5 ‘Dream Kitchen’ Upgrades That Homeowners Tend to Regret
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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.

By SOPHIE DONELSON
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).



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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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A 600-Year-Old Medieval Villa Overlooking Florence Lists for €12 Million

The four-storey, lemon-hued villa boasts more than 16,000 square feet of living space and historic character and charm by the bucket load

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Wed, May 29, 2024 2 min

A 14th-century villa in the hills overlooking Florence, Italy, has hit the market for €12 million (US$13 million).

Surrounded by cypress trees, vineyards and olive groves, the quintessential Tuscan home was built for the Davanzati family—who were powerful bankers, merchants and patrons during the Italian Renaissance who have a museum named after them in the heart of the city. The villa was one of the family’s multiple country retreats, according to Lionard Luxury Real Estate, which brought the home to the market earlier this month.

Courtesy of Lionard

The four-storey, lemon-hued villa boasts more than 16,000 square feet of living space and historic character and charm by the bucket load.

The ballroom has a giant skylight.
Courtesy of Lionard

On the ground floor there are ​​a number of reception rooms and open-air living areas, with many of them boasting antique paintings, tapestries and stately fireplaces made of marble or carved stone.

The most “magnificent” room, according to Lionard, is the winter garden hall, a ballroom with stuccos, loggias and towering vaulted ceilings, illuminated by an Art Nouveau skylight.

Courtesy of Lionard

On the first floor are multiple double bedrooms and an antique library, and the second floor, while in need of renovation, offers the possibility of creating up to 12 en-suite bedrooms. The villa’s tower has a “delightful sitting room and a rooftop terrace offering a breathtaking view of the city of Florence,” the listing said.

The villa has ivy-covered loggias.
Courtesy of Lionard

The basement, meanwhile, has a cellar with brick vaults that are perfect for wine lovers. An elevator runs between the levels.

Outside, the grounds have well-kept gardens, rolling lawns, a fountain, ancient wells and ivy-covered loggias.

Mansion Global couldn’t determine who is selling the villa, or when they acquired it.

The property is “an oasis of peace,” the listing said, and “one of the most exclusive historical estates on the hills that surround the city of Florence.”

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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