Nothing is more
disruptive in a family's lifestyle than a major kitchen renovation project. Most
family members spend a great deal of their time at home in the kitchen. This
important room is used to prepare meals, for informal eating, and as a casual
gathering place for family and friends. People soon realize how important the
room is when itís torn apart during renovations; even the simple task of
making a cup of coffee becomes a major undertaking without a kitchen. It is
therefore critically important that tear out and new installation are
coordinated during the design phase to minimize down time. If you want a real
life definition of angry, tell your family that the kitchen will be down another
week because you forgot to order something or your dimensions were wrong and you
have to re-build a cabinet.
agree that a kitchen renovation project will return almost 100% on investment
when the property is sold. Surveys by the real estate industry show that a
kitchen is one, if not the most, important feature with potential purchasers.
Real estate agents have told me that the quality of the kitchen often makes or
breaks the sale.
is very subjective; there are few hard and fast rules. A feature or layout that
is perfect for one person is far from perfect for another. The issue of
lifestyle and how it revolves around the kitchen is very unique to each family.
In most cases, the family, usually the prime user of the kitchen space, will
have very definite ideas on what is needed and what the end result has to be to
meet their needs. Often they have been looking through magazines, drawing rough
floor plans, measuring, and dreaming about their ideal kitchen for quite some
initial look at your existing kitchen, research all of the information about new
products and features on the market. Ask yourself questions about your
requirements and put ideas on paper. Combine your notes and rough drawings along
with accurate measurements and attempt to come up with two or three floor plans.
I don't normally try to radically alter anything that will change a major
feature that is important to my family, or me however; I will look at
alternatives if I see something that is unsafe or very poorly designed. Try to
incorporate the most important desires in alternative plans.
There are a few
issues you should address during your initial look at the kitchen. Ask questions
so that you understand all the needs. Consultants call it a needs analysis
study, and although I don't go in for fancy titles, I think the term applies in
existing kitchen space and layout with all the primary users of the kitchen in
your household, listing the good and bad points of the design. Investigate the
traffic patterns in and through the kitchen. Analyze the day-to-day meal
preparation tasks. Try to formulate a "normal" daily meal preparation
routine. Questions should be asked about your family's desire to do more in the
kitchen. Is there a hobby or area of interest, such as baking, that you would
like to do more of if the added space or facilities were available?
Do you feel
that a lot of walking or movement is necessary during meal preparation? Ask
whether or not cleaning up after meals seems to be a monumental task. You may
not solve that problem, but it may be reduced by simple layout changes. You or
your family might want to entertain more in the kitchen, and formally in the
dining room, if the kitchen space and functionality of the room could be
long you plan to own the house. A $20,000 kitchen renovation project may not be
fully recoverable if the intention is to upgrade for a quick sale in the near
future. If you convince yourself to over improve and the return is not realized
during resale, you may possibly be wasting a good deal of money.
family's wish list. If space or money were no object, what would you like to
have in your dream kitchen? Discuss topics such as lighting, both area and task
illumination, kitchen seating needs, as well as appliance upgrade needs. There
are other areas that can be discussed which may surface during your
investigation. I've found being a good listener and asking many questions to be
the best approach.
is a difficult process because everyone's needs and desires are different. I've
designed and built cabinets and workspaces for kitchen renovation projects that
I wouldn't have in my own personal kitchen and I'm sure the reverse is true.
Kitchen design is based on very personal and individual tastes.
"rules" that seem to true in every case deal with color and
illumination. Light color or natural wood cabinets tend to brighten and visually
enlarge a space. Improved general and task lighting always enhances the project.
Older kitchens seemed to have dark cabinets and poor illumination, which gave
you the impression you were in a cave. Yesterday's kitchen was simply a place to
prepare the meal, clean up and leave the room. Today's lifestyle is very much
focused on the kitchen as a gathering place for a wide and varied number of
activities, the room has to be bright, seem large, be functional, and adapt to
many of those activities. Take your time and investigate all the alternatives,
as the planning stage is a very important process of any kitchen renovation
There are many
styles of kitchen layouts including the L Kitchen, galley, U shaped and Island
style, which can present many human traffic problems. However most kitchen
designers agree that the sum of all the legs in a work triangle in any style of
kitchen, being the triangle formed by distances between the fridge to the stove
to the sink and back to the fridge, not be less than ten feet and not greater
than twenty-five feet. If the sum of the legs in the work triangle are too
small, people will be tripping over each other and if too large, food
preparation could be a very tiring task. I analyze this work pattern each time I
design a kitchen layout and it's proven to be a valuable exercise.
If you feel
intimidated by the kitchen design process you may want to investigate the
possibility enrolling in design courses that are offered by some community
colleges in your area. Investigate the possibility of seminars offered by local,
provincial, state, and federal trade associations. There is a national Kitchen
and Bath Association, listed in the phone book of most large cities that may
is a very important function, so much so that there is a Certified Kitchen
Designer certification program. These individuals that are certified usually
specialize in this area exclusively which illustrates how vast the kitchen
renovation field has become. There is a good living to be made with a great deal
of satisfaction in the kitchen renovation field. However, like all specialized
trades, knowledge comes from learning and the greatest teacher is experience.
Read books (I buy and read every book I see on kitchen cabinetmaking and
design), attend seminar and training programs, and analyze every kitchen you
come across for ideas and techniques.
certain accepted standards associated with kitchen cabinetmaking. Counter
height, space allowance between base and upper cabinets, cabinet depth, as well
as the space required for refrigerators and stoves.
dimensions are not cast in stone but are generally accepted in the industry
particularly by accessory and appliance manufacturers. The width of the majority
of stoves is thirty inches and most refrigerators require thirty-three inches
for proper installation. Normally, a thirty-one inch space is designed into the
plan for stove installation. This gives us one half inch on each side of the
stove so that it can be easily removed and replaced during cleaning or repair.
are not quite as standard as stoves but a good rule of thumb is to allow
thirty-three inches for this appliance. The norm on most fridges is
approximately thirty-two inches, however, check the existing appliance, or the
one you plan to buy, before building. I was a little embarrassed on one occasion
when an off standard fridge would not fit in the thirty-three inch space that I
allowed between base cabinets. This situation is rare but it's a reminder that
you cannot take sizes for granted.
Kitchen design is one of the most critical components in a renovation project. Take your time, investigate all the options, and the end result will most probably meet all your expectations. - by Danny Proulx
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