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Top 10 Kitchen Re-Design Tips - Beautiful, Functional, Social Kitchens

Updated on November 20, 2016
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John uses his scientific (PhD) & research skills to review & home building & interior design, renovation. John built his straw bale house.

Many people spend a lot of time in their kitchens. When you have the opportunity to change the layout of your kitchen you want to do just right, so it is perfect.

You can focus on past mistakes and deficiencies with the current design and seek to rectify them suing tour own judgment.

But it is a good idea to review past mistakes that other people have highlighted and examine the tips that others have found helpful.

Good and efficient design often depends on ideas and innovations you may not have thought of yourself. Times change and what was good design yesterday is now out of date, so look at modern trends and adapt them for your needs.

The first step is to realise that the kitchen is not just a place for preparing and cooking meals. It can become the social hub for family life, and you can invite your dinner guests into your kitchen to talk with you while you are preparing dinner, or perhaps contribute.

Many people eat their breakfast and lunch in the kitchen and prepare snacks. So the kitchen should be beautiful, charming, inspiring and highly functional for preparing food and socialising.

Clean modern kitchen design
Clean modern kitchen design | Source
Open kitchen design designed to be a social environment not just a place to cook food
Open kitchen design designed to be a social environment not just a place to cook food | Source
Efficient Kitchen design for a limited space
Efficient Kitchen design for a limited space | Source
Removing the head high cupboard gives a cleaning less cluttered design
Removing the head high cupboard gives a cleaning less cluttered design | Source

Ten Top Tips for Kitchen Designs and Re-Designs

1. Don’t block or impede access to the kitchen essentials triangle in any way.

The essentials triangle is the sink, stove and refrigerator. The counter top work areas are a fourth essential. Often the position of the sink is purely determined by the plumbing connection. While this is hard to change, for an extensive renovation bring in a plumber to adjust them plumbing to suit where you want the sink. Don’t let the tail wag the dog.

The size of the kitchen essentials triangle matters. It should neither be too small or too large if it is to function correctly. The total length around all sides should be greater than 10 feet (3 m) and less than 25 feet (7.5m). If the triangle is not big enough, people working in the kitchen will be forever running into each other and will get distracted. It the triangle is too big, you will have too far to travel and food preparation could become tiring and lose its appeal.

2. Don’t waste space in the kitchen that could be used for storage

You can never have enough storage space especially that close to hand. There are a lot of creative ways to use ever nook and cranny in very efficient ways. This include areas high and areas in the back of cupboards. Floating island benches can come with very efficiently designed areas below the bench top. Make efficient use of all that space. One area often neglected is to have cupboards over the refrigerator.

3. Make good use of counter-top work space.

There can never be enough counter-tops, especially in small kitchens. So in redesigning your kitchen consider adding more counter-tops and ways to existing areas more efficiently. This may mean putting appliances on small protruding shelves or storing them away when not in use. Consider adding an island bench if your kitchen is large enough.

4. Improve Poor lighting.

Many kitchen designs fail, simply because only half the area is adequately lit. Good lighting helps to make it function better and improves safety and lowers the risk of injuries caused by poor lighting.

Kitchens generally need three types of lighting:

  • general lighting for overall illumination
  • lighting for specific cooking tasks and food preparation,
  • accent lighting to create a good mood and ambiance.

Look very carefully at the adequacy of the lighting in the work areas. Adding a few spot lights can really help. Use pendant lights or other lights hanging from the ceiling to boost the lighting of particular areas.

Pendants work well over kitchen sinks - A series of mini-pendants or ceiling spots enhance the lighting of breakfast bars and floating kitchen islands. Put extra lights under cabinets as a way to make sure the counters have adequate lighting for all kitchen tasks.

5. Consider adding one or more back-splashes

Many people leave this out of their renovation plans. But a back-splash means that you can do things without worrying about damaging the walls. This will deal with rising plumes of steam, humidity and condensation and grease residues that are inevitable during cooking. It is far easier to clean grease, water and spills off a specially designed back-splash made of metal, tiles or some sort of plastic, than paint or wallpaper on the wall. Remove the worry by installing quality back-splashes behind the major work areas.

6. Improve the ventilation

The best of kitchen design can fail if kitchen odors and cooking smells dominate the atmosphere. There are many inexpensive range hoods, exhaust fans and air circulation systems that will do the job. Expelling odors and smoke will help keep your kitchen clean.

7. Be careful with your choice of a kitchen island system.

Kitchen islands can provide extra bench top areas and storage space but they can also clutter up the area and break the pathways between the essential components in the kitchen. Size matters and the shape and portability of the island. You need to have adequate space for an island of minimum size. Small islands don't work. Any island added to the kitchen should be at least 4 feet long (1.3 m) and a little more than 2 feet deep (60 cm). But there must be adequate space on all sides for people to move around it.

8. Don’t ignore how you are going to handle recyclables.

Most kitchens have garbage disposal well covered. However, these days most people want to collected sorted recyclables and organic scraps so they can be recycled. Add extra receptacles for recyclables that can be easily accessed and emptied.

9. Don't go too trendy or fancy with the design

Always choose designs that work well as well as look good. Be careful of weird new trends as most of them can become passing fads and can quickly become out of date. Intermediate designs that will stand the test of time are best.

10. Don't be hoodwinked by professionals

They can push their own preferences instead of you getting what you want using their advice. Always consider a range of designs. But develop a list of your key design elements and stick with them.

© 2013 Dr. John Anderson


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