The kitchen has changed over the years as we know it. Not only does it serve as a space we need to prepare meals but it has evolved into a hub for everyday gatherings, informal meals, & a place for entertaining friends & family. It is the ultimate living space that has to do it all. We are knocking down walls & designing open concept plans to make the kitchen an extension of our living spaces. It is the busiest room in your home & should be a place you feel as comfortable gathering in as you do cooking. Whether you’ve decided to renovate your existing space or you’re building a new home or cottage, a new kitchen presents ample opportunities to create a space that is uniquely tailored to your lifestyle.
But what is it about a kitchen that makes it you?
When designing a new kitchen, there are many elements that should be considered & when put together, will begin the evolution of a space that speaks to you. As we thumb through pages of designer magazines we drool over the “look” of a space & rarely consider what has been created underneath the beauty. BUT, magazines present us with the perfect opportunity to identify the style or “look” that we are most attracted to. A good designer will help you hone in on your look & will also take into consideration the style of the rest of your home when planning a renovation. It’s helpful to start a collection of magazine clippings of spaces you love, even if you’re not sure why. It speaks of you & the things you love & will give direction with the design of the kitchen.
In general, the overall aesthetic feel of the space comes from many things. Door style & material choice are big players in the overall look but how you finish that door gives it its final styling. You can take a more traditional wood door & spray it with a clean lacquer finish & suddenly it becomes more contemporary. Material & finishing choices are becoming more vast and varied as well. Not only are there many interesting species of wood to consider from maple to knotty alder, but also stunning finishing techniques as well. How about a textured brushstroke paint finish for a more vintage look or even a high gloss durable PET finish that will stand up to abuse. If you love a worn in rustic look you could choose a distressed door or if you enjoy a more modern touch, a textured melamine door you have to see to believe. Colour combinations also contribute to the final look. Are you more traditional & enjoy the cabinetry to be finished all in the same paint or stain, or do you imagine the island looking like a piece of furniture that’s been added to the room & see it in a different finish. Perhaps you are adventurous & love interesting combinations of colours & finishes. The opportunities are endless.
Details such as crown moulding, glass doors, open shelving, beading, corbels, baseboards and so on, also offer a strong influence to the final look & should always be given great consideration. All of these decisions create a style that has been created for you….by you.
Beneath the beauty are bones & it’s these bones that drive the function of the space. It never fails to amaze me how some of the most simplistic design choices can make or break a space. It is thoughtful & creative design that will be the biggest payoff of your kitchen project. Your lifestyle is what will drive the planning of the space & make it uniquely you. Do you entertain large crowds often, do you have children, is there one or two cooks in the home & is cooking a family affair? Is your kitchen also the home office & a place for kids to do their homework? It is questions like these that initiate the planning process & allow a designer to offer solutions & recommendations. I strongly believe that the days of the “kitchen triangle” or how many steps it takes to move between the sink, refrigerator, & range, are gone. That may work in some instances but there could be a bigger payoff if the rule is broken. I focus on what works for the family or individual & to me, that’s the most important rule to follow.
I enjoy creating “stations” which keeps cooks, cleaners, & others running in and out of the kitchen for a quick snack or drink, from bumping into one another. To me, this is a basic considering & one that is often overlooked. One of my favourite things to incorporate into a kitchen is a breakfast bar or an area away from the main sink where the coffee maker, toaster, bread, & some dishes & cutlery are stored. Ideally planning it with a small prep sink & in a location near the fridge allows people to grab a snack, drink, or make a cup of coffee without getting in the way of the cook (who busily works between the main sink & range). Make sure to take an inventory of your kitchen items to ensure the cabinetry can be planned to offer the storage you require. Conveniences such as pull out waste systems, accessible corner storage, built-in pantries, pot drawers, spice systems, tray storage etc., are the hardworking components that ensure everything you own has its place.
Designing islands when space permits offers more than just additional storage in a kitchen. It is another work area that can serve multiple functions. It can be a place where food prep happens, where food is served while entertaining, it’s a bar, & a place to grab casual meals if seating is incorporated. It’s a place where friends gather & where homework is done. The island is also an opportunity to drive the flow of the kitchen & direct traffic in a subconscious way. It truly is a powerful addition to a design! On another note, I consider countertop choice one more of function than of style. After all, it is going to take the brunt of the abuse! Options these days range from granite to quartz, soapstone to butcher block, stainless to solid surface, & a few in between. If budget is consideration, spend your money where it matters most. Perhaps the island is where the food prep happens & casual meals take place so the countertop needs to be durable & low maintenance. Make sure the countertop can stand up to the task & if necessary, save elsewhere. The colour options for countertops these days are endless so choose first based on the durability or function required & then choose its finish. The countertop is a big player in how the kitchen functions. Put the kitchen to work for you!
In all, style & function of the kitchen should be tailored to you. This project is a big investment so you want to ensure it endlessly gives back to you. Spending the extra time to thoughtfully design the kitchen will make this busy room in your home one you’ll enjoy for many years to come!