Top Ten Kitchen Layout Mistakes
By Marissa Ponikowski
Building a new kitchen or remodeling your old one? Design and layout in the planning phase has a direct impact on how effective your new kitchen will be once it's finished – so there's no room for mistakes! To help you with this important home improvement project, we've interviewed a kitchen designer to find out what not to do
when it comes to kitchen layout and design.
- Don't wind the cabinetry around the room like a vine. "Just because you have the space doesn't mean it needs to be filled with cabinetry," says Carolyn Bignell, senior designer at Paris Kitchens near Toronto. Cabinetry winding around the kitchen can make the ceiling look lower and the room look cluttered. Consider other options, such as pantries, armoires, entertainment systems or even adorning empty wall space with beautiful art rather than overdoing it with cabinets.
- Don't choose too many focal points. This is a common mistake, and one that can ruin the look of your kitchen. "You may choose a wooden range hood, staggered heights, a light valance, open shelves with arches, a spice rack, glass doors on your cabinets and more. You think you've got it all, but really all you have is a big, cluttered mess." Instead, choose focal points carefully and be consistent with the style and design of your kitchen.
- Position drawers properly. You'll live with regret if you don't put a lot of thought into drawer placement. "Don't place drawers too far away from the sink or dishwasher," says Bignell. Another common blunder is placing pot drawers too far away from the oven.
- Don't bother with a desk. "I think a desk is for an office, not a kitchen. Putting a desk in a kitchen just causes clutter and ruins the space," says Bignell. A kitchen can still be a versatile space, complete with customized areas designed for working. In fact, especially for families, breakfast bars and large kitchen islands can be excellent places to do homework or projects. But placing a desk in a kitchen is an invitation for stacks of mail, piles of paper and masses of unwanted confusion – so skip the desk!
- Don't install a sink in a breakfast bar. This design concept is gaining popularity but it's not necessarily a wise choice, especially if the bar or island faces into a living or dining area. "The water will splash into this area, onto carpets, hardwood or furniture and make a terrible mess so a sink here is not a good choice," says Bignell.
- Don't let the oven block a major traffic area. It's not visually pleasing and can also be dangerous, especially if the oven is near a high traffic kitchen entrance or patio door frequented by young children.
- Don't place the stove at the end of a run of counter and cabinet-space. "A stove should always be placed between cabinets and counter space," says Bignell. This allows for important and practical work and storage areas on either side of the appliance and is also much safer. "Children can be burned if there is a lot of space leading up to a stove, because children tend to use this kind of area for running and playing."
- Pay attention to code. When designing a new kitchen or renovating an old one, there are many pitfalls one can fall into when it comes to building code. "A big one is stove placement," says Bignell. "You need to leave 18 inches of space between a stove and a combustible, such as a mantle hood coming to the counter or a fridge gable. If you don't leave enough space you won't meet code, which means if you end up making an insurance claim it could be rejected." Talk to your contractor or kitchen designer about building codes, or get a copy of local codes from your municipal offices.
- Leave enough space between island and counter. Your kitchen will feel like it's closing in on you if you skimp on the space between your island and counter. "You should leave a minimum of 42 inches," says Bignell. "36 inches simply isn't enough for a major traffic area and will make your kitchen seem smaller than it is."
- Place task lighting and outlets properly. Don't end up in the dark in your brand new kitchen. Kitchens often require more than one type of lighting, such as overhead or task lighting, plus dimmers – which are especially important in an eat-in kitchen. Electrical outlets are also important. Be sure you have sufficient outlets in practical spots, and keep them away from the sink!
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