5 Space-Planning Practicalities For Kitchen Remodels

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The desire to remodel a kitchen often starts with aesthetics, then quickly progresses to practicalities. Stained sinks, dingy paint schemes, and outdated countertops catch your notice every morning when you're getting your coffee.

But then you start to notice functional deficiencies. You may have plenty of cabinets but they're hard to reach. You have a giant kitchen island but all it seems to be good for is holding mail and dog leashes.

As you begin planning your new kitchen, concentrate on the main functional areas of the kitchen—prep areas, cooking, refrigeration, dishwashing. Think about access and how often you really will use something.

Consider Items That Need to be Moved

The ideal kitchen remodel is one where nothing at all moves—where it's a simple, one-for-one replacement of the features without moving their locations.

But in the real world, kitchen remodeling usually involves moving some of the puzzle pieces around a bit. You can save yourself a good deal of money and difficulty if you leave some of the major appliances and services right where they are.

  • Hoods: The hood can easily be repositioned, but a new duct must be established and the old duct shut down. Range hoods that do not vent to the outside are easier to move.
  • Sink: Sinks are plumbing-dependent. Water supply lines have some leeway but drainage is tougher to relocate.
  • Dishwasher: Like sinks, dishwashers do have a little bit of play, with their flexible drain hoses, supply lines, and electrical cords.
  • Ducts: Ducts are built into the home. If you want to move it, you need to block the old duct and cut a new one.
  • Ranges: Electric ranges can often be moved a couple of feet. Gas ranges are more difficult to move. A plumber will need to run lines to the new area. If the gas range is just being moved a few inches, that may not trigger the need to move pipes, since a flexible gas line runs from the pipes to the range.
  • Refrigerators: Refrigerators, even water-equipped models, can be moved fairly easily because water lines are long. You do need to have a dedicated outlet located within a couple of feet of the new location.
  • Cabinets: Most upper wall cabinets can be moved. With wall cabinets, it's less a matter of removal than of finding a new location for them, since kitchens tend to have limited space. Lower base cabinets are difficult to move because they establish so much of the kitchen's footprint. Also, flooring is usually built around base cabinets. If the cabinets move, flooring needs to be fixed or installed anew.

Consider If You Really Need an Island

Kitchen islands are a top priority of most homeowners remodeling kitchens. And islands are usually considered valuable when selling a house.

But ask yourself if you really need that kitchen island and what you will actually use it for. If you don't have a clear idea of its intended use, it may end up as an expensive repository for mail, dirty dishes, and car keys.

It takes a rather large kitchen in order for a cabinet/countertop island to function the way it is intended. Forcing a kitchen island into a modest-sized kitchen offers no particular benefit, and it may make your kitchen harder to navigate.

Quality Countertops Are Important

Your kitchen countertops are with you day in and day out, and they will be there for many years to come. It is worth the extra cost to get the kitchen countertop you really want, whether it's granite, quartz, laminate, or solid-surface material.

Get this decision right at the planning stage. The countertop is one of the largest visual elements in a kitchen.

Plus, the right countertop will be an eye-catcher someday when it is time to sell your home. Homebuyers place a premium on a well-designed kitchen, and countertops are a major feature of every kitchen.

Not All Cabinets Are the Same

Cabinets located above eye level, such as over refrigerators and stoves, are less valuable than more accessible cabinets.

Kitchen cabinets at eye level or below are the ones that offer meaningful storage. Kitchen pantry units are also considered valuable storage space.

When evaluating cabinets, focus on truly practical cabinetry that's easy to access. If you have to get on a kitchen step-stool to access the cabinet, it probably won't get used often.

Designers Can Help With Space Planning

Kitchen designers perform many great functions. But the thing of great value when it comes to kitchen designers is their space-planning expertise.

Kitchen spaces cannot be taken lightly. Outlets need to be spaced properly. Unless custom-ordered, arranging cabinets that come in stock sizes can be bewildering. Arranging appliances and countertops must be done efficiently to create a practical workflow.

Kitchen designers can iron out these spacing wrinkles in a way that kitchen design software cannot duplicate. Some homeowners avoid kitchen designers out of a desire to save money, but a few hours with a kitchen designer can spell the difference between a purely cosmetic makeover and making actual improvements to the most important space in your home.