Everyone has a “dream kitchen”, but have you really thought of what yours should look like? To paraphrase Julia Child, if you design your kitchen correctly the first time around, you won’t ever have to worry about it again. Planning your perfect kitchen starts with making a wish list of the things you want; the more you plan, the closer you will come to realizing your dream. Below are some extra tips on making that list.
What do You Want from Your Kitchen?
The first step is about discovering your personal style using resources like magazine photos, idea books and blogs. Your collection can be neatly laid out like a photo album, or it can be totally random. Many people get overwhelmed when they have to make too many decisions at once–but no one said you had to! Add inspiring images to your folder without giving them too much thought; you can always go over the details later.
Now is a good time to start looking for an architect or a designer if it’s within your budget. Some hire a designer to help with the inspiration process, but many do it themselves. Think of who will be using your kitchen–will you do the majority of your entertaining there, or do you have a separate dining room for that? Do you have children who like to cook? These questions are important to consider when you’re deciding what you want in your new kitchen.
Plan a Kitchen Layout
Assess your current kitchen. What do you like, and what drives you crazy? Consider each area, from food preparation to cleanup. Your remodel will go much easier if you have an idea of what goes where. Below are some questions to ask when deciding on the layout of your new kitchen:
- How many sinks will you need?
- Do you need water filtration?
- How much food prep space do you need?
- Do you have enough room to cook for a crowd?
- How big is your refrigerator, and is there room for a larger model?
- Is there enough storage for dry goods, dishes, appliances and cookware?
- Do you need a pantry?
- Is there enough room for waste disposal?
- Is your kitchen easily accessible or can you get out in case of fire?
- What type of doors do you want?
- Are your walkways too narrow?
- Can you easily maneuver between the sink, stove and refrigerator (the work triangle)?
- What type of appliances do you want, and where will you put them?
- Is there enough countertop space for small appliances?
- Can you store those appliances in cupboards?
- Can you easily access cookware, utensils and cookbooks?
- Do you want an eat-in kitchen?
- Do you want a dishwasher, and where will it go if you do?
- Can you easily reach the trash can from the food prep area?
- Do you want a place to put a computer and a desk?
- Do you want to add conveniences like a coffee bar or washer/dryer?
Designing Your Kitchen
If you’re designing a home from scratch or remodeling your existing home, your kitchen’s design is important to the home’s overall usability. Most people consider the kitchen to be a gathering point, and a well-designed kitchen can greatly increase your home’s resale value. Below are some tips to help you design a kitchen that adds usefulness and value to your home.
- Consider how it works with the rest of your home. In an older home, a wall typically separates the kitchen and living area, but today’s homes have floor plans that are more open. You should also consider the sink and stove’s location in relation to the rest of the room; try to avoid designs that have the cook always standing with their back turned.
- Location, location, location. Placement is important here; how do you use the rest of your home? If you have a patio to use for dining and entertaining, you should put the kitchen nearby. Proper placement will make it easier to bring food and serveware in and out.
- The “triangle”: All homes should have a functional kitchen. When planning your layout, you should consider the distance between the sink, stove and refrigerator; it shouldn’t be more than nine feet between any of the three. Create a triangle between the three components, and try to avoid obstructions within this area. If there’s space, try to keep traffic paths out of the area, and place the fridge on the outer end if possible.
- Where do you plan to eat? Not all homes have space for a formal dining room. You can include an island in your kitchen that has an overhang, perfect for bar stools. Peninsula bars are another great option; either way, you should consider installing cabinets to increase your storage space.
- Pantry storage: You can make a framed pantry with a door that matches the rest of your home, but tall cabinets are a good option if your space is limited. When deciding on pantry size and placement, you should also consider the amount of counter space available. A good layout includes a balance of work and storage areas.
Select a Kitchen Designer
Some people need help just getting started, and some need assistance from the project’s beginning to its end. The questions below will help you choose the kitchen designer that’s right for your home.
- How many options will you offer? Three or more is ideal; with just one or two choices, the designer likely has a narrow vision. You and your designer need to see the space as it CAN be–or else you’ll end up regretting your choices later.
- How long will the project take? Do they make the schedule, or do you have control? The answer to this question will tell you whether the designer’s expectations fit with yours.
- Can I see samples of your work? Ask to see a mix of proposed designs and completed kitchens. In many cases, a designer’s clientele may stick to a certain “style”, but the designer may have other design ideas that fall outside the norm.
- Do you keep up with developments in your industry? Does your designer go to home shows and conventions, or subscribe to industry magazines? There are a lot of ways to keep up with the ever-changing world of kitchen design.
- Have you been in business for a while? Like most other industries, experience is a good thing.
- Are you mobile? Is your designer available to meet on-site or on shorter notice? Can they chat via computer or phone? Accessibility and mobility are important during the design and implementation process.
- Do you offer cost alternatives or one set cost? If you’ve already gotten an estimate, will your designer tell you about any deviations during the design process–and provide lower-cost options? You should also ask about payment scheduling.
- How is labor handled? Can you use your own electrician and plumber, or the designer’s company? Freedom of choice is important, but so is teamwork.
- Are you responsible for the entire project? Will your designer be there from beginning to end? If someone else will have principal responsibility, you should meet that person.’
When redesigning your kitchen, you hope nothing goes wrong–but there’s always the potential for error. During the selection process, you should ask about the design firm’s policies. Find out who’s responsible when something goes wrong, and choose the company that has the most balanced plan for all likely scenarios. There are many other questions you could ask, but those listed above are the most important, and cover the majority of issues you’ll face.
Title Image Credit: 8-BALL