More Is Stupid: How To Not Design A Kitchen Like An Idiot

I have a problem. Well, I think it's more that other peopIe have a problem, of course. It's not me it's you. I guess it depends on how you look at it. The thing is, I can't stand things. I walk into other people's houses and immediately want to begin purging the things they just don't need. People have too much. I feel like I have too much even though I do massive purges of things quarterly. Ask my friends. It's like a constant sale on my Facebook page. 

Enter the fact that I am a design consultant, as well as an interior and renovation designer for client's homes. This gets really tricky (aka fun). I get to go in and design new spaces for people, all the while trying to throw out some of their things that they just don't need (45 old ratty towels). Fine line. Not sure I'm good at doing it tactfully, but I try. My mother-in-law gets no tact from me, poor sweet lady. I go on autopilot removing the "unneeded" things from her house. I have a problem, which I choose to view as a solution, obviously. You should've seen me during my sister-in-law's recent move to Phoenix. Everything had to go. It was so much fun. For me. I think she almost had a heart attack. 

What's this got to do with designing shit, Wendy? Listen! I've talked about how to design a kitchen to make it functional and beautiful, but I forgot to really hit these words of wisdom that must be heard. 

Consider what you actually need instead of what people expect.

Have a couple of good things instead of many crappy things.

Stop adding things. 

Don't be normal. 

Stop doing what other people are doing.
Think outside the box.  

That means you won't be hearing me say more cabinets! More storage! More, more, more! How about less? How about approaching your new kitchen differently? WARNING: Some of what you find below may not be what you normally hear on the subject of kitchen design. I'm guessing you've already gathered that much. I'm not the follow the current trends and do what everyone expects type. My hope is that it helps you feel confident enough to break the mold in your mind. Shock and awe, that's how we'll do this. Do things differently. Be cool.

Let's design something different...

Kitchen Takeover

No doubt you (hopefully) spend some time in your kitchen making some meals. You'll definitely need to store tools, food and serving wear in this area as well. However, I'm seeing a trend in kitchens where they are actually becoming larger than the living space. Should we be devoting more space to preparing food than an area in which to enjoy it and other daily activities? Hell no. Soon we'll walk into a home and it will just be one giant kitchen with cabinets lining every wall. No wonder people are spending $70,000 on a kitchen remodel. Some kitchens have so many cabinets these days that people feel the need to collect more things to store. Stop this. When designing a new kitchen, keep the size balanced with the rest of the rooms. Leave room for a sofa to sit on and maybe a dining area. Balance, people. Balance.

Standard Is Crap

Let's stop it with the "standard" everything. Appliances are no doubt important, but if the kitchen is small to begin with, then putting in standard sized appliances will overwhelm the space. For example, a tiny kitchen should not have a side-by-side refrigerator. NO. These fill a large foot print and feel like a giant is taking over the room. How much food are you trying to store in there anyway? Look in your fridge. Do it. Is most of the stuff in there actually food? Real food? Mustard and mayo is not food. Don't fight me on this. How about throwing out some of those half empty ketchup bottles? Are you trying to live more healthfully, yet most of the space in your fridge is devoted to boxed items? Fix this. Throw it out. Stop buying those things. Get ahold of yourself. 

Buy appropriately sized appliances for your tiny kitchen. Consider a 24" range or fridge instead of a standard 30" version. 



Or, break the mold completely and go for refrigerator drawers. I have a college friend who texted me asking if I think refrigerator drawers were a good idea. I had no idea! I'd never even considered them before, but of course I was already poo-pooing the idea. Buyers won't like that I heard myself saying. Her dilemma was that she wanted to completely open up her kitchen, but having a standard vertical refrigerator would totally break the open, spacious vibe. I thought surely I'd find a place for it, so I looked at her floor plan. She was right. There was really nowhere to put one without it feeling like a total eyesore. Let's face it, fridges are ugly (unless it's a Smeg). So, fridge and freezer drawers is what she did. It turned out awesome. After a year of usage, she isn't missing the standard fridge one bit. See them below in the cabinet run on the right.

That's not to say that everyone in every house should have small or different fridges. If you have a family of 6, you're gonna need ample food storage! Go for 2 fridges. Maybe two sitting next to each other or a beverage fridge nearby. But be honest with yourself. Don't just throw in a beverage fridge to be fancy. Consider if you will use such a thing. The condo we are living in came with a beverage fridge. We don't drink soda. We drink water, coffee, beer and wine. Great, a place for the booze! Not so fast. We typically pick up a bottle of wine when we want one. No booze gets stored in our house. That beverage fridge sits empty. If we had a wine rack, it too would be sitting empty. Wastes of space for us. If you're trying to cut out soda or sugary drinks from your life, don't make a place to store them. You'll feel obligated to buy that crap. 


But, WAHHH I need more storage! Maybe you don't. First of all, sell some of that crap you aren't using. How long has it been since you used that stand mixer or panini press? Are you trying to cut sugar and bread from your diet, yet continue to have baking items at hand? I know it hurts, but get rid of that shit. Sell some things. Use the proceeds to buy better appliances. You've got a lot of crap. I know it. 

A well planned out kitchen will have ample storage to hold all of the tools a homeowner might use making the most of every inch of the room. However, let's not plan a kitchen that will hold every tool known to man. Do you really need 2 blenders, a food processor, 50 dishes and 18 skillets? I think not. Get rid of the crappy stuff. You know, the 15 melted and broken spatulas? Keep or buy ONE good one. JUST ONE. You'll be astonished at how often we think we need more of something, but then realize you just keep using your favorite decent spatula over and over. Do you need more drinking glasses because there aren't ever clean ones? WELL, CLEAN THEM. Use it, then clean it. Does it feel good to have a pile of dishes to do? Of course not. 

What are you keeping that someone else thinks you should have? Are you saving that one giant mug that doesn't stack on top of anything conveniently because your mom says it is great for soup? Whose kitchen is this anyway? Use a bowl. Don't be an idiot.

Open Up

Now let's say you've eliminated some things, let's keep going. How about those upper cabinets? Maybe you don't like open shelving. You're afraid you'll be looking at a bunch of chaos and you like being able to close it up and not look at it. But, hold up. You just threw a bunch of stuff out, right? Only the necessary and beautiful remains! If you have floating or open shelves, you'll be able to reach it all so easily! No more open cabinet door dents in your head. You know what I'm talking about don't you? I know you're worried about the dust. If you're using these things regularly, because you only kept the necessary, then you're golden. Not enough time to get dust on it anyway. 

What about just having an open space? Not every inch of this new kitchen has to be utilitarian. Allow some room for art, decor and plants. Now you're designing a room that blends in better with the rest of the house instead of the warehouse, workspace area next to the relaxing cozy area. This kitchen below is a screaming example of this concept. I love it. This kitchen may not be functional enough for you, but take the idea and morph it. Stop being so literal. (I'm sorry i don't know whose kitchen this is. I hate not giving credit so if you know, please inform!)

Now, Make It Last

A good kitchen is one you actually want to be in! If it is too dark or ugly, you simply won't want to spend be there. We can debate what colors to use all day long, but for me there is no substitution for a light and bright kitchen. Plus, they feel cleaner. 

You know that outfit you still wear or piece of furniture you still have because you liked it once and spent a lot of money on it, but that style has moved on without you. That's your kitchen. Those accent tiles are going to become old pretty quickly. Pretty easy to fix this, though. Stick to classic, simple design and natural materials. Natural materials don't go out of style, usually. They've been around forever and will continue to be. Trendy tiles or colors will quickly become tired and dated. Worse yet, you won't even know it because you've looked at it for so many days in a row. You'll be that person that says, "We just spent $20,000 on this kitchen! It's not outdated!" Um, lady that was 10 years ago and that style didn't travel very well. Marble is always in. Says me. 

Ok, end rant. Sorry to go all hardcore on you but I tire of trying to conform. Why do I even bother? Time to go throw some things out.