5 Things I Learned as a Kitchen Designer

From on March 27, 2009 in Kitchen Remodel

Aside from writing, which I love dearly, one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had was as a kitchen and bathroom designer. There is nothing cooler than helping people design, decorate, remodel, or build their kitchen - the hub of the family’s day. If you think about it, we spend so much time in our kitchens - we cook there, we eat there, and if you’re like our family, you help your kids do homework there, you sit with friends and visit there, you bake delicious goodies there, and sometimes you sneak in and steal a fattening snack from there and pretend it never happened. A lot goes on in the kitchen and it’s a room that deserves a lot of forethought to serve as a comfortable, inspirational, nurturing place in your home. That said, I learned a lot during my time as a designer, many things I will never forget, like the following: srj.jpg Photo credit: SRJ Construction & Design

Remember Your Geometry with the Work Triangle

Geometry was never my best subject and yet it came in very handy when planning kitchens. In order to make preparing meals easier you need to keep your work triangle in good shape. The triangle is the distance between your three most handy kitchen appliances: the stove, refrigerator, and sink. The theory is that the least distance you will have to travel to get from any of these sources to the others, the more efficient you’ll be in your kitchen. We always tried to keep our triangles to 21’ or less, with no obstacles in the way. You don’t want your triangle to be too tight either, though or you’ll find you don’t have enough working counter space between the appliances.

Forget Fading Fads

Fads are fleeting, but classic is forever. Some people like to update their kitchens every five to seven years, but it’s much easier and cheaper to design your kitchen to last a good long time. While white cabinetry, pickled stains, and even painted cabinets have come into and out of style, nice durable wood stained in natural colors are warm and inviting and never get tiresome. It’s OK to make your kitchen unique and “you,” but try to stay away from colors, decorations, and accessories that you might get sick of looking at after a few years.

island.jpgPhoto credit: McCauley & Father

Islands are King

No matter what type of kitchen I worked on, big or small, stately or simple, they all turned out better with an island in it. The feature of cabinetry smack-dab in the middle of a kitchen is great for adding storage space, creating an extra working countertop, placing under-the-cabinet appliances, and creating an extra seating area. My old house had no dishwasher when we moved in, but I designed an island and my husband put it in and voila! I had a place for my dishwasher, extra counter space, and a place where the kids could grab a snack and do homework close-by while I prepared dinner.

Accessories Are Optional

Some kitchen cabinet accessories are handy organizers and items that can make life easier, but some are just ways to get you to spend your money on items that will ultimately just take up space. People love to have the latest gadgets, but really look at how they will affect your time in the kitchen. I found items like roll-out trays, spice drawer organizers, and baking sheet dividers to be nearly useless. What if your items don’t fit the space the manufacturers have planned for? What if you decide that cabinet would be better used for other items? It’s best to stick to the basics, like silverware organizers, false sink front tray, and lazy Susans.

backsplash.jpgPhoto credit: Desert Pacific Design Builders Inc.

Backsplash or Backlash

There’s nothing worse than greasy, grimy goo stuck to the walls behind your stove, sink, and cabinets that take a lot of elbow grease to get rid of. No matter how scrubbable paint may be, it’s never easy to clean kitchen grease and splatters. A fitting backsplash will look attractive and make your life easier when it comes time to clean the kitchen. Your best bet is a steel, aluminum, or laminate backsplash or even tile - though do yourself a favor and have your contractor install a colored grout that shows less dirt.

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