Designing our Kitchen

When we bought this house, I knew immediately that the kitchen wasn’t going to work for us and that priority #1 would be to remodel the space into something a little more lounge-y, flow-y and useful. Typical kitchen spaces aren’t really designed well – that whole kitchen triangle thing, while great for workflow, doesn’t take into account how people use kitchens these days. When I cook, my kids want to be right there too, whether they’re helping, watching or just even doing their homework. Okay, okay, *I* want them to be near me too – keep an eye on ’em, get them involved in cooking and help them with their homework questions.

When we entertain, my friends are always hanging out in the kitchen helping get the meal ready. Susan Serra, my kitchen designer, calls this a “social kitchen.”

Here’s our kitchen before we moved in – it’s got gorgeous high ceilings….but totally cut off by that THING hanging down for the lights. We have barstools against that little half-wall/bar area, but to me, having people sit behind a bar as an observer of the kitchen isn’t “social”, it’s more them watching me.

The kitchen is dark and could use a skylight or two. Since it’s a one-story house, we could punch through the ceiling and let the light in (cue heavenly music).

So I flew Susan down from NYC for 4 hours – basically she commuted from NYC to Florida for the day! Nathan helped her get some precise measurement….

….because, uh, my measurements that I emailed her wasn’t quite exact enough.

All the “x” mark stuff that I want out, including the pantry in the back corner, which sits at a diagonal and cuts the kitchen space. I have another large walk-in pantry just across the kitchen, so nixing a in-kitchen pantry would be okay.

Okay, so here are some of the initial designs that she came up with.

1) This version gives me an island as a workstation and also angles the kitchen so it opens up into the breakfast nook. I love having an island, but I think I want something a little more “open” feel. Also, I don’t like cooking with my back towards the rest of the kitchen.

2) This version makes the cooktop the focal point of the kitchen (and it’s a beautiful Thermador cooktop and vent system, as I’m working with them this year) but again, my back would be towards the room.

3) This plan is my favorite, it actually cuts into the family room space a bit, which is perfect, as it seems this entire room is one space. Lots of counter space!

4) Okay, so here is my favorite. On the island, I asked Susan to move the dishwasher (the square next to sink) to the other side of the sink and move the cooktop to the top of the island. I’ll explain why later.

So here’s a more detailed drawing that Susan made, based on my feedback and her advice. When I cook, I like to wash the produce and then cut and prep the food. So in this design, I’d wash the food, then move to my left to the cutting board. Down below, where a lower cabinet would normally be, I’d like a pull-out trashcan and compost bin. This way, I can prep, pull out the drawer and swipe to trash. Also, with the cutting board to the left, it’s right next to the stove, ready for cooking.

Here’s a great view of how the space would feel. The cooktop is Thermador’s induction cooktop. I chose induction because it’s energy-friendly and fast. I’m not too worried about missing my gas flame – when we are ready to build the studio kitchen for photography and taping in the back of the property, I’ll install a gas range there.



This is the back wall. To the left is the refrigerator, then the steam oven and then the double ovens. That doorway opens out to a hall to where my walk-in pantry is.


The other wall of square cabinets would hold my dishes, prep bowls and kitchen gadgets.

Here’s a birds-eye view of the room, if you were hanging from my ceiling fan. 🙂

I’ll install some skylights in the kitchen – maybe a couple of these to save energy, money and they look pretty easy to install.


With this much space on the island, we can put stools on the other side for my kids and friends to be in the kitchen with me, instead of just watching me cook from afar. I fell in love with this plan immediately without a single change! The next step is for Susan to elaborate more on this design….I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!