Kitchen Layout Design Tips & Mistakes to Avoid
Many of our home activities — cooking, cleaning, eating, drinking, socializing — take place in the kitchen. Which is why a beautiful and functional kitchen is so important. Regardless of your kitchen design style, organization and layout are key components. Take a look at these 10 mistakes you should avoid and design tips to try, so you’ll end up with a practical and elegant kitchen design.
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1. Kitchen Triangle Obstructions
Kitchen design professionals refer to the sink, stove and refrigerator as the kitchen triangle. It’s the area of greatest activity, so designing a kitchen triangle requires careful planning and unobstructed access. Of the three, the sink typically sees the most action, though your triangle should also have easy access to the stove and refrigerator, as well as your countertop workstations.
Obviously, your sink needs to be near the plumbing. Sometimes, because of the placement of the pipes, kitchens are designed with the sinks in a poor location. If this is the case in your kitchen, consider hiring a plumber to relocate the plumbing to accommodate the best placement for the sink.
Regardless of your kitchen’s size or layout (L-shaped, galley, U-shaped or island), the sum of all the legs in a work triangle should not be less than 10 feet or greater than 25 feet. If the work triangle is too small, people will be tripping over each other. If it’s too large, food preparation could be a tiring task.
2. Wasted Storage Space
Kitchens typically contain lots of stuff. Not only that, but items concealed behind kitchen cabinets can be oddly shaped and require extra space — think food processors or stand mixers. Finding a home for your appliances while keeping them easily accessible can be tricky.
Because built-ins are expensive and the overall size of the area may be limited, one big design mistake is not including enough storage. Even small kitchens have wasted space, but this can be minimized with smart kitchen planning.
If your kitchen is small, consider installing extra-long upper cabinets with molding for extra storage space. Place lighting or greenery along the molding to draw the eyes up. Always install cabinets over the refrigerator. Not utilizing this area is a waste of storage space for large or seasonal kitchen items. Finally, install shelves across the backs of the lower kitchen cabinet. This could add up to 4 square feet of extra kitchen storage space.
3. Not Enough Counter Space
One of the biggest complaints about kitchen design is the lack of counter space. Considering all the kitchen activities that require a countertop, as well as appliances that are permanently located there, you want to fit as much open horizontal surface area in a kitchen as possible. An easy way to do this is by adding an island or breakfast bar to an L-shaped kitchen.
4. Bad Lighting
The kitchen is one room where you can’t afford to have poor lighting. It’s not just a matter of good design and atmosphere. Proper kitchen task lighting is safety is important when it comes to handling sharp knives and other kitchen tools. Plus, the more light you have in the room, the better you can show off your design elements.
Rooms generally need three types of lighting:
- General lighting for overall illumination
- Task lighting
- Accent lighting
For your kitchen, evaluate the work areas and focus on providing each spot with the light it needs. Consider adding lighting directly above all the main work areas.
Use pendant lights or a series of mini-pendants to enhance the beauty and functionality of the kitchen. Pendants look great above kitchen sinks, while a series of mini-pendants work well over breakfast bars and kitchen islands. Install under-cabinet lighting to make sure that the counters have sufficient lighting for common kitchen tasks.
5. Skipping the Backsplash
When budgeting or designing a new kitchen or remodel, the backsplash sometimes slips to the end of the list. Or worse, it’s left out of the plan altogether. This may save you money in the short term, but in the long run it will cost you a lot of time and effort.
Think about all the steam, water and grease in the kitchen, and you’ll understand why installing a backsplash above the cooktop and counters is a smart way to keep your kitchen clean. It’s much easier to clean grease off a backsplash made of tile, metal or plastic than paint or wallpaper.
6. Poor Ventilation
The best kitchen design fades in the presence of stinky cooking odors. If you’ve ever walked into someone’s home and smelled last night’s fish lingering in the air, you’ll understand the importance of good ventilation.
Inexpensive range hoods simply circulate dirty, stale air, while a good ventilation system will improve the quality of your indoor air. It also helps keep your kitchen cleaner and extends the life of your appliances.
Although it can be a big investment, a good ventilation system makes cooking and dining more pleasant, especially if your kitchen opens to a living area or family room.
7. Choosing the Wrong Kitchen Island
When it comes to kitchen islands, we generally think of additional storage, preparation and serving space in the kitchen. But you may be surprised to learn that kitchen islands can waste a lot of space. Choosing the wrong island or placing it in the wrong spot can be a mess, especially in a work area that gets overly cluttered.
Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove, and primary workstations will create bottlenecks. An island should be at least 4 feet long and 2 feet deep and it needs enough room for people to move and work around it. Kitchen design experts say that unless your kitchen is at least 8 feet deep and 12 feet long, you shouldn’t even consider an island.
8. Ignoring Your Recycling
As recycling becomes even more important, dealing with trash in kitchen design has gone beyond sticking a bin under the sink. Make a plan to manage your trash efficiently and responsibly — incorporate sorting bins for recyclables into your kitchen design.
9. Going Too Trendy
Although it’s not necessarily a mistake, the latest kitchen trends and high-end equipment may not be the best choices. Trendy colors and designs have a short lifespan, and you may never see a return on your large investments in the latest kitchenware. Look for kitchen innovations and appliances that are timeless.
10. Not Working with Kitchen Design Professionals
Starting a kitchen design project to save money is a common mistake; it can actually waste more money, time and energy if you do it wrong. Professional designers have the latest ideas and information, and they can help you identify your needs and translate them into an efficient plan that fits your taste and budget.