The Kitchen Design Process

Bob Borson —  January 27, 2014 — 39 Comments

Things are getting interesting around the Borson household … I am about to be completely submerged into the process that will be known as “The Kitchen Remodel(™)”. I introduced the possibility of this endeavor in last weeks post – ‘An Architect’s Dream Kitchen‘ – and since that moment, we have been in full design mode at the Borson house. This is one of those times when I’m pretty sure confident that my wife is excited that her husband is an architect. Not everyone has the opportunity to work with a ridiculously highly skilled, design-oriented architect … and a good looking amusing one at that … I even provide my services to her at a huge discount.

Let’s be honest, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

kitchen design for Bob Borson

This process includes As-built field verification, several hundred iterations of sketches, and hours of discussions regarding appropriate materials, finishes, appliance packages, faucets, sinks, hardware, cabinet layouts, drawer inserts, and on and on. I’ve found that over the years, I work best when working with my loved ones, that I treat them as an actual client, and I am their design professional. This means not cutting corners on the educational process of why things are done. My wife actually enjoys this process immensely and I can’t say I would blame her should she become irritated if I just waltzed into the room declaring that I had it all figured out because … “this is what I do!” I’ll admit that there are times when I will pull out the “trust me” card but for the most part, my wife is the client on this process and what she says ultimately goes.

kitchen design for Bob Borson

If you are an architect or interior designer, certified kitchen designer, etc., I’m sure you can commiserate with me. Working on your own home is both exhilarating and excruciating at the same time. There is a balance that needs to be found between what you want and what you know. For someone (me) who gets to design a lot of kitchens, there is a certain amount of exploration and creative freedom that comes with the premise that this will not be the only kitchen I ever design. There are exciting trends out there that are hard to ignore – exciting new appliance technologies, new innovative styles in sink design (materials, shapes, functionality – you might be surprised at how many options there are in selecting a sink).

What innovations will be a flash in the pan (hilarious pun) and which ones will be here to stay? Of all the individual rooms to work on, the kitchen offers the most options and the most complexity … but in the case of my kitchen, there is no risk, there is only reward because the architecture of my kitchen is in pretty good shape.

kitchen design for Bob Borson - work zones

The next part for me is to really dig down and look at how I am going to implement my ideas. I wrote a post in September of 2010 titled the “Top 10 Modern Kitchen Design Trends” and It has been 3 years, 4 months and 5 days since I wrote that post and I have to tell you, I nailed it on that post. In fact, it is the most read post on my site (thank goodness I got it right). There are a few things I might tweak on that list – I’m excited with new options for pendant light fixtures, cabinet hardware, non-integrated sinks … what can I say, kitchens are fun to design.

I ended my Top Ten modern Kitchen Design Trends article in a way that seems particularly suited for today’s post as well. Here it is:

“Kitchen design trends change fairly rapidly but most of the items on this list have been developing and refining for years. Despite the hype, kitchens don’t come into favor or go out of style in a year – if they do, I think you have a bad design on your hands. Yes, I know that I called this list the Top10 Modern Kitchen Trends, but I hope that this list represents more than a trend. Trend … that makes it sound so irrelevant and transitory – two words that I strive to avoid using when describing my work.”

My plan is to walk you through this process like I’ve done in other construction posts. I’ve got big things planned for this project and I’m excited to share it with you. If you have any questions,suggestions … requests, please feel free to share them with me. This is going to be fun.

I hope.

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  • Ed

    I’m in the process of planning my own new kitchen, and since I’m also an architect I have the predictable budget restrictions. We ended up selecting Fisher & Paykel appliances, mostly, at about half the price of Sub Zero and arguably just as stylish. Still not cheap. I just stumbled on a new countertop material called “Neolith”…..it’s huge sheets of ceramic tile with some great finishes.

  • Joshua Johnson

    Great opurtunity. I do countertops and have re-done them several times “just because” Have fun and enjoy it. A full kitchen remodel doesn’t happen that often in a persons life. That being said you’ll never get it 100% perfect and trying to can sometimes guarantee you’ll be unhappy with the end product.

  • Marcia Stanley

    The life
    of an architect is not so easy at it seems. They have to keep trach of each
    and every progress and details in the work. Specially the décor of kitchen is
    hech of a task for them. No matter how hard they work and how attentive they
    are in the progress but something or the other is always left out.

  • http://www.dwgindir.com/ www.dwgindir.com

    Thank you for usefull information.

  • Linda Slater

    Which way does the fridge door swing?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      In the future plan, it is expected that it will be a single door hinged on the lefthand side. This will allow easy transfer from fridge interior to either the counter to the right or to the island. I do not want to unload to the counter to the right of the sink – that’s a cleaning zone, not a cooking zone.

      • Linda Slater

        Spot on! :)

  • AlmostJane

    I like your plan very much. If I ruled the world, ALL kitchen sinks would have a window. Also LOVE the idea of a fireplace in the kitchen. So cozy and “keeping room-ish.” Glad you’re keeping yours. Can I ask what room has the other fireplace? Dining room? Also – have you chosen your countertops yet? I have a bet with myself that you’re not going with granite. Just wondering… :>)

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks Jane – the other room is the Den (go here for the some pictures of that area http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/polishing-concrete-floors/ )

      We haven’t chosen them yet so I am up for some options – but I am 99% sure they will be white – which means they won’y be granite.

      So what bet did you win and can you share the prize with me?

      • AlmostJane

        Well, haven’t been reading for all that long but it sounds as though you’re very comfortable doing what will make you and your family happy, rather than creating some kind of Home Show kitchen – one that you really don’t even like – just because some people may expect an architect to have that. Every single TV show and magazine kitchen these days is stainless steel and granite. BORE-RING! There are so many other options out there. For me, durability, good looks and low maintenance would be highest priority, so my own choice would be engineered quartz, solid surface or maybe recycled glass. With backpainted glass backsplashes. My sister just finished her kitchen renovation in June and calls her solid surface countertops “the best decision we made in the whole project.” Looking forward to more posts abut your kitchen-to-be.

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  • http://j9sopinion.tumblr.com/ Jeanine H

    Lol… Bob, while reading your posts I often smile, wrinkle my face with curiosity (at some of the architect relations I just can’t relate to not being an architect and all), nodding in agreement & enjoyment, and learn something NEW! Not many blogs can do that all in one sitting. I haven’t read your stuff in so long because I found you somehow got thrown in the wrong pile of emails. Glad to have it all fixed up and back reading again. Thanks for being a constant in the exciting world of architecture Sir! ;D Jeanine

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks Jeanine, you comment made my day! I look forward to more of them in the future :)

  • Debbi in Texas

    Exciting post. I am the “wife” and my husband is “the architect”, so been there many times. He also occasionally pulls the “trust me” card, but I still want him to consider me as “the client” and he does, but sometimes what I envision can’t work for some reason or other. We just moved into our custom designed house and starting with a list of “wants” is the list to work from. Over a year, we designed two complete floor plans and scrapped them before coming up with a third plan that worked in all ways for us. This is our second house we have designed and lived in. Our budget for this house was considerably increased over our first one, and we wanted this to be our retirement house so we had to look very far into the future and possible updating that might be made to appliances so make adaptable spaces.. The kitchen was a very important area to design for us. Looking forward to your future posts.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Hi Debbi – sounds like you have a similar arrangement as my wife and I. You bring up some interesting considerations about your kitchen and looking to the future since this is your retirement house. At this point, I have no plan for my current house to be the house I retire in … I plan on winning the lottery between now and when I retire (which will happen when I win the lottery).

      Until then, glad to have you on board with these future posts!

  • Mark Mc Swain

    As a person who has had age and OA creep up upon them, I have found of late that I do not much enjoy using a range-oven. To the point that it (only occasionally) will limt the things I cook in the oven.
    The accessibility of a wall over is not somehting to discount lightly. That, and splitting the two functions helps support multiple cooks in a kitchen almost as much as a single cook.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      that a fair consideration to make – although I am going to ignore it for now and hope that I don’t pay too dearly later. Also, in my house, there is one chef de cuisine … and there is no consideration for a sous chef. You are in, or you are out, everybody takes their turn.

  • M.G.

    To design my own kitchen, now there is a true life goal !
    This process should be very interesting, can’t wait to read about it.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I plan on this being a positive experience – getting all the moving parts in place now is the most important part!

      Thanks for coming along on the ride

  • anaquin

    Bob: If budget is a problem take a pragmatic approach
    1. no need to demo both fireplaces – just one
    den access would be worth it ( more impact-full than #2)
    2. how do you justify new bar if one exist and $ are tight
    3. either add window and vine cover trellis/tree or include obscure glass for the natural light.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      1) there is no separating out these two fireplaces, they are built as 1 single mass. Rest assured from a construction standpoint, I know what I’m talking about – I am intimately familiar with this project
      2) I can justify the expense because it suits my priorities, although, it is possible that things will remain configured as they are in that area, just demo’d and rebuilt to suit the new material pallet
      3) maybe it’s just me, but this falls into the “velvet rope” design category. If the tree/trellis/vine is of such density to actually shield traffic noise and people sitting at the bus from looking it, it’s not doing it’s job letting in additional natural light.

  • Todd Chambers

    Bold move, ditching the double oven… I’m looking forward to seeing this evolve!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I live on the edge!

  • Mike

    I’d like to see a video of you sketching, your sketches are beautiful! I’m looking forward to following your kitchen design process.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I’m not that good at sketching …

  • Ann

    Our Kitchen has been left untouched, even by paint since we moved into our historic home 3 1/2-years ago. Same problem, I know to much. My husband has little opinion to act as my “Client” and set a direction, with the exception of wanting to keep a table in the center of the room. There are too many directions in my head.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I have the opposite problem – my wife LOVES this stuff and has many opinions. I am normally the guy that says “no, we can’t do that.” My house is also architecturally fairly rigid and there are no small moves that can be made – it’s part of the reason we haven’t dealt with some of these problem areas before, simply buying a new oven means $15,000 worth of revisions just to accommodate that oven.

  • anaquin

    3 questions
    1. why not use a back to back fireplace and open a direct access to the liv/den rm.the most poplar remod. trend in kitchens of the last decade. this would make a contribution to physically and visually expand both spaces.
    2. why not switch the bar and pantry position – thereby gaining bar access from liv/ den and spreading access to booze during parties ( since kitchen already could support this function. )
    3. Why not add more natural light and visual access to the kitchen. Add windows or door to the ext. wall closest to the dining rm table.
    Promise not to complicate the prelim signoff by telling your wife about these options.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      in order:
      1) to accomplish this would require taking the entire masonry fireplace apart … both of them. This would impact everything and this alone would blow my budget.
      2) switching the bar and pantry position would be putting it back to the way it is currently. I know how that works, which is why I am changing it. Also, having wet bar access from the living room is a bit too 1970′s for me, especially since this function would only be support 1 or 2 nights a year (which basically means it isn’t worth it).
      3) My house is right next to a busy street and part of the reason there is limited windows is to shut out noise and public visibility. Even though I wish there was more natural light, the light quality in the kitchen is pretty good and I’d rather the the people waiting for the bus not be looking at me while I’m eating my dinner.

      Something else that is a consideration on the extent of the changes I take on is that I don’t have any sheet rock in my house – everything is either 3-coat hard stucco or board on board wood paneling. Also, everything is currently laid out on a grid (which is conveniently indicated in the score pattern of my exposed concrete floor. Moving or re configuring walls is not as straightforward as you might think AND every little move has pretty significant financial impacts.

  • Mark Bischak

    Save the bar clock.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      of course!

  • Mark Bischak

    I suggest moving the refrigerator to the edge of the cook area, towards the eat area. This will place work surfaces together and keep non-cooks out of the main work area when getting a beverage out of the refrigerator.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I had thought about this but the navigating around the island would prove to be an on-going pain in the rear. I would prefer to keep the work-zone intact for the chef (AKA me) than move the priority to the casual beverage retriever.

  • Courtney Price

    This will be an interesting one to follow, keep us posted!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      there might even be video in this series!

      • Ann

        Yes please.

  • Bill Woodhams

    I would love to see some preliminary sketches :)

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I plan on showing as many sketches as seems reasonable – probably more once we get into the interior cabinet layout process.