Kitchen Design Basics - It's All Good!

Everyone loves kitchens! The design process, the materials (so many materials), the colors, textures; it's a remodeling adventure equivalent to your recipe with the longest ingredients! And, it is easy to be overwhelmed with the ...

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Everyone loves kitchens! The design process, the materials (so many materials), the colors, textures; it's a remodeling adventure equivalent to your recipe with the longest ingredients! And, it is easy to be overwhelmed with the entire design process, no doubt. So, let's break it down...and focus!

My First Piece Of Advice Is: Forget The Advice

Put aside the advice, not from your design professional, who cares about your life in the kitchen, but from family, friends, coworkers, anyone who uses the word "should" in regard to your kitchen plans. Watch that word "should!" Consider what others have to say, yes...but remember one thing: Do not think in terms of a "right way" or "wrong way." Ultimately, you must do what is right for you, and no one else.

Who Works In The Kitchen And What Do They Do?

Think about a typical week. Who is in the kitchen? When do they each use the kitchen and what do they use it for? Who is the main cook? Is there an assistant cook? An occasional recreational chef such as a spouse or child? Does one or more do homework or other projects in the kitchen? What activities take place in the kitchen?

To design your kitchen, it is important to understand the full range of activities that take place, and when they take place. Do you need separate work stations? A second sink, a larger island, a separate coffee station or grilling spot? The goal is to design your kitchen so that it can be "expanded" when other people arrive to do their chosen, or assigned, tasks, with minimum disruption to those working in the kitchen.

Survey Your Storage

Take a good look at your existing items stored in the kitchen. Do you really need it all? This is a critical piece to evaluate, as your kitchen design depends partially on just how much storage you will plan for. Do you want a modern, minimalist design? Do you want much larger windows, which will eliminate wall cabinets? Or, can you not part with your kitchen possessions? Know yourself and your storage needs. It impacts on your design!

And, cabinetry? What can you afford vs. what do you love? Do you have an interest in eco-friendly cabinetry? Look at as many showrooms as you can to become familiar with typical levels of quality and cost. And, remember, your cabinetry looks and functions only as good as the designer who designs it. This is a most critical piece to remember. It is not so much about cost, it is about the creativity of your designer. Your investment will be enhanced in value with a good designer. Search for a talented designer who you feel comfortable with as well. You will be glad you did!

Sitting and Standing

Be very aware of your aisles and traffic flow. Where are potential traffic tie-ups? Which appliances force one to cross a major traffic pattern? Is the island designed too close to a doorway? Time of day and traffic flow have everything to do with good kitchen design. Your dining area should also be of comfortable size to allow people to easily move in and away from the table. Designing an eating area that is too tight will cause a feeling of confinement, perhaps not conducive to lingering around the table, chatting, after dinner or just to gather at. Island seating should have adequate space between seats and space behind the chairs for traffic to move past.

Appliance Angst

Be careful when you look at appliances, they can be very sexy! They will beckon to you and not let you out of their grasp! Even now, the large, commercial appliances send a message that only a "real" chef need apply. Which, of course, is a challenge to all who cook. You will need to consider if your appliances will do the "talking" in your kitchen or if they will be mostly unobtrusive or even hidden. When you enter the kitchen, do you want to feel that yours is a serious chef's working kitchen, or, rather, a comfortable environment to spend time in, and by the way, where are the appliances? Or something in between?

Secondly, spend time learning about all of the current models and features and most of all, the incredible design flexibility that appliances are offering now. New appliances include a coffee station, high speed ovens, new sizes for dishwashers and under counter refrigerators, wine storage in every size imaginable, and much more. Take time to become aware of new appliances and their dazzling technology!

The Kitchen Catwalk

Design the "look" of your kitchen. First, take a look at your home. What is your style? What is the architectural language of your home, it's theme? Use that as inspiration, then look deeper...consider your taste in color, texture, decorative details. What style of furnishings do you have? What makes sense? What do you want to "drive" your design? You need not be a purist with one style. An eclectic look can be exciting and innovative. Modern, sleek, kitchens can coexist beautifully with rough textures. Collect images of kitchens that "speak" to you. Most of all, be open to new ideas.

Take Your Time

Take your time (there is no substitute) throughout the entire process, make each decision carefully, and reevaluate from time to time. There are literally hundreds of decisions to make! Be focused, and most of all, have FUN! It's really all good, isn't it?

Susan Serra, CKD
Susan Serra Associates, Inc.