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Foolproof Ways to Declutter Your Kitchen

Article by: Kat Bern

You know that feeling when you’re trying to whip up a quick dinner after work and everything in your kitchen seems to be conspiring against you? You can’t find the ingredients you could have sworn you had, things are tumbling off the shelves, and nothing is where it should be. If you know what I’m talking about, then it’s time to declutter your kitchen.

A good way of figuring out what constitutes clutter is to ask yourself two questions: Does it serve you anymore? Does it bring you joy? If the answer to both of these questions is no, chances are you won’t even notice when the item is gone. So let’s have a look at common space wasters and how to get rid of them.

Save the tidying for later. Don’t make extra work for yourself. If you want to make your kitchen more functional, declutter it before you do any tidying. Otherwise you’ll mess everything up in the process of decluttering. And there’s no point tidying up things you’ll eventually throw out, donate or sell.

Purge your pantry. Go through your pantry or the cupboards that hold your cans and jars and remove any out-of-date products. When I recently challenged some of my clients to do this, they couldn’t believe their eyes, finding cans dating back to 2007. 

If you think an item is something you might realistically use, pull it out, put it on the side and give yourself a deadline by which to use it (assuming it’s still safe to eat). If you haven’t used it by then, get rid of it.

Minimize the plastic. Next, it’s time to tackle the plastic bags and plastic bottles. Many of us have a tendency to keep things “just in case.” But then instead of keeping one just-in-case plastic bottle, or the few plastic bags we might realistically reuse, we keep 10. 

Select a couple of really durable bags and perhaps a bottle or two if you think they might be useful, and create a place to store them neatly in your kitchen. Recycle the rest — you’ll never be able to use them all.

Sort your food containers. Do you find yourself overwhelmed every time you open the dreaded drawer or cupboard with plastic containers? It’s time to take them all out, give the space a good cleaning and match up all of your boxes with their lids. Throw out any that don’t have a match and, if your collection isn’t a neat set like this one, consider storing them with their lids on. It’ll keep them clean while in storage and, although they’ll take up more space, it will make them easier to use.

Cull your dishware. Do you have lots of dishes, including old and new sets mixed together? Figure out exactly how many dishes you need by putting away the older set away for a week and seeing how you get on. If you do just fine without it and you’re not attached, it might be time to donate it to charity.

Prioritize your appliances. Kitchen appliances can be real space wasters. They’re bulky, and a lot of them get only occasional use. That’s why you want to make sure you keep only the ones you use daily, or a minimum of a few times a week, out on the countertop. If you make waffles only as a treat, pack the waffle maker away on a high shelf and take it down only on those occasions. Keeping the countertops clear is a great way to make a kitchen feel larger and less chaotic.

Streamline your utensils. Go through your cooking utensils and donate any you haven’t used in more than a year. Then sort them, putting like with like, and keep them easily accessible near the range. Try to find a dedicated spot for them, whether it’s a spare drawer you can neatly organize or a bit of extra countertop space for some containers.

Get your foils and wraps in order. A great idea for organizing wraps is putting them all into one drawer. But be careful — you don’t want it to become a designated drawer for “a bit of everything.” Make sure you keep the rolls tidily next to one other and, if you wish to add anything else, organize everything with a tray or container. You don’t want random objects lying around — they definitely won’t help when you’re trying to pack a sandwich in a rush.

Sort recipe books and takeout menus.Have a look through all your cookbooks and takeout menus and keep only the ones you actually use. If you haven’t cooked from a book in the past year, gift it to someone who’s looking for new inspiration. You’ll free up some space on your shelf, and the book will make someone else happy. 

If you haven’t ordered food from a certain place for a while, the same rule applies — and with so many menus available online, there’s less and less reason to clog up a shelf or drawer with paper copies.

Create a box of items you’re not sure about. If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to say goodbye to some items, put them all in a box, write the date on that box and move it to a garage or loft. If you come across the box in, say, six months, and realize you haven’t been looking for those items, it might be easier for you to let them go. And remember, by getting rid of the old, you’re actually making space for the exciting and new.

Big Ideas for Compact Kitchens

Article by: Sara Emslie

Even the smallest of kitchen spaces needs to deliver big when it comes to form and function. No matter how awkwardly shaped or compact your cooking space, design tricks can help make even tiny corners work hard and look good too. These kitchens offer ideas for getting more from less and giving a high-function space a clean, uncluttered appearance.

Use open storage as display. If your tiny kitchen is part of a larger open-plan space, consider an island with built-in open shelves. This will add storage and display space and help separate food prep, cooking and clean-up areas from those for other living functions. 

Use attractive tableware, accessories and cookbooks to create a pleasing display.

Store high (and seamlessly). A clever way to add storage in a tiny kitchen is to position it high up the wall. Installing storage above seating, such as a built-in bench, can be a particularly smart use of space. 

For a clean, contemporary feel, fit the cupboards with push latches, removing the need for a door handle and creating a seamless finish that gives the impression of more space. A ladder stored away — perhaps inside a bench seat — can be used to access high cupboards.

Custom build a pantry cupboard. Well-planned storage makes efficient use of space and can help keep your kitchen organized. Consider a custom all-in-one pantry cupboard if you’re designing a kitchen from scratch. Install custom storage baskets for shelves and rail bars and baskets for cupboard doors to make the most of the space inside. 

A cupboard pantry can be used to store everything from food to china and kitchen equipment. And when the doors are closed, it’s all neatly out of sight.

Integrate built-in appliances. Shop around for appliances that will work in compact spaces and consider integrating them into your kitchen design. The framework needed for integrated designs eats up a little more lateral space, but the result will be a neater look. 

Think laterally, too — dishwashers are available as pullout drawers and can be paired with a storage drawer with the same front for a fuss-free finish. Microwaves and ovens can be fitted into a bank of wall cupboards, freeing up counter space for other kitchen essentials.

Think industrial. Utilitarian styling is ideal for making the most of a compact kitchen. It echoes the kitchens of days gone by, and its robust aesthetic says it means business, despite being a tiny space. Look for subway tiles, industrial factory lighting and Shaker-style units that combine beauty with utility.

Squeeze in an eating space. Having a space for sitting and eating in a kitchen, no matter how small, doubles the room’s functionality, making it feel more substantial. 

A compact breakfast bar, for example, can be both a dining area and an additional work surface for food preparation. To save space, choose bar stools that can be tucked under the counter when not in use. Try giving this tiny tabletop a separate visual identity with bold accessories, such as bright artwork and standout lighting. 

A fold-out, wall-mounted table is another option for a small kitchen.

Highlight character with color. Flashes of vivid color are ideal for adding a wow factor to a tiny space. It might be small, but it can still have presence. 

Against a pure white background, neon shades really stand out, so use these to emphasize any design features that have character and style. Maximize the different sizes and configurations of drawer and cupboard fronts to create eye-catching color combinations and design appeal.

Stick to a restricted palette, though, and keep clutter stored so as not to overcrowd your little kitchen.

Go for top of the line. Being small on space doesn’t mean a kitchen can’t be big on style. Adopt a high-end approach for fixtures and hardware in an otherwise minimal space to give a compact kitchen a designer look. 

Smart handles, inset lighting, state-of-the-art integrated appliances, contemporary faucets and molded draining boards are all design features often found in larger, more expensive kitchen designs, but they can add a big style hit to a tiny kitchen too.

10 Countertop Mashups for the Kitchen

Article by: Katie Pegler

Mixing materials for kitchen countertops has many benefits. For one, you can save money by using a less expensive material for your perimeter countertops while splurging on something more luxurious for an island top. Plus, mixing materials is a great way to add visual interest to your kitchen and avoid the overabundance of one color or material. With that in mind, designers are pairing marble with walnut, granite with reclaimed wood, engineered quartz with maple butcher block and more to create diverse surfaces for working, eating and gathering.

Marble Island With Wenge Bar

“Our overall design was form meets function throughout this kitchen design,” says Ashley Luberger, design associate at Osborne Cabinets and Millwork. “The island is the key focal point of this space, so we wanted to add interest combining heights and different materials to create a cohesive space.” 

Osborne designed and fabricated the island cabinets and wood top, made out of African wenge wood. “The wood has a really dark natural color along with a really tight grain pattern, creating a contemporary feel,” Luberger says. Collaborative Design Group chose the marble top.

The wood top was selected for the lower eating area because it is more durable than marble, which was used only on the island to avoid stain concerns. 

Marble Perimeter With Walnut Island

A white kitchen was a must for the owners of this Minneapolis home. However, both the husband and wife grew up in houses with wood countertops and were keen to incorporate wood. Nicole Bostman, owner and lead designer at Dezaar Interiors, found a happy medium by pairing a white marble countertop and oversize walnut island. “We wanted to introduce the warmth of wood to balance all the white, which can sometimes look a little cold and clinical,” Bostman says.

Walnut Countertops With Marble Island Top

In this Nunica, Michigan, kitchen by Meiste Homes, the perimeter countertops are oiled walnut, while the custom island is topped with a 10-foot slab of Arabescato marble with a built-up ogee edge. 

Be sure to follow proper maintenance routines for each material. Wood can chip and warp, especially in wet areas, such as near the sink. And marble can stain and chip. 

Quartz Perimeter With Maple Butcher Block Island

Before the remodel of this Los Angeles contemporary home, the owners had white marble countertops. Gabriel Abikasis, president of Kasis Construction, recommended engineered quartz as a durable alternative.

To add depth, texture and contrast to the white cabinets, Abikasis used 2-inch-thick maple butcher block in a clear satin finish for the island. 

Granite Perimeter With Reclaimed-Wood Island

This design of this kitchen reflects the homeowners’ desire to retain the old elements of the 1930s cabin.The main countertop is Jet Mist honed granite, while the island has a reclaimed-wood top fabricated by Grothouse Lumber. The wood island is sealed and cannot be used for cutting directly on. “The contrasting wood counter warms up the kitchen and makes it feel more cabin-like than if everything was dark granite,” says Kelly Ennis, principal at Ennis Nehez

Granite Island With Walnut Chopping Block Extension

Much thought was put into this kitchen, because it’s in the “forever home” of its owners, in Dartmouth, England. They wanted to make the most of the new space and were meticulous in defining their kitchen right down to listing what items each cabinet would need to store, so that Distinctive Living Kitchens could plan for the correct cabinet sizes and functionality.

The inspiration for the granite came from an existing granite countertop in the laundry room, which Distinctive Living Kitchens matched to the Shivakashi granite counters that are paired with the end-grain walnut chopping block island extension. 

Granite Island With Walnut Butcher Block Extension 

This Ottawa, Canada, home was built for a couple who wanted an environment conducive to entertaining large groups of family and friends, so a large, functional kitchen with good flow was key. “In addressing the functionality, I wanted to create a space that looked aesthetically balanced with functional and decorative elements,” says Nathan Kyle, senior interior designer at Astro Design Centre.

The island counters have silver wave granite surrounding the prep area mixed with walnut butcher block for the eating area. The inclusion of two materials was necessary to create the length that was required without having a seam in the countertop, and created a length that was ideal for entertaining. The butcher block also allows for a warmer touch on the area where people can rest elbows, versus a cold surface. 

“Using a two-toned kitchen allows for the back wall, which is utilitarian in nature, to stand on its own and juxtapose itself with a more detailed decorative island,” Kyle says. 

Concrete Island With Wood Inlay

For this contemporary Kansas City, Missouri, kitchen, Studiobuild blended poured concrete for the majority of the island and juxtaposed it with a wood inlay surrounding the cooktop on the same plane. Not only does this look have more visual interest, but a large island for eating and working eliminated the need for an eating nook.

Pietra Cardosa Stone Perimeter With Maple Island

For this center kitchen island, Brooks Custom used a 2-inch-thick premium wide-plank maple top. The light-colored wood contrasts with the dark Pietra Cardosa stone countertop along the perimeter of the kitchen. The seemingly simple finish on the island ties the modern farmhouse look together. 

Basaltina Perimeter With Walnut Island

Here a walnut island surface warms the basaltina perimeter and helps add contrast to the white kitchen. It offers the perfect fusion of natural materials and lower maintenance. “There is always a balance to strike between durability offered by manufactured options and the beauty and soul of living materials,” says interior designer Joelle Nesen of Maison.

How to Plan a Kitchen That Extends Outside

Article by: Sarah Nolen

My clients are always asking me how to create that mysterious seamless connection between an indoor and outdoor kitchen, and vice versa. You may be thinking, “What on earth does that even mean? Does it mean I always leave my doors open? Or fill my kitchen with potted plants?” 

Creating a true connection between indoor and outdoor areas goes a step further than those two ideas and enters the realm of clever design, especially when it comes to the kitchen. If planned correctly, a kitchen can be opened to untapped entertaining (and cooking) space. What is created is a larger kitchen area — and if planned carefully, an all-weather entertaining space.

When deciding to connect your indoor space with your outdoor space, especially in terms of kitchen design, it is a good idea to make a list of what you want to achieve aesthetically and how you want the space to function. Do you want to have a space you can use all year round? How will you integrate the two spaces into one? What are the key aspects of the spaces you want to change, and what do you want to remain the same?

Here are a few points to consider when connecting your indoor and outdoor space with a kitchen.

Let your kitchen counter cross boundaries. A kitchen counter is a place where we prepare, cook and serve food and mingle. So let’s consider continuing it into both spaces, blurring the line between indoors and outdoors, which creates an immediate connection to both spaces. There are a number of ways to ensure that your kitchen counter in your outdoor area will also be functional.

You have the option to use your bench as a bar space when you are entertaining.

Or how about incorporating a fully decked-out kitchen with built-in barbecue, sink and wine fridge? Your countertop could continue out from an indoor island or along a shared wall.

Create invisible glass connections. Installing bifold, sliding or stacking doors and windows in your indoor kitchen will open up the spaces to each other whether they are closed or open. Even when the openings are closed, the clear glazing will create a visual connection between both areas. And when the weather is warm, the glass can be completely pushed back, allowing for the kitchen counter to be used outside.

Slim frames for windows and doors will help them visually disappear. You want the main focus to be the flow between the areas, not the framework. In return, be prepared for bountiful amounts of natural light and airflow that will take over the interior of your home. Summer, here we come!

Blend materials to create flow. It’s preferable from a visual perspective to have the kitchen counter constructed from one material, which means if it continues outside, you’ll need to think about weather-appropriate surfaces. Engineered materials like Caesarstone and Quantum Quartz are suitable choices, as are concrete and stainless steel.

The connection between materials doesn’t have to be only via the countertop. Think about your floor finish, which is the largest finish in both areas. Using the same tile but in different finishes is a perfect example of continuous material selection throughout. The indoor tile will need to be indoor-rated, whereas the outdoor one will need to be suitable for external application — though the color and pattern can still look the same.

Make it a comfort zone. When it’s cold outside, you’ll need some form of heating. This can be portable gas heaters, which are perfect for entertaining outdoors; when not in use, they can be stored in the garden shed or garage. Or perhaps you could try a more permanent feature, like ceiling radiator panels, which are turned on and off with a switch and can stay in place all year round.

For the summer consider ceiling fans for a cooling breeze. Set these over the areas where you’ll spend the most time, such as the dining table.

See a Complete Kitchen Remodel for $11,000

Article by: Mitchell Parker

Norma Rushton and her partner, Randy Dyke, really wanted a waterfront property in the Vancouver area but were quickly priced out of most places. When they lucked into a mobile home on the Stave River about an hour east of downtown Vancouver, they were thrilled at the great location right on the water at a good price. But that’s where their excitement ended. The home was in bad shape and needed major repairs.

BEFORE: Recently they started adding more storage and function to the original kitchen (shown here), which had been picked apart since it was built in 1970. For example, the backless cabinets had been cut up by previous owners to make room for a larger refrigerator and stove, leaving little storage. “The cabinets were starting to get useless,” Rushton says.

AFTER: Determined, Rushton, a high school theater teacher, spearheaded a complete gut and remodel, choosing all the materials, fixtures and appliances, while Dyke, a retired water taxi driver, did a lot of the work, including installing the drywall, molding, trim, backsplash (twice) and new window and patching the floor. The couple painted everything together. Professionals installed the cabinets and countertops. 

But best of all, the couple got discounted help from their contractor neighbor, Milan Vaclavik of Milan’s Home Renos, who took care of the plumbing, framing and electrical work at a friendly rate. 

Though the homeowners considered getting granite countertops, they ended up going with Formica instead. “Granite is too hard of a surface,” Rushton says. “I wanted something a little more forgiving.”

BEFORE: A bank of upper cabinets and a floor-to-ceiling cabinet made things a bit claustrophobic and blocked views between the kitchen and living room. “I wanted to be able to sit in the living room and see out the windows of the kitchen to the water,” Rushton says.

AFTER: They reduced the size of the upper cabinets and did away with the tall cabinet altogether, opening up the sightline between the two spaces. “Now you can actually chat with whoever’s in the kitchen,” Rushton says. 

The couple had a couple of remodeling disasters along the way. Rushton had found solid oak cabinets at a discounted price that she really liked, but when they arrived, they were the wrong model. With the renovation already under way, she had to make a tough decision and went with the different cabinets, which ended up throwing off all their measurements. 

The backsplash was another compromise. The first one that Rushton put up was “a horrible mistake,” she says. She had found peachy-taupey-colored porcelain tiles that looked great lying on the counter. But as soon as she installed them vertically on the wall, the angle of the light turned them green. A local tile guy informed her that artificial colors tend to do that and suggested a natural stone product instead. “It was either I live with it or let the money go,” she says. “I let it go and went and got marble tile instead.”

BEFORE: The washer and dryer were shoved into a storage closet in the kitchen, while an old cabinet did the work of storing bowls, platters and mail. 

AFTER: The homeowners replaced them with a stacking washer and dryer unit, an Ikea unit of sliding drawers for a pantry and a place for the vacuum cleaner. “It was all about getting what I need for putting things away,” Rushton says.

Sliding doors nicely seal off the laundry and pantry area, freeing up clutter near the pristine river view. 

Rushton says they budgeted about U.S.$8,000 but the actual cost came in at just over $11,000. 

Here’s some of the breakdown: 

Cabinets: $2,300
Cabinet handles: $170
Countertops: $675
Closet doors: $250
Washer, dryer, microwave: $2,000

Lighting: $335
New flooring (closet): $85
Wood: $85
Paint: $170
Backsplash: $335 
Sink: $250
Window: $60
Labor: $1,000

Ikea shelving: $300
Drywall, insulation, plumbing fixtures, electrical wiring, switches, plugs, power tools, screws and brackets, taxes and other miscellaneous expenses: around $3,200

Smart Ways to Make the Most of a Compact Kitchen

Article by: Joanna Simmons

We might all dream of a huge family kitchen, but most of us have to make do with something smaller. That said, whatever the size of our kitchen, the demands we place on it tend to be the same. We want it to function well for preparing and cooking meals. We might also like to be able to sit and eat in there, even if just perched at a breakfast bar. And we need space for a lot of different objects, from chunky appliances to silverware, dishes and food. The good news is, with some clever planning and great design, it is possible to have all these functions in one tiny space, as these inspiring spaces demonstrate.

Use every nook and cranny. It sounds obvious, but where space is tight, it’s essential to make use of all of it. This might mean commissioning custom units. Shelves or cupboards designed for your space, rather than bought off the shelf, can exploit even the most awkward corners or weirdly angled rooflines. Luckily, since the number of units you will be able to fit is limited by the small size of the room, a custom design often will be reasonably economical, too.

Enjoy a little rack n’ rail. Wall cupboards can eat into the space in a very small kitchen, but you can still make any wall work for you by adding racks, rails and slim shelves. These can hold things like saucepans, strung up on S hooks, mugs and pots holding cutlery, and even utensils. Covering the wall in blackboard paint helps it to multitask even more, as a place where you could write shopping lists and messages.

Make it streamlined. Chunky and mismatched pieces would eat into the space and make a tiny kitchen feel cluttered. Instead, opt for units with a minimalist look and, as here, a countertop that flows over all the base units and even extends to become a breakfast bar. The minimalist metal legs seen here keep sight lines open. This kitchen is flooded with natural light, so the color on the unit doors invigorates the space without encroaching on it.

Find another home for laundry appliances. It’s not uncommon to find washing machines and dryers installed in the kitchen, but, when space is limited, it’s a good idea to find an alternative home for them. A nook under some stairs can be a good place. Or consider putting a dryer — and perhaps a freezer — in the garage, if you have one.

Choose clever details. There are heaps of clever space-saving elements that can be built into a new kitchen, so if you’re starting from scratch, look for things like slim spice jar storage, knife drawers,toe-kick drawers and integrated chopping boards that can be slid over a sink or pulled out from the wall.

Try freestanding pieces. Freestanding furniture has its benefits in a small kitchen too. If you take the view that where room is tight, it’s important to make every item you place in it shine, then suddenly there is a logic to not building everything in. A freestanding piece containing an oven, sink and cupboards, like this one, looks like a beautiful piece of furniture that fits elegantly into the space.

Raise the ceiling. Rethinking the dimensions of the room and having some architectural work done can make a huge difference to a small kitchen. If yours is in a single-story space, raising the ceiling to expose a sloping roofline would add a huge sense of light and airiness. It also would offer the opportunity to install skylights, which pull in more light than vertical windows. Plus it would create a tall wall against which you can fit cupboards or shelves for maximum storage.

Build up to the ceiling. Floor space may be limited, but vertical space is often the same in a tiny kitchen as in a huge one. So make the most of it by building units that stretch right up to the ceiling — or just nearly. A small gap above tall cabinets can offer just enough breathing room to help keep the room from feeling cramped. Keep infrequently used items on the upper shelves and try using sleek handle-less doors, so the units look streamlined and seamless and don’t dominate the room.

Integrate appliances. You may yearn for a huge, freestanding range complete with five burners, but a small-scale kitchen is not the place to install one. Instead, integrate your appliances for a more streamlined look and a space-savvy solution. Building the microwave into a cupboard will free up countertop space, and why not go for a boiling-water tap to dispense with the need for a kettle?

Work in a portable mini island. In addition to built-in units, a small, movable butcher’s block with shelves, like this one, can prove incredibly useful. It would take up very little room while supplying additional storage and prep space. It would also create the relaxed, freestanding look you may have been craving but thought you couldn’t pull off in a small kitchen.

Open vs. Closed Kitchens — Which Style Works Best for You?

Article by: Vanessa Brunner

For centuries the kitchen was strictly a workspace. Often tucked in the back of the house, it had room for just the bare essentials. But a peek at many new kitchens today reveals a very different approach: the open-concept kitchen at the heart of the home. 

“The kitchen was really a closed-off spot for a long time,” says John Petrie, president-elect of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. “Now people want the kitchen to be an active part of the family home.” Although open-concept kitchens are by far the more popular choice today, some homeowners are embracing elements of the past — namely a separate, more closed-off layout. Could we be shifting back to the kitchens of yesteryear? 

We asked three kitchen experts for their thoughts on the two kitchen styles, and how you can decide which one is right for you.

How the Walls Came Down

Twenty years ago the term “cocooning” arose in the home design world. Home life shifted as people spent more time at home. “Home was a safe place, a refuge and where you wanted to be,” says Petrie.

The desire for a cocoon fueled the open-concept kitchen, allowing homeowners to spend more time with family and friends while cooking and cleaning. “It also showcased a shift to a more casual lifestyle,” says Andrea Dixon of Fiddlehead Design Group. “People weren’t afraid to expose reality — i.e., a messy kitchen.” 

“When the walls came down, the kitchen became an integral part of the home,” says Petrie. Kitchens soon became the center of the house — the room that everything else revolved around. 

Today this layout has become the go-to kitchen style, particularly for families. The combined layout allows for optimum multitasking — parents can prepare dinner, watch the news and help with homework at the same time. “I’m a huge open-concept-kitchen fan,” says Anthony Carrino of Brunelleschi Construction. “I find that the benefits far outweigh those of throwing the kitchen into another room. Ninety-nine percent of our clients ask for an open-concept kitchen.”

The Case for a Closed Kitchen

The kitchen is already the most expensive room in the house to remodel, and turning a closed kitchen into an open plan can add to the cost. Tearing down walls means dealing with plumbing, electrical and structural work on a huge scale. Sometimes the added expense means compromising in other areas. 

For homeowners who’d rather invest in other parts of their kitchen — appliances, materials or cabinetry — reworking the layout may not be worth it. “You have to think about what’s best for you,” says Petrie. When it comes to allocating your kitchen budget, which is more important, he asks, “an efficient, functional kitchen with better appliances? Or an open layout that connects to the rest of your home?”

While most of Dixon’s clients ask for open-concept kitchens, some prefer a closed-off space. “There will always be some people who are uncomfortable with letting guests see their ‘unmentionables,'” she says. “It’s definitely a more formal layout, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.” 

If you want to leave your smells and mess behind when serving meals, a closed layout could be for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can get creative with a closed kitchen, too,” says Carrino. If space allows, a small booth, fold-down table or rolling bar can make a closed kitchen more of a social space.

Cons of a Closed Layout

Of course, a closed-off kitchen’s isolation also can be its main downfall. This layout doesn’t allow for direct access from the kitchen to the dining table, or vice versa. And it’s difficult to interact with friends and family while whipping up meals, since most of the room is reserved for the work triangle.

Choosing What’s Right for You

There’s no set formula that can tell you which kitchen layout will work better in your home. Part of having a conversation with a designer is trying to figure out what’s best for you. Start with a list of needs and wants, and go from there. “You’ve got to consider the way you live in your home and the way you use your home,” says Carrino. “How do you use your kitchen? How do you foresee using your new kitchen?” 

Everyone’s needs are different, so don’t let yourself sway with trends. “A family with kids that need supervision might decide to do an open-concept plan with a large multifunctional island,” says Dixon. “But a couple who loves to entertain might opt for a closed-concept space so they can prep courses ahead of time and not spoil the surprise. It totally depends on your lifestyle.” 

8 Kitchen Design Tips for Foodies

Article by:

I cut my culinary teeth in a tiny apartment where a janky oven meant that cookies took twice as long to bake, and seared scallops nearly sent dinner guests home with smoke inhalation.

The upside of all that making-do meant I knew exactly what I wanted when the time finally came to move to a larger space and remodel the kitchen. I spent hours poring over solutions for everything from pot storage to dishwasher space, and while not every idea worked for our space, the fixes I found heavily influenced the end result.

Here are eight great tips to help your dream kitchen work beautifully.

1. Buy the right vent hood. Vent hoods are rated by the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air they can suck from a room. While formulas for determining how much power you’ll need vary, you’ll want to start by acquainting yourself with the basics. 

  • There’s no point in buying a hood that’s larger than your range. It won’t really suck more smoke out, and it won’t look right either.
  • Gas ranges generate more heat than electric ones, and thus require more powerful vent hoods.
  • Maxxing out the CFMs isn’t always a good thing. For example, a 1,000-CFM vent hood will suck the air from a 10-by-10-by-10 room in about a minute, then will lose suction unless you have an HVAC system or an open window. So have your room dimensions handy to show the vendor when it’s time to buy.

2. Invest in proper knife storage. If you love to cook, chances are that you’ve spent a pretty penny on at least one good kitchen knife. But leaving it to rattle loosely in a cutlery drawer will dull and damage its blade – and pose a serious threat to your fingers.

Kitchen knives should be stored in a way that keeps them separate and organized, with their blades horizontally oriented so the knife never rests on its blade. 

While my knives are currently housed in the block they came in, I plan to commandeer a little-used drawer and add a knife block like this one.

3. Pull out your pans. This ingenious pullout eliminates messy stacks of pots.

4. Stash pot lids in a rollout. Pot lids can be the bane of any home chef’s existence, jamming drawers and preventing pots from stacking properly. To solve this problem, use a shallow rolling drawer to neatly stash lids for the pots below.

5. Keep cooking utensils off your countertop. Keeping spatulas and whisks in a countertop jar may make storing these awkwardly shaped utensils easy, but it also creates clutter. Consider replacing a narrow cabinet near your stove with a custom pullout to keep utensils close at hand.

6. Create extra prep space. This small San Francisco kitchen was in desperate need of extra prep space. The solution: a custom rolling cutting board and base cabinet that can be pulled out should the sous-chef need some extra elbow room.

7. Make your faucet a soaker. I was wary of a soaker hose’s high profile poking up above our breakfast bar, but my husband talked me into it. And boy, am I glad he did! It blasts water off dirty dishes, cools pasta in no time flat and ensures that every corner of our sink is sparkling clean.

8. Consider a dishwasher with a utensil drawer. The last thing I want to do when I entertain is to disturb guests with the clatter of hand washing dishes, but I don’t want to wake up to a mess either.

Choosing a dishwasher that can comfortably accommodate a heavy load was very important to me. The model I chose has a narrow utensil drawer that slides out above the top rack, freeing space below for unwieldy pots and large stacks of dishes. A year later I can definitely say this was one of the best decisions we made.

Key Measurements to Help You Design Your Kitchen

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Whether you are moving into an existing kitchen, remodeling the one you have or building a new one, understanding a few key measurements and organizational guidelines can help your culinary life run more smoothly. 

Kitchens provide storage for your food and cookware, give you room for prep and cleanup, and of course also provide a place where you can cook and bake. When it’s thoughtfully arranged, these functions operate logically, making work in your kitchen a better experience. Here’s how to get the ideal setup.

Ideally, refrigeration and dry-goods storage should be located nearest to the kitchen’s entry point. The cooking area should be located toward the dining spaces, and the sink is best positioned between those two functions. This creates what’s called a work triangle. The best work triangle is less than 21 linear feet (6.4 meters). Work triangles that exceed 26 feet (7.9 meters) make moving from one function to another inefficient in most cases.

This cutaway plan illustrates arrangements and dimensions for a modest-size kitchen. Note that the preparation area is split between the island with the sink and the corner of the kitchen. The work triangle is compact. There will always be a few tradeoffs in any space. 

Let’s take a look at the three main functions of a kitchen:

1. Storage
2. Preparation
3. Cooking

Everyone has personal preferences for what works best, so consider this a guide and not a rulebook.

 

 

 

Storage. As noted, designers recommend putting refrigeration and dry-goods storage at the kitchen entry point. Putting your pantry on one side and a countertop that’s 15 to 24 inches (38 to 61 centimeters) on the other is a good idea. This will allow you to easily set down items that have been taken out of the freezer and refrigerator.

The pantry can hold dry goods plus brooms and supplies like paper towels. Use drawers in this area to hold plastic bags, foil and anything that can contain food to be stored. For the cabinets in this area, you will want to have mixing bowls, cake pans, measuring utensils and any other items that aid in assembling meals.

Preparation. Ideally, prep and cleaning space is best located around the sink. Within these areas will be everyday glasses and dishes, along with trash receptacles and the dishwasher. Allow 18 to 36 inches (45 to 92 centimeters) of countertop space on one or both sides of your sink.

Preparation areas are best kept clear of other items, since you will always be taking out bowls, plates and utensils there. Allow at least 36 inches (92 centimeters) of uncluttered countertop space for preparation in a small kitchen. Larger kitchens will have much more. This is one reason that islands are so popular. They provide broad and well-lit surfaces on which to perform the majority of kitchen tasks.

Cooking. The cooking centers should be arranged around the range, cooktop and wall ovens. Place pots, frying pans and baking sheets in the vicinity around your burners and ovens. It is a good idea to place small appliances such as toasters and coffeemakers in this area also, as it will leave your preparation areas unobstructed.

Allow 21 to 36 inches (53 to 92 centimeters) of countertop on either side of your cooktop. If possible, place wall ovens with a free countertop immediately next to them so that you can set down hot food immediately. Place seasonings, breadboards and potholders in nearby drawers and cupboards. Keep serveware toward the dining area.

Recommended Dimensions of Kitchen Elements

The dimensions of all the pieces in your kitchen are important to get right to make the best use of your space. A common refrigerator width is slightly less than 36 inches (92 centimeters). The problem is often the depth. In recent years some manufacturers have designed them to be much deeper than a 24-inch (61-centimeter) base cabinet. You can still buy shallower freestanding refrigerators, but you have to pay close attention to the dimensions listed in its specifications to be certain. The other option is built-in configurations, but they are significantly more expensive. 

Look for a depth of 30 inches (76 centimeters) or less, excluding handles, unless you can design your kitchen space to accept a deeper unit. Another thing to consider is the swing of the refrigerator door. Always examine the swing direction to see if it will meet an obstruction.

 

Here you can see how the height of the cabinets plays an important part in the configuration. Upper cabinets are normally positioned at 18 inches (46 centimeters) above the countertop and are 30 to 42 inches (76 to 107 centimeters) in height. Consider that your average maximum reach over and into an upper cabinet is 70 to 80 inches (178 to 203 centimeters) above the floor. Cabinets set at above 7 feet will likely need to be accessed with a step ladder. Cabinets above 8 feet are not practical for the majority of people; however, they may serve as storage for seasonal or decorative items, to be reached with step stools and ladders. 

The standard dimensions for base cabinets are 24 inches (61 centimeters) deep and 36 inches (92 centimeters) high. In general people are getting taller, so some homeowners are bumping up the counter height to 38 inches (97 centimeters).

 

Another important dimension to consider is the distance between cabinets. Entry points can be as little as 36 inches (92 centimeters) when there is a cabinet on only one side. Stay at least 42 inches (107 centimeters) from the face of a cabinet to the one on the other side; 48 inches (122 centimeters) is even better, but going beyond 60 inches (152 centimeters) is too wide in most cases. However, if it is a U-shaped kitchen, you could get away with up to 96 inches (244 centimeters).

6 Reasons to Hire a Home Design Professional

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Who hasn’t heard that regular trips to the dentist can prevent the spread of tooth decay? Even though sitting in that chair isn’t the most enjoyable way to spend time, most of us know that a dentist has the knowledge and expertise to check all aspects of our oral health. Similarly, residential designers (architects, interior designers and others) bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to make sure all aspects of remodeling and custom home projects go as smoothly as possible. 

Talk with almost anyone who’s ever tried to do a construction project without pro help, and you’ll likely hear one statement over and over again: “I wished I had hired a designer.” Even in smaller projects, like a one-room remodel, once you open up those walls, situations arise for which only an experienced professional can apply his or her creative problem solving to save time and money. 

Here’s why it’s worth it to hire a designer. 

1. You’ll save time. You may not know how structural choices can impact the installation of the mechanical system. Or about options for new materials or technologies that might be cheaper, better or more appropriate than what you are familiar with. Figuring those things out takes time, and lots of it. A skilled professional will have this information at the ready for you. 

Plus, with advances in technology, new building envelope techniques are coming on the market with increasing frequency, and new, tougher energy-efficiency requirements are transforming how walls are constructed and bringing an end to many traditional building practices. So it’s more crucial than ever to have someone on your team who understands how your building assembly meets current building code requirements. 

These codes are typically complex texts that are difficult for those outside the building industry to understand. When designers submit drawings to the building authority, a plans examiner reviews them and issues a revision notice to address any variances from the current codes and construction standards. 

A well-informed designer with up-to-date knowledge of building science can get building projects through with the minimum number of revisions. Since each revision takes time to be completed, having fewer revisions will allow you to get your permit faster. Low-quality or incomplete documents can delay your construction. Hiring a designer will help ensure that your project meets relevant codes so it can progress smoothly through your municipality’s process.

This could save you many sleepless nights and potentially weeks on your project trying to determine what is needed to satisfy the code requirements. 

2. You’ll get their expertise and understanding of the overall construction process. The basic function of a designer is interpreting your needs and coming up with a professional plan for any building project. Although you may hire him or her only for this task, the designer will also provide a wide variety of other resources to make sure the whole building process goes off without a hitch. 

Depending on your needs and budget, a designer can guide you through the relevant building application process, research planning legislation, assist in the hiring of surveyors and general contractors, recommend subcontractors and manage the construction phase of a project on your behalf to ensure that building plans are accurately followed.

Trying to do this yourself would mean hours and hours of research and potential delays. 

There are many types of designers working in the home building industry. Some are licensed professionals; others are builders who have expanded their services into design as well as construction of custom homes and home renovations. 

Design-builders and unlicensed designers make up a large contingent of the individuals working in the procurement of custom homes and renovations. They tend to be cost effective and can be the right fit for your project, so long as you find a reputable person to work with. 

Architects are generally more expensive to hire but bring to a project a broader set of skills 
and talent that can result in both an exceptional project and an exceptional experience. This 
results from the additional work an architect puts into coordinating everyone involved in your project, as well as the unique skills and knowledge related to current technology, materials and construction processes. 

That said, not every project requires an architect, and not every design-builder can deliver on your vision. The rule of thumb is that the more unique and challenging the project is, the better suited an architect is for it. 

3. They speak the language. Because so much information on your project is communicated using two-dimensional drawings, there are many conventions on how planssections and elevations are interpreted. Your project revolves around translating the 2-D drawing to 3-D construction using wood studs, insulation and other materials. 

There can be misinterpretations of these drawings, which gives rise to confusion about how building elements go together. Especially if the drawings show something that the contractor might not be familiar with. Or if the contractor is busy and hasn’t had the time to really look at certain parts of the drawings, critical elements of the details can be overlooked. A designer knows how to stay on top of this.

On a recent project a client who was supervising his own construction project found the contractors hadn’t correctly followed the detail drawings. They had inadvertently switched the location of the vapor barrier from the warm side of the building envelope to the cold side, where the wall meets the floor. Doesn’t sound like much, but most problems with mold and rot in building are cause by prolonged periods of condensation occurring within the wall and floor assembly. 

Over time the presence of moisture will give rise to the mold’s bacteria and fungus, which lead to rot and structural failure. The only way to fix this was to rip out several courses of brick all around the house, costing the client almost $10,000.

Having someone onboard who speaks the language can prevent these costly missteps. 

4. They’ll be your advocate. If you’re having problems with contractors on your project, it might be tough for you to verify that they are properly carrying out the intent of the drawings, or even which contractor is actually responsible for the issue. 

It can be hard to know where the responsibility for one contractor ends and the other begins. Time and again we’ve seen things get overlooked or improperly constructed early in the process, which affects contractors later in the job. And if that earlier contractor has left to another job, it’s oftentimes difficult to get the person back onsite to fix those mistakes. Plus, it’s costly for new contractors to fix another’s mistakes. 

We had one client who didn’t elect to procure our construction management services. He had to bring in a second team of drywall contractors near the end of the project to fix the poor job done by the initial subcontractors, who wouldn’t come back to fix areas that weren’t up to standard. It cost the client an additional $3,500 out of his pocket to fix the mistakes that weren’t caught earlier.

Substandard drywalling can cause a whole host of problems at the finishing stage, not the least of which is uneven tile, because the tile contractors can’t get a straight line to adhere tile. Problems that may not be very apparent when looking at a whole wall of drywall under construction lighting are magnified when the tile is on and the pot lights are showing areas where the tile doesn’t meet properly or is uneven.

Contract administration can be accessed on a fixed fee or an hourly basis. Expect to budget 3½ to 4½ percent of your construction cost to this for a typical project. 

5. You’ll get their design sense and attention to detail. A designer translates your needs to functional spaces but also makes them beautiful. Good designers are consummate three-dimensional thinkers and can use their abilities to find special opportunities in a design that might not easily be understood in two-dimensional drawings. Additionally, they are always keeping up-to-date on trends in local and international design. 

If you want a space that has lasting appeal and adds to the value of your investment, you need to hire a designer. Designers have the skills to include the features that will maximize your house, while making sure your project runs smoothly. 

Not all architectural details are reflected in drawings. Architects can also specify plumbing fixtures, expected quality levels, finishes, electrical fixtures and other related information that’s communicated in drawings or in specifications written for the contractors working on the project. If the architect does not prepare written specifications, then you could be faced with change orders, which can slow down the process. 

Change orders are instructions to the contractor to make an onsite change from what’s specified in the contract documents. It can simplify construction based on site conditions, but it also can add costs when it requires redoing part of the construction due to oversights. 

6. You’ll get access to other skilled pros. Being in the design business means meeting lots of other pros who also work on residential projects. From structural engineers to painters, your designer probably has quite the network of skilled contractors who can get the job done within the given budget. 

And, again, the point here is that the additional cost for a quality design team can mean savings in the long run. I think one of the contractors we are working with said it best with a quote at the bottom of the company letterhead, which reads, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”