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Tips for Your Kitchen Renovation

What do most of us want from our kitchens today?

Cooking Space | Storage | A Place to Entertain |  Style


Kitchens today are very much the heart of our homes, especially for those who love cooking.  But we expect so much more from this space than just food prep.  We expect to gather there, make important memories there, and store everything from pots and pans to our great-grandmother’s tea set there.  We also expect to do all of this in style and comfort.  Achieving this vision of the kitchen depends upon balancing an entertaining area with functional cooking zones.

How did S. and I achieve this balance in our recent kitchen makeover?

Layout is probably the number one factor in finding this balance!  It takes a lot of forethought and planning to figure out the best arrangement.  This is where you need to think beyond just what goes in your kitchen and more about how it will fit together.

kitchen layout
Ikea’s kitchen design software allowed me to perfect our kitchen layout and try different components in various places.
  • Create Work Zones –  think about the specific activities you do in the kitchen beyond just the basics of stove cooking and washing dishes.  My list includes: chopping, baking, washing dishes, recycling, brewing coffee, and making cocktails. Then ask yourself where in the space does it make sense to do this work and what kind of storage do you need to put all the tools for those activities right at hand.
  • Take an inventory of all the items you store in the kitchen, including consumables, and then visualize how and where all those items should be stored within the work zones you’ve identified.
  • Utilize design software and test different layouts with painter’s tape.  Once I knew some of the basic measurements of our new stove, oven, dishwasher, etc. I laid out those appliances using painter’s tape on the floor.  Then I actually tested working within this new configuration.
The Ikea software allows you to see the layout and wall elevations.

Maximize cabinet and appliance function without breaking the budget.

  • Go directly to the granite manufacturer.  Skip the middleman!
  • Shop appliance discount stores like the Sears Outlet or opt to buy floor models.  There is usually nothing wrong with the appliances on the floor or in a discount store.  Either these are older models, have a minimal scratch or ding somewhere, or were returned because original buyer miss-measured.
  • Utilize the corner space with turnstiles.
  • Add drawer organizers.  Cabinets can look beautiful from the outside, but if the stuff they contain is inaccessible or all-a-jumble, you will be disappointed with your new kitchen, so be sure to budget for this.  Ikea has some great options that should work in any drawer or cabinet.

Play up your style! Kitchens can easily become sterile or generic looking, so don’t neglect to style the counter-tops and play with color.


  • Add personal touches.  Try framing a hand-written recipe from your mother or an art print and placing it on the counter.
  • Hide trashcans.  A well appointed kitchen should not have a plastic trashcan sitting to the side of an island.  Put it on a pull out cabinet under the sink or away inside a pantry.
  • De-clutter kitchen counter-tops.  Yes, your kitchen should be functional with cooking tools easily accessible, but this does not mean everything need should sit on the counter.  Choose some select cooking tools that are designed well to set out.  Put your mixer and other counter-top appliances behind doors.
  • Highlight something you collect like wine or salt and pepper shakers.
  • Brighten the space with a unique light fixture.
We hid our mixer and other counter-top appliances in this tall silver cabinet with a garage door that rolls up for easy access.

The kitchen renovation S. and I completed perfectly suits us.  Is everything exactly as we planned? No, absolutely not; there were several road bumps along the way, for instance S. had to completely re-work the microwave cabinet we ordered when we miscalculated the depth needed to house it.  Some days it was all I could do to strive for patience and calm.

Probably, the best advice I can give those facing a kitchen renovation is to be ready for the unexpected.  Mistakes and miss-calculations are bound to happen.  Have a backup plan and maybe even a backup plan for your backup.  Even better have a contingency fund.



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