By Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS
You see them everywhere! On TV, in newsstand magazines and in model homes. These are the must-have kitchen products du jour.
Some, like stainless steel appliances, have shown lasting appeal. Most of the others come and go, dating your home in the process. Why do some last? Because they embody Sensible Style. In other words, they work well and look great. The ones that fade away most often look good for a while, but ultimately their lack of practicality or comfort or durability—or even just their sheer overexposure—dooms them to passing status.
Here are four, in my opinion, of the most overrated kitchen products today. Feel free to add to the list by commenting below. Have I slammed one of your favorites? Give it your best defense.
Like a rock
Polished granite became the must-have countertop material for high-end homes a number of years ago. In the height of the housing boom a few years back, homeowners were throwing away perfectly good alternatives to get them, and builders wouldn't dare put anything else in. Ultimately many clients, particularly those with active young children, found that they disliked the daily and periodic maintenance and worried about the porosity and (mostly overblown) radon risks. Some even found from time to time that granite's much-vaunted heat resistance and durability was overstated when they scorched a pot ring next to the stove or chipped the edge with a heavy skillet.
Granite makes for a hard work surface, but some people find it hard to live with, too.
Losing your marbles
Travertine floors also gained wide popularity among high-end projects during the recent housing boom. They epitomized a luxury kitchen for many builders and homeowners. You could say they gained traction among this group, except that they offer absolutely no traction at all. They are a broken hip waiting to happen, in fact. Kitchens are notoriously wet areas and slick marble only gets slicker with water on it. Travertine is also extremely hard underfoot, creating leg, foot, hip and back discomfort for the homeowner who actually likes to use her kitchen, not just look at it. Finally, as a natural stone, travertine needs to be kept sealed or it will easily stain—not the ideal choice for a heavily-used work space.
Save it for the entry hall!
I have to admit a personal design bias against those towering restaurant-style faucets that look like a construction rig wrapped in a slinky. Do you really have pots so large as to require industrial scope cleaning? They work in restaurants because restaurant kitchens are all about function, not form. Form is for the dining room, not the kitchen staff. Presumably, form was a strong consideration when you were planning your kitchen. This trend can't end soon enough, as far as I'm concerned.
Short-order faucet trend?
One of the most popular refrigerator configurations of recent years is the French door fridge. The built-in versions look great when paneled to resemble an armoire. French doors also work great for catering trays, given their double-wide fresh food section. Other than those two very specific instances, I can see no real raison d'etre for this refrigerator style. They look dreadfully off-kilter with the popular through-the-door water dispenser convenience. They also force you to bend in half or do deep knee bends to see or remove anything in the freezer. Give me a side-by-side any day of the week!
A French-door fridge without a through-door water dispenser.
Read about more overrated kitchen products here.
(c) 2010, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified kitchen designer in San Diego, CA, and Design & Marketing Director for Italian Kitchen Design and Distribution.