A great kitchen is an asset to a house and to the people who use it. That is why remodeling a kitchen is one of the most common home-improvement projects and a top selling point in real estate. The spatial design, equipment and the finishes all impact both the functionality and the aesthetic appeal of the space.

There are many design points and elements to consider when remodeling a kitchen to make the most of an opportunity that only comes around every decade or two (or three).

Design the kitchen for how you live

You can begin redesigning your kitchen by considering your existing space. What is working and what does it lack? How do you currently use the space? How do you wish you could use it differently? Would you like to be able to accommodate two cooks? Would a larger area or island help you multitask homework and school projects with cooking dinner? Could the circulation in your home be rerouted to pass by the kitchen instead of through it?

Stand back as you are pondering your kitchen remodel, and look at the house as a whole. When you are considering a whole new kitchen, it is not much more expensive to move it to an entirely different location in your home. Do you want to spend tens of thousands of dollars if your current kitchen is in the back corner of the house behind the basement stairs? Is it located where the mud room ought to be? How would it change the dynamic of your home if the kitchen were literally the “heart” of the home?

Conversely, if your kitchen is buried in the middle of your home, would it make life better to move it toward the outside walls to capture more light and views? A kitchen should be an appealing and comfortable place. If you are planning an addition, where will the kitchen be in relation to the new addition? Adding a room to the back of the house has the potential to bury the kitchen in the center of the new configuration, far from light and views. Is that a good fit for the design of the whole house, or does the kitchen need to be relocated?

A full-blown kitchen remodel is expensive and probably won’t be repeated for years or decades. Therefore, it is critical to get it right the first time. An architect can help you consider the full ramifications of your design decisions.


There are many design points and elements to consider when remodeling a kitchen to make the most of an opportunity that only comes around every decade or two (or three).

Counter space

Counter space is a critical design element for any kitchen. It dictates the activities that will occur there, including meal preparation, eating, game playing, bill paying, family scheduling, homework and a wide range of other projects that can potentially happen there. If the kitchen truly is the heart of your home, it must be designed to support other activities in addition to cooking, as well as the people who will naturally gravitate there.


Cabinet space and storage is an important part of any kitchen design. Running the cabinets to the ceiling will add valuable storage space and eliminate the awkward, dust-catching space above the cabinets. If your kitchen has one of those formerly popular dropped ceilings, removing it will allow for more cabinets and instantly increase the feeling of light and space in the area.

Whether your cabinetry is made up of stock cabinets from the big box store or custom crafted cabinets, careful planning will ensure you maximize the useful space. Lower cabinets should have pull-out shelves to give access to the full storage area. Consider using more drawers, which are really just larger pull-out shelves and may be more practical than traditional cabinet shelves.


Your choice of appliances will have a lot to do with your overall budget. There are many options and price ranges available. Lower-end appliances range from $600-$2,000 per appliance, while higher-end appliances can be anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 a piece.

Appliances come in all sizes, so you need to select them early in the process in order to design around the correct sizes. Inches count in kitchen layouts.

Reusing existing appliances sounds like an economical choice, but it is harder than you think to find replacements with the exact dimensions if the appliance fails before the kitchen is ready for its next makeover. Consider selling your appliances and putting the money toward new ones. Often if you select all your appliances from one manufacturer, they will “throw in” one of the units for free.

To have a truly streamlined new kitchen, an in-line, counter-depth refrigerator is critical. If you don’t want to sell your oversized current model, move it downstairs or to the garage so it won’t stick out like a sore thumb in your new layout.

Multifunctional space

Even if you aren’t a big-time cook, the kitchen still serves as the heart of the home. It is the nucleus of activity for many families. If it is designed well, the kitchen can be a multifunctional and beautiful space used for far more than cooking. If you are planning a kitchen remodel, make sure you look at the big picture and get the most out of your space.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to

Renovation Solutions: How to get the most out of your kitchen