How to design a kitchen
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How To Design A Kitchen

How To Design A Kitchen How To Design A Kitchen

In this bright kitchen in New York City designed by Incorporated Architecture & Design, contemporary materials evoke the spirit of 19th-century England.

It might be really obvious what shape your kitchen is going to be.  If so, go ahead and have a look at the relevant page below.  If not you can take a look at these for inspiration!

For decorative detail in this Nantucket kitchen, designer Gary McBournie studied vintage boating posters and old photographs. The wooden grills of the kitchen cabinets were taken from an old photo of a 1920s yacht.

The traditional work triangle that separates the sink, range and refrigerator has evolved into a more practical “work zone” concept.

“The most vivid example of combining humble materials with precious ones is in the kitchen,” David Netto says of the kitchen in a Southampton, New York, beach cottage. He tucked Nero Marquina marble under a white Corian island, “concealing it for maximum impact and surprise.” The slot window over the stove is also a pleasant surprise. Will Meyer “designed it in a burst of inspiration.” Barstools are by George Nakashima. Pendant lights from Circa Lighting. Sub-Zero refrigerator; Gaggenau cooktop; Dornbracht faucet.

In a Manhattan apartment designed by Miles Redd, the kitchen is small, but owner Tom Mendenhall has no trouble making braised short ribs for eight in it. Cabinets are lacquered in Bamboo Leaf by Fine Paints of Europe, as was the roller shade by Manhattan Shade & Glass, which erases an exhaust unit. Even the Sub-Zero refrigerator is painted green.

This modern-meets-maritime New York City kitchen designed by Anik Pearson uses a unique combination of wood, concrete, and metal to create its sleek and urban, yet nautical look. The wall to the right of the cooktop was angled to match the doorway — now this kitchen is shaped like a boat, with the cooktop at the prow. A crown ceiling painted white, with Harbor lights from Urban Archaeology casts a glow over the island.

Now usually I’m always encouraging my site visitors to think in terms of how you want a space to function before making interior design or furniture choices but for kitchens it helps to know where you plan to get your kitchen cabinets from. 

Head on over to the kitchen storage ideas and kitchen storage solutions pages.  Storage is a big part of how to design a kitchen.

Learn about different layouts, like L-shaped, one-wall and galley kitchens, and download templates for your renovation.

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This New Jersey kitchen has a Zen simplicity, with watery green marble counters and handcrafted wood cabinets modeled after traditional Japanese storage pieces. “When you arrive, you open a gate and walk through a courtyard to get to this very compact one-story house, where all the rooms flow into each other,” designer Marguerite Rodgers says. “The spirit of the place reminded me of a Japanese teahouse.

As well as the shapes above you could also consider incorporating curves in to the kitchen.  This introduces challenges of being able to open adjacent cupboards and drawers at the same time without the doors or drawers banging into each other – but leaving a bit of space in between each set of units mitigates this.

Her New York City kitchen may be on the small side, but designer Sheila Bridges didn’t let that cramp her style. An elegant silvery-blue wallpaper adds some unexpected excitement to a tiny space.

Have a think about how your kitchen will relate to the spaces surrounding it.  If it’s open plan to a dining space or living space what kind of view does the people in these areas get of the kitchen?

Time to measure up!  Take your time and be accurate and measure using the right measurement for your country.  Measure floor dimensions, niches, windows, doors, where the water pipes (and gas supply if applicable) come up from the floor.

Most manufacturers have units in various standard sizes but always work with the kitchen cabinet dimensions that the manufacturer provides.

Then come back here and draw in the the appliances and fixtures onto your plan

In a Northern California mountain getaway designed by Will Wick, limestone countertops from exquisite surfaces were hand-distressed to give the space a lived-in look. A La Cornue stove and custom hood with copper accents command attention in the kitchen. Fiddlestick tiles by Ceramic Tile Design.

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The ocean’s shimmery hues inspire a kitchen in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, by Urban Grace Interiors.

In a Manhattan apartment, the existing kitchen cabinets were painted Benjamin Moore Aura in Black. “I wanted it to look less boring and more like a smart butler’s pantry,” designer Lilly Bunn says. Roman shade in Holland & Sherry’s Belfour linen.

The second step of how to design a kitchen is to create a plan of your kitchen ‘space’ – the floor space and the wall space.First decide if you’re working in feet and inches or m, cm and mm.  For example in the United States and Canada kitchens are designed and sold in inches, in the UK and Australia it’s millimetres. Take the lead from the main measurement that your cabinet manufacturer uses.

In a Lake Michigan house designed by Martin Horner, the kitchen backsplash, from Urban Archaeology, is beautiful and practical. Open shelves for display break up the cabinetry in the kitchen. Blue mercury-glass pendants from Gallery L7 pick up the color theme. English sabre-leg counter stools from the Sterling Collection.

Here’s a guide to the pros and cons of the most popular kitchen layouts.

A little shine — and a few twists on tradition — inject a lot of style in this in Rye, New York kitchen designed by Louise Brooks.

There’s no rule that says a kitchen has to be just about cooking. This New Mexico kitchen by Judith Espinar, Jim Deville, and Scott Robey is painted in a cheery, sunbaked yellow that’s a perfect backdrop for pottery and folk art.

In a 1920s Santa Monica, California, hacienda, David Dalton added hand painted Talavera tiles form Mission Tile West and a glass pendant from Global Views to brighten the kitchen, whose centerpiece is a 12-foot-long walnut-top island.

In her Long Island, New York, house, Ellen Niven based her kitchen cabinets on Belgian cupboards. Her grisaille palette, with walls in Benjamin Moore Aura in Pike’s Peak Gray, offers a subtle contrast to bright colors elsewhere in the house.

The owner of this Napa Valley house is very involved with the arts, according to designer Erin Martin. In the kitchen, architecture and applied ornament conspire to make the the room lighthearted and a touch theatrical. Artist Michael Duté’s blue and white design brings walls and even the barrel-vaulted ceiling to life.

How to design a kitchen?  More like how to design your main living space.

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If you stick to the paper option, it’s a good idea to adjust the scale so that you fit the kitchen onto a sheet of paper rather than the whole house.  The scale you can use depends on how big your kitchen is and how big your paper is.

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L-Shape. An L-shaped kitchen solves the problem of maximizing corner space, and it’s a smart design for small and medium sized kitchens. The versatile L-shaped kitchen consists of countertops on two adjoining walls that are perpendicular, forming an L. The “legs” of the L can be as long as you want, though keeping them less than 12 to 15 feet will allow you to efficiently use the space.

Also take a look at the kitchen dimensions page that goes through some important kitchen planning guidelines.

How to design a kitchen?  With the kitchen being such a high activity area of the house it’s worth finding out how to design a kitchen – even if you’re using a kitchen designer or architect.  Knowing what’s involved in the process will help you design your own kitchen or give a detailed brief to your designer.

If you’re ready to design a kitchen but don’t know where to start, we’ve got just the thing to help. From the simple to the sublime, our collection of 30 fabulous kitchen ideas — gathered from some of the nation’s best designers — is sure to inspire. Plus: 60 Beautiful Designer Kitchens

Susan Ferrier designed the kitchen in this tranquil Alabama townhouse. “You don’t want the eye to stutter in a small space,” Ferrier says. “You want it to move naturally from one thing to the next, from similar color to similar color, from shape to shape.”

“We have gone from the traditional kitchen, where one person prepared meals to a multi-purpose room and a multiple-cook room, and this evolution has changed us from looking at one work triangle to multiple triangles, or ‘zones,'” says Mary Jo Peterson, principal, Mary Jo Peterson Inc. “With that in mind, we have to increase clearances and look at adding comfortable spaces in the kitchen.”

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If you have a bigger room to work with one of the main things to decide is whether the kitchen will occupy the whole room with an eating area open to the kitchen, or whether you want to try and maintain a bit of privacy to the cooking area – make it a bit like a bar or a coffee shop counter.  If you have an accident with dinner you might want to be able to put it right without everyone looking at you!

Turning a former stable into a sophisticated kitchen in Lake Forest, Illinois, designer Mick De Giulio added modern touches and farmhouse style to the original country building.

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Even if you’re getting a bespoke kitchen made, getting in touch with a maker and finding out if they work in any standard sizes (eg using whole pieces of wood to avoid cutting which reduces waste, need less labor and therefore cost a bit less).

Rich woods in clean shapes, dark hues, and burnished surfaces play up the warm side of modern style in this New York City kitchen designed by Elena Frampton of Curated.

The kitchen in architect Cary Tamarkin’s Shelter Island, New York beach house is dominated by a luminous glass-and-steel window. “It’s a great connection to the street,” Tamarkin says. “I like to wave to people passing.” Plywood cabinet doors have routed-out circles instead of knobs, a gesture inspired by some “Marcel Breuer dorm furniture.” Countertops are pre-cast polished concrete, unstained — like the cypress walls — so they’ll gain patina over time. The integral wall clock is a Tamarkin signature.

What other activities will happen in your kitchen apart from those related to food?  How about a sitting area with a TV or games console?  Office type activities such as computer time and paying the bills are also popular in kitchen spaces.

Island. A working kitchen island may include appliances and cabinetry for storage—and it always adds additional work surface to a kitchen. It can provide a place to eat (with stools), to prepare food (with a sink) and to store beverages (with a wine cooler). The island can turn a one-wall kitchen into a galley style, and an L-shaped layout into a horseshoe.

With an L-shaped layout, you’ll eliminate traffic: The kitchen will not become a thoroughfare because it’s just not logistically possible. Plus, you can easily add a dining space and multiple work zones to this layout. However, avoid this layout if your kitchen is large and can support other configurations, such as adding an island, or if multiple cooks will be using the space. Download a sample floorplan.

Galley. This efficient, “lean” layout is ideal for smaller spaces and one-cook kitchens. The galley kitchen, also called a walk-through kitchen, is characterized by two walls opposite of each other—or two parallel countertops with a walkway in between them. Galleys make the best use of every square inch of space, and there are no troublesome corner cabinets to configure, which can add to a cabinetry budget. Download a sample floorplan.

A pink Smeg refrigerator from Sears is the showstopper in the guest-suite kitchen of a California beach bungalow. Lina rug from Plastica. “How about that pink fridge? Isn’t it great? It’s tiny — perfect for a small kitchen,” designer Krista Ewart says.

Highlighting designer Annie Brahler’s Dutch heritage, the kitchen in her Jacksonville, Illinois, house has a fireplaces adorned with 17th- and 18th-century Delft tiles and bluestone columns from Breda. The zinc architectural finial (at left), double-door cupboard, and bronze chandelier also come from Holland, where gray-painted floors like this are traditional. Brahler treasure the worn upholstery of her 18th-century French armchair. She beefed up a vintage demilune chest by adding rear cabinets and a marble top to create the central island. Stainless-steel range and hood by Thermador.

This tiny New York City kitchen has a place for everything, says designer Stephanie Stokes. “After designing so many kitchens for other people, I knew exactly what I needed and what I wanted,” she says. A mirrored backsplash, an electric cooktop that doubles as countertop, and simple cabinetry help give the illusion of grandeur.

Peninsula. A peninsula kitchen is basically a connected island, converting an L-shaped layout into a horseshoe, or turning a horseshoe kitchen into a G-shaped design. Peninsulas function much like islands but offer more clearance in kitchens that do not allow appropriate square footage for a true island. Download a sample floorplan.

At some stage I’ll be writing up a page on kitchen lighting design.

Step 8 – Plan for other activities in the kitchen and surrounding spaces

U shaped kitchenG shaped kitchenL shaped kitchenGalley kitchenKitchens with islands

Your cabinet manufacturer may have some integrated lighting options.

Designer Caitlin Wilson wanted to clean up and let in more light in this Gibbsboro, New Jersey, kitchen. Swirling grays and gleaming brass warm up the space.

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To add a sophisticated note to the mellow charms of old wood in this Los Angeles, California kitchen, designer Chris Barrett added black tiles, a vintage sink, and open shelves in the pantry

You’re back?  Phew – that’s kitchen storage done.  At this stage you should have the wall plans filled out with all the fixtures you’re planning.

Designer Lynn Butler Beling took an old farmhouse kitchen in Southampton, New York and gave its decor a cozy and lived-in feeling with old-fashioned navy blue cabinets, beadboard, bronze hardware, and apothecary-style drawers.

Plan the electrical points (outlets and switches for appliances) for your kitchen. 

Horseshoe. The horseshoe, or U-shape, kitchen layout has three walls of cabinets/appliances. Today, this design has evolved from three walls to an L-shaped kitchen with an island forming the third “wall.” “This design works well because it allows for traffic flow and workflow around the island,” says Mary Jo Peterson, principal, Mary Jo Peterson Inc. “You can get more cooks into the kitchen.” Download a sample floorplan.

This page makes up part of the kitchen design layout series.

In designer Bill Brockschmidt’s 640-square-foot New York City apartment, the kitchen is located in the entry hall and is camouflaged from the living area with folding doors. With only one room, it’s important to create zones. “Creating folding doors allowed us to transform the entry into a mini-gallery when we entertain,” Brockschmidt says. “We can also close off the dining room from the kitchen with pocket doors, so that once guests have arrived, we can open up the kitchen for cooking.”

Learn about different types and use our checklist to see if this independent structure will work for you

Kitchen islands are incredibly functional, but the No. 1 misperception about islands is that everyone ought to have one. The reality is, many kitchens simply don’t have enough clearance to include this feature. Download a sample floorplan.

Still, these tried-and-true kitchen layouts still apply to today’s lifestyles—with modifications.

You can do this on paper by following the instructions on draw floor plans but just for your kitchen rather than the whole house.  Or you can use one of the online kitchen planners or software available (a bit more about that at the bottom of this page).

If you have an appliance garage, a cupboard mounted microwave or want a TV in your kitchen think carefully about the best position for outlets.

One-wall. Originally called the “Pullman kitchen,” the one-wall kitchen layout is generally found in studio or loft spaces because it’s the ultimate space saver. Cabinets and appliances are fixed on a single wall. Most modern designs also include an island, which evolves the space into a sort of Galley style with a walk-through corridor. Download a sample floorplan.

The home’s kitchen layout includes a spacious center island with sink that helps to define the open kitchen from the rest of the home’s great room.

In Dianne Bernhard’s Westport, Connecticut, kitchen, Plain & Fancy cabinets with Nantucket-style doors and blue-toned Caesarstone on top pick up the colors of the water just beyond the deck. “We really do live out here during the summer,” Bernhard says. Ceiling is painted Benjamin Moore’s Blue Springs.

Salvaged wood, raw steel, and glazed brick give a St. Helena, California, kitchen designed by Dan Doyle a sturdy, industrial look.

Using your paper drawing, online kitchen planner or software plan in the outline of where you will place the base cabinets, wall cabinets, islands and tables in your kitchen in plan view (looking down from above).  Don’t worry about where the appliances and fixtures will be placed just yet.

Both serviceable and handsome, this cabin-style kitchen designed by Megan Rice Yager — clad in reclaimed wood — is an inviting spot to warm up.

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