How To Design a Practical Kitchen

By: John Garcia | Date Posted: August 16, 2022

The kitchen is an essential room of the home. Not only is it where you prepare meals for your family, but it’s where you eat together, play games, have meaningful discussions, and even make life-changing decisions.

For many homeowners, life happens in the kitchen. So it’s no surprise that people spend about 12% of every day in this room of the house. But why are so many kitchens designed so poorly if that’s the case?

The truth is that many homeowners don’t choose their kitchen layout. Instead, they buy their homes as-is and deal with the kitchen’s existing design. As a result, many homeowners decide to renovate their kitchens to meet their needs and reflect their design preferences. As a result, about two million U.S. Homeowners remodel their kitchens every year.

And when it comes to kitchen design, practicality is everything. So if you’re thinking about updating your kitchen or building a new home, here are the steps to help you design a practical space you’ll love.

Step #1: Make a Plan

Every great kitchen starts with a plan, and to create a truly functional space, start by making a list of what you need and want. Most homeowners are concerned with the kitchen’s storage space and counterspace. If you need more of either, bear that in mind when formulating your kitchen plan.

You should also ask yourself a few questions to hone in on how you use the kitchen and what you’ll need to incorporate into your design:

  • Is the kitchen part of an open concept? If so, do you need the decor to match other parts of your home?
  • Do you want or need an island? If so, how much storage should it have, and how many people should it seat?
  • What appliances do you need?
  • Do you want a coffee station or wine racks?

To answer these critical questions, think about how you plan to use your kitchen. Do you entertain often? Do you have a busy family on the go? Or do you need built-in storage and organization solutions to stay sane?

Whatever your needs and wants are out of this new space, creating a plan is a must to ensure you craft a kitchen to meet all of your needs.

Step #2: Think Triangle

At the core of every excellent kitchen design is the “working triangle.” This is the space between the sink, cooktop, and refrigerator. Experts agree that your ability to move between these three points of the triangle easily determines the quality of your kitchen’s flow.

You want these three points near each other but not too near. There should be plenty of landing space on either side of each element to ensure you have plenty of room to work. Kitchen design experts believe the legs of the triangle should add up to between 10 and 25 feet.

Sticking to a reasonable amount of space between your sink, cooktop, and refrigerator will help you navigate your kitchen quickly and provide you with ample countertop space, too.

Step #3: Consider Cabinets

Step #3 Consider Cabinets

Cabinets are one of the most essential elements of your kitchen design. They provide all the storage for your kitchen and give you opportunities to stay neat and organized. So if you’re looking for custom kitchen cabinetry in Mechanicsburg, PA, here’s what you need to consider when making your cabinet selections.

First and foremost, your cabinets need to have balanced symmetry and proportion. If too many cabinets are on the top or not enough on one side of the kitchen, the space will feel unbalanced and awkward. Ensure your cabinets are evenly distributed throughout the kitchen to stay balanced.

Beyond the layout, there are many design options for cabinets. For example, you could opt for open shelves or even glass accent cabinets to break things up. But before you select something like that, think about your lifestyle.

Do you have beautiful dishes or serving ware you’d want to display on an open shelf? Or are you OK with the frequent cleanings of glass cabinets required? Open shelving and glass-fronted cabinets look great, but they’re not practical for everyone. Think about how you use cabinets before incorporating these elements into your design.

Step #4: Incorporate Useful Accessories

What’s messy and disorganized in your current kitchen? Keeping utensils, spices, food storage, and other small items are challenging for many. But you can include a solution in your kitchen design!

Adding easy-access cabinets with a shelf in the middle and a rack on the door will help you organize things like spices and other small baking and pantry staples. You could also add more drawers or roll out shelves to keep things like pots and pans or food storage containers neatly tucked away.

And if the total amount of storage is an issue, there are a few things you can do. First, add shelves across the backs of the lower kitchen cabinets. Doing so frees up a ton of extra space and can almost double what a cabinet can hold. You could also install toe-kick drawers beneath your lower cabinets to store cookie sheets, cutting boards, and other flat items.

You should also add a utensil drawer and a trash caddy to your design. These practical elements keep you organized and prevent unsightly trash cans from cluttering your beautiful new kitchen.

Step #5: Plan Lighting and Utilities

Lighting and utilities are an essential yet frequently forgotten aspect of kitchen design. The best lighting configurations include under-cabinet lighting, in-cabinet lighting (for glass cabinets), recessed lights, and decorative pendants. All three of these ensure you’ll have plenty of light when cooking.

And don’t forget about electrical sockets, either. Think about what small appliances, like a coffee maker or mixer, you plan to plug in and where. Of course, you’ll want to have an outlet available for all these gadgets.

Another way to make your kitchen more practical is by adding a pot filler to your cooktop. Who wants to lug a big pot of water from the stove whenever they want to make pasta? You could also add a drinking water spout to your sink area if you don’t plan to have one in your refrigerator.

Step #6: Create a Floorplan

Now’s the time to take all the elements you’ve planned and put them on a floor plan. Grab some graph paper and create a scale model of your space. Don’t forget to get the measurements of the appliances you plan to install and any existing windows or doorways to ensure the floor plan is accurate.

When positioning the different design elements, remember your kitchen walkways should be no less than 42 inches wide, although 48 inches is ideal. If any walkways provide access to other rooms in the home, try to make them even larger.

Plan your layout in zones to group related items together. For instance, cooking utensils, essential ingredients, and plates should be near the cooktop. Mugs, coffee, and tea work well near the coffee maker. And also, try to keep eating utensils and the trash caddy on the outer edges of the kitchen, so they’re easy to use without entering the working triangle.

Creating a dream kitchen design isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a challenging yet rewarding experience for most homeowners. Take your time to consider everything your kitchen needs to do for you to create a practical design you’ll love to live (and eat) in!

Thank you for reading!


John is the founder and chief editor of Homienjoy. With over 15 years of experience in the home improvement industry, John is passionate about helping homeowners confidently tackle their projects. Holding a civil engineering degree and working as a contractor, project manager, and consultant, John brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Homienjoy community.

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