5 Essential Steps to Creating Your Dream Kitchen

Lead with appliance selection to build a space tailored to your lifestyle.

If you’re thinking about redesigning your kitchen, chances are you’ve spent hours poring over design magazines and scrolling through Pinterest, tabbing pages and saving images that speak to you. By the time you meet with your designer, you may have your heart set on every detail, down to the paint color. But before you commit to open-paned cabinetry and an oversized island lined with industrial barstools, take a stroll through a Clarke Showroom.

Though many homeowners lead with aesthetics, Clarke has a suggestion: start with the appliances. As it turns out, there are some pretty exciting developments in the industry, and you wouldn’t want a constrictive layout to limit your choices. (For example, don’t purchase said island without first opting for warming drawers, wine storage, or a built-in coffee system.) 

“If space allows, and all appliance options are on the table, we encourage clients to visit Clarke early in the process,” confirms Nukitchens Founder Joseph Najmy. “This way, we can custom design the kitchen utilizing their dream appliances.”

“Luckily, we have three large award-winning showrooms,” notes Clarke Corporate Showroom Director Marco Barallon. “At Clarke, we have chefs in each showroom who can help a homeowner test-drive an appliance before they buy it. Our Showroom Consultants are able to spend time with homeowners and provide them with deep knowledge in appliances, design and current trends. Since we don’t sell anything at Clarke, there’s no pressure.”

Ready for a visit? Keep these five considerations top-of-mind to create your dream, appliance-lead kitchen.

1. Consider Your Lifestyle

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Although it might sound like a no-brainer, the first step to creating a dream kitchen is to carefully consider your lifestyle. At Clarke, Barallon starts with some simple questions: Is it your primary home or a vacation property? What’s your family size? How often do you entertain?

“I recently helped clients who were a family of seven,” he recalls. “For families like these, who cook most of their meals, you need a functional range, and additional wall ovens are a huge help.” Meanwhile, for an older couple who has downsized to have a home closer to city living (for example, maybe they relocated from Back-Country to Downtown Greenwich), Barallon recommends a Wolf Convection Steam Oven. These powerful appliances are frequently added to a kitchen design after visiting Clarke. They can quickly rejuvenate leftovers to their restaurant taste and texture and provide Gourmet Modes that take all of the guesswork out of cooking.  

Najmy is used to helping clients find an arrangement that suits their specific needs. “For example, the Wolf 30-inch E Series Professional Speed Oven, which acts as both a microwave and a convection oven, is a great way to add cooking flexibility when designing with a Wolf Dual Fuel range,” he says.

2. Keep the Counters Clear

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The biggest desire today, Barallon explains, is for clean and expansive countertops. Before you call your custom cabinet maker (don’t worry, you can ring him later), consider your appliances. Eliminate bulky countertop machines by making your major appliances work harder. 

Forget the French press, frother, espresso maker, and even the sugar bowl on the counter. “Think built-in coffee systems with espresso, frothed milk, etc., paired with warming drawers that can hold cups, bagels, and croissants,” he adds. And instead of the bulky Instant Pot, Barallon suggests Wolf’s Convection Steam Ovens, which can hard boil eggs, poach fish, or bake grains. “They have unique roasting functions with humidity sensors, so veggies come out fresher,” he adds.

3. Don’t Forget Ventilation

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Though it may not sound like the sexiest consideration, ventilation is incredibly important. A good range hood keeps cooking exhaust and smoke out of the kitchen. And, it can also make a big aesthetic statement.

According to Barallon, it all comes down to ceiling height. That grand range hood you saved on Pinterest? “You really need a nine-to-ten-foot ceiling or higher,” he says. Also, don’t forget the view. Instead of that ornate hood, homeowners with a view to the water or verdant wooded areas might prefer new flush-mount hoods that can be embedded into the ceiling. This can also open up the possibilities to alternative arrangements, like cooking on the island.

4. Chill Out

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Refrigeration is often the biggest component when it comes to kitchen design, and it will directly influence your layout. “If we have a wall that allows us to build enough refrigeration, we’ll put the fridge/freezer/wine storage all together in three tall units,” Barallon explains, noting that it’s not necessary to group these units next to one another. For a little extra investment, homeowners can split up their refrigeration: “Maybe we create a prep/work zone area, and then place the freezer somewhere else. Let’s think outside the box and not limit ourselves to a single fridge/freezer concept.” 

Indeed, Najmy confirms that extra refrigeration is a client favorite. “Built-in wine storage or undercounter refrigeration drawers are often a requested option,” he says. “Under counter refrigeration allows flexibility — it can accommodate wine and beer, or quick snacks for kids.”

5. Integrate Cabinetry

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Now, back to that Pinterest board with your favorite style and color of cabinetry. Once you’ve selected appliances, you can decide how you want them to look. Do you prefer sleek stainless steel, or a fully concealed look? “We’re integrating a lot of refrigeration,” Barallon confirms. “Sub-Zero is the innovator of refrigeration that can accommodate cabinetry — or really any material, like a custom steel panel — on its face.” 

Indeed, your designer can help you select your dream appliance arrangement and aesthetic. “We are big proponents of balance and symmetry in our design work,” Najmy says. “Sometimes we’ll recommend a Sub-Zero all refrigeration unit like the IC-R 30-inch Designer Column Refrigerator with matching panel to fully integrate with the cabinetry. We would then utilize the Designer Series under-counter freezer. This helps to optimize counter space and symmetry.”

By selecting the appliances first, designers can create a space that incorporates your ideal aesthetics as well as appliances that are perfectly tailored to your lifestyle. Curious? Stop into Clarke’s South Norwalk Showroom anytime, or make an appointment for a one-on-one meeting with a Clarke Consultant.