5 ‘Dream Kitchen’ Upgrades That Homeowners Tend to Regret
Kanebridge News
Share Button

5 ‘Dream Kitchen’ Upgrades That Homeowners Tend to Regret

Are you lusting over the costly custom features that are flooding social media—from pot-fillers to library ladders? According to design pros, many are just plain silly.

Mon, Aug 14, 2023 8:54amGrey Clock 3 min

A YEAR AGO I found myself teetering demi-pointe on the soapstone counter of my newly renovated kitchen wondering why I had asked for cupboards up so high.

Why had I fallen prey to the Instagram Reels and TikTok videos that malign the gap between cabinets and ceiling? My top cupboards, which hiked the cost of my cabinets about 35%, finished the millwork handsomely, but they were basically unusable.

Before you, too, succumb to custom-kitchen lust, here are five “must-haves” that design pros, and some reality-checked clients, say you almost certainly don’t need.

1. Continent-Sized Kitchen Islands

When rapper Cardi B revealed her new New Jersey kitchen island on Twitter, now X, she strutted across its surface—and got quite a ways without even nearing the edge of what appears to be a six-slab marble behemoth. In marginally less flamboyant kitchens across America, islands of 15 to 18 feet, roughly the size of SUVs, roost.

Debbie Travis, a veteran host of home-design TV, wanted one for a villa in Tuscany where she welcomes guests for retreats. Her self-described vision: a 16-foot counter surrounded by “a dozen women making pasta, drinking prosecco and laughing.” With the dishwasher and sink on one side and the stove on the other, she says she’s “constantly pushing the cutting board across the island and running left or right to the other side.”

Said Atlanta-based kitchen designer Matthew Quinn of these expansive surfaces, “You literally have to use a Swiffer to clean the middle.”

2. Pot Fillers

“A wall-mounted faucet near a range in theory is great because you can fill a big pot with water and not have to carry it from the sink,” says Christopher Peacock, owner of an eponymous luxury cabinet company in New York. “But it’s ridiculous,” he pointed out. After you’re done, say, boiling several pounds of pasta, you have to carry the pot to the sink to drain the water. “For $5,000, this one’s often a complete waste of time.”

If you don’t use the tap frequently enough, Quinn warns, “you have to open the valve, drain it into a vessel and dump out that water, which will be full of sediment.”

3. Over-Glowing Pantries

“LED-lit shelves and drawers are huge,” said Jaqui Seerman. The interior designer says her Los Angeles studio creates pantries in which everything is decanted and then lit like a boutique. “A surge of people are asking themselves, ‘If I’m creating a Reel of myself cooking, how does the olive oil look and how does its background look too,’ ” she said, “but it’s vanity, not utility.”

4. Workstation Sinks

Brands from Delta to the Galley, a high-end purveyor, offer workstation sinks—trough-size basins up to 7 feet long with myriad inset components, including cutting boards, colanders, dish racks and entertaining kits rife with metal ramekins. Moving the parts looks cool on video.

The drawbacks? De-gunking the slim horizontal ledges and tight corners that support the layers of add-ons, not to mention storing these accoutrements. And those cutting boards? Architect-builder Robert M. Berger, in Westport, Conn., says they’ll often discolour, stain and warp. He advises sanding and treating them with mineral oil pre-use.

Quinn objects to the ergonomics. “We designers create work zones and task areas for comfort and efficiency,” he said, “and now everyone’s jammed into the sink trying to cut and prep and wash.”

5. Library Ladders

They may evoke sweetly analog book stores and reading rooms, but in a kitchen, library ladders “are 98% charm, 2% utility,” said Peacock.

Colleen Silverthorn had designer Meredith Heron install a single ladder that hooks onto rails in the kitchen, laundry and family room in her Regina, Saskatchewan, home. “You need two hands to bring down anything, but you have to hang on while you’re up there, so you only have one,” she admits. “It’s absolutely beautiful [but] doesn’t work at all in the kitchen.” In the other rooms she uses it to retrieve wrapping paper or books, “anything you can toss down onto the floor.”

Sophie Donelson is the author of “Uncommon Kitchens: A Revolutionary Approach to the Most Popular Room in the House” (Abrams).


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Wild cities and concrete corridors: How AI is reimagining the landscape
By Robyn Willis 06/12/2023
Heat coming out of V-shaped property market recovery
By Bronwyn Allen 05/12/2023
Not sure about that apartment purchase? Check out the new digital tool bringing surety back
Wild cities and concrete corridors: How AI is reimagining the landscape

A new AI-driven account by leading landscape architect Jon Hazelwood pushes the boundaries on the role of ‘complex nature’ in the future of our cities

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Dec 6, 2023 2 min

Drifts of ground cover plants and wildflowers along the steps of the Sydney Opera House, traffic obscured by meadow-like planting and kangaroos pausing on city streets.

This is the way our cities could be, as imagined by landscape architect Jon Hazelwood, principal at multi-disciplinary architectural firm Hassell. He has been exploring the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces using AI for his Instagram account, Naturopolis_ai with visually arresting outcomes.

“It took me a few weeks to get interesting results,” he said. “I really like the ephemeral nature of the images — you will never see it again and none of those plants are real. 

“The AI engine makes an approximation of a grevillea.”

Hazelwood chose some of the most iconic locations in Australia, including the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as international cities such as Paris and London, to demonstrate the impact of untamed green spaces on streetscapes, plazas and public space.

He said he hopes to provoke a conversation about the artificial separation between our cities and the broader environment, exploring ways to break down the barriers and promote biodiversity.

“A lot of the planning (for public spaces) is very limited,” Hazelwood said. “There are 110,000 species of plants in Australia and we probably use about 12 in our (public) planting schemes. 

“Often it’s for practical reasons because they’re tough and drought tolerant — but it’s not the whole story.”

Hazelwood pointed to the work of UK landscape architect Prof Nigel Dunnett, who has championed wild garden design in urban spaces. He has drawn interest in recent years for his work transforming the brutalist apartment block at the Barbican in London into a meadow-like environment with diverse plantings of grasses and perennials.

Hazelwood said it is this kind of ‘complex nature’ that is required for cities to thrive into the future, but it can be hard to convince planners and developers of the benefits.

“We have been doing a lot of work on how we get complex nature because complexity of species drives biodiversity,” he said. 

“But when we try to propose the space the questions are: how are we going to maintain it? Where is the lawn?

“A lot of our work is demonstrating you can get those things and still provide a complex environment.” 

At the moment, Hassell together with the University of Melbourne is trialling options at the Hills Showground Metro Station in Sydney, where the remaining ground level planting has been replaced with more than 100 different species of plants and flowers to encourage diversity without the need for regular maintenance. But more needs to be done, Hazelwood said.

“It needs bottom-up change,” he said. ““There is work being done at government level around nature positive cities, but equally there needs to be changes in the range of plants that nurseries grow, and in the way our city landscapes are maintained and managed.”

And there’s no AI option for that. 


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
2024’s Top ASX Stock Picks: 5 Opportunities You Can’t Miss
By Bronwyn Allen 08/12/2023
Why Stars Are Renting Out Their Homes for Dirt Cheap
By ASHLEY WONG 28/11/2023
Wealthy Americans Are Prioritizing Protecting Assets And Limiting Personal Taxes
By V.L. Hendrickson 20/10/2023
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop