Kitchen Space Planning

       By:   Mark Noonan                            Plumbing Mart President

How to make your kitchen work for you; with tips for layout, design and storage.

Before your renovation consultant starts drawing up the plans, before you start hunting for new appliances, and even before you pick your new floor tile, the most important step in good kitchen space planning is an honest assessment of your life. You need to ask yourself what you use your kitchen for, how you use it, and who is going to be using it.

Do you consider yourself a gourmet cook who is going to be preparing elaborate meals? Do you entertain a lot? Do you sit down for family dinners on a nightly basis, or is your family all on a different schedule? Is just one of you cooking, or it is two or more? Do you order take-out more than anything and simply want to revamp your outdated kitchen? These are the kinds of questions you can ask yourself to assess and plan how to best design a kitchen to meet your needs.

Store your tools

If you are the kind of person who cooks very often, you want your kitchen to make it easier for those busy weeknight meals. The tools that you need should be easily accessible. Keeping your oft used pots and pans in a cramped corner cabinet won’t make thing any easier. Consider open shelving instead of traditional cabinets so tools are right at hand. When working on your cabinetry, install large drawers for deep pots, and smaller drawers for utensils and cooking tools. Evaluate what you need and design around that.

 Make it kid friendly

When you are picking materials for the kitchen and if you have kids in the house, a primary consideration should be durability. Choose surfaces that will be able to handle whatever children can throw at them (sometimes literally). Granite or quartz countertops are excellent options as they are incredibly durable. Wood grain cabinets hide nicks and fingerprints better than smooth surfaces such as lacquer.  And don’t forget about the flooring. What is most ideal is something that can be easily cleaned in case any spills should happen, and something that won’t scuff or mark, such as ceramic tile.

Customization for the non-cook

Are you finding yourself opening up a delivery of catered food for your party more often than you are whipping up a meal of your own? That’s ok, and your kitchen can be designed and customized to meet your needs. If you are a frequent entertainer, design a space to serve drinks and hors d’oeuvres, such as a buffet doubling as a rolling island. If you don’t cook very often, skip the expensive range and instead, splurge on an item you are going to get more use out of. So for example, if you’re a coffee lover you can install a custom coffee station in your home, or if you are a wine lover you may consider a stylish wine cooler.

 The kitchen work triangle

The kitchen work triangle is likely THE most important feature to incorporate when designing your space. It should be the centerpiece of your kitchen layout. The goal of the kitchen triangle is to place the three most commonly used work sites in the kitchen (i.e.: the refrigerator, the sink, and the stove) with the most efficient distance apart and to minimize traffic through the work zone. Place any of these tri-parts too far away from each other, and you waste a lot of steps preparing a meal. Place them too close, and you’ve just cramped up your workspace.

The basics of the kitchen work triangle are: each leg of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet, the total of all three legs should be between 12 and 26 feet, no obstructions should intersect a leg of the triangle, and household traffic should not flow through the work triangle.

 Don’t forget the small stuff

When planning a big overhaul to design your new kitchen, it is easy to forget the small stuff. But paying attention to details can save you many a headache in the long run. Be proactive when it comes to nooks and shelves. Consider the placement of things such as hooks, outlets, garbage receptacles and switches. Pick a faucet that’s easy to use and will make cleaning the dishes a bit more bearable.

 So remember to ask yourself questions about how you are going to use your space before you design it.  In doing so, not only will you create a beautiful kitchen, but one that is also a breeze to work in.

Big Design, Small Spaces

By Mark Noonan                                    Plumbing Mart President

Small bathrooms can cause a problem to many homeowners. The bathroom is one of the most highly utilized rooms in the home, yet when this small space is poorly designed, it can be a source of daily frustration. Mirror too small? Shower feeling cramped? Knocking your elbow on that protruding shelf?

With many bathrooms in condos and older homes lacking the desired square-footage, using space effectively can pose as a problem to people while remodeling their bathroom. Luckily, a renovation that maximizes the space can create a big feeling in a little space.

Firstly, really think about how you are going to use the space. Careful planning is crucial when designing for small spaces.  When renovating, it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of design options, but you must always keep in mind that you are renovating a small bathroom – a space that indeed deserves to look beautiful, but also must be highly functional. Focus on function. Think about the traffic flow in the room, sightlines, and efficient use of the space. To maintain a light and open feel try emphasizing the window, use open-legged furniture (for a less heavy feel), and keep a simple and cohesive colour palette.

A simple way to enhance sightlines in your renovation is through a newly popular design option, the stand-up shower. This is created with a custom shower base that is proportional to the room, adding a piece of wall panel, and trimming the entire thing out with luxurious, seamless glass. This design creates an elegant look. By using glass walls without metal bracing the line of sight is maintained, keeping the space looking large. You also won’t miss your large soaking tub. Modern shower fixture design has been upgraded – the luxury of the soak tub has been turned upright and brought into the multiple spray heads and rain showers available in today’s design.

Efficient usage of the small space can be achieved through adding clever storage solutions when designing your renovation. The correct storage solutions can make your small bathroom functionally large. The most effective way to achieve this is by employing vertical storage solutions – tall cabinetry and wall-mounted storage utilizes cubic footage without overtaking precious square footage on the floor. It is also wise, when possible, to consider recessed shelving. Another option may be to consider glass-fronted cabinets that add both design appeal as well as more visual interest to keep the space looking large. Make sure that the storage is carefully planned as to avoid clutter on the countertop, which can make the space appear smaller.

Illusions can be created that trick the eye into thinking the bathroom is larger than it actually is, and the best way to achieve this is by maximizing the natural light in the room. The more natural light let into the room, the larger it will appear. This can also be doubled by having a mirror opposite the window to reflect the natural light. In addition to light from the outside, create light on the inside by using a light, monochromatic colour palette to create a brighter feeling atmosphere.

Never feel like your options are limited when remodeling your small bathroom. From the newest bathing options to storage to careful use of colour, a small space can be made to feel large. So when renovating your small bathroom, keep all of this in mind. Your big ideas do not need to be contained by the small square footage of your bathroom.