Kitchen cabinetry is one of the most important elements of any kitchen design. The layout and style of the cabinets will not only impact the kitchen’s functionality but also its aesthetics. When planning new kitchen cabinets, there are several key factors to consider in order to create a beautiful, efficient, and organized space. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through the complete process of designing and planning new kitchen cabinets from start to finish.

Developing a Layout

The first step when planning new kitchen cabinets is deciding on the overall layout. This involves looking at the size and dimensions of the kitchen space and mapping out placement of appliances, countertops, islands, and cabinetry. Here are some tips for developing the perfect kitchen cabinet layout:

  • Focus on creating efficient work triangles between the main kitchen workstations – the refrigerator, stove, and sink. Place these appliances in a triangular formation so workspaces are optimized.
  • Decide if you want a single bank of cabinets or double banks on facing walls. Double banks provide more storage but single banks create a more open flow.
  • Mix up cabinet heights and depths to add visual interest. Consider tall pantry cabinets, short open shelving, extra deep fridge cabinets, and decorative filler panels.
  • Incorporate other design elements like islands, banquettes, or peninsulas to enhance the kitchen’s functionality.
  • Ensure there is adequate lighting overhead and under cabinets so all spaces are illuminated.
  • Plan for at least 36-42 inches of walkway space so multiple people can move comfortably throughout the kitchen.

Selecting Cabinet Styles

Once you’ve mapped out placement, the next step is selecting cabinet door styles. There are several options ranging from sleek modern designs to ornate traditional styles. Consider the following when making your cabinet choices:

  • Shaker – Clean, simple recessed panel doors are a classic choice suitable for both modern and traditional kitchens. They have a light and airy look.
  • Slab – Slab cabinet doors have a completely flat front for a smooth, contemporary style. Edge profiles can add interest.
  • Inset – Inset cabinet doors are installed inside the cabinet face frame, creating a seamless built-in look.
  • Distressed – Distressed cabinet finishes with glazing, rubbing, or purposefully applied wear provide vintage character.
  • Glass Front – Glass front cabinet doors showcase contents while maintaining an open feel. Etched, frosted, or colored glass offer privacy.
  • Louvered – Horizontal slats give louvered cabinet doors a breezy, cottage-inspired look. They promote air circulation in corners.
  • Flat Panel – Flat center panels with molded edges provide understated detailing. Contemporary yet versatile.

Choosing Finishes and Hardware

The finishing touches like cabinet colors, countertops, and hardware further express your kitchen’s style. Complement your cabinet selection with:

  • Paint or Stain Colors – Light, bright whites work well in small kitchens while bolder navy blues or sage greens make a statement. Neutral stained wood provides warmth.
  • Countertop Materials – Quartz, granite, laminate and solid surface counters all pair nicely with different cabinet finishes. Marble is luxurious. butcher block is traditional.
  • Hardware – Hardware pulls, knobs, and handles come in a range of metals, from sleek stainless steel to rustic iron. Opt for brushed nickel or antique brass designs.
  • Accent Trims – Consider glass front cabinets, crown molding, light rails, or accent legs for a built-in custom look.

Bring all the elements together and be sure your finishes coordinate well. For example, avoid pairing traditional cabinets with ultra-modern hardware.

Designing Storage Solutions

The whole purpose of kitchen cabinets is smart storage, so make sure to incorporate storage solutions that meet your household’s needs. Ask yourself:

  • What essential pots, pans, and small appliances will be used daily? Place them in easy-access bases.
  • Are there specialty items like large platters or small wares that need a home? Designate deep drawers or pull-out shelves.
  • Where will food staples, cooking oils, and spices be stored? Include built-in racks, slide-out shelving, and spice drawers.
  • Will recycling bins, trash cans, cleaning supplies have a dedicated space? Build it in.
  • What about plates, glasses, mugs, and serving pieces? Maximize upper cabinets.

Carefully designed storage ensures everything has a convenient home.

Adding Organizational Features

Take kitchen organization even further by incorporating specialized storage solutions:

  • Drawer Dividers – Customizable dividers keep contents separated and tidy. Perfect for utensils, baking pans, or table linens.
  • Pull-Out Shelving – Maximize corner cabinets and base lazy susans with pull-out shelves on smooth glide tracks.
  • Vertical Spice Racks – Make the most of narrow spaces with vertical spice racks installed on cabinet doors.
  • Pot Lid Organizers – Stop hunting for matching pot lids by storing them on ceiling mounted racks or pull-down cabinet inserts.
  • Tray Dividers – Use metal or wooden tray dividers to neatly store cutting boards, cookie sheets, and other awkward items.
  • Knife Block – Free up drawer space with an easily accessible countertop knife block for everyday chopping and slicing.
  • Waste Bin Cabinet – Hide unsightly garbage cans in designated base cabinet pull-outs with custom garbage bag holders.

Working With Kitchen Cabinet Professionals

Unless you are an experienced DIYer, it’s best to have kitchen cabinets professionally designed and installed. Cabinet specialists can:

  • Take accurate on-site measurements for a customized fit.
  • Assess your kitchen’s functionality and suggest superior layout options.
  • Have access to a wider selection of cabinet brands, styles, and accessories.
  • Accurately price order materials including cabinets, hardware, counters, etc.
  • Oversee the entire installation process including delivery and construction.
  • Help coordinate other trades like electricians, tilers, painters to finish the job.

An experienced kitchen designer has the expertise to turn your vision into reality. They streamline the entire cabinet planning and installation process.

How to Design Your Dream Kitchen

A kitchen remodel presents the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful and efficient dream kitchen customized to your cooking and entertaining needs. Here are some tips for designing the ultimate kitchen:

Gather Inspiration

Spend time gathering inspiration from home magazines, model homes, Instagram, Pinterest, and Houzz. Identify dream kitchen elements like:

  • Flow and layout
  • Cabinetry styles
  • Hardware selections
  • Countertop and backsplash materials
  • Flooring
  • Lighting design
  • Colors and decorative accents

Compile all inspiring kitchen photos digitally or in an inspiration notebook. This will help formulate your vision.

Evaluate How You Use Your Kitchen

Analyze how your family currently uses the kitchen by asking:

  • When does it see the most use? Morning, noon, evening, weekends?
  • What tasks are done frequently? Cooking, baking, food prep, cleaning, homework.
  • What is prepared and cooked most often? Quick meals, holiday feasts, baked goods.
  • How many people utilize the space simultaneously? More space needed?
  • What works and what doesn’t? Appliance locations, storage, seating.

Consider these insights when planning renovations to enhance functionality.

Define Your Wish List

With your inspiration gathered and needs assessed, make a detailed wish list for the new kitchen including:

  • Ideal layout for work triangles and flow
  • Cabinetry styles and finishes
  • Countertops, islands, and banquettes
  • Sink, faucet, and lighting desires
  • Backsplash and accent tile visions
  • Appliance wish list and placement
  • Flooring and wall treatment options
  • Decor like window treatments and plants

Prioritize must-haves versus nice-to-haves in case of budget constraints.

Consult Professionals Early

Meet with professional kitchen designers before finalizing plans. They can identify and troubleshoot potential layout issues and suggest smart storage solutions. Their experience will prove invaluable for making smart, functional choices. They can also help create accurate budgets.

Plan for Accessibility and Universal Design

Look for ways to make the kitchen more accessible and user-friendly for family members of all ages and abilities. Consider features like:

  • Lower countertop heights
  • Upper cabinet drawers and pull-down shelves
  • Under cabinet lighting
  • Lever style faucets
  • Drawers and rollout shelves for reduced bending

Planning ahead allows for many years of comfortable use by all.

Choose Timeless Over Trendy

While you want a kitchen that feels fresh and contemporary, avoid design choices that are too trendy like bold colors or finishes. Opt for versatile classics with enduring appeal. This increases the longevity of the kitchen design while still feeling stylish.

By carefully researching your options, analyzing needs, consulting professionals, and making practical choices, you can design a forever dream kitchen that both looks beautiful and functions flawlessly for your lifestyle.

Budgeting and Cost Estimates for a Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen remodels can vary widely in cost due to the size of the space, the materials used, and the extent of the renovations. When budgeting for a kitchen overhaul, be sure to factor in these typical expenses:


The cabinetry selected, including the door styles, finishes and any custom built-ins or modifications, accounts for approximately 40% of the total kitchen remodel cost. Expect to spend $4000-$12,000 on stock cabinets or $12,000-$25,000+ on custom cabinetry installs.


Countertop surfaces like granite, quartz, marble, butcher block, laminate, and slab ceramic tile start at $40 per square foot installed. High-end materials like marble or concrete can exceed $200 per square foot. Budget 15-20% of total cost for countertops.


Even if reusing existing appliances, many homeowners choose to upgrade their range, refrigerator, dishwasher and more during a renovation. Allow $4000-$14,000 for quality appliance upgrades. Built-in specialty appliances cost more.


Kitchen installations require extensive labor. From layout to demolition, electrical and plumbing upgrades, installation, and finishes, expect to spend 35-50% of your budget on qualified contractor labor.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Sink and faucet upgrades, backsplash tile, new flooring, lighting fixtures, painting, and other finishes also factor into the overall price, adding 10-15% more to the budget. Built-in specialty storage and organization features also increase costs.

In total, a major kitchen remodel often ranges $25,000-$50,000 on average. Minor renovations still cost $10,000+. Upscale luxury kitchens with premium materials and extensive customization can reach $100,000 or more. Careful planning and budgeting ensures there are no financial surprises half-way through your kitchen project.

How to Create a Functional Kitchen Layout

A well-planned kitchen layout allows for maximum efficiency, comfort, and style. Follow these tips when designing your kitchen’s floorplan:

Optimize the Work Triangle

The “work triangle” connects the primary work zones of the sink, refrigerator, and stove. Keep frequently used appliances in a compact triangular formation, with no leg of the triangle exceeding 8 feet, to minimize steps. Avoid walking through triangles.

Incorporate Clear Pathways

Allow for ample walkways so multiple cooks can navigate the kitchen simultaneously. Pathways a minimum of 42 inches wide allow people to pass each other with ease. Wider is better for high traffic areas.

Establish Individual Work Stations

Define distinct work stations for food prep, baking, cleaning, recycling, lunch making, and more based on tasks performed most often in your current kitchen.

Select the Proper Appliances

Choose appliance sizes and configurations that work ergonomically in your available space. Opt for counter-depth refrigerators, slide-in or narrow ranges, and specially sized microwaves or ovens as needed.

Allow for Triangular Circulation

The kitchen floorplan should enable continuous workflow movement in a triangular pattern linking key appliances and counters. Avoid dead-ends or bottlenecks.

Design with Universal Accessibility in Mind

Consider mobility needs, young children, and aging-in-place by allowing ample clearance around islands, incorporating different height countertops, selecting easy-access storage, and simplifying transitions between flooring types.

Define Cabinet Storage Zones

Designate cabinet zones for dishes, cooking items, pantry goods, cleaning supplies, linens, and more. Place most accessed items in convenient waist- to shoulder-height zones.

Allow for Adequate Task Lighting

Illuminate primary prep zones, sinks, and ranges adequately while also lighting the full perimeter of the room. Include under cabinet, overhead, and accent lighting.

Keeping these kitchen layout tips in mind will help maximize usable space, simplify cooking tasks, and accommodate all users comfortably and safely.

Common Kitchen Layout Options

Kitchen floorplans generally fall into a few basic layout classifications. Each configuration has pros and cons to consider when selecting your ideal kitchen arrangement.

Galley Kitchen Layout

Galley kitchens feature two parallel runs of cabinets with an aisle in between. This economical layout works well in long, narrow kitchens. However, multiple cooks can feel cramped in the single work aisle. Walkways should be 4 feet wide minimum. Consider adding an island for more workspace.

L-Shaped Kitchen Layout

The versatile L-shaped kitchen provides two adjacent work areas with counters and appliances, separated by a perpendicular traffic aisle. The open floorplan feels spacious despite utilizing just two walls. However, corner cabinet access can sometimes be restricted.

U-Shaped Kitchen Layout

U-shaped kitchens optimize three walls for counters and storage, with an open side for easy access. The continuous countertops provide ample workspace. However, the solid wall of cabinetry limits open sightlines from the kitchen into other rooms. Adding an island can mitigate crowded work aisles.

G-Shaped Kitchen Layout

For larger kitchens, a G-shaped layout adds an additional short run of cabinets like a peninsula or butler’s pantry, resulting in four usable work zones. The extra interior wall lends privacy while requiring multiple traffic paths to navigate the space.

Islands and Peninsulas

Islands and peninsulas work seamlessly with nearly all kitchen layouts by anchoring the space and offering additional counter area. Just be sure adequate walkways allow for circulation around islands. Peninsulas can separate kitchen and living areas.

Evaluate your family’s cooking style, storage needs and aesthetic preferences to select the optimal kitchen footprint for your home. An experienced designer can help weigh the pros and cons.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Kitchen Remodels

Kitchen remodels are a major undertaking filled with many crucial design decisions. Avoid these common kitchen renovation mistakes:

Failing to Establish a Realistic Budget

Have an experienced kitchen professional provide an accurate estimate for the full scope of work, materials, permits, labor and fees. Unexpected expenses can derail a project.

Not Planning Electrical and Plumbing Needs

Identify all lighting, outlet, switch, appliance hook-up, gas line, venting, and sink placement requirements at the start. Upgrades are much easier pre-construction versus mid-remodel.

Choosing the Wrong Layout

Ensure ample walkways, optimized work triangles, and ergonomic design considering all kitchen users. Traffic jams create frustration.

Selecting Trendy Finishes

While personal style is great, ultra-trendy finishes can decrease longterm satisfaction and resale value. Opt for versatile, classic materials and colors.

Ignoring Storage Needs

Maximize every inch with customized storage solutions. Easy-access drawers, slide-outs, pull-downs, and specialty organizers tailor the space to your needs.

Forgetting Task Lighting

Ensure all main prep zones receive adequate overhead and under cabinet lighting. Ambient and accent lighting also provide overall illumination.

Undersizing Appliances

Range hoods, refrigerators, and ovens should fit the space both visually and functionally. Measure carefully to avoid crammed configurations.

Overlooking Work Triangles

Keep traffic out of work triangles linking key appliances. Diagonal triangles are ideal. Remember the sink-fridge-stove relationship.

Avoiding common pitfalls like these helps keep your kitchen renovation running smoothly from start to finish, preventing costly changes mid-project.

How to Select the Perfect Kitchen Countertop

Choosing the ideal countertop surface is a top consideration when remodeling a kitchen. Selecting from the wide range of materials available involves weighing factors like cost, durability, maintenance, and aesthetics.

Granite Countertops

Granite is a high-end natural stone valued for its elegance and durability. The coarse, multicolored stone must be professionally sealed to repel stains but requires little maintenance beyond wiping spills. Granite withstands heat but can chip if objects are dropped. Cost is $80-$150 per square foot.

Quartz Countertops

Quartz has gained popularity for its visual appeal resembling natural stone coupled with excellent durability. Composed of ground quartz and resin, the nonporous material resists scratches, stains, and heat. Maintenance is effortless. Pricing ranges $70-$100 per square foot.

Marble Countertops

Prized for beauty and luxury, marble veining has timeless allure. However, the classic stone is quite porous and prone to etching, staining, and cracking. Marble requires extensive sealing and gentle use. Cost averages $100-$250 per square foot.

Soapstone Countertops

Known for its warm, gentle grayish tones, soapstone offers a nice alternative to pricier natural stones. The soft yet durable material is heat resistant. Soapstone darkens naturally with use but damage can be sanded away. Cost is approximately $70-$100 per square foot.

Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher block offers vintage farmhouse charm constructed from edge-glued strips of