The kitchen is the heart of every home. We spend more active time in our kitchens than almost any other room in the house, and these days so many kitchens are connected to open-plan living spaces. There are a lot of factors to consider when building a new home and designing a functional kitchen. When it comes to renovating a kitchen, many of us worry too much about the aesthetic, and not enough about the functionality. From the placement of your bin to the overhang of your breakfast bar, here are some practical things to keep in mind when designing your kitchen. We decided to gather a few of those expert designers together and ask them all one question:
What are the top 3 things to consider when designing a new kitchen?
Their responses were incredibly valuable and insightful, and I’ve listed them all below.
Kate Riley - Centsationalgirl.com
Have a lighting plan! Kitchens need task lighting above but also ambiance, that's where stylish pendants over an island or sink are important. And always use dimmers! Good kitchens also have a floor plan that makes sense - the work triangle is necessary. Kitchens are costly to remodel, so choosing timeless quality finishes is essential.
Patricia Davis Brown - Digthisdesign.net
1. A kitchen is the most intricate room in a house design and deserves the attention from a professional. This will be the best money you ever spent. A lot goes into a kitchen design and a professional design will help you avoid unwanted problems and make sure everything is planned out.
2. Lighting is so important in the kitchen and it is usually the last thing anyone thinks about. You want to make sure it is thought about in the design phase. There should be three layers of lighting zones, general, task and ambiance.
3. Do your research on the latest trends. You don’t want to build a new kitchen and have it look a decade old.
Sarah-Jean Ballard - Thefashionablehousewife.com
As a mom of 4, I think an important thing to consider is ease of cleaning. Be it the floors, the cabinets, the backsplash, or the walls, think about kitchen disasters and how you would clean them. Stone floors are beautiful, till you drop a plate on them and it shatters. Ornate cabinets are lovely until someone splashes marinara sauce on it and you need a toothbrush to clean it out of the cracks. How easy each thing will be to clean would definitely be at the forefront of my mind if I was planning a new kitchen.
Alice Chiu - Missalicedesigns.com
It's important to come up with a budget when designing your kitchen because there a lot of line items to consider and everything adds up. If you don't have a big budget and money is tight, prioritize what is most important to you. If you enjoy cooking, then splurge on a nice stove and cut back on cabinets or hardware.
Consider the layout. Does the existing work triangle between stove, sink, and fridge work for you? Do you want to add an island or a peninsula? Anytime you run new plumbing lines, it will add significantly to your budget so keep this in mind. If you are ok with the sink and stove in its current location, then keep it there and splurge on nicer appliances and fixtures.
Lighting is equally as important. Electrical code requirements are constantly changing all the time so I recommend high efficacy lights such as LED recessed lights for general illumination, LED undercabinet lights for task lighting, and LED pendant lights for decorative lights. Put all lights on dimmer switches and stick to cooler color temperatures such as 3000K. If you have white kitchen cabinets and a warmer bulb color such as 2700K, your kitchen cabinets will start to look orange when the recessed lights are on.
Cassie - Cassiefairy.com
Can you fit in a pantry space? If you have an alcove or built-in cupboard in the kitchen, consider adding shelves and using it to store food, supplies and kitchen gadgets that you don't use all the time. This will keep your surfaces clear and provide extra space to store more goods. This will allow you to stock up on non-perishable food when it's on offer and buy supplies in bulk to cut household costs. If you're installing a new kitchen from scratch, a tall larder unit with pull-out shelves will serve the same purpose.
Bonny Ford - Blog.furnishmyway.com
Designing a kitchen is so much fun! Some key things to consider when designing your new kitchen would be:
Functionality - What type of space do you want? Do you want a space with lots of counters for cooking meals and prepping, or are you into hosting and need places for people to sit, stand around, and be entertained? Do you need an island? What types of appliances are must haves for you?
Lighting - Do you have lots of natural light coming into your kitchen? Will you need more lighting to brighten up the space? Are you into funky lighting, chandeliers, pendant lights? How lit do you want your kitchen?
Storage - Will you want lots of closed off cabinets to hide away your dishes and hand appliances, or do you like open shelving? Will you have an island that can act as additional storage, or will it be open as well? Do you have a pantry already, or do you need to add one?
Martyn White - Martynwhitedesigns.com
The main thing to consider when designing a kitchen is the way it will be used. Whilst that sounds incredibly simple, often you see kitchens that have particular types of storage or a layout that is just not acceptable for the user or the space that it is in. Think about the way you use a kitchen, how you prepare food and also how you socialise in the space. This really should dictate the layout and types of surfaces, storage and appliances you will need for the perfect kitchen.
Whilst the look of a kitchen is incredibly important, think about functionality first. It is quite usual to fall in love with a finish or surface that can easily stain or mark. If you are going to be using the kitchen on a regular basis, it needs to be designed to take heavy use. This way, the design will look great and last much longer.
Think about the future - unless you are fortunate enough to update your kitchen like the seasons, you will need something that lasts. Think about how the uses may change in the future, how easily it is to change appliances and if the kitchen is in need of an update, how easy is it to change the doors, worktops, fixtures and fittings, keeping the main frame of the kitchen intact.
Sarah Gibson - Roomfortuesday.com
FUNCTION for the family inhabiting the space.... do they take cooking seriously? Do they appreciate professional appliances? Or maybe they prefer a casual environment where eating at the countertop or in the kitchen is a frequent activity. Considering function first and foremost is always a goal, so space works hardest for the people living there.
AESTHETIC for creating a fresh design, as well as a space cohesive to the rest of the home... it's important to make sure the kitchen feels like an extension of the home and existing architecture. There are so many steps in the design process, but creating a timeless, classic space, that feels unique but belonging is so important.
CABINETRY design... cabinets obviously play a huge role in a kitchen and the cabinetry design plan shouldn't be taken lightly. From door style, color, paint, stain, hardware, and storage... many decisions go into designing custom cabinetry. It's amazing how cabinetry planning and layout can dramatically change the aesthetic and function of a space.
Clare Le Roy - Thelittledesigncorner.com
1. Pick your appliances and think about function first. It's much easier to design a kitchen when you know exactly what you want to fit in it. Do you want double ovens or single? what size cooktop do you want (60cm or 90cm) and will it be induction/electric or gas? Do you want extra luxury appliances like wine fridge, zip tap or insinkerator? Once all of this is known then the designing can commence!
2. Try and go for a timeless design that won't date in 5 years time. Stick with classic colours and finishes and don't try and include too many colours or finishes as this is inevitably what dates a kitchen.
3. Try and think about the most practical parts of your kitchen as well as the pretty things like taps, benchtop and tile choices! Things people often forget are; where to keep the school bags so they don't live at the door - try and create a cupboard especially for school bags, homework trays and sports equipment. Where will the tall things like an ironing board go? Make sure you've got a drawer/cupboard that has power in it so you can charge mobile phones and ipads without them lying around on your bench the whole time. Finally, think through all the kitchen equipment and small appliances you have and make sure there's a place for all of these as you're working with a designer on your home. That way you'll know you've got all the space you need!
Image Credit: Clare Le Roy (designer) and Esteban La Tessa (photographer)
Bess Sturman - Sturmanco.com
You won’t go far wrong if you take time with detailed space planning before you start thinking about style. Readily accessible bins, recycling and enough space for the small appliances you use regularly are easily forgotten. I try to encourage my clients to spend a few days thinking carefully through how they use their kitchen at different times of the day. For example, a dedicated breakfast station (or cupboard) will bring pleasure every morning, particularly for those with a school run in the household.
Next, I go onto the fun bit, which is about finding the right personal style for you. White has been very popular for the last few years, but few kitchens will date well over more than 10 years, don’t be fooled into thinking that today’s “classic” style will never date. As with everything in your home, finding the courage to go with bolder colours will pay dividends by making your kitchen your own. Start with your favourite colour and go from there to introduce interesting accents.
Finally, I would always think about lighting the space well, using different layers of light for different moods and purposes. A good kitchen need a good level of bright light over work surfaces that won’t create shadows, but in the dining area the quality of light needs to create intimacy between friends. Balancing beauty against practicality is the biggest challenge in kitchen design
Ashley Marino - Ashleyrosemarino.weebly.com
When designing a kitchen you'll want to focus on:
1. What the design of the rest of your home is. If you have a very traditional space, you might want to honor that through a white shaker cabinet instead of cabinets with an ultra-modern black hi-gloss finish. Be sure to stay true to the character of your home and keep it consistent!
2. What you'll use your kitchen for. If you're going to be entertaining often, an open kitchen with an island and bar area will be more your style than a narrow galley kitchen. Design with your lifestyle in mind.
3. What you like. If you're designing this kitchen for you and you adore teal glass tiles, go for it. This is your home, so you shouldn't settle for white subway tile because it might be "easier to sell" in the future. If you want something bold and funky, don't be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone to create a space you'll love living in.
Justin Riordan - Spade-archer.com
Plumbing locations. Plumbing is used to get water and natural gas from the street to your kitchen. It is very expensive to move these locations. If you can, keep the stove, and sink in the same location, it will save you a bundle in plumbing, demolition, drywall and flooring expenses.
Style of the house. Your taste doesn’t matter. Let me repeat that… your taste does not matter. If you absolutely love victorian and you live in a mid-century modern you need to install a modern kitchen that fits with the rest of the house. If you decide to buck the system and install a victorian kitchen in a mid-century modern house it will look like an amateur did the work. True enough, all your friends will tell you how much they love it. They really have no pony in this race and no true friend will tell you how awful your kitchen is after you just spent $50,000 on it.
The work triangle. The sink, stove, and refrigerator are the three most important items in a kitchen. They should form a "work triangle". These three items should not be on a single line, but rather 1-2 unobstructed steps apart from each other at varying angles. If you follow this model, your kitchen will function well forever and ever.
Robin Baron - Robinbarondesign.com
There are several things I always take into account when designing a kitchen. First and foremost, it's important to consider how you realistically function in the space. Practicality is always equally as important as the aesthetics, especially in a kitchen. This includes the overall lay-out of cabinets, bearing in mind how you use and move through the kitchen and paying close attention to what appliances and accessories you need. One of the most important design aspects for any kitchen is that there always needs to be a relationship with the design and color palettes of the rooms that surround the kitchen. Having a cohesive flow from room to room is crucial when designing your kitchen.
I always say that great design is in the details, and that holds true in a kitchen. The hardware is a terrific opportunity to make a personal statement. I love using bold hardware...think about the hardware as the jewelry in the room. The cabinet kick plates is a detail that is often overlooked. I like to clad them in stainless, or mirror, to give the cabinets a lighter feeling. You can also make each kitchen unique by mixing materials throughout the kitchen. I often combine stained wood with painted wood or use more than one paint color for cabinets in different areas, as well as incorporating more than one countertop material within the kitchen. And don't be afraid of mixing metal finishes within the space. Feel free to use nickel or chrome cabinet hardware with gold-toned trim on the lighting with a stainless hood with copper trim.
The kitchen is the most important and used room in a home. We all spend more time in, and around, our kitchens than any other room, so make it functional and make it personal. Allow yourself to think about those special touches that makes it special for you!
The Handyman Tips Team - Handymantips.org
The kitchen must be beautiful but it must be functional also. You must plan your design with efficiency in mind. Arrange your new kitchen keeping in mind that you have a functional working triangle. A working triangle is basically a triangle between fridge, stove and the sink.
There are three mainstream designs: G-shape, L-shape or U-shape. The G-Shape features one appliance on each of two walls and the third appliance on a peninsula that separates the work area from an adjoining breakfast area or family room.
The U-shape works best with the sink in the center of the “U” and the fridge at one end of a run of counters to avoid breaking up a work surface. The most common "L" shape setups areas that the fridge is at one end of the long leg of the “L”. The sink is toward the center of the same wall, and the stove is perpendicular, on the short leg of the “L.”
You have to plan your new kitchen within the space you have in your house. If you have a medium or small kitchen you need to choose what you're going leave out in your new kitchen. You can't have a huge island if you can't walk around it, and you can't have 30 cabinets if you have space for 15. Also, plan your appliances according to your cabinets. You can't have a huge fridge and small cabinets. Measure the depth of your cabinets and plan your appliances accordingly.
Flooring and countertops
Don't spend all your money on cabinets and appliances because flooring and countertops are the most important things in your kitchen. Don't be cheap on flooring and countertops because those two are in the usage all the time and they will wear out quickly if you buy cheap low-quality materials. If you want the best choose marble countertops and high-quality porcelain non-slip tiles.
Marina - Marinavdesignstudio.com
As a Feng Shui Interior Designer, the flow of the space is very important to me. And of course, the kitchen always has to be functional so you have to always take into consideration who you are designing for and what their needs are. As for color and textures, that's what really makes the kitchen shine. In this project, we fell in love with that gorgeous backsplash and allowed that be the focal point of this kitchen.
Aida Šniraitė - Authenticinterior.com
Analyse your needs. Try imagining the space and what would you like to include. Do you need a dishwasher? Or a bar? Lots of storage? Do you cook often? How many meals do you prepare every day? Or do you eat more outside? Do you have a family or do you live alone? Do you need a lot of storage? Take notes, write everything down or if you’re having difficulties take a short but comprehensive design session online from your favourite designer who would analyze your needs. With this kind of analysis, you could DIY. This would save you tons of time and money.
Layout & Measure. The most important things to consider is to analyze the space and take measurements from top to bottom including dimensions, windows, ceilings height, any alcoves, and doors in order not to miss important storage possibilities. If you are out of the budget to hire an interior designer, you can try to measure the space by yourself. Start measuring the space with all its walls, doors, and any niches. Then, draw it carefully on a paper. Do some copies of it (it is better to choose the best kitchen layout from 3 different layouts).
Magic triangle. You should not neglect the space you are going to prepare all the food. This is why it is very important to place refrigerator, stove and sink in a short distance. There should be as little distance as possible, fluid traffic with no obstacles between them.
Megan Morris - Meganmorrisblog.com
I would say lighting, the newer kitchens are light and bright and we try to bring in as much natural lighting as possible. Also, ceiling height. In years past the cabinets only went so far and the tops were used for decorative purposes. Today’s kitchens if ceilings can take it go all the way up for optimal storage and more clean lines. Thirdly, counter/ prep space. Today’s buyers want large kitchen islands. They usually prefer not to have a stovetop in that space but have it clean and clear.
Claire Price - Myhousecandy.com
1) Space - Create a sense of space by reducing opening out the room into the living area as much as possible. Replace wall units with open shelves to create the illusion of space.
2) Light - Include a variety of lighting that you can change to suit how you use the space through the day. For example bright pendants over the food preparation area and wall lights to create a more relaxing mode for the evening.
3) Socialising - Increasingly, the kitchen is the most sociable room in the house. Male space for seating that doesn't interfere with your food preparation area so that you can easily cook and entertain at the same time.
April Russell - Aprilrussell.com
1. Good lighting
2. Space to prep
3. Good reliable appliances to match your budget.
And include the best extractor you can get! There is nothing worse than cooking smells that linger past the cooking stage.
4. BONUS: A spray tap on a hose next or part of your tap above your sink.
5. SUPER BONUS. I would avoid stone or ceramic floors if you use the kitchen a lot. It is very hard on your back!
Lisa Dawson - Lisadawsonstyling.com
Create a space to gather, whether a side of a worktop set aside for eating or a full dining table. I had a tiny kitchen before but I had two stools in the corner so people could chat to me whilst I cooked.
Add greenery. It’s close to the water tap do easy to remember to water and they add an outside inside edge to a utilitarian space.
Add art. I’ve got thrift shop finds on my kitchen shelves alongside more modern typography. This makes it feel more of a room rather than functional.
Martina Pardo - Adesigneratheart.com
Lighting makes all the difference in a kitchen. Make sure to have enough general light (possibly with ceiling spots equally distributed around the kitchen area) as well as task lighting in specified places. For instance, you’ll need an LED strip underneath the kitchen counter and pendants above the island or worktop area. Ideally, all lighting will be on a dimmer.
My second tip is to take your time, consult an expert who will recommend good quality finishes. The kitchen is now considered to be the part of the home with the highest financial value, as Elle Décor Executive Editor Ben Spriggs states in the third volume of ELLE Decoration Kitchens (March 2018). So don’t try to save too much money or time on the design: it’s an investment with a good return.
Last but not least, make your kitchen a social place! Days, where kitchens were totally separated from the rest of the house, are long gone. Now the kitchen is the most multifunctional of areas and it needs to be integrated with the other living spaces. Choose an open kitchen with a stand-alone island which will be a beautiful centrepiece and a smooth separator between cooking and dining areas. If the layout doesn’t allow you to do so, open an internal window to connect the kitchen with your living/dining room. And enjoy your time with friends and family!
Rachel Newcombe - Freshdesignblog.com
A new kitchen can be a pricey home renovation, so it's important to try and get it right when you're designing it. Think about what you do and don't like in your current kitchen and make a list of what you'd like to keep, move or remove completely from the room. Think about how your kitchen will function, the preparation space you need, your storage requirements, whether you want a dining table in the room, what appliances you'd like etc.
If you're changing the layout of your kitchen and find it tricky to envisage how it could work best to maximise the space you have available, it's highly beneficial to hire the services of a designer, or use a free design service.
Don't overlook small details, such as the placement of electrical sockets - so many kitchen gadgets and appliances need to be plugged in you can easily run out of sockets. Err on the side of caution and have an extra couple added just in case!
Lauretta Wright - Homeandhorizon.com
Functionality: Think about how you’ll use the space. Are you a big fan of cooking? Make sure the oven/hob, sink and fridge are easily accessible and form a ‘kitchen work triangle’ to make the best use of space. Don’t forget the small details when designing a layout; for example, where will your bin go if you’re not opting for a bin cupboard? Many people forget about the little things which can cause big issues later on.
Light source: Is your kitchen south-facing or north-facing? When does it get the sun? Taking this into account, choose your colour scheme wisely as it really affects the mood of a space! If it’s generally a darker room, use paler (but warming colours) to decorate and add accessories for pops of colour. If you’re lucky enough to have a room that’s filled with sunshine for most of the day, then you can be a bit bolder with your colour scheme - or opt for ‘cooler’ colours. Go for tester pots and use them before you commit!
A helping hand: Go for the best kitchen gadgets/appliances that you can afford. Don’t scrimp on these tools to get the job done. You’ll be using things like your oven, microwave, fridge, hob etc pretty much every day for years to come, so you’ll need to make sure it’s up for the job. Do your research, read the reviews and make the right choices.
Evija - Fromevijawithlove.com
The most important thing when designing a kitchen is choosing the correct layout that works for you and your family. The best thing to do is speak to a professional kitchen designer and discuss your needs and wishes, it is their job then to achieve the best possible kitchen layout for you! The kitchen must not only be beautiful but also practical, this is especially important if the kitchen is quite small.
The second thing is to have a budget! Invest in key pieces and important things for your kitchen and try to save in other areas that aren't as important. Research different materials and how you could achieve the same look for less.
Last but no least is lighting, consider the natural lighting and plan for various types of lighting around the kitchen that will not only be functional but will also create a great atmosphere.
Conrad Hendrick - Lwk-home.com
Colours choices - when using more than one colour always try and keep the eye level units lighter, keep the Horizontal surfaces light (floors and worktops) and put the bolder, normally darker colour under the worktop level , this way allows you open up the room at eye level while providing a contract for the wow factor.
Spacing around islands - Always work where possible to min of 100 cm gaps around the island, 80-90cm if there is only going to be one person using the space at a time, and if you walking into a room and the island is directly in front of you maybe increase this to 120cm
Always ask your designer for ideas for the room don’t give them a layout give the just the room outline and let them design the space.
Pippa Jameson - Pippajamesoninteriors.co.uk
Functionality is just as important as the style. The kitchen needs to be sympathetic to your lifestyle and designed accordingly. If you all love to cook and hang out in the kitchen, make sure you have some kind of breakfast bar or sofa so that the social element isn't lost when one person is cooking or prepping.
Workspace - Don't overlook the amount of worktop you need. I often see large kitchens that only have a miniscule amount of prop space.
Storage - This is key for a kitchen, utilise your space well and ask a designer to plan the layout for you.
Donna Ford - Skirtingboardsandchandeliers.com
1. Lighting. We have designed a large range of lighting for the kitchen so we can really control the different moods in there. Obviously, we have some spotlights in the ceiling and pendants over the dining table and island. We are putting in two industrial-style wall lights as well as down lighting in the upper cupboards. Besides all this we are creating a bar area between two pillars with glass shelves and will use strip lighting to make the bottle and glasses glow (I know!) and on some wooden shelves at the other side of the room we are planning to place some table lamps for a cosier look near the dining table. And the beauty of all this is that it can all be controlled by the dimmer switches on the wall! So we can entertain and have friends over or be well equipped for some baking with the kids in the dark winter afternoons.
2. Style. I think it's helpful to think about the type of kitchen you are going for. If you're going for a shaker style kitchen then you may want to incorporate more farmhouse accessories like copper pans or a belfast sink and likewise, if your cupboards are glossy white the general feel of the kitchen will be much more modern and contemporary. Whilst it's possible to mix and match periods and styles in other rooms I think the kitchen with all it's complicated arrangements and functions for cater for, it needs to know what it's trying to be.
3. Colour. Why are we so frightened to go colourful in the kitchen? I know all the components are expensive and we don't want to hate the finished result by going too crazy with the paintbrush but personally, I find monochrome or cream kitchens so dull and uninviting It's refreshing the return to dark colours again and you can add colour either to the walls or cupboards doors as well. DeVOL are coming out with some great designs with turquoise and even incorporating pink into their schemes and if you're really brave go for a colourful cooker! If you want to play it on the safe side, then some colourful artwork can make a great addition to liven up the space.
Rani - Lamaisonjolie.com.au
While there are many things one should consider when designing a new kitchen, a couple of important points to remember are to consider design trends that will remain in style even in a decade's time since redesigning your kitchen with changing styles just isn't realistic. For those who like a stylish yet neutral colour palette, consider concrete benchtops and cabinets that are emerging as a major trend in 2018. Concrete adds heaps of visual interest and tactile texture along with being low maintenance and sturdy and of course a colour scheme that is neutral enough to stand the test of time. Complimentary matte black or brass tapware add to the overall sophisticated designer look. If you are drawn to a more bolder colour palette, look at using it as a feature. Remember to offset it with softer shades, whites, natural timber, indoor plants and balance with texture.
Also consider the placement of the bench top, the sink, and your cooking range. Take time to understand the space and follow the principle of the golden triangle to create a smoother and seamless workflow.
Jenna Crotty - Homewarehuntress.com
Don't be afraid to be brave. I went with Dulux's Hepburn blue - it's bright, strong, happy, and definitely not boring!
Coordinate your appliances. My toaster, kettle, and stand mixer are all matte black - this is not an accident!
Be generous with worktop space. Give yourself enough room to have at least two large chopping boards side by side.
Michiel Perry - Blacksouthernbelle.com
Functionality: How do you plan on using this space? Do you plan on hosting big dinners, cooking every day or storing takeout meals? A stylish kitchen is great but functionality is extremely important above all.
Size: How do you live your life? Do you want to spend a lot of time cleaning a large kitchen or would you prefer a small space with big design? A large kitchen comes with a lot of clean up when renovating you want to achieve your dream kitchen and be sure to include the size in mind.
Budget Within Reason: Think about your must-haves and what you can do without when renovating your kitchen. Everyone has a budget in mind whether big or small and the best way to make sure you maintain budget and get your dream kitchen is to know what you truly need in your renovation versus what is just a want.