An inviting and functional kitchen is the heart of any home. As a space for cooking, eating, and gathering, the kitchen sees a lot of use and wear. Attention to details can elevate a kitchen from drab to fab. We asked designers for their top tips on little touches that make a big difference in kitchen design. Here are 17 details that count for creating a great kitchen.

Choose Durable and Easy-to-Clean Surfaces

The kitchen endures spills, splatters, and high traffic. Select surfaces that can take abuse and clean up easily.

  • Countertops: Granite, quartz, and solid surfacing stand up well to heat, scratches, and stains while delivering a sleek look.
  • Backsplash: Glass, metal, and ceramic tile are all good options that resist moisture and are easy to wipe down.
  • Floors: Durable unfinished wood, laminate, cork, and vinyl flooring can handle messy cooks. Stay away from carpet or unsealed concrete that absorb spills.

Optimize Storage

Maximize every inch with storage solutions tailored to your space and needs.

  • Use every vacant corner, nook, and cranny. Install blind corner cabinets and slide out shelves to access back areas.
  • Choose cabinets with features like rollout trays, lazy susans, and pull-out spice racks.
  • Try open shelving for frequently used items. It eliminates fumbling through cabinets and provides handy access.
  • Include a pantry for food storage and small appliances to free up counter space.

Light It Up Beautifully

Proper lighting transforms a kitchen from dreary to cheery.

  • Use adequate general ceiling lights for overall illumination.
  • Install task lighting under cabinets to brighten countertops for food prep and cooking.
  • Add accent lighting over the sink, counters, and display areas to highlight decor.
  • Choose ENERGY STAR-rated fixtures for brightness and efficiency.

Select Durable, Easy-Care Appliances

Your appliances will get heavy use, so choose solid performers that can keep up.

  • Ranges: Dual-fuel ranges (gas cooktop, electric oven) offer responsive cooking control. Stainless steel resists fingerprints and cleans up easily.
  • Refrigerators: Look for ENERGY STAR-rated models. French door and side-by-side styles provide ample storage.
  • Dishwashers: Choose a quiet model with a stainless steel tub for longevity. Opt for the sanitize wash cycle for germ-free dishes.
  • Microwaves: Over-the-range style saves counter space. Select a high wattage model (1000W+) for efficient heating.

Include Lots of Functional Counter Space

Generous counter space makes meal prep much easier.

  • Keep counters cleared by storing appliances in cabinets or on backsplashes.
  • Allow a minimum of 24″ countertops on either side of the range or cooktop.
  • Make islands or peninsulas extra deep (36″-42″) for meal prep.
  • Use mobile carts to add temporary countertop space as needed.

Choose Durable, Easy-Care Flooring

Kitchen floors take a beating. Choose materials that are made to last.

  • Hardwoods like oak and maple hold up well in the kitchen but require refinishing over time.
  • Engineered wood flooring is more resistant to spills and moisture than solid wood.
  • Laminate wood flooring is affordable, durable, and easy to clean.
  • Luxury vinyl tile resembles stone or wood but is completely waterproof.
  • Sheet vinyl is inexpensive, super-resilient, and comes in endless pattern options.

Create an Efficient Workflow

A kitchen works best when laid out sensibly with tasks organized efficiently.

  • Position the refrigerator near the entry for unloading groceries.
  • Locate the range or cooktop on an outside wall for proper venting.
  • Place the sink under a window with views to make clean up pleasant.
  • Set up work triangles between sink, fridge, and range for convenient meal prep.
  • Make sure walkways are at least 42″ wide for traffic flow.

Select Easy-Clean Finishes

Kitchens see loads of messes and spills. Choose surfaces that clean up fast.

  • Porcelain, ceramic, or glass tile resist stains and wipe clean easily.
  • Solid surface acrylics like Corian are nonporous and seamless for easy maintenance.
  • High-gloss laminate cabinets have a slick surface that resists grime and fingerprints.
  • Stainless steel countertops are impervious to stains, moisture, and bacteria.

Create a Handy Cleaning Station

Make clean up a breeze with a dedicated cleaning supply zone.

  • Carve out space near the sink for cleaning essentials.
  • Install a wall-mounted broom and mop holder to corral tools.
  • Use a pegboard to hang spray bottles and cleaning gloves.
  • Stash sponges and soap in ceramic crocks or bins.
  • Include the trash and recycling bins in the area.

Choose Easy-Access Waste Bins

Kitchens generate loads of waste. Make disposal quick and convenient.

  • Install a slide-out trash and recycling center in lower cabinets.
  • Opt for side-opening bins that tuck neatly under countertops.
  • Purchase cans with finishes that complement your decor.
  • Add custom panels to conceal unsightly commercial trash bins.

Include Pet Conveniences

If pets share your home, consider their needs in the kitchen design.

  • Set up a feeding station with raised bowls in an out-of-the way corner.
  • Incorporate a concealed litter box for cats that blends into cabinetry.
  • Install baby gates to keep pets out of cooking zones.
  • Choose elevated pet beds so pets can hang out comfortably.
  • Select easy-clean materials that can handle muddy paw prints.

Design Around Universal Accessibility

To allow easy mobility for all:

  • Include ample clearance between counters, islands, appliances, and furniture.
  • Lower countertop heights and upper cabinets to make reaching easier.
  • Choose lever-style faucets and pulls that operate without grasping or twisting.
  • Opt for adjustable shelves and drawers for customized access.
  • Install full-extension pull-out cabinets and drawers.

Include Multipurpose, Flexible Furniture

Mobile, adaptable furnishings maximize efficiency.

  • Wheeled carts serve as extra prep space and storage then tuck away when not needed.
  • Butcher block islands on casters provide extra counter area and move aside for traffic flow.
  • Fold-down tables create temporary serving stations for buffets and parties.
  • Bench seating works for daily dining and pulls double duty for extra seating during gatherings.

Choose Family-Friendly Finishes

With kids in the house opt for super durable, easy-clean finishes that can survive anything.

  • Select granite, quartz, or solid surface counters that won’t stain, etch, or scratch.
  • Use textured laminate on cabinetry to conceal fingerprints and smears.
  • Install ceramic or porcelain backsplashes and floors that wipe clean easily.
  • Opt for upholstered bar stools or chairs in stain-resistant fabrics.

Create a Charging Station

In a tech-filled home, our devices need constant power. Establish zones to juice up.

  • Include outlets above and beneath the counter and islands.
  • Install USB charging ports near seating areas.
  • Use holders to corral devices in one spot for charging.
  • Hide unsightly power strips and cables in cabinets with cutouts for cord access.

Establish Multiple Dining Zones

A kitchen should enable effortless snacking, quick meals, and leisurely feasts.

  • An island or peninsula with barstools is great for quick breakfasts and snacks.
  • A banquette tucked in a corner nook invites lingering over coffee and casual meals.
  • A dedicated dining table and chairs accommodates more formal sit-down dinners.

Embrace Personalization

Add unique flourishes that reflect your style for a customized look.

  • Show off your collections with open shelving displaying glassware or cookbooks.
  • Craft built-in features like a wine rack or spice drawer.
  • Trim windows with custom valances made from your favorite fabric.
  • Add eco-friendly wallpaper as a chic backsplash alternative.
  • Paint the ceiling or accent walls in bold, saturated hues.


A kitchen should suit both form and function with details tailored to your space and lifestyle. Keep surfaces durable yet beautiful. Maximize storage intelligently. Include conveniences like charging stations and pet areas. Allow easy movement for all users. Add special touches that showcase your personality. Thoughtful planning and smart design choices will yield a kitchen that serves your needs in style for years to come. With these designer tips, you can dial in the details for your dream kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you optimize kitchen storage?

Maximize every inch of space with solutions like corner cabinets, rollout trays, lazy susans, open shelving, and pull-out spice racks. Also, dedicate an entire pantry for food and appliance storage.

What flooring is best for kitchens?

Durable and water-resistant options like unfinished wood, laminate, cork, vinyl, and linoleum can handle messy cooks. Avoid carpet, unsealed concrete, and slippery stone.

What kitchen layout is most functional?

The work triangle between the sink, fridge, and stove with minimum 42″ wide walkways allows convenient meal prep and traffic flow.

How do you clean a kitchen efficiently?

Create a handy station for cleaning tools and supplies near the sink. Install easy-access waste and recycling bins. Choose surfaces like tile and solid surfacing that resist grime.

What makes a kitchen family-friendly?

Opt for durable, easy-clean finishes like quartz counters and laminate cabinets. Include spill-proof upholstered furniture and anti-slip floors. Provide plenty of open, accessible storage for kid’s items.