HGTV's Hilary Farr Has A Genius Electrical Outlet Tip For Small Kitchens

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If you have a small kitchen, you know the struggle of having a lack of counter space. And along with that comes the lack of usefully placed outlets. These two issues combine to make cooking and food prep frustrating. Hilary Farr, the host of HGTV's "Tough Love with Hilary Farr" offers small kitchen owners a clean solution — pop-up electrical outlets hidden in the countertop! Aside from its cute factor and space-saving benefits, if you're planning a kitchen renovation, this feature could also add value when you sell your home.

A pop-up outlet is one or more electrical outlets that are mounted below your kitchen countertop. A qualified electrician will come in and skillfully remove a piece of countertop, install the unit, and then replace the countertop piece he removed, effectively hiding the plug from view when it's not in use. Your plug can either rise straight up, like a magician making a dramatic entrance from under the stage or poke up at an angle. Some people also install USB ports next to the plugs in order to recharge phones.

Reasons to get pop-up outlets

Some kitchen countertops are built below windows, making it difficult to place a sufficient number of outlets. Or some wall outlets on the backsplash might be poorly designed. Even though technically you can plug in your appliance, it can be hard to work comfortably because of where it's positioned, like next to the stovetop. You don't need your stand mixer sitting half on and half off your range top while you're mixing cake batter. And many kitchen appliances have deliberately short cords to prevent accidents — you want to be able to use them without strain.

Many contemporary kitchens have electrified islands where cooks can plug in, say, a crockpot and let it slow-cook dinner for eight hours. Many island outlets are placed on the side and this can be a real safety hazard. Someone walking by can catch the cord, causing the appliance to fall, or, worse, a small child (or pet) can pull it. Aside from creating more safety, a pop-up also reduces the look of cord clutter.

For a recent client's renovation, Hilary Farr's addition of pop-up outlets to a tiny kitchen solved both space and aesthetic issues. During the job, to maximize space and light, Farr rearranged the countertops and windows, but then there was no longer room for traditional wall outlets. When spotting the pop-ups for the first time at the post-reno reveal, Farr's client Bryan shared (via Realtor.com), "Oh, my god, this thrills me."

Code requirements and resources

Anything involving electricity, proper grounding, capacity, circuits, and how many outlets are required within specific square footage are all tightly regulated. The codes that electricians need to adhere to differ between kitchen countertops and an island, which have separate requirements. Also, while there are national code regulations in the U.S., codes not only differ from state to state but even from county to county. That's why you'll want to make friends with a local electrician with a great reputation so he can expertly sort through the requirements needed for your home. And remember, pop-ups are meant for small appliances like coffee makers and hand-held blenders, not energy-chomping refrigerators or microwaves.

Pop-up outlets are available to purchase on Amazon, like this one for $64. We recommend that you see what's available and view the different models as a form of preliminary research. Once you've familiarized yourself with the options, speak to your electrician and let them make recommendations before you purchase anything.

When Realtor.com asked Hilary Farr for general advice about what room homeowners should renovate first, she said, "The kitchen would be an obvious one. If it doesn't function and you have a terrible time trying to produce meals and you certainly don't enjoy the process either, you would tackle that room for sure." Pop-up outlets could potentially make a kitchen renovation really sing, bringing more ease and value into a space you use daily.