Design Your Dream Kitchen!

The kitchen has become a place of multi-tasking as well as major design decision in your home. Whether you cook or not, or whether you like colonial style or urban contemporary, your kitchen will say a lot about you and your family. The key to your successful dream kitchen however is not entirely in the decorative elements, rather it is in the layout and organization of the space and the furniture within it. This planning and designing will ensure that your kitchen serves the best function for the people in your home.
In order to properly design your dream kitchen to best suit your needs it is best to start with some basic planning. No matter how big of a make over you are giving your kitchen, it is best to keep a small notebook of your ideas and information throughout the process. This will help you organize your thoughts and more clearly share ideas with a designer or contractor.

STAGE ONE: Planning and Organization

  • How will you use your kitchen? Do you cook a lot, or is the take-out place on speed dial? Do you have children who may be doing homework while you cook? (see “How to Design your Kitchen around Family Activities”) Do you like to watch television in your kitchen? Are all your meals eaten here or do you prefer having only a small area for a cup of coffee or quick bite? Make a list in your notebook of the top three activities that your kitchen needs to accommodate.
  • What is your existing space like? Each kitchen varies in shape and size. Stand in the main doorway to your kitchen and draw a quick sketch of the shape of your kitchen. Is it long and narrow? Is it a giant square? Is it shaped like an ‘L’? The ideal layout for a kitchen design is a ‘triangle design’. The triangle design is an imaginary triangular layout between your sink, refrigerator and stove. See if you can layout a triangular path or almost triangular path between these three areas for maximum convenience.
  • Will you keep your existing space or expand your existing kitchen? Take a look at the rooms surrounding your kitchen. If you are going to be expanding the size of your kitchen, evaluate how much space you are willing to lose in the rooms surrounding it. If your kitchen is part of an exterior wall, maybe an expansion outward will better suit you. The more construction and plumbing or electrical relocation that you plan on, the more the expenses will go up. A professional designer can help you specify the best way to expand and advise you according to your budget.
  • What will you change? Take a look around and list the top five things you would change in your kitchen. Maybe you do not like the refrigerator so far from the stove, or perhaps you need more counter space. This list of what you do not like, will help you to decide what you will need in your new kitchen layout.
  • STAGE TWO: Budget and Lead Time When should your kitchen be ready? You should have an idea as to when you expect your kitchen to be ready. Depending on the scope of the work being done, you may need to provide an alternate area during construction when your kitchen may be inaccessible. For a large renovation, cabinetry could take anywhere from 8-12 weeks from when the design is approved to be manufactured. In some cases where the work is very customized, longer lead times may apply. Scheduling is very important with your kitchen installation, so make sure you speak to your designer or contractor about the best time for any major construction to be done, as well as any specific times that it cannot be done.
  • How much will you spend? Some people have a very specific amount to spend, whereas others have more of a general idea. If you have a specific amount of money you are allotting to your new dream kitchen, be very clear about it with the contractor or designer you are hiring. Sometimes unforeseen problems, mistakes, or late changes in design can alter the original estimate for the project. This should be allowed for in your budget to a reasonable extent. Make sure you keep a record of all of the approved designs and verbal or written information for your reference. This will help to prevent any miscommunication later on in the job.
  • What do you need? Make a list of what you will need to replace and what you want to keep. Here is a sample list to help you organize your budget as well as help you realize how your kitchen will better suit your needs.

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