5 Common Kitchen Design Issues & How to Avoid Them
Most kitchen design problems stem from poor planning or inheriting a kitchen that doesn’t fit your needs. Here are some of the most common dilemmas, how to avoid them, and also how to make them right.
The bottom line when renovating your kitchen is to hire a designer who spends time finding out about your lifestyle and how you use your space. When consulting with them, know what you like and dislike as well as your wishes and frustrations.
1. Lack of Storage Space
Probably the leading design issue homeowners face due to poor planning is inadequate storage. This problem can bring about a cluttered, messy environment and be very aggravating. Even in tiny kitchens, sufficient storage space can be achieved through careful and imaginative planning. For example, very rarely are generous top and bottom cabinets not possible in a kitchen. And there are handy corner units available to utilize otherwise unusable space.
Keep in mind that drawers tend to offer more room to store pans than cabinets and are more accessible. Also consider crafty storage solutions like hidden spice racks or secret drawers, as well as those designed particularly for small items such as utensils, handheld appliances and other gadgets.
Considering your storage needs early on in the design process will make sure your plan includes enough of it, which ultimately ensures a more satisfying kitchen experience.
2. Poorly Planned Layout
Another frustrating design issue is a kitchen layout that disrupts workflow and makes using the space more difficult. Your kitchen should be designed to accommodate your specific needs, which requires an in-depth evaluation of your habits, lifestyle and requirements. Important questions to ask: How many members are in your household? Who of them will be cooking? What is their preferred cooking style?
There are a couple different ways to plan workflow — the traditional kitchen triangle, still used by many designers; or creating separate zones for food prep, washing and cooking. The latter tends to result in a more personalized design that allows for fluidity as to where the different areas are positioned within the kitchen.
Traffic flow is another important aspect to consider when planning workflow, especially if more than one person will be utilizing the kitchen at the same time.
3. Not Enough Usable Counter Space
Whether it’s a lack of overall counter space or not having your countertop space positioned where you need it to be, this can be one of the most frustrating kitchen design problems. Your countertop space is needed for pretty much every activity you perform in the kitchen.
Since your counter is a big part of the kitchen workflow, deciding on your workflow needs will go a long way in determining how much countertop space is necessary and where it should be placed. One common error is not leaving enough room next to or across from an oven or refrigerator. While the issue is mere convenience with a fridge, not allowing enough space with a cooktop can also be a safety issue, as you’re dealing with elements that are hot. It’s never good to be frantically searching for a safe place to set down hot foods.
While in the planning process, it’s an absolute must to go over all the ways you both currently use and plan on using your countertop space. For instance, think about if more than one person will be cooking at the same time, or whether there should be a spot for kids to work on homework or for someone to sit and keep the cook company as they prepare meals. Also take traffic flow into account so that users don’t get in each other’s way as they try to navigate the kitchen. One effective strategy is to keep often-used appliances (think refrigerator) on the periphery so that it can be easily accessed without disturbing anyone actively working in the kitchen.
4. Insufficiently Spaced Appliances & Cabinets
Your cabinets and appliances should not only be well-placed so that they are convenient to use, but should also be adequately spaced. For example, any walkways should measure approximately 36 inches wide in order for drawers and doors to open without interference.
At the same time, cabinets and appliances shouldn’t be positioned too far apart either. A smooth workflow requires you not taking more steps between appliances than absolutely necessary. Also, avoid placing microwaves and wall ovens too high. You want to be able to safely extricate hot food.
Another detail to think about is which way appliances and cabinet doors should open. They should swing whichever way maximizes ease of use according to the rest of the kitchen setup.
5. The Small Stuff: Trash, Task Lighting, Outlets
Other design issues that may seem minor but add up to big frustrations include: leaving insufficient space for trash, not having adequate task lighting, and dealing with poorly placed switches and outlets. Once again, these issues are easily taken care of in the planning stages based on your personal needs.
Regarding trash, what typically happens is that the bin (or multiple bins when recycling) is placed in a space that is too small, resulting in constant emptying in order to avoid a messy, overflowing aesthetic. Possible solutions for this include finding a larger capacity container or installing a kitchen waste disposal unit.
Insufficient task lighting also can be taken care of quite simply just by evaluating where your main workspaces are located and choosing appropriate supplemental light fixtures. These include spotlights, under-cabinet lighting, or even statement pendants above a kitchen island, which not only improve illumination but also make an impact stylistically.
The last issue — poorly positioned switches and outlets — is often not discovered until after the kitchen is finished and you find yourself in need of one. Since we all use our kitchen space differently, it’s important for your designer to understand your needs when it comes to this as well. They then can map out outlet positioning based on your preferences and any technical restrictions involved.