Smart Design With Suzette: Plan Your Kitchen Like A Pro

Design drawing for a kitchen remodel. Courtesy/Suzette Fox 
Smart Design With Suzette
Plan Your Kitchen Like a Pro

A kitchen can be filled with beautiful materials and finishes, but if the layout and space doesn’t work well, it’s not a successful design. A good space plan and flow are critical. Anyone who has tried working in a poorly designed kitchen knows this.

Kitchens have become the main gathering area of the house. We want more from our kitchens—we want them to really work for us and, at the same time, be beautiful.

I recommend working with a kitchen designer to develop a schematic plan and get preliminary estimates on construction costs. This is a great way to keep your eye on the budget while you finalize the design. 

These tips can help make your design a successful one.

Define Your Lifestyle

What do you need in a kitchen? What works well in your existing space? What doesn’t work well? Are you a one or two-cook kitchen? Are you a baker? Left or right-handed?

All of these questions (and others) are important when designing a space plan. It will lead you to know whether to put the dishwasher on the left or right side of the sink, height of countertops, work areas, etc.

Thinking about heights. Courtesy/Suzette Fox

Determine a Floor Plan

Space plans are all about the best layout. You and your designer should try some different options for where the appliances, drawers and storage will go. There are certain guidelines that designers use to help with placement and give you options you might not otherwise consider.

What’s the best layout for your space – an L-shape kitchen with an island, a U-shape kitchen or a galley kitchen? Do you have the space for an eat-in kitchen? Are you moving doors or changing windows? All of these are important to look at for the best utilization of space.

Cleaning zone. Courtesy/Suzette Fox

Work Triangle

The traditional work-triangle – refrigerator, sink and stove – now also incorporates “activity centers” and  “work zones.” These zones dramatically help organize a kitchen into one that makes good sense.

Work Zones – The kitchen should include work zones for the following:

  • Consumables – Storage for groceries, including pantry, refrigerated and frozen foods
  • Non-Consumables – Space for dishes, glasses and cutlery
  • Cleaning – An area for cleaning products and recycling/waste management with recycling bins and trash cans
  • Preparation – The main work area with access to utensils, knives, small appliances, cutting boards, mixing bowls, etc.
  • Cooking – Where you’ll find pots, pans, bakeware, cooling racks, etc.

Activity Areas – Additionally, a kitchen might also provide spaces for these activities:

  • Entertaining – An island, peninsula or other bar area that can accommodate stools that serves as a space for cocktails or dinner
  • Dining – A place where family can eat breakfast together, or where to host a holiday dinner
  • Home Office – A dedicated work area with features like a drop-down touch-screen computer, charging station for electronics and message center

Preliminary Estimates

Once you have a proposed floor plan in hand, most contractors interested in the job can give a ballpark estimate. The more info you have, the more accurate the number.

Develop Plans, Elevations and 3-D Drawings

Now that you’ve got a plan you love, drawings will help you to visualize what the layout will look like. Note on the plans where spices, pots and pans, silverware, and trash pullouts, etc. will go. This will help bring the layout to life.

Have fun and be creative in order for your dream kitchen to become reality. Think outside the box to create a space that allows you and your family to enjoy it, not just for today, but for years to come.

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney

Feel free to contact Los Alamos Interior Designer Suzette Fox to suggest specific design topics or for help with your home. For more information, find her on Facebook at and on her website

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