We’ve just added this image to our file called “Bad Ideas”: ideas that look great, but practically speaking, are impossible to maintain. Most seem like a good idea for about a minute, until you try imagine the harsh realities of living with the them (which is our test for anything we put in our home…)

It would be lovely to have that gorgeous view as a backdrop while we’re cooking…but when we look at that pristine window abutting high-btu burners, we foresee it covered with a film of oil, spatter, and steam drips in no time…that is, IF anyone is really going to cook on that serious stove (We’ve discovered that a lot of high-design kitchens are owned by people who do not cook).  Cleaning the window would mean leaning over the burners, or climbing onto the counter to reach the top half…?

We use bad design like this to teach ourselves about good: a practice of envisioning the impact of using something beforehand, in order to build insights about “real use” into the design.

What do you think?

via FreshHome

Related post: When Pretty or Cool = A Bad Idea

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34 replies on “annals of bad design: stove window

  1. This picture makes me cringe! As a kitchen designer, I do not EVER advocate this design and have been known to refuse jobs where the client is insistant to do this. Besides the fact that it is impossible to maintain, in my state it is a firehazard and insurance companies wouldn’t cover the cost of replacing it if there was one. Shame on this designer! The only good note, the view is priceless!

  2. Every once in a while we wonder “Are we CRAZY, or is this really as bad as we think?” Thank you for affirming that this really is ill-considered on many levels. And yeah, the view is great.

  3. I understand where you’re coming from…but, if it weren’t an obviously expensive setup – I’d say it was a great improvisation. Natural light and a way to vent fried and steamy foods right by the stove sounds good to me.

  4. I would like to see this in person, and ask the user how it functions. There is a depth dimension to the window that is important. Also, does the window open? How strong is the fan? What other methods, if any,are in place to clean the window? Is there a sprinkler overhead? It also looks like there may be a vent at the bottom of the window on the rear of the stove. Also is there a baffle/protective plate (plexiglass? Tempered glass?) between the stove and the window?
    It may be a work of genius….

  5. Good questions, Nina. We asked ourselves many of them and felt that the essential problem remains. We haven’t seen an exhaust system yet that could vent out splatter and residual grease flying in the air, though it is possible, and the film that inevitable begins to cover things in the field of the stove. You’re right, though, we don’t know all the considerations that went into this; perhaps it is a work of genius who has devised a system to handle all these concerns.

  6. I am looking even closer at this photo. Note that on each side of the walls closest to the back of the stove there IS a “baffle” made of, presumably, plexiglass. It appears to be removable for cleaning. Quite frankly, I am not seeing this as substantially different than many stove installations that have walls behind or next to the stove. They all get splattered, no? So you clean them…in the meantime, these folks have an AWESOME view while cooking…not to mention a REALLY nice stove and oven!

  7. You maybe right, Nina. Having a powerful stove, it’s not really about seeing grease spatters, it’s seeing the grease through glass where it becomes something ELSE, and because the view is so beautiful, having to be aware to keep that window together. But it all may be moot, because we really don’t know the levels of consideration the designer may have built in. Thank you for looking closely, thinking hard, and giving us your feedback.

  8. I’m thinking out of the box here. This could be an opportunity for a video monitor. It could have beautiful screen savers (if it’s possible to improve on the view out that window) or recipes or instructional videos. If it had one of those Lexan cover screens that pull out and tilt horizontally for easy cleaning, I’m in! Great idea…

  9. Glass is a whole lot easier to clean than much of the natural stone and grout lines that we’re seeing behind stoves. Especially the stone that has a distinctly uneven surface, herring bone design, etc. I think they’re undeniably beautiful but can never see them without asking myself, “how incredibly difficult would that be to clean and keep clean?” I’d opt for glass and a view if those were my two options. Although I’m not sure if that view is real. And if it is, then my entire backsplash would be glass, not just behind the stove. 🙂

  10. What IS the optimal stovetop backsplash material?

    We built our home, have a super serious hood/exhaust vent on an exterior wall and actually prepare a multi-course meal on a 5-burner cooktop six nights out of seven in the week. A pending visit from a European friend prompted me to evaluate the hood’s interior surface and wall. Sooo yucky! It has been thoroughly cleaned in the past, but it could be cleaned weekly and still not be decent. It took an entire day for me to disassemble the exhaust unit and scrape and wash the congealed grease off of the hood and wall. The wall surface, plain as it is, did not hold up well to the grease removal process. Paint came off and grease remained anyway. I now have installed a laminated map behind a sheet of plexiglass as a provisional solution. We’ll see how it holds up.

    However, covering that wall with ANYTHING simply means the grease accumulates on it. This includes tile and grout. Window glass is manufactured to all sorts of tolerances that could be fire-rated. Also, glass can be grease-free when cleaned with alcohol — remember your glass slides in high school microbiology labs? (please refrain from pointing out that alcohol is flammable – if you don’t know this, you should not ever cook with fire….one does not clean glass with alcohol in the presence of any flame or spark…..)

    In our next house, my husband & i hope to locate a waterproof stovetop outdoors and clean it with a hose—- no back splash necessary! Result – minimal grease on surfaces in the house.

    But maybe prior to our next build, genius will strike some very practical thinker with a greasy kitchen and present a simple, yet efficacious solution….

  11. The majority of the people in my city name the opening of a package and microwaving or steaming something as cooking. One does not see the free standing stoves with cooking fat running out two feet on the floor and finishing at 45 defrees to the top of the stove any longer. We no longer need to shovel fat out of kitchens, and, strip walls of sheeting because its impossible to clean.
    The funny thing is that a bigger percent of the population is now more obese and die of certain cancers than when they cooked and ate tons of pork fat.

    On asking a client who actually cooks real food and feeds the family, many friends and entertains in the Dining room, how is she going keep the glass and bench tops clean; she replied “as I have always done”; she covers the glass window and benchtops with cheap Chinese clear plastic “cling wrap”. She sometimes needs to tape the joints on a surface.

    Many of my clients have two and three kitchens or cooking areas to avoid making a mess of the Kitchen in the main part of the house.
    My rich Chineses clients cook the tradional food outside under large verandahs; the rich Italian clients always have an external bbq and cooking area plus a second kitchen indoors for frying and boiling large amount of food for family and friends.
    Where have the Chinese and Italians peasants gone, the cleanliness of today is overwhelming. Then again my rich clients are not obese or sickly they do not eat junk food that is made in a factory using the left overs of the food industry and food impregnated with pestocides to last a lifetime.
    Shit eating is part of the culture of the uneducated poor masses.

  12. I inherited a window backsplash over my stove when we moved into our house 13 years ago. I have to say… it has never been an issue. We clean the window with Windex and that’s about it. I am now redesigning a new kitchen and cannot part with my window backsplash. The thought of staring at a wall when I cook now seems depressing! We do not have a hood… rather a vent that leads directly outside.

  13. REALLY interesting. I’m always glad to hear when I’m wrong (:. How deep is your stove?

  14. I first broke the rule ” no window behind the stove! ” with some trepidation 25 years ago, but have been designing it into houses since with no issues from my clients. Think about it: we put windows behind sinks, and they create at least as much splatter as the typical stove.

    A high hopper over fixed glazing can be opened with a hook, and if it’s inside the hood, will vent the stove without the fan 80% of the time.

  15. Bob, I LOVE that you “broke the rule” and found it worked. I am glad to be wrong in my big fat opinions. Can you tell me more about the “high hopper”?

  16. Rather than having windows above my wall mounted cabinets, I am thinking of having windows at bench height behind the stove to allow more natural light into the kitchen. Am trying to find the reasons against. To me it seems the same as having a regular glass splashback but you get a view. The bit about climbing over the burners to clean it – the access to clean it would be the same no mater what the material. I don’t see this as a fire hazard either as the appropriate glass must be specified. Oven doors for example are made of glass and the pyrolitic ones need to be able to withstand extreme temperatures. So my issue is based on cost and light – I’m not sure if the above cabinet windows are of the same glass specification required for splashback glass or if I will have to pay more. Outside my window is not a particularly nice view but I think it will give a lot more light to the work area than above cabinet windows.

  17. I’m wondering why you would put a window at bench height, which I believe is chair height (18″), when a stove is about 36″ high. Won’t it be difficult to clean the lower portion? Or is it because the hole is already cut there.

    Whenever I have a question about whether a design idea will work, I play act it out to see. So I would prop a piece of glass or plexi behind your stove and see how it does for a week or so. Does it get greasy, fogged, splattered etc? How difficult is it really to clean?…Then you’ll have your answers.

  18. I can see everyones side, although I think that the idea of someone to refuse to design because a buyer wants this feature is just insane. Anyway, I am currently designing a home for myself and have contemplated a window backsplash over the wall our range is on… Overlooking a lake on our land… Hmmm… The opinions here are making me think deeply about it… So I went to examine my current back splash (that I don’t think I’ve cleaned in a LONG time. It doesn’t look bad at all. I’m a stay at home mom in the mean time and I cook two to three serious meals a day (though we don’t do any ‘frying’). I don’t think theres all that much splatter if you’re clean while you’re cooking. After debating everyones pros and cons and then examining my existing back splash – I think I’m going to go for it!

  19. As you say, there are pros and cons, and many considerations based on how YOU cook/live etc. When I’m concerned if something will work or not, I “play-act” the idea. Measure the space, maybe prop up a piece of old glass or plexi where the backsplash would be and see what happens when you cook. Is there much to clean? Is it easy to clean etc… You’ll have a surer answer.

  20. I too inherited a window backsplash, the only things is my backsplash does not have glass windows. Instead it has an iron grill like a cage (criss crossed). Cleaning is impossible and I have been managing for the last 16 odd years. It’s tough and hard work to make sure you clean the grill. To me I think cleaning the window with glass is easier. I have now placed a see through vinyl so that I can clean the backsplash area quickly. I do agree it has its pros and cons.
    Honestly I would prefer cooking against a wall and washing up looking out of the window any day. Cheers.

  21. I’ve just been googling ‘window behind stove and found this thread. We are re-designing our kitchen and it would be great (in terms of layout) if we were able to locate the stove under an existing window. Glad to hear folks have this already and are happy with the results. The view from our window isn’t quite as nice as the one above….but, in my humble opinion it’s better than looking at a wall when cooking. We also like the sense of added space we get when the window is open.


  22. Just found this thread… remodeling our kitchen and want to create a sense of partition between kitchen and family room— which is currently open space. An interior window is a beautiful design, and as a backsplash- genius. IMHO. Not only will I maintain the visibility (I can still overlook the family room, the backyard and pool) but I won’t hinder the natural light that already comes in. I’m not sure I understand the issue of not being able to clean?? Makes zero sense, isn’t glass THE easiest to clean? I already have a large window behind the sink area, I love looking outside whilst washing dishes, doing so while cooking (to those who have an outside view above their range) sounds fabulous.

    I’m happy to hear others commented and have moved fw despite the constant “in the box” thinking that’s cemented some “designers.” Refusing to design for a client bc your “sensibility” is affected— umm ok.

  23. I have my cooktop under a window and have for 5 years and I love it. Quite frankly the window over the sink is much dirtier with water splashes than the cooktop window ever gets. I am designing a new kitchen in another home and the kitchen has 3 windows and I am putting a slide in range under a window.

  24. I am always glad when someone disabuses me of a notion, recounting their experience using the design in question. Thank you!

  25. At first, this article made me seriously re-think my kitchen design, which would include a window over the range. However, after reading the comments, I’ve noticed that the critical remarks come from those who’ve never actually had one, while the creative and improvising souls out there, who’ve dared to do the unthinkable, actually love it! All in all, I’ve gained more confidence in my decision. Window, here I come!

  26. The reason for Annals of Bad Design is to activate design thinking, not to say DON’T DO THIS. I love when readers write in to tell me otherwise!

  27. I’m glad to find this discussion! We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen and have placed the new slide-in gas range under a window. Our small kitchen has windows of each of its three outside walls. Prior to our remodel, the range was in a corner, facing the wall, and I hated cooking there! While we don’t have a lovely view, either, we like the idea of looking at something other than a wall while we cook. I do have a question, and I hope someone on here can give me some advice. We have to replace our old windows in the kitchen, and we’re wondering what would be most desirable. The window behind the stove, which has a very deep sill (it’s an early 1800’s stone house), faces our deck, which is where we have our grill. We’re debating whether we should put a fixed window that won’t open or have a window through which we can pass food from and to the kitchen. And do we keep that deep sill in the kitchen, or do we have the window installed closer to the back of the stove, so it’s easier to reach to clean, as well as open and close? Also, we had planned to install a convertible range hood, attaching it to the wall above the window. Someone on here said an island hood would be necessary. Do you agree? Thank you!

  28. I have a window behind the range setup in a house I moved into 23 years ago. It’s really easy to clean grease or steam stains off the glass and has never been a problem keeping the window and trim clean. It’s easy to reach. I have a window that opens and a gas range and pretty much have the window open all summer. No problems. Love the natural light, fresh air and view of the garden when cooking. I’m now building a new house with a 10’ long x 2.5’ tall window behind the stove, counter and sink. It looks great.

  29. OMG! I am sooo happy you made this article. I was still doubting on my husband’s “out of the box idea” of having our cooktop under the window. We are right now in the process of remodeling our kitchen and it just happened to me exactly what Kelly comments. First I started to question this idea even more, but after reading all of the comments from other readers having this “out of the box idea”already implemented giving positive feedbacks, gave me a huge sense of relief. And I agree with the ones who has commented on the designer who refused to please her customers. We experienced something similar …the lady remodeling our kitchen told us that sinks are supposed to go under a window, she convinced me, but not my husband. And her response was…”well, I am just giving you my best opinion but at the end you are the ones who are going to enjoy your kitchen, so go for it and do it the way you want to”….
    At the end you are supposed to please the customer, you can give your opinions and best suggestions without imposing them.
    Thank you for this article. For real!!!

  30. So glad it helped clarify things. As you can see, the lived experience of readers who tried it is invaluable.

  31. Sarah- love the sound of your design. Do you have the sink and stove along the same wall? My wife and I are design our kitchen for a new build and want to incorporate the view of the lake in the area we spend most of our time- the kitchen

  32. Just like others, I googled “cooktop under a window” and found this blog. We are building a country house and I am looking at putting a 30″ induction cooktop under a very large window. My husband is worried that the window will always be dirty and the need to constantly cleaning it. Traditionally we always had the sink under the window but I spend a lot more time over the cooktop than the sink. I am happy I found this blog and reassured by the experience of those who have already broke the tradition. I am now convinced that this is what I want to do! Thank you all!

  33. I have a window behind my stove and I really like it! I never actually open it but I don’t find it gets spattered any more than any other surface behind a stove would (in fact I think it gets fewer spatters because it is set back in the wall with the sill) and, when/if it does, it’s easy to clean. There wasn’t an option to add a window above my sink because it’s sitting against an interior wall. So I added this large window there above the stove instead and the light it lets in is a godsend.

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