Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kitchen Nightmares - Zaragoza Edition

In my circle of contemporaries, European kitchen design is considered to be some of the best in the world.  The simple lines and clever use of space initiated by manufacturers like Siematic, Snaidero and others is slowly being adapted into kitchens in North America.  But in general, the designers I know still wish more of it was available over here.

However, on my recent trip to Spain, I came across a kitchen in an apartment we rented in Zaragoza that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy (you know, LEGO haters, MW/Hoodfan users, etc.).  At first glance, it looks pretty typical.  Space is usually a concern in European urban centres, and many of the kitchens I've experienced have been not much bigger than this one.  Many were smaller.  This one has even managed to fit in a washer/dryer just below the sink.

However, upon closer inspection we see that there has been a severe lack of detail applied to the installation of the cabinetry.  This is a close-up of the extractor fan above the cooktop.  It's one of the slim-line, slide-out variety ... very nice in a tiny kitchen that's open to the rest of the apartment.  Have a look at the way the valance has been installed beneath the upper cabinets.  Unless you plan on removing the valance, there's no way you're removing the extractor fan without destroying the cabinet.  That little ledge that extends beneath the extractor is also going to be a perfect place for grease to sit.  I looked.  It is.

Now this looks like a clever way to deal with people who are too lazy to dry their dishes ... like tourists who rent apartments.  The drying racks have been installed inside a standard wall cabinet that has had the bottom shelf replaced with a square frame.  Essentially the cabinet has no bottom in it to allow the glasses and plates to drip dry into the sink below.  Clever, right?  What this picture doesn't show is how the frame is made from vinyl-clad fibre board and how the water has caused much of the fibre board to swell.  In fairness, this is a really great idea ... it's just that the execution is poor.

In a similar vein to the rack above, I wanted to show how the countertops were addressed in this kitchen.  Stainless steel cove and edging is nothing new.  The kitchen in my house had it before I replaced it.  But like the photo above, this photo doesn't show the grime that has collected beneath the cove, and the way the countertop substrate has swollen because water has leaked in beneath the metal.  This application just seems cheap.

I've saved the best for last.  This is a 60cm wide cabinet with two doors.  The trouble is that the doors are 35cm wide each.  Now I'm no mathematician but it would seem to me that the doors are going to be too wide for that cabinet ... and low and behold they are!  I'd really like to have been in on the discussion that led to this being picked as an acceptable solution.

Installer:  The doors are too wide.  We need new doors.
Hotel:  Let's not be hasty.  Can we still install them?
Installer:  Yeah, but they're too big.  They'll overlap.
Hotel:  Overlap you say?  Then they'll be partially open?
Installer:  Yeah
Hotel:  Great!  Take back two handles.  We don't need them now!


L Vanel said...

They could have placed the handles at an even level above the hood and on the adjacent cabinet. It looks at first glance like one of the cabinets is sagging.

Kelly said...

Haha - it's true! We see all the shiny photos about European design but this looks closer to reality. Aren't dishwashers in Spain a rarity too?

Mind you, there are kitchens in North America that are pretty scary, but at least they don't have to deal with the washing machine...

Arne Salvesen said...

We had a dishwasher in Barcelona, but not here.

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