Exploring Kitchen Design Options

Don’t think that every kitchen remodel involves tearing out cabinets or ripping things back to the bare wall studs. Attractive and affordable kitchen makeovers can be accomplished with as little effort as painting walls or splashing in some new colors with wallpaper or window treatments

Before you settle on a kitchen shape or get too disappointed because you think you’re limited to only one design, do some more homework and investigating. One option is to ask a kitchen designer to come to your house and assess the current kitchen and then go over what options are available to you. However you do need to have a good notion of what you want before talking with a designer.

Here are some things to consider when planning your new kitchen:

  • Add counter space: Finding extra room for more counter space can be a real challenge because it usually means altering the size and shape of the kitchen. Generally, the only way to find space is to open up or move existing walls. If you’re set on gaining counter space, be ready for some major construction.

    One other option for gaining space is reworking your layout. Your existing kitchen may be an L-shape that just doesn’t seem to work for you, but a reconfigured L-design (moving the current location of appliances) may be all it takes to give you more space. If you seem to be hitting roadblocks, contact a kitchen designer.

  • Add eat-in dining space: Just because your old kitchen had a small, cramped eating space, that doesn’t mean your new kitchen has to have a similar setup. Take a look at this list for a few hints:

    • Smaller table and chairs: If you can’t gain floor space from anywhere, consider different furniture as part of your remodeling plan.

    • Breakfast bar: Making part of the countertop into a breakfast bar is a popular way to gain space. Extend an oversized area of countertop either into the kitchen or the adjoining area, often an informal dining area.

    • Booth: Change the look of your kitchen and give yourself more storage by installing a booth. The table is a traditional-looking rectangle secured to the wall and supported with a single front leg. It has two bench seats, like you see in the old malt shops or restaurants. But what really makes this design appealing is the storage drawers under both benches.

  • Install an island: Many larger kitchens are designed with work areas too far apart, which makes them inefficient. A good remedy for cutting down traffic flow problems and making your kitchen easier to use is to add an island near the center of the kitchen. By adding the island, you can move a cooktop or even a sink into the island, thus creating a more compact work triangle. The island provides additional storage space, plus many island designs have eating space incorporated.

    Adding an island that will house cooking or food prep equipment involves changes such as adding plumbing, wiring, ventilation, or any combination of the three. If you install a sink, it needs hot and cold water lines and a drain line. If you install a cooktop, you’ll need gas lines or need 240-volt electrical service to the island, plus at least one 120-volt outlet for small appliances.

What type of workstations you add depends on what type of cooking you enjoy doing. If you do a fair amount of baking, be sure you have plenty of counter space for dough preparation and so on. A second oven may be a good choice, too. Here are some other areas you may want to add, change, or improve:

  • Preparation: Lots of counter space is essential when you have two or more cooks. Even if both of you are preparing the same foods, you’ll want separate work spaces. Both preparation areas should be close to the refrigerator and near or adjacent to the sink or sinks.

  • Cleanup: People sometimes forget that after all the preparation and presentation comes the cleanup. If you install a second sink, position it near the dishwasher and outfit it with a garbage disposer.

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