More in Kitchen

The Right Kitchen For You

Create a space that fits your lifestyle and personality

1 ×

 

More than any other room in the house, the kitchen should be a reflection of our personal preferences—not just of the way we cook but also of the way we live. For some, it's the hub for the family. For others, it's all about no-fuss efficiency. Either way, chances are that the kitchen you have, with its awkward layout, tired appliances, and outdated style, isn't the one you dream about. Remodeling offers a chance to finally right those wrongs and get the kitchen that's truly meant for you.

But with so many options out there, how do you sort through all the choices? Turns out it's not as hard as you might think. After talking with architects, designers, and kitchen and bath pros, we've boiled down most people's dream kitchens into four basic types: the 30-Minute Kitchen, for those who are short on time but insist on eating well; the Family-Friendly Kitchen, for young cooks as well as grownups; the Host Kitchen, for ­people who love to cook for a crowd; and the Two-Cook Kitchen, for couples with a culinary bent. For each type, we offer a selection of the appliances, cabinets, counter materials, and other tools that best serve its needs and cooking style. "The kitchen has to be a pleasant space as well as productive, and that's why it's so important to align the design with the people who are going to use it," says Sara Ann Busby, veteran designer and president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. You might see yourself in one of these setups, or pluck ingredients from several. Either way, we've got the recipe for your ideal kitchen.
More than any other room in the house, the kitchen should be a reflection of our personal preferences—not just of the way we cook but also of the way we live. For some, it's the hub for the family. For others, it's all about no-fuss efficiency. Either way, chances are that the kitchen you have, with its awkward layout, tired appliances, and outdated style, isn't the one you dream about. Remodeling offers a chance to finally right those wrongs and get the kitchen that's truly meant for you.

But with so many options out there, how do you sort through all the choices? Turns out it's not as hard as you might think. After talking with architects, designers, and kitchen and bath pros, we've boiled down most people's dream kitchens into four basic types: the 30-Minute Kitchen, for those who are short on time but insist on eating well; the Family-Friendly Kitchen, for young cooks as well as grownups; the Host Kitchen, for ­people who love to cook for a crowd; and the Two-Cook Kitchen, for couples with a culinary bent. For each type, we offer a selection of the appliances, cabinets, counter materials, and other tools that best serve its needs and cooking style. "The kitchen has to be a pleasant space as well as productive, and that's why it's so important to align the design with the people who are going to use it," says Sara Ann Busby, veteran designer and president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. You might see yourself in one of these setups, or pluck ingredients from several. Either way, we've got the recipe for your ideal kitchen.
2 ×

1. 30-Minute Kitchen

 

1. 30-Minute Kitchen

A kitchen for a fast-paced lifestyle.
Photo/Styling Yunhee Kim/Molly Fitzsimmons
1> Simple and sleek, the Culinaire faucet has a high neck and a pull-down nozzle to ease cleanup ($500?$600; americanstandard-us.com).
2> A speedy second oven, the 1,700-watt Waring Pro convection oven sits on the counter and makes quick work of baking, roasting, broiling, and rotisserie cooking ($399; waringproducts.com).
3> Stain-resistant, germ-resistant, and easy to repair, Dupont solid-surface countertops (here in Storm Blue) can take just about anything you dish out ($45?$75 per sq. ft., installed; corian.com).
4> Backsplash spice racks put seasonings out in the open for fast access ($150; hafeleonline.com).
5> Brushed stainless-steel tiles deliver pro looks and low maintenance in a backsplash ($56 per sq. ft.; walkerzanger.com).
What You Want: You may not spend hours here, but that doesn't mean you just shuffle products from the freezer to the microwave. For cooking that's nutritious but no-fuss, you want a kitchen that's efficient to work in, easy to keep clean, and stylishly streamlined.



How to Get It: Thanks to advances in cooking technology, a need for speed is well supported. Start with a trivection oven, which combines three cooking methods—conventional thermal heat, convection, and micro­waving—and can roast a chicken in half an hour. For the cooktop, there's induction, which uses magnetic energy to heat food and is about twice as fast as gas.

Beyond appliances, the key features are lots of easy-to-see, easy-to-access food storage, such as pullout pantry cabinets that roll on heavy-duty glides, and at-your-fingertips racks for ingredients and cooking utensils. When ­efficiency is paramount, every bit of space has to serve a useful function. A chopping block next to the range, for example, means veggies cut up for stir-frying can go straight into the pan with no wasted steps. Ditto for a pull-out trash bin within arm's reach, so you don't have to walk across the kitchen to dump scraps. You don't need a lot of square footage if what you have is smartly planned. "A 30-minute kitchen can be compact," says designer Sara Busby. "Cooking goes boom, boom, boom, and every little minute counts."

3 ×

2. Family-Friendly Kitchen

 

2. Family-Friendly Kitchen

A kitchen for a fast-paced lifestyle.
Photo/Styling Yunhee Kim/Molly Fitzsimmons
7> Aluminum-framed, glass-fronted Destiny cabinet doors give you a view of what's inside (ultracraft.com).
8> The latest in quick-cooking appliances is the 240-volt Advantium oven, which uses the power of halogen light to work up to eight times faster than a conventional oven (from $1,350; geappliances.com).
9> A high-efficiency induction cooktop stays cool to the touch while it uses magnetic energy to rapidly and precisely cook food ($2,000; electroluxusa.com).
10> A glass-door refrigerator means no wasted time rummaging through shelves in search of hidden items (from $9,000; northlandnka.com).
11> Save precious counter space with a knife block mounted on a backsplash rail ($160; hafeleonline.com).
What You Want: An inviting space that caters to cooks of all ages. A combination of command center and rec room, this household hub needs to work as well for the life that goes on before and after meals as it does for the actual cooking and eating.



How to Get It: Given the likely swirl of activities going on in and around this kitchen—snacking, reading, doing homework, playing computer games—the plan should favor great-room openness over space-dividing partitions. That will keep lines of sight and communication open. But even within this multipurpose space, you can carve out different areas, such as a separate island for kids' crafts, or built-in banquettes with under-seat storage for school and project supplies.

When it comes to food, youngsters need access to appliances and snack fixings at their level. "When there are kids using the kitchen, there should be an undercounter microwave, refrigerator, and beverage cooler," says Busby. An area where the counter is dropped lower than the usual 36 inches would give them a place to make their own snacks. The counter material needs to be durable without being expensive; plastic laminate, for instance, is easy to replace if it gets damaged.

When it comes to cabinets, Busby opts for stained wood over painted in a kid-friendly space. "Chipped paint requires repainting an entire door or panel, but with natural wood, you can make spot repairs."

4 ×

3. Host Kitchen

 

3. Host Kitchen

A kitchen for a family.
Photo/Styling Yunhee Kim/Molly Fitzsimmons
1> Who says a bulletin board has to be cork? Stick lists, messages, and kids' masterpieces on the stainless steel (yet still magnetic) Muro bulletin board ($40; blomusproducts.com).
2> A pull-out microwave drawer means young'uns can pop their own popcorn without having to stand on tiptoe ($850; sharpusa.com).
3> With four independently adjustable food compartments, the QuatroCooling convertible refrigerator ensures that your vegetarians and your burger lovers won't squabble over shelf space ($2,500; samsung.com).
4> An undercounter beverage center puts drinks and snacks where they're easy to grab ($1,300; u-line.com).
5> Marmoleum flooring, in click-together tiles or planks, is soft underfoot and made of natural, low-tox materials (from $5 per sq. ft.; forbolinoleum.com).
6> Silestone quartz countertops (here in Red Eros Leather) are hard as rock but also infused with a lifetime antimicrobial agent (from $39 per sq. ft.; silestoneusa.com).
What You Want: A showcase space for entertaining, whether it's a sit-down dinner for 12, a cocktail party for 20, or a potluck gathering for the neighbors.



How to Get It: Cooking big calls for sturdy, upsized equipment, lots of storage and, to impress the guests, a generous dollop of style. "For this kind of kitchen, a big, multifunction island with a bar or buffet on a separate level makes a lot of sense," says Busby. "There should also be two cleanup areas with sinks, and two dishwashers, so the mess stays picked up." As for other appliances, more doubling up can't hurt: If there's enough space, two ovens and two warming drawers to keep the parade of courses from getting cold.

Since many guests need many plates and glasses, cabinets fitted out for specific storage functions are a must. "You need specialty cabinets for dishes, barware, glassware, cookware, and serving pieces," says Busby, noting that this is an ideal scenario for a butler's pantry. If you don't have one, a shelf-lined nook off the kitchen or even a hallway makes for a convenient storage spot.

Even with all its serve-the-masses features, the space still has to be comfortable when the party's over and it's just family around the table. "For that Saturday lunch for three, there need to be smaller work areas so you're not walking 14 feet to the side-by-side fridge," says Busby. "Put a refrigerator drawer close to the cooktop, and always store things near the point of use."

5 ×

4. Two-cook Kitchen

 

4. Two-cook Kitchen

A kitchen for a family.
Photo/Styling Yunhee Kim/Molly Fitzsimmons
7> Convenient for grownups, neater for kids, the Parma Dual hands-free faucet has a sensor that automatically turns water on and off ($800; danze.com).
8> Brighten up a backsplash with ceramic subway tile, interspersed with colorful glass pencil strips (ceramic, $1.75 per tile; glass, $33 per sq. ft.; nemotile.com).
9> The simple lines of the Hancock cabinet door give it the flexibility to work in casual as well as more formal spaces (qualitycabinets.com).
10> When it's breakfast for all, all at once, the toast needs to come quick. It will with this wide-mouthed 4-slice toaster ($50; cuisinart.com).
What You Want: A kitchen that functions as shared territory, where two can get along without collisions or waits at the stove.



How to Get It: Accommodating two cooks doesn't mean having two of everything, but the recipe for a successful couple's kitchen nonetheless has its duplications. Separate prep areas, for starters, each with its own essential tools. In addition to a large central sink for cleanup, a pair of smaller sinks could anchor the individual workstations. A double wall oven provides common access, but you'll need separate cooktops, which is easy with modular units called hobs. You can get a hob for just about any purpose; for instance, one grouping might combine units for grilling and deep-frying, while another pairs a wok burner with a steamer. Refrigerator drawers also come in handy for keeping fresh ingredients close to where they'll be used.

You may work as a team, or one of you might focus on desserts while the other whips up entrees. Either way, you'll each want personalized storage. The baker may need flour bins and a cabinet fitted with tray dividers under a marble pastry slab; the vegetarian may want a base cabinet fitted with slide-out wicker baskets for potatoes, winter squash, and other things that don't need refrigeration. "The model for a kitchen like this is a restaurant kitchen," says Busby. "They're set up with very specific workstations because when there's more than one chef, it's all about production."

6 ×

Where To Find It

 

Where To Find It

A kitchen for a party host.
Photo/Styling Yunhee Kim/Molly Fitzsimmons
1> Matte-finish glass tiles, in 4-by-8-in. rectangles, add depth and elegance to a backsplash ($14.85 per sq. ft.; annsacks.com).
2> Large pots and pans need a sink that can accommodate them. No problem for the Epicure farmhouse sink in stainless steel, with a 20-by-16-by-10-in. main bowl ($1,640; houzersink.com).
3> Raised-panel cabinet doors, like the Labelle from Merillat Classic, have the right look for a traditional space (merillat.com).
Kitchen designer:
Sara Ann Busby
Sara Busby Design
Elk Rapids, Michigan
231-952-4376
sarabusbydesign.com

30-Minute Kitchen:
Salad plate
Crate and Barrel
crateandbarrel.com

Family-Friendly Kitchen:
Backsplash
Nemo Tile
New York, NY
212-505-0009
nemotile.com

Host Kitchen:
Granite countertop
Pietra Stoneworks Inc.
Long Island City, NY
718-361-6904

Two-Cook Kitchen:
Marble pastry slab
Pietra Stoneworks Inc.
 
 

TV Listings

Find TV Listing for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.