How to Design a Kitchen
A kitchen sets the tone for an entire house. It’s no wonder then that homeowners tend to have so much difficultly figuring out how to design a kitchen that meets their aesthetics and their budget. With so much riding on doing it right (and the inherent expense and complexity of designing a kitchen in the first place), it’s understandable to get a bit overwhelmed just thinking about tackling the project, let alone actually doing it.
As with most things, however, the best way to figure out how to design a kitchen is to break it into digestible steps. Whether you’re doing it on your own or with the help of a professional designer, read on for the steps you’ll need to take in order to design a kitchen that you can be proud of.
Set Your Budget
Before you can get to the fun parts of how to design a kitchen, you need to know exactly what you’re working with in terms of budget. All of your plans for your new kitchen are going to naturally be constrained by how much money you can put into it, so instead of being overly ambitious in your plans and having to adjust later on, start with budget planning and work your way out from there.
Create a Vision Board
Sometimes the hardest part of designing a kitchen is putting together a vision of what you want it to look like. So do what the pros do and start the design process by putting together a vision board. Look anywhere you might find some design inspiration—blogs, magazines, and sites like Instagram and Pinterest are all great places to begin. Then save anything that catches your eye for your own kitchen project, including color schemes, fixtures, counter tops, and more. Paste all your saved inspiration into one place and voila, you’ve got a vision board.
The benefit of a vision board is you can always return to it when you need some guidance. There is so much that goes into figuring out how to design a kitchen, and it’s easy to lose track of the big picture as you go. With a vision board, you’ll always be able to set your sights on exactly what you’re trying to achieve.
Set Your Priorities
Figuring out how to design a kitchen is as much about determining the utility of the space as it is determining how you want it to look. Do you need to find space for a double oven? An eight burner stove? An island? Do you want your kitchen to be a place that people congregate in to eat or just a place for cooking? Whatever you need out of your kitchen will play a huge role in its design, so set your sights on what’s really, really important to you, and work your way out from there.
Make a Floor Plan
A floor plan provides you with a bird’s eye view of your kitchen space. More so than just looking at your kitchen itself, it breaks the space down into its component parts—dimensions and all—so that when you’re determining things like cabinet configurations and appliance sizes you know what will fit and where. To simplify the process, use online kitchen planning software like Room Sketcher or SmartDraw, which in addition to ensuring your plan is appropriately scaled and sized will also walk you through the various steps to creating a comprehensive plan.
Figure Out Your Electrical, Gas, and Water Configurations
Unless you plan to go behind the walls and reconfigure the pipes and wires behind your kitchen, you’re going to be somewhat limited in what you can do by the current configuration. To wit, there’s probably only one place that your sink can go without moving some pipes around, and the same goes for things like fridges. Likewise, you need to keep key details like light switches in mind when choosing what goes where.
If you’re working with a professional contractor, you’ll have more leeway in terms of what you can change here—though of course there will be added cost. If you have your heart set on reconfiguring the layout in such a way that you’ll have to make some adjustments behind the walls too, be sure to reach out to a pro right away—be it a plumber, electrician, or so on—so that you know what your options are and how much they’ll set you back.
Choose a Cabinet Manufacturer
Kitchens are the focal point of a home, and cabinets are the focal point of a kitchen. For that reason, it makes sense to start with your cabinets early on. And because manufacturers vary in the price, style, and sizing of their inventory, it can help you narrow down your options to settle on a specific manufacturer first and then limit yourself to what they offer.
Feel free to contact Kitchens Unlimited to arrange for a consultation.
(Alternately, you could skip this step if you’re going to go the DIY route and refinish your existing cabinets. The benefit of doing this is that you save a ton of money in material and labor costs, and you also don’t have to worry about correctly sizing your cabinets since you already know they fit in the space.)
7. Choose Your Counter Tops
Kitchen counter tops vary in more than just appearance. Marble, for example, is trendy and looks great, but it’s also porous and can easily take on stains (quartz is sturdier and a better way to go if this is the look you want). Choose a style that matches your general design approach in the room and that is also durable enough to stand up to actual use. Unlike with cabinets, you can pick what you want in terms of counter tops and work your way out from there, instead of starting with the manufacturer. Most counter tops are cut to size based on your individual kitchen dimensions, and it’s worth doing your research to find a company that will give you exactly what you want for the best price possible. 8. Choose Appliances and Placement
Your appliances are the next big feature to tackle after your cabinets and counter tops. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to go with the same manufacturer and style for all of your appliances—this will help with aesthetic continuity. If you do want to mix and match appliances from different manufacturers that’s okay too, but try to streamline your design choices so that everything will match (for example, go with all stainless steel or all black appliances).
Put a lot of thought into the appliances that you choose, since unlike other features like counter tops or flooring these actually need to do a specific job and do it well. Make sure you accurately account for the size of the appliances that you’ll need (check out our guide to refrigerator sizes for help with one major appliance) as well as the functions.
After you’ve chosen the big items you can get to work on everything else, including fixtures, flooring, and walls and/or backsplash. It’s smart to save these details until the end, since they should complement the big ticket items in the room rather than set the stage for the whole design. They’re also the items that probably shouldn’t be the main priority in your budget.
Do your due diligence with finishing touches when it comes to shopping around. Things like over-the-island pendant lighting can range from under $50 a fixture to hundreds of dollars a fixture, often with very similar appearances. You should be able to cut some corners on cost and still achieve the look you’re going for if you give yourself time to look at all the options.
You don’t need to be a seasoned design professional in order to know how to design a kitchen. By following the steps above, you should be able to come up with a stunning and cohesive kitchen design that’s in budget and suited to your needs.