Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Outlet Placement for Your Kitchen on Soapbox Tuesday

 I'm officially banning all ugly electrical outlets from beautiful kitchen backslashes!

Yes, You Heard Me Right....I'm On My Soapbox!!
    I have to admit, pet peeve in kitchen design, is when beautiful back splashes dotted with ugly electrical outlets?     
Let's face it, outlets are a necessity, but they can be incorporated into the design in a way to make them less noticeable.  Let's discuss ways to have our outlets without ruining our look!  Let's look at some examples of how ill placed outlets ruin the aesthetics of a good design. 

 When I look at this beautiful kitchen my eyes jump around trying to make sense out of the placement of the white outlets.  Between the vertical brackets of the shelving and outlets do you even notice the beautiful green tile?  What were they thinking?  Weren't! (Actually there are a lot of things I would change about this kitchen but we won't get into all of that today, may be another post is coming about that)

Kitchen Remodel - Jorge contemporary kitchen

Another example of ill placed outlets is presented in this kitchen where the the switches and outlets look like they leached onto the accent tile.  A clear situation of the "supporting actress" upstaging the "star" folks!  

Case Design/Remodeling, Inc. contemporary kitchen

Are you with me here?  Am I the only one this bothers?  When I walk in a kitchen and all I see are outlets, it is a big tell tale sign that whoever designed the kitchen is someone who does't pay attention to details. People, no one wants to see the outlets!  ugh!  I think I'll design a line of cool outlets...humm there's a thought, "Faberge outlet covers"....(Obviously I'm kidding!)


If you aren't going to hire a kitchen designer, you'd better have a game plan sister, because the ball is in your court!  You know the old saying......

"Remember, if you fail to plan, 
you plan to fail"

How do you plan?  I subscribe to the principle of "Form follows function".  First, you decide how you want to function in the space.  Get out a pad of paper and a pen.  Ask yourself a series of questions. Do you want a coffee station?  Do you want a microwave?  Do you want a toaster over? Do you bake and use a mixer?  Once the function is decided then you can decide the location for these areas, hence the form falls into place.  The last part of the puzzle is to make the space visually pleasing, but as you can see from the steps we have taken to get to "looks", it is important to have a plan.  There are also building codes that have to be consider, but I am not going to get into all of that.  This post is just about "looking pretty".  You can ask your contractor, builder or electrician about codes.  Just make sure you do it early on, because it is important to the overall plan.  If you don't consider each of these steps in the beginning, you can make costly mistakes.  

Here are some ideas to consider in planning your well designed kitchen:   

1.High Outlet Placement

 Under mount plug strips can be placed under the apron or along the back side of the upper cabinets.  This works especially well if you have a solid backsplash like this beautiful marble slab.  This type of mount allows you to plug in occasional use appliances, such as mixers and blenders with out any interruptions in the backsplash. 

Ansley Park Kitchen traditional kitchen

Another peep at under mount outlets 

Wesley Grove Condominium Kitchen contemporary kitchen

2. Low Outlet Placement

In this design, the outlets are placed horizontally at the base of the backsplash on a band of the same material the countertop.  A little more visible, but still not interrupting the beauty of tile backsplash.  

Kitchen Remodel contemporary kitchen

3.  Horizontal Outlet Placement

Whether the outlet is worked into the design of the tile or placed at the base of the backsplash, horizontal placement really works well when using subway tiles.  This is also a good example of using outlet covers that match the surface they are mounted on.  They are almost invisible.

Case Design/Remodeling, Inc. traditional kitchen
4.  Incorporate New Technology

There are so many new little gadgets you can use to camouflage outlets like this kitchen grommet.
This handy little outlet pops up from the countertop with multiple plug ins. This is great for an island or an area where you don't have a backsplash at all.

Pop- up Electrical Outlet eclectic kitchen

Another great gadget is sillites

These are flush mount electrical outlets which would be great on the island but I won't work for the kitchen counters because code.  Water could easily get into the outlet which is a hazard.

via Sillites
Here is a Sillites receptacle shown on the
 side of a kitchen island

5.  Incorporate into the design aesthetics

This one is "Behind Closed Doors"!  Ok, so I had to say that because of the old song, which you are probably too young to remember but it's true.  Look for a place you can hide the outlet.  Back splashes aren't the only place I want to hide outlets.  Islands or peninsulas are also on my list!  This is a great example of a way to make those ugly things go away!  


 6.  Strategic Placement

There are oodles of options here such as putting the outlet on the side of the island or under the apron of your island countertop. Under countertop mount outlets are great for electronic plug ins 

Traditional Kitchen traditional kitchen

7.  Blend the outlet cover with the backsplash color

Lets face it, most of us don't get to build houses and plan our outlet placement. I don't think bad outlet placement is a deal breaker, when buying a house, but once you have the house, these little details can bug you.  How do we deal with other people's less than perfect design choices when talking outlets?  If you have an outlet in plain view or an odd spot, make sure you choose outlet covers that blend with the color of the backsplash.  If your backsplash is an odd color or material, get the paint store to custom match the color of the tile or material and paint it.  Imagine photo #1 if the outlets had been painted green like the tile.   Here are some examples of outlets that blend in with the backsplash.  

farmhouse sink traditional kitchen

Kitchen contemporary kitchen

Ok we have discussed all the kitchens with issues, the following kitchens meet my seal of approval for "perfectly pleasing back splashes"  Do you agree?
Now for the most important information in this post!!
The best laid plan is not good if not executed properly.
Don't take for granted everything will be done the right way unless someone is on top of things.  If you hire a designer, he or she, takes responsibility and will make sure things happen according to plan.  If you are doing your kitchen without a designer, make sure everyone working on the project has complete understanding of what you want.  Better yet, be there yourself to make sure the job gets done right the first time.  Mistakes = time + money.  It is very costly to make changes once things are done the wrong way.   

Whew!  Now that I got that off my chest I know I feel better!  Thanks for letting me purge! Next on my soapbox agenda, my friend from The Pink Pagoda blog and I are are going to start a revolution against "People who cruise in the passing lane!"  If you are equally irritated by the "left lane cruisers" make sure you leave a comment!  (I mean about the outlets!  actually about the passing lane, too if you want!)  I'm not really a soapbox kinda girl but I'm beginning to like this a little!  
Do you have a soapbox?  Now I have to chose between a soapbox and a faberge outlet cover for the first DIY project on my blog!  Dang!  Ideas are flowing!  Change is coming!!!!

Have a great Tuesday!

Check out my Pinterest "kitchen" board for more kitchen ideas!

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  1. Loved this informative post, Lisa! I'm guilty, my outlets on my backsplash need to be painted, now I won't sleep until it's off my list! Just so you don't think I'm totally incompetent I did put outlets in my cabinets and inside my island doors! :) Yes, get those slowpokes out of our way, unless they are old people who I love and will be patient with!

    1. You are too funny! You were smart to put outlets in your cabinets and inside the island doors!! Have a great evening. Thanks for commenting my sweet ,pretty friend!

  2. Hi Lisa, I LOVE this post. So smart and such great tips! Hope it's ok to pin it?


  3. On your soapbox with you...amazing the difference. Love, love the last kitchen!!

  4. Ok, this was one of the best posts I have read in a long time! You need to get on your designer soap box more often.


  5. I found this post while looking for ways to conceal plugs in the kitchen. I hate that I'll spend tons of money for the perfect backsplash tile i want and then have to cut it up with ugly plugs. I have learned that plugs cannot go on the counter, but I don't understand why the plugs cannot at least be located on the wall above the counter in the first couple of inches (kind of like the plugmold under the upper cabinets - which I will not have but that's my 5'2" soapbox). Or what about building out the first four inches and installing the plug on the horizontal plane? Why not a Mockett with a good seal? Why not presume I can work in my kitchen without flooding the counters and eletrocuting myself? Thanks for the rant - it's a good one.

    1. Your rant is safe with me Angela! I love what you said!

  6. Thanks Lisa. I think the issue that's annoying me the most almost to point of anger is the contractors and electricians coming for quotes who say - well, it's always been done that way and look at me like I'm from the moon. People used to think the world was flat too and lots of other "always been that way" things. Never let it be said that I don't love men because I do, but I think this code for outlets in the middle of back splashes is a man rule.

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  10. Your blog is really helps for my search and amazingly it was on my searching criteria.. Thanks a lot.....

    cheese board & salad bowl

  11. Speaking of hiding things, check out what I invented to solve the age old problem of hiding your toothbrush at www.universaltoothbrushholder.com
    Thanks for helping me with alternative ways to disguise my kitchen counter outlets during our home building process. Sandra Baggott Racine, WI

  12. I just completed a kitchen remodel and the outlet placement was a high priority. Too add to this list, I also incorporated a charging station (inside a cabinet) for smart phones, ipads, etc.

  13. Thanks for always being the source that explains things instead of just putting an unjustified answer out there. I loved this post.
    Kitchen Remodel

  14. Perfect post and I couldn't agree with you more, which is why I'm looking up "DIY hidden outlets." Thank you so much.

    1. Yes Marianne, lots has changed since this article was written in 2012. Check out the LeGrand system under the cabinet system. It is pretty cool!


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