top of page
  • Yael Getz Schoen

Copy of 101 Kitchen Design

Remodeling a kitchen can range in costs dramatically depending on the floor areas, appliances, materials and finishes used in the project. Sometimes, clients have modest means but still value good design and functionality. They need an affordable remodeling concept. This blog summarizes many of the alternatives and YGSDD recommendations regarding kitchen design and gives a quick overview of kitchen related considerations for potential remodelers.

Every kitchen consists of work area (food preparation, cooking) cleaning area (dishwasher, sink, trash bin) and storage area (dry food storage/pantry, refrigerator, dishes and equipment storage). A good layout achieves a balance between storage, function, and aesthetics. Whether a small galley kitchen, which lines up cabinets and appliances on either side of a corridor, or a large open kitchen with a working and seating island, the essentials are the same:


  • Designate location for dry food (pantry), paper towels, cooking books, wine, dishes based on specific needs.

  • Keep most of stored items closed off.

  • Minimize use of open shelves to avoid dust accumulation and visual clutter.

  • Consider deep drawers for easier access to pots and pans, and include enough storage for appliances that otherwise would clutter up countertops.

  • Bring cabinets up to the ceiling for more storage space, and less room for dust to collect. Incorporate some glass fronts in the cabinet doors to keep the space feeling airy.

  • Invest in strong and good-looking cabinets. Don’t settle on poor-quality.

  • Use pull-out drawers rather than reach-in conventional cabinets for greatest convenience. Roll-out shelves make it easier to see and reach items stored in lower cabinets.  If you’re retro-fitting existing cabinets, have pull-out trays installed.

  • Consider a sliding “garage door” to hide off the location of small appliances used on a daily basis like the blender, coffee maker or toaster.

  • Include a minimum of 10 linear feet of both base cabinets and upper cabinets.

  • Utilize lazy Susans or corner drawers to make potentially wasted corners fully functional.

  • Label Pantry shelves and line with custom-cut stainless steel sheeting to protect the cabinetry and wipe clean.

  • Group like things together in drawers, use containers and dividers to customize spaces, add labels, and do a good clean-out once a year to make sure all the items are where they belong.

  • Protect Silver Flatware with shallow drawers lined with tarnish-controlling flannel. The pieces rest in a single layer on the fabric without dividers or stacking.

  • Keep a stepladder in the kitchen to reach highest shelves.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen by exits.


The variety of styles materials is endless. Here are some of the most popular materials and styles with a note about their advantages and disadvantages.

Cabinet materials

1.      Various woods-

Maple- this hardwood has a tight, even grain, making it ideal for painting. Maple’s natural hue is relatively pale, and although the grain has less variation than other woods, some swirls and waves do appear, which can give it some character. Cons-mineral streaks will occasionally appear, doesn’t work as well with dark stains.

Cherry- rich palate of colors that run from deep reds to reddish-browns, with warm undertones. The grain is generally tight and may contain pin knots and curls. Takes stains well, creating attractive depth and luster. It also ages beautifully, usually darkening and reddening as it matures. Cherry is highly durable and finishes well, allowing for a wide range of stain and glaze options.

Oak- wide-grained hardwood, in which the layers of grain dominate the wood’s appearance, giving even highly-finished pieces a rustic, rough-hewn look. The color varies widely, but often shows bands of white, pink, brown and red. Oak is an especially strong material and the many natural characteristics in each plank makes it a distinctive, highly stylized choice.

Hickory and Pecan- strong, heavy hardwoods with similar features. Their grain patterns can be fine, but they often exhibit wide ribbons of colors, ranging from near-white to dark brown. They stand up well to medium and dark finishes, as well as bleaching. The irregularities in hickory and pecan can make these wood cabinets unique and aesthetically bold.

Birch- an even-textured, fine-grained hardwood, light in color and similar in appearance to maple. Its smooth, dense surface often features curly or waved patterns. Unlike maple, it does not exhibit mineral streaks. Because its color is slightly lighter, with more yellow undertones, birch stains best with light-to-medium tones. Darker stains can create a blotchy look because the grains tend to absorb more stain than the main body of the wood. Like maple, birch is a good choice for a painted finish.Pine- an even-grained softwood that is white to yellow-cream in color. Cons- a very soft hardwood, easily dented, gouged, and scratched.

Rustic Woods- wood in which natural imperfections such as knots, mineral spots, and uneven areas are left alone. Nearly every kind of wood is available in a rustic. Rustic woods are a unique choice, and they can be ideal for creating a naturalistic style.

Exotic and Rare Woods- each one has its own style. For example, mahogany has been a premier luxury wood for centuries, and ebony can be ideal for a dark rich look. Other exotic woods include walnut, redwood burl, and zebra wood. Cons- high prices.

2.      MDF ( Medium Density Fiberboard)-  wood-fiber composite that can be molded into a cabinet door in a variety of door patterns, including routed, raised panel, recessed panel, and flat (slab). Can be factory painted or sealed with thermofoil, or painted on the job site. Can’t have a finely detailed edge (like wood) and although it dings more easily, it will not crack at the seams as wood cabinet doors with changes in humidity. And while it is lower quality than solid wood, MDF is more affordable than wood.

3.      Thermofoil- reasonably priced and commonly available synthetic cabinet door material is a thin, tight, heat-sealed plastic wrap used to mold over an MDF substrate. Can be a solid color or imitation wood grain, available in a range of textures and sheen levels, the most popular choice being solid white with a matte sheen. An easy and economical alternative to white paint. Cons- greater susceptibility to heat and moisture compared to other materials. Heat-generating appliances such as coffee makers and toasters should not be placed too close to the cabinets. Heat shields can be placed between cabinets and major appliances such as dishwashers and ranges. Many appliances come with built-in shields.

4.      High pressure laminate- A synthetic product sold under brand names such as Formica. Laminate doors are made by applying a decorative laminate on top of a substrate (usually MDF or particle board). Decorative laminate is made from a series of compressed, plasticized sheets of kraft-paper. The top few sheets are saturated with resins and dyes to give color, design, and texture. Durable, easy to clean, resistant to fading, available in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and styles. Cons- cannot wrap over the front and sides of the cabinet door or box without creating a seam. With cabinet doors, laminate can only form a radius edge in one direction—vertical or horizontal—and since the doors are 3/4” thick, the two other sides will require strips of laminate that will show seams where they join the main piece. These seams expose the color of the brown kraft-paper. Some manufacturers mask the seam by using a strip of color-coordinated PVC film instead of the matching laminate.

5.      Low pressure laminate (melamine)- Used on less-expensive cabinets, it is not as durable as the high-pressure variety. Typically available in white, off-white, and almond tones, and the laminate layer is thinner and softer than high-pressure laminate. This product is often used in offices and apartment complexes.

6.      Stainless steel- Manufactured in slab, recessed panel, and ready-for-glass frame and are available in a variety of finishes, including brushed, patterned, and etched. The cabinet boxes that accompany these doors can be finished in different materials.

7.      Aluminum- lighter-weight, slightly whiter-hued kitchen cabinet finishing material compared to stainless steel. It comes with an anodized finish, which is important for protecting the metal over time as unfinished aluminum oxidizes rapidly. Can be placed on a wide variety of cabinet box materials.


Cabinet styles

1.      Shaker- is the most common door style in kitchens today. This five-piece flat-panel style has a frame made from four pieces and a single flat center panel for the fifth piece.

2.      Louvered- Horizontal wood slats. Expensive. Good for cabinets that need ventilation.

3.      Flat- Simple but stylish, the flat-panel cabinet door is void of any expensive details. Minimalist form make it a great fit for contemporary and modern interiors. Laminate tends to be more budget friendly and offers a greater variety of colors and sheens.

4.      Inset- Although this style tends to be one of the most expensive on the market, it’s a classic look. The inset door gets its name because it is set inside of the cabinet frame

5.      Distressed- An antique-style kitchen with corners rubbed off. Expensive to destroy the new cabinets to look like this.

6.      Beadboard- looks like traditional beadboard paneling. Little cracks and crevasses on this door style can be difficult to keep clean.

7.      Thermofoil- These doors are molded out of MDF, wrapped in a plastic-type coating and then baked under intense heat to create an impervious seal. Durable and cost effective, they come only in solid colors and imitation wood grain.


  • Plan for the sink, fridge and cooktop to form a triangle, with no more than 6’ between each for ease of movement.

  • Try to keep the straight-line distance between the sink, fridge, and cooktop between 12’ and 23’.

  • Minimize joints in counter tops and locate them in less visible areas.

  • Have countertop around wall ovens to place the hot food once taken out of the oven. If space is unavailable, a convenient pull-out counter beneath a built-in wall oven allows for easy transfer of dishes.

  • Place the oven and microwave at height that will be most convenient to insert and remove food from.

  • Do not place a tall fridge and built-in wall oven next to each other, each needs its own landing space on both sides of the appliance for safety. (Although there’s no issue with heat from oven passing to refrigerator, both are designed to contain their heat).

  • Exhaust hood should be at least as big as the range under it, preferably on outside wall to exhaust outside. Hood is noisy, no matter what. Hoods which are located in the middle of the space above an island are not as safe as hoods that suck the fumes toward the walls and exhaust directly outside.

  • Combination of micro and hood is not advisable. Both don’t work quite as good. Placing the micro above the hood which is above the oven, means you have to reach beyond heat to take something out of the micro. Best to avoid.



Choose an energy star refrigerator, consider without the ice maker and in-door water and ice dispenser. Best to use the one with lower freezer (which is used less, thus placed on the bottom part).

1.      Counter Depth Refrigerators- 32” to 36” wide, 24” to 26” deep (not including the door) and 68” to 71” tall. Not a true built in because doors stick out but much cheaper. Side-by-side doors are half as wide as one door, they’re great for kitchens with tight clearances. Side-by-side and regular bottom-freezer options exist.

2.      Side-by-side counter-depth- There are many options for side-by-side models with sleek ice and water dispensers and door handles.

3.      All-refrigerator or all-freezer counter-depth option

4.      Full-Depth, or Standard, Refrigerator- 68” to 71” tall and 31” to 35” deep to the face of the doors. Side-by-side, bottom-freezer and top-freezer options. Most affordable and most cubic storage space. By making the cabinets a custom depth around the refrigerator, you can get the look of a custom built-in refrigerator without the hefty price tag.

5.      Bottom-Freezer Built-In Refrigerator- The entire unit, including the door, is flush with the depth of most standard base cabinets. Bottom-freezer units are also referred to as over/under refrigerators. I prefer the produce I use every day to be up high and the frozen goods down below in the drawer.

6.      Built-In Side-by-Side Refrigerator- refrigerator on the right and the freezer on the left, They come with and without water in the door and are typically 24” to 25”  deep to the door; 36”, 42” or 48” wide; and 84” tall. Most have a freezer that’s smaller than the refrigerator. However with the 36” side by side, there’s not enough width to fit large pots or pans.

7.      Fully Integrated Refrigerator and Freezer Column Units- Fully integrated refrigerators can be completely concealed with cabinet-panel fronts. The hinge style, the lack of an exposed frame and a design that allows the door panel to hide the compressor make this all possible.

Gas Cooktops/Ranges

1.      The cooktop/range has a fuel option: electricity or natural gas (or propane in some locations) Cooking on gas appliances introduces combustion by-products into your home, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and nitrogen dioxide. This is especially worrisome in newer, more airtight houses. While a good exhaust hood can remove up to 70 percent of these pollutants, it doesn’t remove all of them

2.      Magnetic Induction Cooktops Typical electric or gas stoves heat the air under the pan, but a magnetic induction cooktop’s heat is transferred directly to the pan through high-tech magnetism, leading to little wasted heat. Heat is generated quickly and is infinitely adjustable, just like gas. Cool to the touch, making for a safer kitchen, bur requires metallic cook ware to work with.


 Wall ovens are available in three widths: 24”, 27” and 30”. Prefer two smaller ovens rather than one larger unit. You’ll save energy by frequently using just one of the smaller ovens,Chose convection oven, in which a fan continuously circulates heated air around the food. This means that the temperature and cooking times can be reduced, using 20 percent less energy. Also look for a self-cleaning feature, as these models are better insulated, which boosts energy efficiency by maintaining oven temperatures.

Exhaust Hoods

1.      Your hood needs to exhaust to the exterior, ensuring removal of moisture and pollutants from your interiors. Stay away from recirculating fans, which only remove odors. Also avoid downdraft hoods, which do not perform as well as hoods mounted overhead.

2.      When configuring your kitchen layout prioritize a range and exhaust placed on exterior wall rather than on island.


Choose energy star one with several wash cycle options, like “energy saver” and “no-heat drying.” Make sure to place adjacent to main sink, choose side that will be more convenient for you to insert dishes from sink to.


Avoid the combination of micro and hood. Select a micro that can be placed at hand reach height.


If there is enough space to fit an island in the kitchen (with at least 3′ clearance between island and cabinets), it will become the best working area. An island provides a central spot to work and eat.

  • Most islands have a side used for food preparation and a side devoted for eating. Minimum width 3’ but not more than arm length to allow cleaning it easily from one side.

  • Island length between 5’-7’ depending on number of seats, and which appliance will be accommodated within it.

  • Keep at least 13” of overhang for the seating area.

  • Island height can vary. Food preparation side to be the same height as the rest of the kitchen island at 36”. Eating side can be the same, or 42” bar height.

  • Keep 3-4’ clear distance on working side of island, and 3’ at ends.

  • Mount hooks for hand towels on the sides of the islands to give purpose to an unused space.

  • Place electrical outlets near the top of the island for convenience when using small appliances without the cord getting in the way.


  • Position the sink between the other two appliances, since it’s used most often. (The sink’s location may depend on pre-existing plumbing lines.)

  • One large sink is more useful than a divided sink. Place drainage hole on side, to fit under-sink food disposal on one side of bottom cabinet.

  • Allow for 36” of counter space to the right and 30” to the left of the range and sink if possible; if not, allow a minimum of 24” and 18”.

  • Consider barrier-free design and products. They make life easier for children, pregnant women, and seniors as well as individuals with disabilities. They’ll also add to the longevity of your kitchen.

  • Consider adding slightly angled grooves to the draining-board counter next to the sink: Water from just-washed dishes runs back into the sink.

  • High gooseneck faucets make it easy to fill large pots and vases and to maneuver things in and out of the sink. Use a small tray to keep hand soap and lotions ready.

  • Place large metal bins for garbage and recyclables at end of the island (food scraps go into smaller pails for composting). Though the trend is to have pull-out bins behind cabinet doors, these are easier and cleaner to use.

  • Place water filter in the whole kitchen water supply entrance, to make sure the sink and ice maker in the refrigerator both have clean water.

  • Consider a fully integrated sink. A fully integrated sink is made of same material as the countertop, connected with virtually invisible seams. There is no molding, caulking or sink edge to work with and clean around when you have a sink connected directly to the countertop.


  • Don’t over design the kitchen.

  • Make it fashionable, but yet generic enough so you don’t have to redo the whole kitchen in 10 years. Use monochromatic color scheme (black, white and stainless steel don’t go out of fashion).

  • Stainless steel can be a wonderful accent. Stainless steel appliances and accents provide uniformity. However, it needs to be balanced and not over take the design, and make the kitchen feel small.

  • Minimize use of ornamentation, and enhance the natural beauty of materials.

  • Use cabinetry to conceal small appliances that would otherwise clutter on countertop.

  • Ice-maker, wine chiller, second sink, mini-fridge are nice additions to an island, if you have the space and budget.

  • Consider including a desk and computer in the kitchen layout.

  • Leave some space to breathe- Don’t exaggerate with storage and fill the walls with cabinets.

  • Make it a priority to put a window over the sink.  A large grand window will make the room appear larger.

  • Maximize light penetration with tall windows and glass-paned kitchen door. Translucent, lightweight shades can be lowered for some privacy, while still letting daylight through.

  • Paint a warm, almost-monochrome palette to make the kitchen serene.

  • Diagonally placed floor tiles will make the kitchen look larger.

  • For aesthetic variety use 2 different counter tops for the continuous countertop and island work areas. However, we suggest using uniform cabinets throughout the kitchen.

  • Shelves with cook books can add to the coziness of the kitchen and to its functionality.

  • Keep the design efficient and honest- don’t hide large appliances behind cabinet doors, don’t place drawers behind side opening cabinet doors just for uniformity sake. The kitchen will have a beauty out of its functionality.


1.       Ceramic tile- limit less options, durable, easy to clean, and affordable. Cons-  can break, feels cold, could turn slippery if something spills on it, and needs periodical grout sealing.

2.       Natural stone-   limestone, slate, granite or travertine- all will make a beautiful surface, however are expensive, can break or peel and need protective sealing at regular intervals.

3.       Solid wood- Wood never goes out of style, is durable if properly treated, Cons- Doesn’t take spills and leakage easily, will need periodic finishing.

4.       Vinyl- resilient flooring- comes in a sophisticated range of designs and finishes. It’s available in sheets or tiles that mimic stone, wood, ceramic tile and more, embossed with textures that look and feel surprisingly realistic, relatively cheap, easy to clean and to patch if a spot gets damaged, and comfortable underfoot. Cons- can dent, bubble or curl over time. Sharp objects may tear it, dirt can scratch and dull its finish, fades in strong sunlight.

Vinyl kitchen floor

5.       Linoleum- all-natural material made from linseed oil, resins, wood flour and more. Green, versatile, comes in every color and can be cut into patterns, affordable, durable and easy to maintain. Cons-  Can wear and fade with time and use, and needs a protective coating.

Linoleum kitchen floor

6.       Cork- all natural, strong patterns and texture, warm look , ecofriendly . Resilient and flexible, comfortable underfoot, can absorb the shock from a dropped plate or cup without breaking them. It holds warmth and absorbs sound, lending a cozy feel. It’s rich in suberin, a natural substance that guards against mold, mildew, rot and pests. Cons- needs to be cleaned often and resealed with polyurethane or wax.

cork kitchen floor

7.       Concrete- industrial-chic look, can be stained, stamped, scored or acid etched for aesthetic reasons. cool to touch, indestructible, can turn to subfloor for tile or carpeting. Needs to be sealed properly.

concrete kitchen floor

8.       Laminate- is composed of several layers of engineered material sandwiched together, is designed to imitate the look of wood or tile, requires little maintenance.  Cons- doesn’t look as good as wood, and can’t be refinished, when ages, needs to be replaced.

Laminate kitchen floor

9.       Bamboo- a type of grass that is very durable. Affordable relative to hardwood, with warm appearance.  Sustainable, low maintenance, warm to foot.  Narrower range of color compared with traditional woods. It isn’t as moisture resistant as many other materials — in high-humidity climates or spaces, it can warp.

bamboo kitchen floor


1.      Subway tile- basic one color tile. Usually placed horizontally with alternating joint locations between rows. Affordable. Works well for a monochromatic design.

2.      Herringbone tile- herringbone pattern can be purchased on a mesh backing. Can be used to make a pattern with one kind of tile.

3.      Diagonal tile- Ordinary tile placed diagonally can achieve a new look. Diagonal layout requires an order of about 10 percent more tiles to complete the backsplash. Diagonal tile layouts also tend to be more labor intensive.

4.      Laser-cut tile- These tiles are intricately cut with lasers to produce elaborate designs that are pieced together like a puzzle. expensive.

5.      Mirror tile- Tiny mirrored tiles all assembled into one design create a mirrored backsplash with texture.

6.      Large-pattern tile- Big, bold patterns. It’s very important to lay out the wall space thoughtfully, so that the design ends up looking even throughout the installation.

7.      Mosaic tile- sheets of 12”x12” with backing material with small mosaics pattern. When placed on wall gives an illusion of a true work of mosaic made of very small tiles.


A variety of materials exists each with a different characteristics. Whichever is chosen, it is important to minimize joints and locate them in less visible areas and to follow the manufacturer maintenance instructions in order to lengthen the life span of the countertop. Avoid choosing an absolute black surface. Every drop of dust or water will be visible. A surface with some pattern will look nice, and camouflage some of the imperfections.

1.      Granite- natural stone with unique grains, colors and customizable finishes. Very durable. Cons- needs to be sealed, can vary in price depending on the actual stone slab chosen. Each stone slab has a unique appearance.

2.      Marble- classic look that always seems to be in style. Best fit for white kitchens-offers more variety than almost any other material. Cons- Develops patina over time and softer than granite, and can scratch and stain easily, expensive.

3.      Solid-surfacing material- can imitate almost any material without the same damage risk and maintenance requirements.

4.      Wood- needs to be high quality wood with special sealing. Butcher block countertops are composed of smaller pieces of wood and can be more affordable.

5.      Bamboo- rapidly renewable resource, naturally stronger and harder than most other hardwoods.

6.      Stainless steel- non-staining, heat resistant and easy to clean, very easy to recycle, but hard to maintain without smudges and watermarks. Good for heavy duty kitchen that doesn’t need a perfect look. More affordable than stone counters.

7.      Concrete- Pigments, stains and dyes can create concrete counters with color and visual texture. Cons- needs to be sealed, expensive.

8.      Recycled glass-A combination of glass and cement, expensive but unique. Has character, ecofriendly, durable and customizable.

9.      Paperstone- recycled paper – ecofriendly and durable. When blended with resins and pigments, it has the look and feel of stone but less expensive.

10.  Ceramic tile- variety of design and possibilities as well as costs. Extensive amount of joints.

11.  Plastic laminate- very affordable, with a wide range of customizable edges and finishes to fit in any design. Cons- not very durable, and has a “cheaper“ look.

12.  Squak Mountain Stone- Fibrous-cement material comprised of recycled paper, recycled glass, and low-carbon cement.


  • Maximize natural light, by having large windows, open layout to dining room/living room, skylights and glass panes in doors.

  • The most basic rule is the rule of three- an easy way to achieve balance is to repeat an element three times. This is useful with above island pendant  lighting fixtures.

  • Pendant light fixtures can be a way to inject some color and interest into a monochromatic palette kitchen. When trends change- easier to update these than the whole kitchen.

  • Workspace lighting should be positioned in front of the person working, not behind casting a shadow on the workspace. Under-cabinet lights shine directly on counter tops.

  • Dimmers on fixtures enable to control the amount of light and increase energy efficiency.

  • Under cabinet lighting or under the counter will create the illusion of larger space.


Thanks to Houzz, Reader’s digest, House beautiful, Martha Stewart, HGTV and other websites for various tips and information used to create this blog entry!

35 views0 comments


bottom of page