Lowcountry Modern

Four Considerations for Designing or Renovating Your Kitchen

Kitchen renovation with sitting room extension.

Whether you plan on updating your existing kitchen or designing one as part of a new home, getting the design right is usually a top priority on any homeowner’s requirements.

In either scenario, designing a kitchen to fit your lifestyle is a significant undertaking. Getting it right requires balancing your wish list with feasible options and a realistic budget. Working with an architect will allow you to evaluate the different possibilities available where your wishes, options, and budget intersect.

Addressing the four considerations below will help you clarify your priorities and more easily communicate them to your architect.

How should your kitchen relate to the rest of the house?

At one end of the spectrum we have kitchens that are entirely separate rooms, and at the other end are those kitchens that flow seamlessly into other areas of the house. The evolution of residential kitchens began with a completely separate dedicate building for cooking. Eventually, they became attached, walls began to disappear, and the kitchen became part of the open floor plan along with the dining and living rooms.

Consider how the kitchen should related to other areas as well. Should it be immediately adjacent to outdoor entertaining areas?  Does the kitchen need to be close to where you park your car for a shorter unloading distance? If your family tends to gather more in the kitchen during the morning, consider locating on the east side of the house to take advantage of the morning light. Will you need access to accessory functions like an outdoor grilling area or herb garden for example?

There’s not a single right arrangement of the kitchen for every scenario or lifestyle. Determining what works best for you and your family is the only right answer.

How will your kitchen be used?

Kitchens have come to incorporate design considerations far beyond their once purely functional concerns. Style, comfort, and connection have become important design consideration in the contemporary kitchen.

If your family and guests congregate in the kitchen, it’s better to think of it as an important hub in your home. Consider including ample seating along with generous work surfaces. Incorporating space for a table, a keeping room, a breakfast nook, or an island that accommodates stools will transform this utilitarian space into an enjoyable experience. On the other hand, a compact kitchen with a greater emphasis on functionality and efficient use of space may be more suitable for smaller family that rarely entertains.

You architect needs to understand how you intend to use your new or renovated kitchen in order to design the best spatial configuration for your lifestyle.

What appliances and fixtures will you need?

A significant portion of your kitchen budget should be dedicated to the appliances and fixtures you plan to install. The kind and number of appliances is so important that the functional and storage aspect of the kitchen are all but designed around them and their locations. You’ll need to provide your architect with a list of these appliance early in the process.

Your architect will take this list and coordinate the sizes and number of the appliances within the larger space and the surrounding cabinetry. Appliance selections will impact other things as well, including power and plumbing requirements, stub-out locations, installation tolerances, and working clearances.

Many appliance manufacturers produce several types of kitchen equipment, but not every one of those is the best of its kind.  Fortunately, many of the finishes offered by different manufacturers are similar enough to work alongside each other, so look for the best appliance across manufacturers.

How much and what kind of storage will you need?

While your kitchen’s spatial configuration requires some creative organization from you and your designer, the other critical component that deserves just as much attention is storage. Cabinetry can conceal as well as reveal. What things do you want out-of-sight? Do you have special items that you’d like to show off?

Apart from a dedicated pantry, your cabinetry will store everything including food, pots and pans, frequently used items and rarely use ones, small appliances, plates and flatware, first aid and medicine, emergency equipment, cleaning supplies, and recycling and rubbish.

If you’re renovating your existing kitchen, document how much space is currently dedicate to the different types of things being stored. Will you need more or less of these? Do their locations and adjacencies to each other need to be reconsidered?

Make ease of access a priority in selecting new cabinetry. Choose drawers or racks that pull out for better accessibility. Ask your architect to incorporate aging-in-place and universal design solutions that will allow your new kitchen to be functional for many years to come.

A new kitchen ore remodeled one is a complicated project. To arrive at a successful solution that meets your present and future needs, expresses your unique lifestyle, and is within your budget, you’ll need to work closely with your architect. It’s a process that can have a long lasting and positive impact on your day-to-day life.