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How to Design a Kitchen Like a Pro

How to Design a Kitchen Like a Pro

Are you ready to remodel your kitchen? We are excited to share with you how to design a kitchen like a pro!

Although HGTV calls the kitchen “one of the most complicated remodeling projects,” kitchen design can be just as daunting for those of you who are building new!

These tips from our Studio 76 Kitchens & Baths design professionals will help you through the design process. Whether you are building new or remodeling your old kitchen, the best place to start is with these five design principles to guide you in how to design a kitchen like a pro.

1. Kitchen Priorities

Setting priorities will help you achieve your goals while maintaining a budget. Without priorities, you may not get the value you would expect from your new build or remodeled kitchen.

What is most important to you: An enlarged space? Granite or quartz countertops? All-wood cabinets? Professional appliances? New windows? A deeper sink? Better storage? Stone flooring?  If, for example, enlarging your space by removing a wall is your top priority, then adjust your next priorities to maintain your budget.

If you are just getting started, you may not know what your priorities are yet. Do some research to see what you like. Try to focus on your style and keep an open mind when looking at different products. When the pricing list is compiled, you may have to adjust to a second choice for those items lower on your priority list. Here are some ways to begin your research:

  • Get online. Go to Houzz.com and search styles such as “traditional” or “transitional” or “contemporary.” Look at cabinet styles, flooring materials, special storage features. Get specific about a picture and save it to your “ideabook” noting what you like and dislike about that particular kitchen. While you are on Houzz, read reviews of products and professionals. Finally, don’t forget to check Pinterest and HGTV for more kitchen products, styles, and design ideas.
  • Visit kitchen showrooms. It is great when a homeowner calls and asks about touring our showroom! Seeing and touching samples of kitchen products in person can be pivotal for the decision-making process.
  • Make a consultation appointment with a kitchen designer. Just talking with a professional for an hour will give you great insights on how to proceed, what pitfalls to avoid, and what a realistic budget is for the scope of work you want done.

In the photo below, a client had a wall removed between the kitchen and eating area creating an enlarged open floor plan.

White Kitchen Before-After Collage

2. Kitchen Space Planning

Think about your kitchen habits and how you and your family “live” in your kitchen. Space planning incorporates the way you and your family work and live in your kitchen.

  • Leave space for doorways, entryways, walkways: 36”-48” makes for good entry widths and walking space.
  • Think work zones: cooking, cleaning, storage, entertaining, and multitasking. Maybe you are a two-cook family. Space planning can handle that.
  • Pair the sink and dishwasher: flank your sink with at least 24” of countertop on one side (install the dishwasher under that countertop) then balance it with 15”-18” or more of countertop on the other side.
  • Consider seating: If your countertop is going to double as a seating area, you’ll need 24”-30” of space per person for comfort. The depth of the overhang should be a minimum of 12”. Be sure the overhang is supported properly.

 

3. Kitchen Design Safety

Important, but often overlooked, is safety in design.

  • For small children, consider safety locks on certain doors and drawers.
  • Instead of knives on the counters, consider knife storage in a drawer–and consider locking it.
  • “Soften” countertop corners by rounding or clipping those corners. Save your hips!
  • Good ventilation can free the air of fumes, odors, steam, and grease. Best Range Hoods has a variety of sizes and styles that look gorgeous while getting the job done.
  • When the hood takes air out, the make-up air is coming from somewhere. It is best to plan and redirect that make-up air instead of it coming from a path of least resistance, such as your fireplace chimney.

Knife storage in kitchen design

4. Kitchen Organization and Storage

With all the latest cabinetry and drawer storage solutions, you probably won’t regret splurging on a few modern accessories.

Accessories like swing-out pantry shelves, corner cabinet with pull-out shelves, or extra-deep drawers to store pots and pans, help keep your kitchen organized and can double your storage capacity. If you love an organized kitchen, then perhaps storage should be on the top of your priority list! (If you haven’t started your priority list yet, scroll back up to #1)

This homeowner’s farmhouse kitchen was a rustic remodel; however, rustic didn’t mean she needed to live in the past! She chose to splurge on open shelving, pull-out spice racks, and extra-wide drawers for utensils.

Pull-out spice storage

5. Create your Design Board

During this time of planning, HGTV may seem like your best friend. But they don’t do the work for you. You have to get out there and create your design boards! Don’t worry, it’ll be easier than you think. Wherever you visit a store, ask if there are small samples you could purchase to begin collecting items for your overall kitchen design. Pull together a collection of paint samples, fabric scrap samples, finish and flooring samples, photos of lighting, and of course small chunks of countertop. This board you create will help you tell your “design story” to the kitchen designer you choose to work with.

Free whitepaper: Why Retain a Kitchen Designer

Every time you look at your design board, it will remind you of what you truly love about your color pattern and kitchen décor.

Kitchen Design board turquoise blue

 

With all the details involved in kitchen design, it truly can feel like a complicated process! But if you keep in mind these five principles, you will be well prepared when it comes time to retain a kitchen remodeling professional. Planning for priorities, space, safety and organization (plus creating a design board) is how to design a kitchen like a pro.

 

How Do I Know if a Cabinet Is Good Quality?

How Do I Know if a Cabinet Is Good Quality?

I’ve watched hundreds of homeowners (and their kids!) walk into our cabinet showroom and 99% of them open and close cabinet doors and drawers. Open, close, open, close – this helps you “feel” the quality. New cabinets will be the foundation of your design whether you are building or remodeling a kitchen or bath in your home. If you are asking the question how do I know if a cabinet is good quality, we are happy to provide the basic elements of beautiful, quality cabinetry.

But when it comes to cabinet construction itself, what are you looking for? Not all cabinets are created equal. How do you know if a cabinet is good quality? Here are 5 elements that should be on your radar when shopping for quality cabinetry for your kitchen or bath.

Quality kitchen cabinets in this Ohio Kitchen Remodel

1. How are the cabinets constructed?

This is usually the boring part of the research process. But it’s actually just as important to know about construction, joints, and bracing of cabinets as it is what kind of materials the box is made from. Glue is often used as part of constructing cabinet boxes, so don’t be alarmed if you see a touch of dried glue on the inside corners. However, the process is more than just gluing two pieces of wood together. When a deep groove meets a matching joint—this joint is strong and the glue has more surface to adhere to for extra strength. (This is what we call a “dado joint.”) The “bracing” of the cabinet box is also extremely important for strength and durability. Wood or engineered I-Beams let into the sides, front, and back are preferred for base cabinet construction. Thick cabinet backs let-into the cabinet sides is preferred for wall cabinets. Whether framed or frameless construction, joints, bracing and material thickness keep a cabinet from falling apart and help keep it square.

2. What is the difference between traditional wood cabinet boxes and frameless cabinet boxes?

A traditional wood cabinet box has a face frame (usually 1 ½ inches wide) where the door closes onto the cabinet. If you’re considering a traditional, framed cabinet, and have already confirmed solid construction, good joinery, sturdy bracing, and an all-wood frame, then you’d be making a classic choice. However, if you’re impressed with more accessibility and more useable space inside the cabinet, then frameless (also called “European-style” or “full-access” cabinets) might be the way to go. Frameless describes a process of building a cabinet without the front frame. It doesn’t mean your cabinets will look European because your cabinet door will actually be what determines the style. Cabinet manufacturers offer traditional, transitional or contemporary door styles in both framed and frameless cabinetry. However, the most contemporary kitchens or baths are using frameless cabinetry.

3. What’s the difference between plywood and particleboard?

Throughout the industry, plywood is considered the better choice. Plywood is usually stronger than particleboard and doesn’t expand as easily in moist environments. Is particleboard always bad? Not always. If your cabinet layout includes cabinet boxes next to each other, and they are constructed properly, then the particleboard sides are “buried” and unseen. However, on end cabinets with sides exposed, have your designer specify a “finished end” with a plywood side, or at least an engineered side which has a veneer of real wood. The worst aspect of a particle board cabinet is to have a paper or “picture” of wood on an exposed end rather than real wood. One final thought: if we’re talking about drawers, thin particleboard drawers with staples for joints would not have the lifespan of their wood counterparts. Some cabinet lines may try to cut corners and use particleboard for drawer boxes. Beware!

4. What about the drawers?

In a traditionally framed cabinet, all-wood drawer boxes are the best. The joinery should be dovetailed with the drawer bottom made of a sufficiently dimensioned plywood. The drawer hardware (glides and soft-close hardware) is critical to the sturdiness. Remember, slamming drawers often happens in the bustle of a kitchen. But with the mechanical advancement of slides and soft-close hardware, you can make slamming drawers a thing of the past! For frameless cabinets, soft-close is a must as well, but the drawer boxes can be wood or metal. And always purchase full-extension glides so that you don’t lose useful space!

Kitchen cabinets with dovetail drawers

5. Is the cabinet warranty essential?

Yes! Here is a typical cabinet warranty example from Custom Cupboards lifetime warranty. While manufacturer warranties are important, what is most important is the stability and longevity of the company with which you are doing business. Warranties are only valuable if the company is still in business when you need them. Even a good solid manufacturing company warranty is difficult to use if there are no dealers around to service the product. And dealers generally don’t like to service product purchased from a competing dealer. Purchasing any large ticket products should be from a local business that has been around a long time and has a good service reputation.

Conclusion

Because not all cabinets are created equal, you have to do your research on how they are made in order to really assess their quality. To answer your question, how do I know if a cabinet is good quality… Look for dado joints, all-wood frame and drawers, dovetailed drawers, soft-close drawer hardware, and a lifetime warranty. Don’t be fooled, just because a door style is contemporary and the drawer mechanics are soft-close doesn’t mean the cabinetry is of a good quality. Follow the guidelines in the five questions above, and you will be on your way to finding quality cabinetry.

Traditional vs Transitional Kitchen Design

Traditional vs Transitional Kitchen Design

Often when homeowners are browsing Houzz.com, they add dozens of kitchen photos into ideabooks without knowing which style of kitchen those photos represent. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when you’re a homeowner ready to start making decisions on your kitchen remodel, knowing what style and trends you like will help narrow your design options and direct your focus.

When you have hundreds of options before you and a limited budget, knowing your personal style will help make the decision process easier for you and your kitchen designer. (more…)

Featured on Houzz: Try an Integrated Cutting Board for Food Prep

An integrated cutting board is a portion of butcher block that is integrated into the overall countertop design and layout.

The resilience of a wood butcher block makes it a great surface for cutting and chopping. One more advantage you should know about: butcher blocks can be made in any shape or size. As a custom block of wood, you can integrate it into any kitchen design.

Check out the butcher block countertops featured in the Houzz slideshow below –especially the last photo. (We are partial to that one because it’s our handiwork!) The entire island surface is an integrated cutting board!

This island countertop was a special request from our client. She’s an avid cook/baker and loves her integrated cutting and food prep surface.

 

Where Do I Start with my Kitchen Remodel?

Where Do I Start with my Kitchen Remodel?

The plethora of choices when remodeling your kitchen can become overwhelming for homeowners. You may be searching online, clipping articles, and asking yourself: “where do I start with my kitchen remodel?”

To make the “big” selections a bit easier to understand, I divide them into 4 areas:

  • appliances that update the kitchen’s functionality
  • cabinetry that becomes the “WOW” factor
  • counters that are unbelievably durable
  • flooring that holds up for years to come

But even when you have a handle on these four areas, your kitchen remodel will not be successful without a detailed plan.

It’s all about the plan.

From the smallest galley kitchen to the large kitchen with multiple door entries, you always need a plan. A “red flag” will always go up for me as a designer when a homeowner thinks they can start a remodel without a detailed space plan.

A successful kitchen remodel plan will include cabinet manufacturer and specifications, countertop templating, sink and fixture specifications and placements, installation and mechanical layouts, and a lighting plan.

Buried in the nitty-gritty, space planning is exactly how a kitchen designer can keep homeowners from spending unnecessary time and money. From this detailed plan, an affordable budget and clear schedule can be established. And believe me, the design details can be amazing, even for modest kitchen renovations!

Don’t lose time wondering, “where do I start with my kitchen remodel?” Get help with a kitchen designer’s plan! If you’re looking for more advice on kitchen design, see our post “How to Design your Kitchen Like a Pro.” If you’d like to consider kitchen remodeling yourself, see our blog post “Hire a Professional or Do it Yourself?