Renovation Survival Guide

Updating Your Kitchen for Pro-Style Equipment

While most prosumer kitchen appliances don't require restaurant-level power and ventilation, you may need to adapt your kitchen space to get the look.

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Commercial Kitchen Gas Range

A glossy magazine ad depicts a kitchen full of dinner party guests gathered around an enameled cast-iron range the size of a golf cart.

What that appliance advertisement omits is that the retail price of the equipment is only the starting point. First, the floor must be shored up to support the sizable load. Then there is the on-site assembly of some 200 parts. And last, but by no means least, there's the installation of a high-powered exhaust hood capable of handling the heat from jet engine-like burners.

Some professional-style cooking appliances are not for every homeowner, kitchen and budget. However, they're much easier to integrate into your kitchen than true commercial appliances.

The early pioneers of the prosumer trend didn't have the selection of consumer-friendly pro-style appliances that are on the market today. Instead, they purchased off-the-rack commercial ranges and attempted to retrofit them into their homes.

"We speak fondly of a concept called 'burning down the house,'" explains Steve Kleber, past president of Center for Kitchen & Bath Education and Research, recalling the earliest examples of prosumerism. "These commercial ranges were not insulated like today's pro-style ranges and the very high levels of heat would literally catch wooden cabinetry on fire."

Thanks to greatly improved insulation, the pro-style ranges on the market today have zero clearance for combustibility, meaning they can be butted up against walls and wood cabinets. But installing these and other commercial-style cooking equipment is not a breeze. Ventilation, plumbing, structural support, size constraints and cost must all still be tackled long before the first scallop ever gets seared.

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