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Kitchen Renovation: Design Details to Consider

Both of us completed full kitchen renovations last year which taught us many important lessons when tackling this type of project. If you are interested in redesigning your kitchen, whether it’s a refresh or a major renovation, here are some important details to consider:

Consider Layout Arrangement

If you’re able to work with your existing kitchen layout, keeping the existing plumbing, electrical and gas can be more cost-efficient. You could then get creative by changing up the cabinetry style and hardware.

If you plan to move the appliances, this may require additional efforts such as new water lines or changing a vent duct. Focus on your sink, refrigerator and stove and build the layout from there. The general guideline is that your workspace should create a triangle between these three appliances. This allows for an efficient space to move around the kitchen. Furthermore, the National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends that the measurement of each triangle leg should be between 4’ and 9’.

In Brittany’s kitchen, she wanted to add an island with a sink, which required running plumbing lines underground to the island (even a bit more complicated for a house built on slab), but it was completely worth it!

In Christa’s kitchen, she kept the sink and stove in place while moving the fridge into the newly expanded kitchen. Her workspace triangle remained, but the leg between the stove and fridge was lengthened.

Consider Work Zones Based on Your Lifestyle

Nowadays, the kitchen is a hub for many activities beyond just cooking a meal so consider creating multi-functional workstations based on your lifestyle.

For anyone who loves cooking, you may want extra prep space and larger aisles to accommodate multiple parties in the kitchen. If you have children, creating separate workstations in the kitchen and charging outlets for your devices may be worth exploring. For anyone who loves entertaining, seating areas within the kitchen and TV placements may be a primary focus within their design.

Christa created a separate coffee and wine bar on the other side of the kitchen which allows for an easy flow to the dining room for morning coffees and evening happy hours.

Brittany placed the island parallel to her playroom to create a conversation point while also allowing her to keep an eye on her kids while she is cooking.

Consider Clearance Space

For an island, measure the distance between the cabinets and all appliances to the island to make sure there is enough room. The recommended distance in kitchen design is 42”, with a 36’ minimum. If it is a highly trafficked area or your lifestyle typically has multiple people in the kitchen, you may want to consider increasing it to 48”. In a U-shaped kitchen, the recommended distance between the two sides is 60”.

Christa knew she wanted to add an island in her kitchen but also had to consider the distance between the two walls. In the end, the distance between her island and the back wall measured around 40”. To accommodate for the tighter clearance space, she opted for backless barstools that could be tucked in when not being used.

Brittany had to work around an existing wall and a step down into a living room, but she was able to fit a 48” island in between, with 36” between the sink and the range, and 38” from the end of the island to the step down, leaving plenty of space for bar stools.

Consider the Lighting

The kitchen is home to many different tasks so you will want your lighting to reflect that. A good way to achieve this is through layering your lighting with recessed lights, under cabinets, pendants and hanging chandeliers. Bright light may be needed for preparing your food while ambient may be necessary for early mornings. This is also your chance to bring more design into the space with fixtures that match your aesthetic.

Christa’s before kitchen lacked lighting all around. She closed off her ceiling and added recessed lighting and a center-hanging chandelier above the island. She also decided to layer in two pendant fixtures above the shelving which brings some further design to the space.

Brittany also added recessed lighting and three hanging fixtures centered above her island. She went with a brushed gold throughout to match her kitchen hardware.


We hope these details to consider when designing your kitchen provide you with some insight ahead of time before taking on your project.


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