6 Things to Consider When Designing Your First Kitchen


A customized kitchen reno is a big deal. It’s an opportunity to create a flow that fits your work style, add a personal stamp, and install state-of-the-art appliances that make cooking and cleanup a cinch. But where to start? There are so many options, and it can require know-how and a designer’s eye to bring the space you’ve only dreamed of to life. Here are six tips from the pros to help you realize your kitchen potential.

How to maximize the layout

The way you configure the space is key to workflow—and it’s not a one-size-fits-all. “Make sure you have a layout that makes sense for how you use your kitchen,” says Kirsten Blazek of A 1000x Better design. Think about opportunities to knock down walls or open up the space so it flows to your best advantage, and be thoughtful about where you place appliances and other functional items.

“Start with the stove, refrigerator, and sink, and place these within close proximity to one another,” says Rob Diaz of Rob Diaz Design. “It’s the best way to maximize functionality, space, and design while reducing clutter and eliminating a bottleneck in the kitchen,” he says. And, if there is an island, it can be a great place to hide a trash pullout or a microwave, so they aren’t taking up space elsewhere.

Which appliances are worth the extra investment

A dishwasher is undoubtedly one of the appliances you’ll use most. Just think how long it would take to scrub all those pots, pans, and plates if yours didn’t do its job properly or, heck, if you didn’t have one at all (we’ve been there). A good model not only saves you precious time, but it can cut down on the amount of energy you use, reducing your monthly electric bill. And since you can expect a unit to last about 10 years—although Miele dishwashers can last up to 20—the investment is worth it.

Case in point: the Miele G 5000 Dishwasher Series. It cleans and dries in under an hour—thanks to the QuickIntenseWash setting—features a flexible cutlery tray with adjustable racks, and has a Pots & Pans setting for the toughest grease. Plus, it’s fueled by special EcoPower Technology that not only reduces the amount of water it uses but also the energy needed to heat that water.

Miele Appliances

Carolyn Forte, Good Housekeeping‘s Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Director, says that the G 5000, “provides the key attributes consumers want—speedy but thorough cleaning, easy loading, and energy efficiency. But it doesn’t stop there. Other details that helped it earn our Good Housekeeping Seal include its simple controls, sleek design, and smudge-resistant finish.”

How to meld with the rest of your home’s style

Your kitchen is going to be brand-new, but if you’re not building from scratch or renovating the rest of the space, you’ll want to consider how everything works together. “Look at the adjacent spaces and what is happening with color in those rooms,” Blazek says. If you’re drawn to bold brights and your house is rendered in subtle neutrals, the kitchen may stand out in a way you weren’t expecting.

Also, beware of anything ultra-trendy that can’t be easily changed. Diaz prefers a neutral palette in kitchens paired with a dramatic paint color like a deep green. “For a smaller kitchen, subtle soft whites also work well and highlight the kitchen’s natural materials and gorgeous appliances,” he says.

black industrial kitchen

NelleGGetty Images

Where to find extra storage opportunities

You can never have enough cabinets because, hello, cluttered countertops. Even if you think you’ve run out of space, there are some unexpected places for stashing things you might not have considered.

Floating shelves are great for storing glassware, dishes, and curio, Blazek says. She also loves an island that is large enough to have cabinets on the front and back sides. “It is such an easy way to increase storage space and avoids having too many upper cabinets, which can feel heavy and dated.”

How to make the space your own

Adding a personal touch can take the space from standard to standout. “Playing with color on the cabinets, selecting unique hardware, and incorporating an interesting backsplash tile can make the kitchen unique,” Blazek says.

Lighting also creates a statement in the space—sconces on either side of a window or above, or pendants over your island. “Just make sure the heights and shapes all work together. If one light is a real statement piece, then play down the other lighting so they complement but don’t clash with each other,” Blazek says.

close up of modern kitchen faucet and sink

Sam EdwardsGetty Images

How the countertop material will hold up

Since countertops double as a workspace and focal point, choose a material that looks good and stands the test of time.

“We love using quartzite for our clients who have busy lives and need something that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance,” Blazek says. “It is both durable and beautiful, and there are so many different options to select from.”

Granite is another durable material worth considering. “If our clients are looking for something more unique and don’t mind more maintenance, we’ll visit a local stone yard in search of a natural slab that is a one-off,” Blazek says.

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