Warming drawers are a practical kitchen item — but only for the right client. Remodelers and designers need to find out if the appliance will fit their client's lifestyle. Mick De Giulio, owner of De Giulio Kitchen Design in Chicago, says that once he explains the benefits, most of his clients want one. “They make sense for harried lives with work, school, children, and activities. You can keep food warm — not dried out,” he says.
The units are also handy for entertaining and holidays. De Giulio says many of his high-end clients had a warming drawer in their previous kitchens and want one in their remodeled space. “It's almost like a microwave in a luxury kitchen,” he says.
However, Jason Landau of Kitchen Design Studio, New Canaan, Conn., says most of his clients do not have occasion to use the appliance. He installs warming drawers in only 15% of his projects. “Most of our customers are not cooking a meal for a spouse and needing to keep it warm,” he says. And when they entertain, he notes, they hire a caterer. “The few customers who have had it say it's a nice luxury, but they are not using it that much,” Landau says. More likely, they're using it just to warm plates.
Most home cooks take items out of an oven and place them in the warming drawer, so it makes sense to locate the drawers near a cooking area. Popular locations include below the countertop, under a cooktop, or under a wall oven.
“If you're going to prepare an entire plate of food and put it in a warming drawer, sometimes an island makes sense,” De Giulio says. If he places a microwave below the counter on an island, he will often place a warming drawer under the microwave. He says the drawers also provide balance when placed under bulky professional cooktops. He sometimes places two stainless warming drawers below a 48-inch or 60-inch cooktop.
Landau prefers to save that space for pot and pan storage. He says a butler's pantry is an ideal location for a warming drawer, because it's close to the dining room.
De Giulio determines the height of the drawer location based on how often the customer will use it. “If you use it more often, put it under the counter in place of a drawer,” he says.
Dan Luck, president of Bella Domicile, Madison, Wis., says installing a microwave, oven, and warming drawer in one stack can be problematic because it means one of the appliances will be too high and will be a safety issue. Luck adds that if there's a space issue, the warming drawer is usually the first feature the client nixes from a design.