I still only dream about THE KITCHEN. It’s still only a dream partly because of the magnitude of a kitchen renovation project. It is so daunting! And it will be. Yet, we have to get over with it very soon. The good news is that planning a kitchen doesn’t have to be as intimidating or overwhelming as rebuilding if done strategically. But how to make a comprehensive plan for your dream kitchen?
The kitchen is the center of a family home. It is the hub of home life, where the day starts and ends. This is the room where family and friends gather for home cooked meals and good conversation. It’s very important to create a well-organized space that supports our busy lifestyles and bring the family together. Where everyone can take part in preparing meals and have a conversation with each other.
So renovating a kitchen is the most impactful project a home can have, and the end result is highly dependent on planning the project. Planning takes more time than actually executing the plans. Planning can take up about six months, while the construction can get done in 2-3 months.
But how to plan a kitchen?
Laying down the groundwork – Building a Framework for Kitchen Planning
The first step of the process is making a list of all the things you need and want. Make notes on how you currently use your kitchen and also on how you’d like to use it in the future. Think about your lifestyle, your needs, and habits. Make a list of functions you need, and determine what style you want.
You must be very clear about these to make sure that your new kitchen will meet all your needs and be a homey, cozy place for you and your family.
When you have nailed down your expectations and dreams you can start building the Framework around
- and cost.
The most important aspect is when it comes to kitchen renovations that you want to have as high-quality, functional items as possible. So the basic rules is that you always go for the best you can afford. There is no point in doing and planning anything less.
Function comes first
Above all, a kitchen needs to be practical and functional.
What are the functions of a kitchen?
The main functions of a kitchen are storing, preparing and cooking food. Dining is a very common attribute of today’s kitchen as well. The proportions of these functions may vary depending on the size and culture of your family, your love for cooking and the properties of the house. If the house is small, you might want to add a laundry function to your kitchen, too. If it has to be multifunctional you might consider a family command center or a small office space. Options are endless and deeply rely on your needs and wants you’ve already listed.
What areas do you want to create in the kitchen?
The next list is about the areas you want to create. For eating will you have a whole dining area or just a breakfast nook? Do you want a coffee bar or wine bar? Or both? Make your choices.
What kind of layout would you like?
The most fundamental decision you make when planning your kitchen is the layout. It can be I, L, U or G shaped and you can include an island or peninsula, too.
Kitchen islands can serve a number of purposes that can really add value and functionality to the kitchen. They add workspace and double up your kitchen storage space. Whether you need a breakfast nook, a place for people to gather to socialize or a spot for the kids to do homework while you’re preparing dinner, kitchen islands are a perfect choice! If there is no room for an island a wheeled cart can make part of the work. It can be moved around the room and put away when not in use.
To learn more about kitchen layouts read this article.
My biggest temptation is getting two dishwashers and two sinks. In our family the dishwasher runs at least three times a day and finding the rhythm that would help to keep the kitchen clean is extremely hard. A second sink would give the option to use one sink for cleaning dishes and one for preparing food. It’s good for hygienic purposes. Or this arrangement simply would give space to working comfortably for more than one person at the same time. This sounds luxurious but for us it totally makes sense. With many people in the kitchen, it is just simply useful. At this point feel free to play with the idea of such luxury!
What about the pantry?
When planning a kitchen you have to think about pantry, too. You have different choices: pantry, pantry-cabinet or butlers pantry. You have to be clear about the difference before making a decision.
Pantry is a shelved room or larger cabinet for storing food, beverages, and provisions. A butler’s pantry is a room that has a countertop and cabinets for keeping serving pieces, tableware, wine glasses, table linens, candles, and other items for the dining room.
As you see, there are tons of very important decisions to make only about functionality. But we are not done yet.
Because after functionality comes the look.
You have to determine your style.
Styles have three main categories:
- contemporary and
Having a basic idea of these three categories is essential to put an authentic space together. So let’s see the basics.
Traditional kitchens are defined by their details, which can include arches, decorative moldings and corbels, raised-panel cabinets, a mix of antique finishes, ornate glass doors. They add character and charm while still creating function, storage and plenty of style.
Traditional includes French Country, Craftsman, Mediterranean, Colonial, Old World, Coastal, Rustic or Country style. See more here.
Contemporary and modern kitchens represent new, updated styles and trends. The trends happening now. Contemporary includes Scandinavian, Slab-style, Industrial or Retro style.
Transitional kitchens combine features of both traditional and modern design to create a fresh, updated look. They try to capture timeless styles with a personal touch. It is an elegant and timeless design that combines new and old, masculine with feminine in a fresh way. This style allows you to blend traditional and contemporary looks without the fear of creating an unsavory contrast. No two transitional kitchen designs look alike so it’s hard to name them but it includes eg. Shaker-style and modern farmhouse. Check out some ideas here.
Before making a decision on a style, consider the architectural style of your house as well as your personal preferences. Research the styles you’re considering to be able to use as many features and elements of your chosen style as possible. Keep in mind that most magnificently your cabinets will reflect your choice of style. Choose the color of your cabinets. If you’re not sure yet, pick 2-3 colors, and finalize it later.
The most helpful way of gathering ideas and study the styles is to make an Inspiration Board, or several. You can make Pinterest boards as a digital collection, or use good old pen and paper. Magazines, printing, drawing – anything that takes you closer to visualizing your dream kitchen.
Costs also have a significant place in making plans. A project of this magnitude takes a lot of your money and time. You’ll have to make sacrifices. You know: before it gets better it’s getting worse.
About money, you may have different approaches. Either you say you have a certain amount of money to build your dream kitchen, and everything has to fit in that. Or you leave it open here, plan your dream kitchen and see how much that costs – ie. how much money you have to make. If that is something doable, you are good. If it’s far beyond your reality, you’re still good aiming high, because it gives you more space to cut back and to make the right cut. You see, more than likely once you dive into the kitchen renovation process you will have to make compromises, so you shouldn’t start the process with compromises or you’ll end up with a kitchen you don’t love.
The cost of a kitchen renovation is an investment that improves the value of your home and your lifestyle. Yet you should not spend more than 15 percent of your home’s market value.
Getting a new kitchen doesn’t just cost you cash. It costs you lots and lots of time, and inconvenience. You will not be able to cook for a while, so you’ll want to set up a temporary kitchen somewhere to be able to cook simple meals and wash dishes. You’ll have to make plans for temporary solutions, too.
Kitchen planning research
Once you set up the Framework, the next step in planning a kitchen is research. Constructing a kitchen has so many aspects, that to make the best decisions you need tons of information. You shouldn’t save time on research because all your choices, decisions – your whole plan and the execution – will depend on this. All the ideas you have on your plate must be researched carefully before putting in your final plan.
Look for examples of all the things you’re imagining, search for pictures of your ideas. Cut out or print them and put on your inspiration board. Putting the pics together can give an impression of the whole, and an idea about what will work or will not.
Read reviews of the things you need to make a choice about. Study all aspects, specifics, pros and cons of the cabinets, appliances, materials, techniques and whatever you have on your mind. Don’t put anything in the plan that you haven’t thoroughly researched.
Planning the kitchen
When you’ve got your Framework and made your research, it’s time to dive into making those comprehensive plans. It’s very important to plan out every detail of the space and draw things out on paper.
First, break down each item of your function list into details. Storage needs and wants are especially important to see all together, but the steps of food prep written down will also give you a better understanding of the process and enable you to create a more efficient space.
Then create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements of length, width, height, doorways, walkways, windows, counters, etc. Fill in with the non-negotiable items first you nailed down at the very beginning, then go on with the ones you are more flexible about.
In most kitchens, the cabinets grab your attention first, so these very cabinets need the most attention in the planning process because your kitchen’s usability and atmosphere are determined mainly by them. They are the most complex element of the kitchen so they give you the most details to think about and work out. Well thought through and accessible storage is crucial to successful kitchen design. You need that list you made about your storage needs to plan out a well-working storage system. Determine the number and size of drawers, cupboards, plate holders, shelves, decide on knives storage and organizing accessories to improve storage. Consider about Recycling. Plan as detailed as possible.
After planning out the function, you may move on to the doors. They are almost entirely responsible for the look and feel of the kitchen. Finalize the color, consider using glass doors, try different knobs and pulls, etc.
In appliances you must find the perfect combination of reliability, function, and appearance. They have to be in harmony with your chosen style and color scheme and must fit in with their size. So it’s good to know the dimensions of your appliances when making plans so you can include them in the design. Dig through the specs of many appliances, compare until you find exactly what you’re looking for!
Also, watch out for the style: look at the handles, knobs, and edges, look at the small details to find the ones that fit you and your kitchen. Consider choosing your appliances in a series to create a more organic look.
When searching refrigerators, consider a counter depth fridge. It would make good for your design.
Decide if you want a range or a cooktop with an oven. It will come with gas, electric, or dual-fuel configurations. A range would be the heart of the kitchen, wall-ovens are practical and safe.
The dishwasher keeps the kitchen moving. It can be integrated into the cabinet or freestanding. Check the cycles they are capable of and the decibel level. 45 and under will do.
About vent hood choose between ducted and ductless. Decide on building something around the vent hood or not.
Also, be sure to consider Energy Star-rated appliances to increase home energy efficiency and savings while reducing the impact on the environment.
For more details about appliances read this.
As you see there are tons of details to think and decide about only about appliances, and we’ve touched only the tip of the iceberg here.
When planning your kitchen, you want to pay close attention to the things you cannot easily change. Flooring and backsplash are definitely those things. Also countertops, sink, and faucet.
They should be emphasizing the style of the space and naturally enforce an organic look. Besides, it’s useful if you can clean them easily.
The worktop is the real workhorse in your kitchen so it also needs to be durable. Countertops are available in a wide range of materials, finishes, and thicknesses with different features.
The options are endless but by now as a result of your extensive research, you have an idea what kind of fixtures you want to have.
There are a few things you can a little bit more easily change than those permanent fixtures. Choose lighting, curtains, table, chairs that fit into the style you’ve chosen.
Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. You should have two different types of lighting: task lighting and ambient lighting.
Under-cabinet lighting lightens up workstations. Pendant lights are good for islands. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and areas with no cabinets overhead. Ceiling fixtures and wall sconces create overall lighting in the kitchen. If you include dimmer switches you can control the intensity and mood.
Kitchen Space Planning
Decide on workflow and plan traffic for your lifestyle. Focus on your sink because you will want either a nice view to the outside or a good connection to the social spaces in the house. Possibly both.
Whenever possible, you should try to make use of the classic work triangle. The basic concept is that the three main areas of the kitchen are arranged in a triangle shape. The stove, refrigerator, and sink are the most used areas, keeping them within four to nine feet of each other in a triangular pattern is ideal. This is generally considered to be the most convenient setup because it saves unnecessary steps.
Also, think about how many people usually work in the kitchen at the same time. If it’s more than one, you might want to incorporate more than one workstation.
Plan to have at least 36 inches of counter space for food preparation. You need at least 24 inches on one side of the sink and 18 inches on the other. Generally, the more counter space you can fit in, the better.
Leave adequate floor space in front of appliances so the doors can be opened and you can still walk in front of them. You’ll need at least 30 to 48 inches. Avoid placing appliances directly across from each other to keep the pathway clear.
Leave enough room for traffic flow. The walkway for a double-sided workspace is a minimum of 4 feet wide, for a single-sided workspace a minimum of 3 feet that people can easily walk through without disturbing anyone at the counters. Keep two ways in and out of the kitchen for a nice flow.
Consult with professionals
Planning your kitchen is fun, but before making implementation plans it is always a good idea to get a professional opinion from an experienced designer. They may have ideas or solutions to any issues you may have not thought of, foresee potential problems and can simplify your kitchen remodel. They can help make style decisions, find the details that need to be refined and give you more ideas even about budget cuts.
After all, it costs too much to make any mistakes if it’s avoidable. Also, you can’t really change your mind: once you get started you can’t stop. You have to finish it up sticking to the plan.
Plan the process
Having your dream kitchen plans ready, you can move on to planning the implementation. By now, you already know if you will have a contractor or DIY, or do a little bit of both. This determines the implementation plans. If you have a contractor you don’t have to bother much about this, but if you plan on DIY as much as you can, then this plan must be made even more carefully than your design plans. You have to set the workflow, the order and timing of jobs, the material and tool necessity. You have to have everything at hand on time and do the steps in proper order.
There are a lot of things you probably can do yourself and save some money, – like painting, flooring, fixtures, accessories -, but for bigger jobs like plumbing and electricity you might want to find contractors. I’d call professionals for fixing the cabinets as well. Easy to make mistakes and the cost is too high to take any risks. If you make wrong decisions about where to save money, the cost can go up eventually, and break the bank.
If you DIY, even if only partially, make sure to buy the best tools. Include them in your budget, or better yet, create another budget for the tools because you can use them later for other projects, too. Wrongly chosen tools can make the work hard and miserable, while the right tools will be a well worth investment.
Having everything planned out is absolutely mandatory, but be ready to adjust your plans for unpredictable circumstances. Plan for the unforeseeable: even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel.
Making a budget
The cost of rebuilding a kitchen depends on many factors, from the size of your budget, the size of your kitchen and the style and price of your fittings along with any structural changes needed to your home.
However, either you made your plans for your wallet, or made the money for your plans, creating a budget is extremely important. The starting point is adding a 10-15% margin for unknown expenses. This must be built in the budget. All the rest is a huge puzzle to play around with and find the best matches. There is no golden rule other than being realistic but going for the best you can afford. You won’t regret it!
Now it’s time to draw your dreams on paper and start planning your new kitchen.
Once you know what you want, and what you can afford, you can hire a contractor and get started. Just remember to stick to the plan!
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