So what element do you start with when designing a kitchen?

kam76February 6, 2013

I know you can probably start anywhere but where do you feel the easiest place to start in a kitchen design? Counter tops? Cabinets? Floors? Back splash? An "inspiration piece" Should you try to find a photo of a kitchen that speaks to you and steal from it? I don't want to outright copy someone else's design but unfortunately a designer is not in the budget and I don't see myself being able to come up with fabulous combinations all on my own.

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I started by collecting pictures of kitchens I liked stylewise and decided on an over all theme before doing anything. Once I had a style (cabinet type/color/countertop) I made a few must haves - like double ovens and a tall pantry. After that, I started looking at things that we could not change and planned from there. Ie. plumbing and windows. We wanted seating between our fam room and kitchen which necessitated a peninsula. The big dilemma for us was where to put the stove/fridge/sink because we could move them anywhere. In the end we picked the stove wall because one wall is all glass doors, one wall is too far away (husband likes to cook near the action) and the other side was the peninsula. From there the sink/fridge was easier to decide. So just start somewhere, anywhere and go from there! Wow this was probably not helpful.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:46PM
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The layout. It rules. The physical limitations of the space are the most limiting aspect of any design. Followed by the budget. It doesn't do any good to collect thousands of pictures of palace sized kitchens if your entire NYC apartment kitchen is smaller than one of the two islands and your entire kitchen budget is smaller than the single Molteni range.

Once you figure out what can go where logistically, then look at the home that the kitchen sits in for clues as to what will look like it belongs there and not dropped from an alternative universe.

Then you can start with the individual parts and pieces that fit the space and the home, guided by your individual taste.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:50PM
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Once you are past the layout stage and have a budget firmly in mind, and are at the point of choosing materials, I think you should start with the element that is most important to you. If you've been wowed by mosaic backsplashes and want one in your kitchen, start with that. If you think swirly granites are the cat's pajamas, start with that. If it you want to wow people with a turquoise kitchen, figure out what element(s) you'll use to bring in that color (cabs, walls, counter, backsplash or appliances) and then work around that.

And by all means, let the style of the house guide your choices. Starting with whichever element is most important to you.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:08PM
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I don't think this is the norm, but I started by falling in love with a Mark Wilkinson kitchen in a British House and Garden, while living in India in 1993. Crazy, when you consider that it was still my inspiration in 2005 when we gutted our kitchen and got the remodel started. And I am still in love with it today.

My secondary starting point was this!:

Here is a link that might be useful: Lacanche Cluny (mine is French Blue)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:27PM
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The most important thing is the layout. I'm sorry I sort of read this as design inspiration. After dreaming about my kitchen, I then went through 14 iterations of a floorplan for my kitchen. I also did the famous GW "kitchen tai chi" imagining, step by step, myself cooking in said lay out. I highly recommend the book "Kitchen Design with Cooking in Mind." Fantastic resource. At the end of the day, the kitchen must be functional. Forget my silly design inspirations until you get that nailed down.....

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Design with Cooking in Mind

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Several. Iron and carbon mostly, but chromium, copper and nickel are in there too.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:31PM
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So, weed, I guess we can safely conclude you have laminate or butcherblock countertops and wooden floors, huh? :-)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:50PM
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What do you hate about your current kitchen? The thing I hated most about my kitchen was the white tile countertop. I know I wanted to rip it out and replace it with smooth, almost poreless quartz, so countertop was my first choice.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:33PM
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weedmiester you are funny!
What design "component" I should have said I guess. So just for discussion sake say I have a functional layout on paper (which I don't, I am working on and will post here as soon as I think it is ready for public criticism). What is the next step from your functional black and white drawing. And really there are some things that you do have to know ahead of time before you can finalize even just the layout part right? if you want a 30" range or a 48" cook top with double wall ovens. Those things would dramatically affect your layout/feel of the kitchen. I am enjoying hearing how you all started your designs. I have these two beautiful transom leaded glass windows from a farmhouse in England. I would love to incorporate them into the kitchen but I don't know if that is enough to start from or if it is even wise to start with such a specific item. I really appreciate your comment about having the kitchen "fit" the home live wire oak...I certainly don't want my kitchen to look like it dropped in from another universe, I am drawn to more vintage inspired kitchens and the kitchen is *the* most important room in the house to me.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Ah - design element! I think those windows are perfect. They should at least start you on a style. For example, I'm not seeing a red shiny lacquer modern kitchen with those windoes. If I were you, I'd peruse Houzz and start an ideabook and fill it with pictures. I bet after a while you will start seeing that you're drawn to the same types of thins over and over. (And btw, I think it's okay to pick a kitchen and copy it. :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:00PM
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sorry for all the typos!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:01PM
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I like to look at a bazillion pictures and see what I am drawn to. If I have a hundred pictures I love and 85 of them have white cabinets. . . . Then I start focusing on white cabinets. And I start focusing on kitchens with white cabinets that fit the style of my house. And then I start looking to see am I drawn to fancy backsplashes or to vintage look ranges or some other element. Once a couple of choices are pinned down, I think the rest usually follow, or at least the options become much more limited in terms of what works together.

Another way to approach this is to write your design vision down. The people at the Ikea fans website talk about your mission statement. Something like, "I want a cottage style kitchen that reminds me of the beach.". This can help narrow your choices as well. Does that shiny glass counter top fit in a cottage kitchen? Does it remind you of the beach? No. Then it's not the right choice.

Your windows sound lovely and I would at least start out trying to incorporate them in some way.

Houzz is a great resource for viewing and saving a lot of pictures.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:41PM
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I think the choice of appliances is a function choice that can also influence design. Getting a 48" cooktop and double wall ovens should be because you would genuinely use them. The choice of stainless or black, or a color is a design choice that may be limited by availability, budget, etc.

I think everyone gets inspired by something. Some just have to look for inspiration a bit more than others. I pretty much skipped the "search through design magazines and you'll find yourself attracted to similar styles" step. I was inspired by existing furniture in my home that I wanted the kitchen to coordinate with. I like color, so I knew I wanted to do a bright backsplash and more subdued elements elsewhere. When designing a basement family room, I came across a light fixture and fell in love with it. That brought in elements of reds and oranges.

I think your windows sound like great inspiration. Do they provoke a country feel or Victorian? Do you want to use them in your actual cabinets or have some cabs with leaded glass doors that have a similar look? They can be your jumping off point, other things can fall into place as you look for elements that blend well with them. Perhaps you should look for images of English farm houses of a similar era. Don't just look at the kitchens. You can get inspired by any room in the house.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:45PM
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Well, the windows aren't part of your house. You have to figure out how they relate to it. If you were in a modern house, you could still use them as part of an eclectic mix as featured elements. If you're in a Victorian, you'd be all set to do a Victorian kitchen. So, what kind of house do you have?

I'd also look through the Design Around This threads to see how the process unfolds. To do a good design, you do need a starting off point, but you can't be too wedded to any one element. Pull together a "mood board" the way people did in those threads, and be willing to toss out what doesn't work, even if you originally thought it was a must-have.

Google: design around this

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:54PM
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It's entirely possible to use those windows as the "backbone" of your aesthetic decisions! I once used a stained glass window as a hanging "curtain" in a rental unit to screen out the view from the nosy neighbor next door. It was of irises, and so the accent colors in the kitchen evolved into blues, greens, and purples. We painted the dismal brown cabinets (with permission) white when we moved in, and the floor was inoffensively vinyl. But we did the Goodwill bit for fabric for a handmade rag rug in the blues and purples. It was a cheap redo, but it was very personal and made us smile.

And that's all that you can ask from any kitchen. That it fits you and the house, and makes you smile as it functions.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:55PM
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