New Kitchen Update - Integrated Hood + Upper Cabinets


Um...  did you notice that we have yet to post a photo of our kitchen with the upper cabinets?  That was because it looked horrific with the builder's hood vent + the dinky cabinet they so considerately installed to cover the vent.  (By code, the builder has to provide a hood vent in order for the house to close.)  

Here goes...  cover your eyes...  This is what we're trying to forget - how the hood vent looked like for the past month.  It's certainly got the "wow" factor, in a bad way ;-)

Photo taken on the day we closed the house, before any appliances were delivered.

Photo taken on the day we closed the house, before any appliances were delivered.

I figured nobody would notice when we featured our new superwhite countertop...

New house kitchen New Superwhite Quartzite countertop | Classy Glam Living

But the time has come for a reveal of the upper cabinets... 

Here was how we had envisioned this new kitchen will be, using IKEA's kitchen building tool.

New house kitchen rendering | Classy Glam Living

And here it is, after we've gotten rid of the builder's hood vent and hideous cover-up.  

Kitchen in-progress update | Grey Cabinets | Minimalist kitchen with level upper cabinets | Classy Glam Living

The installation of the hood revolved around the logistics of the hood cabinet.  Our integrated hood requires the bottom of the hood cabinet to be cut to size before installation.  However, we were forbidden by the builder to contact the kitchen supplier until we have closed on the house, and in effect, delayed the installation of our hood until now.

Earlier this week, the kitchen supplier finally came to install the hood cabinet.

Kitchen update | Integrated hood | Minimalist kitchen with level upper cabinets | Classy Glam Living

To backtrack a bit, the grey cabinet colour was a mystery to us.  We couldn't tell how light the grey would be on the maple doors based on an oak sample door at the builder's decor centre, but we took a risk ordering this light grey "Platinum" anyway.  That was back in February of 2014, and the suspense for this 1+ year was unbearable!  I had since then browsed all over the internet trying to figure out what this platinum cabinet colour could look like.  

Although we originally wanted a darker grey similar to the IKEA grey, this light grey turned out to be just grey enough.  With limited natural light going into the kitchen, darker cabinet doors would make the kitchen look like a dark hole in the middle of the house.  So the risk we took actually worked out for us!

While we were at it, we also changed out the upper cabinet doors at the fridge wall to glass doors.  We finally got the upper cabinets to look how we planned for them - a muted clean look with them level all across.  

Kitchen in-progress update | Glass doors on upper cabinets | Minimalist kitchen with level upper cabinets | Classy Glam Living

The glass doors help to break out the wall of solid doors on the adjacent wall and create a design element.  They give the illusion of a more open space, and act as a display cabinet for our drinkware and other decor items.  We'll eventually change those shelves to glass shelves to complete the look. 

Kitchen in-progress update | Glass doors on upper cabinets | Minimalist kitchen with level upper cabinets | Classy Glam Living
Kitchen in-progress update | Glass doors on upper cabinets | Minimalist kitchen with level upper cabinets | Classy Glam Living

When the Mr. has some time, he can build us the pots and pans drawers for the lower cabinets, for which we had some custom drawer fronts made.  With all the drawer building experience that the Mr. has with the closet, he can now whip them up in no time, saving us hundreds from going with the builder's version.

Designing our kitchen has been a fun and enjoyable process, from picking out our cabinet colour to choosing our appliances, to shopping for our countertop slabs and cabinet pulls.  Although the level of customization is not to the extent of a full kitchen reno, we still put a lot of thought into making this kitchen function efficiently as the heart of the house.  A little research and some customizations with the builder later, we have a kitchen with good bones that we can take further ourselves.

Kitchen in-progress update | Grey Cabinets | Glass doors on upper cabinets | Minimalist kitchen with level upper cabinets | Classy Glam Living

For now, I would consider the kitchen's bones pretty much in place.  Next up for the kitchen will be to:  

Not too bad, considering we've done all these: 

  • Do something about that dead corner storage - DONE
  • Install panels on appliances - DONE
  • Replace countertop/ sink/ faucet - DONE
  • Replace solid upper cabinet doors on fridge wall with glass doors - DONE
  • see Design Board
Kitchen in-progress update | Grey cabinets | Glass doors on upper cabinets | Minimalist kitchen with level upper cabinets | Classy Glam Living

While being esthetically pleasing on its own, the kitchen design should also complement the overall design scheme of the house.  Our kitchen is on its way to glam-ification, slowly. I'm glad the changes we made to the builder's kitchen have added counter space, helping Chef Honey to churn out meals efficiently.  So far, he hasn't complained about the lack of counter space.  *Phew!*

Check out our original posts of this kitchen design:

Trendspotting - Kitchen Design

Kitchen appliance choices to free up counter space  

Range hood and minimalist kitchen design  

Kitchen countertops - marble and look-alike alternatives  

Our marble alternative kitchen countertop revealed! 


New House - Range Hood and Minimalist Kitchen Design


So far, we've talked about kitchen design trends that we're contemplating for our new kitchen, and also some appliance choices that will help free-up our counterspace.  In choosing our kitchen appliances, I also emphasized how we wanted to hide them from view to achieve a more streamlined look.  Maybe this idea of hiding appliances came from the daily HIDE and seek games with the little man at around the same time we were researching for appliances.  I'm almost certain about that.  But one thing that started our design of a streamlined kitchen was the want to hide the range hood.

Here's another look of our kitchen layout.  

Appliance Choices for Optimal Counterspace | Classy Glam Living

As you can see, the island faces the stove.  I pictured myself looking into the kitchen from the island.  Do I want the range hood and stove to be the focal point of the kitchen?  Not unless it's an immaculate setting.  So my first design attempt was to hide the range hood, using a hood liner with custom cabinetry, in similar designs as these:

image via

image via

image via

image via

image via

image via

Notice the red lines along the bottom of one cabinet, to the higher line at the range hood, and then down again to the adjacent upper cabinet.  The more I browsed through photos of beautiful kitchens on Pinterest, the more annoyed I got by these up and down lines.  I mean, it's a normal look for most kitchens, and we've all grown used to it.  For our new kitchen, where the direct view of the stove is open to the rest of the floor, I would rather have a nice quiet background that is the stove area, without the distracting "up and down" lines.

I had an idea, but I wasn't sure if it was possible.  Can I just hide the hood in a cabinet?  Similar to a hood cover, but in place of that would be our existing cabinet doors.  I forgot what keywords I used to google my idea of "level range hood with cabinet" or "hidden range hood ".   I was beyond myself when I found these possiblities, and I immediately showed them to the Mr.!

image via

image via

image via

image via

It only makes sense that minimalist design is best suited for small kitchens.  Hiding the hood may be much ado about nothing, but this streamlined minimalist look will work well for our open concept floor plan.  The design of a muted open kitchen will bring the focus to the kitchen-facing living room and the adjacent dining room.  

If these designs exist, then there must be hoods manufactured to be hidden away.  For that, we turned to our appliance expert, who we had been bugging since the week after we bought the new house.  

She quickly found us the brands that make these INTEGRATED hoods and gave us some options.  Not surprisingly, they're mostly made by European companies.  Modern living quarters in Europe/ Asia are in abundance, and streamlined kitchen designs are most popular with their small kitchens.  A built-in hood would do away with the bulky look of a conventional hood range, streamlining cabinet design for a clean look.  We're not going the modern route, but a minimalist kitchen is exactly what we're after!

Here are several options she recommended with at least 600 CFM (cubic feet per minute, a measurement of the volume of air extracted by the range hood):

The design of our kitchen will have the upper cabinets installed a bit higher than normal, to accommodate for the minimum distance between the range hood and the stove.  Here is a rough rendering (using the IKEA Kitchen Planner Tool) of how our kitchen will look like, incorporating some of the trends and appliance choices we talked about in the previous posts.  Sorry for my attempt in creating the marble slab backsplash...  yikes!

New House Minimalist Design for Small Kitchen | IKEA Kitchen Planner | Classy Glam Living
New House Minimalist Design for Small Kitchen | IKEA Kitchen Planner | Classy Glam Living

The upper cabinets are level across the kitchen, to avoid that "up and down" look at the stove area. I love the open feeling brought about by the glass doors and the light that's reflected through them. The fridge and freezer drawers on the side wall frees up the counterspace that would have otherwise been taken up by a conventional fridge unit.  The microwave drawer and dishwasher are located on either side of the sink at the island.

The kitchen is the heart of our house.  Like most families, the kitchen is the last room we're at before we begin a busy day, and the first room we head to after coming home from work.  A well designed kitchen and one that functions well would make our lives that much easier!  We hope that our minimalist design will give our kitchen the efficiency that's crucial for a small kitchen, while feeling roomy.  We very much look forward to starting our daily mad dash in our new kitchen, and ending a busy day prepping some yummies on the mile-long counters.

New House - Kitchen Appliance Choices to Free-Up Counterspace


With the Fall weather upon us, so is the craving for some sweet baked goods to go with a warm latte.  Before our move, I had been lazy to do any baking.  Now I just crave to power up my mixer to churn out some sweetness, but it's packed away...  somewhere.  How ironic is it that I only want to bake when there's really no counterspace at the rental that's conducive to baking?  The best I can do to satisfy my craving for warm baked goods is with this personal-sized mug cake.

Classy Glam Living

Counterspace in a small kitchen is like premium real estate - every single inch counts.  Limited counterspace means the chef and sous chef have a higher chance of being in each other's way.  To spare ourselves from yelling over each other like we're on Hell's Kitchen, my Chef Honey needs an efficient kitchen, and that starts with ample counterspace.  Remember my goal from last week's post on kitchen design?  Happy Chef Honey = More yummies in our tummies!  

My minor problem of not being able to bake is not as serious as the Mr.'s having to prep meals with limited space.  Now that we're experiencing this lack of counterspace efficiency, the Mr. and I can't agree more that we made some right decisions on appliance choices to maximize counterspace for the new house.  

The layout of the kitchen at the new house is similar to the photo below - L-shaped with the sink at the island (or peninsula since there's a wall at the far end of it).  The stove is behind the sink, and forms a work triangle with the fridge on the side wall.  Our kitchen is around 13'x9', so it's similar in length to this kitchen below, but a bit shorter on the side wall where the fridge is.

Chef Honey requested to have a 36" range to speed up his cooking process.  My first reaction?  That'll take up some counterspace.  Then we started looking at some wall ovens and microwave combos.  But again, I couldn't help but realize more counterspace will be given up.  With the wall oven and a fridge at the side wall, our counterspace at the L-shape would be like so, shaded in yellow:

counterspace 1.jpg

I could probably have configured the wall oven elsewhere, but the L-shape counter real estate would still be the same.  We also have a countertop microwave, so that means even less available space for Chef Honey.  

So we looked for alternatives and came up with a plan that offers a lot more counterspace.  In fact, the whole L-shape part minus the range will be available counterspace, shaded yellow:

Appliance choices to maximize counterspace | Classy Glam Living

Here are some of our appliance choices to make this ample counter possible.

Forgo wall oven, opt for conventional stand alone range

Our original plan was to go with all drawers under the counter for a minimalist look.  Naturally, that led us to consider a cooktop (with pots and pans drawers underneath) + wall oven combination.  To free up counterspace, I think the best option is to go with a stand alone range instead.  That saves at least 30" of counterspace, ie. the width of a wall oven.  Not to mention configuration problems in a smaller kitchen.  I think wall ovens are best saved for larger kitchens.

Forgo conventional fridge, opt for undercounter fridge & freezer combo

While we were pondering the minimalist look during the wall oven stage, the Mr. was searching for panel-ready fridges.   Then an ingenius idea lit up...  Since we're on the path to hiding things, why not hide the whole fridge under the counter?  We're a small family, and usually get our groceries on a weekly basis (if we're good).  Stocking up doesn't work for us...  we tried that, but we tend to lose sight of the inventory in the freezer, and more food would go to waste this way.  So for us, 24" of fridge + 24" of freezer drawers combo should work out just fine.  It forces us to keep our inventory moving and be organized inside the fridge space.  Not to mention the main point of freeing up valuable counterspace of almost 3' wide for a conventional fridge.

We would still be discreet with the fridge, and have chosen a fully-integrated unit with panel-ready fronts.  That would give the kitchen a much cleaner look, as the fridge and freezer units blend in with its surrounding cabinet fronts.  We loved the bottom freezer drawer of our fridge at the old house - we didn't have to rummage into the depth of the unit to look for stuff.  For the undercounter fridge and freezer, we'll be going for the drawer option as well.  They'll look similar to this photo:

Forgo the table-top microwave, opt for microwave drawer

The last bit of appliance that takes up counterspace is our existing microwave.  I've seen numerous examples on Pinterest of clearing off the counter of this piece, such as these:

hidden inside a pantry; image via  Better Homes & Gardens

hidden inside a pantry; image via Better Homes & Gardens

high up in the upper cabinet; image via  Terra Cotta Properties

high up in the upper cabinet; image via Terra Cotta Properties

tucked   under the counter; image via  Better Homes & Gardens

tucked under the counter; image via Better Homes & Gardens

We occasionally use the microwave to reheat dishes, and it just doesn't seem like a good idea to have it too high up above the counter.  For safety reasons, I think it is best to have the microwave under the counter if we're trying to clear up the counterspace.  On the other hand, I don't think it's very ergonomical to lift something hot out and up onto the counter.  Then I found out about microwave drawers.  The drawer opens up and we would only need to lift the hot item upwards.  That solves the problem!

To leave the lower cabinets of the L-shaped side undisturbed, we decided to put the microwave drawer at the island, on the left side of the sink.  In order to accommodate its size, we had asked the kitchen supplier to extend the island by approximately 9".  Unfortunately, that would have to eat into the space of the kitchen entrance from the hallway, but it should still be decent enough at around 3' wide.

With these space-saving appliance choices, there will be ample counterspace for Chef Honey to prepare some 9-course tasting menus!  He can practically spread out his prepping around the whole kitchen arena.  Did I just set myself up for a ton of washing and cleaning up after him?  Not a problem at all, he enjoys cooking and I want him to enjoy the time he spends in the kitchen, every single inch of it.  Maybe I can even prepare dessert for his tasting menu at the same time he cooks.  That'll be a first!  Let's just hope he shares his space...