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Mom had a flood in her kitchen. By flood, I mean standing water flowing free down her galley style kitchen and out into the dining room.

In other words, Mom is getting a new kitchen. And since she is the supportive mom that she is, wanted my “expert opinion” when it came time to figure out what she wants in her new dream space.

I don’t necessarily live in the nicest part of Atlanta, but the area is prime with kitchen and bath showrooms. Granite slabs?

Granite slabs

Just a street away. (‘Scuse me, drooling as I type)

You can probably imagine that I was giddy at the chance to spend an afternoon oggling fantasy kitchen displays. While few of these features will ever make it into the Ugg-Duck for budgetary reasons, I caught glimpses of how designers are using new tricks to pack a kitchen full of customizable options. Armed with my iPad (I never seem to bring my camera on outings where it should be obvious to bring it along), I snapped pics for Mom to later use in her inevitable sales pitch to my dad (like most guys, he needs a visual).

Kitchen packed with clever storage

Dowels:  Most kitchens I’ve seen only have one base cabinet with drawers and the rest are standard doors. But if given the choice, I think drawers are much more practical for everyday storage and use. I love the idea of using a drawer with dowel spacers to organize plates (however, my mishmash of plates vary in size and would look pretty pitiful sitting in such a customized drawer). Guess it’s an excuse to get some nice ones (my personal favorites are the Pottery Barn caterer’s plates).

Dowels to organize plates

Another dowel customization I saw is a slim cabinet spot with dowels for drying hand towels. Not my favorite and looked like it was wasting valuable space, but a twist nonetheless. I have a narrow cabinet like this and use it to store cookie sheets. So easy!

Pull out towel rack in base cabinet

Hidden, Maximized Space Use:  I’m not sure when kitchen designers decided that all kitchens should have hidden compartments, but if I had to guess, I think it was after watching Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I can’t say I blame them; even I would cook more if I had a sneaky way to get to my oregano.

Slide out spice rack

Slip n’ Slide:  In addition to hidden compartments, everything in a customized kitchen appears built to get to the back of things. Drawers and shelves slide out; Lazy Susans are aplenty.

Pull-out drawers in pantry
lazy Susan for corner base cabinet

For base cabinets storing lesser used appliances (for example, a mixer), the entire shelf could slide up and out to sit in front of the counter. This would allow one to use the mixer, clean up, put it back, and never even dirty the counter (though let’s face it:  if it’s a mixer and it’s my kitchen, flour is getting everywhere).

Lift for stand mixer

I thought it was also clever to build a cabinet in the same way we’ve built modern refrigerators – where the doors hold extra shelves for storage. The only downside to this is every time I opened this cabinet, I expected to get a chill. Guess it would take some getting used to.

Built in storage on the pantry door

Mom fell in love with the idea of larger tile as a kitchen backsplash. I thought it would remind me a little too much of my bathroom floors. But the simple lines on the sink? Definitely something for the Ugg-Duck.

Large tile backsplash and sleek sink

Open:  Getting kitchens to look more open and airy seemed to be popular. Mom fell in love with these produce baskets. I’m on the fence, but I can see why it would appeal to her.

Built in produce baskets

Still, out of all of these ideas, my favorite part of the trip was walking around the slabs of granite. After speaking with one of the reps, I learned that you can identify granite from India since materials quarried from that region “all look like they have rivers flowing through them.”  I also learned I will steer clear of any granite with extreme leopard-like spottiness. Looks too much like mold for me to consider it for a surface where I prepare food.

granite slabs

As I’ve mentioned before, the Ugg-Duck isn’t getting many pricey upgrades because of the neighborhood (recouping those costs in the sale of the home is not a sure thing, so I am choosing a less expensive but still attractive option like butcher block), but it made my brain tingle with ideas of what my next home might have Mom’s kitchen might look like. All in all, a very enlightening (and energizing) afternoon.

Since Mom is using me as her design guide (which I’m thrilled about doing), I plan to share any of the discovery steps of her kitchen makeover with you as we go. I probably won’t have a new kitchen by the end of summer (I’m just going to be happy to get the guest bathroom finished before my birthday), but at least someone will!

Have you been to any showrooms lately? What was your favorite part? Got any new kitchen ideas after seeing these? Love to hear ’em.

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  1. Sarah,

    I, like you, wanted granite badly but didn't have the means to do it. One of the “Bargain outlets” up here sells 6' granite slabs for $150-200 a piece. I bought 3 of them, cut them to size (its tricky, but can be done by a DIYer; however, they're heavy). I got away w/ everything for just over $600. I can email you pictures if you're interested?

    Another alternative that is very cost effective ($300-500) is granite tile countertops. If done w/ minimum grout lines, they can look solid until closely inspected. My parents had gone this route, and the grout lines are not a pain like I would have thought.


  2. May I ask where you got the large tile backsplash. It’s gorgeous! I’ve been looking all over the place for that size and color. Thanks!

    1. That’s not my kitchen – as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, these were pictures I took at several kitchen showrooms to look at options (to get some ideas for when I began my own reno). So I don’t have any info on the actual product sources, but I hope you find what you’re looking for!