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Your Free Chapter from Create the Kitchen of a Lifetime

Your Personal Kitchen Discovery

This is the fun part of the book! This is your scrapbook, workbook, ideas book, your “dream catcher” where you put all of your ideas, clippings, drawings and notes. This part of the book will go through each step of planning your kitchen. Have a notepad handy while you read so you can write down your ideas, or Click Here to download a pdf copy of this chapter so you can make notes as your go. I hope you have FUN with this!

What does the word “home” mean to you? For me, it is a reflection of who I am. My home is my sanctuary. How does your home feel to you? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my house reflect who I am?
  • Did I decide how it looks, or have I been influenced by others?
  • Is my home a place where I can retreat from the world and just be with my family and friends, or do I need a place to be re-energized?

Take a little time for yourself. Think about your relationship with your home.

What will make you enjoy your kitchen again and cook for your family and friends? What changes will need to be done?
To make your house a home, let’s start by understand your space and finding what you like and don’t like about your existing kitchen and your kitchen lifestyle.

The next step is to create a better design for the space. We call this “space planning.” When you feel comfortable with the space planning or space layout (where the cabinets, appliances, plumbing and light fixtures go), then we’ll work on the style and color of materials. The space planning is so important?—?if we make your room pretty and updated, but not functional, you will not enjoy it for a long time. Resist looking at the look only; think about the ease to use your kitchen and its functionality. You will have made every investment dollar worth it.

Do this section in the order that applies to you. Some people prefer to start with understanding what a budget looks like or their wish list before finding their kitchen lifestyle and style. The order is not important for this part.

Your home should reflect who you are. Surround yourself and your family with what makes you happy.

Step 1

House Flow

What is the “flow” of your home? Let’s clarify where the public and private rooms are in the home so we can better understand the flow of the house.

Public Rooms: Entry, kitchen, nook, family room, powder room, office, excercise room, media room, butler pantry, game room, formal dining, and formal living.

Private Rooms: All bedrooms and all bathrooms relating to a bedroom. (I call it “personal room” as well.)

House flow means all the colors need to flow for one room to another. It doesn’t need to match perfectly, but you need to keep the flow in mind. If we start with an empty room, I ask my clients to show me a favorite picture, fabric, or object. This becomes our color inspiration; it shows me what they like and what color they are attracted to. If you are building a new home, make sure the color and style flow from one room to another for your public areas (see chart above). It is okay for your private rooms to be more unique, especially for kids – they need their bedrooms to adjust to them, too!

If you renovate your kitchen, always make sure you look at the color of the rooms adjacent to the kitchen. This is even more important if you have an open concept. Sometimes you have to continue or coordinate with the color you have in the other room, or start with the kitchen color if you plan to redo an adjacent room in the near future.

Also, consistent flooring makes the home look bigger. Watch for different thickness if you have different flooring that can be hazardous to trip over.

When going shopping, bring along pieces of existing fabrics and colors to make sure it will match the new material. Put all of your samples in a bag and bring them along everywhere you go.


The 6 Kitchen Zones

My opinion on the work triangle is that is outdated. A work triangle means that the kitchen layout should be dictated by three points: the refrigerator, cooking area and sink, and all of them should be within easy reach. The kitchens now could be bigger and often have more than one cook. I like to design the kitchen around the way we will use it. Having all material handy when I prepare or cook a meal will save me time and frustrations. I like to design a kitchen using six zones instead. The six zones are:


This includes the dishes, glasses, silverware, pots and pans, plastic containers, books, and decorating items.


Two parts: Cold for food that must be refrigerated or frozen. Room Temperature for other foods such as: pasta, rice, cereal, spices, and canned goods. Also called pantry, it can be built inside interior walls or built in the cabinetry.


The area that requires lots of countertop space on which to spread out your ingredients; such as spices, mixing bowls, utensils, and small electrical appliances, and also storage inside the cabinets for those accessories.


Also known as the Appliance Zone; This zone includes the microwave, cook top, and oven. Spices, oils, pots and pans used most frequently are also in this zone.


The sink, dishwasher, trash and recycle bins, plastic containers, plastic wrap, and cleaning supplies.


This zone means a countertop area, such as an island or peninsula or a table in the kitchen.

You will not be able to plan for the perfect zone every time. The layout of the kitchen is based on the architectural design (like wall, window and door placement) and will greatly affect the design zones. Do the best you can and it should be better than what you have right now.


Kitchen Layouts

Kitchen floor plans commonly include one of the following:

Double L Layout

Double L Layout

Corridor Galley Layout

Corridor Galley Layout

G Shape Layout

G Shape Layout

L Shape Layout

L Shape Layout

One Wall Layout

One Wall Layout

U Shape Layout

U Shape Layout

Which floor plan do you have in your existing kitchen?

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, the structure of your existing home will limit your layout options. You’ll have more flexibility with larger spaces. Of course, if you’re building a new home or adding on, you can design your kitchen however you want.

When looking at other kitchens for inspiration, keep in mind the layout of your kitchen. An “L” shape doesn’t look like a “U” shape. You can modify your existing layout if it is not efficient for you, but keep in mind that more expense is involved if you move plumbing or electrical devices.

Sketch a picture of your existing layout or print the layouts shown and select the one that’s closest to your kitchen. Now take pictures of your existing kitchen and add them to your notes. Include several views if possible.


What Do you Like About Your Kitchen?

Make a list of the things you like about your kitchen. Don’t just list the things you like, but list why you like them.


What Don’t You Like About Your Kitchen?

Just like the list of the things you like, try to list why you don’t like a particular part of your kitchen.


What is Your Kitchen Lifestyle?

Your kitchen lifestyle is very important to making your house a home. It is defined by asking questions like these.

Write down everything you can think of. Take as much time as you need. Ask your family to write their “wish lists” down too. Don’t think about the budget at this time; that comes later. This section is all about discovery, not making decisions on what you can or can’t afford.

Find a way to improve whatever stresses you or makes you unhappy in your home. You need to be happy about coming home from a long day at work. You need to be comfortable if you are home all day. Life is too short; don’t wait until you realize you haven’t lived the way you deserve.

If you and your spouse feel strongly about how your home should look or feel, but you have different opinions, you might want to think about hiring a designer to save your marriage. Several of my clients have told me I saved their marriages. A good designer will listen to what both of you tell them about your tastes and needs, and will create a design to accommodate both of you by compromising so no one feels left out of the process. When your home reflects who you and your family members are, everything is perfect.

Answer the following questions to determine your kitchen lifestyle

  • Am I right-handed or left-handed?
  • How tall am I?
  • Do I have any physical limitations? If yes, which ones?
  • If I like to cook, does my kitchen function like it needs to do?
  • If I like to entertain, does my kitchen accommodate several people at once to eat or help out? If not, what area is a problem?
  • Does my spouse or children help with cooking?
  • How tall are my helpers?
  • Are my helpers right-handed or left-handed?
  • Do my helpers have physical limitations? If yes, which ones?
  • Do I have a collection? If yes, of what?
  • How do I want to display my collection?
  • Is my kitchen functional enough? If not, where does it need help?
  • Where do I stand the most as I cook, by the stove or by the sink?
  • Do I eat in the kitchen or in the dining room?
  • Do I like to entertain?
  • Is my home designed for entertaining?
  • How many guests do I usually invite?
  • Am I a pack rat? If yes, of what?
  • Do I have enough storage in my kitchen? If not, for what?
  • What is difficult to store in my cabinets and drawers?
  • Do I like to have my things out on the counter or put away in the cabinets?
  • Is my kitchen easy to clean? If not, what is difficult?
  • Are my appliances easy to clean?
  • Are my appliances easy to clean? If not, which ones?
  • Am I the kind the person who is always looking for my cell phone?
  • Do I need places for more organization, like for paying bills and other tasks? If yes, for what tasks?
  • Do I need to change the entire kitchen layout, or can I just reorganize to make better use of the space I have?
  • Is my kitchen large enough, or do I need to make an adjoining room smaller or add an addition?
  • Do I have enough electrical outlets?
  • Do I like to watch TV in the kitchen?
  • Is there enough light in the kitchen? If not, where do I need more?
  • Where do I want to keep my cookbooks and recipes?
  • Do I like coffee or wine?


How Do You Find Your Style?

Examples of style are Old World, French, Traditional, Transitional, Zen, Contemporary, etc. You will feel more connected to your home when you find the style you like. It is easy to find examples by looking in magazines, on TV, and browsing the Internet. Just write the style you are attracting to or glue pictures.

You don’t have to choose only one style. Instead, follow what is pleasant to you. If it is a mix of several styles (also called “eclectic”), you will need more skill to put it all together or it can look very messy. The pieces need to relate to each other; it might be the color scheme or the form, but something needs to make a connection. The exception is the unexpected piece, but that is an advanced subject for your designer to help you with.

What is the architectural style of your home? Do you want the new kitchen to reflect this style?

This is a question I have been asked a lot. Do I need to keep the same style for my kitchen as the rest of my house? The answer is not easy. A lot of designers will tell you to stay consistent with the rest of the house but, for me, it will depend on two things:

Do you plan to resell the house or keep it for as long as you want? If you want to resell it, keep the same style, but with an updated look. If you plan to stay there for a longer time, “please yourself.” Don’t go drastic?—?consider doing an eclectic style, (mixing different styles together). This is a more complicated task to achieve than you may think, so ask a designer for guidance; you don’t want the look to clash. Don’t forget the information on the flow of a home you just read. In the end, you want your home to reflect what you like?—?just be careful in mixing styles.

Be careful when watching home TV shows”]
TV shows are not always realistic about their projects. Sometimes the cost is different because they only included the cost of materials and the labor was free. Sometimes the duration of the project is not accurately portrayed because not all the work involved was shown.

While the home TV shows are a great resource for ideas, you should check with your designer before you do anything. That wonderful idea might look perfect on TV, but it might not be right for your home. Your home might be bigger or smaller, lighter or darker, or have different architecture. Write ideas down that you like, but check with your designer before buying anything just in case it won’t work well in your home.

If you did see something you liked, go to the home TV show website, find the show and episode you liked?—?they may have pictures posted of what you saw on that show that you can print and put in this book. Many times I’ve heard, “I saw that on TV and it looked so good…Save yourself that trouble by visiting their website.

Print pictures off the Internet and keep them with your notes. Cut out pictures from magazines and put them in here. Go “shopping” at other people’s houses, and write down all of the things you like about those pictures and homes.

To help define what you like about style, just find what appeals to you; don’t analyze what you see. Think about what your dream home looks and feels like. Let your imagination go?—?what do you see? What color are the walls? Is there a fireplace? Are there lots of windows? Do you want to use a design theme? What colors do you like? What things didn’t you like? What do you like about your friends’ kitchens? By selecting all that appeals to you, a style or pattern will emerge from page to page. Think of this as a journey; take all the time you need, and enjoy the process of discovery with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee in a comfortable chair.

When looking at pictures don’t analyze them. Just pick the ones that are attractive to you. When you review the pictures you like, you will see a pattern emerge, like all the cabinets are white or dark countertop, etc. Be careful not to print every picture you like, it could cost you a lot on printer ink. Just choose your favorite ones.


What is your budget?

Setting up your budget ahead of time is critical. You don’t want to start a project without knowing exactly what the cost will be. You want to make this experience as stress-free as possible. Always add 10% extra for that unexpected problem or for something you really want to get, like special light fixtures or an unusual sink. Also, you never know what you may find behind the walls that can cost you more in labor.

How long do you plan to stay in your home? This will influence how much you should spend. Consider the value of your home versus the other homes in your neighborhood, especially if you plan on selling in the near future.

How much of your existing kitchen are you able to keep or re-use? Do you need new appliances, flooring, or cabinets? Can you refinish or repaint the cabinets you already have?

Before selecting all your material, you need to have an idea of how much your project could cost. You can accomplish that with allowances on material and labor. See an example of a budget on the next page. The designer or remodeler can help with that but they will need to know what you want to accomplish as precisely as possible.

Remember: Avoid extra expenses by keeping plumbing fixtures, such as the sink and refrigerator, in the same place as they are now, and look around to see if there is anything you can recycle or re-use from your existing kitchen.

Don’t buy anything until you have prices on everything and you know much the project will cost. You can modify by spending less in one area and more elsewhere. If you are buying here and there you may lose control of the expenses.

Download an example of a kitchen budget for you to use or to get a better understanding of what cost is involved in your project

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