Living With Style: Practical Details For Kitchen Remodeling

By Sasha Witte
Gazette Columnist
Jun 10th, 2018 

Good kitchen design requires consideration of a great number of details.

Here are a few of the important things to keep in mind if you are getting ready to redo your kitchen!

Design Phase

Living With Style: Plan The Design

Be sure to plan out all of the details for your new kitchen before breaking ground, including the needs of all family members.

Working with your designer — architect or builder — a layout will be created to meet your requests and often including additional recommendations from the designer’s experience.  Additionally, products and materials will be selected.  Thinking this all thru before beginning demo will mean that your decisions are ones you will likely appreciate in the future and not regret! 

The more research you’ve done before this phase to express your likes, will speed up the process of coming up with the design that will be most appropriate for you. 

Pinterest and Houzz are excellent resources to express to your designer, architect or builder your preferences so the design pulls together in a way that will be pleasing to you!


Living With Style: Traveling in the Kitchen

Make sure it's easy to travel between your sink, the fridge and the stove to make food prep a breeze.

Here are just a few of the issues to think about when considering your kitchen layout.

If a kitchen has only one sink, locate it adjacent to or across from the cooking surface and refrigerator for a workspace that flows well.

Make sure it’s easy to travel between the sink and the fridge and the stove top to make food prep and clean up a breeze.

Living With Style: Counter Space

Adequate counter space next to your fridge for unloading groceries will be a much appreciated feature.

Don’t forget your waste receptacles!  It is recommended to include at least two.  Locate one near each clean-up and prep area and make sure to have a separate recycling receptacle nearby.  Consider working these into the cabinetry plan.

Avoid putting a cooking surface below an operable window with any type of window treatments.

Ideal placement of a microwave is 3” below the principle users shoulder height.  Make sure to have counter space adjacent to, above or below the microwave oven for when loading or unloading food from the microwave.

Spacing Requirements

living With Style: Spacing

For an optimal sink clean up area, include at least 24 inches of counter on one side and 18 inches of counter on the other.

Make sure that no doors will interfere with each other.  For instance, be sure to avoid your dishwasher door opening into the same space that your fridge or oven door opens into.

Be certain there is adequate counter space next to your fridge for loading groceries into the fridge and for taking foods out of the fridge.

Make sure there is plenty of counter space on both sides of the sink and the stove top in order to meet your cooking and cleaning needs.  For an optimal sink/clean up area, include at least a 24” wide area to the one side and at least an 18” wide area to the other side.

Living With Style: Spacing Around Cooktop

Around your cooktop, make sure to include at least 15 inches of counter on both sides.

Around your cook top, make sure to include at least 12” to 15” of counter on both sides – minimum.

Counters and kitchen tables should be at least 30” high (unless building for a home with a disabled family member).  As our population is getting taller, it is not uncommon for us to create custom counter heights that are taller than the standard.

Traffic Flow

If there are multiple cooks in your home, consider making more room around the main work space.  If you like to entertain, consider an open plan kitchen that encourages social interaction with the adjacent spaces.

Ideally, no major traffic patterns (say to a back door) should cross thru the basic work triangle (space between the stove, sink and refrigerator).  And remember, the width of a walk way should be at least 36”.


Living With Style: Quartz Slab Products

Quartz based slab products are the most durable in a kitchen and come in many attractive looks to go with the backsplash of your choice.

For many years, granite was considered the most durable counter material.  But these days there are a large number of even better options.  In particular, I prefer quartz based products that resemble marble or natural stone.  Caesarstone and Cambria are two of the well known producers of this type of material – but there are lots of companies coming out with their own line of quartz based slab material.

Butcher block is a great look that often costs less.  It is susceptible to staining, so I recommend its use in a smaller area — like on an island.

Stainless Steel is great for those who love to bake.  But it does scratch over time, so you need to be ok with that lived in look.

I recommend specifying clipped or rounded corners rather than sharp edges at your counters.  Also consider a bull-nosed detail, so it’s less likely to show chips over time if heavy pots bang against it.


Living With Style: Open Kitchen Space

If there is space in your kitchen area to add built in seating, make it a bench that doubles as storage space.

There are so many great ways of maximizing storage in our kitchens today.

Explore the variety of solutions for corner cabinets so you don’t lose access to this space.

Remember, anything you use regularly should be in easy access.Take inventory of all the items you use and currently store.  Make sure to think thru where you would ideally keep these items for ease of use.

If there’s space in your kitchen area to add a built in banquet, consider having one made where the bench portion doubles as storage.  This can be done with either lids that rise up or drawers that pull out.

Drawers and pull out shelves are always much more accessible than static shelving.

Herbs, spices and specialty oils need to be kept close at hand.  But remember that they are sensitive to heat and light when planning their placement.

Consider painting the inside or even the outside of a pantry door in chalk board paint or magnetic paint for keeping shopping lists and notes at easy access.  Or apply a piece of self stick corkboard within a paneled door for the same usability.

Living With Style: Appliances Placements

Make sure to think through your preferred placement for small appliances like toaster ovens so that your electrical outlets are placed where you will best use them.


Make sure to think thru your preferred placement for such things as coffee pots, the toaster oven, an electric tea pot and so on.  It’s important that your outlets are laid out for how you use your kitchen.

Also, consider the type of back splash that you’re installing.  If you are installing a horizontal running subway tile, consider making your electrical outlets run horizontally instead of vertically.

Living With Style: Lighting In The Kitchen

Be sure to incorporate lighting that shines down directly on work surfaces and the sink, and doesn't shine behind you creating shadow effects.

Make sure your electrician installs electrical outlets that are in color harmony to the backsplash.  Lutron and others make outlet covers in a wide variety of colors and even metal finishes.  Don’t let your beautiful backsplash be marred by glaring white electrical outlets if your backsplash is not white.

Living With Style: Lighting Dimmers In Kitchens

Have your different light sources on separate dimmer switches so that you can control the mood.


In addition to general lighting, every work surface should be well illuminated by appropriate task lighting.  Often this means lighting at the ceiling, but also below cabinet lighting.

If your cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling, consider running LED strip lighting above the cabinets to add ambient light in the evening.

Living With Style: More Kitchen Lighting

Lighting is a great way to add a wow feature to your space.

Make sure to have lighting that shines down direct on work surfaces and the sink.  You never want your primary light to shine from behind you as it will cast shadows on your work area.

And make sure to have the different lights on separate dimmer switches to give you ultimate control.


Consider some restaurant inspired amenities for extra convenience – like a pot filler faucet over the stove or a stainless steel backsplash.

Living With Style: Furniture Legs Add Detail

Furniture legs at the base of lower cabinets is a nice custom detail.

Consider adding one or two items for a “wow” factor.  Lighting is often a great way to do this with one or two really fabulous fixtures that make the space.

If your kitchen space is small and you would like to give it a more open feel, consider doing a portion of your upper cabinets with glass doors and with lighting at the inside of the cabinet.  But make sure to only do this at cabinets you can keep fairly organized and attractive – otherwise it’ll make the space look cluttered.

Consider adding some design flourishes to your cabinets to give them the look of finer furniture.  Decorative brackets below upper cabinets and furniture legs at the base of lower cabinets are great custom details.

Many refer to the kitchen as the heart of a home.  There is something warm and wonderful about the room where so much of what comforts and nurtures us on a daily basis is created. 

May your new kitchen be a wonderful enhancement to your daily life experience.

Sasha Witte can be reached at or (562) 434-8824.


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