What Makes a Kitchen a Great Kitchen? (Wow!)

We’re designing a brand new kitchen as part of our extension build, so how do we give it the wow factor?

The essential features for a great kitchen design are well understood in the design world. These include creating a “work triangle” between your sink, cooktop, and refrigerator, building enough storage, and making a large worktop area for meal preparation.

Let’s dive down into the topic of great kitchen design in more detail, and discover what essential elements you need in order to wow everyone when they see your new kitchen…

What Makes a Kitchen a Great Kitchen?

What Makes an Amazing Kitchen?

There’s more to an amazing kitchen than glossy good looks and the latest appliances (although we won’t say no to the latest industrial copper lamps or a dedicated stainless steel wine chiller…).

For a kitchen to be truly amazing, it has to work well for you. We’ll take a closer look at how layout, design, and storage can make sure you have the amazing kitchen you need.

What Are the Pros of a Good Kitchen Layout?

The classic kitchen triangle of the refrigerator – sink – cooking area really does work. It keeps movements to a minimum by ensuring that everything is safely and easily within reach. This isn’t always easy to achieve in some layouts (such as a long, galley-style kitchen), but it’s something to aim for.

As we discussed in an earlier article, kitchen units are essential for storage, and a well-designed layout makes sure that you have space for everything. The general storage rule is two average-sized kitchen cupboards per household member, so a good layout will take this into account.

When planning a kitchen layout, think about empty space as well as the kitchen. Is there room for more than one chef? Can friends or the kids still hang out in the kitchen when you’re cooking? Is there an uninterrupted and easy route to the dining table?

Related to this, is your kitchen also a social space? Do you eat most of your meals here? Does the table double as a workspace or school work zone? If so, you’ll need to factor in plenty of space around the table, and make sure that the kitchen can function as a multi-purpose space.

What Makes a Kitchen Stand Out With The Wow Factor?

There are lots of things that can give your kitchen a Wow! factor. This could be a row of sleek and gleaming white cabinets, only interrupted by state-of-the-art appliances. It could be an on-trend vintage design, with mismatched dressers and painstakingly aged woodwork. It could be the industrial-chic-style wooden bench tops.

Basically, a kitchen that looks like it was designed as a coherent whole will always have the edge when it comes to style, whether it’s ultra-modern and minimalist, or an homage to mid-century melamine curves and pastels.

One thing that really makes a difference to all kitchens: lighting. Getting the right blend of ambient and task lighting, with the right lux levels, and the ability to switch the mood from chef zone to late-night, chill-out area is really important. A statement light or two (such as a trio of retro pendants over the island unit) adds an extra wow.

Another way to easily add that certain something is color. You don’t have to go crazy and paint your wooden cabinet fronts scarlet (although we say go for it!), but you can make a real difference with accents. Add a lime green splashback or a teal kitchen rug. KitchenAid really understood this concept when they introduced new colors to their iconic stand mixer range.

What Is a Well Designed Kitchen?

We’ve already covered a few points, so let’s summarize the main elements of a well-designed kitchen:

  • Easy to cook in (the chef’s triangle)
  • Space to move around (and ideally, for more than one person)
  • A clear route to the table
  • Plenty of storage
  • Good lighting
  • Ability to be used as a multi-purpose space if necessary
  • A good aesthetic appearance, which can simply be done with accent colors

Here are a few more things a kitchen can benefit from:

  • A clear route to all its doors
  • Ideally, a separate utility area or room for laundry and other washing needs
  • Natural light
  • Plenty of outlets (fitted in line with the National Electrical Code)
  • Entertainment – OK this is next-level, but if you can, access to music or the radio is a great asset while you’re cooking
  • Does there need to be a special spot for your pets?
  • And really importantly, easy to clean!

Just make sure you think things through before you install your new kitchen. This short film walks you through designing your kitchen layout.

What Makes Up a Kitchen?

Simply, a kitchen is a place to store food, to cook food, possibly to eat food, and then to clear up afterwards. Of course, to many of us, it’s the heart of the home, and a large, multi-function table is as much of a part of the kitchen as the cooker is.

In terms of appliances, a kitchen is made up from the cooking equipment (oven, rings, microwave), the refrigerator and freezer, and possibly a dishwasher. On top of these, there’s the sink, the bench tops and the storage cupboards. Often, there’s some sort of place to eat, whether it’s a table or just a couple of stools at the bench top.

These are the basic essentials. On top of this, older kitchens could have a walk-in larder or an old range cooker. Larger rooms may even have a couch and a TV and double as an extra family room. Some kitchens have access to the yard, so may have patio doors

What Do You Want From a Kitchen?

Each household is different, and so they need their kitchen to perform different tasks. You could be a keen chef, so you want to major on prep space and good equipment. You may be mass catering for four hungry kids, which means that your needs will mainly be around space and storage.

When you’re designing your kitchen, think about how you’ll use it. Think through what a day’s catering looks like, and who will be using the kitchen. Prioritize daily use over special occasion catering: for example, if you only cater for more than six people at Thanksgiving, you don’t need a massive table getting in the way for the other 364 days.

Finally, don’t feel like you have to make your kitchen the traditional “heart of the home”. If your preferred way to cook and eat is to make a quick meal then enjoy it on the patio or even the couch, maybe look at investing time, space and money elsewhere in your home. Don’t feel pressured into a state-of-the-art kitchen that you don’t really need.

Wow factor kitchen

What Are the Disadvantages of a Traditional Kitchen?

We all love the homey idea of a traditional, country-style kitchen, with a large scrubbed table and the smell of apple pie wafting out into the yard…

However, there are disadvantages to this type of old-style kitchen: most of us don’t have space for a big table, for a start. Plus, intricate wooden cabinets are really tricky to clean, as they can be total grease-magnets.

There are also disadvantages to the classic modular kitchen, too. The trouble with those matching, fitted cabinets is they’re inflexible.

It’s not easy to change the style of your kitchen, and if one door gets damaged, it can be difficult and expensive to find a good match.ng replacement. This is one of the real benefits of a more vintage or rustic style design.

What Makes a Disorganized Kitchen?

Storage is key to an organized kitchen. So, lack of space (and lack of properly organized space) quickly causes kitchen chaos. As our grandmothers used to say, “A place for everything and everything in its place”. That’s the mantra for the organized home cook.

An organized kitchen also has clearly defined spaces and uses. The table or island unit often doubles as a workspace. Have a cupboard ready for the laptop or homework folders, so they can be neatly stored away when the kitchen table is being used for eating.

Keep the benchtops clear apart from essential items. It can be hard to find the cooking utensil jar if it’s buried behind a heap of clutter. Again, make sure everything has a home in a drawer. You don’t have to go all minimalist if you don’t want to:  open shelving is a good compromise between hiding things away and having a clear work surface.

Final Words

My wife is a talented artist, so when it comes to giving our new kitchen the wow factor, I’m definitely going to leave the design and layout to her.

She knows what she wants in terms of style, and is great at articulating this through interior design – so we’re both confident she’ll create an amazing kitchen that will become a real talking point for all our houseguests, friends, and family. 🙂