trade secrets: kitchen renovations part one – layout and flooring materials

clients often seek out my services when renovating their kitchens, as it can be an extremely daunting task to take on! not to mention it is easily the single most expensive renovation there is. most people are shocked to find out the renovation costs for a kitchen, but that is why it is so important to make the right decisions from all angles! you want to have everything you are dreaming of, but you also must remember resale and return on your investment. otherwise you will spend $50k on a kitchen that potential buyers will see the need to spend $30k to change!

so lets start with the bones of your existing kitchen and the floorplan you hope to have. many people buying older homes to renovate find that the kitchens of the past don’t serve all of our needs today. for example, we want space to eat in our kitchen, whether that is a built in banquette, counter stools/an island or a small breakfast table. these days we don’t have all the time to sit down at the dining room table for every meal. we also find that most people want an open kitchen, which was not commonly built before the 90s! so in order to interact with family and guests while cooking, you find yourself needing to knock out a wall or two. well, we don’t see the open kitchen plan going away anytime soon, so knock out those walls as you please!

the next important factor in the floorplan of your kitchen is the ‘work triangle’. not only is this the most comfortable way to work in the kitchen, but it is a formula designers use to ensure workflow ease. while we know this cannot apply exactly to every kitchen out there, it is an important rule to follow as best you can. below are some examples of how to best apply this layout in various floorplans.

image via

image via

if you are lucky enough to create an entirely new footprint in your kitchen, then you may be wondering about dimensions! since we are already talking work triangle, let us start there! a good rule of thumb is to have 36”-60” between any two surfaces. you need 36” to open appliance doors comfortably, but do not want to have to carry a hot dish more than 60”. it may be a fun idea to be able to dance in your kitchen, but remember it isn’t necessary!

now onto your counters! we are going to stick with standard suggestions in this blog for the sake of resale value, but remember you can adjust dimensions based on your foresight of staying in a home and your own height. if you have a young family of five, all well above average height, and building a custom home from the ground up, you may want things taller to better suit you. or vice versa, if you’re all shorties like the kpi ladies! counters should be 36” – 38” high and at the least, 24” deep. we suggest going as deep as your appliances, which is generally closer to 28”, to avoid constant variation in depth. Any deeper than 28” tends to be a hassle, as you start to be annoyed by reaching so far back in a lower cabinet.

speaking of cabinets, let us address upper cabinet spacing. your upper cabinets should be placed between 16” – 20” above your countertops. again, this depends on your height, and even the ceiling height in your kitchen. any higher than 20” will make it difficult to reach items, so we don’t suggest any higher regardless of having high ceilings. your upper cabinets should 12” – 14” deep, as not to interfere with your counter workspace.

now, if you are lucky enough to have an island, you may think bigger is better, but that is not always the case. the size of an island will depend greatly on your use of the island. will there be an additional sink at the island? will you put your cooktop here? or any other appliances? you may want to have space for counter stools. our two factors to keep in mind here are: 1) the distance you will have to reach across the island 2) depending on the material you use, most slabs are approximately 110” x 60”.

okay, now onto the fun stuff – surfaces! if you are doing a complete renovation, you have three areas to cover: flooring, countertops, and backsplash. we are going to cover flooring today and follow up on our next post with countertop and backsplash options! our personal favorite option for flooring is hardwood, especially if your ground floor is hardwood in every other space. hardwood floors not for you? make sure you still focus on durability here, nothing too fragile! we love cement tiles for kitchen flooring as an alternative to wood, you can create fun patterns in custom color palettes, they have a rustic yet modern feel and really work in almost any style home. a cost effective kitchen flooring option that we love is vinyl tiles, or marmoleum, it’s eco friendly counterpart. you can keep it simple, and go with one color throughout, or create checkerboard patterns, chevrons, or random patterns for a little whimsy! below are some of our favorite materials and sources to help you get the look in your own home!

reclaimed wood flooring via

reclaimed wood flooring via

reclaimed wood floors in kitchen by kishani perera inc.

catalina 10 custom cement tiles via

cement tile flooring via

marmoleum tiles via

be sure to subscribe to our blog to follow our complete kitchen renovation series! and please feel free to leave any questions in the comments below! we know we can’t cover every detail, and we love to hear from you!

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