Kitchens have evolved to be much more than places where one member of the household prepares the family meals. They are of course still used for cooking, but now you’ll see couples and families cooking together. Kitchens have become a central hub where members of the household interact and chat, lounge, work or do homework, entertain and dine.
To fully enjoy your kitchen’s functionality and design, considerable thought needs to go into every detail of kitchen remodelling. As you research your new design and clip examples – whether that’s digitally, in a mind mapping app or Pinterest, or the more traditional dream book or box – you should question whether each step and item perfectly aligns with what you want from the finished space in terms of its practicality and layout.
To begin, however, you want to paint some broad strokes on a virtual blank canvas, utilizing ‘blue sky thinking’ and clipping many design styles, finishes, cabinets and countertops, appliances, and luxury gadgets you like. Write it all down and save plenty of images.
Next, you’ll begin the distillation process, refining your vision. Reflect on what is and isn’t working in your current kitchen. What are features your new kitchen must have to better fit your desired lifestyle? As you refine and fine-tune your wish list, you’ll begin to remove some of the elements that don’t quite fit.
Consider how you will be using your kitchen space
Many original kitchen layouts were chosen simply because they fit the space on the blueprint. During a kitchen renovation or remodel, planning a new kitchen around the way you intend to use the room becomes possible. Over the past two years, families have been spending more time at home. Dining restrictions caused people to cook more meals at home. Lockdowns moved many jobs from the office to work-from-home opportunities.
If your kitchen has become the central hub of the house, an island with chairs or a large table may be needed for children to do their homework after school. As dinner approaches, many parents want to join them and bring the laptop from the office to the kitchen. Several people may be involved in preparing the meal, so more space is needed for prep, cooking and cleanup. As homework is completed, a kitchen TV offers the opportunity for some members to watch something different from the game that’s on in the living room; or perhaps they’ll play some video games.
A good kitchen in 2023 performs a variety of roles. It’s become the place where the family makes and enjoys meals together, relaxes, works and entertains. The wide range of available kitchen appliances and accessories, and evolving grocery shopping habits prompted by supply chain hiccups, have increased the need for storage space. Bump-out kitchen extensions, or removing a wall to create an open-concept kitchen, are two ways homeowners are extending the size of their kitchen space to accommodate these changing needs.
Establish your kitchen remodelling budget
Budget is a factor for most of us, and it will determine how far you can go. You’ll need to establish how much you can realistically spend; then work backwards from that figure, with allowances for the designer-builder, cabinets, countertops, flooring, appliances, wiring, lighting, plumbing, decorating, accessories, and some finishing touches. It’s important to set aside an additional 10% as a contingency, to handle any unforeseen expenses.
What’s the difference between a kitchen renovation and a remodel?
A broad definition of renovation is to refresh or make new again. It’s a very general term that could mean many things. A renovation might involve replacing the kitchen sink and some of the old copper plumbing beneath, replacing some fixtures, updating the finishes or replacing the doors and knobs on the cabinets.
A remodel involves recreating, fixing or restoring the whole kitchen. It’s a transformation of the design, layout, structure and perhaps even the style. If your current kitchen isn’t working the way your family wants to use the space in 2023, a new design and remodel will give it a new life.
Remodelling costs are comparatively more than renovations. Remodelling involves complex design and layout changes, more man-hours, materials, machinery, electrical and plumbing expenses, and more.
As you gather images of kitchens that inspire you, consider the finishes and joinery used in other rooms, and the period of your house. If your home features beautiful walnut or oak arched doors and cabinetry, contemporary flat-fronted white cabinets in the kitchen might look out of place.
Considering the cost of replacing the cabinets and other woodwork, some designers are recommending painting the woodwork, giving those wooden accents a new look. Modern HVLP (high volume, low pressure) paint systems allow cabinets, doors and trim, and even countertops, to be painted in place with durable, smooth, melamine finishes. Add painted engineered hardwood floors or tiles, and the kitchen has a brand-new look. Painted finishes can be refreshed periodically to create a different look and feel if your colour crush doesn’t last, and you decide need a change.
A great kitchen re-design is a balance between function and aesthetics. Balance and proportions are important visually, but they can also reduce the number of steps during prep and cooking. Placing the range cooktop in the centre, directly across from an island that holds the mise en place (ingredients prepped, organized and ready), or with a spacious counter on either side, can make cooking a pleasure. Cramped kitchens that leave one constantly looking for a place to set things, on the other hand, can be exhausting and stressful to work in. If your current layout isn’t working, it’s time to consider new cabinets and a re-design.
If more than one person will be making meals regularly, counter surfaces, cutting boards and sinks must be placed to support prep stations and a natural workflow. There should be sufficient space between counter surfaces to avoid bumping into each other.
Kitchens have become busy centres – not tranquil spaces where we relax – and 2023 colour schemes are reflecting that. Bright, energizing colours and simple shaker doors are on trend. Visual contrast is also in, with dissimilar door and case colours, or different colours for the top and bottom cabinets. Splashes of bold accent colours are also appearing in unexpected places, like the interiors of cabinet cases, bringing a smile every time the cabinet doors open.
When you’re using bright tones, grounding shades on the cabinet cases, countertops, backsplashes or flooring will lend warmth. Consider the architecture of your kitchen space as a whole, so your colour choices have some space to breathe.
Some cabinet colour combinations enlarge the space visually, making the room appear larger. Darker choices can reduce the amount of cleaning required. With high ceilings, meaningful points of interest like a pop of colour can be created within the cabinet space to capture and hold the eye.
If you have the space for one, an island is a perfect addition to the modern kitchen. They offer wonderful prep surfaces, a place for the sink or a hob, a breakfast counter with bar chairs, extra room for the microwave or dishwasher, storage for small appliances, a “chef’s table” when cooking for guests, or a way to maximize your space by replacing the dining room table.
A general rule of thumb when designing a kitchen is to allow at least 600mm on either side of the sink and range cooktop (hob) for counter space needed for washing and preparing food or setting hot dishes. Countertops have a strong visual impact, so the choice of material is a key element in creating balance.
Options include real marble, granite, quartz, porcelain, acrylics like Corian and timber. Due to its porous nature, marble will stain and it’s generally not a good choice. Quartz is currently a very popular counter surface, made up of quartz, mixed with pigments and polymers. It’s impervious to scratches and stains and resistant to heat. Quartz has many faux marble options, providing the look of marble, in a more durable material. Once sealed by the installer, Granite is also a very durable material.
The kitchen floor is usually one of the largest surface areas in the home, and it must perform on quite a few levels. In addition to looking fabulous, it must be easy to clean, offer a safe non-slip surface, and be exceptionally durable.
The flooring you choose needs to work with the rest of the room. If you’re going with a more traditional style, classic warm hardwoods, terracotta tiles or natural stone should fit the bill. If you’ve decided on contemporary cabinets, countertops and backsplashes, surfaces like polished concrete or parquet tiles in dark colours can create contrast, making your kitchen feel sophisticated and contemporary.
Real hardwood flooring has a lot of character and can make a striking focal point. Hardwood is sturdy and easy to care for. Herringbone or chevron board styles are currently very popular. For a rustic, country look, reclaimed wood can add character and charm. If your kitchen has a lot of traffic, wood flooring may become scratched or dented, and that’s something to keep in mind.
For a truly luxurious floor, and unrivalled durability, consider marble. White flooring can make your kitchen feel brighter and bigger, whether you choose white stone, tile or painted floorboards.
Make appliance decisions before designing the cabinets. The standard width for built-in ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers is 60cm. If you’ve chosen a 90cm-wide fridge-freezer or 76cm-wide gas oven, your cabinets will have to be designed with the required openings.
Other appliance considerations, when designing the cabinets include a combination microwave oven, wall oven and convection oven, warming drawer, steam oven, fridge drawers in the island, a vacuum drawer for sous vide preparation, wine cooler and indoor grill.
Whether you’re eating, working on the laptop at the table while the kids do their homework, or entertaining, your kitchen should be a room you love being in. Thoughtful kitchen design can help make that happen.
Reid Madiuk's been putting on a toolbelt since he was twelve years old, alongside his father, one of Whistler's first residential builders. As a third-generation Whistler and Squamish builder, Reid brings over 20 years of carpentry expertise to designing and constructing exceptional homes.