The Top 7 Features for a New Kitchen


September 9, 2017
By Barbra Bright, Houzz

Embarking on a kitchen remodel is both an exciting and daunting endeavor for most people. My goal as a kitchen designer is to guide my clients through the multitude of decisions that need to be made. To begin, I always ask what they envision in their dream kitchen. Not surprisingly, there is a universal chorus on their requirement list, unlike their wish list, which is diverse and based on their specific desires. Read on to find my most requested kitchen must-haves.

1. Islands

It may not surprise you that the most common request I hear from a new client is for a kitchen island. It’s very typical for people to dream of an island that’s the focal point of their kitchen and is big enough for food preparation, extra storage and seating.

However, not all kitchens are large enough to accommodate the ideal work aisle clearances of 42 inches for a single cook or 48 inches for a two-cook kitchen. Fortunately for those island dreamers out there with small kitchens, there are other options.

Long and narrow. One option is to rethink the depth of your island. Not all islands are meant to have seating. Some simply function as another work surface with perhaps a bit of storage below. In this photo, the combination butcher block and stainless steel island adds a warm yet industrial element to a gray Transitional-style kitchen. The openness of the island adds an airy feeling to this galley kitchen space.

Itty bitty. Remember, as nice as it is to have a large island, you won’t enjoy all that extra counter space if it’s difficult to walk around the kitchen. A key component of getting your island right is the work aisle clearances. Sometimes the space you have means only the smallest of center islands will do.

2. Large Single Sink

I’d say that 98 percent of my clients request a single-basin sink that is 30 to 33 inches wide and 9 inches deep. What makes the single basin all the rage? Most of my clients comment that their current double sinks cannot fit large pots and pans — and that drives them crazy!

3. More Prep Space

Most older kitchens are smaller and designed for one cook, with the prep area limited to the space directly next to the sink. Today, kitchens are often larger, and it is not uncommon to have two cooks in the kitchen, necessitating the need for more than one prep area.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association planning guidelines recommend that prep space be “a section of continuous countertop at least 36 inches wide and 24 inches deep immediately next to the sink for a primary preparation/work area.” One option for a secondary prep location is a peninsula, as shown in this photo. Here, the peninsula also doubles as a serving station, since it is accessible to the dining room.

Alternatively, an island can also make a great prep space.

4. Storage

Everyone wants more storage. With the advent of big-box stores, kitchen products have become larger and are often bought in bulk. Depending on the room you have to work with, there are many possible ways to build this into your kitchen.

Walk-in pantry. For clients with extra space, a walk-in pantry is often the solution. This is an especially good option for those who are not naturally organized and would like to close the door.

Sliding door pantry. Not all storage is for food. Many clients need to store a combination of glassware, dishes and appliances, as in this photo. Here, frosted translucent sliding glass doors allow for easy visual recognition of what is kept behind closed doors.

Tall cabinet with roll-out shelves. One of my favorite ways to add storage is a tall cabinet with adjustable roll-outs that matches the new cabinetry. You don’t have to guess what’s behind the first row of supplies — simply roll out the shelf to see.

Reconfigure a closet. If your kitchen plans don’t include space for a new walk-in pantry, you might consider repurposing a nearby closet to act as your pantry. Add shelves — or, even better, roll-outs — to the interior of the closet. Also consider adding a new door with glass to delineate the new pantry from other closets.

5. Kitchen Dining

Whether their space is large or small, most clients request an eat-in area in their new kitchen. Usually, this will be secondary to their formal dining room — just someplace to sit for a bite to eat. This, too, is a request that will depend on square footage.

Double dining. For those clients lucky enough to have an island, many still request additional kitchen table seating, even if they have a formal dining room. Why? Islands are great for quick bites, but not so great for longer informal meals. And formal dining rooms — well, they’re just so darn formal! One client mentioned that she likes to look directly at her kids during conversations, which is less likely when sitting side by side at an island. One option is to have both an eat-in nook with a table and a countertop bar.

Creative seating. Some clients are determined to have kitchen seating, despite not having a lot of space. I love how that goal was accomplished in this photo, with the counter seating beginning in the kitchen and wrapping around the corner into the adjoining room. The entryway to the kitchen is wide enough that the stools do not interfere with traffic flow. Those sitting directly in front of the wall can enjoy the visual interest on the open shelving.

6. Clutter-Free Counters

There is a common desire among my clients for clean, clutter-free counters in their newly remodeled kitchens. It’s their chance for a do-over. In fact, one of the many benefits of remodeling your kitchen is cleaning out your existing cabinets. Are you really going to use that ice-cream maker you got as a gift? How about that bread maker you used only once? Maybe it’s time to box up all the stuff you haven’t used in years and give it away.

The key to keeping your counters neat is to put in place organizational systems from the start — which means spending a little extra on the small details. Accessories such as cutlery and tray dividers, roll-out shelves, lid organizers, spice storage and bread drawers are the kinds of things you may not wish to pay for now but likely will appreciate over the years. I recommend that you take careful stock of how you live and work in your kitchen and then find the right accessories that will make this hardworking space more enjoyable. Here are a few suggestions to keep kitchen clutter at bay:

Appliance garage. Small appliances can quickly overtake your countertops, so consider installing an appliance garage with outlets in the back wall. Your most used appliances stay plugged in and ready to go with the lift of the door.

Utensil storage. Vertical utensil storage is one of my most-requested accessories to help keep counters near the range clear.

Spice and knife storage. There are many options: In addition to the pullout storage shown in the photo with the wood cabinets and gray countertop, there are drawer storage accessories for both spices and knives, spice shelves that hang on the inside of doors and magnetic strips for knives that attach to walls. Check out the various options on Houzz, and discuss with your kitchen designer to find the best fit for your kitchen.

7. Compost-Recycling-Trash

Last but not least: All clients ask for a combination of compost, recycling and trash bins. Many of them request compost — but at a minimum it’s nice to have a dedicated place for the recycling and trash containers.

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The information contained herein was prepared for general information and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional, tax, financial or legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts or circumstances. Eloan a Division of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, its subsidiaries and/or affiliates are not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or tax advice. Please consult with your attorney, financial consultant/planner, accountant, and/or tax advisor for advice concerning your particular circumstances.