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How Not to Design Your Kitchen!

When designing a kitchen, whether for a new construction home or a remodel, it is common to spend most of our time focusing on the big things, like cabinetry color, countertops, and flooring. However, it is really the small details that should be the center of our focus. Not that wanting a beautifully designed kitchen is wrong, but rather we should use a little ingenuity to create a space that is both lovely and functional. If you spend as many hours a day in your kitchen as I do, you know how important it is to keep everything organized and easily accessible. Unlike the kitchens we grew up in, there are now so many unique options available that can make your life more organized and functional. Gone are the days of cookie sheets shoved under the oven or your blender, food processor and mixer playing Jenga under the cabinet. Think through a week in your kitchen. What do you use most and how do you use it? How much simpler would your life be if those items or processes were organized in a purposeful manner? I’ve gathered some of the most innovative, functional design options I could find to inspire you in your design process.

Nothing clutters up a kitchen countertop faster than small appliances sitting out. In our home, we make a ton of smoothies! Currently, our Vitamix is precariously placed in a cabinet with all my other small appliances, and I’m not sure which is worse, having to continually pull it out or having to look at it sitting on my counter. Having a pullout shelf tucked under a cabinet where your mixers and blenders can be stored when not in use is such a great idea! For the items you use more often, installing a hidden cabinet where they can be easily accessed and used, yet obscured from view with the close a door is brilliant! Even smarter is having your electrician install an outlet in the back of the cabinet, then plug all your appliances into a power strip. This way, you can leave all your appliances plugged in and turn them on with the push of a button!

Incorporating a drink or coffee station into your design makes for easy entertaining. Placing the station away from the kitchen’s workspace, allows guests to serve themselves without interrupting the cook. Adding cubbies and drawers around the station allows coffee supplies, glassware, and cups to be perfectly organized yet easily accessible. A great piece of advice for a built-in coffee station is to run a water line directly to your coffee maker. This ensures you always have fresh water available, no matter how many cups of coffee you make!

While a paper towel holder is nothing new, having a drawer designed explicitely for paper towel storage is ingenious! I cannot tell you how many times I have been in the middle of cleaning up a mess and I realize I’m almost out of paper towels! Rather than trekking to the laundry room or pantry to grab another roll, this drawer allows you to keep back up rolls right where you need them!

Electrical outlets are one of those things that you don’t think that much about until you need one! However, taking the time to really think through where you will need them and how you can hide them will save you a lot of grief in the long run. To keep them from being an eyesore, you can turn them sideways and tuck them as close to your trim as possible, hide them inside your stove hood or use the options pictured above. Make sure to have your electrician run electric to your island. Though you will want to hide the outlets, you will absolutely need access to power on your island.

Although traditional appliances are still a necessity, there are so many new additions that will have you using them a lot less! Rather than children having to dig through a standard refrigerator to get a drink or a snack, install a mini-fridge with beverages and baggies of fruit that they can easily access. Install a wine cooler or fridge drawer to keep other beverages within easy reach. Instead of running your regular dishwasher, use your smaller drawer one to save energy and water. For your standard appliances, install panels to make them blend with your cabinetry. A fun addition is an ice maker! Not only do they make delicious ice, when you have family gatherings or parties, you will not have to worry about running out to grab more!

Am I the only momma who always seems to need the one spoon that is at the bottom of the drawer? Seeing all these perfectly organized drawers seems like a dream! Also, being able to keep all your serving spoons, cheese knives and spreaders and pie servers out and organized versus packed away until you need them would be so handy. Installing a knife block, either horizontally or vertically, allows you to keep your knives readily available and organized so you can easily access the proper one when you are cooking.

Hiding several drawers inside of a larger drawer allows for plenty of storage while still allowing a clean, streamlined look. This allows you to fully utilize the space in a deep drawer that would otherwise either be lost or cluttered.

Keeping plates and trays organized can be quite a challenge. One of the first chores my children learn to help with every night is doing dishes. Removing plates from upper cabinets into drawers with clear separators allows younger children to reach them so they can help put dishes away. If you are or have ever been the mother of a toddler, you know what a cabinet overflowing with plastic dishes looks like! Using a big drawer to keep all of it organized if such a great idea! Adding a pullout tray organizer allows you to keep all your trays accessible and organized! Never again will you find your Thanksgiving platter tucked in the very back of your cabinet at Christmas when it is far too late to use it!

How many of you either currently or in the past have stored your cookie sheets, muffin tins and cooling racks under your oven? I cannot tell you how many times mine have gotten stuck when I was trying to open the drawer, fallen in behind the drawer or gotten lost in the mix. All of these fabulous ways to keep your assorted pans organized, neat, and accessible would make baking life so much easier!

Rather than leaving wasted space under your cabinets, where normally a baseboard and air would be, installing toe-kick drawers that open with the nudge of a toe allows you to take advantage of this space. While there will be an additional cost to have drawers installed versus just a baseboard, the extra, unexpected storage space will be well worth it in the long run!

If you have ever spent time digging through your cabinets trying to the right lid for the pan you are trying to use, you will see the value in a drawer specifically designed for organizing your pans and lids. I love how all of these are located right next to the stove so you can easily grab what you need as you are cooking.

Having a pull out trash can is an absolute no-brainer for me! I love mine in my current house and will absolutely be incorporating this into my new kitchen. The only downside is it seems no-one can ever remember where my trash can is located! However, having it neatly tucked away is well worth having to constantly remind guests where it is located! Also, when you have a party or gathering and the trash seems to fill up so quickly, having two cans will allow more space before you have to worry about taking it out. For day to day use, the second can is able to function as a recycling container!

Photographed by Holly Lepere

Digging through your pantry, trying to find that one ingredient you are certain you have is a thing of the past! A spacious, well organized pantry with a specific spot for everything allows you to easily plan meals, make a grocery list and access the items you need. Pull out drawers and shelves allow you to easily access the very depths of your pantry ensuring no ingredients get lost in the abyss. In the case of built in bread boxes and root vegetable storage, it allows you to properly store your ingredients ensure their freshness as long as possible. You can also organize your kids’ snacks in an easy to reach place so they can grab them as needed.

How many times have you cleaned our your spice cabinet and realized you had two nutmegs, three cumins and four cinnamons? With an easily organized drawer or pull out specifically designed to organize your spices, this will no longer happen. All of your spices will be in clear view and organized!

Installing a pull-out cutting board with a hole over a trash can is absolute genius! No more carrying onion peels across the kitchen or precariously balancing your cutting board full of veggie scrapes trying to scrape it off into the trash can.

Having additional counter space that could be pulled out when prepping for a big dinner yet tucked neatly away when not in use is a great way to maximize your work space no matter how big your kitchen is. This also makes the perfect children’s table for family dinners!

Finding unique ways to incorporate additional storage space into any nook and cranny ensures there is not a single wasted space! Adding shelving or cabinetry in-between studs, cubbies, or a card file unit like the one from Rafter House provides plenty of space to store anything you can possibly imagine.

The sink is one of the most used areas in your kitchen. Ensuring your cleaning supplies are readily accessible and organized makes cleaning a breeze. Incorporating pullouts, builtins, shelves and baskets keeps everything as neat as possible.

If you collect cookbooks, incorporating shelves to store them on allows you to proudly display them without taking up valuable counter space.

Rather than allowing items to get lost in the back of corner cabinetry, here are a couple options that allow you to take advantage of the entire cabinet.

Last but not least, incorporating a family command center into your kitchen design is the perfect way to make your kitchen not only the heart of your home but the brain of your home as well. A charging station for all the family electronics, hooks to store keys, file organizers to keep homework, mail and important papers organized and in one place, a dry erase board for grocery lists or family calendar are all brilliant thing to include to keep your family organized and prevent the last minute panic of searching for important items.

Are you feeling inspired yet? Through these ideas, I hope you can see the importance of taking the time to think through the small details of your kitchen design rather than just focusing on the visual aspects of your design. Taking some time to really think through how you use your kitchen, not only on a daily basis but also on holidays, family gatherings and parties, will enable you to design your kitchen in a way that will make it as functional and organized as possible. Be creative and have fun! You will be enjoying this kitchen for years to come, taking some extra time to really think through the small details will payoff long term.

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