Your custom cabinetry choices should reflect the personality of your home and fit your personal lifestyle – but whether your tastes run to ultra modern kitchen cabinets or to a more timeless, traditional look, all kitchens should share a few things in common when it comes to convenience and resale value. No matter what path you take in custom cabinetry, here are 15 features every kitchen should have if you’re reworking your space or planning a complete renovation:
1. An efficient floor plan – It’s great to have a kitchen cabinet for absolutely everything and to plan for plenty of structured storage, but avoid adding custom cabinets in areas you don’t need them if they will ultimately interfere with smooth traffic flow. Mobility is the number one feature that you will notice, guaranteed, every time you step into the kitchen. If you’re completely redoing the room and it helps, walk through making a large meal, imagining exactly where you would like everything to be and how cabinet placement will best suit your needs, before you sit down to sketch your dream kitchen.
2. Organized, accessible cabinet storage – Lots of places and everything in its place! Any professional organizer or Feng Shui guru will tell you that creating storage and using that storage is important to your personal satisfaction with a room. This is no less true than in the kitchen, where clutter while you’re cooking can be a hazard to both your sanity and your health. Make a list and check it twice – what do you have to store, what would you like to have even more room for, and how can you make the most of your space without sacrificing an efficient floor plan?
3. A pantry – It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional cook or a sometimes family chef, storage is crucial in the kitchen, and the pantry is the king of accessible storage. A well stocked and organized pantry means you’ll always know what you have and be able to quickly assess what you need. Placing dry goods, extra condiments and other staples in the back of a kitchen cabinet doesn’t help with planning a menu or writing out a grocery list. If you don’t have a large pantry with shallow shelving, and have the space for one, consider putting it at the top of your list for organized kitchen living.
4. Appliance Cabinets for clutter-free counters – When measuring and planning for your custom cabinet project, don’t forget to plan for things you don’t currently have that you truly need. A prime example of something you may not have in your kitchen currently are cabinets for appliances like breadmakers, juicers, coffee grinders and other items you enjoy but may not use daily. This is especially true of kitchens in older homes that were built when such items weren’t as commonplace and didn’t need their own places. Don’t mimic what you already have – make a plan for what you want!
5. Adequate countertops – Keeping countertops clutter free with adequate storage space is key, but be sure to leave plenty of space for all your chopping, mixing and icing needs! You can have all the space in the world in your cabinets, but without the room to perform daily kitchen functions, you’ll find the space inefficient for your needs and also find yourself avoiding intensive cooking ventures!
6. Windows for view and daylight – No matter the mood you are trying to create in your space – Old World, Euro-chic, Modern American or something else – windows are crucial for your mood. Natural streaming sunlight creates depth and interest in architectural elements and does wonders for your emotional health, too. If you’re considering resale of your home, remember that windows that frame outdoor features will impress buyers.
7. Good landing spots – A beautiful kitchen, with furniture-quality custom cabinets, will increase the value of your home in terms of salability and your own personal likability. But what about live-ability? Good landing spots for purses, briefcases, school bags, keys, cell phones and other gadgets are a necessity for today’s families. Reserve a few spaces in your kitchen planning for dropping off bags of groceries and other items without engaging your cooking areas – you’ll thank yourself for the convenience later!
8. Pull-out cutting boards – Not every kitchen is able to boast all the bells and whistles, but there’s certainly room for some modern conveniences in every space. Included among these simple indulgences is the pull-out cutting board. Especially helpful during busy holidays when you might have multiple cooks in the kitchen, don’t forget that you can add elements to your kitchen you might not have had before. Simply because you got along without it isn’t a reason to deny yourself the little luxuries!
9. A high-spout faucet – A low-spout faucet is the hallmark of an outdated kitchen and old sink. Invest in a high-arch faucet and deep sink that will together accommodate today’s heavy, oversized pots and pans. If it’s in your budget, consider pull-down faucets with water filtration, multiple nozzle functions, and aerated flow with the versatility to keep up with you.
10. A dining or snack area – Recent studies about Generation Y show that these new home-buyers will not be looking for their parents’ homes. For one, formal dining rooms are “out”, to be replaced by more Euro-style kitchens with breakfast bars and convenient eating areas. Keep this in mind as you remodel your kitchen – today’s lifestyles are more “on-the-go” than ever. The kitchen can remain beautiful and reflect your personal style while accommodating this growing trend!
11. Durable, easy-to-clean surfaces – This might seem like an obvious “must have” feature in a kitchen, but don’t underestimate its importance in your daily kitchen use. Long-lasting, durable countertops like granite are attractive as well as easy to clean and less likely to capture bacteria than more porous surfaces. Consider other natural sources for your countertops to set off your custom cabinets, and remember that though the kitchen is the place for functionality and usability first, there are plenty of modern materials that will meet all of your needs, including style.
12. Good lighting – Buyers might also be interested in skylights, recessed lighting, and other elements in combination with natural sunlight that make the space seem bigger and more user-friendly. You’ll appreciate under-cabinet lighting and adjustable lights for seeing your food and assessing its doneness as well as for reading recipes. There’s nothing more uninviting than a dark kitchen, so brighten it up and show off those beautiful custom cabinets!
13. Effective ventilation – Ventilation is important for a number of reasons, the most important of which is safety. You might think ventilation is necessary only for keeping odors out of the kitchen while cooking, but in truth, keeping grease out of the air and from settling on your surfaces is the primary need for it. Grease on surfaces and grease trapped in filters is a fire hazard, so when planning your kitchen project, don’t forget to factor effective ventilation into your budget.
14. Recycling containers – As the recycling of household waste gains popularity with today’s families, the demand for places to sort and store recyclables between pick up days is also increasing. Allowing for plenty of accessible storage and for a comfortable floor plan, set aside space for recycling, too – at a minimum for plastics and for paper goods. If you’re extra planet savvy homeowner, allow for a bin or cupboard to keep your cloth grocery bags as well!
15. Some important “extras” – When everything is in place, and you’ve tackled all the big things, highlight your custom kitchen cabinets by staging your space with functional accessories. Kitchen tools and gadgets, pizza stones, decorative (and useful) trivets, and especially fresh herbs and plants will give your kitchen life and accentuate the mood you’ve chosen to create.
Whether your kitchen takes you a step back in time with Old World distressed cabinets or into the future with sleek, aluminum or thermafoil cabinets, remember that today’s busy lifestyles require many of the same features regardless of the style. Focus on our 15 features, and you’ll be assured that the space you create is a beautiful, functional kitchen for you and your family!