The least-fun thing to think about when designing a kitchen? Our vote goes to the range hood, that hardworking, often noisy machine that can hog precious space and ruin sight lines. That’s why we were excited to see a new, discreet option starting to appear in open kitchens with center islands. Meet the ceiling-mounted surface vent. Blink and you might not even notice it.
Above: In place of an intrusive ceiling hood, this setup has an inset stainless-steel-framed vent over a stainless steel island from German kitchen systems masters Bulthaup–island and cabinets are from Bulthaup’s B2 line. (See Good Küchen: 9 German Kitchen Systems for more details.)
What are these vents?
They’re remote-controlled hoods that are inset in ceilings, so that only a stainless-steel frame and panel (often of dark glass detailed with lights) is visible. Positioned directly over a cooktop, the vents, like all hoods, are there to absorb cooking odors and grease. Available in a range of rectangular sizes and increasingly popular in Europe, these unobtrusive versions are just starting to make inroads in the US.
Above: To decrease the distance between stovetop and vent, a Siemens ceiling-mounted recessed hood is set in a soffit in this newly remodeled kitchen belonging to Norwegian blogger Nina of Stylizimo.
Where do they work–and what’s the catch?
The majority of these vents are ducted to the outside, so in most cases, you need to be in a house to have one in your kitchen. (On top of venting considerations, many states have strict requirements for the amount of “makeup air” channeled in in proportion to what goes out, and not all recessed ceiling vents are strong enough to meet these codes. Local appliance specialists can fill you in on the details.)
For a ceiling-mounted recessed kitchen vent to be most effective, it needs to be larger than the cooktop that’s under it–for a 36-inch cooktop, for example, use a 42- or 48-inch hood–and to be close enough to do its job: The ideal distance between ceiling vent and stovetop varies, but for optimal effectiveness, Matt Avery of Faber tells us no more than four feet is recommended.
If you have a powerful commercial-style range and do a lot of frying, one of these models isn’t likely to do the trick. But if you do regular cooking and there isn’t a great distance between stove and vent–a too tall ceiling can be remedied by inserting the vent into a soffit–this open-plan option may be the perfect problem solver.
Above: A recessed hoods draws steam in a Corian model kitchen in the UK.
Who makes ceiling-mounted recessed vents?
Are there other unobtrusive kitchen vent options?
Yes, under-the-cabinet hoods are another popular choice (and can work in apartments) as are downdraft hoods, that rise in the back of the range at the press of a button. The latter, we’re told, work particularly well with induction cooktops.
Above: A Miele stainless steel Extractor Unit with dimmable halogen lights is neatly incorporated in a shelf over a cooktop. Its price, $1,699, including external blower, is in the ballpark for most ceiling vent brands.
Go to our Kitchen Appliance posts for more advice, including:
- Design Solution: Industrial Kitchen Vents as Decor
- 8 Rustic Wood-Clad Vent Hoods
- Decoding BTUs: How Much Cooking Power Do You Really Need?
- 10 Easy Pieces: Best Appliances for Small Kitchens