Kitchen design and planning

The kitchen is the most active room in the house. It ought to be, because it is not only a work space, but also a place for gathering together in the evening or getting fuelled up for the day ahead. No matter what other features you put in your home design, don’t skimp when it comes to designing and planning your kitchen. Here are several tips to consider when you’re designing your new kitchen.

Design Layout

When designing your kitchen layout, here are several thoughts to keep in mind:

  • Think about work flow. The optimum design is to have your sink, prep counter, cook top and refrigerator in the shape a “U.” By designing the layout in that manner, whoever is preparing a meal is taking fewer steps and using the least amount of movement possible.
  • Think about preparation and counter space. It’s better not to have to move regularly used appliances in order to prep your meals. Plan for sufficient counter space so that you’re not moving your appliances around.
  • Design your cabinetry where cooking utensils are also in easy reach while you’re working. You’ll thank yourself later.

Plan for High Quality Materials and Hardware

Don’t skimp on the quality of the materials that you use in the kitchen. Because the kitchen is a work space, it is going to see more wear than any other area of the house. Use high quality materials for:

  • Cabinets. Go hardwood on the parts that are used the most. Not only are they more attractive, they last longer.
  • Countertops. Marble or cultured marble is best, especially near sinks and cook tops. If you go laminate, make sure the job is very well done.
  • Back splashes. Backsplashes usually match the countertop material, but you might consider covering the entire wall behind your sink and cook top with ceramic tile just to help with maintenance.
  • Hardware. Use quality hardware for hinges, drawer glides and cabinet pulls. These working parts need to function smoothly and do so for a long time. Choose the best you can get.
  • Flooring. High quality easily maintained flooring is a must as well. Properly installed 12” to 24” ceramic tile is probably your best bet.

Plan for High Quality Appliances and Plumbing Fixtures

Again, this is a work space that is going to be used several times a day. Your refrigerator, dishwasher, cook top, oven or range needs to be durable and require as little maintenance as possible. You might have gotten along okay with the appliances at your old house, but with your new house, you get to start all over again. Start out with the best and most energy efficient appliances you can get.

Make certain that your sink is of high quality material that is easy to maintain and make certain that it drains properly and it is easy to get to if it becomes clogged. More importantly, have the best fixture you can find installed. You will turn the water in your sink on and off dozens of times every day, so do yourself a favor and place a high quality, durable fixture there.

Lighting and Power

Just as lighting and power are important in other work spaces, make sure that you provide your kitchen work space with plenty of it as well. Here are a few things to consider with this element of your kitchen:

  • Natural light in a kitchen is ideal for morning and day time. Provide as much of it as you can.
  • Counter lighting is an important part of food preparation. Place either recessed fixtures directly above your counters or opt for under cabinet lighting in order to help avoid casting your shadow over your work.
  • We are a world that is dependent upon electrical appliances. Consequently, where electrical outlets are concerned, put as many above counter outlets as you can along the splash behind your counter and provide plenty of spaces to plug in along your island or bar as well.

Professional Advice

When it comes to electrical and plumbing codes for your local area, make certain that you consult a professional and follow his advice with your kitchen design. Additionally, if you aren’t sure which appliances, hardware and materials are the best, don’t be afraid to ask. In the long run, it will save you money.


Because the kitchen is a very active working space, planning and designing a kitchen requires special consideration. Make sure that you provide yourself not only with sufficient space in which to work, but that the layout saves you steps. Additionally, plan to use materials, appliance, fixtures and hardware that require the least amount of maintenance possible.

Renovations and Extensions Design and Planning

Do you need to add on in order to keep up with your family’s growing needs? Renovating or adding onto your home is very common, but planning a renovation can be a little bit more complicated than designing a new home. Knowing what you want and being able to ask yourself the proper questions will help the process run more smoothly.

Designing a renovation.

Designing a renovation involved more than knocking out a wall or adding onto the back yard. Just as with a new home design, planning for a renovation requires a consideration of:

  • what features you want to add on
  • arranged those features in relation to your existing floor plan
  • and their required dimensions.

Prioritize the features that you intend to add and make certain that the space for those features is provided for first. Once you’re happy with your primary features, arrange the other features around them.

Removing walls.

Before knocking out an interior or exterior wall, you need to know everything there is to know about that wall before you even begin the process. What is inside, above or on the other side of the wall you plan to remove will require some special considerations. Here are the questions that you need to ask yourself before you plan to remove a wall or feature:

  • What is inside the wall? Hidden electrical, plumbing and other mechanical chases could be located inside the wall that you’re planning to remove and you will need to plan for their relocation.
  • Is the wall load bearing or non-load bearing? In many cases, the wall that you are planning to remove helps to hold up the structure, whether another floor or a roof. It is essential that proper support is given for the structural members that are using the wall for support to be considered and planned for, so that you don’t cause your house to collapse.
  • What is outside the wall? If you’re looking at removing an exterior wall, you will need to consider what is on the outside of the wall, such as electrical disconnects, air conditioner condensers, fences and other structures that might need to be relocated. Consideration for their relocation needs to be put into your design as well.

It is much better to know what you’re getting yourself into during the planning stage and account for every possible consideration instead of having to deal with a surprise, which often times ends up costing you more than you had originally planned to spend.

Exterior Additions

When planning an exterior addition, you need to consider all of the above questions as you put together your design, but you will also need to ask yourself several more questions that are unique to what is required to add on and integrate that addition into your existing structure.

  • Are there any underground utility lines in the area where you plan to build your addition? Gas lines, sewer lines, electrical lines and automatic sprinkler lines need to be accounted for and their relocation needs to be added into your design.
  • How do you plan to tie into your existing roof? Sometimes the most challenging part of an addition is dealing with how it will tie into your existing roof or wall while making certain you don’t cause any leaks.
  • How will you get water away from your new addition? Providing for proper drainage so that you don’t create a leaking or flooding problem has to be considered.
  • What and where are my property setback lines? Most local building codes have front yard, side yard and back yard setback dimensions, which prohibit you from building a certain distance from the property between public access and your neighbour’s property line. You will need to know those dimensions as you plan to make sure that your addition fits within those lines.

Consulting a professional

If you’re unable to answer any of the above questions adequately or simply can’t seem to make what you need come together the way you want it, a professional designer or builder will probably save you both money and headaches down the road. Besides being able to help you with the design, they can give you advice on local building codes and even help you in the process of applying for a variance when special circumstances require it.


Keeping up with your family’s growing needs often requires an addition or renovation of your existing home. Though it’s a little trickier to plan for and design, if you ask yourself the right questions and/or consult the right professionals to help you, you can provide the necessary, extra space that you need.