Building a home is overwhelming (been there, done that!) … and one of the hardest (yet most fun) parts is designing a functional kitchen!
The kitchen is the most utilized room in the house and the top place for friends and family to gather … so you want it to work well for both entertaining and everyday living (e.g. putting away your dishes).
In this episode, I’m sharing 9 tips for designing a functional kitchen. These are all things I LOVE about my own kitchen design. I’m also sharing a couple of things that I wish I had done differently in my kitchen (so you can learn from my ‘mistakes’).
Welcome back to the Before You Build Podcast! I’m your host, Carrie Barker (a.k.a. Caroline on Design), and today in episode 37, we are talking kitchen design. This is such a fun topic and I can’t wait to share with you what I love (and don’t love) about my current kitchen.
MY OPEN KITCHEN LAYOUT
First of all, let me just say that I LOVE having my kitchen open to the family room. I know there are a lot of open-concept kitchen haters out there, but I personally love this layout.
These are the two rooms that my family spends 90% of our time in … so I wanted to combine the rooms so we can all be together. However, my girls are teenagers now so they don’t hang out with us as much as they used to, but when they do, it’s in our open kitchen/family room :).
Below is a visual of my exact kitchen layout.
Interested in seeing my entire custom floor plan for ideas?! CLICK HERE for details.
DESIGNING A FUNCTIONAL KITCHEN: 9 TIPS
Let’s go through my 9 tips that are ALL based on things I LOVE about my own custom kitchen. For some of these things, you’ll have a different opinion than me and that is totally fine. Just listen to the list with an open mind and get whatever out of this episode that you can.
1. AMPLE WALKING SPACE ON ALL 4 SIDES OF MY ISLAND
We have at least 42″ on all four sides of our kitchen island. This allows us enough space to open the dishwasher or the refrigerator and still have plenty of space to stand there without bumping your backside up to the island.
2. STOVE DIRECTLY BEHIND SINK
When I say ‘behind the sink’, I mean that when I stand at my sink, the stove is directly behind me. This allows for easy transportation when I have a full pot of water to boil. I simply turn around and place the pot on the stove (as opposed to walking across the kitchen with a full pot of water).
You can even go a step further (no pun intended) and include a pot filler above your stove.
3. SILVERWARE + EVERYDAY DISHES DIRECTLY BEHIND THE DISHWASHER
One of my least favorite tasks (aside from laundry) is unloading the dishwasher! However, it is more pleasant (and faster) when your silverware and everyday dishes are stored directly behind the dishwasher … or above it if your dishwasher is not on a kitchen island.
4. PULL OUT GARBAGE/RECYCLING CABINET
We included a rollout garbage/recycling cabinet by our kitchen sink which allows for VERY easy cleanup when we’re cooking or doing dishes.
A word of caution if you have a dog … our pup sneaks in the cabinet when it’s open (to find crumbs) and she’s been smooshed a couple of times!
5. DRAWERS, DRAWERS, + MORE DRAWERS
Drawers allow for SO much storage. We added drawers wherever possible. I especially love the large drawers under our stove because they are more practical than traditional cabinets.
I highly recommend installing drawers inside your lower cabinets as well (shown below) because it makes it MUCH easier to reach dishes in the back of cabinets.
6. DRAWER UNDER OVEN
Adding a drawer under your oven (if you have a wall oven) is a very practical idea as well. This is a great place to store cookie sheets.
7. SOFT CLOSE DRAWERS + CABINETS
We have soft close on all drawers and cabinet doors. While this isn’t necessary, it definitely is a great feature to include when designing your custom kitchen.
8. CENTRAL VAC TOE KICK
If you have a Central Vac system, consider installing a vac pan toe kick in your kitchen island.
When turned on (with your foot … hence the name), the intense suction allows you to sweep crumbs and debris right into your central vac. Easy breezy!
Tip: we installed our toe kick on the inside of the island so it wouldn’t be visible from the family room. You can see my toe kick in the kitchen island photo above.
9. SINK IN THE KITCHEN ISLAND
I know not everyone will agree with this tip but I personally love having my sink in the island because it’s right in the middle of all the action.
When my girls were younger, I could keep an eye on them while I was in the kitchen cooking or doing dishes. I do love the look of a sink under a window, but my husband didn’t want to have pipes on an exterior wall so we opted for the sink on the island.
So those are 9 things I love about my kitchen, but what about the things I would do differently?
MY KITCHEN DESIGN ‘MISTAKES’
Ok, so these aren’t exactly mistakes … but they are two (significant) things I would change if I were designing my kitchen again.
1. HIDDEN PANTRY CABINET DOORS
First of all, I love my hidden pantry … however, I would do our pantry cabinet doors differently if I were to do a hidden pantry again.
Our pantry doors are opened and closed at least 20 times a day so the tall cabinet doors take a beating.
The doors have held up amazingly well after 9+ years of use, but they aren’t perfectly straight anymore (which annoys me). I’m not exactly sure what I would do differently (possibly a swinging pantry door?) … I just know that I will NOT do tall cabinet pantry doors again!
2. KITCHEN ISLAND SIZE NOT IDEAL
I would LOVE to have a huge (12′ -14′ long) kitchen island with tons of prep space and storage on all four sides.
Obviously, my 8′ x 4′ isn’t terrible, BUT a large island with ample storage is a MUST in my next home build!
So there you have it … my 9 tips for designing a functional kitchen. Plus, a couple of bonus tips of what I would change if designing my kitchen again :).
You might not agree with all these tips and that is obviously A-OK! Just take what ideas you love and leave the rest when it comes to designing your own custom kitchen.
If you enjoyed this episode and want to dive deeper into preparing to build your dream home, download my FREE Custom Home Build Prep Guide and learn the steps to prepare for a successful home build … in other words, learn how to bring your beautiful and functional dream home to life that is designed perfectly for your family and comes in close to budget.