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.

Kitchen Before & After: How Take Advantage Of Your Contractor

When you have 2 months of waiting on a permit and demo that takes three quarters of a century, you have lots of time. Time to think. Time to rethink. Time to question your thinking. Time to stalk Pinterest and find all the coolest ideas that you now MUST implement or your brain will die a slow death. There was one inspiring kitchen that started it all, though. This one from House and Home Magazine's October 2015 issue. I took a photo of the page and sent it to my contractor, hence the photo quality sucki-ness. 

Then, I took advantage of my contractor. I lean on the talents of the people working on the project. If they have special skills, I use them. I use them for all they are worth. Wah-ah-ah-ah. It is helpful if you already know the contractor for hire. My contractor Joe Wood of All Around Joe is a sucker for carpentry projects. I told him my idea of chunky wood shelves and he was instantly hooked. He was especially excited because he would then be "forced" to buy a planer he had been eyeing. A win-win for all. 

NOTE: If you can, work with someone who is excited...to WORK! This should be an art project for the both of you. If they grumble and spout off reasons why it won't work (other than for safety or financial reasons), you probably aren't a good fit. For example, I had mosaic floors in a bathroom design once. The contractor complained that they wouldn't work. I looked at him like he had 3 heads. If they could lay mosaic floors 100 years ago, they can certainly do that now. This was simply a case of not wanting to do the work. Moving on....

So, off to Building Value I went to pick up some old wood. I found what was probably 100 year old floor joists. I know because I ripped the same things out of this very house and had them pitched. There just wasn't room to move! People wanted it out of the way. 

GET OFF MY BACK! 

You can't store everything. I'm not Nicole Curtis. I don't have a garage X3. I lived in a condo. You can't win everything. Anyway, found the wood. Brought it to Joe. He did his magic. 

A hood can be almost anything. All you have to do is build a box and throw an insert into it. So, in this project the box was just framed and drywalled. I didn't want a big shiny silver thing stealing the show. I wanted to mimic the chimney bump out in the living room but not draw much attention to the hood itself. From there, Joe attached our salvaged wood floating shelves on either side and trimmed out the "hood box" with some of the salvaged wood. 

In order to balance the room out, and get the coffee bar I was dreaming of (bc Pinterest and Joanna Gaines), he ripped a few more boards to span the fridge/pantry area on the neighboring wall. I didn't want to do another backsplash tile and introduce another pattern and material, so I opted for chalkboard paint. Only problem was I didn't want the chalkboard paint to just end at the top in an awkward line. So, Joe came up with the fab idea to trim out the entire coffee bar with more of the salvaged wood.

Teamwork.

BOOM. 

I personally drew the coffee bar sign. I'm no Picasso but I think it looks decent.

PRO TIP (from a pro not me): dip your chalk in water before you start writing. It makes the chalk line nice and bright.

What I love (but also hate) is designing on the fly. In some cases it's really frustrating and stressful to have some things up in the air. I'd love to say that every idea is perfectly thought out, scheduled and implemented, but it's not. I usually have a pretty good idea of what the design will be. But, inevitably I end up tweaking the idea until it is something new, original and even better than I envisioned. This is also something great about Joe and his team. They are flexible. They want it to look great. They are proud of their work. I like them. Hire people like Joe.

I think it turned out pretty well.