How to Design Your Own Kitchen

When you consider that the kitchen area plays the role of heart of the home, it is easy to see why designing one with care is so important. Not only does the kitchen serve as the area used for food preparation, it also works very often as a casual gathering place for friends and family. Therefore, just as the functionality of a kitchen is essential, so is an inviting atmosphere of relaxed warmth and pleasing ambience.

Make It Yours

How you want to use your kitchen should always serve as the main guideline when designing this all-important room. Ask yourself some questions as you put pencil to paper, for instance: Will you be entertaining a lot and need more-than-usual space for people to sit? Will you be the only cook in the kitchen or do one or more other family members help with the cooking at mealtimes? Does your kitchen need to be set up to accommodate a gourmet cook with extra space for specialized tools, utensils, pots, and pans, maybe even a high-end stove and/or oven that features extra burners and a large-capacity baking area?

Another thing to think about when you design your own kitchen has to do with special needs. One woman, who was taller than average, had the forethought to have her kitchen counters built three inches higher than standard cabinets. This saved her many backaches and, as a result, enabled her to cook more often, which she loved to do.

The same reasoning, applied in reverse, applies to shorties in the family who will be cooking. People of less-than-average stature need to be able to work in a kitchen that does not constantly require the use of standing on chairs or stepladders in order to reach a needed food item, pot, or pan.

You'll also want to take into consideration anyone in the home who cooks (or would like to) that is wheelchair-bound. Allowing for room to accommodate the chair under counters and eating areas makes for a much more enjoyable experience for someone in this situation, as does planning that allows them to reach comfortably for food, cooking tools, dishes, etc.

The Work Triangle- A Kitchen Canon

One important aspect of a smoothly functional kitchen that people who do research on kitchen design have found is that of the work triangle. No matter what else you do to your kitchen, this concept has proven to be basic to having a kitchen that works for you instead of against you.

The work triangle consists of the loosely triangular arrangement within the space of your kitchen where you store and prepare foods (counters, pantry, refrigerator), do the actual cooking (stove, oven, microwave), and where you clean up (sink, dishwasher). Keeping this one fundamental design principle in mind as you create your dream kitchen allows you to go ahead and become as eclectic as you wish without fear of creating a kitchen that disappoints in areas of functionality.

These are just a few things to take into account as you design your own kitchen or even if you hire a professional. There are many other decisions you will have to make such as what type of counter surfaces (granite, travertine, ceramic tile, etc.) you desire, appliance makes and models, and lighting, and there's nothing like good old-fashioned research that will help you with these decisions.

So talk to knowledgeable people, read articles on the Internet and in home & garden magazines, and never hesitate to ask questions when you have them. With enough homework, legwork, and thoughtfulness, you're sure to come up with a kitchen design that pleases you for many years to come.

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