What You Need for a Well-Designed Kitchen

A well-designed kitchen starts with a list of essentials to consider.
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When you decide it’s time to renovate your kitchen, you want to equip it with the all-important basics. If it turns out you’re under budget, feel free to get those specialty things. For right now, though, put your money towards the most important kitchen items.

Custom Layout
Every family’s needs are unique and should be reflected in the layout. When Sharon Flatley, an interior designer in Dallas, starts a project, she asks a lot of questions like the number of family and friends who will want to gather in the kitchen, and who will be preparing or assisting with food prep. “This determines the general layout,” she says. “I then shop for appliances that best fill the needs of the homeowners.” This is critical because the more specific layout follows the selection of the appliances.

Good Ventilation
It’s not only critical to keeping grease and other contaminants out of the air but it’s also a code requirement in most areas, says Flatley. About a pound of grease per year can be expelled into the air from cooking, she says. Proper ventilation takes out any cooking odors, steam, or heat.

Enough Counter
Space It doesn’t matter if you have a drop-dead gorgeous kitchen: If it doesn’t function well-- perhaps there are not enough flat surfaces to chop vegetables or set up a coffee station-- you’ll quickly dislike your newly remodeled space and not use it.

Plenty of Storage
The more cabinets the better. You’ll need room for the basics like flatware, dishes, glasses, and pots and pans. And you’ll need more cabinet space for specialty items like woks and air-fryers. And of course, you’ll need space for groceries too.

Essential Lighting
A beautifully detailed space falls flat if it is not properly illuminated, says Flatley. “Good lighting is critical in a kitchen for workspace efficiency and safety.” Plan on incorporating all three types of lighting: task lighting, which gives you enough light to do a chore, like stirring a pot on the stove; ambient lighting, which allows you to maneuver in a space to see clearly and avoid falling; and accent lighting, which illuminates something significant such as an art object.

Durable Flooring
Since the kitchen is heavily trafficked, your floor must be strong and tough to handle the crowd. Flooring comes in many forms, including natural stone, concrete, ceramic and porcelain. Some of them offer a wood-like appearance.

Distinct Aesthetic
When designing, you always want to create an aesthetic or decorated space that celebrates the homeowners’ style and personality, Flatley says. At the same time, you want to create a timelessness that continues to resonate both with the architectural style and homeowners.

Attractive Backsplash
It’s about more than just aesthetics, though. “Creating a beautiful backsplash is all part of the design,” says Flatley, “but it also serves a very practical purpose: preventing food from splattering on the wall behind the countertop.”