Updated: May 9, 2022
A kitchen remodel is one of the most transformative remodeling projects one can undertake. The potential for increasing joy and decreasing frustration is immense. You and your home are unique - there are innumerable design options from which to choose, and a wide variety of ways to make them work in your space. Decide what you truly want and need, and engage an experienced, creative designer to help shape your vision. Here are a few of the "most-wanted" features in today's kitchen renovations. There is something for everyone and every budget here. Enjoy!
When in Doubt, Light it Up!
Over the years, no matter the project, the number one regret I hear from clients is that they skimped on lighting. For sighted folks, light is essential.
Track, recessed or ceiling mounted lights help us orient ourselves and safely find our way through a space.
Under-cabinet light fixtures, tape or puck lights help us with tasks.
Pendants or wall sconces can light an island or peninsula and add visual texture and color. Interior cabinet lighting, toe-kick lighting, and soffit lighting create ambience.
The key word is "layering" - planning multiple types of lighting for different functions. Just adding better lighting to a space can be a big improvement.
Finally, it is far easier to wire and install all types of light fixtures when the walls and ceiling are open rather than after the drywall is installed primed and painted.
The Multi-Functional Island
Most people dream of a kitchen island, and though I hate to disappoint my clients, many kitchens simply do not accommodate an island without expanding the footprint.
In kitchens where an island will work, spacing is critical. Islands create "aisles" on at least two sides and often 3 or 4. At a bare minimum,
36" can work for an aisle (without seating!), but with more than one person working at the same you time, you will be saying "excuse me" alot.
42" will give you breathing space, and 48" is even better, especially in front of the refrigerator. For the seating side(s), 48" or more is ideal.
One "no-no" is breaking up the kitchen triangle. Placing an island smack between the refrigerator and the sink, for example, will leave you questioning why you agreed to that layout.
If you have the space for an island, explore options for maximizing function. A wide range of designs are possible: from single to multiple levels, with or without appliances or plumbing. An island can be your cooking center, clean-up center, serving center, or a combination of any of these, or just additional landing space, a place to share a meal or a conversation, or play board game.
The Shaped Peninsula
In kitchens where an island isn't feasible, a one or two level peninsula can be an elegant and functional solution. Most familiar is the straight peninsula that creates a "G-shaped" kitchen (photo on the left below). This configuration can allow for a supplemental dining table within the space. But many clients are opting to eliminate the traditional kitchen table in favor of a large, angled or shaped peninsula, which offers more family-friendly seating as well as great storage and work space.
Kitchen cabinet interiors are no longer limited to lazy susan bases and simple rollout shelves. These days. clients regularly ask for custom pantries, spice storage,
peg-drawers for dishes and glassware, vertical ray storage, corner drawers, utensil and lid storage, space for displaying wine bottles, and much much more. A good cabinetmaker can build almost anything we dream up!
Enclosed Garbage & Recycle Bins
Getting the garbage, recycle and compost bins tucked away out of site is always high on clients wish lists. Use the sink cabinet for at least one bin if possible, especially in a smaller kitchen. Creative use of cabinets for this use is essential.
Creating a cozy spot to gather for a meal has great appeal. Benches can add extra storage with flip-up tops or drawers.
Make sure you have the space to seat your preferred number of diners, you are able to get in and out comfortably, and select the right shape and size table. One sided or "L-shaped" benches are most popular. The back rest can be a collection of toss pillows, a shaped "banquette" (shown here), or a wood back.
The Beverage and Serving Center
One highly-requested feature (suitable for larger kitchens) is a separate beverage/serving center
A wine or beverage refrigerator can free up space in the main refrigerator and make drinks more accessible. Wine cubbies, glass-fronted cabinets for display, base cabinet storage and a countertop for serving are sought-after elements.
Situate your beverage/serving center near areas where entertaining happens, which could be a family room, 3 or 4 season porch or sunroom.
Cabinets can be finished to match the kitchen, or stained or painted a contrasting color, for variety and to create a focal point.
The Command Center
Almost every house built from the 1990's on has a built-in desk, or as my clients refer to as a "junk collection" center. Reimagining these clutter-magnets returns joy and function to a kitchen, and provides a "central nervous center" for the home. This can range from one upper cabinet with shelves, dividers and outlets for charging phones and tablets, to a full, convertible work station. The sky's the limit!
I hope that you find a way to incorporate some or all of these features into your new kitchen. Work with your designer to tailor them to your and your family's unique needs, wants and budget. Happy remodeling!