Kitchen Design Series #1 planning – where to start

About 2 years ago my best friend Vickie agreed to help me remodel my outdated kitchen.  It took about 1 year of work spread out over two years.  Before we started, I spent at least 2 years designing and planning.  In this Kitchen Design series I will walk through what we learned along the way.  

The most frequent comment I have heard about the kitchen now that it is finished is, “I wouldn’t know where to start.”  Whether you are hiring a contractor or doing it yourself or a hybrid of those you must decide what you want in the design and why.  Most kitchen design books on the market start with the age old “triangle” design.  These were to be the points between the sink, refrigerator and cook top traditionally designed to be in a close triangle to each other.  That dates back to when Harriet cooked for Ozzie (not Osbourne) and the family, but was in the kitchen by herself all day.  If you have never heard of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, please pause here for a quick Google.

Today’s families are far more dynamic and everyone tends to be in and out of the kitchen for different purposes.  In deciding what to remodel begin with looking at what works and what doesn’t work for your space.  If you are building in a new space watch the dynamics of family and friends in the kitchen in your current space.  The triangle is now a 3D polygon!  For a kitchen design to pass the test of time two concepts are at the top of the list to plan for in detail: traffic flow and tasks.  

It is easier to use my own kitchen as an example, however, I would love to hear about your kitchen details in the comments.  Our home was lovingly built by a man who raised 6 boys with his wife.  It is set in the country just outside of Houston.  The design of the house, and especially the kitchen, served the task of cooking and serving lots of hungry kids.  We had 2 inlet spaces for 2 full refrigerators and 2 gas cook tops.  The main counter was a pass through under dish cabinets that opened to the casual dining area.  The pantry door was off of the dining area and the pantry was a good size but cut up by the second refrigerator space. It was built in 1980 with a 1970’s look.  The design and look were past their prime.  

In assessing the current needs for the kitchen I found that when I was cooking and my family was home we ran a circle around the large island which held one cook top.  My husband would head to the refrigerator for ice, back around to pour a drink, and back around to add water.  Prep space was limited because of the awkward position of cabinets hanging over the counter space.  I love to cook and found myself running in circles to the pantry and back.  One entrance to the kitchen was the den and the other was to the second casual dining area.  When I was cooking I was cut off from the den by the placement of the wall ovens.  There was a small pass through to the den for casual dining but it was deep and became the resting spot for junk.  Our back yard is about 2 acres and we have miniature horses.  One small window over the second cook top did not give us a good view.

The goals for my remodel design included:    Move beverages to a more convenient bar space, get rid of the stationary island, create a more formal dining area between the kitchen and the formal living area, better access to the pantry from the kitchen, create more usable prep and drawer spaces, open up the view from the kitchen to the den and to the back yard, improve traffic flow to allow more access from the den to the kitchen and back again and create activity centers in clusters around the kitchen.    No triangle here – just humming little hives of activities.  I began cutting out magazine photos, printing online photos and consulting current kitchen design books for the look and feel I thought would be right for this house.  This is not a Georgian estate, a Tuscan Villa, French chateau or farm house; it fits more of a modern Texas ranch estate so I looked towards natural stones and wood but a wanted a forward looking updated feel.  As the Kitchen blog goes forward I’ll show you how we got there.