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Range Hoods Take Center Stage
By Tracy Dickinson | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
KITCHENS & BATHS December 2017/January 2018
home :: home & garden :: kitchen & bath

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Hidden or exposed, it's a key element in kitchen design.

Hidden or exposed, it's a key element in kitchen design.

Unless you’re running a restaurant out of your home, you probably don’t need a range hood. But there are numerous reasons to incorporate one in your kitchen design (see “Do You Need One?”).

“Hoods tend to be a focal point of the room,” says Tina Noel of Moehl Millwork. “Your imagination is the place to start.”

No matter what your style, our experts say there’s a range hood to complete your space. And the results can be magical.

Now you see it

Some homeowners opt for a range hood because they like the look. For these clients, the options continue to grow. “With today’s technology and materials, there are so many options for style and finish,” says AIM Kitchen & Bath’s Corey Gersdorf.

  • Metal selections
    Choosing a metal option is the most popular selection for most homeowners, but even that category is expanding.

    “From using an all-stainless hood, a stainless and glass hood, or different metals like copper, hammered stainless, or oil-rubbed bronze, there are a lot of options to choose from,” Gersdorf says.

    Woodharbor’s Cheryl Arganbright agrees. “We see a variety of metal choices, from stainless ‘chimney’-style hoods to stainless undercabinet designs.”
  • Unexpected materials
    Manufacturers are introducing new material options all the time. Some of these options may surprise you.

    “For homeowners who want the range hood to stand out, this is where we might use a concrete, faux concrete, or another texture that may be incorporated elsewhere in the house” to tie that into the design, says Beisser’s Barb Hyde. “The options really are endless these days and you can create whatever look you want.”

    Other options include stone, brick, and even tile. “From copper to old barnwood, the range hood is a way to add fun to the design and a focal point to your kitchen,” Noel says.

    Hyde also says that cabinet surrounds don’t necessarily have to be used to disguise the range hood. “They can be dramatic, too, and take center stage in addition to disguising the hood,” she explains.
  • Decorative designs
    No matter which material you choose for your range hood, how you finish it can make it even more dramatic.

    “Manufacturers are offering an amazing collection of hoods that are really unique and would really add a design element to any kitchen,” says Arganbright.

    From hammered metal to tile mosaic, glass and steel, or unique hood designs that mimic light fixtures,creating a focal point hides the appliance in plain sight beautifully.

Now you don’t

If you prefer a range hood that does its job without drawing attention to itself, you can have your bacon and fry it, too.

  • Hood inserts
    Typically, disguised hoods are not simply range hoods with a cabinet or decorative finish over the top.

    Arganbright explains, “For a hood to be disguised in cabinetry, it needs to be a hood liner. These are designed to fit inside a wood surround.”

    “Every kitchen design and range choice has its own directives,” adds Beisser’s Hyde. “However, to use a vent in a surround, it must be made for that purpose.”
  • Cabinet look
    One of the most popular options for disguising a range hood is using the look of built-in cabinetry.

    Gersdorf of AIM says, “With cabinet companies giving you more built-in hood options and range hood manufacturers having more options available, you really can add a range hood in almost any design.”

    Cabinetmakers can create a cover that blends seamlessly with the cabinetry throughout the kitchen. “Some wood hood styles are designed to match the door style and finish of the cabinetry. The hood seems to fade away and not be so intrusive in the design if the homeowner doesn’t want it to be a focal point,” Noel explains.
  • Decorative designs
    The real fun may be in disguising the range hood as a different focal point altogether. Kitchen designers have come up with some creative ways to incorporate the range hood without drawing attention to the appliance itself. These include timber framing in a rustic-look kitchen with brick accents, a brick surround designed to emulate an old-world European hearth, and custom-designed metalworks that incorporate artwork to overlay the hood liner.
  • Other options
    Not every kitchen is suited to an over-the-range hood.

    “When you have a range in an island or in front of a window or when you can’t access exterior venting, downdraft systems are a better option,” Hyde says. “I think it’s always best if you can vent from above and exhaust air outside when possible, but that isn’t always the case.”

    Gersdorf says, “Sometimes you can’t get a traditional-style range hood ducted out. You have the option of using a downdraft that will duct out through the floor. But there are plenty of options to choose from.”

Whatever your style, whatever your kitchen layout may be, you can find the perfect range hood option. The possibilities for disguising them—or putting them in the spotlight—are almost as limitless as the individuals who cook.

Do You Need One?

Consider these factors:

  • Check the building codes. Most residential codes don’t require a range hood if the kitchen has sufficient ventilation.
  • Take a look at your cooking habits. Although it may not be required, a hood can more quickly eliminate cooking smells and grease, keeping your home cleaner. Your cooking habits may also affect the CFM (cubic feet per minute) ventilation capacity of the range hood you choose.
  • Work with your layout. Downdraft and slide-out vents offer alternatives for kitchens not suited to wall or ceiling vents.
  • Play off your strengths. If your home is sleek and contemporary, old-world rustic, or a transitional style in between, a kitchen designer can find the right product and design to suit your home.


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