options.

You’ll want to look at the cleaning features offered for your oven choice as well, such as self-cleaning and steam cleaning options.

For many homeowners, the range or cooktop placement will determine many aspects of the rest of the kitchen design so it is important to know which type of range you prefer before planning the rest of your kitchen remodel.

Selecting the New Kitchen Range for Your Virginia Kitchen RemodelSelect Kitchen and Bath

Creative Ideas for Your New Kitchen Backsplash

creative kitchen backsplash

creative kitchen backsplashGone are the days when your artwork was showcased on the refrigerator. Today, the kitchen backsplash is the new art gallery for home and condo owners in Washington DC and Northern Virginia. Guests will do more than mingle in the kitchen before and after the meal; they’ll admire your creativity as you put today’s latest design elements on display.

Color. Bright pops of color have hit the fashion runway, but artistic souls carry color into the kitchen. Try the most vibrant hues of yellow, green, pink or blue in colored tempered glass. A less expensive option is to paint a backsplash with brilliant color and cover it with clear tempered glass or a ceramic glass that’s been designed to withstand high temperatures. Creative cooks with colored cabinetry might choose to add even more color by mixing a number of different colored tiles between the counter and the upper cabinets.

Pattern. Mosaic tiles become artwork with custom patterns in a focal point above the cook top. Or, create an actual rectangle “picture” frame in the space below a well-designed vent hood, with a band of mosaics tiles in a pattern of contrasting mosaic tiles to fill it. A variation on this idea can include a disco mosaic with glass mirror mosaic tiles. Beyond focal point backsplashes, use other materials including a mix of materials to create patterns. Combining different varieties of wood or intermingling wood slats with different types of stain in a multi-layered effect creates visually appealing patterns along the backs of counters.

Texture. Technology has improved the versatility of tile. They are no longer just basic and smooth, although no-frills subway tiles will always have a place. Today, texture abounds. Tiles are now available that mimic the texture of stepping stones or river rock. River rock backsplashes appear as if you collected and set every rock yourself while inviting the tranquil calm of a water setting. Other tile textures include etched glass, slate or marble, and a more traditional Washington D.C. homeowner might appreciate tiles with a beveled relief within them or tiles that imitate old tin ceilings.

Line. A new kitchen backsplash idea is to set tiles in a different direction—either vertically or at an angle. This look instantly updates your kitchen and looks especially nice with the trendy narrow tiles that are one-inch wide by three or four inches long. Another unique backsplash can be created with large elongated rectangle floor tiles of 8 x 16 or 12 x 24 installed in a staggered pattern with accent tiles. Or, use repetition as a design element by creating a visual line with one inset tile or stone repeated at intervals along a long counter space.

Shape. A very modern backsplash application for a Washington DC loft or contemporary house is to use corrugated roofing installed vertically as a kitchen backsplash. This material comes in prefinished colors or galvanized for the restaurant look. While that finish may not be for everyone, most people like some shape to their backsplash beyond a flat wall. Be creative. What do you want to store right at hand in your work zone? Add three-dimensional shape to a backsplash with a built-in step in a different material than your counter top such as stainless steel or even wood. Another choice is to build in a narrow shelf in the middle of the backsplash wall to hold utensils, spices, or ingredients.

Light. Finally, don’t forget to play with light. Using light as a design element doesn’t just mean everything is white or bright. It is the ability to creatively think about the impact of where you use light so that the eye focuses on a particular place or recedes from it. For example, using a black counter and black backsplash with white and glass-fronted cabinetry is a stark contrast, but the light recedes from the counter and backsplash to highlight the display cabinets. Natural light is an element you can use, even in your kitchen backsplash. Have you considered windows in your backsplash? They can be sandwiched between counter and cabinetry; some homeowners in the area have even used them behind a range hood. In the right place windows bring an abundance of natural light into your kitchen. Finally, don’t forget the numerous options with under cabinet lighting to enhance your backsplash. From round pucks to light sticks, light technology minimizes the fixture and maximizes the light. Remember, every kitchen backsplash looks better with under cabinet lighting.

Creativity is marked by originality. Original ideas are solutions that spring from the design process itself. Use the elements of design—color, pattern, texture, line, shape, light—to guide your expressions and allow your personality and style to beautify your kitchen. In that way the backsplash will become the art in your new kitchen.

Creative Ideas for Your New Kitchen BacksplashSelect Kitchen and Bath

10 Great Kitchen Space Planning Ideas

kitchen space ideas

kitchen space ideasIs there ever a kitchen with too much storage space? Probably not. That means it is important to make the most of every inch of your kitchen space planning, leaving nothing wasted. There are lots of great cabinet options that can help you keep your kitchen organized and efficient in its use of limited space. Here are 10 that you may or may not have seen in use:

Pop-up Shelf. If you’re a serious cook, you’re likely to own a large standup mixer. It may even be one your prize possessions. Unfortunately, they do take up a lot of space and can be cumbersome to retrieve from their storage in a kitchen cabinet. The solution for this important item in the kitchen is to include a pop-up shelf that has your mixer attached to it. Not only does it make your mixer easy to retrieve and put away, it creates additional workspace as well.

Pocket Doors. Pocket doors are often used in homes to save space, they can accomplish the same task in your kitchen cabinetry. An appliance garage is an excellent area to utilize pocket doors that smoothly slide into the cabinetry and out of the way.

Corner Drawers. The corner cabinets in kitchens have always been an issue. Lazy-susans have long been the primary means of making this space more accessible; however, there are other options; corner drawers are one of them. These drawers have V-d fronts to fit the corner. Being able to pull the contents out into the light makes them more visible and also eliminates the need to squat down to see what is in the cabinet.

Rollout Shelving. Just like the corner drawers, rollout shelving brings the entire contents of a shelf out into view and makes it easy to access even the items at the back of the shelf.

Rollout Trash. No one likes to take up valuable floor space in the kitchen with a trashcan. A rollout trash center saves floor space and usually has room for two bins, one for trash and one for recyclables.

Ceiling Height Cabinets. One of the big space wasters in kitchens are wall cabinets that do not extend to the full height of the ceiling. Although those upper cabinets are more difficult to access, they can be the perfect storage area for those seldom used items like holiday dishes. Adding glass doors and lighting to these upper cabinets can also make them a beautiful display area.

Swing-Out Shelves. This is another option for corner cabinets or other deep cabinets. Swing-out shelves are attached to the door and swing out when the door is opened for easy viewing and access.

Slotted Storage. Vertical dividers can better organize the storage area of baking pans, trays and even place mats. The dividers keep all the pieces from sliding together.

Divided Drawers. Horizontal dividers in drawers can accomplish a similar purpose. Deep drawers can be divided to provide a cubby hole for each different size kettle, for different sized storage containers and lids or whatever items you have that tend to turn into a jumbled mess inside of a drawer.

Narrow Pull Outs. Often, kitchen designs will have narrow spaces that can be covered with decorative vertical panels. There is no need to waste this space either. The decorative panel can be attached to narrow pull out shelves for spices or canned goods to make use of that space.

10 Great Kitchen Space Planning IdeasSelect Kitchen and Bath

Forward Trends in Kitchen Lighting

Kitchen Lighting trendsLighting is an important part of any room, but the lighting for the kitchen area in a North Virginia home is certainly one of the most critical areas. All kinds of dark spots can develop in the kitchen due the amount of cabinets and appliances in the room. Providing bright lighting for work areas, when and where it is required, is essential; however, low light options are important to facilitate the multi-functional spaces in a kitchen and to provide accent to special features. Saving energy is also a factor in choosing light fixtures and the bulbs that go with them for green-living Washington DC residents.

Here are some of the current and forward moving trends in kitchen lighting:

LED. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) the use of LED lighting by members in their kitchen designs increased from 54% in 2011 to 70% in 2012. This trend towards more energy efficient lighting is one that will certainly continue as incandescent bulbs are being gradually phased out in the U.S. over the next two years. The fact that the lighting provided by LED lights offers a more natural coloring than that of Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) and does not use mercury in its components has caused LED lighting to push ahead while the use of CFL lighting appears to be in decline.

Dimmer Dining. Since many kitchens are including eating areas as part of the kitchen design, either at the island or at a peninsula countertop, focused lighting with dimmer switches are becoming a must have in many kitchens. Islands and peninsulas will generally have focused lighting in the form of two to three mini-pendants or one larger drop-down fixture. This is just the beginning of the mood lighting that is being requested by Springfield, Virginia homeowners for their new kitchens.

Layered Lighting. The value of multi-layered lighting options has been a trend that continues to grow. New kitchens will often have bright overhead lighting, sometimes provided in the form of recessed cans in the ceiling, as you will see in many of the kitchens in our portfolio. Under-cabinet work surfaces will have a second layer of lighting to overcome the shadows from the overhead cabinets and food preparers, when mixing up that batch of brownies to satisfy a sweet tooth. Additional layers move up the walls with lighting inside glass faced cabinets, which show off crystal or décor items. The highest layer may be behind the cornices at the top of the cabinet line and the lowest layer down along the toe-kick area of the cabinets. These minimal upper and lower light strings are often used as night lighting for the midnight snack or preparing the baby’s bottle for the early morning feeding. A variety of lighting options foster energy savings, as well, since bright overhead lights with higher energy usage are only used when truly needed.

Light Fixtures. Trends in faucets and cabinet hardware finishes often influence the metal finishes being selected for kitchen light fixtures. The NKBA shows a trend back towards polished chrome and away from the brushed nickel finishes that had surged in recent years. Stainless steel and brass finishes also remain popular. Styling trends in light fixtures will generally follow the cabinet choices that are trending, which appears to be transitional, a blend of the simple lines of contemporary styling with a bit of embellishment taken from more traditional styles. Pendants are definitely holding their own as one of the most popular choices for focus lighting. Simple lines with bold shapes and bright solid colors or colored glass shades are popular choices.

Whether you are planning a full kitchen remodel or just a few updates, changes and additions to your kitchen lighting can make a big impact on both the look and functionality of your kitchen’s work and eating areas.

Forward Trends in Kitchen LightingSelect Kitchen and Bath

Add Life and Personality to Your Kitchen Design

design kitchen with personalityDo you hate the monotony of your current kitchen design? Do you have one of those eclectic personalities that enjoys combining different furniture styles and colors to create interest in a room? There’s no reason why you can’t add that same flavor to your kitchen.

As a kitchen and bath remodeling company, we are finding that Washington DC residents are becoming much more adventurous with their cabinetry selections, no longer feeling confined to just one cabinet door style or stain color for the entire kitchen. If you’re looking for some ideas on how you can energize the look of your kitchen, we’ve listed below some of the ways you can break up the lines and color tones of your kitchen to fit with your eclectic tastes.
Get Rid of the Straight Lines

The typical kitchen has cabinets that are all the same height and depth, creating neat, straight lines. Adding door styles that have interesting design characteristics is one way to break the simplicity of this look, but it is only the start. To truly get rid of the straight lines, you’ll need to incorporate some creative design into your choice of cabinet sizes.

You may select some wall cabinets that are deeper than others and some that are of differing heights than the others. This not only breaks the straight even line, but also allows you to customize the size of your cabinets based on what they are going to be used for. You may want deeper cabinets to hold those large charger plates that don’t quite fit into standard size cabinets. You may want shallow cabinets with glass doors to show off your china or crystal without wasting space. Adding extra height to a pantry cabinet will not only give you extra storage space but will also break up the cove line around the top of your cabinets.
Curve Appeal

Adding curves to your cabinets and countertops is another creative way to soften the lines within your kitchen. You’ll find plenty of examples on our portfolio page of how we’ve incorporated curves into our kitchen designs for North Virginia clients.
Create Dimension with Color Contrasts

While you’re breaking up the straight lines with different depths and heights of cabinets, the effect will become even more dramatic if do some color changes in the cabinets as well. The options are really only limited by your imagination. Mixing painted cabinets with stained wood tones is one option. A dark cherry finish alongside a light blond maple creates a unique contrast as well.

Where and how you create your color contrasts is just as full of options. You might choose a different color for your base cabinets from what you choose for your wall cabinets. You might be even more eclectic and incorporate three different color finishes into your cabinet scheme or use more than one choice of countertop material.
Kitchen Island

Choosing a totally different cabinet style and color for a center island is also a popular technique for creating a focal point of interest in your kitchen. Corbels, cornices, columns and legs can add texture and dimension to your kitchen layout, as well.
Don’t Forget the Backsplash

The backsplash area between your countertop and upper cabinets is the perfect place to get creative with shape and color in your kitchen. Small glass tile has become quite popular for creating colorful accents and focal points in the kitchen backsplash space. A cooktop with a hood above becomes the frame to an artistic display of tile work in many kitchens today. Again, plenty of material and design options are available to turn your backsplash into a one-of-a-kind backdrop for your kitchen.

At Select Kitchen and Bath, our first step in the design process for any kitchen is a detailed questionnaire that helps us determine what your functional needs are, as well as your design tastes. Our aim is to always provide our clients with a kitchen design that they love to look at and can enjoy working in as well.

Add Life and Personality to Your Kitchen DesignSelect Kitchen and Bath

Designing the Kitchen Social Center

Kitchen social centerIs your kitchen the social center of your Northern Virginia home? No matter what cultural setting you are in, socializing, particularly in the home environment, centers around food. It is no different here in Virginia, regardless of whether you’re in the center of the Washington DC metroplex or further out in the Springfield area, if you’re entertaining guests in your home, it is likely that you are serving beverages, at the very least and, more likely, some type of food along with those cold or hot drinks.

Not all kitchens are designed to accommodate the social aspect of life. A galley kitchen, for instance, is designed for food prep with only one or two people in the kitchen and having the food served in the dining or living area of the home. If you want to be able to interact with your guests or family while preparing your food, you’ll want a kitchen design that is more open and accommodating. Below we’ve listed some key components to include when creating a kitchen social center:
Kitchen Design

1. Open Concept. Unless your kitchen is extremely large, you’ll want a kitchen that is open to other areas of your home. This prevents a claustrophobic atmosphere from developing when the space is being accessed by a larger number of people. It also provides easy access and the ability to communicate with people in the next room without leaving the kitchen. Removing walls that formerly separated the kitchen from the dining or living area is a common means of accomplishing this open concept. You can see an example where we’ve done this for a kitchen remodel in Arlington on our portfolio page.

2. Seating Area. If you truly want your kitchen to be the social hub of your home, you’ll need to provide a seating area. Often this is created with barstools and an eating bar. For a smaller kitchen the seating area is usually outside of the food prep area and easily accessed from the living or dining area. In a larger kitchen, the seating area may be at the center island. If you have the room, including a second seating area, such as a breakfast nook as part of your kitchen area can further accommodate the serving of family and guests while still remaining active with your food preparation.

3. Traffic Flow. Traffic routes through the kitchen and within the work area is a first consideration in any kitchen design, but it becomes even more critical when you are seeking to make your kitchen the social hub of activity within the home. Professional kitchen designers have developed a quick eye for catching potential bottlenecks in kitchen walkways and know how to minimize these issues to create the ultimate kitchen social center.

4. Combining Beauty with Function. Of course, if your kitchen is going to be a place where you are entertaining your guests, you’ll want it to be beautiful, as well as comfortable. With the many great options today for countertop materials and kitchen fixtures, offering both beauty and function is no problem at all. The luxury of granite has become very affordable and offers a very durable work surface. Man-made options offer similar durability and beauty for those looking for more consistent coloring and design. Built-in beverage or wine coolers are great entertainment based options and range hoods can be as fashionable as they are functional with the many options available. There is absolutely no reason to sacrifice beauty for function with all the material choices available for today’s kitchens.

At Select Kitchen and Bath, we’ve had the privilege of assisting many condo and single family homeowners in transforming their kitchen area from a closed food prep area to an open concept kitchen social center, which was welcoming to their guests and greatly enhanced their entertainment lifestyle. If you’d like to hear our ideas about how we could help you transform your kitchen into a space that is more accommodating for social interaction, contact us here or give us a call at 703-866-4224 to make an appointment. We’d love to show you what miraculous things our designers can do with even a limited amount of space.

Designing the Kitchen Social CenterSelect Kitchen and Bath

Design Elements of the Perfect Eating Bar

design elements kitchen bar

An eating bar is a great addition to any kitchen. While most will be part of the kitchen, often even attached to the kitchen counters, they also can be freestanding or even outside the kitchen area. These casual dining spots are ideal for quick family meals, a place to set up a snack buffet or just to give people a place to relax while conversing with the cook. Once one is added to the kitchen, it is hard to remember how you lived without one!

Many eating bars that are located in the kitchen are either added on to the end of a counter or even below a counter on the opposite side. While most new kitchens come designed with an eating bar, many older ones did not. Because of this, eating bars are a common request as an essential element in kitchen remodels.

Add a bar on to the end of a counter. If your kitchen design allows, you can add a small bar onto the end of a counter. This can be an extension of the counter or at a right angle.

Add a bar that is higher or lower. If you have a counter space with space on the other side, you can add a bar on the side opposite of the kitchen. You can make the bar lower, with chairs instead of stools, or you can make the bar higher and use bar height stools.

Add on to a kitchen island. If room in the kitchen permits, adding an eating bar onto the far side of an island is an option. It can be higher, lower or the same height as the island itself.

Add a freestanding bar. Like a kitchen island, eating bars can be free standing, either in the middle of the room or off to one side. They can also be added off the dining area or even in a sunroom for a relaxing morning coffee area.

Separate the dining room. If the kitchen and dining room are attached, a raised bar can make a nice separation, yet providing easy access to the bar seating area.

Elements of the Perfect Eating Bar

An eating bar should be functional, attractive and comfortable. The whole idea is to have a casual area that people can relax and grab a quick bite or beverage, while it doubles as a serving area when you need extra space. There are a few elements most eating bars will have.

Roomy surface. This area should be away from busy areas of the kitchen like the stove and sink so that the top can be used solely for its intended purpose. The counter width should be no less than 18 inches for functionality. Any less makes the space too narrow and not conducive to a relaxed eating area. At least 12 inches will need to extend past the island or counter to have room for chairs or stools to slide underneath when not in use.

Comfortable seating. Whether you have stools or chairs, they should be comfy. Small stools that you have to perch on are not recommended as they are uncomfortable for larger adults and children can easily fall from them. Larger stools or ones with backs are preferable. Make sure you do not over crowd and try to put too many seats in too small of a space.

Accessible. The bar should be easy to get to from both sides so you can serve on one side and people can sit on the other. There should to be enough space for people to be able to walk behind those seated at the bar as well. Typically this requires up to five feet from the bar, three feet at minimum.

Stylish. The bar should blend with the rest of the kitchen with stylish chairs and accents. The surface of the bar can be either the same material as the kitchen counters or slightly different, but compatible. Sometimes a slightly lighter or darker surface can add a nice contrast. The chairs should match the kitchen design as well; possibly using wood chairs that match the wood finish on the cabinets or metal finishes that fit with the style of your kitchen and dining area.

Lighting. Eating bars should have their own lighting. Depending on where and how the bar is implemented into the room, there can be a variety of options. Pendant lights can work well for freestanding bars or bars with nothing above them. For bars that are situated under a cabinet or sill, recessed lights may be an option.

If you have been considering including an eating bar in your kitchen remodel, your kitchen designer will be able to advise you on how best to situate this functional and fun element into your kitchen. They can give you even more ideas on how to customize your eating bar to fit your home and lifestyle.

Design Elements of the Perfect Eating BarSelect Kitchen and Bath

Interesting Facts About the White House Kitchen

White House Kitchen

The White House Kitchen Then & Now

Home to every U.S. president since John Adams, the White House has changed considerably in the last two centuries, but the kitchen, despite the addition of modern conveniences, has remained surprisingly simple and no-fuss over the years. For example, the placement of the sinks, ranges and ovens have not changed since Nixon was in office in the early 70’s. Still, don’t let the humble design and understated atmosphere fool you. The food and the function is fantastic. The kitchen and its chefs are known for assimilating to the tastes and the times of each president that inhabits the most famous residence in the world. Here are some fun facts about the heart of the President’s home.

1. The main kitchen has been in the same location—on the ground floor of The White House—since the mid-19th century, although the arched ceiling was replaced with a flat one during the Truman-era renovation.

2. In addition to the main kitchen, there is also a family kitchen located on the second floor where the first family can gather for informal breakfasts or to raid the refrigerator. The home also features a smaller, more humble diet kitchen, which was installed for Franklin Roosevelt . (Rumor has it he despised his housekeeper’s food so much, he wanted a small kitchen where he could fix his own meals on the side.) And last but not least, there’s The Chocolate Room, devoted entirely to the preparation of pastries and, of course, chocolate confections.

3. It takes one whole hand to count the number of full-time chefs employed in The White House kitchen: five!

4. Even though The White House is a historic home, the current kitchen retains a commercial, contemporary feel with sleek stainless steel appliances, metal cabinets, butcher-block countertops, and linoleum flooring.

5. The cooking and counter space in the White House kitchen is equipped to handle all of the preparation necessary for dinner parties of up to 140 guests—or appetizers for 1,000 people.

6. Before a renovation in the 1950s, all of the White House food was prepared in fireplaces because there was no stove. Today there are six ovens, a 16-foot-long stove, eight refrigerators, five dishwashers, a soup kettle, a meat grinder, waffle irons, mixers, a 30-gallon ice-cream freezer, and a deep fryer.

7. The main kitchen is completely enclosed by stainless-steel and glass doors, and a floor-to-ceiling partition in order to limit distractions during food prep.

8. The longest-serving White House executive chef was Henry Haller, who cooked for U.S. Presidents for 21 years.

9. The kitchen pantry features two dumbwaiters to lift food up to the butler’s pantry on the first floor where the State Dining Room is located.

10. For a typical state dinner, the kitchen prepares a five-course meal for around 135 people, and it’s served in 55 minutes exactly.

11. No ultra-modern renovations here! The placement of sinks, ranges, and ovens hasn’t changed since the Nixon administration, and equipment from the 1970s is replaced only as necessary.

12. What’s currently cooking? White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford prepares homemade hummus often—it’s an Obama favorite.