7 home improvement tips for your dream kitchen

the range or cooktop, sink, and refrigerator as points on a triangle. 

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Interior designer Ayca Stiffel has been in his field for 26 years, most currently with a local company By Design Interiors, and can tell right away what’s causing a kitchen headache: “Often, I find that customers who want to do renovations don’t really know why the kitchen isn’t working well,” says Stiffel. “That’s because it wasn’t designed well from a functional standpoint.” For those looking to renovate, the interior designer shares tips for identifying problems and turning the kitchen into the workhorse it was meant to be.

1. The layout should meet your unique needs.

You do not know where to start ? “I would ask, ‘What is your dream kitchen?’ says Stiffel. She would study the existing layout of the room, ask you how you prefer to use and cook in the space, then suggest an improved layout that fixes the issues and accommodates lifestyle preferences. Then look and style come into play. “Let’s address function and while we’re doing it, we can make it as stylish as they want it to be,” says Stiffel. This way, no one spends money on, for example, new countertops, if the cabinets below sag and collapse. “You wouldn’t want to embellish something that doesn’t work,” Stiffel says.

2. Prioritize the “golden triangle”.

The rule of thumb in kitchen design is quite simple: the three main components – the cooker or cooktop, the sink, and the refrigerator – should each be a point on the triangle. This just means that everyone is a comfortable distance from each other – no one wants the roux to burn as they have to cross the room to catch the milk.

Prep space is near a sink for washing hands and vegetables, but does not encroach the dish wash station.

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3. Think about what needs to be on hand.

Once the main points have been triangulated, it is important to support the variety of activities that take place in a kitchen. The prep space should be near a sink for washing hands and vegetables, but not encroaching on the dishwashing station. The fridge should have an open counter next to it to put the bags of groceries on. Same with the stove – is there counter space adjacent to the cooktop to drop the cutting board once it’s been cleared?

Each component of a kitchen affects the next, Stiffel says, and those “adjacencies” are important. You don’t want things to be “broken”. “If you’re standing in front of the sink, you want one side to have the trash and one side to have your dishwasher,” says Stiffel, because it aids the natural process of cleaning dishes after a meal, rinsing, and loading.

When such spatial relationships are ignored, dysfunction reigns. Example: Stiffel often sees a lack of space between the perimeter counter and the island. When they are too close, no one can pass easily past the open dishwasher. Also a common mistake? Some drawers or doors around the stove cannot be opened when the oven door is also ajar, which can make it difficult to enter the meat thermometer to check the roast.

4. Start with a model and build from there.

When it comes to the look of the kitchen, it helps that materials, like the stone on the countertop, strike a personal chord. “You have to find the stone that speaks to you,” says Stiffel. “You will know it, when you walk [in the stone yard] and stop in your tracks. Stiffel will often start with a slab, then assemble the palette drawing hues from the colors of the stone, so that there is no mismatch in the finished piece.

5. Consider your materials carefully.

Stiffel says soft, porous stones are off-limits for heavy-duty kitchens. “There are stones that should not be used in a kitchen, such as limestone”, explains the interior designer. “And of course, marble.” This is because softer stones will show etch marks and require additional maintenance to maintain their beautiful appearance, as opposed to something denser and more durable, such as quartzite, granite or porcelain.

6. Don’t be too fashionable.

“The last thing I would want is to design a house that will have a time stamp,” Stiffel says. “You can have something trendy, but I wouldn’t do it on something permanent.” Consider being frugal with trends and limiting them to things that can be changed easily, like lighting or paint colors.

7. Create drama sparingly.

Stiffel likes to let certain elements be “prominent”, while others become “silent”. For example, “If you’ve chosen a tile that’s gorgeous, that has so much drama, you want that to be the focal point,” says Stiffel. “And don’t add drama to other places,” like the perimeter counter, tile backsplash, and wall colors. It’s about finding the right balance that works for you.

By Design Interiors – Ayca Stiffel Builder – Morning Star Custom Homes

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By Design Interiors – Ayca Stiffel Builder – Morning Star Custom Homes

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By Design Interiors – Ayca Stiffel Builder – Morning Star Custom Homes

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By Design Interiors – Ayca Stiffel Builder – Morning Star Custom Homes

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