We all know the feeling of walking into a beautifully-designed kitchen - our own or a friend’s - and enjoying the set-up and ambiance so much that we can easily envision ourselves making a morning cup of coffee or cooking a delicious spaghetti dinner. We also know the feeling of walking into a kitchen that feels cramped and oppressive, where we would rather not spend more time than necessary. What is it that separates the first kind of kitchen from the second? There are several facets that go into creating a well-designed kitchen, and today we’ll cover six of the essentials.
Essential #1: Smart Storage
The most important factor in creating a beautiful kitchen is getting the basics right. Finishes, tools, and equipment are all important details, but ultimately, if your kitchen isn’t well laid out and easy to navigate, your experience of your kitchen will be significantly compromised. Smart storage is a key basic. On a fundamental level, smart storage means enough storage. Part of the reason that islands have become so popular is that they provide plenty of extra storage space while also adding countertop prep space.
Equally important is having diverse storage spaces, or spaces that are built to accommodate items of various sizes and uses. For example, it’s important to have the right mix of shelf space for bowls, cups, and plates, drawer space for smaller items like utensils and measuring cups, and - what is sometimes forgotten - tall storage spaces that can be adapted to store dried foods or utilized for cleaning supplies like brooms and mops. One key to ensuring you have the right mix is to keep track of the items you use in your kitchen on a weekly basis - everything from coffee pots to brooms - and consider the storage spaces you need to house them.
Essential #2: Functional Layout
Functional layout goes hand-in-hand with smart storage. Your kitchen should facilitate a natural traffic flow that allows easy access to your most-used kitchen items and appliances. Another reason that islands are a kitchen favorite is that they create what is sometimes termed the kitchen triangle, in which the three points are the sink, the refrigerator, and the stove/oven. Because these are typically the three most used kitchen appliances, it’s convenient to foster flow between them.
As you consider layout, remember to take into account smaller conveniences such as the strategic placement of outlets for countertop appliances. Successful and well-respected builders will be able to explain and suggest best practices for the finer details of a functional layout, as well as for the big picture. At Blenheim Homes, for example, our award-winning floor plans have over 35 years of research, and our homeowner-centric design philosophy means that we know how to build what’s best for you.
Essential #3: Excellent Lighting
As anyone who has tried to cook in a dimly-lit kitchen will tell you, lighting is another essential. Great lighting rarely comes from one source only. Instead, the best lighting utilizes a combination of natural and artificial lighting sources. Ensure your kitchen has plenty of light from nearby windows and/or French doors, and complement that natural light with distributed recessed ceiling lighting, island pendant lighting, and under-counter lighting to illuminate countertops. While these are the most popular lighting solutions for kitchens, you can explore a range of options to find the combination that best suits your needs. Having multiple lighting sources will allow you to utilize every area in your kitchen at any time of the day.
Essential #4: Access to the Rest of the House
Just as a house is defined largely by its neighborhood, so too are individual rooms defined by their context. One well established best practice for kitchens is to situate them within an open central floor plan. There are several reasons for this. Because the kitchen is so often the central gathering place and has been aptly termed the heart of the home, it makes sense to make it easily accessible from adjacent spaces like the dining room and living room. Not walling off the kitchen means that you’ll also have better natural lighting in the kitchen.
Additionally, keeping the kitchen open facilitates easier hosting, so that you can prepare dishes while entertaining and carrying on conversations with guests who are comfortably seated in the dining room or living room. Finally, open floor plans are also a great idea for parents who need to multitask in the kitchen while keeping an eye on kids as they play.
Essential #5: Seating
Because the kitchen is often a favorite hangout zone, island barstool seating is a great way to add an informal dining area, a space for kids to do homework, and a way for the family to comfortably relax during meal prep. If your floor plan doesn’t accommodate an island, consider creating a kitchen nook that houses a small dining table with chairs.
Essential #6: A Selection of Durable and Beautiful Materials
The kitchen is where quality materials really count. Because of that, working with a builder who offers a selection of durable and beautiful materials is a must. Fortunately, kitchens continually rank as one of the areas with the biggest ROIs, so don’t be afraid to opt for cabinets, countertops, flooring, and backsplash tiles that you know will stand the test of time and that reflect your personal style.
Design Your Dream Kitchen
At Blenheim Homes, we offer a large selection of high quality materials in each of these areas, a portion of which we display online in our kitchen visualizer so that prospective buyers can experiment with their favorite combinations. Keep in mind that the materials displayed here are only a portion of the finishes we offer.
Please note that each home floor plan in our Blenheim communities has its own designated kitchen visualizer, so if you’re interested in a particular home model, you can get a very good idea of what your finished customization options will look like by experimenting with selections for that unique space. You can find home model options for our communities in Middletown and Wilmington here.