A kitchen remodel can completely transform a home, making it more functional, comfortable and stylish. With so many options for layouts, appliances, cabinets, countertops and finishes, creating your dream kitchen may seem overwhelming. However, focusing on a few key features can help streamline the process. We consulted with professional kitchen designers, contractors and interior decorators to determine the 6 must-have elements for any kitchen.
Choosing finishes and appliances made to withstand years of use should be top priority. Opting for solid, sturdy materials over trendy but fragile features leads to long-term satisfaction.
Countertops see a lot of action in the kitchen, supporting heavy appliances while getting cut on, burned, and stained regularly. Select a highly durable surface material that can handle your lifestyle.
Granite – This natural stone has compressive strength nearly 4 times that of concrete, making it practically indestructible in the kitchen.
Quartz – Created from natural stone and resins, quartz counters resist scratches, stains and heat. Brands like Caesarstone offer lifetime warranties.
Laminate – Affordable and easy to install, laminate stands up well over time. Opt for thick cores and avoid thin or glue-based finishes.
Stainless Steel – A classic choice, stainless steel provides heat and corrosion resistance. Use extra caution with knives to avoid scratches.
Tile – Use high-fired, high-density porcelain or ceramic tile rated for floors. Check hardness and water absorption ratings when selecting.
Butcher Block – Wood counters require regular oiling but age beautifully. Use mushroom wood species like maple for best durability. Use cutting boards to preserve finish.
Kitchen cabinets endure constant opening and closing, grease exposure and loaded weight. Choose options built to handle everyday use.
Plywood boxes – Solid plywood prevents sagging over time. Avoid particle board or plastic builds.
Soft-close features – Doors and drawers with integrated cushions prevent slamming and damage.
Durable finishes – Opt for laminates over thin veneers for cabinet fronts and use drawer glides rated for weight.
Refer to reliability ratings before selecting appliances. Well-known brands like GE, Whirlpool, Bosch and Viking offer exceptional lifespans for their major kitchen appliances. Opt for extended warranties for added peace of mind.
Kitchen flooring should be able to resist moisture, stains and heavy foot traffic.
Porcelain/Ceramic Tile – Leading in durability and water-resistance, ceramic tile comes in a variety of styles.
Natural Stone – Granite, marble and limestone have hard finishes built to last but require sealing.
Linoleum – Made from linseed oil and other materials, classic linoleum withstands water and traffic. Avoid vinyl floors marked as ‘linoleum’.
Concrete – Could last forever but requires sealing. Stains and cracks are difficult to repair.
Laminates – Affordable and easy to install, today’s laminates are durable with their resin-impregnated layers.
Engineered Wood – Top veneer layer resists moisture and scratches. Use well-sealed planks only in dry kitchen areas.
Maximize kitchen storage space by selecting sturdy, high-quality cabinets, shelving, bins and drawers. Consider built-ins like slide-out pantries, angled corners, pot-lid organizers and tray dividers that fully utilize available space.
Modern kitchen safety focuses on creating accident-free environments. Include bright task lighting, easily cleaned surfaces, secure storage and slip-resistant floors during your remodel.
Proper lighting eliminates shadows and illuminates task areas to prevent cuts and burns.
Undercabinet lighting – Installing LED strips under wall cabinets provides direct work surface lighting.
Ceiling fixtures – Use recessed cans throughout kitchen for ambient light. Increase wattage over countertops and sinks.
Pendant lighting – Hang directional pendant lights over islands or peninsulas to spotlight cooking areas.
Dimmers – Use dimmer switches on overhead lighting to control mood and brightness.
Choosing kitchen surfaces that are easy to sanitize cuts down on bacteria leading to illnesses.
Non-porous – Materials like metal, glass, laminate and high-fired ceramic tile resist stains and cannot absorb food particles and liquids.
Sealed – Natural stone and concrete should be professionally sealed to reduce penetration.
Non-textured – Skip rough finishes that trap grease and germs. Opt for smooth, continuous textures and patterns.
Low-maintenance – Require little effort to keep clean. Avoid glossy surfaces that show water spots and smudges.
Organized kitchens minimize risk of accidents.
No open shelving – Enclosed cabinets keep falling object hazards at bay. Install tempered glass doors to display items securely.
Drawers for utensils – Use wide, shallow drawers to organize cooking tools and cut down on poking injuries.
Covered waste – Prevent odor and fire hazards by using sink bases and cabinets to contain garbage and recyclables.
Secured knives – Mount magnetic strips or use in-drawer blade protectors to contain sharp implements. Store safely out of children’s reach.
Fire safety – Choose fire-retardant materials when possible. Keep microwave clean and operating properly. Provide fire extinguisher.
Choosing kitchen floors that reduce slips and falls should be a top priority.
Rated for wet conditions – Use tile, sealed concrete, sheet vinyl or linoleum in kitchens to resist moisture.
Textured surfaces – Materials with grit like wood-look porcelain tiles improve traction.
Cushioned – Soft materials like cork, padded vinyl and rubber absorb impact and increase comfort underfoot.
Low-maintenance – Keep floors free of waxes, grease and grime that lead to slips.
Flow and Functionality
A kitchen layout allowing smooth circulation and easy usage ensures the space works for you. Include wide walkways, purposeful task lighting and functional storage solutions.
Optimal kitchen floor plans separate tasks into convenient work zones.
- Create dedicated preparation, cooking, cleaning, dining and storage areas based on space available and lifestyle needs.
- Design a practical triangular workflow linking sink, prep surface and cooktop.
- Allow 36-48 inches minimum between all work areas and appliances.
- Position oven and fridge on perimeter walls, not island or peninsula.
- Maximize natural light exposure on key workstations.
Strategic lighting makes kitchens safer and easier to use.
- Install overhead fixtures with higher wattage bulbs above main workstations.
- Use recessed lighting to eliminate shadows along walls and appliances.
- Consider undercabinet lighting on task areas and ambient light over dining zones.
- Incorporate dimmer switches for flexibility in atmosphere.
Smart storage equals calm and clutter-free cooking.
- Opt for drawer bases over hard-to-access cabinets. Include pull-out trays and dividers.
- Use cabinet organizers and Lazy Susans to neatly contain goods.
- Mount racks and rails to take advantage of vertical real estate.
- Include pantry with adjustable shelving for flexible use.
- Keep everyday items easily accessible while storing specialty tools out of the way.
Investing in appliances with powerful capabilities and conveniences streamlines kitchen tasks. Focus on professional-grade ovens and rangetops plus built-in specialty appliances.
Ranges and Ovens
Serious home chefs require serious cooking power.
- Look for 20,000+ BTU burners that boil water fast. Opt for a high-output wok ring.
- Choose convection ovens that distribute heat evenly and quickly.
- Search for self-cleaning models with heavy-duty racks and bright halogen lights.
- Add separate steam or warming ovens for extra flexibility.
- Splurge for pro-style with restaurant burners, griddles and grill tops.
Including convenient built-in appliances reduces kitchen clutter.
- Refrigerator drawers installed as undercounter units, provide specialized cooling.
- Warming drawers give easy access and keep food at ideal serving temp.
- Trash compactor cabinets compress waste neatly out of sight.
- Wine refrigerators store bottles at proper preservation temps.
- Microwave drawers free up counter space.
Top-tier appliances offer premium finishes for a built-in look.
- Stainless steel panels give a commercial-grade aesthetic.
- Custom overlays blend seamlessly into cabinetry.
- Pro-style ventilation hoods conceal unsightly ductwork.
- Gourmet faucets and fixtures add professional plumbing.
Building ease of maintenance into a kitchen remodel results in lasting beauty and minimal effort. Use non-porous surfaces, undermount hardware and hidden appliances.
Choosing surfaces that repel grime reduces regular upkeep.
- Polished natural stone or ceramic with dark grout
- Stainless steel
- Laminate or thermoplastic finishes
- Enameled and stainless appliances
- Lacquered cabinetry
Strategic hardware placement prevents gunk-catching edges.
- Undermount sinks keep spills from collecting around rims
- Inset cabinet hinges hide debris-catching gaps
- Induction cooktops eliminate cracked, difficult-to-clean electric coils
Concealing major appliances keeps kitchen sightlines clean.
- Panel ready designs allow custom fronts matching cabinetry.
- Full-height pull-out fridge and freezer drawers install undercountertop.
- Slide-in or drop-in rangetops preserve continuous counter space.
- Downdraft ventilation disappears when not in use.
Organizational tools facilitate fast, easy cleanups.
- Pull-out lower cabinets provide access to back areas.
- Drawers include compartments for sorting utensils and gadgets.
- Built-in waste bins hide inside cabinetry.
- Deep sinks accommodate stacking dirty dishes.
A thoughtfully designed kitchen balances striking visual appeal with everyday livability. Include personalized touches along with timeless elements.
Mix of Materials
Thoughtful material mixing creates depth and interest.
- Contrast base cabinet colors with natural stone countertops.
- Choose stained island bases with painted perimeter cabinetry.
- Combine classic subway tile backsplash with on-trend brass fixtures.
- Integrate natural wood and black accents into contemporary space.
Special details provide personalized flair.
- Display prized dishware or cookbooks in open shelving.
- Choose hardware with unique shapes, finishes or nautical themes.
- Incorporate custom range hood designs as focal features.
- Carve out space for corner banquettes or breakfast nooks.
Some elements never go out of style.
Subway Tile – Classic white 3”x 6” tile instantly elevates walls. Use dramatically on entire backsplash or just behind ranges.
Nickel Hardware – Satin nickel or brushed nickel finishes add subtle sheen and work with any style.
Wood Flooring – Natural oak brings warmth. Opt for wide planks with heavy texturing.
Stainless Steel – Commercial grade stainless appliances always look bold and clean.
Open Shelving – Airy steel or white-painted wood shelves display cookware with minimal fuss.
Marble Countertops – Elegant marble comes in a stunning array of natural patterns suitable for any kitchen.
Glass Cabinet Doors – Clear glass fronts and open shelves maintain visibility and feel light and bright.
By focusing on these essential elements – durability, safety, layout, appliances, maintenance and style – your kitchen remodel can result in a highly functional, on-trend and inspiring space that serves your household for decades to come. Spend the majority of your time and budget on timeless materials and structural features, then include stylish finishes and custom details to reflect your personal taste. With good planning and professional help, your dream kitchen can become a welcoming reality.
Pros Share 6 Must-Have Kitchen Design Features – FAQ
Still have questions about creating your perfect kitchen? Check out answers to the most frequently asked questions on must-have kitchen design elements.
What countertop materials are most durable?
Granite, quartz, tile, stainless steel, laminate and butcher block provide the toughest kitchen countertop options. Materials like concrete and wood can also be long-lasting when properly sealed and maintained.
Where should task lighting be installed?
Focus task lighting over key workstation areas like islands, sinks, ranges and secondary prep surfaces where important cutting, chopping and cooking occurs.
What flooring works best for kitchens?
Tile, vinyl, linoleum, sealed concrete and engineered hardwoods stand up best to heavy use and moisture. Opt for textured finishes to reduce slips.
How much space is needed between kitchen workstations?
Plan for at least 36 inches between countertops and appliances. Up to 48 inches allows more comfortable movement and drawer access.
Should kitchen islands have built-in appliances?
Avoid installing ovens or rangetops on kitchen islands. locating them on perimeter walls makes for safer, more comfortable work flow. Refrigerator drawers, microwave drawers, wine fridges or extra sinks work well in island design.
What backsplash tiles stay in style longest?
Classic white subway tile measuring 3 by 6 inches provides a timeless backsplash option suitable for any kitchen style.
How can I add custom flair to my kitchen?
Add unique touches with specialty lighting, hardware finishes, open shelving displays and range hood designs. Work with contractors to include custom built-ins like banquettes, window seats or personalized cabinetry layouts.
And there you have it – a detailed overview of the 6 essential elements to include in your kitchen remodel. Focus on durability, safety, layout, high-power appliances, easy maintenance and attractive personal style for a kitchen that serves your household beautifully for many years to come.