Hot Zones in the Kitchen
Spice up your cooking area with these tricks
From: Point Click Home Dot Com
Written by Susan Millar Perry
Produced By Nicole Sforza
Whether you're contemplating a total kitchen makeover or just want to spruce up a section of the room, follow the pros and start with the cooking area. "The stove itself is almost secondary; it's the elements around it that create an eye-catching focal point," says John Troxell, director of design at the Kreamer, Pennsylvania–based Wood-Mode, a custom cabinetry company. A handsome vent hood and a dramatic backsplash are simple details that can put an exclamation point on the site. "If you can't go all out, this is the one spot where a splurge will pay off," says designer Claudia Penna of Cabinets Plus, a kitchen and bath design firm in Palatine, Illinois. Redoing this work area also offers utilitarian benefits, like added storage, increased lighting, and the convenience of a pot filler. Read on to learn how to infuse your stove surround with style and stature.
Build a Nook
Here, the arched wooden surround conceals overhead ventilation and lights with gracious old-world charm.
Create a Focal Point
Take advantage of the space between wall studs to mount a display and storage shelf behind the cooktop. The top of the recess echoes the curved surround.
Factor in Function
With the main sink in another area of the kitchen, this handy, swing-arm pot filler reduces heavy lifting.
Create a Striking Backdrop
One of the easiest ways to distinguish the stove is to set it off with a knockout backsplash. "It's a natural spot to put something beautiful," says kitchen designer Robin Denker of Calabasas, California. Consider installing a mural of ceramic or stone; some companies will create tiles by imprinting a scenic design from your own photo library. For a sleek, industrial look, a gleaming swath of stainless steel or metallic mosaic tiles can match commercial-style appliances. And for a classic touch, adorn the backsplash with the same color tiles used elsewhere in the room—but with a twist. Penna suggests running the tiles on the diagonal and setting them off with a border in a contrasting hue. "The effect is like hanging a framed picture over a mantel," she says.
Choose the Right Ventilation
You have two options with the vent hood: Hide it or highlight it. For a minimal look, conceal the unit within a wooden surround that matches your cabinetry. Or, accentuate the structure: "A statuesque vent hood visually anchors the room," says Los Angeles designer Peter Dunham. Your choice of finish can help it blend in with the style of your space. "Tempered glass or stainless steel are fresh and contemporary, while a plaster-clad hood evokes an old-world Mediterranean or a southwestern motif," says Dunham. The decorative objective of a vent hood is to enhance, not overpower, the kitchen. As for capacity, vents are rated by cubic feet of air per minute (CFM). Choose one with a CFM specified by your cooktop or range maker. The bottom of the hood should be a minimum of 6 inches wider than the stove (to catch cooking vapors), and installed about 60 to 66 inches above the floor, though its top can soar as high as the ceiling will allow.
If space is tight above the stove, forgo a traditional hood and put in an over-the-range microwave with air vents on its underside. Also consider a downdraft version that rises from the countertop when you need it and is hidden when not in use.
Incorporate Storage Solutions
The quartz tile backsplash features a recessed area to hold cooking essentials, while drawers underneath keep utensils handy.
The shiny glass cooktop stands out against earthy, textured tiles and frosted-glass cabinets.
Examine the Surrounding Cabinetry
Another way to make the stove area stand out is to create contrast. If you're buying a new appliance, a sleek black model will pop against simple white cabinets. Embellish and enhance function in the cooking zone by fitting each side of the stove with built-in niches or simple shelves. For the adjacent cabinets, think beyond standard wooden doors. "Cabinetry with glass-panel doors will add depth and also keep items visible while protecting them from stove spatters," says Troxell.
Make it Efficient
Accessories such as wall-mounted swing-out pot fillers can add form as well as function. Place the fixture to the side of the stove or in the middle of the backsplash. To save yourself from lugging a heavy pot to the main sink to dump the water after you've finished cooking, Penna suggests installing a second sink about 2 feet away from the stove. Add a simple stainless steel rail, which comes with clips, to hang utensils such as spatulas and whisks. "Attach one under a cabinet or on either side of the stove to avoid reaching over hot burners," says Denker.
Put a Wall to Work
Open shelves keep the look airy and showcase colorful dishware; the decorative brackets used for support add to the room’s cozy cottage feel.
Illuminate the Area
Good lighting is both utilitarian and decorative. "It's like frosting on the cake," says Denker, who suggests installing fixtures on both sides of the cooktop. "Sources directly overhead will put more heat on the cook," she says. Some vent hoods feature built-in lighting. Recessed ceiling lights typically offer a cleaner look than dangling pendants; dimmers can offer mood control. And consider placing mini puck lights on the undersides of cabinets. Denker employs low-voltage colored versions to cast a warm, romantic glow on the cooktop. And like the last burning embers in a fireplace, they make the cooking zone seem all the more special.
Usher in Light
The shiny stainless steel backsplash bounces light around the room and ties in with the hood and modern cabinet hardware.
Provide Easy Access
Display shelves made of the same pink-toned granite as the countertops and back wall bracket the cook-top and keep spices close at hand.