Thursday, November 3, 2011

The kitchen: what came first the design (chicken) or the selections (egg)?

It’s an age old question, well the chicken or the egg portion anyways, but to me it’s simple….the chicken came first. And in a kitchen (or bath) renovation so does the design.

For a lot of people it’s hard to focus on the design. When you walk into a show house or see a picture in a magazine, few of us give much thought to the actual design of the space or the internal components of the cabinetry and focus our attention on the aesthetic elements such as the countertops, lighting, flooring and wall color. Don’t get me wrong the selections are important and to be honest the fun part of the process but don’t short change yourself, cabinetry has come so far and there are SO many options available to make life easier. Some examples include roll outs, mixer/appliance lifts, blind corner cabinets with pullout shelves, dish drawers, the list goes on and on - skipping this step would be, crazy!

So, how do you focus on the design? Well, think of what brought you here....

 It’s a fact that most people update their kitchen or bath as much for functional purposes as they do for aesthetic. Most of the time there is a specific need, be it a broken appliance, leaky plumbing, inadequate storage, etc…that take a project from “something we’d like to do” to “something we're in the market to do now.” What are the little quirks you have been living with for years that you would love to resolve with this new design? To begin, look at your space as a blank canvas, forget colors, textures, etc... And just focus on functionality. Some tips for adding function include, the addition of drawers over “cave” cabinets. I describe cabinets without roll outs or drawers as cave cabinets because that’s what they remind me of. Items stored at the front of the cave must be removed to gain access to those items stored behind. Items at the very back can be lost or forgotten all together!  I had a client once who said she found three full bags of flour at the back of one of her cave cabinets when she went to clean out her cabinetry for her renovation. She never knew they were there because they were behind other items she rarely moved. The beauty of a drawer or roll out is that you are able to pull them towards you, and with them whatever you have stored inside. Shallow depth storage on the back of an island is also a good idea, this is the perfect place to store seasonal items, place mats, flower vases, etc... A lot of times I suggest clients consider what they will put in each cabinet, behind every door and in all of the drawers. This ensures that no item is forgotten and everything will have a home in the new space.

It's said the kitchen is the heart of the home and for most the place everyone wants to gather. Because of this fact there are certain design elements that are important to consider to avoid guests, family members and fellow cooks from getting in each others way. It's important for walk ways in a kitchen to be a minimum of 42”; this allows people to cook together in the kitchen without being on top of one another. If you have room for an island in your kitchen it is much more functional to have the island all at one level as opposed to a “raised bar.” Why? For cooking purposes it gives you that much more uninterrupted space.

 The design process can be long and will likely involve a lot of tweaking, thinking and re-tweaking but have fun with it because YOU will be the one that benefits from it. Invest the time and really think out your options because a well designed space is like the gift that just keeps on giving!

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