What do you LOVE in your kitchen and/or bathroom?
August 14, 2021 3:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the early planning stages for some major renovations to my kitchen and multiple bathrooms in my house. I'm looking for some inspiration, especially for clever things I may not think of on my own. I'd love to know what things delight you in your own kitchen/bathroom. Do you have an amazing cabinet organizer, color combination, countertop material, sink feature, type of tile, showerhead, faucet... anything that you're glad you have or think is awesome? Please share. Photos and specific product recommendations more than welcome!

General advice about remodeling is also welcome. I will have a contractor, not going the DIY route, but I most likely won't have a designer. Also, I'm not planning to replace most of my large appliances. More curious about design elements and big-picture things like should I get an appliance garage? What kind of countertop and sink should I get? Etc etc etc. Thank you for sharing!
posted by pupstocks to Home & Garden (75 answers total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
My in-laws have a hole cut into their counter top, with a lid. Organic waste gets dropped through the hole and falls into the organic waste bucket, which sits underneath the hole in a sort of cupboard outside, and is reached from outside. I love this design. No carrying waste through the kitchen, the bucket gets rinsed outside next to the compost pile, the lid keeps out bugs.
I'm about to renovate a kitchen and multiple bathrooms also, watching this thread keenly!
posted by conifer at 3:19 PM on August 14, 2021 [10 favorites]

I had a tempered glass countertop. It was amazing to be able to store all our fruits and vegetables and spices and not have them clutter up the countertop. It was easy to clean, and great if you're into baking.

Our compost bin was a small trash can with a removeable sleeve and a step-to-open lid. We kept the compost covered with sawdust.

Instapots are more important and versatile in our household than the stovetop.
posted by aniola at 3:34 PM on August 14, 2021

Not terribly fancy, but pull out faucet, and under cabinet lighting are great. Our island has some outlets which are helpful.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:34 PM on August 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best thing we had in our bathroom was a permitted site-built compost toilet.
posted by aniola at 3:34 PM on August 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Kitchen: trash and recycling cans in a pull out drawer, stand mixer in a cabinet on a lift up shelf, big pantry with lots of food storage, big deep drawers instead of cabinets in the lower level, undermount sink (so I can just sweep counter crumbs in), flat glass electric cooktop (I like the sleek look and easy cleaning, but I know serious cooks would prefer a gas range), soft close cabinet doors, on preview I agree with the pullout faucet

Bathroom: extra wide niche in shower stall for all bottles/sponges/paraphenalia, shorter height for counter, GFCI outlet next to toilet in case I want to install a bidet later
posted by Nickel at 3:35 PM on August 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

I absolutely love the sliding shelf compartment that perfectly fits the instant pot. it's too big to sit on the countertop all the time.

i love my lower cabinet drawers and having no shelves below waist level.

i love my giant sink that fits a whole big cookie sheet in it. No more having to wash things in quadrants.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:36 PM on August 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Now things I WISH I had after living here for a few years:

Bathroom: heated floors, sink faucet that comes further forward so I'm not washing my hands near the back of the sink

Kitchen: Some kind of integrated countertop hidden storage/bread box type thing to hide my appliances and make everything look less cluttered
posted by Nickel at 3:38 PM on August 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have a relative who has a nice, small kitchen in her condo. It is not necessarily about a product or color combination but it is the thoughtful use of space and attention to the general energy flow of the space so that every part of the kitchen "makes sense." What is the view when you peer into and enter the kitchen? What is the view looking out of the kitchen? Do these views feel balanced? With the cabinets and counters, it can sometimes make sense to break things up or extend things in order to achieve this sense of balance. With cabinets, you can consider whether solid doors or window paneled cabinets could make sense (the window paneled ones can lighten up or break up a monotonous space).

Practically speaking, I think ample cabinet space helps a lot. A sink disposal makes my quality of life much better. Also, a filtered hot water faucet connected to your sink (so you don't have to boil water to make tea) is amazing.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 3:52 PM on August 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Some kind of integrated countertop hidden storage/bread box type thing to hide my appliances and make everything look less cluttered

Yes, an appliance garage! I don't have one, but I did housesit for a while for a friend who does. Good spot to tuck away appliances that you use frequently. Easy access, but they don't gather dust or make your counters look cluttered.
posted by ktkt at 3:55 PM on August 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

I number of people I know who renovated recently didn't plan a spot to keep their broom, mop, and other cleaning items that you want to have in the kitchen but not out on display.
posted by momochan at 3:57 PM on August 14, 2021 [17 favorites]

I’m in a rental and this is dumb but I, and everyone who visits, loves the little shelf above the tp roll. I suspect it’s actually for phones, but also works great for a tampon, or anything you may have inadvertently carried in like a cocktail, god forbid.
posted by kapers at 4:06 PM on August 14, 2021 [27 favorites]

a water saving toilet

a toilet that is tall enough for.....taller than average people

nthing design your shower stall so it has a Nook or Shelf and doesn't need an unstable stupid hanging basket to have your toiletries on.



if you have gas, a gas stove - if possible one with a super hot burner.
if you don't have gas and can afford new cookware, an induction hob is SO much better than a regular electric hob

if you can run a vent, great!


also, do you plan to age-in-place at this location? if so, thinking about accessibility for you as you get older would be good. ...
posted by lalochezia at 4:09 PM on August 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

We just redid our kitchen. Things we love: giant sink, multiple outlets on the island, bookshelf built into the island, slide-out shelves in cabinets, deep drawers (15 and 10 inch) for pots and pans, mop/broom closet, quartz countertops. We couldn’t do wall cabinets because of the number of windows so everything had to go in a drawer or shelf below the counter. The deep drawers are awesome. It’s not a big kitchen so we had to be really thoughtful about storage. We literally planned out where each appliance and pot would go as we drew up the plans. It paid off. Ikea cabinets are affordable and surprisingly well-made but the fronts are pretty bland. So we used ikea boxes but then got the cabinet and drawer fronts from a company called Semihandmade so we could have a more “custom” look.
posted by not_the_water at 4:28 PM on August 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

My partner has a rainfall showerhead and I'm installing on this week. They have a handheld unit attached and they are beautifully luxurious for showering (if you're the shower daydreamer) and lovely on sore muscles and hair rinsing.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:30 PM on August 14, 2021 [7 favorites]

Many sinks are installed with counter material behind and in front of the sink- in other words, you buy counter material for the entire span, then pay to have a hole cut in the counter and install the sink in that hole. The couple feet of counter material you discard can cost $300, cutting the hole costs money, and many sinks cost a lot as well.

We bought a ‘farmer’s sink’ from IKEA for $150- it runs from the back wall to an inch or so past where the counter’s edge would be. Between buying less counter material, not paying for the hole to be cut and skipping the $400 fancy sink, I figure we saved at least $600. Oh, and we love the sink.
posted by carterk at 4:45 PM on August 14, 2021 [9 favorites]

I recently redid a bathroom- my advice:

Put an electrical outlet down low behind the toilet so you or future homeowners can install a bidet / washlet toilet seat.

Consider using grey or black grout in the shower tiles- hides mildew and looks cleaner than white.

I prefer 3-way shower splits - the splitter thing is harder to find and costs more but I think it’s worth it to have:
1. A rainfall shower on the ceiling for my short haired partner,
2. A hand held nozzle mounted high like a basic shower so I can shower without getting my long hair wet, and also use the hand sprayer for kids and pets and plants and cleaning the tub
3. A low tap for filling buckets and filling the tub.

Get a tub with a wide rim to hold lots of bottles. Mine has a narrow rim and it’s annoying. Plus my partner sits on it when I cut his hair and it’s not that comfortable- old tub is missed.

Don’t get a cheap tub, they scratch fast!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 4:55 PM on August 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

I love having a hanging pot rack and a pegboard on the wall for all the things that normally go in that drawer of implements that always gets jammed because none of them lie flat. In addition to not having them all jumbled up in a drawer, you can just put stuff away immediately without drying it off first, since it'll air dry just as well hanging up as it would in a drying rack.
posted by aubilenon at 4:56 PM on August 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

In the bathroom... a good place to charge electric toothbrushes. Also if you have a larger household, it can convenient to separate the shower/and/or toilet from the sinks so that multiple people can use the bathroom at once.
posted by oceano at 5:00 PM on August 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Things we put in our kitchen that I absolutely love:

Two sinks. A large one for doing dishes and a small prep sink near where you do the prep.

A pull-out for the stand mixer. Just flip it up and it's ready to use.

A baking area with a counter that is about 6 inches lower than the regular counters. For kneading brad and rolling out pie crust.

Mostly drawers in the lower cabinets. Large drawers for baking supplies, bowls and tupperwear, smaller drawers for utensils.
posted by bondcliff at 5:35 PM on August 14, 2021

a toilet that is tall enough for.....taller than average people

Or conversely, a toilet that is short enough for... shorter than average people

There's nothing "comfort height" about my feet not touching the floor while relieving myself.
posted by deludingmyself at 5:37 PM on August 14, 2021 [11 favorites]

A friend who just bought a house said that a goal of hers is to have a full bath (or at least one with a shower) on the ground floor that is or potentially is wheelchair-accessible--partly to be accessible to guests, but also with the thought that this is where she'll live long term, and if she ever gets injured, this way she could convalesce at home more easily.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:40 PM on August 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

all my kitchen counters are lowered and I love it. It does limit me to an ADA accessible dishwasher but you could just have the counter higher where the dishwasher is and avoid that issue (I wish I had done that.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:00 PM on August 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

We remodeled our kitchen in 2018. Here are the things we LOVE:
1. Drawers in the lower cabinets. We have ALL drawers. There is absolutely NO digging in the back of a cabinet for ANYTHING. The only exceptions are a cabinet for cutting boards and two pullouts for trash and recycling.
2. Drawers in the corner cabinets. No turntables with things falling off of them, no weird-geometry pullouts. The width of the drawers forces a wide corner which makes a workspace with counter space on both sides and in front. Wonderful.
3. That pop-up mixmaster cabinet thing. It’s the other not-a-drawer thing that we have. I thought they were ridiculous, but it is really wonderful to have. So handy and easy to use.

And things I really, really like:
4. Having the trash can/drawer near the dining room where it is reachable by people at all stations: from the stove, from the sink, from the dining room, etc.
5. Tons of outlets, every 4 feet at least
6. Under cabinet lighting.

Now I will read all the other answers for bathroom ideas, because that’s next and I am really stuck on it.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:00 PM on August 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

In case you haven't seen it there are good tips in this old thread
posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 6:15 PM on August 14, 2021

+++ A Heated Bathroom Floor +++

and a bidet
posted by TDIpod at 6:29 PM on August 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

The best and worst guest bathroom I ever used is the same bathroom!

Amazing things about this bathroom:
- Heated floors, omg if I ever have the chance to put these into my home they are going throughout. Ultimate luxury, but also so much more efficient.
- Awesome rainfall shower head with second hand held nozzle that had two different heights where it could hook, one good for my short self and one lower for if using a stool or washing a pet.
- There were no lips or edges anywhere on the floor to stumble over - the shower had a glass door that opened inward and a very gentle slope to the drain, the whole thing was walker or wheelchair friendly.
- Really detailed and interesting wallpaper that was like a massive fantasy adventure map that I could stare at for long periods when sitting on the toilet.

Awful things about this bathroom:
- It was a jack&jill bathroom between two guest rooms, so had a door on each side and the glass door for the shower was not frosted so more than once guest related awkwardness ensued.
- The shower door being clear was further bothersome because it was right across from the full wall of sink and mirror so it was full on “confront your entire naked body” time every shower.
- Each door had a hook for robes and towels on it… but there were no towel bars because there was no wall space.
- There was no lighting in the shower and had a dark stone surround so it was like a spooky sharp cave that you were naked and vulnerable in.
- There was the tiniest ledge in the shower for soap, which was too high for me (I am 5’2”) and barely held a full bar of soap, and definitely no grooming tools or bottles.
- The toilet was in its own little closet space, which meant I had to deal with menstrual stuff in there and then open the door to get to the sink, and there was nowhere near the toilet to store extra rolls of toilet paper.
- There was only overhead lighting that was reflected in the big mirror so doing makeup for an occasion while I was visiting this house (happened every time) was difficult since I looked undead.
posted by Mizu at 6:48 PM on August 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

My mom has a couple of great deep drawers for cookware, and at least the top one has a shallow lid drawer that hides until you pull it out. Store pots and pans below, lids above - ingenious. All the cabinets and drawers are soft-close, and it feels amazing. She also has a lower baking counter. Their kitchen is right under a roof, and so they have a skylight, which is fantastic during the day - otherwise, a biiiig window over the sink (to gaze out of while doing dishes) is also a really nice touch.

My sister redid a bathroom and got a wide, deep tub with a very wide rim, also with a window to one side - it is the perfect place to take a relaxing bath. Soft-close toilet lids are great. Bathrooms often have almost no outlets; planning for toothbrushes, lamps (if, like me, you want nothing to do with overhead light in the evening), hairdryers, and the like could help the room look less cluttered and remove the frustration of having to switch out all the time.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 6:59 PM on August 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Kitchen - things I have had which I really like

- spice rack which is actually a drawer (or two) which has little tilted shelves for the spices.
- under cabinet lighting as people have said
- also possibly under-cabinet outlets which is better than having random wall-outlets which can break up a wall look
- things for hanging a "recipe ipad" on the wall (you can just use a plate hanger, but it's super helpful)

Bathroom -- things I have had which I really like

- recessed shelf area above the toilet which can hold towels, toilet paper, etc. that's usually wasted space otherwise
- one of those shower things where (if you live alone or have your own bathroom) you can set the temp of the water once and then it's just on/off after that (i.e. separate controls for heat/cold and on/off)
- big walk-in shower that has space for a little bench. Good for leg shaving, accessibility, or holding extra shower stuff
- two fully separate sinks and medicine cabinets if you do share a bathroom
- I have one guestroom with a bathroom that is built kind of into a sloped-ceiling closet space. The sink is a pedestal sink which is great for space saving and there's actually a set of shelves built into the wall behind the toilet where the ceiling is too low to otherwise use it
posted by jessamyn at 7:09 PM on August 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

My parents have this - I am putting it into my new house.

A button next to each bathroom faucet (full baths only) and the dishwasher. When you want hot water (for your shower, dishwasher, sink), push that button and wait 5 minutes. Then when you turn on the faucet, your chosen room will have hot water.

A necessity if you're in a drought-prone area, or even if you just want to save on your water bill. (My parents added theirs when they switched to a tankless water heater.)
posted by Tailkinker to-Ennien at 7:09 PM on August 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

I've spent 99% of my adult life in rental units, so I've had to deal with mostly inadequate afterthoughts of kitchens and bathrooms. Things I usually wish were a part of those:

- I'm just barely 6' and I've never encountered a tub I can actually stretch out in...oh, the imagined luxury!
- Cabinet and drawer storage for extra TP, cleaning stuff (bottles, brushes, etc.), towels and washcloths, hair trimmer kits, toiletries/grooming eqpt, etc. (i.e. more than just an under-sink cabinet and little medicine-cabinet/mirror over the sink)
- Even lighting all the way around the mirror, to banish all shadows when shaving (or applying makeup, I'm willing to bet)
- At least a couple of 2-receptical electrical outlets, all GFCI
- A good ventilation fan that's properly vented to outside
- A toilet that's designed so that any anatomical components aren't in constant danger of brushing against the bowl or getting dunked in water
- Enough racks for at least 3 peoples' worth of wet bath towels!
- A magazine rack and small book/phone shelf near the toilet is nice

- Enough cabinet/cupboard/drawer storage space for not just serving ware but also most-used seasonings, oils/vinegars, food storage containers and bags, foil/wax/clingwrap/etc rolls, recyclable compost bags, kitchen towels, the inevitable junk drawer, large bowls/pots/baking dishes/trays, small occasional-use appliances/tools that don't always need to be taking up counter space; ideally also a pantry
- Enough counter space!! Maybe including an island with its own shelving/storage underneath
- Somewhere to hang most-used pots and pans, so that they're easily reachable but taking up counter/cabinet space (and you're not constantly banging your head into them)
- Several electrical outlets, in usable locations! All 1GFCI
- General under-cabinet plus focused workspace lighting
- Range hood with a strong fan, properly vented to outside
- Room by the stove for 1-2 containers of implements, hot pads/trivets, oven mitts, drip trays, small cutting board, whatever needs to be next to the stove
- Smaller counter-top shelving so that all the little stuff that needs to be at-hand has a place to live without cluttering up the counter
- Separate small food-cleaning sink with a good strainer
- A well-design food prep/work space with its own lighting, drawer(s), electrical outlet, wall space to mount a magnetic strip for knives, maybe a little odds-and-ends shelf
- I usually try not to let food go down the sink drain, but now and then an under-sink disposal is nice to have
- Depending on the location and water quality, built-in water filtration system designed so that filters are easy to replace
- Area big enough to allow for a good-sized fridge/freezer, maybe even with room enough to store a broom/mop beside it
- The kitchen in one house had pull-out cutting boards mounted above a couple of the drawers in strategic places, which is a neat idea but they needed more support underneath so they don't slope downward at the far end

...I have Opinions.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:20 PM on August 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Bathroom --
Make sure that the toilet is located a few inches away from the wall, instead of against it. Future toilet purchases will be easier. Explore wheelchair-compliant locations, in case you break a leg. Both of the toilets at our house are beside the bathroom cabinets, which has proved handy in the past.
We have two bathrooms, not double sink vanities.
Jacuzzis are not necessary, but a deep tub with handicapped rails is nice. A tub surround instead of tile is better, to avoid most leaks. Several built-in trays for soap, shampoo, etc. are nice. A towel rail is not required, but it is helpful for wet swimsuits and handwashed items.
We love our corner shower at the lake cottage (this model is similar). The two glass doors can be slid back to make the compact bathroom appear larger and give a bit more space. No leaks occur during showers, and the corner shelves are ideal for shampoo and soap.
Consider the steam buildup after showers and plan venting/windows accordingly.
We prefer a textured (slip-resistant) tile or sheet vinyl for flooring.
We use drywall/semi-gloss paint instead of other wall treatments.
We have tall mirrors on the bathroom walls. Consider the lighting if you use this area for getting dressed.

Kitchen --
Consider whether this area can be childproofed and petproofed.
Use the triangle approach for locating the sink, range and refrigerator within a convenient distance. Avoid dueling doors -- can you open the oven door and get around it safely? Are cabinet doors and drawers blocking the range, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.? It's all about traffic flow.
We have built a corner sink kitchen at another site, and the main con is that two people cannot work there at the same time. Otherwise, it's a good use of an underutilized space for plumbing and windows. The lake cottage kitchen has a corner swivel kitchen cabinet.
Include natural gas and electric options for the range in the design. Check national codes for running separate electric circuits on each wall and for the type of receptacles required. No extension cords, no wall outlet adapters -- build in the electric system you need.
Make sure you can take pots and pans off the stove top and set them on either side safely. Do not locate a stove top next to a traffic area. An island with a stove top needs adequate counter space to avoid grease and hot water spills.
I purchase large two-basin stainless steel sinks. You can always make a sink smaller with tubs or add less water. Sprayers are okay, but a high arc faucet with an adjustable spout works reliably.
Include a chest freezer in the design.
We have added metal sliding drawers in our lowest cabinet areas. Other large lower cabinets contain the pressure cooker, crock pot, cast iron, etc.
The lake cottage kitchen has cabinets to the ceiling. We use folding steps to use this wasted storage area.
We prefer a textured (slip-resistant) tile or sheet vinyl for flooring.
We use drywall/semi-gloss paint instead of other wall treatments.
There is no such thing as too much counter space.
posted by TrishaU at 7:21 PM on August 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Regarding the tall people/short people toilet issue - install a tall toilet but include room for a low step that can be moved into place as needed, thereby accommodating all sizes?
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:26 PM on August 14, 2021

To each their own but my personal one is that I hate open kitchens. I have a thing about food smells in the rest of the house and more than anything I love some doors and walls that keep that from happening. I realize I may be in the minority on that though!
posted by raccoon409 at 7:29 PM on August 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

When I lived in Japan, we had an induction range (ok, two burners) and it blew away the gas stove back in the apartment in NYC. If you do get a gas stove, a hood is a must. If you can't get a hood, you probably should skip the gas.

Heated floors are wonderful.

I'm tall and have back issues. I sometimes sit on a stool when doing dishes/chopping because I don't need to bend over that way. I would commit a minor felony for either a raised countertop or a faucet that ends much higher than normal. (My back problems originated with bending over a sink to do dishes after every meal.) This all depends on your height. But if there is someone taller than average in your life, including yourself, take pity on their back and consider a raised counter area.
posted by Hactar at 7:35 PM on August 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Nothing to do with remodelling but in my kitchen, I love Salty the salt vessel and in my bathroom my Outlier linen towels.
posted by dobbs at 8:03 PM on August 14, 2021

Question: Is there a reason why taller people (I'm 5' 1") are not adding objects to their kitchen counters to make them a more convenient height? Butcher blocks, portable trays, shelves attached to the kitchen wall (add some slide-out trays beneath them). Signed: someone who keeps multiple step ladders around the house.
We return you to your scheduled MeFi.
posted by TrishaU at 8:04 PM on August 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

I did a modest kitchen remodel a few years back which included installing my first ever dishwasher—a Bosch 800 series with the third rack for silverware. LOVE IT. I’ve used dishwashers in the past here and there at places I rented or friends’ houses… the silverware rack really blows away the upright compartments where all the utensils are jammed in together.
posted by Sublimity at 8:22 PM on August 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

POT FILLER. This is a faucet with an extendable arm located above the stove so that if you’re boiling a large pot of water you don’t have to haul it from the sink to the stove, you can just place the empty pot on a burner and fill it right there. Even if you don’t use it that often, the first time you don’t have to heave that heavy-ass Dutch oven across the kitchen makes it worth it.
posted by Fuego at 8:48 PM on August 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I just thought of something else! In my extra-wide shower niche (I had to specifically request extra wide and I'm glad I did!), I had the contractor install some hooks that go through the tile for my loofah and squeegee. I didn't want to put them over the faucet or on a stick-on command hook. Specifically I used these 211 Tee Hook Contemporary hooks in brushed nickel to match my shower hardware, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the hooks and the company.
posted by Nickel at 9:35 PM on August 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

For the bathroom:

- Make sure that the shower controls can be reached from a place that doesn't cause you to get wet. We have a 2 person shower (which I love) and 2 separate controls. The shower door swings both ways to accommodate reaching both sets of controls (one of which is in a pony wall).

- I like having my shower niche in a place where the bottles couldn't be seen from outside the shower. I also like having place to put a squeegee for easy daily cleaning.

- I love sky lights, and having them in the bathroom means great natural light.

- I love wall-mounted faucets, because water doesn't collect around them and that is easier to clean.

- I love having the controls for the shower fan accessible from the shower in case I forget before I get in.

- I like having a medicine cabinet instead of a mirror because medicine cabinet storage is so much better than drawer storage for bathroom stuff, and I don't like anything on the counter except for flowers and a try of hand towels. With covid, I just seem to go through them much faster.

- I like having a medicine cabinet with a plug in there for recharging the toothbrush.

- Having toilet paper storage in reach of the toilet is nice!

- Having a plug next to the toilet is key for the bidet.

- I love a curbless shower.

- I like having towels and robes very easily accessible from the shower so I can dry off and robe up *inside* the shower. We ended up putting hooks on the shower door to accomplish this.

- I like having space to store cleaning supplies inside the bathroom.
posted by pizzazz at 10:09 PM on August 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

I’m in a rental and this is dumb but I, and everyone who visits, loves the little shelf above the tp roll.


My toilet paper holder that has a shelf for your phone .
posted by bendy at 10:12 PM on August 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Somewhere to hang most-used pots and pans, so that they're easily reachable but taking up counter/cabinet space

but not taking up...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:19 PM on August 14, 2021

In the kitchen, commercial appliances. When we redid the kitchen, we added a Traulsen double door refrigerator that was amazing with my 3 children all one year apart. Two boys were football and lacrosse players and could consume calories in amounts hard for even me to comprehend. Friends would come over and I would watch with mouth agape. We could have 4 gallons of milk, cases of water, huge amounts of vegetables and deli meats, etc. Our Imperial stove with the griddle and salamander was amazing. The btu's put out on the gas burners were more than any home burner I have ever seen.

The one thing we were not happy about was the lighting. The cans were too spread apart and it was never bright enough. We did have dimmers which was good. Cook in brightness but eat with a little better mood.

Here is the really best thing we had. The cabinets were done by hand by a true craftsman. Like the mixer shelf that pulls out, he designed and built a pullout step under the sink covered by the kick panel that the kids could pull out when they were small and 'help' at the sink. It added 6-8" to their level.

I am in the minority but I did not like the pot filler faucet. Yes, you do not have to haul a heavy pot full of water to the stove, but you still have to haul it back to the sink after you cook.

As for the bathroom, outlets. As many as are practical.
posted by AugustWest at 10:21 PM on August 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also, when I didn't have a dishwasher I made a Finnish drying rack.

Essentially, after washing them by hand you put your dishes back in the cabinet and you don't have to dry them.
posted by bendy at 10:24 PM on August 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

My bathroom’s overhead light is on a dimmer which is glorious in the wee hours. Definitely recommend.

I use a library stool to access the cabinets up near the ceiling. Ok sometimes I use the library stool to climb on the counter. My kitchen was designed a hundred years ago and remodeled in the 90s for a very tall person, so in most respects it is super irritating, but it does have two upsides: a big secret compartment in the floor AND the biggest but still quite small pantry-ish cabinet has little frosted windows/glass block viewports so it gets some diffuse light on the inside of the cabinet which is really helpful.
posted by janell at 10:49 PM on August 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Bathroom: if anyone in the house is a bath person, a reading light by the tub. Add tasteful grips and handholds by the tub and shower so you don't have to do it in a rush when someone twists an ankle or has surgery. Foldable shower seats are very nice for skincare application and shaving legs.

Kitchen: think of all the places where you might want to use an appliance (permanently or temporarily). Put a double outlet in each of these places. One should be by the stove for blending soups etc without moving them off the hob. And yes, induction is brilliant, though old pots and pans may need replacing.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:21 AM on August 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

In the kitchen, if you can afford stone (granite, quartz etc) countertops get them. Get all or almost all deep drawers for your base cabinets. They are the best. You might need one regular cabinet for baking trays. As you can see, a kitchen built around your ergonomics is good. I am short, and the upper cabinets in my kitchen are installed on the lower side of normal. This is good. Induction hobs are the best/only electric hobs. Gas is also good for cooking on, but less eco-friendly. If you can vent the hood and still have a good layout do so. If you prioritise anything, it should be a really good, functional kitchen layout even if that means you can't incorporate all of the fancy bits you would ideally like or it's not perfectly symmetrical.

Bathrooms: thermostatic shower.
posted by plonkee at 2:24 AM on August 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

The toilet was in its own little closet space, which meant I had to deal with menstrual stuff in there and then open the door to get to the sink, and there was nowhere near the toilet to store extra rolls of toilet paper.

This abhorrent trend should be killed with fire. The Tiny Solitary Confinement Toilet Cell is horrific. Sometimes you Need Things (as Mizu stated) or Other Things (like... all kinds of things). It's also patently ridiculous to walk into a bathroom the size of Roseland, see a massive tub (that no one uses BTW), giant double sinks, and then have this absurdly infinitesimal toilet room that a grown-ass person can barely turn around in. WTF?

I'm low-key looking for a house now and if it has one of these, I'm passing- even if the rest of it is nice.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:09 AM on August 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

We use a standard shallow drawer, near the hob and where we prepare food, to store all our herbs and spices, jars laid on their sides. I love it.

Something we don’t have but lust after in the in-laws’ new kitchen is a corner pantry something a bit like this. Full height in the corner, double doors that open to reveal lots of shelves. Seems like the most practical use of a corner, better than those under-counter swivelling shelves.
posted by fabius at 5:47 AM on August 15, 2021

Bathroom sink faucets and knobs that extend from the wall, not the base of the counter/sink. These make cleaning the countertops and sinks so much easier. And a bidet. We don't have either, yet, but it's in the future plan.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:56 AM on August 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

if it's a possibility - laundry chute from a cupboard in bathroom or bedroom, to basket on top of washing machine in kitchen cupboard. We were able to do this and it is the very very best, removed so much clutter.
posted by tardigrade at 6:30 AM on August 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I live in a 306-square-foot 60-year-old apartment (somehow, with two bedrooms!) in Hong Kong, but my house works beautifully because no space goes to waste.

The kitchen

My tiny kitchen has a few features I wish were more common in other places:

- An indestructible and extremely easy to clean kitchen sink with a built-in drainboard, like this but simpler; popping a dish-drying rack on top of the drainboard bit means the rest of the counters stay nice and there's no need for a gross sub-dish-drying rack tray thing.

- Outlets next to the place for the induction cooktop, both for plugging in the cooktop without a huge cable across the kitchen and making it easy to plug in the immersion blender when making soup, or other appliances like the coffee grinder when I'm using the cooktop as a work surface/counter.

- A window immediately behind the cooktop area topped with an extractor fan for incredible ventilation given the fact that the whole kitchen is under 20 square feet.

- Tiled walls, again extremely easy to clean and somewhat reflective of light in a small space, making it nicer to be in.

- The trash bin I choose to use in the kitchen is necessarily tiny (like, two gallons), but this means that I have an incentive to take out the rubbish immediately if there's food waste in there, so there's never a garbage-y smell, and also prompts me to rinse/sort my recyclables and put them near the door so I take them out, instead of waiting for a huge pile to build up.

- My wheeled shopping trolley hangs on the back of the kitchen door, so I can unload my groceries and then don't have to wheel it somewhere else before putting everything away.

- Basically, three-dimensionality: while there's no storage immediately above the cooktop, every other space in the kitchen has something - a rack, a hook, a cabinet, even the little thing I use to let the sponge dry - either above my head, at eye level, at hand level, or from my waist to the floor. Think beyond two-dimensional surfaces. What is above you, at eye level, at hand, near your feet?

The bathroom

I have a "wet bathroom" combining shower, toilet, sink and washing machine into one single space which is something I imagine might not be possible in a place with different building codes, but it also has a few unusual features I enjoy that might work in a more normal apartment or home:

- The washing machine is on a little raised platform three inches or so above the wet-room floor, meaning both that it doesn't get wet when I shower, and that I can have a little bucket underneath the front when I need to clean out the filter.

- The angle on the floor toward the drain is jusssst steep enough to not require me to squeegee the floor when I finish the shower; get a small squeegee on a pole anyway to cut down on ambient moisture if you're worried about mold.

- A lightweight metal grill (designed, presumably, to stop break-ins and pets/kids falling out) inside the window and below the extractor fan makes an excellent place to put a bunch of flowery and leafy plants like orchids and bromeliads, which love the humidity and make me feel like I'm in Thailand or something.

- The medicine cabinet has a mirror and hangs over the sink just a foot away from the shower (seriously, everywhere else this would be illegal), enabling me to shave without having to get out from under the shower; this seems so obvious and yet so many flats I have been in here get this wrong; provide a mirror-like feature in your shower, or at least a place to hang one, for when guests like me who shave in the shower stop by.

Good luck!
posted by mdonley at 6:51 AM on August 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

If there's available space in the kitchen, I would want an uninterrupted length of countertop space. Say, at least two cookie sheets laid end-to-end wide. That would make it nice to spread things out for an assembly line of sorts. I'd also want space somewhere for a nice, large (1 foot square, at least) chopping block to sit.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:56 AM on August 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nthing drawers rather than cabinets for the bottom kitchen storage.

Think about layout and workflows. On our kitchen peninsula (we didn’t have room for an island) we have, in order from the left: garbage & recycling drawer, sink, dishwasher, drawers for dishes and cutlery. It’s easy to move items from sink to dishwasher and then from dishwasher to dish/cutlery storage.

If anyone in your house is left handed, think about faucet & handle placement. I am lefty (my partner is righty) and we installed our faucet with the handle in the middle (facing towards the sink), so neither of us has to reach across the faucet to get to the handle.

We also have a silverware rack in the dishwasher. It’s a mild pain at loading time, but So Much Easier at emptying time.

My partner and I redid our kitchen soon after joining households as well-established adults who had both lived alone for many years. We ended up each having our own (small) counter space and utensil drawer, with all other space shared. We sometimes share the spaces, but for the most part we still each think of them as our own space, organize them as we wish, and have our own favorite knives etc from our previous kitchens.

For bathrooms - have enough shelf/soap rack space in any shower. We have four largish (6 inch? 8 inch?) soap dishes built into the tile (at the corners) and use every inch of them.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 6:58 AM on August 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

As a short person I have a stepladder under my cabinets that rolls out and gets put away and I love it.
posted by jeather at 7:02 AM on August 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Don't get black granite countertops. They're beautiful, yes, but they are so difficult to keep clean. They get water rings instantly, oil soaks into them, you can't use regular cleaning products on them, etc etc etc. Go for one of the more neutral or mottled colors if you get granite.

My frig isn't on wheels and it has a breaker behind it. Annoying design when the breaker needs to be reset.

Sink: test the splash pattern. If I turn my water on full from the big tall fountain style (lovely) faucet, water splashes all over the kitchen. Also, I think the prior owner must have been very short - I have to lean over to reach the bottom of the sink.
Undersink water filter is fantastic, but pay attention to where the little faucet is installed - mine is too far from the edge of the sink and it frequently drips onto the countertop if I don't carefully turn it back to within 1mm of the proper spot.

Drawer pulls - don't use ones that can catch on your clothes.
Build in lots of places to hang dish towels.
Light switches on both sides of a pass-thru kitchen.
Build in a device charging area.
Find a way to install big bright lights even if you have an open beam ceiling. "Romantic" lighting in the kitchen is not acceptable!
My "bar" is at an awkward height so it's hard to find stools that work for it - don't do that.
Make a shelf and set the microwave on the shelf, rather than hanging it with hadware in a custom space that fits to the millimeter. You need to be able to replace your microwave without calling in specialists.
And lastly, get a good stove hood that actually vents to the outdoors! I'm really not sure how I'm supposed to live without this.
posted by bluesky78987 at 8:33 AM on August 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I live in a climate that is hot enough that central AC runs 7 mos out of the year and heat runs for 3 mos, so my indoor humidity is low and line drying laundry indoors is practical and is not going to cause mold. The real issue before was space; I have a pop up freestanding drying rack but now I also have one of those hotel-style clothes lines over my shower and I use it weekly even for bed sheets. I use my gas dryer maybe once a month at most for a load of towels. The clothes line was the most useful $15 I spent on the entire bathroom renovation.
posted by slow graffiti at 9:29 AM on August 15, 2021

Our kitchen was custom built by a tiny Japanese man for his tiny Japanese wife. So, when we wanted ro put in a dishwasher, it qould not fit under the shor counters.

This led us to put in an island, with an outlet (good thing) and a functional butcher block top, which is the best thing. We decided at the beginning that we were fine with it having character, so we use it for 75% of our cutting. It requires semi-regular oiling, but that's not that onerous.
posted by DebetEsse at 9:43 AM on August 15, 2021

My parents have a small kitchen with quirky 50s cabinets in their flat. The corner unit has a carousel inside, which is quite clever, but the absolute best thing is the design of the main kitchen cupboard.

The outer door opens up to reveal shallow shelves (like a fridge door or a spice rack) on the back of the door and inside the cupboard, and then that inside layer of shelves hinges open again in the other direction to reveal more shallow shelves on the back and normal deep shelves inside the rest of the cupboard.

When my parents first moved in, my mom thought this was dumb and wanted to remodel the whole kitchen. Now she says this cupboard would have to be pried from her cold dead hands.

I will 100% use this design when I eventually remodel my own kitchen.
posted by confluency at 10:13 AM on August 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Maybe I’m just a grump, but having spent thousands of dollars cleaning up a fairly minor water incident, the idea of adding a faucet that is not above a sink(which is what a pot filler is) seems like a terrible idea unless you are also putting in stainless prep tables and a floor drain.

Pot fillers come from commercial kitchens, where pots are large enough (sometimes 120 quarts or more!) that it is truly impractical to move from sink to stovetop. Those pots also often have spigots on the spigots on the bottom for draining.
posted by rockindata at 12:07 PM on August 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

We redid our kitchen and took a long time figuring out layout from a functional perspective. We designed it because we are "older" and only going to get older still, so we gave a lot of thought to that, since we knew we would be living with this remodel for many years.

Our kitchen and dining room are in a big rectangle, with a wide (4 feet) door to the "great room" - NOT an open layout as we weren't fans of that concept. As a result, the kitchen part of the area is an asymmetrical "U" with one side longer than the other.

Picture all this from the perspective of looking at the U from the open part at the top. The sink stayed where it was (moving plumbing in a house on a slab is expensive) in the arm of the U on your left, about a third of the way from the bottom of the U. We moved the stove and hood to the center of the bottom of the U, the dishwasher next to the sink further from the bottom of the U. A slide-out for garbage can and recycling bin was between the sink and the bottom of the U. So we have countertop/prep space between the stove and sink, with trash handy there, and more countertop/prep space in the arm of the U on your right. This vastly improved our space for preparing food, even with some appliances like the toaster and the indoor "grill" out on the counter. We also can fill a pot with water for pasta, and if necessary slide that pot to the cooktop.

We did not put in an island because we don't have the width, but wouldn't have anyway because often it means either the stove or the sink is in the island - and you're back to carrying a heavy pot from one to the other.

Whatever you decide to do - unless you are doing this to sell on a tight deadline, spend as much time as you can on designing these changes because they're going to be in your life for a decade or more. A little delay now can avoid a lot of annoyance later.
posted by TimHare at 1:32 PM on August 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Amazing ideas, everyone! Thanks so much, all. Please keep them coming! My head is spinning and I love it! :)
posted by pupstocks at 3:26 PM on August 15, 2021

Seconding a hot water tap next to the kitchen faucet. Not only is making tea or a french press full of coffee super convenient, but if you wet a kitchen towel you can clean most surfaces without having to use a chemical spray.
posted by nenequesadilla at 5:03 PM on August 15, 2021

Definitely heated floors in the bathroom. I love it and my cats REALLY love it.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:47 PM on August 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

We moved into a place renovated by someone with far better taste and willingness to spend money than we had. The things that I enjoy most are:
- The soft close drawers (including inside most of the kitchen cabinets) and toilet seat. Not having things bang is Surprisingly Great.
- The washlet. It scared me at first, now I'm evangelical about them.
- The glass sliding door that hides the washer/dryer (more important if they're like ours, in a high traffic area).
- The high quality appliances that mean everything just Works.

The one worry:
- things like the extra deep tub that requires a step up will be hard to make accessible as we age. Consider aging.
posted by ldthomps at 6:16 PM on August 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

We (actually my daughter and son-in-law) redid the bathroom a while ago and I like several things about it. We moved the wall a bit for more space and put in a 33-inch-deep soaking tub inside a huge shower (note, this is 130 gallons so you need a flow-through water heater). The shower is half the room—like 6x10 feet. Rainfall shower head and regular with-a-hand-unit one. We each prefer one and so they’re each always set to the right temperature. Except when the grandkids stay over. They *love* the tub, though we monitored them closely when they were little.

I love love love the tub, my wife never uses it. The big shower is luxurious and just as energy-efficient as a little one (can’t say that about the tub but it’s more a special-occasion treat). Unexpected bonus of the big shower: her dogs love taking a bath whereas getting them to stand in the old tub was torture. I think it’s because it’s just “a room” to them … plus treats!

We also put in a heated floor since it was nearly free (note: not nearly free to run, though). Turns out we’re kind of “meh” on it except in the depths of winter, but the cats would probably rat us out to PITA if we turned it off.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 7:17 PM on August 15, 2021

Heated floors - we put them in every single bathroom when we remodeled, and they are AMAZING. The bath mat dries right out. The tiles/grout don't get gross because they don't stay damp. Sometimes I put damp things on my FLOOR so they'll dry quickly. And they feel dreamy underfoot.
Combo heat/ventilation fans - again, we put one in each bathroom. We're in a place with cold winters and being able to quickly heat the bathroom before a shower is heavenly (not that it's all that cold because of the heated floors, but it's a treat). And a good ventilation fan is key for function and privacy!
No shower door/curtain - for our master bath we have quite a deep shower with an entrance on the side, and we don't have a door or curtain. It's nice aesthetically AND much easier to clean.

Kitchen, if you have the space for it:
TWO DISHWASHERS - I thought this was stupid and excessive and it was the best part of the kitchen remodel. We have lots of kids so they get used all the time, but even when the kids aren't home we use both all the time. With two dishwashers you just load up all your pots and pans and don't worry about taking up too much space. I hand wash nothing anymore (well, except for wooden/sharp objects).
Two sinks - our kitchen is U shaped and we have a small bar/prep sink in the peninsula across from the other sink, it makes it much easier for two people to use the kitchen.
Two trash cans - We have a pull-out cabinet/trash can next to each sink.
Toaster oven - I wish we'd planned where to put ours a little more carefully, I didn't realize that it was the greatest appliance in the world until we bought one. We got rid of our toaster, and I also do 80% of my baking and roasting in it, even with a big family. Unless I'm doing huge sheet pans, everything goes in there (cookies, cakes, lasagnas, whatever). We have a Breville Smart Oven Air and it changed my life.
posted by zibra at 6:22 AM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I love my cooktop on the island. I always hated cooking and staring at the wall. Also we made the paths around the island really wide, 40+ inches, so it's easy to navigate in a wheelchair and to get giant furniture through, and to pull out our fridge to clean behind and under it. We also got a 2nd fridge later. If I'd been thinking, I'd have made room for it in the main kitchen.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:41 AM on August 16, 2021

Someone above mentioned GFCI outlets- I hate AFCI/GFCI in the kitchen because they reset so often and I find them extremely unnecessary - but they are code for any place close to water so budget appropriately for electrical panel upgrades if you do not currently have them in your kitchen.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:47 AM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Correct about the toilet - if you separate the toilet (as you should, ugh, germs), go the whole hog and make it a proper half-bathroom with its own sink and trash can and storage. A handheld bidet sprayer is a good addition to a washlet or replacement for it - easier to wash in front, certainly. Also here in Europe I wouldn't go other than a wall-mounted toilet unit for ease of cleaning the floor, but I think US plumbing is different enough to make it impractical.

And if you have pets who do their business inside, consider where the litterboxes should be. Over here they're usually in the bathroom / half-bath, which is handy if you use flushable clumping litter and again, if your plumbing can handle it. If not, it's still very close to a trash can, in a room with good ventilation and means to combat bad smells.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:06 AM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

My kitchen has exactly two cabinets in it but two walls of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves - the top half of which are glass-fronted. Now I keep plates, bowls and "tupperware" in drawers which is pretty cool.
posted by bendy at 5:49 PM on August 16, 2021

Also, I love the bathrooms where the shower is just in a corner and there's a drain the center of the room.

Heated floors and heated towel racks in the bathroom.
posted by bendy at 5:52 PM on August 16, 2021

Seconding laundry chute. Ours is built into the wall and deposits into a cabinet above the washing machine.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:43 AM on August 17, 2021

I LOVE my Fisher & Paykel 900mm Dishdrawer which matches the F&P 900mm oven next to it. It’s the best thing in my kitchen. Like having deep drawers for storage being ergonomically useful, having a dishdrawer makes me wonder why people get pull down door dishwashers even.

Hanging racks for pots n pans aren’t everyone’s aesthetic groove, but I find mine super useful.

Wine glass holder racks for your glassware cabinetry. Leaves the base of the cabinet free for smaller glasses eg shot glasses.

I HATE my F&P 900mm glass/gas stovetop - even though it cooks brilliantly it is a fecking pain in the ass to keep sparkly clean. It shows dust, it shows cleaning marks, it takes forever to polish and then eight seconds later it looks smeared again. I would go for an induction glass top, because no trivets to clean would change my kitchen life. If you want gas, get stainless steel if you hate cleaning glass.

Bathroom - strongly recommend a wet room deal - rain shower, wall mounted WC and basin. My bathroom is not big (2400mmx2400mm) but I love it so much especially because there is no glass screen to clean, the pipes are concealed behind a tiled wall 300mm deep, 1200mm above floor level, then mirrored cabinetry from 1200H to ceiling height 2400mm. So much storage, - room for face light mirror and makeup, hair dryer etc inside one set of cabinets, PowerPoints away from water, room for towels. I enjoy not seeing mess on open shelves.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:19 AM on August 18, 2021

Nthing a good induction range, which may require you to have a proper 220 outlet and get rid of your aluminum pans. We have a Bertazzoni and it is by far my favorite appliance I've ever used, let alone owned. Delightful to use, incredibly easy to clean (the knobs are delightful), it turns itself off, the oven is wonderful, and it's aesthetically extremely pleasing to look at.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:02 PM on August 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

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