House & Home

Dreaming of a New Kitchen?

Posted February 21, 2014

Thinking about remodeling the kitchen? Before you pick up the phone to call a Baltimore contractor about the kitchen of your dreams, you have some things to think about. The kitchen is among the most important rooms of your home -- more and more people are spending a lot of time in the kitchen -- and it can be one of the most expensive to remodel thanks to big ticket appliances and other updates. If you make a mistake during renovations, it'll be costly to fix, or you'll be living with it for decades. Neither option is appealing!

You need to think about how you use your kitchen space to determine how it should be laid out and what it should contain, and you need to consider any trends carefully. Take, for example, the wine chiller. They're big at the moment, because many people like the idea of wine kept in a temperature-controlled fridge, ready to use. But how much do you spend on fine wine? And how desperately do you really need to have chilled wine available on demand? Could you get away with storing wine in a cool, dry cupboard, freeing up a lot of space, and money?

Kitchen experts recommend that people think of the work triangle when they're remodeling. This includes the range, oven, and/or stove area, the prep area, and the sink. You should be able to move freely and easily between these areas without going to great lengths. If you have to get around a kitchen island to wash your hands, for example, it's going to be a pain. If the stove is tucked into a corner, you're going to be fighting for room. Remember: if you're gutting your kitchen, you can decide where you put things. If you're not (keeping things where they are is less expensive), you still have some room to play.

Up to a point. We strongly urge you to consider a wet wall, where all your plumbed appliances share a wall (and possibly share the other side of that wall with the bathroom). It will cut down on costs significantly, because your plumber won't have to run pipes everywhere. Furthermore, it'll increase kitchen efficiency; putting the sink and the dishwasher next to each other just makes sense.

Worth Considering

Big kitchen? A second sink is an amazing thing to have. A second cook can work at that sink without disrupting you, and people can wash their hands there without shoving you aside while you're in the zone.

Adjusting workspace heights. If you live in an older home, you may have noticed that you've been awkwardly hunched at the counter. That's because older homes weren't necessarily built to a standard code, and people were shorter then. Try bumping up some workspaces to create easier spaces for chopping, kneading dough, cooking, and more -- but consider keeping at least one low work area for kids interested in working in the kitchen, as well as wheelchair users who might be visiting and appreciative of an independent workspace. (Obviously, if you are a wheelchair user, you're probably planning to lower your workspaces to make them easier to access!)

More lighting. Lots of older kitchens are dark. Boost your lighting with bigger, bolder fixtures and task lighting around the kitchen. Cooking (and eating) in the dark is no fun.

Double sliding shelves. If you have corners in your cabinetry, don't get a lazy Susan. Get some double sliding shelves, a space-saver recommended by the smart folks at This Old House. These shelves maximize the use of space, and make it easy to access everything!

Trays and drawers. It's worth considering some slide-out trays in your cabinetry along with traditional drawers. For one thing, they're easy to move around to adjust as needed. For another, they're great for both low items that get lost in drawers, and tall items you want to hide easily.

One big sink. If you can only have one, make it big, and make it no more than 10" deep. A too-small double sink will be frustrating to work with. Farmhouse sinks, while very trendy right now, are liable to look dated soon, and they can be tough to work with. If you have more kitchen space, a big double sink can be a great thing to have -- and so can a second task sink, as discussed above.

Don't Bother

Fancy finishes. We love timeless style here at Networx, and it's not just a taste thing. It's a practicality issue. Fancy, trendy finishes look dated really quickly, and some of them don't wear well in the kitchen, either. That nice French country aged look on your cabinets may flake, peel, and pick up dirt in a few years, so it will look painfully out of date and gross.

Save big: Don't go custom. Don't cry! You can still have the cabinets you dream of, without the high price tag, because here's the thing: you can refinish cabinets, replace their doors and handles, add aftermarket organizers, and more, all to give them a personal finish. By using stock cabinets and laying them out the way you want, you'll cut corners on your remodel without having to sacrifice.

Pro-grade range. You're not covering 40 tables tonight, or any other night. Pro-grade ranges look gorgeous, but they're way more stove than you need in terms of power, cost, and functionality. Instead, settle for a high-end home range that will cook like a dream without making you scream.

Katie Marks writes for

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