12 Perfect Kitchen Layout Design Tips

Building a new kitchen is a big and exciting job. From selecting color schemes to buying appliances, there’s a lot of fun to be had, as well as meticulous planning. 

Zenith Design + Build as expert builders and remodelers, we can attest there are numerous tips on designing a kitchen that leverages smart choices to maximize space. Below are the most salient things to consider when designing a kitchen that meets your lifestyle needs and matches your home.

First Things First — Decide on a Kitchen Layout

designing a kitchen

Practical kitchen design is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and ergonomic. When you plan a new kitchen, you have to consider your wishlist, budget, and how the design flows with the rest of your home. Thinking about colors and factoring in appliances is important, too. But, before we share tips on designing a kitchen, let’s look at the six most common layouts.

Island Layout

Islands can be used to prepare dinner and double up as a socializing area, workspace, or homework desk. These layouts typically place islands in the center of the kitchen for increased convenience.

One Wall Layout

Popular in apartments with limited space, a one-wall kitchen layout has all the cabinets, countertops, and major work services arranged along one wall. The other side of the kitchen is open and faces the living area.

Galley Layout

Originally utilized in trains and ships, galley kitchens consist of a corridor or walkway between two parallel walls or runs of cabinets. They’re also referred to as corridor kitchens.

L-Shaped Layout

This layout is formed by two adjacent walls and runs of cabinetry, often referred to as the “legs” of the L. The length of the legs can vary based on the available space of the area. 

U-Shaped Layout

U-shaped kitchens feature built-in cabinetry, countertops, and appliances on three sides, with the fourth side left open or featuring a cased opening or entry door. They’re typically outfitted with an island. 

Peninsula Layout

Similar to an island layout, except one end of the “island” is attached to the wall. This is usually to save space. Peninsula layouts can help achieve the same function as an island in smaller spaces. 

12 Tips to Design a Perfect Kitchen

kitchen design tip

From recycling to zoning and clever storage design, follow our top tips for kitchen design layout ideas that are efficient and cost-effective.

#1: Strive for the Perfect Kitchen Triangle

First conceived in the 1920s by industrial psychologist and engineer Lillian Moller Gilbreth, the kitchen triangle is still used today to determine efficient kitchen layouts. The theory posits the primary tasks are carried out between the cooktop, the sink, and the refrigerator. 

By following this concept and optimizing the distance between each area, you can save resources. This design concept helps builders use fewer materials and homeowners save time and energy. However, some designers think it’s outdated and prefer to optimize space based on zones, i.e., a prep zone, eating zone, etc.

#2: Design Wide Walkaways

Passageways through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide or larger if it's open plan. In work areas, walkways should be at least 42 inches wide for one cook and 48 for two. When designing a kitchen, you want to ensure there’s enough room to move around without feeling cramped. 

This includes factoring in how much space you need for opening appliance doors like fridges and dishwashers, as well as what your local building code suggests. Spaces often feel bigger than they really are, especially once multiple people are moving around. As a rule of thumb, opt for more space than less. 

#3: Design a Multifunctional Kitchen

A kitchen design tip to enhance multi-functionality is to turn your kitchen island into a dining spot. Incorporating a sink or hob also makes cooking sociable, allowing guests to interact with you while you prepare meals. More and more homeowners are also opting for built-in booths in sunlight areas for less formal dining. 

Smaller kitchens can benefit from smart designs, such as flip-out tables and foldable chairs or an island on wheels that comes with additional storage space. Multifunctional kitchen sinks can also increase worktop functionality near washing stations with additional cutting boards, grids, colanders, and containers. 

#4: Consider the Lighting

ideal kitchen design

Kitchen design essentials like lighting play a massive role in ambiance and mood. There are five main types of interior lighting, which most homeowners aren’t aware of: 

  • General: This provides a uniform glow over an entire room. 
  • Ambient: Usually connected to a dimming system to control light levels and create drama.
  • Mood: This makes a room inviting by creating pools of light that counteract shadows caused by general lighting.
  • Task: These lights have a stronger wattage and are used to complete tasks, such as food prep.
  • Accent: Highlights a particular room feature. 

Sticking to one lighting source can cause unflattering shadows. Most designers will combine these five types with other factors like color palettes, room size and layout, headspace availability, and furniture selection.

#5: Get in the Zone

Practical kitchen design incorporates five different zones; the consumable zone, preparation zone, non-consumables zone, cooking zone, and cleaning zone. Designing a new kitchen layout with the classic five zones in mind maximizes productivity, minimizes chaos, and improves efficiency. 

An ideal kitchen design additions should follow the progression of preparing a meal, from food storage to cooking and cleaning up. The point is to allocate similar items together. In open-plan kitchens, you might consider a sixth entertainment zone, especially if you are big on entertaining.  

#6: Maximize Storage Space

Tidying up only gets you so far. Sometimes clutter is a symptom of inadequate storage. Pot rails, shelves, and to-the-ceiling cabinets utilize space smartly. The latter is especially useful for dishes and appliances that are seldom used and take up space in cupboards needed every day. When planning a new kitchen, you should design it for the storage you really require.

For instance, traditional pantries place food items in racks and baskets. Contemporary ones might eke out a tall, thin cupboard with brackets that move in both directions, so you can place food at the front and back of the bracket. The idea is to utilize every inch of space with practical concepts that also contribute to aesthetics.

 #7: Smart Knife Storage

Some kitchen design tips are simple and make a huge difference. Wall-mounted magnetic racks are an efficient option for knife storage. They keep knives safe within reach and help them maintain their sharpness for longer. These strips also make it easier to find the correct knife instead of scrounging in a drawer. 

#8: Pay Attention to the Backsplash

good kitchen design

Kitchen planning ideas like backsplashes often fall to the bottom of the list, yet they protect the wall behind the countertop from food and liquid stains. Glazed tiles are currently a popular option that pairs well with marble and wood. They also reflect light, making them a good option for dark spaces.  

If that’s not your cup of tea, opt for natural stones like marble and granite. There are loads of color and pattern options that suit traditional, transitional and contemporary kitchen designs. Even simple Subway tiles offer a timeless and clean look that works with Minimalist, Japandi, and Maximalist designs. 

#9: Think About Ventilation

Although largely overlooked, a range hood will improve the air quality of your kitchen. These ventilation systems are designed to eliminate odors, smoke, grease, and other pollutants released into the air while cooking. They suck up polluted air through a motorized fan which is then carried outside or filtered and re-circulated.

Range hoods also cut down carbon monoxide caused by cooking. This harmful gas may lead to fatigue and chest pain at low concentrations, while higher concentrations may be fatal. This is why installing adequate kitchen ventilation is important to maintain a healthy domestic environment. Naturally, HVAC systems and open windows also help maintain healthy airflow.

#10: Cut Kitchen Cleaning Time

When we plan a new kitchen, we find out from clients how much time they devote to cleaning because some simple design hacks can significantly reduce cleaning time. For instance, smooth cabinet fronts don’t collect cooking residue, matte finishes don’t show as much dirt as glossy ones do, and round sinks don’t gather debris due to a lack of corners.

#11: Consider Electrical Outlets

Always consider electrical outlets when planning a kitchen. Appliance-heavy areas should have multiple to accommodate coffee pots, toasters, ovens, blenders, etc. For extra customization, outfit a drawer with an outlet that has USB ports to create a discreet charging station for devices. This eradicates clutter and keeps devices safe from damage. 

#12: Recycle Responsibly

Waste and garbage pull-out drawers tuck bins out of sight but keep them within easy access. A customized drawer might include a composting container too. This sleek design does away with messy freestanding bins or the constant struggle of keeping small bins tucked under the sink.

Finally, — Work With Kitchen Design Professionals

Hiring a professional contractor to achieve your ideal kitchen design relieves you of the hassles and stress that come with the DIY of coordinating and managing different contractors.  Using professionals with expertise prevents costly oversights because they possess the experience and correct tools to complete the job.

If you’re searching for high-quality kitchen remodelers, then look no further than Zenith Design + Build. We’re an award-winning kitchen remodeling and custom home building company, ready to build your dream kitchen. Why not chat with us about your project?


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