By: Michael A. Thomas, FASID, CAPS
The Design Collective Group Inc.
The kitchen is an important component of any home and getting it arranged properly to make the most of the space is critical. A kitchen can be filled with beautiful materials and high styled appliances but if the layout and space doesn't function as intended, it won’t be successful.
And because creating a new kitchen takes a lot of time, energy and dollars to get it just right, it makes good sense (and cents) to plan the kitchen on paper by first considering how you plan to use it before you think about how it will look.
We came up with five questions that can form the framework around which your design plans will develop. Grab a pencil and jot down the answers to the following:
(1) What types of cooking do you plan to do in your new space?
While cooking is a daily necessity for most, others look at it as a place to develop their culinary skills while, others see the kitchen as a space for entertaining. And if you do entertain, consider how you use the area… a casual affair or for a more a formal gathering?
(2) Who else may be using the space with you?
Consider the three critical tasks of prep, cook and clean-up and then think about the traffic patterns that you need in order to keep from crossing paths with others. Too many cooks can indeed spoil the broth when there are many in the same space. And if you entertain frequently or hire a caterer for special events, you might need an abundance of counter space.
(3) How long will you be in this residence?
A great kitchen that is both functional and attractive can provide you with a great return on your investment (more than any other room in the house), but kitchens can also be an arm and a leg. So in your budgeting, be cautious that you don’t over-design since you may not recoup the dollars spent. Consider the resale values of your neighbors and review what others may be doing to update their space. You might also speak with a real estate agent to provide some guidance.
(4) Which appliances are needed and which might be a luxury?
Cook tops, refrigerators, microwaves and ovens will make up the single largest expense in any kitchen. But while other kitchen equipment like a warming oven or a second dishwasher may seem like a luxury to some, it may be essential to you based on your specific needs, so identify what you might like to have and set aside a few dollars for any special piece of equipment at the beginning of your project.
(5) Do you, a member of your family or anyone who may visit have special needs due to a mobility issue?
Plan your kitchen to have added functionality. For instance, use handles instead of knobs, design cabinetry with full extension drawers and additional lighting can help everyone but may be really important to those who might be elder or have a physical impairment.
With answers to these questions in hand, your next step is to bring in the professionals. An interior designer or a kitchen planner who has a thorough understanding and wealth of experience in creating great kitchen spaces will be an important key to your success and to that of your kitchen.
And where do you start? Start by giving us a call. (760) 322-3784
Sandy + Jim Rodgers
12/9/2015 07:30:52 am
Michael... your questions are good and thoughtful. But I just want to give my kitchen an easy update without taking out all of the cabinets and getting new appliances. I don't think Jim and I could deal with the stress of a full remodel. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
12/9/2015 09:29:27 am
Sandy... Here are a few things you can do. We recently did a "face-lift" of an existing kitchen that was actually quite functional but looked dated and was "dark." We changed the drawers and doors using an awesome walnut thermofoil finish and added new stainless steel over-scaled pulls for a sparkle.
12/9/2015 06:10:12 pm
I was wondering if you have any special styles you like to work with? I mean do you prefer traditional cabinetry or something more modern? We are thinking that our kitchen is in need of a major transformation and just don't know what kind of style we should be going for. Thanks for any direction.
Michael A Thomas
12/9/2015 06:19:01 pm
James... I don't really specialize in one certain style tho' it seems that my clients are more contemporary than traditional... perhaps because they generally have houses that are clean and simple, rather than ornate. But it should not be about what any designer might like... it should be about what you find yourselves attracted to. In any event, I do feel that a kitchen should "feel" like to belongs to the house.
Sammy + Janice
12/9/2015 06:32:21 pm
I read the comment from Sandy about wanting a kitchen update. Do you think just getting new appliances will help or should I be doing something else, like new plumbing fixtures? I don't have big bucks to spend but my kitchen sure does need some help. Very sad. At this point, the only think I make in the kitchen is reservations. Ha Ha.
Michael A Thomas
12/9/2015 08:41:00 pm
Sammy + Janice.... Unless the appliances are not functioning (or are finished in avocado green,) getting new ones is probably not necessarily the best way to update your kitchen. Same for plumbing fixtures. Why not plan for new doors on the upper cabinets that are complimentary to the finish on the base cabinets(think -->painted or metal doors,)... perhaps paint a wall in a dramatic - unexpected - color or install tiles as a full height splash.
12/10/2015 07:55:06 am
My kitchen was just redone but it doesn't seem to work well. The appliances are all grouped together on one wall and there isn't sufficient room to set things out and make a decent meal. We spent plenty of money but it is just not right. Any advice?
Michael A Thomas
12/10/2015 07:41:15 pm
Barbara Jo... It is hard to help without having a plan or seeing pictures but I can say is that good kitchen design is about function first and how it looks after... just as with all design projects,... form follows function. Perhaps you might analyze how you cook. "Watch yourself" move about the space and identify what is awkward. Then look at critical areas like storage, counter space and lighting.
Cidny and Brian
8/27/2017 07:28:19 pm
What would you do with a kitchen that is way too small and with no way to expand that we can figure out? We can't really consider moving as we like the area and don't really want to go somewhere else.
Michael Thomas, FASID, CAPS
8/27/2017 07:37:08 pm
Cindy + Brian... small kitchens can be a problem considering how much kitchens and adjacent great rooms are a favorite trend these days. But there are a couple of things you might consider. Take an inventory of all your dishes, pots and pans and determine when was the last time you used it. Excess dishes and such consume large amounts of storage space. Purge those cabinets and you might gain valuable real estate for something else.
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Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.