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5 Common Kitchen Problems

Large kitchen with two islands

Although large, this kitchen works efficiently, with distinct work zones and an aisle between the dual islands for easy access between them.

Today the Kitchenology blog introduces Sensible Style, a series of guest postings by Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS, a kitchen designer and writer in Tampa, Fla.

Sensible Style is about kitchens that work as hard as you do. It's about materials that are durable and easy to maintain; a work flow that fits your hectic schedule; and creating a kitchen that reflects your priorities, your budget and your lifestyle. Jamie's first topic: the five most common kitchen problems-and how to avoid them.


Problem #1: Poor Work Flow

Too many homes have badly planned kitchens. One I encountered recently had an oversized island (probably 18 feet in length) that awkwardly cut off the sink from the refrigerator and ovens. Preparing a meal in that household involves unnecessary steps that could have been avoided had the architect instead planned for two reasonably sized islands with a work aisle between them.

Another home had the refrigerator at one end of the room and the pantry in the opposite corner, doubling the steps involved with unloading groceries. A proper food storage zone would have put the two together.


Problem #2: Inadequate Ventilation

The average American family generates a gallon of kitchen grease each year. This grease ends up on walls, furniture, pets and clothing, unless it goes where it's supposed to go: outside of the home via effective cooking ventilation. Many systems are under-powered, recirculated or poorly ducted, resulting in lingering food odors and grease dispersal. Be sure to factor in a functioning ventilation system for your kitchen remodel.


SSI - Electrolux

This kitchen blends style and function with a cooking ventilation system by Electrolux.



Problem #3: Poorly Planned Storage

Most clients tell me that they lack sufficient storage in their kitchens. This typically results from two problems:

  1. Failing to take full advantage of the storage space. Replacing base cabinet shelves with roll-out trays and adding drawer organizers, backsplash systems and pot racks can alleviate that problem greatly.
  2. Homeowners want to store items in the kitchen that don't factor into daily meal prep. I recommend storing these elsewhere.


Base cabinet with roll out shelves

Even more affordable cabinets, such as these by American Woodmark, now offer the storage benefit of roll-out trays.



Problem #4: Overly Narrow Work Aisles

A couple was unhappy that their architect hadn't included a kitchen island in their new custom home and insisted there had to be one. In my opinion, though, the architect was right: Even a small island would allow only 3 feet (36 inches) between its sides and the refrigerator and cooktop. Although many regional building codes allow this, the National Kitchen & Bath Association planning guidelines recommend a 42-inch minimum work aisle for one cook and 48-inch minimum for two. These work much better.


A white kitchen with black counters, a large island, and plenty of room to walk around.

 The work aisle in this kitchen from Omega Cabinetry exceeds NKBA planning guidelines and allows ample room for cooking and entertaining.


Problem #5: Insufficient Light

This is a problem I see frequently that's easy to address in a remodel. Older homes often have one light above the sink, a light for the vent hood, and a central light box in the middle of the ceiling. Overall illumination is called for, and can be achieved with well-spaced recessed lights. Task lighting can be improved by adding lights under all the wall cabinets for better-lit countertop work space. Additional task lighting-often stylish pendants-should be factored in for islands, bars and peninsulas where prep, serving, eating and homework are done.


Traditional kitchen in shades of brown with lots of light.

A coordinated lighting plan, featuring task and ambient lights by Kichler, makes this kitchen look bigger and work better.




Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

© 2009, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.








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