What makes one kitchen design better, more beautiful or functional than another? Can you pinpoint the exact elements in that one kitchen that you crave to be allowed to cook in?
 I started researching these exact questions when I was first asked to design a kitchen for a client many years ago. Having experience in the commercial and business sectors, the concept of what made a great kitchen design was a new challenge for me, a concept that literally terrified me.
 Even back then, the design and remodeling of Kitchens and Bathrooms were at the top of most people’s wish lists. This was, and has been for some time now, the most popular room in the house to design. Real estate brokers claim it is what will give you the best ROI (Return on Investment). Sales people will claim it is the most used room in the house, and the appliance industry will back these all up with the vast amount of research they put into creating the latest and greatest appliance gadget for the residential kitchen market. It is a bit of an obsession that is fed by our need to always improve our lifestyle.


This is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.

– Julia Child

 So what are the keys to making a GREAT KITCHEN?

 As a Holistic Designer, I am always going to say that the upfront work and the questions you ask are the best way to end up with the best design.
 The reasons for re-doing your kitchen are multileveled and can include the following:
  • Family function
  • Style & aesthetic
  • ROI or Resale
  • Safety & Health
  • Storage & Utility
  • Entertaining
  • Family Expansion
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Does your kitchen make you feel happy?

According to a national survey by National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the most important aspect of a FANTASTIC kitchen is one that you are simply happier being in. This is a very subjective design point and one which I adhere to on all my design projects. Take the time to research what it is you want, need and desire; then back into a realistic budget and schedule, and then find the right team to help you complete this. The methodology or process for the creation of a fantastic kitchen, one that you feel great in, are always the same; however, it is the FIRST QUESTIONS you ask and answer that will ultimately effect the level of success you achieve.

The art and science of asking questions

is the source of all knowledge.

Thomas Berger

No matter WHY you are doing a new kitchen renovation or remodel, and no matter what your overall budget is, where you are living or what your timeframe is, there are some KEY ELEMENTS in a great kitchen that you need to consider when you are starting on the design journey for a kitchen makeover.
Make sure you research your exact storage requirements. Bigger is not necessarily better. Making sure you have the right space is always a better option than a bigger space, especially when it comes to functional, task-oriented spaces such as kitchens.
The right type of storage is essential. Do you need something you can easily access? If so, make sure you can actually get to it. As a Feng Shui designer, I cannot tell you the amount of clogged or negative energy I reveal in spaces because of storage that you cannot reach. This will result in things being left in dark storage units and areas, literally unused or untouched for decades. This is a poor use of space and one that can easily be remedied if you think in advance about what you need and design accordingly. Do NOT simply add more storage for the sake of more storage. It is a financial mistake to do this.

Open cabinets allow for items to be easily seen

Depending on what you cook and your overall goals, plus the people using the space, the cabinets can vary a great deal. Whether you bake or just eat raw food, have children or elderly people, or have specific health goals will all affect the design of your cabinetry and storage in your kitchen. Some ideas on things to consider in the design of your kitchen storage requirements may include the following items:
  • Open versus Closed
  • Use your vertical space
  • Drawers versus Doors
  • LIGHT inside
  • Soft close
  • Accessory Organizers
  • Recycling Centers
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Islands offer loads of additional storage and countertop space

Research says that people really are affected by the surfaces in their kitchens. If you do not like it, you will be less likely to use it. If you are limited in your ability to re-do everything, this may be the best investment to change or replace. Human beings like to spread out their stuff, and kitchens are the best places for surfaces to do this for cooking, prepping and serving. Even small kitchens can have functional surface space to cook up a feast. Some key ingredients to a great countertop space in your kitchen include:
  • Keep Clear of clutter
  • Adjustable Height
  • Easy to Clean
  • Aesthetically pleasing to YOU
  • Non-toxic materials
  • Flip down or expandable
S. Lee Wright

Dual Height Counters can accommodate stools for a eating area adjacent to the working counter

Since the kitchen is literally the heart of your home, it is often the most used space in most households, so it is a logical and strategic location to keep the control center for your life in this central location.
Proper placement and consideration of how you manage yours and your family’s schedules will reduce stress, increase free time as a result of proper planning, and create a natural flow of open communication about life events that will minimize the need for over-communication about the small stuff.
Things that I have helped my clients design into their kitchen spaces over the years include the following:
  • Blackboards or cork boards
  • Calendars – interactive or static
  • Display areas for kids’ art work, memos, and photos
  • Technology plug-in stations
  • Household billing storage
  • Perching stools
  • Music stations
  • Mail stations
  • Key hooks

Black boards are handy for home calendars for the whole family

In a modern world where we are always seeking ways to make things easier or faster, the options for home kitchen appliances are vast and plentiful. However, it is something very personal and not always necessary. Choosing your appliances is something I recommend you take your time with and do your research. Go to see them in the showrooms and department stores so you can truly understand their size, shape, height and how the appliances operate and feel. Only you know the importance of the way you stack your dishes, the fact that you grew up using gas cooktops in your childhood home and are accustomed to using these to cook on your stovetop, and your need to have your water filtered. The specific things that are important to you when functioning in your kitchen are all very unique to you and only you.   Figure this out while in the creation phase.

There are loads of appliances to check out

A few things to consider while you are doing your own research:
Bigger is NOT always better. Using larger than necessary appliances does not only take up valuable space, they will also require energy to upkeep that will increase your ongoing electricity and utility bills. Americans have the largest refrigerators in the world, yet we throw away more food monthly than anywhere else. I have helped my clients over the years to recognize their own needs and curb this desire for massive appliances in exchange for ones that actually do what you need on a human scale.
 In one of my first kitchen designs, the client invited me over for dinner afterwards. It was such an honor to cook, eat and dine in the space I spent almost a year designing. This experience inspired my holistic design approach. It ignited my own love of the culinary experience and how the kitchen could be designed in specific and unique ways that make those that use them feel better, cook better and generally live healthier and happier lives. This became a keystone in my design approach afterwards.

Sustainable InteriorDesign

If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.

~ Cesar Chavez


If you are seeking to remodel, redesign or renovate your own kitchen soon, look here in our portfolio of award-winning kitchens for some inspiration. CLICK HERE


Coming soon! My second book Feng Shui Tips: Kitchen Renovations will share more insights on my thoughts for how to create a kitchen that makes your heart sing and your tummy full!


 Let us know if you want to us to let you know when the book is released! CONTACT US