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How to design a kitchen - what do you need to consider?

Last Updated Sep 14, 2018 · Written by Rob Schneider · 6 min read


Designing a kitchen isn't as simple as it may look. The perfect kitchen will be easy to use, beautiful and inspiring. What do you need to consider when designing a kitchen? Here are five major considerations you don't want to overlook when designing a kitchen.

What do you need in a kitchen

Consider the lighting

Think about the kitchen layout

Materials and colours

Putting it all together

Consider everything you need in a kitchen

The first step in any kitchen design is to consider everything you need in a new kitchen. Do this by looking at your existing kitchen. Open up the cupboard doors and see if there is enough space for everything you need. Don't worry if you can't extend the size of the kitchen. Have a look at our Kitchen Cabinet Design Ideas pages and find ways to create more space in the kitchen. Those dark and hard-to-reach corner cabinets can be transformed into easy to use cabinets with plenty of space with some simple inserts or even corner drawers.

Have a look at the pantry. Is it big enough to hold everything you need? Before thinking about a double door walk-in pantry, look at some pantry ideas on the Kitchen Cabinet Design Ideas pages. Space can be at a premium in the kitchen and a large pantry may not be what you need because it will take space away from other things you need in the kitchen. Pantry drawers or inserts may be a better option.

Now look at your sink, cooktop and oven. What do you like or don't like about them? Is the sink big enough? Do you mind bending over if your oven is under the cooktop? Do you like your existing cooktop or do you want to find something better? What about the rangehood? Is it stylish enough for you and does it perform as well as you'd like? These are all important questions because you will be working in the new kitchen and want to make it as easy to work in as possible.

Consider the lighting

Lighting is an important part of a modern kitchen. Consider three types of lighting:

Task lighting

Statement lighting

Accent lighting

Have enough task lighting that you don't work in a shadow, as will happen if you just have overhead lighting. Think about having additional lighting wherever you work, such as at your cooktop or on the benchtop.

Statement lighting makes a statement, such as pendant lighting or even a chandelier. Accent lighting can be ideal in the evening and consider using a dimmer switch to adjust it to just the right level.

Also consider natural lighting. Are the windows large enough to allow natural light into the kitchen during the day? If not, think about getting larger windows so you have natural light flowing into the kitchen.

Think about the kitchen layout

After assessing your needs, start thinking about the kitchen layout. The classic kitchen layout is the kitchen triangle, which makes it easy to get from the sink to the fridge and the oven and cooktop. However, this doesn't work in many modern kitchens.

Definitely plan the kitchen to make it possible to work in the kitchen without traffic passing by, but the classic triangle may not be right for your kitchen. Make sure the distances between the sink, fridge and cooktop/oven aren't too far, but another layout may be better than the kitchen triangle. Many kitchens today are divided into zones instead of a triangle. This can be a good idea if you use the kitchen for more than one activity, such as an office or family dining area.

Take a closer look at the existing kitchen. What about the drawers? Many older kitchens have a set of drawers, but modern kitchens also have pot drawers instead of shelves behind doors. Pot drawers make finding pots easier and you don't have to bend down to find a pot or pan. Would larger pot drawers suit you better than shelves behind doors?

What about the upper cabinets? Can you reach everything easily? Do you want a display cabinet with glass doors and LED lights?

You may want to draw a scale drawing of your kitchen, including the location of windows. This will help you plan the size of the cabinets and ensure you have enough space for everything in the kitchen.

Materials and colours

After you're satisfied with the kitchen layout, it's time to start researching materials and colours in the kitchen. Start with the materials the doors, drawer fronts and panels will be made from. Some options include:


Vinyl wrap



Two pack paint

Melamine is the least expensive and can make a beautiful kitchen. Two pack (or two-pac) paint is one of the most expensive options, but if you want a gloss or semi-gloss finish, may be a good choice. Vinyl wrap is an inexpensive option that allows you to have doors and drawers that aren't flat like melamine. Laminate is another choice or you may want a timber kitchen.

After choosing a material, consider the colour of the material. The doors, drawer fronts and panels will be a distinctly visual part of the kitchen, so after you've chosen the colours, think about the colours of the walls, the tiles and/or the splashback. This can be a personal decision, but think about complementary colours or you may want to add a splash of colour to the wall, the tiles or the splashback to make a more dramatic statement in the kitchen.

Use colour to make the kitchen an inspiring place to work and enjoy. You won't regret it and the colours don't necessarily have to match the colours in the living room or dining room. They should complement the colours to maintain cohesiveness, but they don't have to be the same colours.

Putting it all together

When you have a kitchen design you're happy with, take it to your chosen kitchen renovation specialist and share it with a kitchen designer. Kitchen designers design kitchens for all types of homes, from budget kitchens to luxury kitchens and may have ideas to improve your kitchen you didn't think of.

If the kitchen cabinet maker does not have a kitchen designer on their staff, consider hiring one to look at your plan. That final step can make the difference between a good kitchen and a great kitchen. When the kitchen is finished, you will have a beautiful kitchen that is easy to work in and has all the lighting you need to work comfortably. You will also be surprised by the amount of space you can have in a kitchen after you choose inserts or drawers to take up what might otherwise have been dead space or space that is hard to access.

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