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How To Create Your Dream Kitchen

Many homes in the Poconos were built during the boom years of the 1980's and many owners, like myself, have kitchens that could use a lift. For those who desire a complete makeover, Home Designer Richard Hetzel provides an excellent incentive to get started. As he shows us below, achieving your dream of a new kitchen could be easier than you think!-L

From the Desk of:
Richard Hetzel
Architect (NY) & Home Designer (PA)

So you’d like to re-do your kitchen? Let’s assume you have the usual contemporary goals: more counter space, modern features, a better layout, more cabinet space.

Start From Scratch

Sometimes, a good way to start is to ignore the existing kitchen layout, and begin with a clean sheet of paper, on which we have drawn the outline of your kitchen…all the walls, doors and windows. On this paper, next we draw some three-foot wide swaths which represent the traffic flow of people through the kitchen. Then…grin…we put the cabinets and appliances in the spaces that are left!

Well, it’s seldom exactly that easy, but the principle is sound. If there is too much traffic flow, perhaps closing off or moving a doorway will help, and create more space. Occasionally we see a small kitchen with four or five doors in it, and we architects pull our hair out, too. The key is to simplify if possible.

The Necessities

Next we consider the “work triangle”, which is a triangle of straight lines connecting refrigerator, sink and range, preferably in that order. The work triangle should be as compact as possible, and should be arranged so that other family members can pop in and out to the refrigerator without getting into the work triangle and disturbing the cook.

Incorporate The Wish List

Once we have the work triangle established, we can spot in other appliances…microwave, trash compactor, etc. It’s also nice to have a small desk area in the kitchen, with cookbook storage, telephone, note pad, and a place to collect the mail and other such papers.

Some other considerations:

  • People like pantries, if there is space for one, and if not, perhaps a full-height pantry cabinet is possible, with drawers behind doors. You’d be amazed at what can be stored that way in a three-foot space and still have easy access. If there is more space available, perhaps a broom closet can be combined with the pantry cabinet.
  • Islands and peninsulas are popular and can provide casual eating space and additional storage below. A kitchen space should be at least 14 feet wide for an island to be practical. A nice touch is to provide cabinet doors on both sides of the island, so that things like platters and roasting pans can be stored and retrieved without having to move something else to get at them.
  • Cabinet styles are a matter of taste and budget. If your budget can accommodate better cabinets that the big-box store variety, then you might consider having them custom-made to fit your wishes and your kitchen. It won’t cost that much more.
  • Counter tops range from the ever-popular (once) boomerang formica to exotic stones to concrete, with budgets to match.
  • Other touches that can make a kitchen more useful are recycling cabinets, where your standard recycling containers can be stored, and “appliance garages”, where various appliances such as coffee makers, toasters, mixers, etc. are stored out of sight behind a rolling door.

Here’s a view of a kitchen which incorporates a commercial range (not recommended), an island, a hutch, and a wine cooler, plus three doors and a stairway.


Commercial ranges are not recommended for residential use because of their very high heat output, and the requirement for a huge mushroom-type exhaust fan. Many commercial range manufacturers make residential models which are far more suitable for home use, and still have that utilitarian look. The refrigerator in the illustration is to the right of the sink, and is a counter-depth type with door panels which match the cabinets. This kitchen was designed in “craftsman” or “Stickley” style.

So Many Options!

Kitchens afford wide latitude for creativity in layout and design, and if the principles given here are kept in mind, success is almost assured. Establish your budget early, and keep it in mind also. Once you have priced your cabinets, flooring and appliances, assume that labor will be anywhere from half to two-thirds of the total budget, and that would include electrical and plumbing work. So, for example, if those items came to $10,000, you can assume that labor would range from $10,000 to $15,000, and you would be close to reality.

Okay, you’re educated! Now go for it...what will your dream kitchen look like? Please click on the 'comment' button below and share your ideas!


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