Kitchen cabinets are meant to be functional and beautiful. Electrical outlets, even the new styles, are still more about function – you need to turn the lights on, plug the mixer in when baking, and more. There is a place for each of these features in a kitchen but they simply don't play well together!
When visiting a kitchen product website, I was looking at the cabinets in this photo. I wanted to see if the cabinet styles matched even though the homeowners picked a beautiful cherry for their island, to provide contrast with the white cabinets in the rest of the kitchen.
That's when I went, oh they ruined the clean look by putting ugly white outlets on the island side panel and the wall too. This is absolutely unnecessary but homeowners need to get involved to make sure this doesn't happen.
The solution is relatively easy and at the same time, it can be a bit of a challenge as the first time I ran into this problem, I lost the battle but you guessed right, I won the war.
Never Forget That You Are the Customer
This truly is a tip for women. Never, never forget that you are the homeowner and the person who is paying for the electrical service to be installed. To be fair, I also have to explain that there are very strict electrical codes for safety reasons. While electrical codes are administered locally, national codes require electrical “… receptacles be installed so that no point measured horizontally along the floor line in any wall space is more than 1.8 m (6 ft) from a receptacle outlet.”
There are no minimum spacing requirements so it's okay to install extra outlets which makes a lot of sense to avoid potential tripping hazards or damage to electrical cords. BUT contractors are trained to use the minimum number of outlets and other materials, to reduce waste and manage profitability which is important too. The bottom line is you can't avoid putting in enough electrical outlets to satisfy code requirements but you can install more outlets and decide where they go.
Creative Solutions for Electrical Outlets
There is a solution for every challenge and by investing time, you will find the right solution for your particular need. When you have an island, there are usually overhangs on one or 2 sides. It's easy to put the electrical box upside down, underneath the counter top as shown to the left. That is the perfect solution for the outlet which prompted this article (photo top left).
The trick is communicating exactly what you want done. The easiest approach might be to print this page and tape it to the sides of your island, with an arrow pointing up.
Another approach is to put the outlets underneath a cabinet, the solution that would have eliminated 2 of the 3 white boxes on the wall in the kitchen photo shown above.The third white box is a switch, probably for the garbage disposal. It could be placed in the cabinet under the sink or on the window jamb over the sink, i.e. white on white.
Sometimes you'll want to install the electrical outlet inside a kitchen cabinet as they did for the mixer to the left. The mixer is always plugged in, so when the homeowner pulls out the shelf on which the mixer is sitting, it's ready to use without having to fumble around for the cord or an outlet.
Have a great solution? Please share it here for others to benefit.
PS Interior designers and homeowners are getting more creative about how to add more outlets in the kitchen. Here you can see a strip of electrical outlets just below the wall cabinets. There are also new, popup electrical outlets that work especially well in kitchen islands so click to learn more.