The Work Triangle

Chief among the biblically-long list of things that I despise about newly-constructed homes in the Houston area (such as: STUCCO! STUCCO! SERIOUSLY! DEAR GOD, WHY ARE YOU BUILDING THINGS WITH STUCCO ON THEM? AND WHY ARE YOU RICH ASSHOLES BUYING THEM? THEY WILL BECOME MOLDY AND ROTTED WITHIN FIVE YEARS IN OUR CLIMATE DOWN HERE! THIS ISN’T CALIFORNIA! WHY ARE YOU SO EPICALLY STUPID???), is the fact that no one seems to know how to build a proper kitchen these days.

Generally, if I’m going to lay down $500,000 to $750,000 on a house here in Houston, I expect that the house will be well-planned and have good flow. More than that, I expect that the kitchens and baths will be close to top of the line. The kitchens, in particular, should be large and well-functioning.

I’m not talking about having fancy, shiny stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. I’m talking about having a good-sized pantry, plenty of counter space, an abundance of cabinet space and a pass-through to either the breakfast room, dining room or family room — preferably all three.

I’m talking about having the kitchen itself laid out in a proper work triangle, so that you don’t have to fill a pot with water and haul it eleven feet to your stove and then take a casserole dish out of your refrigerator and haul it another nine feet to your wall oven, while dodging an ill-placed island or having to walk around a bar area to get there.

So what is this fresh hell?

hr2023731-5.jpg

Let’s count the things wrong with this picture:

  1. This is the kitchen of a house that’s being built just down the street from me in Memorial which is listed as being 4,095 square feet and which is selling for $749,000.
  2. For $749,000, you’re telling me that I’ll have exactly three regular-sized wall cabinets in my kitchen, one of which I won’t be able to reach without a stepladder?
  3. And two dinky, also-unreachable-by-normal-people wall cabinets over the wall ovens and fridge?
  4. Because I have more cabinets than that in my 1,500 square foot townhome that was built in 1968.
  5. I have more under-counter cabinets, too.
  6. And I have a full double sink.
  7. I also have significantly more counterspace.
  8. Seriously, what is that? Like, three useable feet of counter space not including the tiny sink and cooktop? There’s not even anywhere for someone to put a working island or anything else!
  9. And my townhome didn’t cost $749,000.
  10. And you’d better not expect me to furnish it with my own appliances after I just paid $749,000. Where is the refrigerator? The wall ovens?
  11. In case you can’t tell from this picture, the dining room is yards away from the actual kitchen; you have to traipse through the “family room” and entrance hall to get there, lugging your turkey and potatoes and whatever else you’re trying to serve all the way there.

For a house that someone will likely shell out three-quarters of a million dollars to buy — and which will probably house a family with kids and will host lots of parties — it contains the tiniest, paltriest, most unspectacular and most unfriendly kitchen I’ve ever seen.

Can you imagine trying to cook for a group of people in that kitchen? Or have more than one person in the cramped main workspace at a time? Did anyone even stop to contemplate the logistics of where this family will put all of their dishes and glasses and cookware and appliances? Because I’ll tell you that we’re pushing maximum cabinet capacity in my townhome, and there’s only two of us in there right now. I just hope their pantry is enormous.

I’m not trying to say that my townhome is all that and a bag of Kettle chips; that’s not the point here. The point is that while I don’t know who these companies are that are building all of these new houses, I know one thing: their kitchen-planning skills are crap.

And, seriously, ENOUGH WITH THE STUCCO.

11 responses to “The Work Triangle

  1. Are you sure you’re not in California? I keep seeing houses around here that are made for very tall non-cooks. For an insane amount of money. And I second the motion about enough stucco!

  2. Haven’t you heard?

    Cooking is so “Pre Light Rail” and all of the kiddies are dying to take the light rail to all of the Landry’s owned knock-offs of good restaurants so they can be seen in their designer knock-offs that they bought at Harwin.

    Join the movement or Peter Brown will come to your house and discuss zoning for four hours.

  3. Oh: Added….

    Stucco is the new Hardi-plank.

  4. @ evil chef mom: I’m positive. But a lot of your California bretheren seem hellbent on trying to make Houston into a little California empire. Shoo! I say. πŸ˜‰

    Also, WORD on the too-tall counters. Being as short as I am makes me a little biased, but they do all seem to be made for giants these days.

    @ Cory: I shudder to think about what the “new stucco” will be ten years from now… Guano? Royal icing? Spit and bailing wire?

  5. Hey! They aren’t my my bretheren. They are the “let’s conserve, let’s recycle, let’s build huge really expensive houses.” I hope they don’t make Houston into a little California empire, then where do all the Californians that are sick of themselves go to get away from it all?

  6. The answer to that question appears to be, of late: Austin. πŸ˜€

  7. Haha! You can see a pic of my tiny kitchen here. And, trust me, you can trust both the rooms it connects to (bathroom and main room, it’s a studio) from the center. It’s a kitchen built into a hallway– and I can cook full meals for 8 in there. Of course, the mess cannot be believed afterwards… At least there’s less lugging that way!

  8. Oh man, you’ve hit a tender spot w/me on this. I hate contemporary residential architecture. Whether its a home selling for $150k or $1.5M, they all have the design completely wrong. Why do they put the laundry off the kitchen, when all the bedrooms are upstairs? And why do the owners of the home have to enter through the utility room and the guests get to use the pretty front entrance? And yes, why do you design kitchens that are stupid to use. I was blessed enough to be able to design and build my own home about 1 yr. ago (no, I did not modify a stock plan, it came straight from my head to the blueprints) and I got exactly what I wanted. Give me a couple of days to get some pics. I get really bent out of shape with residential developments and design, so I just better shut up now.

  9. @ veggielove: Holy hell. I will never complain about the size of my kitchen again. I’ve SEEN the quality of the stuff that you crank out of that kitchen and I am completely in awe of you now. πŸ˜€

    @ ieat: That would be my dream: designing my own kitchen. You can be assured that there would NOT be a laundry room anywhere near it, since as it stands right now, our gigantic, bright white washer and dryer are in our kitchen. It sucks. They flank the side of our galley kitchen with the sink and dishwasher and are totally tacky. Who are the geniuses that came up with that floorplan?

  10. Haha! You can still complain– sometimes the small space can be an advantage. I can always reach everything, and don’t have to carry anything long enough to worry about spilling all over the floor. I just count myself lucky to have full-sized appliances and to never have gotten dependent on a microwave (yep, no room)

  11. Pingback: Kitchen design that works « The Dish on Food

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