How to rock range hoods. (Probably more than you wanted to know.)


The combo of peak entertaining season and pending school mid-terms got us thinking a li’l Hooducation 101 may be worthwhile. A surprising number of parts and pieces have to come together for the hood scenario to work. And if they don’t, we end up in problem-ville – a place no one wants to be. So here’s an explainer on the whats and whys. Our goal with every new construction or kitchen remodel is a hood so great-looking that even if dinner’s a complete fail (not everyone has the chat-and-cook skill perfected), guests can still commend you on your fine taste in design. BUT (and it’s a BIG BUT), there are a handful (and it’s a BIG HANDFUL) of things to consider before we tackle the hood. Design direction, yes. But we also think through things like how tall our clients are, what material is on the hood and how it’s positioned within the cabinets. Exposed sides? How are they detailed? Is the hood larger than the range? How do we treat the underside? Even the homeowners’ cooking skills come into play. Some go high/low. They want the fancy range – for making grilled cheese. Others like having all six burners ablaze simultaneously. Sure, there are CFM standards for different sized hoods, but we might want to up the game a little for anyone griddling, deglazing, sautéing and parboiling all at once. Enough preamble. Let’s get to the good stuff. Check out these lovelies we recently installed. And named. (They seemed nameable.) Titan of Industrial-Chic My, what nice rivets you have.   This show stopper of a hood looks deceptively simple to pull off. It lies. We put too-many-to-admit-here hours into perfecting it so we didn’t have an expensive fraction-of-an-inch mistake on our hands. Years ago, we asked the hood guy to make a change, and he gave us a snarky, “Sure, I’ll just get my hood stretcher and fix that in a jiffy.” Ohhh, right. Metal. Not jeggings. No stretch. Lesson learned. It’s got to be spot-on the first time. We went with an antiqued silver look on the custom metalwork. We even darkened the grommets for the full effect. (What can we say, we’re finesse people.) We wanted the cabinets up tight against the hood, with detailing around the base and top. Pieces of antiqued silver tubing had to wrap the hood and bend at the cabinets. Cutting the metal was a no-go (lazy detail), so we had to know the exact depth of the cabinets, insert and finished hood, to get the bent piece within 1/8 of an inch from the cabinet face. (Clutch.) To make it all work, custom inset cabinets were essential. If we’d gone with stock, we would have had a big filler piece on both sides (yuck).Yes, more costly, but a far more polished look. Digging this kitchen? See more here. The Beauty Queen Give that hood a sash and bouquet. It’s that gorgeous. This one’s filed under F for favorites, and now that it’s done, it all makes sense. But making it all make sense was really tricky, because the homeowners had a slew of inspo photos and none of them looked alike. After hours of stewing, sketching and brainstorming, we had a plan that seemed to fit the owners. We’ll call it: Keeping It Kinda Real Even Though We’re Pretty Fancy. We made this hood impossible to not notice, because it’s all, “Look at me, look at me.” It’s a stainless steel body, adorned in antiqued brass strapping, detailed with polished nickel rivets. With the hood done, we only had – uhhh – the entire rest of the kitchen to figure out. Hmm. Easy, right? Just work all that hood stuff in. And make it look good. (Easy, it wasn’t. But look good, it did.) Obsessed with this kitchen? Read all about it here. The High Roller Kinda makes you want to pour an aged whisky and tell wildly exaggerated hunting stories by the fire. This couple specifically requested a kick-a$$ hood. Nice. Kick-a$$ is totally our thing. So we started there, making it the focal point of the space, reworking the entire floor plan so all eyes would be directed hood-ward. We kept the backsplash simple with classic white AnnSacks ceramic tile and white grout. Didn’t want some crazy pattern trying to one-up the hood. Sometimes you need tile that knows its place, and is happy to let the hood take charge, and this was one of those times. Dazzled by this kitchen? See more here. The Exhibitionist No need for a robe. This thing struts its stuff with pride. You would think selecting a simple metal hood for a vintage remodel would be, well, not that hard. Surprise. Welcome to the world of all kinds of profiles, CFMs and depths. Let’s say you have that part figured out, but then you find brick in the house and decide to leave it exposed behind the range. At that point you might need some alone time with a calculator. Here’s why. In this case we realized we couldn’t just slide the range up against the brick. We needed a wall behind it to house the electrical and gas. That meant the hood was set back 5 inches deeper than the back of the range, so we recalculated the measurements, and revised the size, power and mounting height to make it all work. We would never just plop it up there and hope for the best. The hood can’t properly do its job if we haven’t properly done ours. Like what you see? More here. The Conversation Piece Let’s talk accents. Not like French. Or Russian. More like stained wood. When a client says, “I want a white kitchen, but not all white,” we start asking a lot of questions to decipher what they don’t like about an all white kitchen, what material to accent with, where the accents will go, and how it will work with the rest of the house design. Then we have to make sure the cabinet guy’s tracking with our vision before the house is even built, so he can get a custom wood stain going. You can hand over a random wood sample and say “match this,” but you’ll likely be using a different type of wood, which will alter the color and graining. The finish coat on cabinets, which is typically catalyzed, can cause them to look totally different from the furniture or flooring piece you have. A custom mix will get the shades as close as possible, so stand back and let the cabinet guy work his mixing magic. Fan of this look? See more here. The Understudy Waiting in the wings, willing to let the backsplash shine. Happy to sign autographs after everyone’s eaten. Full disclosure: We designed this kitchen over a year before it was installed – before they even broke ground. We originally had a slightly different design on this hood – where the arch is. But once it went up, it felt too low. The perfectionist in us had to fix it. So even though it was already installed, we sketched a new design and had it cut and refinished IN THE FIELD. Not ideal, but occasionally even the best laid plans need some rejiggering. One of our favorite things about this one is the shelving on the inner sides of the hood – the perfect place to stash EVOO and salt, so the backsplash can rock its fabulousness sans interruption. We customized this one to the space – hand selecting each color of stone to make it totally unique. All theirs. No one else has it. Unless they copied it, and in that case, shucks – we’re flattered. Want to see more of this kitchen? Do it. The Prince of Blendingin, Duke of Hiddengems The royal you’ve never heard of. Somehow manages to stay out of the tabloids. The window placement and space design in this kitchen left a niche with shelving next to the fridge and quite a bit of wall behind the range, just begging for a killer backsplash. And far be it from us to deny anyone a killer backsplash. The homeowners went gaga over this marble hex, and we concurred. Since the kitchen was large, with a lot going on, we decided the hood should take a back seat and let the tile shine. Wishing you could see more of this kitchen? You can here. HOOD Q&A. OUR GO-TO QUESTIONS, AND THE ‘SPLANATION FOR ASKING THEM. How tall are the cooks? Hood corners are, well, corners. So, sharpish. And they jut out pretty far over the range. No one wants an ice pack situation (or worse yet, ER visit). So sometimes we slightly adjust the height of the hood to accommodate the homeowners, or design the wall so the range pulls forward more, making it much harder to puncture your noggin. Ceiling height? Soaring ceilings call for higher hood placement visually, but they need to work properly, so you can’t just place a hood where you want it without rethinking CFMs. Thanks to our friends who let us copy their notes in physics, we know higher hoods call for more CFMs so that breakfast bacon smell isn’t still lingering come lunchtime. Leaning toward something simple? Then let’s get crazier with the backsplash or create a focal point elsewhere. (We have some ideas…) Wanting more of a razzle-dazzle hood? In that case, let’s dial down the backsplash – wouldn’t want it to compete for attention. Tile usually comes after the hood design, unless you’re using a slab. And in that case you need to think through 137 other things. (We’ll save that for another post.) Going all out with one-of-a-kind custom? You like saying “bespoke,” don’t you? So let’s talk metalwork and millwork options. Sky’s the limit. But cha-cha-cha-ching. What type of range are you thinking? Classic Wolf or Thermador? Ilve Majestic or Viking Tuscany? That helps us narrow down the hood width, style and other requirements. Is the range on a focal wall? Then people will be looking at it. We say give ‘em something gawk-worthy. Will the hood be wider than the range? Trick question. Depends on the design we do. But if it’s wider, we’ll need additional under-hood lighting on either side, so you don’t have dark spots on the counters. All these details seem like minutia, but are absolutely critical for how it looks in the end. Theeeeen… there’s the behind-the-scenes stuff where we typically get the client’s best FIF (Fake Interested Face). Feel free to zone out if we ramble on about joist work, electrical requirements, depth dimensions, and how the venting feeds outside the house. That’s all stuff you don’t have to worry about (wipe-o-the-brow). We’re on it. Oh, and if you’re worried about creative people doing the calculations when fractions are involved, it’s ok. We always have a left-brainer check our work. Ready to go for it? Get in touch and let’s talk kitchens. (We’ll bring calculators for the math part.) Until next time... Happy Holidays and thanks for reading!

Photos by Picture Perfect House and Joe Kwon Photography

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