Remodeling Your Kitchen? Let Kitchen Functionality Guide the Renovation

A kitchen fulfills a diverse set of needs, and every family’s needs are slightly different. Therefore, before you begin your kitchen renovation and start making choices, it’s important to have a firm idea of the kitchen functionality needs for your family. Functionality encompasses having a good idea of how you will be using the kitchen and the different people that will use the space.

Some kitchens are defined by the high degree of traffic they must accommodate with different family members requiring different things simultaneously. Other kitchens are designed to prioritize a great deal of entertaining and serve as the hub for parties or get-togethers. Still, others may have their functionality defined by empty nesters that are in some ways downsizing from a high-traffic family kitchen to more specialized needs for a couple.

The choices you make about layout, surfaces, appliances, kitchen cabinets, islands and amenities are a direct reflection of the functionality that your family needs and how you intend to use the kitchen space. Let’s take a broad look at three major functionality modes and what considerations and choices they may reveal that will inform the renovation design.

Entertaining Kitchen Considerations

In an age of open concept designs, it’s common for most homeowners to utilize the kitchen as the gathering place. For homeowners who do a lot of entertaining with the kitchen as the hub, high traffic and functional beauty can be far more important than in a strictly family kitchen. When designing a kitchen that functions as an effective entertaining space, it’s all about the integrated specialty features that make serving food and beverages easy.

The type of events you host, number of people, preferred method of serving people, and whether cooking is part of the entertaining will all impact your layout. This will also guide the choice and placement of appliances, counters, cabinets, sinks and flooring. Things like warming drawers, double dishwashers and even a flat screen tv can be prized amenities that will influence the design and layout of an entertaining kitchen.

Cabinets may have glass fronts to show off dishware, raised countertops can double as serving access and snack bar-type gathering places. Kitchen islands can be a major design element that can include numerous functional elements from wine racks, chillers and wet bars to sinks, storage, and accommodations for seating among others.

High Traffic, Family Kitchens

When planning a new kitchen, it’s important to consider the requirements of everyone who’ll be using it. For family homes, this means having an adaptable space that can meet the needs of adults, children, and teenagers. This is a different type of high traffic use functionality as the space is meant to accommodate a family rather than hosts and guests. Layouts can invite, direct, and restrict access to differing degrees such as keeping small children out from underfoot.

Children and adults will need access to the refrigerator, so placement will often be on the periphery of the kitchen, so the higher traffic doesn’t interfere with food preparation. Islands with seating on the far side can serve similar multiple functions for homework, serving, and entertaining of smaller groups of adults.

Empty Nesters

Going from a family friendly, high traffic area to an empty nester renovation is all about centering the space around the life of the couple and close friends. For some, this may mean a move to an entertaining kitchen as laid out above, or a mix of entertaining and couple space for a variety of functions. Cabinet types and placement are geared to two users so they can incorporate different elements for ease of access. Built-in cooktops and wall ovens may be more ideal for convenience.

Empty nest kitchens can be set up to accommodate hobbies or incorporate an office area that keeps the couple interacting in the same space without creating cross-function challenges. Highly specialized amenities such as wine racks or a breakfast bar are things that can enhance kitchen space functionality for empty nesters. While efficiency, organization, and ergonomics are always a priority in any kitchen, empty nesters may prize these aspects even more with specific design choices.

How Islands & Appliances Benefit Different Functionality Scenarios

If space permits, islands can accommodate a wide range of functionality scenarios. Seating makes the kitchen more multipurpose as we mentioned earlier for eating, studying, and entertaining. Amenities like a built-in sink raises the functionality for easier cleaning which benefits high traffic kitchens and entertaining kitchens for easy cleanup. Island height for sitting adults and children as well as designs that accommodate things like doing homework or other non-cooking activities may be a consideration.

Wall ovens may be raised to eye level for safety, traffic flow and ergonomic convenience reasons. Worktop materials as well as cabinet and appliance faces may result in different choices where convenience, aesthetics, functionality and durability have different orders of importance for different kitchen lifestyles and functionalities. The same will apply to flooring.

Asking yourself several important questions and understanding the needed functionality of the people that will use and occupy a kitchen is what will make or break a kitchen renovation in the end. By letting functionality be the framework for layouts, design, build, cabinets, appliances, and amenity choices, it’s much easier to create a winning renovation design and execution plan that will fulfill your dreams. At Builders’ General, our experts work with you to reveal that functionality for everyone that will use and enjoy the space today and tomorrow.