Your Complete Kitchen Planning Guide

Knowing how you want to use your kitchen, the features you would like to have in it, and defining priorities that fit your budget can make your dream kitchen a reality. With that in mind, you can minimize the anxiety and the potentially daunting task by building a complete kitchen design plan that helps to ensure getting the most value from your investment. Kitchen planning for your new or remodeled space will be easier to understand if you follow a few of the guidelines discussed below:

Your Kitchen | Your Domain

The kitchen is the heart of your home and has long since been more than just a place to prepare, cook, serve, and eat meals. Modern designer kitchens should be the ultimate representation of your lifestyle yet provide compete functionality in a sometimes very limited space.

When we say 'lifestyle', we really mean how will the kitchen be used and by whom? How much time do you typically spend preparing meals, what type of meals...gourmet or fast food? How are your meals prepared...made from scratch or pulled from the freezer and placed into a microwave? Are your meals eaten in the kitchen, a formal dining room, or in front of the television? Do you have pets to be considered in your new kitchen design? Do you have hobbies which also are done in the kitchen?

Lifestyles, when it comes to designer kitchens, will fall into the following categories:

- Chef Lifestyle
- Entertainer Lifestyle
- Family Lifestyle
- Urban Lifestyle
- Accessible Lifestyle

Depending on your lifestyle, you will probably want to consider the most common space planning requirements for your designer kitchen. The best kitchen designs are laid out with work zones in mind. Using what's called "the work triangle," kitchen designers place everything from ovens and cooktops to sinks and refrigerators -- as well as the cabinets themselves -- within various zones. Space planning or work zones should be driven by your needs to maximize storage, accessibility and comfort in your kitchen.

Storage Space - Is there enough? Storage should be accessible to people of all ages and it should accommodate work needs and storage preferences. Don't overlook the important needs of handling your refuse, garbage, and recycling bins. Well designed storage spaces provide enhanced functionality for your kitchen.

Work Zones - The basic work stations in your kitchen include a) storage for refrigerated and non-refrigerated items, b) cooking and/or heating, and c) meal preparation. Each work station must complement the other and the distance between each station should be as short as possible and without impediments.

Open Floor Plans - Reflecting today's more informal living; open floor plans are very popular in new and remodeled kitchens. Typically a kitchen will now open to adjoining spaces like the family room, a great room, entertainment areas, expanded dining space, and/or computer workstation. Open floor plans create new design opportunities and can help you eliminate bottlenecks, improve traffic flow, and even create a perception of more overall space within your home.

Your Kitchen | From Floor to Ceiling

With a foundation of space within our grasp, let us now discuss the key components necessary to plan compete kitchens. Depending on your budget for a new kitchen or the extent of your kitchen remodel, either all or selected components will be considerations in your planning and budget.

Cabinets - There are literally thousands of options to consider when choosing kitchen cabinets. Your task can be made easier by narrowing your options using these five things - Price, Material, Type, Color, and Style.

Counter Tops have an enormous importance on the look and feel of your kitchen. The many choices available offer varying aesthetics, cost, weight, durability, and upkeep.

Sinks - Material for your sink should blend with your decor; options include stainless steel, composite granite, cast acrylic, cast iron, and copper. The size of your countertop may limit your options for size and number of bowls within your sink. Drop-in or dual-mount sinks work well with existing countertops while undermount sinks offer a clean and stylish look with replacement countertops.

Appliances are the workhorses in your kitchen. Appliances should be attractive, powerful, quiet, easy to clean, and safe. If buying new, look for super-high energy efficiency ratings to guide your choice.

Flooring - The best time to lay a new floor is immediately after your old kitchen has been stripped out and your plumbing and electrical work has been completed. New flooring should cover the entire area, as the additional cost is negligible compared to the time it takes to cut around cabinets. Like your countertops, kitchen flooring should be durable, stain resistance, and complimentary to your overall decor.

Lighting - Given the plethora of functions your kitchen performs, sufficient ambient and task lighting is critical. You need to have the correct lighting at all the conceivable spaces for whatever task may be done at that spot. The type of surface, which is being lit, will also have an impact to the lighting choices you need to make. Colors also play an important role in your lighting selections.

Other Considerations - In addition to the key components listed above, you should also make note of other budget considerations in your overall kitchen planning. They include and are not limited to, Decorative Hardware - Faucets - Paint and/or Wall coverings - Ventilation - Electrical Outlets - Windows and Window Treatments.

Your Kitchen | Delivery and Installation

Consult skilled experts in a variety of fields, especially if you plan your kitchen remodel as a 'Do-It-Yourself' project. Since a complete kitchen makeover can be a fairly expensive undertaking, it is recommended that you seek and use skilled professionals with design and installation expertise. If you do not select a full service company with this capability as your source, you must be prepared to serve as your own 'scheduling contractor' and perhaps, even purchasing agent. Consider these final tips to get the most value from your investment:

1. Put your plan to paper - draw a plan and make a list to help you determine costs.

2. Hire a reputable contractor experienced in complete kitchens. Get references and a timeframe in writing. Labor costs can be estimated at approximately 30% of the total remodeling job.

3. Do it yourself - coordinate with your contractor for the pieces of work which make sense based on your skill and experience in remodeling. Unless you are licensed, hire reputable plumbers and electricians.

4. Keep at least 10% of your budget for unexpected costs. Who knows what lies beneath those old walls or floors?

Buying a new kitchen is not something you do every day; plan wisely to ensure getting the most for your investment. Remember that fitted kitchen products and services are not 'off the shelf' items so make sure your plan also includes the delivery of items so installation is not stalled. A 'build your plan' and 'follow your plan' approach will ultimately save you money and provide you with the kitchen of your dreams.

Kathryn Dawson writes articles for KDCUK, a leading company in the UK providing kitchen planning and design for homes in London. Explore a range of luxury designer kitchenss available; classic, traditional or modern style. Look no further for complete kitchens today.

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