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WWMD: Choosing a Classic and Timeless Hood Fan

By 06/15/2020April 4th, 202119 Comments

This reader asks how to choose the right hood fan for her kitchen – more specifically, a classic and timeless hood fan that relates to her kitchen design. Which range hoods are trendy and should be avoided? Here’s my advice.

I am interested in knowing your position on vent hoods these days, and how one goes about staying ‘classic & timeless’ with them.

We built in ‘08 – I absolutely would have hired you if I had known about you then. I know I made undertone mistakes, and I’m one who considers myself to be pretty good with colour.

The one we chose was ‘the latest thing’ then, and I do still see chimney style hoods going in now but I’m unenamoured with ours because of the streaking on the faux stainless finish which we can’t get out to save our lives.

I’m wondering if we should go to the expense and mess to rip it out and put in an in-cabinet hood? With the moulding on the cabinet uppers on either side, I would think the carpentry bill could add up.

But you did that, didn’t you – and not all that long after your initial reno? What was your experience, and what advice in general would you give to those embarking on a new build now? Should your vent hood be about the overall look and feel of the space? These decisions can definitely haunt us in the years that follow a new build!

I’ve attached a current picture of the hood head-on along with an older picture of the kitchen overall for context.

How to choose a classic and timeless range hood fan.

This is such a great question because this post (and my advice) is overdue on this blog. The stainless steel hood fan trend is definitely OUT and frankly, it’s was always too contemporary for most kitchens anyway.

To be clear, the world of automatically (and by that I mean, without considering the style of the kitchen) installing a stainless hood fan INSTEAD of a concealed or custom hood fan is what I’m calling “dated.”

Sure, it’s definitely less expensive than the custom one. And by itself, expensive does not equal timeless. But, your hood fan will likely be a major focal point of your kitchen. What kind of statement do you want it to make?

My stainless hood fan (I’m trying to remember) was around $700, but my new custom hood fan (below) cost almost $3000 including the fan inside the millwork.

When I renovated my bathrooms three summers ago, I decided to replace the hood fan in my kitchen and I’m so glad I did, it actually relates to the kitchen and the scale is much better for the space.

You can even see that the way it was photographed before didn’t include the shelves because there was too much space on the left side, almost like a piece of art was required to fill in the space.

In order to fill this space, some forced branches would have been great, just like this (below). And notice the lovely integrated hood fan behind this kitchen as well:

Via Decor Pad

Here’s my readers hood fan:

When you see it in the context of this more transitional kitchen design, the stainless hood fan does look really modern.  Although this kitchen definitely slants in a modern direction with the lighting and counter stools so it doesn’t look as out of place here like it might in so many other kitchens (including mine).

Free standing hood fans

I think the best choice for most kitchens is a free standing hood fan. I also prefer a free standing hood fan to be, well, free standing. When I’m consulting with clients about a free standing hood fan, I always advise them to leave some space on each side of the hood fan if they are planning to install one directly between the cabinets.

This kitchen and family room that I helped my lovely client Deborah with (below) had a beautiful transformation with a new free standing hood fan:

See the entire kitchen here

The cabinets in this kitchen (below) are flat and modern. So, they work well with the straight, modern hood fan. And it looks better alone as well. Of course the juxtaposition of the Parisian inspired traditional moulding is a really pretty design combination too!


Custom, integrated hood fans

Again, this modern stainless hood fan (below) looks great set inside the cabinets. It helps that it looks like a custom fit. It is a nice update on the commercial grade kitchen look that made the stainless chimney hood fan so popular, because it looks more integrated into the overall kitchen design.

Joan Enger via Elle Decor

And, this photo (below) is a good, simple design to replace my reader’s stainless hood fan and integrate it with the cabinets on either side:

Town & Country Living

This farmhouse style hood fan (below) is commonly seen in this style of kitchen. It’s a modern rustic take on the custom hood fan.

BHG | Photography by Brie Williams

And, since the farmhouse/black and white trend came along, hood fans have become even more of a design feature than they were throughout the grey trend. This is partly because the farmhouse look moved away from the harder edged professional industrial kitchen look that was big for at least a decade, and towards a warmer look.

Hood fans are a focal point in your kitchen design.

Trends aside, the most important reason to give your range hood design careful consideration, and some space in the budget, is that it is usually the focal point of a kitchen.

Along with island pendants, which are the jewelry of the kitchen, the hood fan defines the personality of the room that is the heart of the home. Cooking is the main event and and the hood fan sets the tone.

This means that, with some very contemporary exceptions, the practical stainless chimney hood will likely look a bit standard and lacklustre – especially crammed in among transitional upper cabinets. The new trend towards custom, integrated hoods, while admittedly more spendy, is about solving the issue of a visual let down right at the heart of your kitchen.

Hope this helps you choose the right range hood fan for your kitchen design!

PS. If you already have a stainless hood fan (just like I did) just style your kitchen and you’ll stop noticing all those things that aren’t perfect. Perfect is boring anyway.

If you need help creating a kitchen that fills you with happiness when you walk in, check out our kitchen eDesign package here.

Related posts:

Which Shape is Correct for your Kitchen Island?

Could a Scandinavian Eat-in Kitchen be For You?

The No-Backsplash Alternative to Subway Tile; Before & After

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  • MARY says:


  • Carol says:

    What do you recommend for those of us who have an island cooktop. We are nearing the final stages of our remodel, and had planned to paint to hood fan to a steel blue with stainless trim. We can’t hide the fact that a huge fan is over our island, and we can’t afford a 4000+ designer island fan.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Carol, you are in a custom world for sure. This post was basically for the reader who was about to order a standard, stainless hood fan for their kitchen reno 🙂 It’s hard to comment on your kitchen without photos. Maria

  • Bette says:

    I prefer the modern versions, including your reader’s. The curve of her hood fan is perfectly replicated in the curve of her small island. I think her kitchen is beautiful and she should enjoy it, as is.

    • Maria Killam says:

      It is a lovely kitchen and yes we are splitting hairs on analyzing the hood fan, it was generous of her to ask this question that helps everyone! Maria

  • Lucy says:

    A lot of times it depends on the space and size of one’s kitchen. For instance you wouldn’t want the fan to be so dominate that it is out of balance with the rest of the rroom. I like a more integrated look whether it be clad or stainless. Proportion is so important! I have been in model homes where all you can notice is the fan. The designer is trying to be trendy but didn’t consider how overpowering it would be. You have taken that all into consideration and the result was stunning!

  • Liz in Oregon says:

    I much prefer the stainless hood in that beautiful kitchen (sorry about the streak stains…so much for “stainless”!). I have a stainless curved fan too, but with a round chimney. Her kitchen is very similar to mine, except that our stovetop is on the counter between our kitchen and open plan dining room/living room, so the fan isn’t between cabinets. I really like the curved design. If I were the reader, I’d keep it.

  • Missi says:

    We’ve been going back and forth debating what we’ll do in our kitchen as well..we don’t have upper cabinets, so seems like no matter what we do, there’ll be just something random on that wall. Better to be stainless or wood over it, painted cabinet color? Six of one half dozen of the other maybe.

    • Maria Killam says:

      It does depend on the style of your kitchen! This post is for the reader who was just about to automatically order a standard, stainless hood fan. Maria

  • Anne Elise Hudson says:

    I have a soft spot for those big vintage hoods, sort of a half circle. I’ve seen them in a bunch of different era kitchens, most recently a C.1960s kitchen remuddle in a magnificent 1860s house. not quite industrial, often painted, but indisputably 20th century.

  • Lynne says:

    I love the reader’s existing fan but agree that it doesn’t look quite right hemmed in by cabinets. I like your suggestion of a fan concealed in cupboard which matches her existing cabinetry.

  • Anne-Marie says:

    I agree with Liz–I would leave the reader’s hood as is. It doesn’t look intrusive or out of place; it’s an appliance, and it matches the other appliances. It’s not out of scale. Its curve keeps that wall of the kitchen from being a long bank of rectangles, and it ties in with the rest of the kitchen (the curves pendants, stools, and island). I might introduce something curved onto the window wall–maybe along the top of the window.
    But for someone starting a reno, your ideas are lovely, Maria.

  • Liz says:

    Thx so much Maria for choosing my ? to answer! It’s hard to ‘unsee’ the imperfections now 😉 And thx to other readers for weighing in 🙂

    I absolutely encourage people to have a consult w Maria b4 settling on decisions for your reno or new build — we’re in our ‘new build’ 11 yr’s now & while we do love & enjoy our home, the things that bug me, … still bug me :/

    I think for now I’ll do the ‘style to distract fm the imperfections’ thing, but this is good info to have, thx again xx

  • Michelle says:

    Last year I did a kitchen reno. Thanks to Maria’s color boards and her class I love the way the kitchen turned out. I struggled with the hood conundrum and never thought to ask for help. The hood fan would be the first thing you see as you walk in the front door. I opted for a fan in the ceiling. It’s flush with the ceiling, It works surprisingly well and is super easy on the eye, as in I don’t even see it. All the options I saw were either going to be something I bumped my head on while cooking or was going to be the center of attention in the kitchen. JenAir was not an option as it would take up too much below counter space. I didn’t want that. The ceiling fan is another option for extractor fans in the kitchen. It would be ideal if the cooktop were on the island.

  • Ann Crutchfield says:

    Maria, I feel like you wrote this just for me. We’re in the process of buying a new range and (yesterday) I was looking at hood fans! I’m hoping that one of your next posts will be on appliance color. Are white appliances ‘out’? What’s with all the new color variations of stainless? I’ve always bought white appliances, so a refrigerator from brand “A” a range from brand “B” and a dishwasher from brand “C” would look ok together. But if white appliances make my kitchen look dated, do I need to switch to stainless? Are the undertones of stainless the same for brands “A”, “B” and “C”?

  • Kristin says:

    Maria, I would love your thoughts on timeless bath tubs. I really like the modern version of the freestanding tub that is out there right now, but is this considered a trend?
    Right now I have a huge monstrosity of a jetted tub from the Tuscan phase and would like to update it.

  • marina says:

    Hi Maria,

    OHH, I’ve never paid attention to the hood fans, because it requires big kitchen and the owners should have a good taste to place it in such a way that it looks good.. 🎨 I also don’t cook much .. 🍔😛 But I realise that one day I will need it in my kitchen and I will only buy the designer hood, which is beautiful and has the interesting shape.. 😃❤️️ Of course I like the writer’s stainless steel hood, mostly because it’s on the same page with other elements and has a glass detail..💎 And I feel that the designer hood can be bossy, as it adds beauty to the kitchen .. 🏡😍😍😍

  • Diana says:

    Thanks for the hood advice!

    Will your e-design packages be available again once you’ve hired someone? I was just about to purchase a package, but it now says sold out. 😥

    • Maria Killam says:

      They aren’t all sold out, you can still buy the kitchen package. The smaller packages are because we are too busy right now yes! Not sure when they will open up again hopefully soon. Maria

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