Designing the perfect kitchen for style and functionality

Many clients seek my advice on how to make their homes more beautiful and up to date.

Most people are focused on the aesthetics of a design project when functionality is often the issue that needs to be dealt with. I won’t discount aesthetics for even a second but often a different issue is presented and it is important for clients to realize that a renovation or building project may need to include a change of function of the property.

I have designed so many kitchens that I’m convinced I could do it in my sleep!

We spend the majority of our lives in our kitchens and they need to be functional and laid out in a convenient manner. New or old, poorly designed kitchens will cause frustration and dissatisfaction with your home on a daily basis. It is so important to make sure your kitchen is well laid out and represents what you need as a family to create harmony and a peaceful existence, well before the pretty is chosen.

Families with small children will benefit from an open concept design where the kitchen and family spaces are combined and visible to one another.

I also prefer a kitchen facing the back yard of a home to allow diligent moms the opportunity to watch their kids at play even if they have to be in the kitchen for a certain amount of time.

A kitchen that is open with space for everyone allows full family participation in the meal preparation and clean up and allows those who aren’t involved in prep to be involved in other activities at the same time.

Consider the activities you might be performing simultaneously and make sure that the function of these activities can be carried out easily.

The appliances should be arranged in an easily accessed work triangle with enough room between them to still use each one without interruption from the other.

The dishwasher should be located in an area away from the prep space to allow both activities to occur at the same time which increases the efficiency of the kitchen. The items that you frequently access, whether it is pots and pans or pantry items, should be located conveniently to allow others to ‘grab and go’ and not constantly be under foot.

Counter space is extremely important but I have seen overkill on so many kitchen projects.

Islands which are too large and extended lengths of countertop designed to give more space but laid out in such a way that the length of runway can never possibly be used! If your kitchen island is multi use (stove top/sink/eating bar) but you constantly have to walk around to access all areas you may find the function frustrating and time consuming. It is a wonderful item to have in a kitchen unless it inhibits the flow to a dining area or family space and if its space and storage isn’t usable without a considerable trek around a giant structure.

As the concept of kitchen design can be intimidating for many, I definitely recommend conferring with a qualified designer to help you create a successful road map to your dream kitchen. Once the functionality has been expertly created then the fun begins as you continue on to choose beautiful colours, tile finishes, granite and appliances.

Kim Wyse is a freelance interior designer. Find her on facebook at ‘Ask a Designer’.

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