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There have been threads on plenty of design features we hate. Most recently we've had one on vessel sinks. But how about what we love? Features, trends... what makes you nod as say to yourself, "good choice" when you are visiting an open house? What did you include in your renovation that makes you happy everyday?
I'll start: light switches built into closet doorframes so the light pops on when the door opens.
*closet IN bathroom (not just outside it)
*bedroom, etc., closets that give ready access to the very top (no header wall)
pass-thru with bar style seating--considered tacky by many i love cooking and serving while in the kitchen facing my guests--more formal circumstances require use of the dr--but for feeding friends and fam under casual circumstances works great
The big things are:
1) Stay period-appropriate. If you're in a prewar, go for the big mouldings, baseboards, herringbone floors, subway tiles, hex tiles. Painted white kitchen, marble countertop, etc. Keep your brass, wainscotting, woodwork, stained glass windoew, etc. If you're in mid-modern-esque, keep it simple. Streamlined cabinets, doors, mouldings, light(er) floors, chrome/nickel. Anything mc-mansiony is out.
2) Quality screams. $$ hardware, cabinets, workmanship.
3) Have fun with your furnishings and palette only if you know what you're doing. For example, I think that a combination of an antique chandelier & mid-modern furniture can look good in a prewar space but you have to know
what you're doing.
4) Less is more. Just keep the furniture you need. Discard everything else. Start with the basics and work up from there.
5) There is nothing that is absolutely verboten, even vessel sinks. For instance, I can see a transparent vessel sink in a pop-art powder room with a funky wallpaper. I don't think that's a no-no. But vessel sinks on top of
dark-wood vanities in tract housing/standard-issue Manhattan condo. No way.
i'm with ah on the pullout pantry. i also adore pan drawers, and given that they are not that expensive, do not understand why they are not included more often. i also like the filtered water option that is available in refrigerators. if you like a seamless front panel look, some manufacturers offer the water dispenser inside the refrigerator.
Gorgeous, heavy doorknobs and matching hinges (think Samuel Heath, Baxter).
I wasn't able to do the pullout pantry. On the other hand, I went way overboard on pan drawers, essentially forgoing doored base cabinets altogether ... a mistake, but still I'd do 85% big drawers next time. I did the water dispenser inside the fridge thing, but from the start the water tasted like doodoo, and I don't have the patience to see if it'll get better, so I don't use it ... I just use unfiltered tap water (also icky in my building -- I think we must have alumninum supply mains) with enough ice to numb the tastebuds.
I have a lot of drawers. But cupboards are useful too. I put dishes, colanders, containers in drawers. Ditto large kitchen tools (scales, mixers, frequently used condiments). Pantries are somewhat limiting for me as I'm short.
" I went way overboard on pan drawers, essentially forgoing doored base cabinets altogether ... a mistake, but still I'd do 85% big drawers next time."
Alan, I'm curious -- why was that a "mistake"? If I had my druthers I'd do 100% pan drawers. Doored base cabinets are a MAJOR pain in the ass, as everything has to fit like a puzzle, and the entire puzzle needs to be disassembled each time you want to pull just ONE piece out.
nyc10023, if you've seen those 1960s epic period films (e.g. Cleopatra-Liz with unmistakably early-1960s makeup), you'd see that today's "periodic appropriate" interiors will be understood tomorrow as "2000s-Edwardian" or something of that sort ... we're all too grounded in the present to appropriately recreate the past. We want upper cabinets that give enough working space beneath, etc. etc.. Note, as another example, 1970s art deco design.
Laundry in the unit. LAUNDRY IN THE UNIT! LAUNDRY IN THE UNIT! LAUNDRY IN THE UNIT!
Did I mention ... laundry INSIDE the unit??????
Because drawers typically fit "one layer" of things. I have a 3-drawer setup (one narrow, 2 wide) wherever I have drawers. I can stack things more easily in doored cupboards than I can in drawers.
AH: not if you work off actual Edwardian interiors. I have the books :)
OK, I get it. Yeah, I'd want at least ONE doored cabinet for that random big odd-shaped thing (like the coffeemaker I rarely use).
All lower kitchen cabinets should have rolling pullout shelves. Any corner cabinet should have built in turntable shelves.
I think a doored corner base cabinet that pulls out and opens with a lazy susan inside it will solve the doored cabinet vs. pull-out drawers dispute.
I also like master switches in larger homes -- especially if you've got a multi-level property, I think it's great to have a master switch at the top of the stairs that turns off all the lights on the basement floor, so you don't have to go from room to room before bed, turning out the lights like a Victorian. (This does not mean that I think every switch in a 1,000-square-foot apartment needs to be a seven-setting Lutron).
What else? I like a tray cabinet in the kitchen for cookie sheets, etc.
10023, my pan drawers don't fit one layer of things. stacking sautee pans, stacking frying pans, stacking sauce pans, and dutch ovens and stock pots on their own. divided drawer for lids and smaller sheet pans.
Forget the master switch. You can wire all your switches to be turned off and on remotely these days.
Matt, if I had more limited kitchen storage space, I'd agree with you. But, even after opening up the kitchen and losing top cabs on one side, I have abundant storage (for a solo resident, anyway). Given that, there are some things (heavy orbital mixer; tall thermal coffee dispensers for parties) that don't lend themselves to drawers, and/or are used so infrequently that they SHOULD resemble a 3D jigsaw puzzle to maximize the space, and shouldn't hog eye-level space.
I should add that I have two doored storage units on the living room side of my kitchen complex for barware and cookbooks, respectively. Also, I'm a reformed packrat, but not so much that I don't have three sets of dishes, in large services.
"All lower kitchen cabinets should have rolling pullout shelves. Any corner cabinet should have built in turntable shelves."
UGH that's SO '80s. And a failed design. Ever have something fall off the turntable shelf in the back (it's ALWAYS in the back!), thus jamming the turntable mechanism so you're forced to completely empty out the entire cabinet to dislodge the jam??
Ali, not too many NY kitchens get to have corner cabinets -- they're HUGE and don't happen in tight turns.
aboutready reminds me that vertical slots (baking sheets, etc.) are mandatory over the fridge.
"(This does not mean that I think every switch in a 1,000-square-foot apartment needs to be a seven-setting Lutron)."
Every switch in my apartment is a sliding (unlimited) setting Lutron.
"aboutready reminds me that vertical slots (baking sheets, etc.) are mandatory over the fridge."
I thought that's what the oven and broiler are for. ;)
NYCMatt- shelves with an edge prevent stuff from falling off. And AH - had a very tight corner - found the right unit for it.
"Also, I'm a reformed packrat, but not so much that I don't have three sets of dishes, in large services."
Thank God I'm not the only one.
Service for 20.
"NYCMatt- shelves with an edge prevent stuff from falling off."
That makes absolutely no difference. Do you think people are stacking just ONE layer of stuff on those shelves? Of course not! We're jamming as much as we possibly can in there, maximizing the space, stacking stuff on top of stuff on top of stuff. It's the stuff on top of stuff that falls off when we spin the table!
Get with the lighting program, guys: RF-controlled dimmable lighting consoles.
But I'm not quite tacky enough (yet) to have a hand-held remote to dim and undim various lights from the comfort of my (not yet acquired) Barkalounger ... or maybe I'm just waiting until I can install a remote-controlled gas fireplace (they exist, they really do!)
I just put large pots etc. on those shelves, so don't have the stacking problem. Stack frying pans, woks, etc. in large pot drawers, other pots in open below window shelving adjacent to stove
Moving on to bedroom - how about automatic shades? Don't have to be remote controlled, could be by switch.
i don't like the revolving corner unit. i found one for the upstate home however that has your garbage and recycling center in it, which makes good use of the space but doesn't involve the issue matt brings up. we have had to take apart the lazy susan twice, and we don't stack it that full.
I think they make corner units that have trick doors, but open to regular shelving that maximizes the space. But then you need to keep small children around to be able to get to things in the back/side areas.
"Moving on to bedroom - how about automatic shades?"
That's about as lazy as a self-flushing toilet.
NYMatt- no really. Not when there are over 20' of shades (terrace doors, and windows)
Automatic blinds are absolutely essential for the master bedroom. Preferably programmable so they can raise themselves in the morning when your alarm goes off.
***WARNING ABOUT TURNTABLE CORNER UNITS***
Most of those units have a spring or gravity-loaded mechanism that closes the door completely on its own if it's *almost* closed, so the door looks uniform and is never ajar.
About a month ago, my best friend from Buffalo left for an extended weekend to visit me here in NYC. He left more than enough water and food out for his young cat (not really a kitten anymore, but still not full-grown yet). When he got home, he was alarmed to see the food and water hadn't been touched. That's when he heard the faint crying from inside the cabinet. Apparently the cat managed to slip inside the corner unit, but after it slammed shut behind him, he wasn't strong enough to push it open again.
He was such a good and brave cat! THREE DAYS stuck inside that cabinet, and not one kitty accident inside! (I'm told he made a beeline for the litterbox, then drank about a quart of water after my friend got him out!)
For the bathroom:
Radiant heated bathroom floors
Enclosed steam shower
Memory settings for shower water temperature
Heated towel racks
In mirror embedded TVs (OK, never seen one of these in person, but I need a TV in the bathroom and hate the look of a wall-mounted unit)
My place has a 10 year old reno and a lot of the "wish list must-have" features you've talked about in this thread were thoughtfully included back in the day:
Laundry in unit - check.
Lutron lighting - check.
Automatic shades - check.
Pan drawers/revolving corner cab - nope - want it!
Solid doors - check.
Only one thing I would add - heated floors in baths.
I'll second the bathroom under-floor heating, and add that where there's nice, safe hotwater heating, one thing that might begin to mitigate the ugliness of the baseboard units is if the bathroom had, instead, an extension of the heating plumbing that runs the hot water through a towel rack.
I think it would be safe enough, and cause no extra use of energy ... although what with heat rising, maybe less efficient than baseboard units. So then maybe an exterior metal framing around the piping that would be a bit cooler to the touch, and have a little fan at the top to blow the heat down towards louvres near the floor.
But then you lost me at "I need a TV in the bathroom".
For Bloomberg TV in the morning.
"I need a TV in the bathroom"
Honestly, if you're in there that long, you need more fiber in your diet.
Modern, good call on the shower temp.
The Laurel has TVs in the master bathroom mirrors, I guess so that a male homeowner can shave and watch TV at the same time.
But I think of that more as 2008 gimmicky, like the built-in Miele espresso maker in the kitchen.
Have you tried the built-in Miele coffee maker? A friend of mine has it, I can testify it makes really good coffee, and I would probably add it if redoing a kitchen. It grinds the coffee for each cup and brews it nicely. I'd save the few thousand dollar cost in decreased Starbucks spending.
I think having a coffee maker on the counter is so tacky.
"The Laurel has TVs in the master bathroom mirrors"
People can't be torn away from television for the 8 or so minutes it takes to brush, floss, and shave?
"I think having a coffee maker on the counter is so tacky."
Wow. So, you think that 90% of Americans are "tacky".
You're probably one of those types who also bristles if you don't see a bidet in every bathroom (Ugh! Those filthy Americans!) or central vacuum systems.
Some of us don't have 9 to 5 jobs. Markets are open worldwide almost 24/7. (Saturday night in NYC everything is closed, worldwide)
Maybe I am slow but it takes me more than 8 minutes to shower, shave etc.
8 minutes, you have time to get one of those ceiling-mounted whole body blow dryers.
I'd pass on the built in coffee maker. In 10 years it'll be broken and abandoned and a relic of "when people build in their coffee makers." But then again, if you renovate more often than every 10 years, go for it. Personally, I plan to never renovate again until I move. I just can't imagine going through that so I'm treating the place very very gently.
Back to things we love:
Custom radiator covers that integrate the baseboard mouldings into their design.
Those little pull-out rods in the walk-in closet to put a couple of hangers on.
Recessed, 6"+ deep Robern medicine cabinets (or at least partially recessed if the pipes block it from being fully flush).
And I guess a bathroom TV is ok so long as it isn't opposite the toilet which would be gross.
Actually I think 95% of Americans are "tacky". Look at what they drive, what they wear, what music they listen to, what they watch on TV.
I ripped out a bidet when I moved into a house.
I think central vacuum is essential to single family homes, but not in apartments, though I would not be opposed.
i agree with modern on the built-in coffee maker. i found it to be an unnecessary fluff item, but then we rented an apartment with one in the kitchen and the coffee results were great. i wouldn't add it, though, unless i had a lot of space. wouldn't replace anything basic for it.
It all comes and goes. Remember those Bosch power units built into the counter? You'd plop on the mixer or blender or whatever. You'd still have to haul the thing out of the cupboard, but it'd be lighter and you'd be spared the hassle of plugging it in. Whole point was that it looked spiffy and expensive.
Why would a built-in maker produce better coffee than a countertop one?
Anyway, they're both vastly inferior to putting coffee in a pot with cold water, letting it macerate overnight or more, filtering the next day and nuking or icing to taste at the time you want to drink it. Norlins-style, but they mix with heated milk instead of nuking, I believe. You can keep it in a pull-out drawer overnight if you don't want the unsightly mess on your countertop.
I know this is supposed to be a positive, not negative thread, but I'm reminded of the dumbest kitchen object of all time, when you consider depth of stupidity AND breadth of implementation: the electric can opener. I mean, seriously?
And of course, there are those of us who don't even drink coffee ...
I prefer the toilet be in its own room (without a TV). Makes it easier to share a bath.
Oh, yeah ... we NEED occupancy indicators on bathroom/toilet doors.
But we shouldn't make any of the tradeoffs that Brits make to get them: separate hot/cold spigots (I don't even like separate knobs), no-fixed-wheels supermarket carts/trolleys, silicone-coated assorted-sized banknotes.
kw - is your #1 fave the built in lights in the closet? that's interesting.
i've never renovated, but would have to favor very well organized closets/cupboards/storage, etc and a laundry area (not just washer/dryer). the rest is take or leave for me, though the customized radiator covers sound fabulous.
"Oh, yeah ... we NEED occupancy indicators on bathroom/toilet doors."
Don't you have a lock on your bathroom door?
Has instant hot water dispenser been taken?
How about toilets that can flush a bucket of golf balls?
i'll never forget how excited my mother was to get her first electric can opener. it was 70s gold, to contrast with her 70s avocado kitchen motif.
Heated bathroom mirrors.
Why heated bathroom mirrors? benefit?
What does it say about Americans that bidets never caught on here?
They don't fog up.
Not that I could ever afford a unit with it, but I love the new idea of garage door-style walls that, when raised, open up the living room to the outdoors.
Heated mirrors never steam up.
ah, nothing like a good, strong flush!
my jetsonian wishlist: some sort of internal vacuum system that sucks all the dust out of the home on a daily basis. a similar kind of cleaning mechanism for guests as they come in to clean their shoes (since i'm told it's quite rude to ask people to take their shoes off). tiny mechanical creatures that when released can find every last crumb on the floor. ok, self-cleaning EVERYTHING.
sorry for the tangent. what else do people absolutely love? this is interesting.
"i'll never forget how excited my mother was to get her first electric can opener. it was 70s gold, to contrast with her 70s avocado kitchen motif."
Ours was avocado, to blend in with the rest of our avocado decor.
ok, this is for upstate, not here. but the pop-up downdraft gas cooktop is an awesome innovation.
"Not that I could ever afford a unit with it, but I love the new idea of garage door-style walls that, when raised, open up the living room to the outdoors."
Works only if you don't have pets (or kids, for that matter) who can easily plunge to their deaths.
"i'm told it's quite rude to ask people to take their shoes off"
I do it anyway.
I'm sure you've guessed by now that I'm not afraid of appearing rude.
wine fridge in the kitchen would be nice. also free standing tub if master bath is big enough.
"What does it say about Americans that bidets never caught on here?"
That we've learned to make do with soap, water, and paper towels?
"ok, this is for upstate, not here. but the pop-up downdraft gas cooktop is an awesome innovation."
I read in Consumer Reports that they're practically useless.
powerful, out-vented range hood.
Or mosquitoes, moths, etc.
I do have a lock on my bathroom -- the labor-saving push-button kind. But the indicator saves the socially traumatic knock-and-enter problem that afflicts the modern world.
aboutready, I've been told that the downdrafts don't really work, and suck heat away before it can do its job -- most especially in the case of indoor grills, but still. Maybe the popup kind is better. I, for one, refuse to have much more than a tiny vertical extension from the top of my stove -- unsightly, even if 95% of trashy Americans have those. I prefer the slide-in look.
10023, Metro and Golwyn and Meyers, or the Warner Brothers, or whoever it was, had lots of authentic original family photos of Cleo and Mark and Anthony, but that didn't stop Liz T. from looking like prime Gidget.
matt, i don't really care. i don't do any frying. i just want a system that will meet code and i can't physically put in a vent above my island.
i have amazing cross-ventilation and a very large space. odors have never been an issue.
uwsmom, programmed Roomba/Scooba with docking station is as good as it gets for that. Actually, Hazel/Alice are a bit better.
ah, i'm not using it for a grill. and the pop-up kind descend with a push of a button. to be honest, i don't even need it. i have my stove in another location now, with the sucky microwave fan system. i don't think the fan has ever even been activated by my cooking.
On the subject of cooking vents, a NY pet peeve: overhead, downdraft, whatever ... they need to vent OUTSIDE, begone, goodbye, not blow the air back at you through a useless "filter"
"Actually, Hazel/Alice are a bit better."
Good luck finding either Hazel or Alice in this market these days. Today it's more likely you'll find Margarita or Yolanda -- in the country illegally, of course -- who charge you $85 to "clean" 1200 square feet in less than two hours.
ah, that's why the downdraft, although not the most efficient, will work for me upstate. it vents into the basement.
we had a pop-up vent on the range in our Cape Cod rental house this summer. "Practically useless" is a good way to put it..
I have a pop-up vent, it is totally worthless. They also break a lot (moving parts!) and of course several years later they have discontinued the model and getting parts and having it fixed is difficult.
Outside of many things already noted for the kitchen: undermount sinks, built in soap pumps and foot operated faucet.
about 2 hours ago
uwsmom, programmed Roomba/Scooba with docking station is as good as it gets for that.
> Do those things actually work? If so I want one immediately.
I dream of a having a garbage disposal and washer/dryer (small combo would be fine). Love the idea of the memory settings for shower water temperature and a master switch.
looking2 - our rental actual has 2 out of 3. no foot operated faucet, but undermount sink is fabulous.
re: roomba - they're round, right? so, how exactly do they get edges/corners where the majority of stuff ends up?
have fever on top of pregnancy brain. not good combo.
We're in the midst of a major renovation right now so I'm loving this list. I agree with many things here, although I'm no fan of things that are so custom that if they break it can take a rip-out to repair or replace, like heated floors, programmable shower thermostats or built-in coffee makers.
But on our must-have list for our renovation: recessed LED lighting on dimmers; light switches that let you turn on a light when you enter a room using one door and turn it off when you exit from the other end of the room (like entering a foyer with an armful of groceries, hitting the light switch, walking into the kitchen and not having to walk all the way back to the front door to turn off the light); separate hand shower in glassed-in stall shower; bench in shower; generous towel rods; lighted magnifying mirror; kitchen vertical cabinet for trays and sheet pans; a big pantry cabinet; lots of extra outlets, including some at counter-level, in the kitchen; a hood, not a microwave, over the stove; 36" wide refrigerator to take platters and turkeys; kitchen under-counter task lighting; a double sink with a pull-out spray faucet; wine refrigerator; hardwood floors; energy efficient and eco-friendly whenever possible; top quality hardware throughout; and bathroom hooks deep enough to hold a thick terrycloth robe.
Obviously it doesn't take much to please me....
Heated bathroom floors are a waste of $, unless your bathroom is poorly heated/insulated. I made the $$ mistake of installing heated bathroom flrs in our current place. Have never had to turn them on. Bathrooms are nice & warm in the winter.
Laundry area - hmm, slightly smaller waste of $. Just means I leave laundry stashes there for days and days instead of actually moving them into closets.
Built-in coffee makers. Nah, I'm addicted to Vietnamese-style brewed coffee. Old-fashioned drip method. Spectacular aroma.
I spent $30+ on a Rosle can opener. I am in love with the darned thing.
Roomba - waste of $. You can have mine if you like, gratis.
I never ask guests to take their shoes off, but 99% of them do anyway.
NextEra: I have all of those things, except for lighted mirror (do I really need a reminder that I'm aging?)
10023 - yeah, the Roomba always seemed lame to me but i've never used it. is it the edges/corner thing or does it just not pick things up well?
you have very courteous guests. perhaps your apartment screams "no shoes here".
and re: laundry room - i'd much rather it sit in there then in lr/br for days before being put away. i'm TERRIBLE about that. also like to hang dry many items and would love a sink area for spraying stains, etc (at least for the next 18 years...). folding table would be nice too.
I looked at an apt with a cool feature. A push-button operated dumbwaiter from the kitchen to the upstairs roof deck.
Same place had an outdoor fireplace (nice!) and a rooftop hot tub.
Is it just me, or does anyone else find the thought of an outdoor hot tub scary? You know, dead rat floating in it when you take the cover off for guests? I just can't imagine using it, knowing what stuff runs around NYC.
Modern: The roof terrace thing is not really great- always carrying stuff up and down - much better if it's directly off the living space.
And re: hot tub- lots of dirt floats in the NYC air
10023, are you really trying to get rid of a roomba? If so I would happily take it off of your hands for a six-pack of good beer. My girlfriend is totally obsessed with roombas and would be thrilled, but I can't bring myself to spend money on something that's so obviously more trouble than it's worth.
Yep, absolutely. Just promise to freecycle when you are done with it, so that it doesn't end up in landfill.