10 Kitchen Design Questions, Answered by an Expert
Each house – and each kitchen – is unique, full of its own whims, challenges and charms. Since the kitchen is one of the busiest and most functional places in a house, building a system that works for you is a must.
We recently asked our Instagram followers to share their biggest questions about their most pressing kitchen wants and needs; requests focused on everything from installing islands and large storage solutions to designing a space more suitable for children. Then our friends from IKEA stepped in to offer answers, suggestions and more to help you bring joy – and perhaps a little order – to your kitchen.
Viola Mushkudiani, senior interior design leader at IKEA, answers your hottest kitchen questions below. Be sure to follow @goodhousekeeping to keep up with great cooking ideas and @ikeausa to learn how to get there.
1. What is the first thing to do if you want to redo your kitchen?
Mushkudiani says the first thing to do is start collecting images, writing down ideas, and selecting features that you know you might want to incorporate into a new kitchen.
“Find your style,” she says. “You deserve the kitchen of your dreams, so take the time to dream a little.” She advises using social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and more to start putting together a moodboard that will help you identify the colors, styles and solutions that attract and inspire you the most.
2. What is the coolest new integrated idea for kitchens?
“Built-in appliances, such as a refrigerator, microwave or dishwasher, create a unified look when combined with doors that coordinate with the rest of the kitchen,” says Mushkudiani.
Using cover panels for items like refrigerators and dishwashers is an easy way to streamline the look of a kitchen, and it also presents order even if things are a little goofy behind doors closed.
3. How can I enlarge my small kitchen while maximizing cooking and entertainment space?
Some kitchen sizes simply cannot be changed due to space restrictions, load-bearing walls or a limited budget. In such cases, says Mushkudiani, it is important to understand the functions of the kitchen and to know what exceptions or compromises can be made – as well as the smart solutions that exist to make the most of the available space.
“Use the full height of the wall for storage to put every inch of it to good use,” she explains. “Or, leave an empty space to create a more open feel and the ability to add other types of storage solutions, such as shelves, lockers or pegboards. Efficient interior fittings inside all cupboards and drawers maximize the use of space. Foldable, extendable and stackable furniture keeps your arrangement flexible on a daily basis. “
The intelligent use of lighting, as well as the finishes of walls, floors and cabinets will help any kitchen appear larger and the airy colors reflect the light, giving the room a fresh and spacious look.
4. How do I know if I’m getting the most out of my storage space?
There’s no single situation when it comes to kitchen storage (that’s just one of the reasons why IKEA offers so many mixing options).
“Adapt the type and amount of storage to the items you use, your shopping routines and the frequency of cooking,” advises Mushkudiani. Interior furnishings such as shelves, bins and boxes help keep most kitchens organized and functional.
Example: if you cook almost every day, you may want more space for food storage containers and an extended pantry (the drawer function in a IKEA SEKTION cupboard cabinet works well here) . If you like to bake, you may need larger cupboards to store a blender, cake pans and muffin tins. If you want to show a collection of dishes, you may have to sacrifice storage for the open shelves.
5. Does a “kitchen triangle” between the fridge, the stove and the sink really make a kitchen more efficient?
The kitchen triangle helps you avoid unnecessary movement and makes you more efficient – it is even more important to take into account activities and movement patterns in the kitchen.
“If you position the devices and functions accordingly to create a natural workflow, it will save you time and energy,” says Mushkudiani.
She adds that keeping things close to where you use them will make life in the kitchen easier. “For example, having rails and hooks to store pots, pans, utensils and gadgets; keep plates and glasses near the dishwasher; and spices near the stove.”
6. What is the size of a kitchen to have a comfortably long central island?
A kitchen island serves many purposes: gathering place, preparation area, additional storage, etc. But to use it wisely, without hampering your way of working, there must be enough space around it.
According to Mushkudiani, you must “make sure 47 inches between opposing kitchen combinations so that there is enough space to work and open the doors and drawers.”
Otherwise, you will be stuck with the possibility that an oven door may not open fully or that you may bump against the wall when moving into a corner. If an island is just not on the maps, a cart can work the same way without taking up too much space.
7. What is the best way to incorporate children’s items into the kitchen?
“In the kitchen, kids want to be part of the action – it’s one of the ways they learn,” says Mushkudiani. This means that the kitchen must be welcoming, but safe, for children. Here are four ways to get them excited about everyday tasks:
- Give them their own storage space. Store toys and other children’s items in a basic cabinet so they can be reached easily.
- Let your children participate in cooking activities using child-friendly cooking utensils.
- Stepladder stools are useful for children who want to see and participate in the action in the kitchen.
- Any play area should be placed away from the cooking area so that it does not interfere with the natural work flow in the kitchen.