Wednesday, October 1, 2014

15 Tips to designing a magazine-worthy kitchen!

No matter how big or elaborate the rest of our homes, the kitchen becomes our de facto gathering area, the warmest place to congregate and entertain. For that same reason, if your kitchen isn’t planned out well or has serious flaws, it can make the cook’s job difficult or be so uncomfortable that your family scatters to other areas of the house. So whether you’re remodeling your present kitchen or redesigning a brand new dream kitchen from the studs, here are 15 tips to make it the best room in the house, worthy of a spread in a home design magazine!

1.         Layout
There are three standard ways to set up the layout of your kitchen. They style that is right for you depends on the shape of your existing kitchen, how often and who will use it, and the balance of functionality versus aesthetics.

-Galley or corridor style.
A galley style kitchen has two straight “runs” on either side of an island or table. Usually, the sink is on one side and the oven range on the other. This is the typical setup for a kitchen that is long but not wide and a perfect rectangular shape.

-U-Shaped Kitchen layout.
U-Shaped kitchens are a product of modern kitchen design, as people need more counter and storage space and ease of movement.

-L-Shaped layout.
An L-Shaped kitchen segregates the work area off the main kitchen space, which is ideal for entertaining guests or family in the kitchen without intrusion of the practical cooking and food prep areas.

2.         The work triangle.
When planning your kitchen, start by laying out the work triangle – that is the placement of stove, sink, and fridge, the most commonly used appliances. It’s recommended they form a rough triangle all within 6’ or less so you don’t have them all lined up on one wall or too far away. Once you have your work triangle carefully planned, the rest of the kitchen will fall into place.

3.         Sink.
Consider a sink that’s bigger and deeper than standard, but no set back so it’s hard to reach. Remember to get it plumbed correctly so the dishwasher fits in beside it. It’s also convenient to have more than one spout or a sprayer, or spigot for filtered drinking water. A sink is well-placed right under the main window in the kitchen. If you have a separate drink preparation area or large island, consider putting in a second, smaller sink.

4.         Fridge.
The refrigerator will probably be the largest continuous single surface in the kitchen. Make sure it’s placed so it won’t stick out too far past the cabinets and the doors have plenty of clearance when opened, even if other drawers are open around it. Have the proper plumbing line installed for an icemaker and water. Even if you don’t have one, you’ll want it if you get a new fridge down the road. While stainless steel is a popular choice for fridges, consider slight surface and design alternatives so it doesn’t dominate the kitchen.

5.         Counter tops.
Think simplicity and practicality when choosing countertops. Too often, people install granite with distracting complex patterns or tile with grout lines that collect dirt and mold. There are many evolutions of synthetic counter tops that look neutral, modern, match with many design styles, and are easy to clean and maintain. You can never have too much counter space but sometimes we design counters way too deep (where no one can reach) or too shallow. Make sure you have countertops around the cook top and beverage counter/bill paying desk, etc. in the kitchen. And don’t forget about the backsplash! Don’t be afraid to install backsplashes with surfaces, textures, patterns, and colors that differ from the countertops, but go well with them, as well as the cabinets.

6.         Islands.
Build an island into your kitchen but don’t make it too big, or too dominated by cabinets underneath – break it up with a wine fridge or that’s a great place for your microwave. Realize that there are two different heights – working counter height and then a height convenient to sit at, so know the purpose of your island. If you expect people to sit there, like a breakfast bar, first pick out the standard height stools you want and make sure they fit in comfortably. If there isn't room for an island, consider a nice butcher block, which can serve the same purpose but be rolled out of the way.

7.         Cabinets.
Too often, people install elaborate and colorful countertops but then very plain (and cheap looking) countertops. But if anything, keep a neutral countertop and go with rich or ornate cabinets, as they are the best place to express your kitchen’s personality. Use fogged or glass doors to break them up and bring in light. These days, they have beautiful cabinets in just about every color, style, and surface you can imagine!

8.         Storage.
Too often, people squeeze so many cabinets into their kitchen but forget other areas for storage, like Lazy Susans, pantries, or taller areas for brooms and the like. Designate one corner of the kitchen for alternative storage cabinets. Also, don’t forget cabinets next to or underneath the sink where the garbage and recycle bin can be retracted so you won’t have to have them sitting out.

9.         Lighting.
A kitchen can never have too much light, but it needs to be in the right place. Consider using mini-canned lighting that you can rotate to focus in different directions, not standard wide canned lightings. Make sure there is sufficient light over the sink, stove, and work areas, but other areas aren’t too bright. The light fixture over your table or island should be your signature piece, so have fun with it but make sure it matches your appliances and other hardware. Install under-cabinet LED lighting to keep everything illuminated.

10.       Appliances.
Like cabinets, appliances are one area you won’t want to skimp. That doesn’t mean you have to over spend on the newest and latest technology, but invest in something you like, that blends well into the kitchen design, and that you’ll use for a long time. Don’t try to salvage the fridge or stove, etc. and replace the other appliances – it’s all or nothing. But to differ the cost, you can sell your old appliances. Come to think of it, make sure your contractor removes your cabinets intact so those can be sold as well. Lay out the correct electric (like 220) and gas lines where your appliances will sit.

11.       Colors.
Don’t be afraid to use some bold colors in the kitchen, but make sure they work well with the counter tops, cabinets, appliances, and flooring. If you’re going with bold and colorful elements, you might want to tone down the walls to neutral beiges, off whites, etc. Remember that there usually aren’t large open spaces on the kitchen walls because wall space is chopped up.  

12.       Range hood.
Consider the range hood when you are both picking out the cooktop range and also your signature lighting piece over the kitchen table or island. Match them up the surfaces and styles so they compliment each other. A good range hood isn’t cheap but it will be worth it as it ventilates the kitchen effectively and quietly.

13.       Flooring
Like countertops, the right flooring isn’t just about how it looks but its practicality. Standard tiles have grout that can look aged and dingy after a while. Hardwood floors look great but are susceptible to damage if water gets on them and they’ll wear out in higher-traffic areas. Some natural stones are not a good fit for kitchens because they have many pours that can accumulate junk and they need to be constantly resealed. Choose a flooring material that is non-slip, easy to maintain, and easy to clean but still neutral enough to blend into the rest of the room.

14.       Transition.
The most beautiful kitchen in the world will still look awkward if it doesn’t blend well into the adjoining rooms. So make sure you consider the style and design of neighboring areas and make it a smooth, gradual transition so it’s not even noticeable to the eye.

15.       Personality.

Why is it you’ll personalize every other room of the house with family photos, artwork, and personal memorabilia, but our kitchens end up the most generic room in the house? Reverse that trend by warming and humanizing your kitchen with personal affects. Get creative and treat your kitchen like your own personal restaurant, complete with its unique personality and motif!


  1. Hey, thanks for giving me an idea. This is very helpful for me. I'll try this on my home in house and lot for sale in Cavite. Thank you very much for sharing!