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Kitchen Design/Remodeling/Typical.cabinet modifications


I hired a kitchen designer to help with renovating my old kitchen, purchasing all new cabinets, countertops and appliances. The appliance installer charged by the cut and had to cut the sides of the oven cabinet to install both the microwave and the single oven, as well as cutting a big hole in  back of the cabinet where the oven goes. The matching wood range hood came from the cabinet company with a Vent-a-Hood blower insert that they said fits their hoods, and the appliance installer charged me extra to fill in with pieces of wood around the blower insert. Is this typical? WE sent the cabinet company the specs for the appliances but the kitchen designer said they do not cut the side stiles less than 1-1/2" and that trimming in the field is routine. Are all these modifications typical?

Hi Robin, congratulations on your new kitchen and thank you for your question.  I would be happy to offer some insight as to the 'why' some of the things were done during your cabinet installation.  

First off, your designer is correct in saying that modifications to oven cabinet are often done in the field.  In most cases, cabinet manufactures build a generic cabinet that will fit a wide selection of wall oven sizes and configurations.  Some custom cabinet manufacturers will build the wall oven cabinet to fit specific appliance models; and each will have their own limitations of what they will and won't do at the factory.  That often does include minimum frame sizes for their stiles & rails.  As far as cutting the hole in the back of the cabinet for the wire, that is no different than having to cut the sink base for plumbing access - it must be done in the field.

If I had to guess, I would say that your design included a 30" wall oven in a 30" cabinet.  Many manufacturers recommend using a 33" cabinet for a 30" oven; but that option does not always exist.  Some designers prefer 30", some 33"....there really is not a right or wrong answer without taking into consideration of the unique design parameters of your kitchen.  I will defer to your designer's professional experience and suggest that he had his reasons for this design choice.

If this is your situation (30" oven & 30" cabinet), than your cabinet stiles needed to be cut to approximately 3/4" wide to allow for a 28.5" rough opening.  The reason they can't do this at the factory is because cutting the frame so small negatively affects the integrity of the joint between the side panel and cabinet face frame.  This should present any problem for your job now since the cabinet is already installed.  If they were to build such a large cabinet like that from the beginning, it probably would not survive the shipping process all the way to your home.

As far as your wood hood is concerned, my quick answer is 'yes', field modifications are not uncommon.  When it comes to wood hoods and the vents that fit inside of them, the number of different combinations available can vary more than just about any other feature in your kitchen.  While some field modifications should be expected, I am concerned that you said they added pieces of 'wood' to the vent area.  In my experience, we use a metal liner under the wood hood that completely covers the cooking area of the stovetop.  By code, you cannot have a flammable surface within an certain distance above your cooktop.  The metal liner satisfies that requirement and is easier to keep clean than a wood surface.  Metal liners are not always available from the hood manufacturer, so custom ones can also be made for most applications.  If your wood is much wider than your cooktop and your vent is at least as wide as your cooktop, then that should still satisfy the code issue.

I hope that helps with understanding the how's and why's field modifications, but another question does come to mind for me.  Your description includes you as the customer, a designer that you worked with, and an 'appliance installer'.  My question is, who was the 'cabinet' installer?  While an appliance installer is not unusual in my experience, one that I would actually trust to cut my customer's cabinets is another issue.  If I am contracting someone to install a kitchen for me, that contract would absolutely include any and all cabinet modifications to accommodate your appliances.  As a designer, I like to control who is doing each role for accountability reasons.  If your designer contracted an installer for you, I might consider asking why that was not included with your payment for that portion of labor.  I always assume that cabinet modifications are needed 100% of the time with wall ovens; so I add money in the contract to cover that expense.

So sorry for the long winded response....I tend to do that :)
In the end, if your oven and hood appear to be installed professionally and are working properly, I would not worry that field modifications needed to be made.  It is perfectly normal and should be expected.  If you were not made aware of those expenses, that may be a friendly suggestion you could offer to your designer so he communicates that issue with future jobs.  I have been designing and selling kitchens and baths for over 22 years now, and even the best of us learn something new that can improve our performance with every single job.  

For curiosity sake, I would be interested in knowing the all the parties involved in your job besides the designer and appliance installer; as well as who was in charge of 'running' the job for you.  

I hope this 'short novel' of a response was helpful in some way.
Thank you again for your question.
- Scott

Kitchen Design/Remodeling

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Scott A.


I can answer questions regarding the kitchen & bath design process. My specialty is problem solving and advising clients about realistic expectations and proper procedures. Please feel free to use this forum for fact gathering and overall questions about the remodeling process and how to get started. I take special pride in solving unique design issues (issues unrelated to interior design).


I am the general manager of a kitchen & bath design showroom that offers complete sales, design, and installation services. Our products include cabinets, countertops, flooring, and appliances.

I have been working in the field of kitchen & bath design since receiving my B.S. degree in Architecture in 1992. I also own my own residential home design company, and have been designing custom homes for local builders since 1993.

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