Kitchen Cabinet Design Ideas

As you know, the kitchen is the hub of your home.  So, whether you are building a new house or remodeling your existing home, any time spent on kitchen cabinet design ideas is well worth the effort.

WHAT ARE YOUR NEEDS?

Good kitchen cabinet design ideas begin with thinking about what your kitchen needs are, and what you really use the kitchen for.

  • Is your kitchen an entertainment area as well as a kitchen?
  • On average, how many people use or are in your kitchen at one time?
  • If you entertain, how do you want the layout to accommodate entertaining?
  • Does anyone using your kitchen have a disability?
  • Do you use your kitchen as an office area occasionally?
  • What are the traffic patterns of your kitchen, how could they be improved upon?
  • Do you do a lot of baking?
  • Do you want to feature special collectables or books in any way?
  • What are your lighting needs?
  • Do you want or need a television or radio in your kitchen area?

YOUR KITCHEN LAYOUT

There have traditionally been three basic layout patterns:

  • U-shaped kitchen
  • L-shaped kitchen
  • Galley kitchen

Their are countless variations of the above three layouts which focus on multiple work centers.

One of the most useful, and best, kitchen cabinet design ideas is to try to incorporate an island into your kitchen design.  The NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) estimates that 50% of homes now have kitchen islands.

Peninsulas are also common.  The difference between a peninsula and an island is that, just like the land formations which are their namesakes, an island stands alone, not connected to any other part of the main kitchen.  A peninsula is connected to the main kitchen on one side, with three sides open to allow for traffic areas (like sitting - dinning - or walk through).

THE CLASSIC KITCHEN WORK TRIANGLE - NOT SO CLASSIC ANYMORE (ISLANDS & PENINSULAS ARE TAKING OVER!)

The classic kitchen work "triangle" is the distance between your sink, stove, and frig; traditionally between 23 and 26 feet.

Islands and peninsulas often get in the way of the classic kitchen work "triangle".  But, that's okay, because they are great kitchen cabinet design ideas that give your kitchen much needed room to work at and store things.

You often have two or more people in the kitchen now-a-day's.  In the past, when the classic kitchen work triangle was first figured out, that wasn't the case (mom was in the kitchen, and rarely anyone else).  Now, mom, dad, and the kids all filter in and need the room of an island or peninsula.  Don't get hung-up on the idea you have to have a perfect classic kitchen work triangle.  If islands and peninsulas get in the way of a classic kitchen triangle, so be it, you need the room.

When considering islands and peninsulas among your kitchen cabinet design ideas, think about how many people at a time are in your kitchen working.  Consider adding that island or peninsula if you don't already have one and allow about 2 feet per person to sit at or work at an island or peninsula. 

Even if you don't have more than one person working in your kitchen at a time, islands and peninsulas are great places for buffets or a place to put a second sink or raised eating area.

KITCHEN CABINET DESIGN IDEAS:  THINKING ABOUT SPECIFIC FEATURES

After your initial kitchen cabinet design ideas, delve further into more specifics such as:

  • What type of cabinet style are you looking for?  Wood, white, finished, unfinished?
  • What door and drawer styles do you like?
  • How many drawers you need?
  • Do you want any drawer stacks (usually 3 or 4 drawers)?
  • Are you going to leave room for open shelving, or open cabinets (without doors).
  • Do you want top trim?
  • Do you want a lazy susan?
  • Do you have room for and want a pantry? - What about a walk-in one?  Is there a closet close to your kitchen you could use for this?
  • Would you like rollouts?
  • Where are you going to put the garbage?  Do you need a garbage rollout?
  • Are you going to have tray dividers for cookie sheets, etc.?
  • Would you like sink tipouts?
  • What sort of sink are you planning on?
  • Do you need spice racks?
  • What other type of features are you looking for - hamper, appliance garage, bread board, etc.?
  • What appliances do you use?  Do you need room for a toaster oven, or a bread maker?
  • What about large appliances?  Do you want a slide-in stove, wall oven, drop-in?  Your cabinets have to accommodate the appliances you are getting.
  • How large is your refrigerator going to be?
  • Do you want a raised dishwasher.  This is uncommon, but can be done.  It makes it easier on the back, and can be a nice kitchen cabinet design idea.

Cabinet features are virtually endless.  You need to think about several kitchen cabinet design ideas to make sure you get what you want and need.  Really think about what you want, where you want it, and how you want to access it.  Is it really okay to convert that closet into a walk-in pantry, or is it too far away and would be inconvenient?  What is practical, and what are you really going to use for kitchen cabinet design ideas?

WHAT APPLIANCES DO YOU WANT TO HAVE?

This is a biggie.  I mentioned them a little bit above, but you have to think about appliances before you design your kitchen.  If you don't have room for a certain appliance (oversized refrigerator or wall oven, for example) you need to know that.

Here are some appliances that you will either have or may want.  Think about how any kitchen cabinet design ideas will allow easy access to them.

Do you want them?  Where do you want them?  What sizes and styles do you want?

  • Refrigerator: width and height - Do you want a frig drawer incorporated into your cabinets?  They are spendy, but nice.  Wine cooler drawers or refrigerators are sometimes incorporated into a kitchen too.
  • Stove: drop-in, slide-in, oversized?  Again, you can have warmers incorporated into a cabinet drawer.   Are they worth the money to you?
  • Oven: part of your slide-in stove?  Do you want a wall oven?  Single or Double?
  • Will you be incorporating a cook-top somewhere?
  • Where are you going to put an extra freezer if you have one?
  • Microwave - most are above the stove now-a-days, but you can have them on your counter, or built into an upper cabinet.
  • Sink (perhaps not technically an appliance, but you need to think about it)  Would you want a stainless-steel, solid-surface, undermount, apron?  Are you going to have a sprayer?  Single faucet? Where do you want the sink?  Below a window, in a corner, in an island or peninsula?  Do you want it bumped out?
  • Faucet behind the Stove?  It is expensive, but some homes are installing plumbing behind the stove area with a faucet.  This allows you to fill up large pots right on the stove.  It also looks kind-of-neat too.
  • Dishwasher - what size.  99% are 24" wide, but you can get them 18" (I have an 18" at home, but they cost more!!)  Do you want a raised dishwasher area?
  • Mixer - do you want it on the counter-top, tucked away in an appliance garage (make sure you have enough height), or slid into a base cabinet on a rollout or pull-up.
  • Coffee Maker - where will it sit?
  • Garbage Disposal - do you want one?
  • Do you want any of these appliances, or sink, in an island area?  How will that look?  Will you want a raised eating area or 1/2 wall behind the island cabinets to "hide" a sink (dirty dishes) or cook-top?

If you think about what you want, need, and have the space for, you'll be ahead of the game when it comes time to actually pick out cabinets, or meet with a cabinet maker or sales person.

These are some of the best and most worthwhile kitchen cabinet design ideas to think about when you are planning kitchen cabinets.  It's good to be prepared, but ask your cabinet sales person for their input as well.  They may make a suggestion you never thought of.

The photo at right is a rustic oak kitchen island that we built and installed.  It has a gas cook-top, two angled corner cabinets, raised eating area, and Cambria Quartz Countertop.  The homeowner had to angle the two end cabinets because of space constraints, (they actually angled the entire island in the kitchen) but it still makes for a nice, usable workstation.  The eating area on the backside is a real plus.

Directly behind this workstation is a wall oven and refrigerator, as you can see in the next photo, which shows the backside of this island and most of the rest of the kitchen it's in.  The homeowners incorporated several kitchen cabinet design ideas: staggered heights, wall oven, large side-by-side refrigerator, seeded glass corner cabinets, lazy susan, corner recycling center, over-sized window above the sink to bring in added light, and dishwasher to name a few.  There are also cookie sheet (tray) dividers above the wall oven for easy, out-of-the-way storage of these items.

The back of the island is surrounded in 1/2 oak veneer thermal-melamine, with 3" solid oak boards nailed on top to match the rest of the shaker style kitchen.

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