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Ask the Architect

Planning the perfect kitchen


Q. We’re changing our kitchen, and people have given us conflicting information. The kitchen store says they install the kitchen but charge extra to remove the old one, and we have to tell them what appliances we want. A contractor says he installs kitchens, we don’t need a permit and as long as we tell him the appliance sizes, we don’t have to select the exact ones. We’re trying to decide on a size for our refrigerator, and whether to get one that is three feet wide but sticks out past the countertop three inches, or one that’s four feet wide that’s the same as the counters. The wider refrigerator, our decorator says, looks much “cleaner” and designed, but it costs $4,000 more. What do you think about all this? Should we have the kitchen company do the installation, get appliances delivered first, and do we need the refrigerator that costs more to match the counters?

A. When I first started working on Long Island, part of my role was as an in-house designer and architect for a large European high-end kitchen manufacturer, Siematic Kitchens. The first design questions we were trained to ask were, what are your styles of cooking — broiling, frying, baking, kosher, vegetarian, etc. How often do you shop for food, and how often do you eat out or take out? Most people were surprised when they were asked if they were right- or left-handed, but all the answers make a difference in how you use your kitchen.

Many people over-buy perishable food to fill a bigger refrigerator, thinking they’re saving money or time returning to the store, but instead lose money when food isn’t consumed and just thrown away. A food industry publication reported in June that 168 million tons, accounting for $278 billion worth of groceries, is wasted annually in the U.S. So take the time to analyze your cooking and consuming routine before deciding on the large-volume refrigerator.

Expensive shallow-depth refrigerators aligning with your countertops look much better, and can actually save you their extra cost on food consumption, because food doesn’t get lost and moldy in the back. (Out of sight is out of mind.) The wall behind the deeper refrigerator can be altered to create a recess so the deeper, narrower unit can be adapted to still look great, but beware of forgetting to space the unit from the wall to avoid the door not fully opening.

One-stop shopping and installation with the showroom means that one company handles all the issues, which has its advantages. You should definitely know what appliances you want and have the model numbers and sizes selected. Appliances need to be ordered to arrive right before installation so they aren’t in the way, and should be unpacked by the delivery company and inspected by you to assure that color, condition and size are correct before they leave. Building permits are required almost everywhere, so check before planning. Good luck!

© 2019 Monte Leeper. Readers are encouraged to send questions to yourhousedr@aol.com, with “Herald question” in the subject line, or to Herald Homes, 2 Endo Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530, Attn: Monte Leeper, architect.