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Never too skinny or too rich?

Posted by Rona Fischman July 5, 2011 01:43 PM

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Today, I discuss kitchens. I have been seeing a lot of skinny kitchens. I have also been seeing expensive, and/or over-dressed kitchens that will be hard to cook in. Too skinny. Too rich.

Too skinny
Skinny kitchens, more commonly called “sleeve kitchens,” are an apartment feature found in condos and some houses. Most times, they have counters on both long walls and a dead end. Some have counter at the far end. Some have wall. Some have a window. On rare occasions, I have seen a door at the far end, so that there is a way in from both ends of the long counter. Frequently, there is an eat-in area at the front end of a sleeve kitchen. These kitchens allow for a lot of counter and cabinet in a small space.

The problems that I hear about are that two people cannot work in a kitchen like that without bumping into one another when they go to pass by en route to the stove or refrigerator. Without a window, the far end is dark. Some of my clients just hate that they are small.

Modifications that help:
1. Window or doorway opening at the far end.
2. Open wall into the next room (usually a dining room.)
3. Glass-fronted cabinets on an open wall into the next room.
4. Good lighting.

My very first solo apartment had a sleeve kitchen. It also had a skylight in the kitchen. I found the sleeve kitchen easy to work in and very easy to keep clean. When I didn’t cook alone, it wasn’t a problem because I had just fallen in love and didn’t mind being crowded. About three years later, I had another sleeve kitchen with room for a table at the front end. This was an improvement. I still didn’t mind the small space. Am I unusual in this regard?

Too rich
Great materials, stupid layout:
I had a client who recently agonized over a house that had a very expensive, new renovation that made a big kitchen into a cramped little U-shaped cooking area that had to be walked entirely around to get to the food storage area. The house worked, except for the kitchen. It would break her heart of pay the premium for a high-end Corian kitchen, only to have to tear it out to build something useful. So, she passed on it.

I have many clients who don’t want granite. They don’t like it. They don’t want to have to refinish it. They don’t want to pay a premium for it.

Then there are the clients who just have strong color preferences. Some people love “warm colors” (yellows, oranges, and reds) and some who love “cool colors” (blues and purples.) If a buyer loves warm colors, a blue kitchen is the pits, especially an expensive blue kitchen. Especially if the blue is in the tile floor and the backsplash, where it is expensive to remove.

Do you agree that, when it comes to kitchens, it is easy to be too skinny or too rich?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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