Questions to Ask Yourself When Designing Your Dream Kitchen

 

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or trying to remodel after decades in the same house, your dream kitchen plans are critical to making the most of your home. A modern home can be made more convenient with smart home appliances, but it’s hard to use them if your kitchen workspace isn’t well-designed.

Since every family is different, there’s no one-size-fits-all perfect kitchen. Realistically, your kitchen will need to balance space and functionality on a budget and make the most of available storage space to keep frequently used cookware within reach.

In addition to the obvious questions about what refrigerator to buy and what counter material to use, homeowners need to consider the short- and long-term value of their purchases. A kitchen that works well for a homeowner in her forties may not work as well when she’s in her sixties and needs storage space that’s easy to reach. Overlooked elements like counter layout and lighting need to be planned with a range of factors in mind.

 

How Many Outlets Do I Need?

Toasters, microwaves, blenders, mixers, and other countertop kitchen appliances often require outlets to use. While you may think that having four outlets on the main counter is sufficient, that may cause serious limitations in where you can set up and use different appliances. Plus, if you have a kitchen island, you will want at least one outlet on that island.

To avoid having electrical cords stretching unsafe distances across the kitchen, aim to install at least one electrical box (two GFCI outlets) for every three feet of counter space, including one on either side of the sink if you have counter space on both sides. Also, consider having extra outlets on your kitchen island, especially if you have a large family that likes to charge their phones while having a snack after school. You may also need outlets near side tables or other periphery furniture if you want to have a landline phone or CD player nearby.

 

Where Will I Be Working?

The answer to where you will be doing your prepping and cooking may seem obvious. However, it’s rarely as simple as “the counter.” Which sections of counter and which appliances you use most will influence where you want additional lighting. It also affects outlet placement.

Since overhead cabinets can cast undesirable shadows over work areas, consider minimizing their placement near counters or installing under-cabinet lighting to keep things bright. If you plan on doing most of your prep on a kitchen island, then maybe you can skip the under-cabinet lighting. Choose wisely, though, as it can be difficult to go back and add more lighting once the remodeling is complete. It’s better to add too much lighting than not enough.

 

Will I Use This as An Eating Space?

While some families traditionally avoid eating in the kitchen, many are embracing it as a location for snacks and quick meals. Since it’s close to the fridge and microwave, it makes sense to use in situations where you need to retrieve seconds or put away leftovers. However, even a large kitchen island may end up feeling cramped.

If you’re open to feeding people at the kitchen counter, ask yourself which guests you’ll be willing to host there. Maybe your kid’s half-dozen friends can all squeeze around the counter, but you wouldn’t ask two of your in-laws to do the same. Consider investing in an appropriate dining space near the kitchen, using an open floor plan if possible, to maximize visibility and ease of movement. You can always use counters as a buffet-style serving space as well.

 

How Will the Kitchen Work Triangle Look?

While the overall size of your kitchen is important, interior designers and architects stress the importance of the “kitchen work triangle.” This term describes the distance and angles between the sink, refrigerator, and cooktop, which are the three most-frequently used elements in almost any kitchen. Though the ideal work triangle will have to be tailored based on available space and appliance preferences, the theory applies to kitchens of all sizes and types.

Keep in mind that if you have a separate oven and cooktop, the triangle becomes more of a square. Either way, you don’t want too much distance between appliances, and you don’t want to have to run around a kitchen island while carrying a pot of spaghetti from the cooktop to the sink.

You also don’t want too small of a space, as it makes it more difficult for two people to move around the kitchen at the same time. Even if you don’t usually entertain or have a second cook in the kitchen, avoid making the work triangle too small. If you’re working with a compact kitchen, consider making the kitchen island narrower to increase the amount of room you have to move around.

 

How Will This Space Work for Me When I’m Older?

For growing families, ample pantry and refrigerator space are critical, with space for entertaining being less important. For older empty nesters, though, much of that pantry and fridge space might go unused. There are also considerations to be made for young couples who are planning to have children. A kitchen that works great for entertaining may not be ideal for wrangling young ones.

While some below-waist-height storage is inevitable, middle-aged homeowners should try to design a kitchen where daily essentials are all reachable without bending over. This may not be a factor if you’re planning on moving within the next decade, but it should be considered if you plan on staying in the home through retirement. You may not have to reinvent the wheel to make this happen, though, as some of the pantry space that is freed up after the kids move out can be repurposed for storing cookware.

 

What Should My Budget Be?

Note that this question isn’t about what your budget is. You may be preparing to spend too much or too little on your renovations. Remember that, in addition to providing you with the space and equipment you need, your kitchen will impact your home’s resale value. If you’re putting significant money into your kitchen but completely ignoring other outdated parts of your home, you may end up with a stellar kitchen in a run-down home that can’t attract buyers.

It’s more likely, though, that you’re putting too little money into your kitchen. Granite or quartz countertops may be expensive, but they’re an investment that will last decades longer than basic laminate. The same goes for smart home appliances that make life easier for busy families.

If your current budget is a little too low to get the things you really want, consider doing your home remodeling in phases, with the kitchen being first on the list. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home, where the foundations of memories are made.