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How To Create a Functional Kitchen

I don’t know about you, but my kitchen is used for far more than just preparing food. It’s the heart of the home where I host my friends, spend time with family, and where homework gets done (hopefully, that is). Because of this, having a functional kitchen is absolutely essential. You want the space to feel open, appear organized, and look great while also serving your everyday kitchen needs. So, allow me to help you craft the recipe for a truly functional kitchen! 

Appliance/Plumbing Considerations

Priority number one when designing a kitchen is establishing appliance and plumbing locations because they are non-negotiables. The main question is where do I put them so that they both make sense and don’t overwhelm the space?  

The Stove

One of the most used elements in the kitchen, you’ll need ample workspace on either side of the stove for prepping ingredients and laying out pots and pans. We like to locate the stove first and ideally have it land somewhere in the middle of a wall to allow for at least 18” of said counter space. Some people prefer to have the stove in the island, which is great, as long as there is plenty of countertop space to avoid any cooktop and homework collisions.

Credit: Lindsey Brooke Design

The Fridge

Credit: In Honor of Design

There are a few things to consider when deciding where to put your fridge: is there enough space to fully open the door without obstructing anything else? Can you easily access the fridge from the stove? Will the fridge be counter depth or standard depth? We prefer counter depth refrigerators because they align with the depth of standard 24” cabinetry and don’t stick out. If you have a standard depth refrigerator, one trick we use is to build a deeper wall pocket so the fridge sits further in and looks like a counter depth fridge.

The Sink

Most people want their sink under the kitchen window and I get it! It’s nice to look out the window while washing dishes and without usable upper cabinet space because of the window, a sink there makes sense. Generally, sinks are centered on the window but we have done projects where the sink was placed off center to allow for usable countertop space. The most important thing is to think about where the sink makes the most sense for your needs. If countertop space is limited on the perimeter cabinets, moving it to the island may be a way better option for you. Make sure your dishwasher fits in the island as well so you’re not transferring wet dishes to the other side of the aisle.

Credit: Finding Lovely

Panel Ready Appliances

With so many large appliances in a kitchen, the standard stainless steel finish can get overwhelming so many come with an integrated panel option. These panels offer you the chance to hide your appliances behind panels that match your kitchen cabinets, creating a continuous and clean look throughout. Functionally, nothing about your appliances will change, but visually, the space will have a beautiful visual flow. 

Storage, Storage, Storage!

In all my years of interior design, I’ve never heard someone say “That’s too much storage.” In order for a kitchen to function properly without clutter, you have to have enough space to store your ingredients, dishes, and cooking utensils. Kitchens aren’t usually arranged in a straight line, so maximizing the corner cabinets and other dead space is essential. Even start to think about how vertical space can play into the overall design of your kitchen. When you first catch a glimpse of every nook and cranny it may seem overwhelming, but I promise you won’t have trouble filling them. 

Other Considerations

Open Shelving

Not everything has to be a cabinet with a door. Floating shelves allow for easy access to your everyday items and a different way of structuring your kitchen’s functionality. Besides the obvious decor, you can use these open shelves to hold dishes, cookbooks, or commonly used spices and seasonings. It’s also a fantastic way to show off any decorative brick or other backsplashes that would otherwise be hidden by bulky cabinets. 

Good Lighting

Good lighting is absolutely crucial when designing a kitchen and one of the areas we never overlook. If space allows, we like to incorporate a combination of recessed lights, island pendant lighting, and wall sconces. Under-cabinet lighting is also a great way to add ambience and be sure to add dimmer switches to adjust for different needs, like grabbing that after-bedtime glass of water.

Think About Your Seating Options

Everyone gathers in the kitchen, no matter how much living room space there is, so you might as well provide as much seating as possible. Create a 12″ countertop overhang on your island and place stools along it. If you have an island cooktop, placing seating towards one end – away from the heat – will be safer and more functional. As a matter of fact, we did that exact thing in our Northridge Remodel project.

The most functional kitchens use every single inch of space, and they use it well. If orderly and streamlined is your dream, then this guide is your recipe for the perfect kitchen.