by Randi Destefano, ASID
As a homeowner I never gave much thought to kitchen ventilation. I’ll admit that like most people, I thought it was noisy, and so rarely used it. But as a kitchen designer, I know the importance a beautiful vent hood plays in the kitchen. It’s necessary not only for how good it looks but also for the health and safety of you and your family. In a room where the wonderful aroma of delicious food surrounds us, there are also bad odors, grease, and steam that needs to escape.
Each home we’ve lived in over the years has had some type of kitchen ventilation. Some were efficient, and others were not. Some added to the custom design of the kitchen, and others were simply there to do a job, with no exciting design details. But we always knew that a home needs to have ventilation in the kitchen.
It wasn’t until we were relocating to a new city that I discovered every house doesn’t always have a vent hood, or a downdraft. They might have a microwave over the cook top or range. Worse yet, they might have absolutely no ventilation which leads to poor indoor air quality!
You know the saying, “once you see something you can’t un-see it?” Well, that is me! What began as a pet peeve has morphed into a mission to teach homeowners the importance of proper kitchen ventilation, how it impacts the health and safety of your kitchen, and the best type of product for your cooking needs and available space.
Wall Mounted Updraft Hood
- The cooking odors, fumes, and grease exhaust to the outside via ducting
- This type of hood requires either an external blower or an internal blower. An internal blower is directly inside your vent hood. Because it’s close to your filters and cooking space, it will pull more unwanted contaminants from your kitchen. The downside to this is that it is loud, and often the reason that most homeowners don’t like to use it.
- An external blower is a box containing the ventilator, filter and motor. Because it can be placed either on the roof or on an outside wall, it isn’t as noisy.
Telescoping Downdraft Ventilation
- Telescoping downdraft can be installed behind a cook top that is placed in an island, a peninsula, or against a wall
- Ducting is installed inside the cook top cabinet and there is usually very little room left for storage
- Ducting is then either vented through the wall, or below the kitchen, ultimately venting air outside
- The downdraft is an integral part of the cooktop
- Ducting is housed inside the base cabinet leaving very little room for storage
- It is also vented outside but through a crawl space or basement ceiling.
Under Cabinet Hood
- Mounted under a wall cabinet. The wall cabinet houses the ducting.
- Ducting either goes straight up, or has an elbow turn to go out the side of the house.
- The hood should be mounted 30″-36″ above the cooking surface
- This hood is also mounted to the bottom of a cabinet.
- There is not ducting, no ventilation to the outside. The air is simply being filtered and re-circulated into the room
- It is used primarily in apartments, town homes and condos where there is no way to vent to the outside
- A charcoal filter is used to purify the air and filter the grease
- This is not an ideal situation because most odors remain, steam still escapes into the room, and grease will scatter
Over the Cook Top Microwave
- Last resort “ventilation”
- The microwave is usually placed too close to the cooking surface. It should be no lower than 20″ above the cook top. But even then, it is too high to easily reach inside the microwave to remove a piping hot dish.
- This is also re-circulating the air and not eliminating much odor, grease or steam
- A charcoal filter is used
Island Vent Hood
- Ducting goes through the ceiling.
- Must be no lower than 30″-36″ above the cook top
- Internal and external blower options are available
The Craziest Hood and Ventilation System I’ve Seen
I have to share this, because it’s so crazy! A renovation client purchased a home that had a cook top with a downdraft. Above it was hood with a light that worked, and a wall that could house the ducting. But the previous homeowner chose to not connect the wiring so that the hood would work.
Sadly, in our search for a new home, I discovered so many houses with this same situation. A cook top with a downdraft taking up precious kitchen storage space. And a decorative wood hood that was simply there for as a light source.
The answer to making sure you have the best air quality in your kitchen is to provide adequate ventilation.
- Take into consideration the size of your cook top, and install a hood that is at least 3″ wider so that it has more area to capture the steam.
- Know how many BTU’s your cook top provides because this determines the amount of CFM’s are needed for the best ventilation
- Vent hoods can be found at many different price points. Don’t let cost determine what type of hood you buy.
- Choose your ventilation system based on your needs, your cooking patterns, and where your cook top or range will be placed in your kitchen
- Turn on the ventilation at least 5 minutes before you begin cooking to give the air in the room time to circulate.
The most important take-away is to understand that a home ventilation system, involves two related functions: removing unhealthy vapors and fumes from the home and also to introduce fresh air to replace what has been removed.
If you’re thinking about a home renovation or building a new home, please contact me, Randi@RandiDestefano.com, with any questions you might have.
by Randi Destefano, ASID
All-white kitchens have certainly been popular for a while, and homeowners still love the crisp look it brings to their home, especially Farmhouse Style. But for the last several years the kitchen with two-toned cabinets has been increasing in popularity. And I love it!
What started out as a tip toe into the “world of two colors” has morphed into multiple ways to bring your favorite colors into the kitchen in a way that works for you.
A lot of color makes me happy! But since we tend to move a lot, my first thoughts are to go neutral with most improvements so that they’re something a future buyer would like. Even before we sold our last home, I remember thinking, “you love bright color, so why aren’t you using it?” And so I did!
With our new 18 year old fixer upper, I stepped totally out of the box (in the end). The entire time I was designing the kitchen I visualized white cabinets around the room with a dark navy blue island. Clean, simple, and uncluttered was the plan for this kitchen. It would still be a kitchen with two-toned cabinets, just a little ordinary. And I needed to have it finished ASAP!
You see, when we moved into our new home, the kitchen was very outdated with a lot of wasted space cabinets. Storage was minimal. The gold cabinets had so much glazing in the corners that they looked dirty. We were anxious to make a change.
MLS image of our original kitchen
But good design needs a well thought out plan, not one that’s rushed. And that’s what we were able to create..once I took a step back and slowed down. Remember, I love color and being a little bit different than everyone else. On my first trip to the cabinet showroom I found exactly what I was looking for, and it wasn’t white and navy blue! This meant taking a leap of faith and stepping out of my “play it safe” comfort zone. I had my happy colors at last!!!
Shiloh Cabinetry: taupe stain on alder and aqua stain on alder
Ta-Da! Here is the big reveal of our new kitchen, which we love. Even though the footprint is basically the same, the amount of storage space we gained is amazing. Work areas were arranged to suit the way we like to work in our kitchens. A vent hood was added where a downdraft had been. And a fun backsplash was added in my favorite shades of blues and turquoise.
Are YOU ready for a kitchen renovation? Remember that it doesn’t always need to be a full reno to make a big impact. Making simple changes like painting your island to create your own two-toned cabinet look and installing new cabinet “jewelry” can be a big improvement to a dated kitchen.
And when you’re finished, you might need a break to focus your time, energy, and money on another big project. It’s OK if your kitchen becomes a work in progress as you add the Finishing Touches like window treatments, counter stools, or rugs.
I’m here to help! Email me here: AskADesigner@randidestefano.com
by Randi Destefano, ASID
Outdoor living spaces, are becoming more and more popular and are a wonderful way to enjoy nature, relax, and watch the world go by. There was a time when a front porch was the place to greet your neighbors after dinner, or spend a lazy afternoon reading.
Today the nostalgia of the front porch is showing up not only in new in-town homes and walk-able neighborhoods, but in the way we use our backyards, screened porches, patios, and decks. What I’ve noticed is there are 7 key ingredients of a summertime porch that seem to show up again and again. Maybe you’ve discovered this too.
Every spring, as soon as the pollen slows down, I’m craving some time on our porch. You see, until a few years ago, none of the homes we lived in had a covered porch. Now I’m making up for lost time by dreaming, planning, and shopping to make even small improvements to what we have.
The best way to get started is by taking an assessment of what you already have. Do you still love your existing colors or would you love to have a brighter color combination? Ideas are everywhere, including photos of porches in magazines, social media, and websites. And don’t forget visiting decorator show houses!
Ask yourself, “what do I really want”? What do you want your porch to look like, feel like? And then let your imagination kick in.
Let’s get started!
Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Southern Living Magazine
No matter how large or small the space is, seating is the first thing to consider. Whether you prefer a sofa and chairs, or only chairs, it’s your choice. Do you want a private space that’s just for your family? Do you want a cozy romantic area for two?
#2: Accent Tables
We all need a table to place a drink or a book while we’re enjoying our outdoor space. The size and number of tables you need is based on how many people will use the porch…and how much space you have.
Rugs are the anchoring point for any seating group. They pull everything together and create a more inviting space. An added bonus for using a rug is to cover up unsightly decking.
#4 Accessories to Make It Yours
Adding your own accessories will truly make the space your own. They also set the tone for how you want your porch to feel. Pillows, outdoor draperies, and flowers all add to a room that says “Let’s relax here.”
Everyone knows that plants and flowers add beauty to our spaces. But plants add a sense of calm to any space, and outdoor rooms are no exception.
Credit: Laurey W, Glenn; Southern Living Magazine
#6 Dining Table and Chairs
#7 Lighting (and a ceiling fan)
Summers can be hot, humid, and stifling, with no breezes to cool you off. When you include a ceiling fan into your porch design plans, comfort is always just a click away.
If have a fireplace on your porch, consider yourself blessed! Nothing says “cozy” like a roaring fire on a cool evening.
1. Grab a pencil and note pad and make a list of what you have on your porch. Then make a list of what you need.
2. Are you using any of these 7 Essentials in your outdoor living spaces?
2. Look for ways you can add some of these features to your own porch.