7 Tips for Designing a Functional Kitchen

Today’s kitchens are a hub of activity. Creating a functional kitchen is essential for any home as it makes cooking and cleaning much easier. In this post, we outline seven easy steps that will help you set up a kitchen that is perfect for your needs.

7 Tips for Designing a Functional Kitchen
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Today’s kitchens are a hub of activity. They provide a space for family members and friends to gather and cook together. Creating a functional kitchen is essential for any home as it makes cooking and cleaning much easier.

If you're wondering how to create a functional kitchen in your own home, you've come to the right place. In this post, we outline seven easy steps that will help you set up a kitchen that is perfect for your needs.

How to set up a functional kitchen

Layout

Work triangle vs. workstation

Countertops and surfaces

Streamline your space

Appliances

Storage solutions

Lighting

How do I design my own kitchen layout?

How to set up a functional kitchen

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A functional kitchen works for you and adapts to your needs. When designing a new kitchen or renovating an existing one, you have more flexibility for creativity in the layout and more control over the design. Making an existing kitchen work for you can get tricky, but it’s not impossible.

There are several things to consider when organizing your kitchen to make it a functional and efficient space. These include:

  • Layout
  • Work triangle vs. workstation
  • Countertops
  • Streamline your space
  • Appliances
  • Storage
  • Lighting

Now let’s look at each of these points in greater detail.

Layout

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The first step in creating a functional kitchen is to decide on the layout. The most common kitchen layouts include galley kitchens, L-shaped kitchens, one-wall kitchens, horseshoe-shaped and island kitchens.

  • Galley kitchens are typically found in older homes and apartments. This type of kitchen layout includes two parallel countertops with a walkway in between them. Galley kitchens can be very efficient because everything is within reach.
  • L-shaped kitchens are popular in many new homes. This layout includes two parts of the countertop that form an L shape. The advantage of this layout is that it provides plenty of countertop space and can be very efficient.
  • One-wall kitchens are found in smaller homes and apartments. This type of kitchen only has one wall of cabinets and appliances. One-wall kitchens can be very efficient because everything is within reach.
interior design
Photo by Rune Enstad / Unsplash
  • Horseshoe-shaped kitchens are similar to L-shaped kitchens, but they have a U-shaped section of countertop. This type of layout provides plenty of countertop space and can be very efficient.
  • Island kitchens are becoming more popular in new homes. This type of kitchen includes an island in the middle of the room with cabinets and appliances on one side. Island kitchens can be very efficient because everything is within reach.

Unless you can change your kitchen design with a renovation, you might have to optimize the existing layout to make it work for you. Keep in mind that the size of your space might influence which kitchen layout you can use.

Work triangle vs. workstation

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The most important thing about having a functional kitchen is making sure that there is a clear workflow. The workflow should be designed so that you can move from one task to the next without having to backtrack.

The work triangle connects a kitchen’s three main work areas: the sink, stove and refrigerator. It’s a concept that originated in the 1940s when kitchens were smaller with large appliances and were only used for cooking. The idea behind the work triangle is to make the kitchen an efficient workspace. The lines between each point should be clear of obstacles and within easy reach.

The workstation is a more modern approach that includes multiple work areas in the kitchen. As kitchens are no longer just about cooking, their design needs to reflect that. Creating different work zones in the kitchen allows more than one person to make dinner or do other tasks, like homework or socializing.

Countertops and surfaces

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Countertops are an essential part of any kitchen design and a key piece of what makes a kitchen functional. How you plan your countertops will depend on your kitchen design. If you require extra space, consider adding an island into your layout.

Counters play a significant role in meal preparation, baking and plating, meaning that the more area you have to use, the less cramped you are. They come at a premium, especially in smaller kitchens and have to be utilized accordingly.

There are many different countertop materials and designs to choose from. Some of the most popular materials include quartz, laminate, stainless steel, wood and marble, and they come in various colors. The most important thing is to select a material that is easy to clean and maintain.

Streamline your space

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Placement and accessibility are vital elements of what makes a kitchen functional. Think of how you use the kitchen to make food, store things or clean them and allocate spaces based on function and proximity. This approach will make finding what you're looking for easier and quicker.

Consider mounting your sink on the island that faces the living room instead of under the window. That way, you can interact with others as you do dishes or wash things. Store your utensils in a drawer beside the dishwasher to make unloading easier. Hide the recycling, garbage and food waste bins under the sink for a quick cleanup.

As most kitchens cabinets come in standard sizes, certain shelves and cupboards might be harder to reach. What works for one person might not work for another, which can cause undue frustration. Place frequently used items and appliances within easy reach to make them more accessible to everyone in your house.

Appliances

apartment-sized kitchen with steel appliances.
Photo by Clayton / Unsplash

Your choice of appliances can also make a difference in the functionality of your kitchen. A functional kitchen should have appliances that are easy to use and clean. Most kitchens include a range, refrigerator and a rangehood. Also commonly used are microwave ovens, toasters, coffee makers and dishwashers.

If you want a hi-tech kitchen, consider smart appliances that incorporate the latest technology in their design. Look for energy-saving appliances and opt for ones that combine functions if you’re short on space, such as a microwave/range hood combination. You can also place your appliances behind cabinet doors to mimic the look of cabinetry for a more streamlined look.

Storage solutions

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When it comes to kitchens, you can never have enough storage. Consider all your existing storage and find solutions to ensure you have used all the space. Add pull-out drawers and shelves in your cabinets, organizers in your drawers and additional racks in cupboards to eliminate dead spaces and maximize your space.

Additional storage solutions like the Lazy Susan can make it easier to store things in hard-to-reach spaces. At the same time, tray dividers can keep items like pots and pan covers, pizza trays or cookie sheets organized. You can also opt for custom storage solutions to keep you and your kitchen organized.

Lighting

A modern white kitchen with led strip lighting, tiled wooden like flooring and a tile splashback
Photo by Callum Hill / Unsplash

Every functional kitchen requires proper lighting, both from natural and artificial sources. Include bright lights above countertops, the stove and prep areas. Good lighting is easier on your eyes and makes it easy to see what you’re doing, like chopping food or measuring ingredients.

Under-cabinet lighting is a great way to illuminate countertops and make it easier to find things, especially at night. It’s also an easy way to brighten up smaller spaces with limited natural lighting.

How do I design my own kitchen layout?

Photo by Jason Briscoe / Unsplash

The best way to design your kitchen is to start with a wish list. Write down any dream features and must-haves you would like to see in your dream kitchen, including appliances and gadgets. Your list should also include ideas about kitchen layouts, cabinetry and finishings.

Consider how you’ll use your space and what additional functions you want the kitchen to play. Can you work with your existing kitchen, or will you need more extensive renovations? How much space do you have to work with? Answering these questions will help you set a budget for your kitchen project.

When it comes to any kitchen project, it’s important to remember that not everyone uses their kitchen the same way. Your functional kitchen caters to your individual needs and might be different than someone else’s. We hope our helpful tips have inspired you to start your kitchen makeover.

Design by Fede Lars / Planner5D

Designing your ideal kitchen is now easier than ever, and you can do it all yourself. If you're not sure where to start, we recommend our Planner5D software tool to try your hand at designing your perfect kitchen. Create floor plans, try different layouts, choose your finishings, floor materials, cabinets and countertops from the comfort of your home.