Are you planning a kitchen remodel? This post is full of my tips for planning layout changes and creating work stations to improve your kitchen’s flow, organization, and storage.
And, I’ll tell you about 3 small regrets I have after our kitchen remodel.
Our new kitchen design included new white kitchen cabinets, quartz counters, a gas stove, and a new pot filler. I also decided to completely change our pantry, stove and fridge layout to improve the flow and make the room feel bigger.
We’re so happy with this kitchen remodel. It just works for our family, in so many ways. This is the fourth kitchen remodel I’ve planned. It’s definitely the biggest of the 4 and my favorite. Mostly because of the improved layout.
Planning the Best Kitchen Layout
The first tip for planning the best kitchen layout is to look at your kitchen with fresh eyes. Ignore where the stove was or the pantry, fridge, sink, etc…ask yourself where something should be.
It can be hard to picture a completely new design without limiting it to what you knew about the old one. So, ask friends, family, and kitchen experts their opinions. Then just incorporate the changes you believe will work best for your family.
We’ll talk about budget soon, but first I like to just dream big on the layout before figuring out what I can afford.
Common Kitchen Layout Guidelines
Here are some common layout questions for planning a kitchen layout.
- Do you have a window you want the sink under? Or, should the sink be facing the Living Room?
- You’ll also want the dishwasher next to the sink for easy loading.
- Plan storage for the most used dishes in cabinets or shelves near the dishwasher.
- Plan for silverware storage near the dishwasher too.
- Put enough space between the fridge, dishwasher, sink, oven, stove, and garbage so that multiple people can use the kitchen at the same time.
- Make sure all appliance doors and cabinet doors and drawers can open up with room to spare.
- Stoves usually go on exterior walls because it’s easier to ventilate. But, they can go on another wall with a vent pipe hidden in an attic, a soffit, or inside of cabinets.
- Think about how much storage you really need and add a little extra, just in case. You can always add floor to ceiling cabinets to get more storage in smaller kitchens.
- Can you fit an island or peninsula for extra counterspace?
- Do you need in-kitchen dining? Island Seating? A small table? Built In seating?
What You Don’t Need in a Kitchen
When planning a kitchen remodel, also think about what you absolutely don’t need or want. What’s not working in the current layout? That’s easier to figure out if you’ve lived with that kitchen for a while.
I knew I didn’t want to keep the stove in the kitchen island anymore. It took up so much space that my kids could use for homework. And, an open island is a great space to bake or cook as a family.
Our kitchen also had an old trash compactor that we pulled out almost immediately upon moving in. They were popular in the 90’s, but we were never going to use it. And, I wanted the extra storage space.
I also knew I preferred a bunch of deep drawers over a bunch of lower cabinets. That just worked better based on what I have in my kitchen. Plus, they’re easier to access.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I go into details about the storage and workstations I designed when planning a kitchen remodel for my home, let me show you some before pictures.
Before Pictures from our Kitchen in 2012
Yes, we did buy a house with an orange kitchen and tile counter tops. But we knew it could be beautiful. Look at that green dining room and striped floors. I’m sure it was very pretty and trendy when done, but the whole house needed a refresh.
Originally, I wanted to hold off on the kitchen remodel until our kids were in school. Having them off to school most of the day while contractors worked seemed much easier.
So, in 2013, we changed the funky orange tile counter tops to a basic black granite. And I put up a new tile back splash one weekend between feeding sessions for my then 2-month old baby.
If you’ve tiled before, you know it’s a mess. I literally showered every 2-3 hours that weekend because I had to wash off all of the thinset and dust from cutting tiles before I could feed my son. But, I like tiling, so that was my kind of fun. 😉
When we did that little makeover in 2013, I thought it would stay like that until 2020, or so. Once our youngest was in school. But last year, my husband decided he was tired of waiting.
The kitchen was poorly designed, so the layout didn’t work. The room felt small, although it is actually quite big. The built-in 20 year old cabinets were covered in chipping paint. And, that florescent light box had to go!
Luckily, we were able to rescue most of the granite and donate it to our locale Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. Actually, having that black granite made me realize I kinda hated dark countertops. You can see every bit of dust and dirt on them, at all times.
We lived through a 3 month long kitchen remodel with a 3 year old and a 10 month old. Do you know how fun it is to microwave all of your meals and wash baby bottles in your master bathroom? I do!
We spent that 3 months basically living in our bedrooms, office/playroom, and our pool table room (which was the temporary kitchen). It was kinda like camping in your own home, but after 3 months we were ready to get back to normal.
Make a Kitchen Wish List
When you start planning a kitchen remodel, definitely make a list of things you love and hate in kitchens. And, a list of things you absolutely have to have and a list of things you’d like to have but can live without.
But be ready to compromise. And, be realistic about the must haves. I feel like every remodel I’ve done comes with unexpected changes and last minute compromises.
No matter how much you plan ahead, something will catch you off guard and you’ll be shopping for something the night before the contractor needs it. HGTV basically made a whole channel about that. The struggle is real. 🙂
Here’s a breakdown of all the changes and how I planned a kitchen remodel around functional work stations in the kitchen, saving money, and better storage and organization.
Plan the Best Layout for your Kitchen Remodel
We made a lot of layout changes during our kitchen remodel. When we were planning a kitchen remodel here, we wanted to make the room feel larger, update the look, and make the kitchen much more functional.
This is how we upgraded the kitchen layout. If you’re doing more than just a kitchen, you can find my 80+ tips for planning a new home build or remodel here.
- We moved the small doorway between the kitchen and dining room to add 18″ of extra storage and counter space.
- We turned that doorway into an archway to match the other arched openings in our home. This one was strange, if you look at the rest of our house, you see arches everywhere and wonder why they didn’t do this originally.
- Expanded the exterior door to our patio, from a 32″W x 6’8″H to 38″W x 8’H. We have high windows and doorways in most areas of our home. An 8′ high door just worked better in the design. Plus, my husband is 6’4″, so I thought he’d enjoy a little more space there.
- The island lost it’s stove top and moved closer to the center of the kitchen to increase my work zone.
- Moving the island also meant that nothing was blocking the path between the stove, sink, fridge, microwave and oven. No more walking around that island to get from one place to the next.
- I switched the dishwasher to the other side of the sink. Originally the dishwasher was in the corner. When the dishwasher was open, I couldn’t reach or even open some of the cabinets I stored dishes in AND I couldn’t even use the drawer next to it because the dishwasher handle kept it from opening. #kitchenfail
- Removed the breakfast nook chandelier and added can lights all over. A designer recommended losing the breakfast nook chandelier to make the whole room feel larger and more open. She was right, it worked!
- I had the stove moved from the island to the back wall. I wanted an island that my kids could sit at while I cooked dinner. AND, I wanted a feature stove against the back wall with a nice cabinet hood above. Win-win!
- We moved the oven next to the refrigerator in the center of a wall of cabinets to make the room feel larger. Having those large, deep items in cabinets at the end of a line of cabinets made that area feel smaller and closed off. If you put open shelves or just upper cabinets at the end of a row of cabinets it makes the whole space feel more open.
- That new space was perfect for a big beverage station. With lit glass cabinets and lots of open counterspace for coffee and tea stuff.
- I also decided to skip the switch to a double oven. They are nice to have and trendy, but I really would have used it twice a year. It wasn’t worth giving up every day pantry or beverage station space to have it.
- And I can’t do a low microwave with 2 toddlers in the house. That would have been an endless battle for mommy. Plus, the new microwave/convection combos actually do work as convection ovens. When it’s time to replace our current microwave, we’ll go for one of those.
- Switched from a closet style pantry to a wall of pantry style cabinets. This was to increase the functionality of the pantry and to make the room feel larger again. Plus, cabinets are prettier than drywall.
- Switched to a counter-depth fridge. That extra 4 inches really did work wonders to make the room feel more custom and open.
- Finally, I removed that old fluorescent light box that was so popular in the 90’s. Then added can lights over different areas.
Now let’s talk about how I broke down the kitchen plan into useful work areas or stations that I knew I wanted when planning a kitchen remodel.
Adding Work Stations in Our Kitchen
These are the work stations I knew we needed in our kitchen. Just based on how we were already using our kitchen. Your home may need a few of these and other work stations, like a work desk or small mudroom or school drop zone.
- Beverage Station
- Wine, coffee, tea, lemonade, etc. and the glasses in the same area near ice and water in fridge.
- Adjustable shelves make more room for short coffee cups and large bottles.
- Mommy’s Note Station
- Where I keep notes, mail, to-do lists, paint chips…anything I want within reach.
- Garbage Station
- Hidden in the cabinet with garbage bag storage and a handy-dandy dust pan (you know I need this 20 times a day with 2 toddlers).
- Bread Station
- This bread box and butter dish give the room a bit of vintage style and a great place to store those toast making essentials. We eat a lot of bread, guys.
- Kids Art Project Drawer
- My boys love having this drawer stuffed full of everything they need to create their masterpieces.
- All things Stove, Pot Filler and oven Station
- My pots, pans, and baking dishes are stashed away in these convenient, over-sized drawers beneath the stove and oven.
- Homework Station
- My boys aren’t in school yet, but I picture them doing homework one day at the island while I make dinner. So, we added outlets under each end of the island for the laptops and devices they’ll be using.
Well, I hope this post as given you some useful tips and ideas for planning a kitchen remodel. But, I want to wrap this up with a few kitchen planning regrets.
3 Minor Regrets for this Kitchen Makeover
These aren’t major regrets, we love our kitchen and can’t really complain. But, I think there are always little things about every room remodel that you would have done differently. Again, not a huge deal, so it may be years before we get around to changing these.
- Pendants – My husband was afraid to put pendants over the island. He wanted the room to feel as large as possible. Now that it’s complete, I think we can switch to pendants to add a bit more style and the room will still feel large.
- Exhaust – I poured over the 3D drawings the cabinet designer gave us and made multiple changes, but somehow I missed that the vent hood wasn’t going all the way to the ceiling (the ceiling wasn’t in the renderings). So, our contractor had to build this weird box around our vent. I’ll add a wood cabinet all the way to the ceiling eventually.
- Backsplash – I love the marble flowers above the stove, but from a distance, the dark spots stick out and the light petals blend into the white grout. So, you can’t see the flower pattern from 10 or more feet away. I’m going to get brave one day and use a grout marker to darken the grout color, just above the stove. That should make those flowers pop!
What I Used in this Kitchen
- Cabinets – Starmark Cabinetry: Rochport door style, inset, in Dove (on Maple) and the island is Slate with a Chocolate Glaze (on Lyptus)
- Counter tops – Silestone: Lusso quartz. It’s a standard 2cm, but the counter top guy put a 4cm miter edge on it. That means the seam runs along the actual corner and is completely invisible.
- Moen Pot Filler, Spot Resist Stainless
- Moen Motion Sense Kitchen Faucet
- Keurig K250 Single Serve, Turquoise
- GE Cafe 36″ Gas Rangetop
- Paint – Behr’s Sandstone Cove
- Flooring – Happy Floors, Lefka Sand Porcelain. I love that it has a matte finish and actually looks like a natural stone
- Backsplash – Both types of tile purchased off the shelf at Floor & Decor
Looking for Laundry Room Inspiration? This one is full of easy DIY and design ideas.
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Feeling inspired? Thanks for checking out this Planning a Kitchen Remodel post. Have fun and let me know if you have questions. Or post pictures of your work and tag Abbotts At Home on FB, I’d love to see it!