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“My client insisted she didn’t need a microwave,” says Juliana Caitlin, a designer in Jacksonville, FL. “But when … they had to sell the house, the missing microwave was a big issue.” Add features to your new kitchen during, not after, renovation. You, or a future owner, may want a flat-screen television or a home-monitoring screen in the kitchen at some point, so it’s best to run cable and electrical lines now. Or, you may someday need more outlets on your counters and island. Keep your options open.
Another aspect to consider is future lighting concerns. Opt for a variety of kitchen lighting fixtures such as under-cabinet lighting, which illuminates countertop space far better than overhead lighting alone. Also, don’t forget to consider universal design principles. Ergonomic choices like lever-style handles, wall ovens and drawer-style dishwashers will prove a plus if you develop mobility issues. Plan carefully so everything fits together harmoniously when your space is finally complete.
Whether we like it or not, life is messy. That’s why adequate storage space is essential. Laurie Smith, a designer in Woodridge, IL, recalls a homeowner who ripped out her crowded pantry to make room for a lovely butler area with glass-front cabinets. “Now she doesn’t have a pantry—and has no place to store everyday dry goods and cereals,” Smith says. “She thought she could adapt, but how can she when there’s insufficient storage space?” “The most common mistake homeowners make is that they don’t plan any upper storage for china and glassware,” Caitlin adds. “There needs to be a balance between function and style.”
There needs to be a balance between function and style.
One homeowner finally got a massive kitchen that's perfect for entertaining, but now she walks endlessly from one appliance or work-space to another. To avoid this, consider adding a bar sink next to your refrigerator or on a central island, or install a pot-filler faucet near your cooktop. Most designers urge clients to choose quality over quantity when designing a kitchen, particularly if money is an issue. “If a homeowner is over-budget on a huge kitchen and is forced to opt for 2-cm granite rather than 3-cm granite with a pretty dropped edge, she will be reminded of that decision every time she enters the kitchen,” Caitlin says. Sarah Jenkins, a designer in Chvy Chase, MD, agrees, adding that it's possible to entertain up to 40 people "without trauma" in a smaller, efficient kitchen.
One homeowner put her builder in charge of renovating the kitchen of her old house. Unfortunately, the builder failed to inspect above the ceiling prior to starting work. The homeowner eventually had to hire a designer to help correct the resulting visible duct-work and mis-matched cabinets of different sizes. Not every kitchen project requires a designer, but many of us need someone to help us see the big picture and oversee the entire project, which includes coordination of the architect and builder or contractor. These experts earn their keep by saving you money in the long run, and save your sanity by keeping your project under budget.
It’s amazing how many people try to ignore the simple physics of measurement. One client insisted on an island for her new kitchen, even though there was clearly not enough room for it. “She’s trying to do what’s popular without any thought to whether it would work in the space,” Jenkins says. “Now, there’s barely room to stand behind it to use the counter and you can’t put anything on the adjacent wall except for a painting.” Caitlin recommends homeowners pay particular attention to aisle width, which should be between 42 and 48 inches. “If there’s too little space, you’re stuck if someone lowers the door of the oven, dishwasher or microwave,” she says.
It’s tempting to follow the latest trends, but it pays to be practical. “Homeowners get carried away when they see someone else’s home or a kitchen showroom,” says Jenkins. “Considering the scope of a kitchen renovation, it’s best to proceed cautiously. It’s important to consider not only style, but lifestyle and make sure your new kitchen not only looks beautiful, but works beautifully for the way you live."