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Kitchen & Bath Tips from an Expert

Kitchen & Bath Tips from an Expert
This kitchen is designed for multi-tasking.
Architect Maurice Levitch heads a design/build firm with over 50 years of experience in architectural design and construction, Letvitch Architects & Builders.  With numerous kitchens and baths under his belt and a style all his own, Maurice is a good source for design ideas and has a thoughtful approach to this subject.

How do you begin the design process and what is your approach to kitchen layout?
We start with a series of choices to be made by the client: The first question focuses on the sink.  Will the sink face the outside or will it be placed on an island where the sink user will face other people in the kitchen?   Secondly, will the kitchen feature an open floor plan to include the dining room?  If so, it is often desirable to face other people in the room.

Will the kitchen include an island?  Will the island include a sink, a stove?  Will it be fixed in place or will it be more of a work area that can be wheeled around the kitchen?

The next issue we usually address is seating.  Decisions need to be made whether there will seating around an island, in a nook or perhaps built in seating along a wall.  Seating along a wall is a good way to incorporate a few seats.  We also like to include a connection to the outdoors if possible.  This allows for indoor/outdoor entertaining with a connection to the kitchen.

Cabinets and Storage – What are your suggestions here?
I prefer upper cabinets that don’t reach to the ceiling. I like to leave the space open above to add lighting and give a sense of openness. Pots, pans and other storage needs should be planned and placed ergonomically closest to where they will be used. Pot racks are often above the stove , for example. A pantry is great if you have the room. Also, a broom or utility closed is great as a built in.

Lighting, Windows, and Skylights?
We like recessed LED lighting in the ceiling for general lighting. We also like to add a skylight and uplighting to draw the eye upwards and brighten the space.  If possible, open up the ceiling and add a skylight though an attic pop up. We like pendant lighting over an island.  Under cabinets we like LED task lighting and above cabinets we like Uplighting – indirect lighting.

Floor materials?
I prefer wood over tile.  We’ve also used cork on some projects.  If the floor connects to another space then you need to match the material.  Softer materials are better.  Hardwood in the kitchen is o.k.

Appliance Recommendations?
The dishwasher should be placed near the sink so that it doesn’t drip.  Make sure the dishwasher drawer and oven door don’t bump.  Decide if one oven is going to work.  A Second oven takes up more space.  Electric ovens are good for bakers.  Induction tops are popular.  We like to pair electric appliances with solar panels otherwise I prefer gas ranges. Some clients regard the stove as a “statement piece”.  They usually go with a Thermador or Wolf Range. Microwaves should be built-in if possible.

Range Hoods – What are the choices here?
There’s Chimney Style, which is a range hood between cabinets and Island Style which sits above a range on an Island. Either is fine.  Avoid down draft hoods. Most importantly, make sure the motor and duct work are adequate to draw air through the hood.

I like stone or quartz such as CeasarStone.

How do you start to plan a bathroom layout?
The starting point is determining the client’s bathing needs. Does the client prefer a separate tub and shower, or just a tub or just a shower?  We recommend a step in shower.  A bench seat or foot shelf is nice addition as well.  Add a niche for soap, shampoo and if the shower is large enough, do away with the door. Glass shower doors make the room more spacious and have the advantage of less cleaning. Position the toilet so it’s not the first thing you see when you enter the bathroom. Decide on one sink or two and separate the toilet and bathing area from the sink… so two people can use the bathroom at the same time.

Sound Insulation:  Do you do anything special here?
Remember to include sound insulation between the bathroom and adjacent rooms, including a well -insulated door. The fan should be powerful and current Code requires either a timer switch, a humidity sensor or a motion sensor. The best choice is a continuous running fan with a humidity sensor.

How do you address aging in place?
Curbless showers are important. A wall-mounted toilet can save space if the bathroom is small, and eventually leave space for handrails.

What lighting tips do you have?
Windows and skylights open up the space and bring in natural light.  We’ve used skylights, dormer windows and regular windows to bring in light.
In front of a mirror, I suggest side-mounted sconces rather than overhead lights. In the shower use a recessed light or ventilating skylight. Solar skylights are also good and require no wiring.

We like floating vanities or vessel sinks  - again we are tying to open up space.

Tubs vs. Showers?
I prefer a shower to a tub as long as there is another tub in the house or a hot tub.

Tile-Floor and Wall surfaces?
I like either tile or stone. Large tile sizes reduce the amount of grout.  Wood or tile wainscoting in bathroom is nice; it protects the walls.

We like built in cabinets, and a recessed medicine cabinets with electrical inside.

[Photos courtesy Levitch Architects & Builders.]

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