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Want to compare your kitchen design to professionally-designed ones? See how your kitchen scores…

1.  Out of 10 points, deduct 1 point for every foot your work triangle is above 22 feet (your work triangle is the number of feet you walk from your fridge to your stove to your sink and back to your fridge). Deduct 1 point for every foot your work triangle is less than 10 feet.

2.  Out of 10 points, deduct 2 points each if you have less than 12″ of counter space the left side of the sink, the right side of the sink, the left side of the stove and the right side of the stove. Deduct 2 points if you have less than 15″ of counter space on the handle-side of your fridge.

3.  Out of 10 points, deduct 5 points if one side of your sink is within 8″ of a wall. Deduct another 5 points if your stove is within 8″ of a wall.

4.  Out of 10 points, deduct 6 points if your dishwasher is located more 1 step away the sink. Deduct another 2 points each if your dishes, glasses or cutlery are stored more than 5 feet away from the dishwasher.

5.  Out of 10 points, deduct 3 points for every inch your sink is shallower than 9″.

6.  Out of 10 points, deduct 1 point for every item stored on your counter that isn’t used at least 3 times a week. Deduct 1 point for every small electrical appliance that’s stored between your hip and eye-level (behind cupboards or out in the open) that’s not used regularly.

7.  Out of 10 points, deduct 1 point for every 10% of your counter that’s not free. (Example, if nothing is stored on your counters, score 10 points. If 50% of your countertop is regularly filled with objects, score 5 points. If 60% is covered and only 40% free, score 4 points, etc.)

8.  Out of 10 points, deduct 2 points for every item stored within your work triangle that doesn’t relate to food preparation. (Examples: mail, magazines, office supplies, bills, electronics, TVs).

9.  Out of 10 points, deduct 2 points for every drawer, cupboard, rack or utensil canister that’s over-capacity, making items difficult to retrieve or return, or any cupboard that requires you to move some items to get to other items.

10.  Out of 10 points, Deduct another 2 points for every cabinet (or shelf) where you store food, dishes or non-kitchen items together. Deduct 2 points if you’ve never taken time to plan and organize your fridge.

 Add extra points for:

  • a knife rack that mounts on the wall (+2 points)
  • a hanging pot rack (+3 points)
  • a spice rack that mounts on the wall (+2 points)
  • at least 4 kitchen drawers (+5 points)
  • full-extension drawers (+5 points)
  • each drawer with drawer dividers (+ 2 points)
  • an under-sink organization system of any kind (+3 points)
  • each lazy susan (+3 points)
  • a food pantry cabinet (+5 points)
  • clip-on lights, under-cabinet lights or other task lighting (+4 points)

Deduct points for:

  • less than 11″ of knee space depth under a counter or table (-5 points)
  • corner sink (-7 points)
  • no windows or view outdoors or to another room (-5 points)
  • less than 6 linear feet of counter space (-10 points)

How did you score?
85 – 100 points. Congratulations! Unless your kitchen is really too small, you’re in good shape.

70 – 85 points. A few small changes will increase your kitchen design’s efficiency and comfort.

50-70 points. You probably already know your kitchen design isn’t quite right, but may not be sure what to do. Check out our kitchen planning tips for some ideas.

50 points or less. You’ve got two choices… renovate or eat out more! Or check out our kitchen planning tips to see which organizational changes you could make without renovating.

Click here for kitchen planning ideas. Or take another quiz to rate the design of other rooms in your home.

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TV - Brothers and Sisters

Kitchen detail from ABC's Brothers and Sisters

Who doesn’t love the look of Nora Walker’s kitchen on the hit TV show Brothers & Sisters?

The show premiered back in 2006. Some of the room furnishings have changed slightly (I guess even TV sets need renovation!), but that warm California kitchen is tough to beat.

This is definitely a cook’s kitchen with work surfaces spotted with bottles of olive oil and open shelves filled with intriguing cannisters and food-filled glass jars. The textured tile and arched cabinets have kind of a Tuscan wine country feel, but the white cabinets and light colors give it an updated feel.

TREND - TV 2006 Brothers 3

Little matches in the kitchen – the tile pattern on one wall don’t match the tiles or pattern on another wall. The height of  kitchen cabinets ebb and flow, but the airiness and light, clean color palette bring it all together.

This is a kitchen you could spend some serious time in… and the Walker family does regularly, meeting for everything from in-your face confrontations to soap-style kiss-and-make-up reunions.

If you haven’t checked out the show (and that kitchen!), it’s worth a look (Sunday nights on ABC).

Modern KitchenIf you’re not into spending a lot of money on pricey wood kitchen cabinets right now, here’s a great option for making economical white kitchen cabinets work even harder. This cool, modern kitchen adds light to a dark kitchen, and space to a small kitchen.

Inexpensive white kitchen cabinets don’t have to look cheap, especially if you eliminate all that crown and door molding that makes white kitchen cabinets look like they’re trying too hard to look like wood. The wow-factor in this kitchen was pulled off not just with straight-lined cabinets, but with a roster of very clever designer tricks including…

* using stainless steel not just on appliances, but as the color of the kitchen counters. You could choose actual stainless steel counter tops or a solid surface or laminate in a stainless steel color

* using streamlined stainless steel hardware – the long pulls look more streamlined than lots of small knobs would

* running cabinets right to the ceiling, using a white tile backsplash and painting the walls and ceiling  the same white as the cabinets … the combined effect cuts the look of clutter and fuzzies the line between walls and cabinets… making the room look brighter and larger

* adding a translucent (rather than transparent) glass or acrylic door to a few upper cabinets – a nice change from all the glass doors that add clutter by showing everything inside

* adding accents in a seaglass color

Great look, especially for small kitchens!

Fishs Eddy - window display (2)

Fishs Eddy is my favorite dinner dishes store in NYC. Located at 889 Broadway (at 19th), this  is exactly the kind of charmer you’d expect in this part of town. Plank flooring, wood-beamed ceiling and large display windows with  imperfect (actually even dirty) glass. From the sidewalk, it’s like peering into an old attic. Awesome.

The store’s slogan… we do dishes (how funny is that?), perfectly describes this haven for foodies and kitchen conoisseurs, especially those who love commercial kitchen-inspired eating rooms. In other words, if you’re looking for (1) bone china or (2) floral patterns, this probably isn’t the place for you.

 Fishs Eddy -interiorCluttered floor to ceiling with stuff (and more funny slogans to go with feature groups), you could spend some serious time- though not necessarily money – in this quaint shop. The prices seem reasonable and the wholesale atmosphere is deliberate.. some of their products are overruns or discontinued patterns from restaurant suppliers, allowing them to offer wholesale dinnerware  prices and looks to the public.

Their restaurant-supplier credentials explains the variety of heavy-duty dinner dishes, platters, bar glasssware and stainless steel flatware.  Also the kind of bright fiestaware dinnerware you’d find in Mexican restaurants. But they seem to have found a market for people who wanted the same look at home.

You’ll find entire Mother Daughter May 09 040displaFishs Eddy - interior 2 (2)ys of diner white dinnerware inspired by 50s diners.. but the looks are so simple that they’ll go with a lot more than diner furniture. Some dishes are theme inspired… from dinnerware inspired my the New York City Skyline to memo pads to my personal favorite… an architectural floor plFishs Eddy - napkins (2)an-inspired graphic on plates, mugs and coasters.

They’ve also just introduced a collection of wood bowls and bamboo plates with colorful, textured linens… befitting the trend to woodsier looks without completely giving up color.



 If you’re in Manhattan, it’s a fun place to visit for a little inspiration… or a dinnerware overhaul! Or check out their web site at

miele-001Not only are we cooking more at home these days, we’re enjoying it too. And that’s good news, considering less of us have extra money to eat out!

In response, there are plenty of new kitchen appliance trends out there… reflecting our desire for better, bigger, faster and healthier ways to prepare food. If you’re eager to sort out lasting trends from passing fancies, here are the trends you’re wise to weigh into your next kitchen alteration, according to appliance specialist, Barbara Barton.

1. Stainless steel appliances. No, it’s not going away anytime soon. Despite our concerns about fingerprinting, we love the sophisticated, restaurant-quality look of this sleek material. It’s today’s new ‘neutral’ color and considered even more versatile than even white appliances.

2. Drawers. Used for everything from warming and diswashing to microwaving and refrigeration, kitchen drawers are easier on the back, safer and more convenient than below-counter cabinets that require bending down and searching into the deep, dark abyss of hard-to reach corners. 

3. French door refrigerators. These are the two-door variety that resemble a walk-in closet. They’ve got plenty of capacity and are perceived as restaurant-quality.

4. Wine coolers. Wine sales are still strong and the U.S. consumer is quickly become the top consumer of wine internationally. With that, wine coolers are being a standard in many homes, whether integrated into kitchen or dining room buffets, or free-standing.

5. Speed cooking. We may have less time, but we don’t want to give up quality food preparation, making microwave, convection and air-assisted technology popular new features.

6. New hood designs. A great way to differentiate your kitchen design or integrate a little European design… unusual, unexpected and custom hood designs are growing in both range and popularity.

7. Outdoor kitchens. More time at home means more time outside, and grills, refrigerators, warming drawers, beverage and bar set-ups are on the increase. Outdoor kitchen appliances are still a luxury trend but  more value options are appearing on the market.

Source: Qualified Remodeler (Mar ’09). Photo: Warming drawers from Miele.

If you wish you had a bigger kitchen, there’s good news. With a little ingenuity, a small kitchen can look bigger and be more efficient. How?  By keeping your counters clear, finding more work space and stealing a few ideas from the modernists. 

Try any one (or all) of these 10 tips to add space to your own kitchen!

(1) Clear your counters of anything that you don’t use at least 3x a week, including appliances. Store appliances in a close, convenient cabinet, or suspend them from a shelf under the cabinet. Uncluttered counters expand the look of  kitchen by letting our eyes see to the farthest end of the room and move quickly over uninterrupted surfaces.

(2) Ditch the bulky knife holder and store knives on a metallic strip attached to the wall under your cabinets.

(3) Hang pots and utensils from a rack attached to the wall or ceiling. Or hang a rod between the cabinets on either side of your kitchen window and hang pots or utensils across the glass instead of curtains or blinds. Stainless steel or copper utensils reflect light and you won’t sacrific privacy.

(4) Lay a large, mobile cutting board across the sink(s). Drill a hole in it to let water drain while you’re working. Or customize a cutting board to fit over an open drawer (just pull open the drawer and place the cutting board over the top to expand your working space).

(5) Add a small island. Even a surface as narrow as 12″ wide can be a handy place to put extra bowls when cooking. Look at unexpected options like sofa tables with a shelf underneath for books, bowls and platters. Or choose a leg version that lets you store small stools underneath. Add a marble or stainless steel, or ceramic tile top so it can hold hot pots.

(6) Double your table as an island. If you’ve got an eat-in kitchen, invest in a 36″ high pub table-style table to expand your counter working space. You’ll have the benefit of a place to sit while you work. 

(7) Use see-through, glass cannisters on your counter instead of opaque ones.

(8) Remove magnets and papers from your fridge door. Papers and menus make a small kitchen look even smaller, and worse, messy.

(9) Paint the backsplash/wall under your cabinets in a clear, cool, modern blue or green color. This really works because cool colors (lighter rather than darker) recede from our view, pushing the wall back.

 (10) Install lights under your cabinets. Thankfully, these days you don’t need to re-wire your kitchen to do this! There are inexpensive battery-operated lights that will work perfectly.

img_0295Did you know that by 2010, the U.S. consumer is expected to have become the largest consumer of wine on the earth? Even beating out the French and Italians!

This, in spite of an economic recession that’s deeper than most of us can remember. The average price of a bottle of wine trended down in 2008, but not the zeal to drink it (wine sales were up nearly 6% in the U.S.). Instead of going out, it appears we’re buying less expensive wine at the supermarket or discount clubs… and entertaining at home.

I saw the above buffet-wine cellar configuration from KraftMaid at the National Kitchen and Bath show last year and it’s one of the most interesting wine storage solutions I’ve seen… worthy of a kitchen, dining room, basement or den.

I love the combination of buffet or drink serving area with plenty of storage for party supplies, platters, etc.. And what a great wine cellar idea!  For those of us who don’t have room (or enough wine bottles) to merit our own cellar, this is a nice idea… with cool wine storage below and easy-access x-shelf wine storage above.

A nifty idea if you’re in the market for new cabinets or doing renovations to a dining, basement or family room.


If adding a new set of stainless steel appliances isn’t in your budget right now, or even if it is… there are other ways to add this clean, modern material to your kitchen area for the ultimate in restaurant-style chic at home. Stainless steel also reflects light – making small kitchens look bigger.

1. Use one or more stainless steel lighting pendants over your table, island or sink.

2. Use chairs with stainless steel legs.

3. Splurge on a stainless steel counter top – even if it’s just the top of a island or small working table. Many reasonably-priced stainless steel-topped carts are available today.

4. Replace your existing cabinet knobs or pulls with stainless steel hardware. The more contemporary your cabinet looks, the longer / larger handles you can use

5. Install a stainless steel backspash. You can opt for small stainless steel tiles – not cheap (but fabulous), but you don’t need a lot of them. Or cut a sheet of stainless steel cut to fit your backsplash

6. And of course… stainless steel appliances.

You could also add some stainless steel picture frames, hang your steel pots on a stainless steel pot rack, add a row of stainless steel cannisters on your counter, or store your cutlery or utensils in a stainless steel bin on the counter.