Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kitchen Design - Lesson 1

I had a conversation today with a potential client who is looking to redesign a kitchen.  It seems like the perfect opportunity to share with you some of the practicalities of taking on this daunting and sometimes unwieldy task.

So, where do I start is what you're thinking, right?  Before you call in the troops, whether that means architect, designer, contractor or cabinet maker you should try to get a handle on what you want from this new and improved space.

1.  Study 
Spend some time flipping and ripping.  Grab all your favourite magazines but try to chose from within the last year to avoid outdated styles.  Rip out all the images you like.  In speaking with the client today I was told something I had never thought of before.  She had avoided ripping images because her kitchen is smaller than any of those in the magazines.  This exercise is to give your trades and designers an idea of what direction you would like to take the project.  It has nothing to do with size so rip whenever you spot a look that makes you melt.  Together you will build on those ideas and make it a kitchen that works specifically for you.

2.  Take it to the Bank
Before you have your first conversation with a professional know what you can afford.  Every time I meet with a new client for the first time I ask about budget.  9 times out of 10 the client claims to not know their budget.  Either they truly don't know how much they can spend which is a problem in managing and staying on top of money or they are afraid to say for fear of appearing ignorant.  If you don't have a budget worked out, be honest that you don't know how to arrive at a number and your designer will happily work with you to establish a fair number.  If you know what you can afford, share it so that the design team can work within those parameters.  

3.  What's your Style?
One of the first things a designer will do is to establish the lifestyle uses and preferences of a client's new space.  It is equally as important to understand what you don't like as it is to know what you do like.  Don't be afraid to say no to any little thing that is presented.  We won't have our feelings hurt.  A good designer will take time to present all the available options in order to come to a full understanding of what style you would be most happy with.  Functionality of a space is easily determined but style and aesthetics are more difficult.  When looking at kitchens in magazines, look for details on cabinets doors.  If you like the straight, clean lines of a Shaker door then you may have a penchant towards contemporary style.  If scrolling and raised panels make you swoon, then you probably lean towards the traditional.  Look for signals regarding finishes.  Do you like painted wood, stained wood or thermafoil?  All of these characteristics help you understand how to get the best kitchen for you.

4.  Be Practical
While we all want a kitchen that's large enough to host a party or one that's filled with professional appliances, it's important to understand how to work within your space and budget.  If space is tight but you need storage then be realistic about how much you can achieve and work towards maximizing vertical space.  At the same time, be clear that owning 10 sets of antique china may be out of the question.  Be willing to hear "no" from your designer and understand where that no comes from.  We want you to have the best possible space at the end of the project.  If something isn't right, we have come to this determination based on experience and education.  Surround yourself with professionals but trust them.  

Stay tuned for the next step...creating a floor plan. 

All images courtesy of

1 comment:

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