Customizing Your Kitchen for You


Jackie Howard, Scarlett’s Cabinetry

The kitchen is the heart of the home and also the busiest place in the home! Multi-functional seating, organized storage, and the latest appliances can help a family prepare a meal efficiently while still enjoying time together. My goal is always to design a kitchen to ensure there is ample space for everyone to join in and help prepare family meals. Large islands with lots of counter space and seating give families multi-prep areas. Also, additional sinks and under-counter refrigeration help make these additional prep spaces work without everyone getting in each other’s way. A kitchen should always be organized with as many drawers and interior components as possible. As an example, you should be able to take one step to grab a spice or your favorite skillet, while at your cooktop. Your trays should be an arm’s reach from your ovens. Trash and recycling stations should be nearby. Appliances like the innovative steam oven allow you to cook healthy meals quickly. Refrigerator and freezer options allow for strategic placement that suits your needs.  You can design your kitchen with many “work zones,” so there isn’t an excuse for anyone to skip out on the fun!

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Juliet Braly, Kitchen and Bath Designer Juliet Braly Interior Design

Most good parties revolve around the kitchen, no matter how thoughtfully you have decorated the rest of the home. So if you like to entertain, carefully designing a kitchen is important. Have enough seating where the guests have a place nearby, but place the seating outside the true work zone. This keeps guests from holding up progress. Consider setting up an auxiliary work station for any helpers. Providing a prep sink and wastebasket in this area ensures that they have their own space to clean up as well. A separate bar area keeps guests happy and self-sufficient. When selecting appliances, I always suggest a warming drawer to keep the first round of appetizers warm while the second round is being prepped. If you frequently hire caterers, consider the width and depth of their trays when selecting a refrigerator. Also, an under-counter refrigerator and an icemaker in the bar keeps guests out of the main refrigerator.

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Carol MacKinnon, Certified Kitchen Designer Ana Woodworks

A kitchen should be both functional and beautiful for someone who loves to cook. The first necessary components are adequate appliances. They do not have to be the most expensive, but they need to function well with the main requirements. Another essential is plenty of clear countertop space, especially if it is on an island where the cook can prep while looking into another room, rather than at a wall. Kitchens need to have enough cabinetry for the main essentials such as dishware, everyday cutlery, cooking utensils, pots and pans, spices, and baking goods. If space allows, a beautiful display area or a message center is a nice touch. Making your kitchen both beautiful and functional allows you to enjoy the space more.


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Haskell Matheny, ASID, CAPS, Owner and Principal Designer, Haskell Interiors

Add a warming drawer to your kitchen. This often-overlooked appliance is great for keeping food warm and fresh for busy families that eat in shifts. It’s also perfect for entertaining because you can prepare dishes ahead of time and keep them in the warming drawer until you are ready to eat.  With a warming drawer, you can bring everything to the table at the same time, all hot and perfectly cooked.


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Shaun Hayworth, Appliances Consultant, Ferguson

Today’s appliances offer seemingly endless possibilities to match your family’s lifestyle. For busy families, there are speed ovens that incorporate multipletechnologies simultaneously. They improve cooking speed and incorporate the recipes into the controls, making them easy to use. Manufacturers are also starting to incorporate Wi-Fi technologies in appliances. Now, for example, you can start your oven remotely instead of having to wait for it to preheat when you get home. For the entertainers out there, warming ovens maintain serving temperatures without overcooking or drying out food, which is ideal for dinner parties when guests linger over your well-stocked wine chiller. Also, look at the pellet ice machines that are available – those will make your neighbors green with envy!


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Christy Forester, Classic Cabinetry

Customizing a kitchen for an avid cook is as simple as organizing the space into five key zones: serving, food storage, cooking, prepping, and cleaning. The serving zone is the area allocated to store plates, bowls, glassware, and often-used serving pieces.  This area would be most effectively placed near the dishwasher, sink, or table, allowing one to set the table or put away dishes with ease. The food storage zone is the area designated to house all your food, both perishable and non-perishable.  This could be a pantry closet or pantry cabinet, or other adjacent cabinets, as well as the refrigerator. This would allow groceries to be put away with ease and minimize the search for recipe ingredients. The cooking zone is the area where all pots, pans, hot pads, and cooking utensils are stored, and it should be in close proximity to the oven and cooktop. The prep zone is the place where cutting boards, colanders, knives, mixing bowls, and utensils are stored. Finally, the cleaning zone is the place for dish soap, kitchen cleaning products, and washcloth storage. This zone is obviously near your kitchen sink! So, spend a little more time organizing your space into these five important zones in order to spend less time searching for things needed to prepare that perfect meal.


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Anna Baker, Stone Source Inc.

Make sure your countertop choice will work for the way you use your kitchen.  If your kitchen is used as an entertaining space, a beautiful white marble will be stunning. If you like to do arts and crafts with your toddler, a man-made quartz is the way to go. And, if you are like most people, you want your kitchen to accommodate both. You’re in luck, there are new man-made quartz products that have the beauty of white marble and the durability of quartz.


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Nancy Stewart, Cross Cabinets

One of the best parts of many kitchens today is their openness to the main room of the house. When designing a kitchen for someone who really loves to cook – but also entertain – it’s important to place the work area (cooktop, prep area, and sink) where the cook can still visit with family or company as they prepare food. An island with storage on one side and a beautiful furniture look on the other side creates a seamless flow from the kitchen to the main living area. If the kitchen is large enough, it is also helpful to have another area that is a beverage center for guests, to keep the work area free of clutter.


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Kelley Carrin, Chattanooga Granite & Marble

Customizing your kitchen in your first home is very exciting. With it being your first home, it’s probably not your dream kitchen, but here are a few tips to make it your dream kitchen for now. I recommend living in the space for several months before changing anything because through the day-to-day functions, you realize what actually works and what doesn’t. Choosing fun paint colors and experimenting can bring life to a small space. Installing tile floors is a great way to update as the industry has exploded with the most unique designs, and the weathered wood look is my favorite. Keep the clutter down and that will make your space feel bigger. Splurge on a light fixture in the dining room or over the island as that is where the family gathers.


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Elaine Sanders, The Tile Store

For busy families, try a simple countertop that is maintenance free like quartz – there are so many choices now and no sealing is involved. Just use a soft scrub gel with bleach and a plastic sponge to clean up. Choose a porcelain floor, which is also low maintenance because you can just mop with white vinegar and water. Add a backsplash of glass or ceramic that can be wiped off with a dish cloth as you are cleaning up. With these low-maintenance choices, you will enjoy your family kitchen for a long time.


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