For many of us, the kitchen area is the heart of the home. It is where we typically eat meals and entertain guests. It is where kids may do homework while parents make dinner or do dishes. It is also where we meet late at night for snacks and deep conversations.

This is why many people are investing in kitchen upgrades instead of other parts of their home. However, too many only have a vague, or no, idea of what constitutes a great kitchen. This can then lead to potentially costly consequences or you not getting the results you expected. Let’s take a look at some of the most critical elements of great kitchen design.

Diverse Light Sources

Lighting is important in all rooms, but even more in a busy room like the kitchen where functionality is key. Your kitchen shouldn’t rely on one large window or a single overhead light for the entire room. This isn’t bright enough for detail-oriented tasks. A very bright single light source can cause bad glare, too, where it doesn’t leave shadows.

The solution is to have a variety of light sources. You may have one moderately strong overhead light and softer lights in key work areas. Put accent lighting near particular areas like the dining nook or the refrigerator. Put brighter lights on top of the stove. You can also add ambient lighting under cabinets to light up the countertops. This allows you to turn on softer lights when you’re entering the room for a snack instead of turning on the bright overhead lights.

The Right Set of Appliances

The appliances in your kitchen also play an essential role and could make or break the design. When looking for an appliance, the first thing you have to take into consideration is size.

The right appliance size for your kitchen will depend on the current kitchen layout. This is obvious when you’re trying to fit a dishwasher under the counter or fit a refrigerator in an existing nook. If you want to remodel or renovate the kitchen, you need the basic layout and dimensions of the kitchen so you can find the right appliances. You can always choose something smaller, but something larger won’t fit.

The next thing you’ll have to look for is the right colours. While most will go for the classics, know that you have almost endless options here. Black and stainless steel are classic appliance colours, but white and neutral grey are increasingly popular modern choices. You even have colours like avocado green making a comeback. You could go for a retro look with avocado green appliances and an industrial style layout, especially if the kitchen is designed for it.

You also have to check the type of technology that will be featured. Again, you have tons of options available and these are only increasing. Your fridge could have a touchscreen to control its settings or a media centre that lets you play music through it. You can choose intelligent appliances such as stoves that will coordinate cook times or report critical error messages. Or you can choose a lower-tech kitchen.

Don’t forget the kitchen sink. It is more important that the sink gives you the space and depth you need to work than looking good. Fortunately, there are many different styles of sinks, and you can choose ultra-modern ones as well as classic models. If you’re upgrading your kitchen, look at touch-free taps that let you wash your dirty hands without having to touch a lever or knob. Or you could choose a farmhouse style tap to go with a deep sink.

Cabinetry

Cabinetry can be compared to the siding on your home or the wood panelling in the living room. In fact, the cabinetry in your kitchen should reflect the design elements elsewhere in your home, so try to use similar materials. You can either maintain the colour palette or choose complementary tones.

Remember that cabinetry is intended to be functional. Ensure that your cabinets provide enough storage for everything from tableware to small appliances and think about any special storage needs you currently have or would like to address. You should also consider talking to a kitchen designer like Hunter Hall Design, for instance.

Companies like these could help you build things like a walk-in pantry, a utility cabinet, or even something like a feeding station for your pet. Bringing in a professional is essential if you want to redesign the storage in the kitchen. You could also ask them to incorporate deep drawers, roll-out shelves, or appliance garages that will make your kitchen space less cluttered and more efficient.

If you’re updating your kitchen, know that modern cabinets are clean and nearly minimalist. Modern cabinetry is generally white, while accessories are used to add a splash of colour. You could also use the backsplash to add a dash of colour in an otherwise grey or cream kitchen.

Some homeowners are using grey cabinets since they can be combined with a variety of finishes. This includes a mix of black and white appliances or materials. Yet traditional wood cabinets remain popular. Note that wood counters can complement clean, modern appliances as well as fit classic country kitchens.

The Finishing Touches

Kitchen finishes include door pulls, countertops, taps, and drawer handles. The cabinet hardware should match the cabinetry and ideally match handles and knobs found elsewhere in the house. Use the same type of finishes throughout the kitchen. If you want a clean, industrial look, opt for stainless steel or satin nickel.

What about countertops? Consider installing granite ones if you want to add value to your home. That’s because they’re durable, beautiful and come in a variety of colours. They’re cheaper than marble, too. Quartz is another favourite because it resists scratches, stains, and heat. It is also low maintenance. Or you could go with classics like laminate or butcher block tops.

The kitchen is the centre of many homes. Invest in design elements that make it easier to get things done in the kitchen so you can focus on your family.