Kitchen Ideas – The Ultimate Design Resource Guide

kitchen
Wachirawut Priamphimai / EyeEm/ Getty Images
kitchen
Wachirawut Priamphimai / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Kitchens are one of the most commonly renovated spaces in a home–and also one of the most expensive–so it’s important to consider all your options before tackling a project of any size. Whether you’re just sketching designs for your dream space or trying to plan a major remodel we’ve got kitchen ideas and tips to get you from start to finish.

No two kitchens are the same. Not all are large and flooded with natural light and original hardwood floors, but some of the same guiding principles apply regardless of what your space looks like. Kitchen remodels on average cost more than $50,000 and getting a good return on investment means space should be intentional: bright, clean, and classic. A good place to start when approaching a kitchen renovation is to ask yourself what you want out of the room and why you want to change it in the first place.

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Do you have an outdated kitchen that requires a total overhaul? Are the materials dated and just need an update? Can you do it yourself? Are you looking for easy fixes to breathe new life into your space? Once you’ve identified the problems in your kitchen, determine what your budget is and decide if you’re going to do the work yourself or hire a contractor. If it’s the latter, consult our seven essential tips for hiring a contractor, however, even if you go that route, you’ll still want to be able to articulate your own kitchen design ideas, from the floors to the walls.

Before starting a kitchen remodel, or any other type of big project in your home, be informed about things like building codes and permits and watch out for these 10 things not to do. In the kitchen especially, think about the details and don’t make these 10 remodeling mistakes like ignoring lighting and ventilation or wasting potential storage space. We’ve broken down all the elements of a renovation and pulled together our top kitchen ideas into the ultimate guide that will help you create your best kitchen yet.

Color Scheme

White breakfast table with black leather chairs, white wood and glass pane island with black granite countertop and cupboards in country style kitchen with black granite tile flooring inside a 1924 semi-detached cottage style home, Quebec, Canada. This image is property released. CUPR0358
Perry Mastrovito/ Getty Images

With all the different kinds of paint on the market, choosing a color or shade can be overwhelming. Generally speaking, white and off-white are the most popular kitchen color ideas according to the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association. The good news is that paint color is easily changeable so if you want a bold statement wall then paint is a better way to do that than tile (which is more expensive and harder to swap out).

To start, here are 10 things to think about when considering color in your kitchen (and if you’ve never painted before check out our primer on things to know). Warmer colors like red are thought to stimulate appetite while white offers a clean, fresh aesthetic. Choosing a monochromatic color palette, where you base the whole color scheme off of one main color, is another popular option.

Creating a design where colors and textures are cohesive from the floor to the ceiling can be challenging so simplify the design process by choosing an all-white kitchen. Nearly every material comes in white (and white appliances are now updated and back in style) and look through our favorite 50 white kitchen ideas for inspiration. If you’re on the fence about an all-white kitchen browse through our list of quick tips to impress when using the color white in your space.

Cabinets

Beautiful Custom Kitchen with Island in Estate Home
TerryJ/ Getty Images

Cabinets end up taking up to one-third of renovation budgets on average. They are a high impact element of design and have the potential to really anchor the space. Though replacing all of your cabinetry can deliver a large return on investment, doing so can be extremely expensive. There are other ways to revamp cabinets whether that’s by adding lighting, new hardware, or a fresh coat of paint.

From refacing to replacing we’ve collected different kitchen cabinet ideas for budget-friendly ways to breathe life into old cabinetry to more modern styles.

Flooring

kitchen flooring
Compassionate Eye Foundation/ Getty Images

There are a number of different considerations when it comes to choosing a material for your kitchen floor. Does the space get a lot of traffic? Is your budget tight? Consider our tips for selecting a material for your floors, which will help you choose what works best for your space.

Hardwood floors are desirable and provide a classic look, but can be replicated by laminate which is a much cheaper alternative. There are a number of different pros and cons to consider when deciding between laminate and hardwoods, the main advantage being that laminate costs up to 50% less than hardwood.

Materials like cork and bamboo, among others, are economically friendly kitchen flooring ideas that are good for green design.

Countertops

Interior of modern and creative office space
Nazar Abbas Photography/ Getty Images

Like flooring, choosing a kitchen countertop is based on a number of different factors, from look and feel to cost and maintenance. A range of materials can be used for countertops, such as granite, marble, glass, stainless steel and engineered quartz. Tile can also be used in different places–from the backsplash to the floor to the counter–and we have 6 tips for choosing the perfect tile application for your kitchen. For a primer on materials, from classic to obscure, browse our guide to 10 trending kitchen counter materials.

Islands

Interior view of modern kitchen and living room, with white cabinets in loft apartment.
Mireya Acierto/ Getty Images

Including an island in your kitchen renovation is a huge benefit in securing resale value. According to a recent survey, 70% of buyers want an island in their kitchen, and of those, 50% consider it a must-have item. There are many advantages to having a kitchen island, from extra seating and food prep area to additional storage space. Since a kitchen island is a smart element in any kitchen design, we’ve assembled 60 kitchen island ideas to browse through, from integrating appliances to utilizing the ceiling space above.

A good rule of thumb is to allow for at least 36-48 inches between the perimeter of the island the surrounding cabinets so there’s enough room for people to move around. If you’re not sure what you want, look through our 30 favorite modern takes on kitchen islands.

Backsplashes

Modern kitchen interior design in white finishing
Jacek Kadaj/ Gety Images

A backsplash connects the countertops with the cabinets so it’s a good place to tie two main elements of your design together. While it’s not necessary to have one, a backsplash is helpful in terms of cleanliness because you’ll inevitably get that wall dirty while cooking or washing dishes.

Almost any type of material can work for a backsplash as long as it’s properly sealed from the classic and versatile subway tile to modern stainless steel and solid glass to natural stone. There are many different options but here are 21 of our favorite kitchen backsplash ideas.

Storage

kitchen storage
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Storage space in a kitchen can seem like a secondary consideration until you think of all the food items, dishware, pots and pans, and seldom-used appliances that need a place to be stored when not in use. Luckily there are many places to sneak functional storage space into your kitchen pantry, ways to make kitchen storage more efficient and ideas for laying out a kitchen for the best workflow. And sometimes the easiest way to make the room more spacious is to keep countertops organized and clutter-free so you have a usable space for food prep.

Decorating on a budget

kitchen luxury
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If a full renovation is not in your price range then redecorating is one way to breath new life into the space without spending a small fortune. A light, bright room feels bigger so painting the walls or replacing lighting elements is an inexpensive way to make a high-impact change.

If you can’t afford to swap out something major like cabinets, paint or restain them to match your new design or check out other ways to update your home without major renovations. And if changing other elements like countertops or floors is not an option then consider getting rid of old appliances and replacing them with shiny stainless steel or modern white ones. There are many ways to decorate on a tight budget and create a luxury kitchen for a fraction of the price by doing things like using stylish ceramic tile in place of marble.

Other creative options to revamp your kitchen include displaying personal decorative items like cookbooks and photos or opening up the space by knocking down a wall or two. Another cheap way to make a noticeable difference is to switch out the hardware on drawers and cabinets, like changing out old tarnished pulls and knocks with modern brass fixtures. Kitchen walls take up a lot of real estate in the room and are a place where cheap changes can make a big difference. Browse through our five favorite wall decoration ideas, from chalkboard walls to open shelving, for inspiration that you can apply to your own space.

Inspiration

Beautiful Modern kitchen with a counter height island
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Freshome offers endless inspiration for all the rooms in your home, inside and out. So from outdoor kitchen ideas to new kitchen innovations, we’ve got everything you need to imagine your dream space. Get the wheels turning by looking through the top kitchen trends of 2015, browsing through modern kitchen designs, or sifting through more niche kitchen remodeling ideas like how to choose the perfect range hood.

3 Reasons You Should Remodel Your Kitchen

When you upgrade your kitchen, the efficiency, style, and value of your entire home will improve along with the quality of your own lifestyle. And so we think now is the time to remodel your kitchen.

These three primary reasons to consider updating your kitchen, including efficiency, beauty, and investment; all can and will streamline the way you and your family use the kitchen. The industrial kitchen below contrasts with the bright, light-colored kitchen above, but they are both beautiful and customized gathering places at the heart of the home.

Beautiful remodeled kitchen in a condominium
TerryJ/ Getty Images

Do It For Efficiency

All aesthetics aside, the most practical reason to redo your kitchen is to increase efficiency. This may not be the most glamorous or exciting of reasons to commit to a kitchen remodel, but it is quite possibly one that you will appreciate the most while you live in your home.

Planning an efficient path like this through your kitchen, and based on the way you and your family use your kitchen, will streamline your life in ways you hadn’t even imagined. Those little details can add up to a big relief when you aren’t bumping into things and constantly moving back and forth to prep all your meals.

Speaking of appliances, when was the last time you updated your sink or oven range? Consider your cooking style and try to emphasize one or two elements that will make your life easier. For example, you may not need an 8-burner, commercial-grade stovetop, but if you like to prep food well in advance for parties or storage, a large refrigerator to hold party trays and an extra freezer for storing pre-cooked meals could save you a headache on a regular basis. In the photo below, the kitchen forms a triangle with two refrigerators as the primary elements.

Don’t forget kitchen storage. Even if you have a small kitchen, you can remodel in such a way as to give you the storage you need to maximize space. Don’t have a shelf tall enough to hold that electric stand mixer? Make one! Custom storage and cabinetry can free up counter space and help you cook more efficiently.

Minimalist modern kitchen with no clutter
Archi_Viz / Shutterstock

Improve Your Quality of Life

Looks aren’t everything, but don’t write them off. A beautiful kitchen has very tangible benefits. A design you love will impact your daily lifestyle — after all, most people spend a large percentage of their time at home in the kitchen, even if they aren’t cooking! The image above is the perfect example of a kitchen remodel that also fosters an environment to gather round during food prep.

Keep that in mind when planning a remodel. If your kitchen is closed off or isolated now, building in seating or counter space for social interaction will dramatically change the way you and your loved ones interact at home.

A more open plan, or one with a built-in eating area, could transform your kitchen into the central heart of your entire home and family life. The kitchen in the photo below incorporates a full dining room into the layout, making it both a place to cook and a place to share complete meals all in one.

When it comes to details like colors and themes, make your kitchen a place you want to be. If you love your kitchen, chances are you’ll be happy to spend time there. Even if you aren’t a chef, you may find yourself enjoying the space more than you ever thought possible.

kitchen remodel
ArchiViz / Getty Images

See the Rewards

It’s your life: see the difference a kitchen remodel makes on your whole lifestyle, not just the building you call home!

Guests and family will want to gather in a personalized kitchen designed to be comfortable and easy to navigate. You may even cook more frequently if you have a streamlined and efficient kitchen that you love — and there’s nothing better after a long day than a healthy, homemade meal with the family. Or in total solitude.

If you choose to sell your home in the future, investing in a kitchen remodel is consistently ranked as one of the best ways to add value and appeal to your home, bringing in a sizable return on your remodeling investment. That’s a real monetary benefit, not to mention the extra nudge to convince potential buyers to choose your property.

The functional, inspirational, and sale values that a kitchen remodel adds to your home are greater than that of any other room in your house. So if you want a way to freshen up your home in a big way without remodeling multiple rooms, the kitchen is the space to focus your time and attention.