Building a new home....need kitchen design and appliance help
In the next year or so I will be building a new home. I would like your best advice about what not to do or to do when designing a kitchen. Anything from choosing appliances, layout of cabinets, gas vs. electric, etc, etc. Anything you would find helpful is welcome.
If you are building a new home then hopefully you will already be working with an architect. Depending on the architects background you may or may not need a separate kitchen designer. Some architects are good at it, some are not.
Start with the big ideas first.
Do you want the kitchen open to any other areas of the house. Some people want it open to the family room, others to the dining room, some to the whole house. Some people die at the thought that it could be seen from any other room and want it totally separate. Is it important that the kitchen take advantage of a view, or are you totally focused on food prep and its not as important what is out the window as it might be from the family room or bedroom?
How many people will be using the kitchen at one time. If it is just you or just your live-in mother then that is going to lead down one path, if there are a couple of you using it every day, thats another path. I know a family where 3 generations of the family get together almost every weekend and they can have as many as 5 or 6 people actively cooking at one time. An extreme example, but important for the designers to know about.
Are there peripheral visitors, kids or friends who are around while you are working? How close do you want them, where will they sit? at a table? on stools? In the adjacent room? Do they need access to a separate beverages/snack center? Are you a baker and need a more or less separate baking center? I had a client once with a side business of making candies. Would have been very helpful to have had that information at the start of the design process rather than an offhand comment as we were going for permit and the design was pretty much set in stone.
Then go through and think of how many fixtures and appliances you want and need. Go to a few appliance websites, see what exists. What the advantages are of different arrangements. How many ovens will you need? How many burners on the stove. I know families that have no microwave and others that need 2 or even 3.
What about plumbing fixtures. Do you need a separate prep sink or bar sink? Will you really get good use of that pot filler or is it something you saw once and got fixated on?
Are you tall or short or average height. Had a client who only cleared 5 feet in shoes. Her husband was 6-1. There were areas of the kitchen with low counters and others with high counters. Extra deep counters were useless to her, but she loved undercounter storage. He liked everything overcounter.
Finally you can get down to things like cabinets. Do you want to be able to see things behind glass doors, or is it better if things are left unseen? Undercounter cabinets are becoming less and less popular, replaced by drawers as many have mentioned, but drawers are less flexible in terms of storage options. Pantry's are great, but like all other storage in the house, its a waste if it's just going to get filled up with stuff you never need. I know one guy who NEVER buys anything in bulk. His parents were immigrants from europe and he continues the tradition of buying everything meal by meal, two trips to the corner grocer is not unusual for him, and he bought a place close to a corner grocer on purpose. Do you have a set of Grandma's china or crystal that you want displayed? Do you have 5 sets of flatware for different occasions? It amazes me sometimes the dinnerware some people who inhabit chowhound have.
Planning a kitchen can be a wonderful thing, just don't try to solve everything at once. And more than almost anything else in a house, the old architectural adage - form follows function - is true.
Create a breakfast prep nook. When we built 2 pantry closets, we made them deep, allowing one to have a butcher block counter and enough space for the coffee maker and the toaster. The shelves held breakfast dishes/silverware as well as cereal, coffee, tea,sugar, bread and a good bread knife. As people came and went throughout the morning the crumbs and all stayed behind closed door and usually didn't get cleaned up until after lunchtime sandwiches had been made. Wish I had the room for it in my present kitchen. PS Some folks even add a mini frig for milk, jam and such.
There's no bad advice here and tons of good, and more than enough to pick through and decide what rings your chimes. One thing I'm having to deal with, though, is so fundamental I can only wonder what the remodelers were thinking: the cooktop and double wall oven are wonderful to work with (although 13 and 29 years old now!), but mine is a corridor kitchen - it's the main route from side door to the kitchen, dining room, the rest of downstairs and the back door. And that corridor goes right through the cook space. The facing wall is pantry, tableware, and counter appliances. Dishwasher, sink and drainboard are against the outside wall, with an ugly but useful popout window, and that's all going nowhere, though the popout will get de-modernized.
I can't expand the space, nor do I really need to, but this is like cooking in the middle of Route 66 rather than beside the road. Luckily, there is gas close to the other wall - there's a gas dryer on the other side - and I have a mint-condition 48" Wedgewood range out in the garage, awaiting its turn. It will be an expensive redo and one hell of a mess, thanks to those 1986 remodelers' love for tile countertops and backsplashes, and I'll be lucky to have a few cooking years left in me when we can finally do it. But it sure is fun to work at on a drawing board!
Trash/recycling pull outs next to sink not under it. That way someone can get to them without forcing person at sink to move out of the way.
Open shelving for items used frequently. We have stainless steel ones from IKEA and that's where we keep the pots, pans and servings bowls that we use almost daily.
Extra deep counters are a no-brainer to me. Pull your bottom cabinets out six inches from the wall and then have your countertops cut six inches deeper. (If the end of cabinets show, you can have panels made to hide the gap where they don't touch the wall.) That extra space gives you room for countertop appliances to be readily available without taking up valuable countertop....a real blessing that is so easy to accomplish--we've done it in our last three kitchens.
Trash/recycling pull outs next to sink not under it. That way someone can get to them without forcing person at sink to move out of the way.
Yes, and make them FULL SIZE and HEIGHT. Those wee little office size cans for kitchen trash and recycling drive me absolutely crazy, but maybe people like emptying their cans three times a day?
Also, attach the door front to the actual pullout so the whole thing opens in one operation. The most ridiculous thing in the history of pull-outs is those that require five steps: opening door, pulling out bin, depositing trash, pushing in bin, closing door. ARGH.
I have two tall kitchen size cans for trash and recycling in an 18" pullout with a shallow drawer above. I absolutely would never, ever design a kitchen without this.
As a personal chef who has worked in many different kitchens, I would say the #1 most important thing is a tight and efficient "triangle", no matter what other bells and whistles go in. My other observations:
-Lots of counter space in the "triangle"--a twelve foot island does no good if it isn't where you need it
-easily cleanable surfaces, including but not limited to back splashes, cook top, floor, cabinets
-deep drawers are awesome for pot/pans, serving dishes, bakeware etc
-a "mop" closet close by will save cleaning hassles, bonus for a plug inside to keep a vacuum/steam mop
-a window over the sink is great, but make sure the molding isn't too low that it will serve as the backsplash, and be prepared to clean it often. Built in blinds would be ideal here
-a built in skinny spice cupboard is a dream of mine, I have yet to figure out an ideal situation in my kitchen
- deep sinks are great, but not too deep! I'm 5'8", and bending over to scrub the pots is a pain in my back!
-if putting in a built in fridge, be sure the shelves are deep and there is ample storage--a client of mine has one, and it hardly fits anything! They have TWO additional fridges in the garage!
-dream items for me include a warming drawer, ice maker (separate from the fridge), hot water spout by the range, prep sink in island, pantry with enough room for food/paper supply/appliance storage, wine fridge, pop fridge
I hope this helps a bit! I would make a list of what does and does not work for you currently in your kitchen, and then take that to your designer. Don't be bullied by them, and you should make the final call. Other family members (husband, kids if applicable) may be able to offer observations you have missed as well! You're so lucky to have this opportunity, have fun! And as someone else stated, it will never be perfect, so just do your best!
You'll get tons of opinions on what to do, but I doubt many people would disagree that it is VERY nice to have a pantry with easy access. I have a nice pantry, the one thing I would change about it is to add a light inside the pantry. I have a recessed light above it, but one in it that turns on with the recessed light would be great.
Updated my kitchen 10 years ago and wish I had done some things differently. Drawers, drawers
instead of lower shelves. I recently got a Bosch dishwasher and LOVE IT. Don't understand the comment to avoid them....anyway, my next purchase will be a Bosch Fridge, since I already own the stove (gas) with convection and regular heat oven. LOVE it also. Wish I had more electric oultets and wish they were near the bottom of the wall where it meets the countertop. I hate looking at them when they aren't in use. If you have space to consider an island ( I didn't) take a look at the Oct/Nov Fine Cooking mag. and see Tom Douglas' island on casters. Great plan. In fact his kitchen is wonderful. I'd love to cook in that space.. In a previous house, I had all open shelving above counter tops and wish I had done THAT again. If you're neat enough, it makes for a clean, slick look. + 1 on getting a kitchen designer/consultant who knows about space and cooking. Pretty cabintry is great, but cabinets/shelves that WORK your way are much better.
+1 also on having the refrigerator door open more than 90 degrees. You can't get those bottom
bins out without a bigger opening than that and you WILL want to clean them occasionally. The other thing I wish I had done differently is to have the faucets in "brushed stainless" Where I live, the water is hard and I spend way too much time with a vinegar solution getting the spots off the shiny stuff. Love the way it looks, but it's a trial to own. Deep Franke sink, undermounted, was my best purchase. Counter top material is subjective as are colors, but make it easy on yourself.;
Cork floors are the easiest to stand on. Gel mats help on harder surfaces, but they are just another thing to "buy" . Good luck with you kitchen and may you enjoy making many great meals
in your space.
Consider the kitchen triangle.
I love my Kenmore Elite fridge with freezer drawer.
Gas stove if possible, consider a double oven if you do a lot of entertaining.
My parents live their warming drawer but I don't have one so I can't speak to that. Pull out drawers for pots and pans.
A pantry with sturdy shelves is great for your appliances. Consider whether or not it is an eat in kitchen.
A lot of good ideas here already, especially about hiring a professional to help you and really think about how you will use the kitchen. My educational background is in interior design, specifically space planning, but that's not what I do now, which is real estate related. But, I've seen a lot of kitchens and until recently, moved around a lot so I've lived in a lot of kitchens too.
A few other things, based on the kitchens I've lived in:
-As others have said, Very few, if no, bottom cabinets. 70% deep drawers, 30% shallow drawers (for things like flatware and smaller cooking accessories and linens). If you do end up with cabinets on the bottoms, I strongly suggest having pullouts.
-Lots of outlets. If you think you have enough, add a few more. You can never have enough outlets, IMO. The suggestion of having them installed in the bottom of the upper cabinets, or in the countertop itself is a great one. Also if you have an island, be sure to have some installed on the side... to plug in a vacuum cleaner :)
-Already mentioned, but a large walk-in pantry. You want enough room not just for food, but for extra dishes, trays, etc, and for small appliances, unless you want to leave them out on the counters. Your regular cabinets/drawers will not be large enough for most of these items, so having lots of open shelf space in your pantry is great.
-Also already mentioned, but I would like to emphasize choosing the right kind of floor. Your back will thank you. Hardwoods were always my favorite. I currently have cheapo linoleum and my back will start to ache after about an hour.
I built my home with my dream kitchen a couple of years ago and there are things that you learn either going to others homes for the do's and don't that you like..
The built in garbage next to the sink that is part of my cherry cabinetry is fantastic.
Big window over the sink
Refrigerator with ice/water that you can grab the ice in the freezer door if it sticks..you also don't want the pain in the butt levers where you have to move it to ice/crushed and then to water..
Get the extra half inch of granite 1-2 inches thickness...beveled bull nose..in case you put something hot and your $$ granite won't crack.
Spend good money on cabinets..nothing stapled..dovetail
Sinks..mine is a huge underneath mount stainless..you do have to dry it so it doesn't spot
Islands..make them big enough and think about stools and the height issue is key
Lighting..undermounts under the cabinets, pendant lights on dimmers
I have a 48" Wolf stainless double oven which is the showcase of the kitchen but make sure you get a range hood that covers the length of the stove.
Double wall ovens are great...make sure placement is open and not near fridge and around a corner/blind spot where someone coming around the corner with hot food is not good.
Cooktops make sure you have plenty of space if you place it on the island.
Architects are very expensive and you are better off with a space planner or go to a lot of kitchen design centers and save your $$ for your home.
There are great products besides granite that are really smart looking and functional too.
My friend put in her new kitchen a lower drawer microwave and she regrets it now..
Friends love their hot water dispenser next to their sink
Make sure your fridge placement is easy to get to, not in the way and where you can open the door all the way and get into and out of easily.
Love my walk-in pantry in the kitchen.
I have the blinds that go from the bottom up...love these.
I have a cookbook cabinet area which is nice.
Have a fun time designing your kitchen!
Your best advocate is YOU, even if you have a kitchen designer and an architect. Don't expect these people to know more about how you live and cook than you do. Honestly, I have seen as much or more bad as good from "professionally designed" kitchens.
Make a very explicit list for yourself about what you need to store and how you'd like it organized (including pantry items). Then make sure you've assigned cabinets/space for all of that. Nothing is more annoying, than, say, a commercial-size oven in a kitchen that has nowhere to store full sheet pans.
If you have a blank slate to work with, give utmost consideration to the basic footprint configuration that works best for you. Also keep in mind that bigger is not always better.
Designers are fans of things that are new and different and like to sell the same. Talented architects like to push the boundaries of what has been done or what they have done. That can be a huge win and a fun journey to be on, but always maintain a critical eye and consider practicality carefully. A lot of what's new in kitchen fixtures, etc. wows but in reality is totally impractical for real life and real cooks. Don't get sucked in to that too much, or go ahead and get sucked in with the understanding that you will probably be annoyed by it down the road.
Don't put the oven(s) next to the fridge. I see this all the time in new construction, and it's inexcusable.
Accept that there is no absolutely perfect. For the last several years I've lived in/with a kitchen I basically designed a house around. There's still things I'd do differently next time.
Built about 5 years ago and have remodeled a couple of kitchens.
Getting a kitchen designer involved is a good idea. Expect to spend more than your budget. Avoid Bosch dishwashers. Two sinks with garbage disposals. Granite counter tops if you can afford them. Under-mounted and large sink(s). I prefer gas over electric. We have refrigerated drawers and love them.
How do you cook? How do you use your current kitchen? Do you want a trendy modern kitchen with all the latest (and most expensive) fittings? Will the kitchen be the focus for family and entertaining? Do you want to eat in the kitchen? How many cooks will be using the kitchen? Are any or them taller or shorter than average? What do you like best about your current kitchen? What do you hate about it? What is the one thing you'd like to have? How much can you spend?
Not knowing you or your needs, I can't offer anything specific. But these were the kinds of things we talked about when we redid our kitchen many years ago. For me, counter space at waist height is crucial. Otherwise, kitchen design is a very individual choice.
And I personally believe that all countertops should be the color of whatever you drop on them the most often, which in our case would be toast crumbs and coffee and tea drips...we have blue/gray counters and I swear you can spot those toast crumbs from the sidewalk, they stand out so glaringly...
Hi! My husband and recently redid our entire kitchen. We went with dark cabinets and a light granite countertop. I was extremely worried I made the wrong decision with an almost white countertop because of staining but we sealed it twice and it's holding up extremely well. I'm really happy with our granite choice.
We opted to do drawers to hold pots and pans rather than cabinets with shelves and I love it! My parents have roll out shelves but you have to open doors first and that becomes annoying after a while so i'm glad we just went straight for the drawers.
As far as appliances go we went with the GE cafe line for the stove/oven and for the refrigerator. I LOVE our stove! It's gas, it has 5 burners, it's silver and sleek and easy to clean. The refrigerator I needed to get used to. It's one of those french door fridges with the freezer drawer. I wasn't too into it in the beginning but I'm happy we went with french door. Also It has an internal water dispenser which is nice if you're not a drink from the sink type of person!
We opted to do a microwave drawer instead of one up high with a door. It does take up drawer space but I am happy with our decision.
As far as layout, the most important thing to us was that we move the stove from its original location to the center of the kitchen (not on an island, it's not that big a kitchen, but in the center of the room on the most central wall). When we bought our place, they had the stove against a wall. To me, that's just inconvenient. It's difficult to cook when you can't move the pot handles to the left because there's a wall there. Everything else we just tried to space out evenly so that one person could be in the refrigerator while another was at the stove or sink etc.
Everything else is just whatever style you like. We went with a matchstick glass tile backsplash and I insisted on having some open shelving somewhere in the kitchen, so we decided to extend the backsplash to the ceiling and put the shelves in front of it in one spot.
I hope this was at least a little helpful. I got a lot of ideas from a site called houzz.com maybe that can help you with style decisions!
eta - Just wanted to add that we did under cabinet lighting and we set it to a dimmer. Additionally, we have under cabinet outlets so as not to have outlets showing on the pretty backsplash.
Steve has offered some excellent points. So has mrbigshotno. 1 regarding electrical or mains outlets ( one can never have too many ).
All I can add, is to consider the concept of " flow patterns. "
Turning lights on and off walking into a kitchen, prepping foods, cooking, serving or entertaining, and clean-up and putting items away. How do you intend to move through your kitchen, and how will your future design will facilitate you in the kitchen.
This would translate into realistic measurements for you and others, in and out of your kitchen, with cabinets and cabinet /counter openings, your sink, your appliances, and working with your kitchen tools. Does a cabinet door block or stop you, does your sink design actually work for large pots, pans, and a ton of vegetables to prep, and do your appliances open to help you, or block, etc.
My wife and I have learned with a few houses behind us to keep it minimal, put tools and appliances away, and maximize counter and shelf space. Our first home was small and suitable for one person in the typical "U" shaped kitchen with suspended hanging cabinets blocking everything. Now 3 homes later, we have opened everything, taken down a non-load bearing wall, and emptied the counter tops. The kitchen and counters flows into the living room, or out to the yard and the view.
The Nespresso machine is about the only device that remains. If I want to use a mixer or meat grinder, I pull it up and out of a cabinet with a spring loaded shelf. When it is finished, cleaned and dry, it quickly disappears away from sight.
I hope this helps you.
We created a brand new kitchen with no upper cabinets. We created pantries by building "closets" using 2x4s and sheet rock...so much cheaper than cabinets and it fit in perfectly with our design. I guess if I had to offer another recommendation it would be to consider cabinetry last and see what alternatives you can find to reduce the number of cabinets...especially if you want a kitchen that looks more like a living room.
"Get an amazing cooktop and a separate wall oven--imagine not bending over while baking"
Yeah, this is my number one piece of advice. I would also say drawers in lower cabinets instead of shelves, but that is truly a no-brainer. Would anyone seriously consider low shelves in a new kitchen anymore?
Yup, drawers, drawers, then bigger drawers.
We also opted not to do a microwave/vent hood combo, and instead have a large under-counter space for my microwave (I have three kids and always seem to need the BIGGEST of anything kitchen-related, be it microwave, gladware,griddles, etc - plus I prefer it aesthetically) that is one of my favorite things in the kitchen.
And your lighting can't be stressed enough - it's a commonly under-planned for item that you will regret to your dying day if done poorly.
If you go with a goose-neck style faucet, make sure it has a magnet. Mine is beautiful, but a royal pain in the ass because it doesn't always go perfectly back in place. Oh, and if I could do it again, I'd skip the soap dispenser that's installed into my quartz (LG Viatera, I think, like silestone or ceasarstone) countertop. That thing never works right and just pisses me off.
Oh, and my other favorite cabinet feature is a thin cabinet specifically for baking pans & cooling racks and such. So nice to have them easily accessible but w/out taking up any room at all.
Holy cow, I could not live without my built in soap dispensers and Never M-T's! I have them at three sinks and wish I had them at ALL the sinks in the house. I appreciate them even more since I started using Dr. Bronners soap for everything. Hand+dish soap all in one spot.
The cheap ones are junk, but even the nice ones will go kaput if you try to pump soap that is too thick. Having brands that have a lifetime warranty has saved me twice.
That is so funny, because I just hate mine & the constant need to clean out the vent on the side - because if you use it for dish soap as intended, well, dish soap is thick. But that's a great tip on the Dr. Bronner's, I might give it a shot. And I had no idea Never M-T's even existed before your post, I'm definitely going to have to look into that. (We have a $300 or so Price Pfister faucet & dispenser but I didn't register it when we remodeled and reasonably sure I don't have the receipt any longer - I'm bad about that for anything other than electronics.)
yay! So far the Dr. Bronners has worked fine straight from the gallon jug--I just switched to it a few months ago. I used to always have hand soap in there (probably Softsoap brand) which needed to be watered down to about 50/50. You could do the same with regular dish soap and it would probably pump a lot better.
Am in the middle of the kitchen rehab right now. Went with a kitchen designer - money well spent. As far as outlets are concerned most newer building codes take care of that fairly well. Fridge and microwave are on dedicated circuits. The lighting/other outlets have to be on two separate circuits as well and there has to be an outlet every few feet. Excluding the microwave and fridge I have 8 outlets in a 10 x 11' kitchen. I think that should work.
Oh yeah. I have an electric stove but would kill for gas.
Here are a couple websites to check out before going to a kitchen designer:
Houzz.com (for ideas)
NKBA. org (for guidelines)
I am a kitchen designer myself, and with no parameters, it's pretty hard to give an opinion about layouts. Every kitchen is different, and each client has different needs in their kitchen.
Perhaps some specific questions about the appliances you are considering would allow some of the folks here to chime in with their experience on those, including the question of gas vs. electric.
Start with your architect's floor plan, and take that to a few kitchen designers until you find one that clicks with you and your vision. It's worth paying for their time until you settle on the right one.
Recommended clearances around islands, door openings, countertop footage minimums and maximums can be found online. Your kitchen designer will also have that information. As escondido pointed out, your focus should be on a space planner, not someone who makes a pretty kitchen without taking your cooking style and habits in mind.
I know I want a gas cooktop, but oven I am not sure. I think I want a french door fridge but will need lots of freezer space without using a separate freezer. Pantry space needs to be hidden but easily accessible. It will me cooking for me most of the time but about once a week, I will probably entertain a small number of friends. I would like an open layout, casual, with possibly a workcenter/eat at breakfast bar in the center. I would like a large eat at bar looking into the kitchen, probably seating 6 people. No formal dining space at all. With all your wonderful ideas, I see the need for a kitchen planner and will not skimp on space, but make wise use of it instead.
I have some modest thoughts.
• Kitchen work is done standing up. Tile and stone can be tough on the ankles and knees. Consider a hard wood floor.
• Larger sinks (oversized?) are better than smaller sinks, powerful garbage disposals go without saying. A goose-neck kitchen faucet with a hot/cold water tiller that you can bang on or off with an elbow or the back of your wrist makes sense.
• Overhead lighting is important. Consider recessed lighting on dimmers so you can dial in whatever works for you. Stuff that dangles down from the ceiling will look pretty dated in a few years.
• I like granite counters. I also like limestone as a wall treatment but that's really subjective. Stay away from small tiles/whatever on your vertical surfaces because cleaning the grout will be a royal pain.
• Do not skimp on the quality of your vent fan. Big and powerful is the key here if you like to cook. In a perfect world, venting to the outside should be a straight shot. Cleaning the vent and the outlet is an issue and should be discussed with your contractor. The exterior flap should keep out birds and other undesirable critters.
• There are some wonderful lifts that fit in your under-counter cabinets. These articulated guys swing in and out and make corner storage efficient and easy on your back. Go for the high-end stuff if you have heavy pots and pans.
• Appliances are very subjective. We installed Bosch refrigerator, electric stove/oven, range hood and dish washer. The units are serviceable.
• You'll need a pathfinder to help you with cabinet selection. It's a designer thing but also an ergonomic thing. Pretty is not so pretty if it's not practical.
• Counter space is first and foremost work space. Make sure it works for you.
• A pantry is vitally important. I don't care if it's a closet or a dedicated room. Design your kitchen with the fundamental understanding that a pantry is key to a successful kitchen. You need a place to store equipment that would otherwise clutter your beautiful designer kitchen as well as store and organize foods and canned goods.
• You will need more electrical outlets in your new kitchen than you originally thought. Be creative. Appliances are a fact of life but laptops and tablets are, too.
• We have lots of cookbooks. Space for a bookcase is pretty important.
re: steve h.
Without knowing your size/budget restraints, I'm not sure how much we can help. I am chagrined to say that my input will be pretty negative, since I HATE my current kitchen, but here goes. If you want an island, please make sure that you have room for a person, or two, to pass each other around all sides of the island, and bear in mind that sometimes someone will want to go to the sink at exactly the same time someone else wants to open the refrigerator, and cutting the space too tight will result in some very frustrating gridlocks. Our island is smack in the middle of the kitchen and the appliance doors clear it by 3-4 inches. We all run around the island like greyhounds on a dog track. When putting in your floor think first 'how hard is it to clean?' tile-type floors are pretty, but if the grout and the tiles are at even the slightest different levels, sweeping will be a pain, and comfort...I'm with the above poster, I would look for a surface I could stand on for long periods, and spend the money for a good sub-floor. We have ceramic tile and it is not good for standing on, also, it has developed lots of little cracks and chips over ten years of usage. Do think about your lighting, and where your shadow will fall when working...a light behind you will cast your shadow in just the spot you are working. Nice appliances are, well, nice, but I wouldn't invest as much money into them as I would on the basics, since they will likely be replaced more than once during the life of the kitchen and replacing the cabinets and floors is a much bigger deal.
You have posted on a subject that people write books about. I myself would hire a space planner who specializes in kitchen design. I was not happy with the kitchen designers I talked to because their main focus was on cabinetry which was exactly the direction I didn't want to go. I was lucky enough to get the assistance of a woman who was nationally known yet she worked in my neighborhood so she was willing to advise by the hour--worked out wonderfully and we were able to create a unique kitchen in an historic house.
One thing that I absolutely love about my current kitchen is that when I unload my dishwasher, all I have to do to put dishes away is a quarter turn to the left. I stand between the dishwaher door and the counter, and it's all just so easy.
A few things that I don't have but would really like:
--prep area on either side of the stove
--single, deep stainless steel sink
--drawers that are deep enough for things like the potato masher
--base cabinets with pull-out drawers instead of shelves
--a really good powerful range hood
Of course I'd also like a dishwasher that doesn't leak, a new fridge, and a level stove, but my landlord isn't in the appliance-buying mood...
My advice is to hire an both an architect and a kitchen designer that will work together, if the layout and function of your kitchen is highly important to you. My parents skimped on a kitchen designer, and it shows. Ideas to consider are great from a site like this, but a real kitchen designer will be worth the cost.