By Grace Cassidy
For many homeowners, the kitchen is much more than a place to keep and cook food or make the morning coffee. It can be a gathering space for family and friends, a play space for intergenerational bonding or perhaps a personal refuge for solitude and reflection.
Whichever way you use your kitchen often depends on its design and layout. So, if you are planning to renovate or even build your dream kitchen from scratch, here are some key things to consider about kitchen design.
“The most important thing for someone who is designing their own kitchen is to know how they want their kitchen to function day to day,” says Berkeley Holley, an interior designer based out of Houston, Tex. “Aside from cooking, what other daily activities will take place in the kitchen? Will it be the hub of the home, a central space for homework, entertaining, or tucked away?”
The answers to these questions, Holley says, will help you determine whether or not you want to install an island—or two!—add a desk, a TV or a wine fridge
Another thing to consider is what’s often referred to in kitchen design as the “work triangle,” which traces the distance, orientation and flow of movement between the stovetop, refrigerator and sink.
“A good work triangle will result in an efficient workflow and allows you to move with ease between the three most used points,” says Holley. “A poor work triangle will cause you to run all over your kitchen to access the most important aspects of the space. Ideally, you need to play out the best clearances between your points, based on your layout.”
Many kitchen layouts resemble alphabetical shapes—from Ls, Us and I-shaped galleys to Gs that wrap around a peninsula—which are more conducive to establishing a work triangle. For single-wall kitchens that are common in smaller spaces, you can optimize the workflow by adding an island. And if you have the space for it, don’t stop at one.
“One of my favorite styles is a double-island kitchen,” says Holley. “Truly functional for most kitchens, double islands don’t have to be symmetrical, but can be different lengths and widths, at different angles, and are perfect for long, narrow, or square kitchens, providing defined zones for prepping and cooking, washing dishes, homework, dining and entertaining.”
As with other kitchen updates, a double island could balloon your budget. But there are plenty of ways that you can give your space a refresh without breaking the bank.
“There are limitless options in the world of peel-and-stick backsplashes,” says Holley. “You can also try removable contact paper, switching out the hardware on your cabinets and drawers or creating open shelving by removing the cabinet doors. (If you’re a renter, just be sure to reattach them when your lease is over.)”
The designer also suggested adding bar carts for storage or new lighting to revive a tired space.