Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Transforming Your Kitchen

Sometimes, to dramatically transform a space, all a kitchen needs is new cabinetry and better spatial organization. Other times it’s not what you add, but what you take away that makes the difference. In many cases the best way to achieve spatial harmony is to knock down walls, or relocate doors or windows to increase the livable space. However it is done, remodeling your kitchen can be quite a process so it’s best if you are armed from the beginning with some basic knowledge and a good plan to start your selection process.


The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends that the amount of space devoted to windows in your kitchen should equal at least 10 percent of the floor area. Where they go will depend on your favored views and your kitchen layout. Also consider how the light will play off the walls and illuminate your work areas. Windows can make a decorative statement with their frame detailing, shape, and size.


When choosing the cabinetry that's right for you, balancing cost with style can prove to be a difficult task. The best rule of thumb is to always choose what you like. Your own personal touch still reigns supreme in the kitchen.

The door style and type of wood used are two of the most important decisions you will make when choosing your cabinets. The options can sometimes seem endless. Maple and oak are among the most popular wood for cabinet doors. Cherry, hickory, pine and even Alder are options as well. You can even take your pick of shiny polyester and plastic laminate options, opt for stainless steel, or go for glass in clear, frosted, ribbed, etched and leaded versions.

You're not done until you've selected a finish for your cabinets. Light stains will let the natural beauty of the wood show through. The popularity of painted and glazed finishes is growing as well. For a truly unique look, go the specialty route with a distressed or crackled finish.

Use pulls and knobs to further personalize your kitchen. A Shaker style door in cherry can go from traditional with a brass knob to contemporary with a nickel pole.


There’s no denying the importance of selecting your cabinetry first, however that perfect countertop is at the forefront of most homeowners' wish lists. Whether you're considering granite or the unique look of quartz surfacing, there is certainly no shortage of options to choose from.

Solid surface, natural stone or quartz tend to hold up best, and cleaning up spills is a breeze. Dough is typically rolled on a marble surface, and cutting or chopping is done on stone or wood. Laminate and solid surface come in the widest variety of colors. The flexibility of solid surfacing and stainless steel makes them ideal for fashioning decorative shapes or integral sinks

Tile, wood and stainless steel offer special looks but have their tradeoffs: tile doesn’t offer a smooth surface for food preparation and its grout can discolor; wood requires sealants and maintenance; and steel scratches and shows fingerprints

Achieving the best of all worlds by carving out space for a mix of surface materials is probably the best way to go—a granite island for serving, a maple butcher-block square for cutting, solid-surface tops for heavy food-preparation tasks and tile for a backsplash accent.

Island Workspace

A kitchen island looks beautiful in most settings and adds work space, storage area, and room for additional appliances. It can be as simple as a small table or as elaborate as a custom-build, electrified, plumbed, tiled cooking center. Many new islands are being designed with useful and decorative touches, making them a focal point in the kitchen. Architectural details such as bump-outs, corner posts, inset areas, and open shelving add personality and style. Some include a sink, granite counters, a cooktop, cabinets for storage, a second dishwasher, a warming oven, or a small refrigerator. A multi-level island can incorporate both food preparation and eating areas, wine racks, cookbook shelves, bar sinks, deep fryers, and other amenities. A step-down or step-up surface adds interest and separate work areas. The sky's the limit if you have room.


Models of major kitchen appliances tend to differ from each other based on whether they have a professional or standard capacity, whether they are built-in, paneled, or freestanding and their individual features

Professional style means the appliance looks like and has a capacity similar to the commercial one used in your favorite restaurant’s kitchen. People who cook a lot at home or have large families might want to spring for the professional-style equipment. Some everyday cooks also like it for stylistic reasons.

You’ll also need to decide if you want to have your appliances built into your cabinets. If you have a built-in refrigerator, for example, the doors will look just like those of your cabinets and it will lie flush with the cabinets rather than sticking out. Paneled appliances are an option for those with a smaller budget.

Explore ways to make your appliances more accessible. Raise your dishwasher so you don’t have to bend down to load and unload it. Warming ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers all come as drawer units that can add convenience and save space. Beverage chillers and wine storage units are available—some even hook up to your home’s security system and include cigar compartments. Consider moving your trash compactor out to the garage to crush and compress aluminum cans, freeing up space in the kitchen for a recycle center.

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