appliances

How To Design A Custom Range Hood

Let's talk about the super secret in custom kitchen details...custom range hoods. Seriously the biggest "joke" out there because it's seriously so easy. I love love love this trick if you can call it that. We all want custom details yet rarely look to the range hood for help. We throw up a stainless thing and assume we can't afford to trick this area out. Not true. The range, and therefore the hood, are typically a focal point in the kitchen. They are the center of attention. So, it makes sense that this would be a place to drop some dough. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO DROP A TON. The big secret to custom hoods is....

THEY ARE JUST A FREAKING BOX!

Frame it. Cover it. Throw a hood insert inside. Done. I discovered this a few years ago and have been trying to do them ever since. No need to buy an expensive matching cabinet hood cover. Truthfully I don't even know what those are called because I refuse to pay for them. Instead I have my contractor build them for me. You could build one or hire a handyman or contractor. Totes easy and way cooler. 

The Hood Insert

The hood insert is something you can easily purchase. Here is one that I've used pretty often.

***It does not come with the venting kit and the hood liner ( the framed part around the actual appliance shown in the photo), so make sure you get those, too. Amazon shows them as "frequently purchased together" if you scroll down, so you can add them all to your cart at once. The total comes to just under $330. 

Please note: I'm not saying this will always be less expensive than just installing a regular all-in-one hood appliance. The chimney hood shown is also $330 but the price can go way up from there. Obviously, in this scenario this hood would be less than doing custom since the insert alone costs $330 before building out the custom part. Take a peek at the options between what chimney hood you would choose and what kind of custom hood you would like. You might find that the most acceptable all-in-one version for your kitchen is going to cost you the same as custom. Do math. Then decide.

Where To Put It

Now, let's get to some ideas. The following are four totally different styles I've done. The first one was my first custom hood.

Custom Modern Range Hood with Wood Trim

In the photo below you can see a gray bump out in the living room. I wanted to recreate that shape in the hood. I didn't want anything fancy or intricate. I wanted sleek and modern. So, my contractor framed out the area above the range all the way to the ceiling, drywalled it and trimmed out the bottom. He used the same wood to create floating wood shelves on either side.

Hood Insert for Custom Range Hood

That's it! Literally just a drywalled box! You can see in the photo above how the insert sits inside the new drywalled box.

Another style I did just recently was the same idea but bridged between two cabinets. The contractor framed out....you guessed it.... another box and then we wrapped it with some salvaged cedar siding from another house. This could easily be painted shiplap if you'd prefer that look.

Custom Range Hood with Cedar Wood Shiplap
Custom Range Hood with Shiplap cedar

See more about this kitchen here.

A third custom hood I designed for a kitchen was this adobe looking specimen. It was supposed to be actual adobe but we had trouble getting the adobe people wrangled. So, we moved on from that idea and went with plaster. Looks like adobe and blended well with the walls.

Custom Adobe style hood made with plaster and cedar
Custom Plastered Range hood with Cedar wood trim

Now, the more detail you add to it the more it will cost. Adding trim details take time, so forgo those if possible. But still, even a little bit won't hurt. This hood I did had just enough trim to help it fit in with the cabinetry but not break the bank.

Shaker Kitchen with Custom Style hood with insert

So that's how it's done. Build a box. Wrap it. Boom, done. I'll say one of the keys to being successful at doing custom details like this is making sure you have a contractor or handy person who is game. Not just someone that says, "Sure I can do that.", but is actually interested and excited. As is with every job and project, if the major players aren't into it, then the finish product may not be as creative and frickin' awesome as it could be. Gauge their interest and your determination on whether to move forward with the custom hood, ditch it for an all-in-one hood or find someone else more suitable to implement your plan.

Ready? Go.

Don't Mess This Up: How High To Hang a Microwave

Did you know? 

According to GE Appliances: 

"Over the range microwaves require a minimum 66" mounting height from floor to top of the micro. The 66" from the floor dimension will allow approximately 13"-16" between the cooktop and the bottom front of the microwave."

Over the range microwave height

We prefer 17" or 18" where possible so the appliance area feels spacious and workable. Consider several things.

  1. What does your local building code require? 
  2. How tall is the person using this appliance? The higher the microwave, the more difficult it will be to get food in and out for us short people. 
  3. Will the microwave hang down in the way of the stove top? Be sure not to hang it too low as the microwave can actually begin melting from the stove heat! Also, consider that if it does hang in closer to the stove, the back burners will be not as easily accessible. 
  4. Don't just guess! Test the set up in other kitchens. Check out friend's and family's appliance situations and then decide. Do this BEFORE you install any new cabinetry as the cabinet above the microwave will need to be set first. 

Now you know.