Building a home is overwhelming (been there, done that!) … and one of the hardest parts is designing your kitchen layout! 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 be FUNCTIONAL for both entertaining and everyday living (e.g. putting away your dishes)! I’m sharing 9 tips for designing a functional kitchen; these are all things I LOVE about my own kitchen layout! I’ll also include a couple of things that I wish I had done differently in my kitchen (so you can learn from my ‘mistakes’)!
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MY OPEN KITCHEN LAYOUT
First of all, I am SO confused about the open concept kitchen haters on the internet! I personally LOVE having my kitchen open to the family room!
These are the two rooms my family (and probably your family) spends 90% of our time in … so why not combine the rooms so we can all be together?! I highly recommend an open kitchen floor plan!
Here is a visual of my exact kitchen layout. I apologize for the blurry photo, but this image shows you in detail my kitchen floor plan …
Interested in seeing my entire custom floor plan for ideas?! Please visit my FLOOR PLAN PAGE for details.
DESIGNING A FUNCTIONAL KITCHEN: 9 TIPS
All tips are based on things I LOVE about my own functional custom kitchen!
1. AMPLE WALKING SPACE ON ALL SIDES OF 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 without bumping up to the island.
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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 (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 DISHWASHER. One of the worst kitchen tasks (IMO) 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 in a kitchen island.
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4. PULL OUT GARBAGE/RECYCLING CABINET. Including a rollout garbage/recycling cabinet by your kitchen sink allows for VERY easy cleanup when 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 times!
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5. DRAWERS, DRAWERS, + MORE DRAWERS. Drawers allow for SO much storage! Our large drawers under our stove have proven to be much more practical than traditional cabinets!
I highly recommend installing drawers inside your lower cabinets as well (shown below)! Incorporating large “drawers” within your cabinets makes it MUCH easier to reach dishes in the back of a cabinet!
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6. DRAWER UNDER OVEN. Adding a drawer under your oven (if you have a wall oven) is very practical 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 have!
8. CENTRAL VACUUM VACPAN TOE KICK. If you have a Central Vac system, consider installing a vacpan 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!
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 personally love having my sink in the island because it’s right in the middle of all the action! I can keep an eye on my kids while doing dishes. I do love the look of a sink under a window, but plumbing in exterior walls is NOT a reality for our cold winter climate!
MY KITCHEN DESIGN ‘MISTAKES’
Ok, so these aren’t exactly mistakes … but they are two (significant) things I would change about my kitchen design!
1. HIDDEN PANTRY CABINET DOORS. First of all, I love my hidden pantry … however, I would do our pantry cabinet doors differently. Our pantry doors are opened and closed probably 20 times a day … so the tall cabinet doors take a beating!
They’ve held up fairly well after 5.5 years of use, but they aren’t perfectly straight anymore (which annoys me). I’m not exactly sure what I would do differently (possible a swinging pantry door?) … just know that I will NOT do tall cabinet pantry doors again!
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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!
I hope you now feel more excited and confident in creating a list of kitchen layout must-haves (and no-nos) to communicate to your builder or architect! My FREE guided worksheet, ‘How to Balance Style vs. Budget’ will walk you through this exercise (just change the word ‘home’ to ‘kitchen’ in the freebie)!
I would love to hear from YOU! Please comment below with your own FAV and NOT-SO-FAV things about your own current kitchen layout! This is super helpful to others who are on the same kitchen design journey as you … it’s always great to learn from others’ experiences!