Design Tips for the Kitchen You Have and the Kitchen You Want

Design Tips for the Kitchen You Have and the Kitchen You Want

Kitchen Remodeling
Decoration and Design
Additions and Remodels
By Ani Mouradian May 25, 2021

It’s easy to look up what’s trending in home design and let what’s popular guide you in your home remodel decisions. However, what’s trending doesn’t always work with what you’ve got or your personality. It’s even harder to make templated ideas work for you or your family’s unique lifestyles.

The kitchen is the heart of every home. It’s where we prepare meals for our loved ones with care and love. It’s also where many of us gather, share, work, or study. Pandemic life has converted kitchens into a multi-purpose space that also functions as a home office, a living room, or even a place to unwind. 

How to Achieve the Kitchen of Your Dreams

How to Achieve the Kitchen of Your Dreams

With all the added importance a kitchen carries, it’s crazy to think that designing one can be simple. There are so many beautiful ideas out there, and you definitely can’t implement them all. So, we decided to chat with a seasoned home remodel and kitchen design expert to give you tips that may guide you when planning your kitchen in particular. We asked Theresa Voiss, the director of design at Everstead, what she’d recommend for different kitchen layouts as well as for the different features you might be looking to prioritize in your kitchen.

The pervasive visibility of design trends often creates the problem of newly remodeled kitchens looking quite similar. So we thought to begin with asking for a suggestion on how to make our kitchens stand apart.

“A stove by the window. I think it’s really amazing to do a stove in front of a window and do the hood above that. So you can have a set of windows behind you…and the glass is not flammable so you can have it behind your stove.”

Designing a Kitchen that is Unique

Designing a Kitchen that is Unique

If a homeowner is looking to improve functionality in the kitchen:

“Drawers in kitchen cabinets are really helpful to be able to utilize the space in the back of the cabinets. Also, people are asking, a lot these days, for an appliance cabinet. You can have a tall cabinet that’s 24 inches wide and to the ceiling. It’s great to have just one tall cabinet to store kitchen appliances.”

 

If a homeowner is looking for something beautiful:

“I think it’s the finish on your kitchen countertop. I think that really sets the palette in the room. I also love, of course, the backsplash tile; it's the other thing that really sets the tone for a room. “

What Makes a Beautiful Kitchen

What Makes a Beautiful Kitchen

The lesson here is not to shy away from color or styles that speak to you when choosing the pieces in your kitchen that are going to set the mood.

If a homeowner is looking for a more sustainable kitchen:

“It’s probably the products that you select in building your kitchen — the manufacturers you choose, looking at how green they are. That’s probably a way that you can change [how eco-friendly your kitchen is].”

 

If a homeowner is looking for something modern:

“Less detail and very clean lines are what create a modern environment, with big statements of art or big statements of material. It’s really cleaning things up and making things flow and not over-detailing something.

 

What Makes a Kitchen Modern

What Makes a Kitchen Modern

What is your favorite statement material?

“I love tile backsplash. Handmade tiles...I think that adds so much art and character into a space. I also love kitchen cabinets that go all the way up to the ceiling. I think that really elevates the look of a room and it makes you feel like there’s a lot of volume in the room.”

The Way to Go for a Statement in the Kitchen

The Way to Go for a Statement in the Kitchen

Everyone’s talking about larger tile; that it trumps smaller tile in many respects (cleanliness & making a room look more spacious). Would you say that it always wins? In kitchens as well?  

“I think that’s just a trend. It is true for the floor, but I don’t think that’s true for the backsplash.”


When you accept how crucial
kitchen tile or statement piece choice can be, not only in determining the vibe in your kitchen but also in establishing a style that is true to you, it may be a daunting selection process to approach. However, a consultation with an interior designer or tiler can really help narrow down the options that are best for you.

This leads us to color — one of the best tools to help personalize any space.

Would you say there are any hard no’s for color choice in the kitchen?

“I know people that really love certain colors, and I do think people should be true to themselves with color. With color, the trick is how you use it. If someone were to come and tell me they wanted neon green walls, for example...your eyes are going to be fighting between it and the food and it’ll just stir you up. But if a client came to me and said they wanted it, I wouldn’t not do it. I think the proportion of using it [is what makes it work].


So, if you want a serene kitchen then you want deep tones. If [a client] says they want an orange kitchen, that would contrast beautifully with a white or light grey countertop. I wouldn’t choose orange myself for my kitchen, but I would set the tone for some neutrals in the room, to help calm your eye, and then add the color. Balance the colors. For example, all black can be concerning; it can be really dark. You would need to find the balance, like pulling some wood in to bring some light to the room.”

 

We can’t escape the trends; what is a new kitchen remodel trend you’re seeing?

“Something new we’re seeing people really ask for is a back kitchen. So you’ve got the main kitchen and some people call this a ‘pantry, but the pantry has got an oven in it … and maybe a second refrigerator in it ...and maybe a dishwasher in it. Some people call it the ‘messy kitchen area, where you can put your dirty dishes in it and still have your cleaner, prep area to share with everyone.”

 

Pantry Kitchens are the Home Makeover Must-Have of the Year

Pantry Kitchens are the Home Makeover Must-Have of the Year

Also known as a butler’s kitchen, this kitchen prep and wash area can be incorporated into a separate pantry or connected to the main kitchen but against a separate wall. It’s the ideal, if a little luxurious, solution for a place to enjoy the fruits of your kitchen labor with your guests without being reminded of the clean-up that follows. It’s the backstage kitchen.

Why You've Got to Have a Back Kitchen

Why You've Got to Have a Back Kitchen

Something homeowners should avoid doing in the kitchen:

If there’s too much contrast in a room or it’s too busy, it might be overstimulating — which you might not want to feel at the end of the day.”


The success of a
kitchen remodel largely depends on designing the kitchen based on what you have to work with. It’s important to acknowledge the layout of your kitchen and try to work with it, instead of hoping your kitchen will succumb to your design whims. So we asked Theresa what she’d recommend homeowners do in some of the more capricious kitchen layouts.

If a homeowner has a one wall kitchen:

“To me that implies limited space. Having multipurpose items in your kitchens - so bowls that function in the microwave - so you don’t have a lot of separate items for one task can help. You really try to find one item that can handle multiple tasks. You can have multi-purpose appliances that can cut down the number of items. A smaller refrigerator....And just being willing to reap through your things so you have less items to store and display. Keeping a few things out that really mean something to you really helps bring some character to it, but also limiting how many things you have." 

 

Making the Most of a One Wall Kitchen

Making the Most of a One Wall Kitchen

Despite the yearning to minimize, it is still very difficult to let go of things for most. It’s normal to struggle when deciding what goes and what stays, especially if you’ve been living in your home for many years, and especially if you live with grandparents who may just be attached to a particular ladle. Theresa and her team at RES recommend a lovely approach that might help you declutter your home with less of a heavy heart.

“One really great way to look at things is “sharing them”. So don’t look at it like you’re giving it away, you’re looking at it as sharing it with someone else. Even if you get money for it, you’re sharing it. The other way to look at it is, that it doesn’t go in the trash — it continues to be used; it just finds a new home where it’s loved again.”


If a homeowner has a
galley kitchen:

“One nature of the galley kitchen is that it’s often long, so if you can find a way to vary the finishes, like put a different tile behind the stove, or the finishes of cabinet colors, [you can] give it more depth. Otherwise, it can look like a lot the same color. When you’re looking down the road and there’s a different color it helps break the space up so it’s not so long. I think galley kitchens are really beautiful. I know the island is what everyone asks for; everyone who has us work on a kitchen always wants an island. It’s because it’s a family and kitchen group gathering spot. That’s what you lose in a galley kitchen a little; working together around each other because you're more on walls. But it can still be a conservation area. I feel like galley kitchens are actually really charming, depending on the finishes.”

 

The Charm of Galley Kitchens You Might Not Have Expected

The Charm of Galley Kitchens You Might Not Have Expected


An
L-shaped kitchen usually also connotes small spaces. So, things to focus on in a kitchen renovation or an L-shaped kitchen design are expanding the breadth of the space with lighting and lighter colors. Small kitchen remodel ideas are aplenty when you have an experienced eye.

For homeowners with U-Shaped Kitchen:

“Usually if you’re limited in space you have a U-shaped kitchen. I think it allows you to fit that island in. If you might not have that much space you can still have the feeling of an island thanks to the peninsula portion. It’s very efficient; you really do get all of your things in one area. It’s typically a 2-person area. Your guests or family can prep on the other side of the peninsula with you. I think that works out nicely.”

 

Efficiency and Beauty are Both Possible with a U-Shaped Kitchen

Efficiency and Beauty are Both Possible with a U-Shaped Kitchen

For homeowners with (or planning for) an island kitchen: 

I think the thing I see the most often that I realize [homeowners] are not making the best choice for themselves, is when they want the island in the kitchen so much and yet it doesn’t really make the space function that well; [the space ] is not set up to be an island kitchen. So for example, if they had a U-shaped kitchen they’d have a lot more counter space and cabinets. But they so want that island without looking at how best to use the space that they have.”


That being said, islands aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and
because they’re trending, we asked Theresa how homeowners can make their island kitchens unique. This is for homeowners who want an island kitchen but also don’t want their kitchen to look like everybody else’s. 

Adding Functionality to Your Kitchen Island

Adding Functionality to Your Kitchen Island

“It’s really the cabinets that you can make it look different. Kitchens are all really made of the same things: the countertops, the cabinets, and the backsplashes. Those are your finishes. I think that the people who own the kitchen are what makes it unique.”


Theresa went on to expand on the notion that unique designs should reflect who we are. You can think about how you use your kitchen; the kind of things you like to cook, whether you
don’t like to cook, and what activities you use your kitchen for. When these personalizations guide your design process then you will definitely have a unique design. 

The Heart of the Home Is Also Connected to the Stomach

The Heart of the Home Is Also Connected to the Stomach

Written by
Ani Mouradian

Written by Ani Mouradian

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