When a Realtor Builds Her Dream Home, Part 3: What I Didn’t Know About Designing Kitchens

First and foremost, let me say that the home-building process is absolutely making me a better real estate agent. I have learned beyond what I would have ever imagined. Let me also say that I probably show 10-15 houses a week, so I like to think I’ve seen a lot of kitchens. Of those kitchens, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve told a client, “Yeah, of course! We’ll just get a structural engineer in and knock that wall out, and move the sink here—oh! And yes, remove that low header that’s in your way!” Little did I know that there is so much more to designing a kitchen than that.

Before I go any further into the specifics, I need to introduce our incredible kitchen designer, Bob St Clair of St Clair Kitchens. Bob, this is mostly a shout-out to you, with a few pointers for Stylebook readers so I never send you a client as all over the place as I am (my words, not his—Bob would never actually say that out loud. He’s too good a man for that!). Bob has worked with our builders on more than twenty houses over the years, is the third-generation owner of an Alexandrian family-owned business (I love locally owned businesses — when in doubt, #shoplocal!), is a patient, patient man, and happens to be a dear family friend.

Initially, our kitchen layout was designed by the architect. Don’t get me wrong, the original kitchen is stunning—but a kitchen on paper and a kitchen in real life are very different things.

My mother was the first one to note that most people spend a lot of time at their sink. And in the kitchen plan above, the sink faces the window. This is not a problem, but I think I’d like to spend my time at the sink facing my friends and family instead. Armed with this idea, I asked Bob to simply “move the sink to the island.” Turns out simply moving the sink to the island is not so simple!

Not my kitchen, but an example of Bob’s amazing work. Source.

In order to have your sink in your island, you must also have an additional two items that pair with the sink: the dishwasher and the trash can. A sink is a minimum of 30 inches, a dishwasher is 24 inches, and a trash can requires at least 12 inches (if turned the short way). So, in order to have a sink in your island, you need at least 6 feet of island length. While it looked to me like that would not be a problem…here is where we arrived at our first problem. In order to fit the sink in the island and have comfortable walking space, we would need to shrink the size of our left wall cabinets…which we did.

Shrinking the size of the cabinets was certainly not the last adjustment we had to make. Stay tuned for Part 4 for more of what I didn’t know about designing kitchens!

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