4 Tough Design Decisions…Solved!


Double basin sinks, the configuration of choice in your mother’s kitchen for its ability to soak dishes on one side and rinse them in the other, has had its time; today, it’s the space-saving single basin that’s stealing the show. While the double-bowl sink will always be a popular selection, many designers are now installing one large sink, usually 28 to 34 inches, in addition to a smaller prep or bar sink in the island. The reason? A single basin (most popular style is the apron-front, also called farmhouse, sink) takes up less counter space. It also offers greater flexibility when washing large pots, pans, and platters—important for homeowners big on entertaining. Plus, the second sink offers up another work zone for prep work, like washing vegetables, a good option for kitchens with multiple cooks. MY VOTE: Single all the way.


The question to ask yourself: Do you want to conceal or not conceal? Fully integrated appliances (meaning those that are flush with the front edge of the cabinetry, without protruding into living spaces) are very on-trend right now. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a requirement to have a modern styled kitchen design to get this look. Although some homeowners prefer one appliance to take center stage (think:the commercial-style stainless steel range or a glass-front refrigerator), concealing appliances—whether through paneling or recessed cabinets—allows the kitchen to take on more of a living room feel. Cabinets feel like furniture, and your kitchen literally becomes a visual extension of your living space.  MY VOTE: Integrated for the win.


Don’t dismiss glass-front cabinets as a feature that overrules function. From a decorative perspective, they can serve an important role, prettily refracting light in small kitchens, or adding an elegant showcase for displaying prized collections and ceramics. That being said, the last thing you want is for objects behind the glass to create visual clutter or look messy. Frosted glass is a good option for homeowners who have trouble keeping cabinet shelves completely spick and span. Even better: include a mixture of both solid- and glass-front cabinets (think solid upper cabinets for storage; glass-front for attractive everyday items). As an alternative, mirrored cabinet fronts selectively used, will reflect light even more. MY VOTE: Blend it in, go for a nice mixture.


The cooktop is making quite a splash in the contemporary kitchen, but carrying just as much design weight is the range and range hood—today a growing focal point in kitchens across the country for its bold, commercial look. Ranges and hoods are now being placed on the wall that would have traditionally been reserved for a big window and a sink; the main sink has found a new home in the kitchen island, allowing the cook ample space to prepare food, wash dishes, and be social, all at the same time. A cooktop typically has a sleek, integrated feel and also allows the cook to place multiple ovens elsewhere in the kitchen. (A pro for those who don’t like bending over to remove food from the oven.) The range, on the other hand, keeps cooking in one central location and has a very dynamic look. The decision ultimately depends on the amount of space in your kitchen and your preferred kitchen styles—and don’t forget that you can include a combination of both. MY VOTE: Toss-up. Look at your options and then decide what is best for you.