In a past issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine featured a kitchen completely redesigned by yours truly, and inspired by Rachael’s own kitchens. A “Kitchen Fix,” as we like to call it – one of my favorite things to do as Rach’s design buddy.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to see the project, here are the before and after photos of it.
Alas, when you are doing any kind of design or home renovation, you have to be prepared to make a few mistakes. Some will be happy ones, some … well, lets just call them character building. This project was no exception. So below, some tips on tackling your own Kitchen Fix, inspired by my most recent project. Get the scoop on how to avoid what mistakes you can, while make the others mistakes happy ones. Character building is too hard on the blood pressure.
1. Before you invite any new appliances into your home, make sure they fit through your door! - Measure any and all doorways, interior and exterior, that you’ll need to traverse to get your new purchases off the curb and into the kitchen. Embarrassingly enough, I forgot to do this for the April Kitchen Fix, and the next thing I knew, the electrician and I were puzzling out how to remove the refrigerator door, and squeeze it through like a game of Tetris, all without completely re-wiring the icemaker. Don’t tell any one though. As a professional designer, I wouldn’t want this getting out on some national blog or anythi – oh, rats.
2. Create a good Work Triangle- This is really important for a well-designed kitchen. Measure the distances that will divide your fridge, stove and sink to plan your Work Triangle. Try to keep them about the same length, and keep that length modest – otherwise you may end up burning off more calories whipping around like an octopus, than the calories you actually prepare in your dinner. Maybe I need a new analogy. As a fitness craze, that actually sounds kind of appealing.
3. Make use of every cranny - Even if you end up buying stock cabinets in standard sizes (which will save you tons of cash over custom), install in-cabinet storage. Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because the actual cabinet came stock, doesn’t mean you can’t modify the inside to suit your every whim, to store your every spice. I love all of the storage stuff that Rev-a-Shelf makes, if you’re looking for a place to start.
4. Install “soft” flooring- If you are like Rachael, and you spend a ton of time in the kitchen, consider flooring that is easier on your legs and joints. Rachael loves linoleum, and I do too – it’s one of the softest floors around. Laminate floors, cork, and hardwood are other good options for softer floor – though cork or hardwood will remove more padding from your wallet. Any of these will cut down on stress in your legs and joints. Many Kitchen Fixers make the mistake of assuming tile and stone are the only way to go, even when their knees would heartily disagree.
5. Plan your kitchen around what you do there- This is really important. Kitchens aren’t just for cooking anymore. More than ever before, we are using kitchens as command centers for our families and homes. Rachel & Ed, the homeowners who won the makeover, eat, pay bills, store their cookbooks, and feed their cats in the kitchen. So I created areas in their kitchen where they could comfortably do just that! If you’re lucky enough to be planning a kitchen renovation, think about what you and your family will actually be doing in there. Otherwise, you may end up with children’s homework assignments on the cutting block, and cat butts in the linguine. Clam linguine good. Cat butt linguine bad
6. Let there be light- Good lighting makes a huge difference in any room, and the kitchen is no exception. On top of any overhead lighting, like from a ceiling fixture, make sure that you have some under cabinet lights – you can get them at any home supply store quite inexpensively, and they are easy to install yourself. And yes, I know I technically just told you to use under cabinet lights on top of the ceiling, but you know what I mean. If you can swing for the installation, dimmer switches are great too. They save energy, and really give you control of the lighting. Turn them up to keep the kids awake for after school homework around the table. Dim for dinner ambience! Don’t turn them so low you miss your mouth though. Messy.
7. It’s Electric – If you are going through the cost of renovating your kitchen, throw in some more outlets if you can, especially at counter height. Depending on what state you inhabit, you may be required by building code to have outlets for every 2 feet of counter. Some of these need to be GFIs, or ground-fault circuit interrupters, outlets that automatically shut off in the event of a surge to prevent fire, shock and electrocution – a good thing, particularly in wet areas. Just don’t make the mistake of planning lighting changes before checking on your local codes, or your budget may become overly illuminated.
8. Taller is better- Buy the tallest cabinets you can, especially if you are a shorty like me! Standard base (bottom) cabinet height is 32 inches, including the counter top. Standard (minimum) distance from the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinets is 18 inches. Add those up, and we find we can start the bottom of the upper cabinet 50 inches above the finished floor. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll have enough space, and might as well start them higher. Kitchen’s can never have enough cabinet space. And even if you are not personally vertically challenged, it helps your resale value. There are a lot of girls like me and Rach out there who are.
9. Forgo flat paint- Even if you like the look of flat paint, consider picking a kitchen palette with a little sheen. Otherwise, you’ll spend approximately 3 extra days of your life scouring slops and spills. That’s a totally made-up statistic, but you get my point. I like an eggshell finish for kitchens. Makes it easier to scrub down walls when things bubble over, without the super-shine of semi gloss.
10. Include a cutting board- Rachael loves her butcher block counters, and I love those too. But if you don’t want to go with wood all over, make sure that you have a nice solid wooden cutting board somewhere. To keep it from slipping around, cut a piece of shelf lining and slip it underneath. People still cut without cutting boards, but it’s not such a sharp idea. Make the mistake of going without, and wayward husbands, children, or caterers may cut grooves in your counter, and nicks in their thumbs.
Feel free to post your kitchen design questions. I would LOVE to help!
And for a full list of product in my last Kitchen Fix, check out the Rachael Ray Mag website!