one year ago I found Demi Pointe teetering on the soapstone countertop in my newly renovated kitchen and wondered why I had asked for an armoire so high up.
Why did I fall prey to Instagram Reels and TikTok videos that exploit the gap between the cabinet and the ceiling? My top cupboard increased the cost of the cabinet by about 35%, but… Although the finish was nice, it was basically unusable.
Before you give in to your custom kitchen desires, here are five “must-haves” that design experts and some reality-checked clients say you almost certainly don’t need.
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1. Continental-sized kitchen island
When rapper Cardi B unveiled her new New Jersey kitchen island, now X, on Twitter, she strutted across its surface, even getting close to the edges of the six-slab marble behemoth. I’ve come a long way without it. Less-fancy kitchens across America are roosting with 15- to 18-foot islands the size of SUVs.
Veteran home design TV host Debbie Travis wanted one for her Tuscan villa where she would host guests on retreats. Her self-described vision is a 16-foot counter surrounded by “a dozen women making pasta, drinking prosecco and laughing.” With a dishwasher and sink on one side and a stove on the other, she says she’s “always pushing the cutting board across the island and running left and right to the other side.”
“You literally have to use a Swiffer to clean in the middle,” Atlanta-based kitchen designer Matthew Quinn said of these expansive surfaces.
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2. Pot filler
“A wall-mounted faucet near the range is better in theory because you don’t have to fill a large pot of water and carry it from the sink,” says Christopher Peacock, owner of a high-end furniture company in New York. ” he says. “But that’s ridiculous,” he pointed out. For example, after boiling several pounds of pasta, you have to carry the pot to the sink to drain the water. “For $5,000, this is often a complete waste of time.”
If you don’t use your faucet too often, Quinn warns, “you have to open the valve and drain the water into a container and dump the water. It fills up with sediment.”
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3. An over-lit pantry
“The LED-lit shelves and drawers are huge,” says Jaki Shierman. Her interior designer says that in her Los Angeles studio, everything is decanted before she creates a pantry that is lit like a boutique. “More and more people are asking themselves, ‘If I were to create a cooking reel, what would the olive oil look like and what would the background look like?’ But that’s vanity, not practicality. ” she says.
4. Workstation sink
A variety of brands offer workstation sinks, from Delta to luxury brand Galley. The Workstation Sink is a trough-sized basin up to 7 feet long with a myriad of snap-in components, including a cutting board, colander, dish rack, and a fun kit filled with metal ramekins. It looks cool in the video when you move the parts.
What are the drawbacks? Clean the slim horizontal shelves and tight corners that support layers of add-ons, not to mention store these decorative items. And what about that cutting board? Robert M. Berger, an architect and builder in Westport, Conn., says discoloration, staining and warping are common. He advises sanding and treating with mineral oil before use.
Quinn is against ergonomics. “We designers create work zones and task areas for comfort and efficiency, and now everyone is crammed into the sink trying to cut, prep, and wash. ” he said.
5. Library ladder
They may bring to mind analog bookstores and reading rooms, but in the kitchen, library ladders are “98 percent attractive and 2 percent practical,” says Peacock.
Colleen Silverthorne had designer Meredith Herron install a single ladder that hooks onto the rails in the kitchen, laundry and family room of her home in Regina, Saskatchewan. “You need both hands to knock something down, but you only have one because you have to hold on while you’re on top,” she admits. “It’s really beautiful. [but] It just doesn’t work in the kitchen. ” In other rooms, he uses it to collect wrapping paper, books, and “anything that can be thrown on the floor.”
Sophie Donelson is the author of Uncommon Kitchens: A Revolutionary Approach to the Most Popular Room in the House (Abrams).