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Kitchen Design Lessons

Every kitchen I've designed, although all different in style and space, all started with the same issues:

dated finishes not enough storage

not functioning well

poor layout

In every case when I start a project it always starts with the 20 questions!

Although it's obvious that the main function of the kitchen is to cook there are many nuances that go into a good design plan that works specifically for you.

How many cooks in the kitchen?

This is a baseline question because if the answer is more than one, than I have to consider multiple work zones or stations are required to be used at the same time.

Or, it may simply mean we take turns cooking, or we cook with the kids on the weekends, or I want to be able to bake with my grand kids when they come over. All of these answers feed into the plan and each one translates into a different feature of the kitchen that changes as a result.

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In this client's kitchen I added a second sink for prep, with the main sink on the window wall for clean up next to the dishwasher. There's also 46" between them so that two cooks can easily work simultaneously. Sometimes, when there's space, we separate the cook top from the wall oven to ensure lots of space to move around.

Do you like to entertain? If so, how often, and how large a group?

Based on this conversation, I may create an island with bar stools so the cook can be part of the fun or we take down a wall between the kitchen and dining room to open up the entertaining space. I may bring in a free standing credenza or sideboard that can act as a buffet to accommodate frequent large cocktail parties or a small bistro table for small dinner parties for four. For someone that has frequent dinner parties, I may recommend coordination or extension of kitchen cabinetry into an open plan dining space.

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In this client's kitchen (pictured above), I actually removed the raised bar counter on the peninsula because the client's never used it and their top priority was storage. I was able to extend the cabinetry behind the sink to add an additional 7 foot x 12 inches of storage space that was just used for bar stools.


If you have the space, a Butler's Pantry between the kitchen and dining room is the way to go. Leave some shelves open for display and easy access to items you use often. This is also a great place for a small wine fridge.

Do you need to have a dining table in the kitchen?

You may think this is an odd question, but in a small space forgoing a separate table for a large island with required seating could be the best option.

See below Before picture (with table) and After (with seating for 4 at the island).

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This was an IKEA kitchen makeover. See the whole project and details HERE

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Nothing like Black and White and Marble all over to create big drama! Over sized pendants are the right size for an island this large. Keep in mind scale as well as function when designing your space.

What small appliances do you like to use?

Bread maker, toaster oven, food processor, stand mixer, crock pot,

all of these items can be stored out of the way if they are considered up front in the design plan.

Notice a coffee maker was not on the list? In my world this daily use appliance should be out front and center, and space permitting, should be housed in a Coffee Station with lovely mugs, pretty serving pieces and a chocolate shaker for your latte.

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This coffee station would wake up any kitchen! Open shelves above give it a Bistro feeling.

Below is a smart design for a cabinet wall built to hide all the kitchen gizmos.

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Here pocket doors are installed so you can choose to display or hide the appliances. Do you want a desk or computer area?

This is a big one! Almost every client I work with has some requirement for a space to sort mail, pay bills, store paperwork, to place a computer or laptop, store cook books or other books. Depending on the age of the children in the home, this may be the place for homework as well.

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A dedicated area can be built into the design of cabinetry if you plan ahead, even small kitchens can use a practical space like this that may have been otherwise unused.

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These are just some of the basics for planning your kitchen design.

Find all the links to pictures above and lots of great ideas on my KITCHENS board on Pinterest. The most important thing is to give yourself lots of time in the planning stage to consider all your options. Spend time visiting showrooms and looking at lots of pictures so that you can really hone in on your desired style once the practical elements are figured out. Of course, if it all feels overwhelming please contact us for some professional help!


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