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10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen

10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen
Kitchens have come a long way. Gone are the days when this was a room buried out of view of house guests — a dark hovel of stoves and burners intended only for the function of making food. Nowadays, the kitchen is a place for gathering, entertaining, working, and relaxing. In many modern homes, layouts are more open and the kitchen visible. Kitchen design is sleek and seamless — every bit as key to the look of a home’s interior as any other room.

But wait. That kitchen still has a job to do — several, in fact. Food preparation and a whole lot of storage, to name just the key ones. Thankfully, the evolution of the kitchen is more than just skin deep and there are some neat solutions on the market that help ensure your kitchen is as useful as it is beautiful.

Here are our 10 tips for a functional kitchen.

Tip 1: Pull more out of your pantry

If there’s one part of your kitchen that needs to work hard, it’s the pantry. In short, your pantry can’t be paltry. With pots, pans, dishware, cutlery, cleaning products — not to mention, oh yeah, all that food to store, a couple of cupboards and drawers just ain’t gonna cut it.

Enter the pantry, in all its tall, deep, shelf-abundant glory. That’ll solve all your kitchen storage problems — right? Well, in theory, but you better make sure you are maximizing the storage space and accessibility of your pantry.

10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen
Photo Credit: Richelieu
If it’s built out from the wall, your pantry may be taking up valuable floor space. For those building new, discuss the option of a corner pantry that’s built right into the framing of the home and finished with drywall. This is a great solution that will both save space and give a nice, seamless look.

That’s the outside of the pantry taken care of but, as we know, when it comes to storage spaces, it’s very much what’s on the inside that counts. Common pantry pitfalls include shelves that are too high or too deep, meaning that things can go in there never to be seen again. There’s nothing worse than sending a spice off to exceed its expiry in the dark depths of your mega-pantry, or losing that ornate jar you got in your Great Aunt Edna’s estate to the netherworld of a too-high top shelf.

But fear not! Thanks to smart storage solutions, you don’t need to settle for a paltry pantry to avoid these potential pitfalls. Roll-out trays, sometimes with an integrated carousel, are a great way to maximize pantry storage space and ensure your spices (or heirlooms) never get lost again!

Tip 2: Don’t cut corners – use them

Ah, corners. Some of us spent lots of time sitting, staring into them as youngsters, usually for cutting them at school. In kitchens, they can be just as punishing, creating awkward spaces that don’t want to allow cupboard doors to open.

10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen
Photo Credit: Richelieu
But fear not, for there are a number of solutions on the market to make sure your corner cabinet can be as useful as any other kitchen cabinet. Doors that open in clever ways, along with options like pull-out drawers or wire shelves on tracks help to provide maximum storage and easy access. You’ll never look at a corner the same way again!

Tip 3: Stop sliding teaspoons

You’ve got your brand spanking new kitchen, replete with sleek soft-close drawers that slide smoother than an oiled penguin on a toboggan track. You gently pull on the handle with a single finger, fully expecting to hear angel song, when…


A cacophony of jangling cutlery screams into your unsuspecting earholes. To add insult to deafening injury, once you pull your hands away from your ears and pry open your eyelids, you are confronted with the sight of a cutlery tray that has migrated noisily to the back of the drawer, leaving stray teaspoons in its wake. Next, the fun activity of sliding one’s hand into the dark, hidden recesses of a drawer full of sharp, pointy stuff.

10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen
Photo Credit: Richelieu
To combat this scary scenario, look for drawers that slide all the way out to reveal the whole inside of the drawer tray. Fitted cutlery and utensil trays will stop the slide and keep things neat and tidy in there.

Tip 4: Put fridge-top storage within reach

Dan-dan-daaaan! Is there a more nefarious space-wasting storage area in a kitchen than that found atop the fridge? Assuming you’re not as tall as Shaquille O’Neal, just reaching up above the stainless steel monstrosity below is gonna be a challenge, but even more so when the cabinet above your refrigerator is set back from the front of the fridge itself.

10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen

At the same time, above-fridge space is still ripe for storage, so canny kitchen designers have been hard at work on a solution. The simplest among them? Cabinets that extend out to line up with the front of the fridge. Not only does this give your kitchen a boost in the aesthetics department, it also means you won’t need a boost just to access your above-fridge storage.

Put less-used items to the back of the storage space, and place things you’ll use more often towards the front, where you’ll be able to recover them, even if a tiptoe is required. (Or, you could always call Shaq.)

Tip 5: Keep garbage out of sight

Garbage, trash, junk, rubbish, plain old crap. We all produce it, and no place creates a stinkier pile of waste than the kitchen. (Well, we can think of one place, but that typically has a toilet.) The fact is that packaging, discarded paper towels, and all those lovely leftovers that find their way into the bin can create quite the smell — and quite the eyesore if your garbage isn’t properly stored.

Let’s be honest: garbage cans that sit on the floor suck. If they are too large, they are taking up valuable floor space. If they are too small, they are a tripping hazard that needs emptying every day. Large or small, they are stinky imposters in your otherwise neat and tidy kitchen, often found drooling foul liquids of unknown origin onto your nice, clean floors.

10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen
Photo Credit: Richelieu
Get that garbage outta there with a built-in, fitted garbage drawer or cabinet. You’ll save floor space, minimize odours, and keep the garbage out of sight and mind.

Tip 6: Lighten up

Lighting is important in all areas of the home, but nowhere is this more the case than the kitchen. Home to the vast majority of pointy, burny, and downright scary items in your house, it stands to reason you’re going to want to see what you’re doing when you venture into the Chamber of a Thousand Dangers. I mean, kitchen.

Natural light is always king. Any time you can get that lovely sunlight beaming through your ample windows, let that stuff shine in. But of course, this isn’t always going to be an option in a kitchen, meaning you’ll have to maximize the light generated by electrical sources.

Brighter paint colours, flooring and finishes are generally a good call, but for those with darker tastes, style may trump functionality in the colour department. This just makes smart lighting solutions all the more key.

10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen

Pot lights are a great way to add extra illumination to the kitchen as a whole, as well as looking neat and stylish. Lights on the underside of wall cabinets provide great lighting for countertops where you’ll be doing all your fancy knife work (your fingers will thank you), as well as providing a lovely ambient night light. Lights on cabinet interiors offer a neat look when incorporating glass doors, but can equally help when fumbling for your favourite mug in the small wee hours.

Read the blog: How to Make Your Dream Kitchen a Reality

Tip 7: Island life

Perhaps no kitchen feature has caught the imagination and staked its claim as a staple more in recent years than the island. See, it used to be that a kitchen was an island — set apart from the rest of the home, rarely ventured into by visitors, a place to be kept secret and talked about in hushed tones from the safe harbour of the living room.

But no more! Today’s kitchen is a hive of activity — a place not only to prepare food and wash dishes, but a space that family life is centered around. From the buzz of pre-work and pre-school breakfast, to the quiet refuge of lunch, to the eat-while-you-work, in-house café of evenings and weekends, the kitchen is working harder than ever, and at its centre…the island.

10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen

As kitchens become more open-plan, the island is a versatile solution that helps open the space, provides ample countertop room, and adds a bunch more storage. Countertop outlets make it a great place to plug in a laptop, or sit with a tablet, and get some work done over coffee.

No man is an island, they say. But, man, can an island add a whole new dimension to your kitchen. Which brings us to…

Tip 8: Take storage up a notch

When we think of storage in the kitchen, our heads are usually in the cabinets, whether floor units or wall cabinets. But increasingly, people are putting their utensils on display.

There are all kinds of neat solutions that can turn a bit of free wall space into some stylish extra storage. Incorporating clever use of hooks, bars, rods and magnets, these options are highly customizable and can become a nice visual detail in their own right.

Tip 9: What are you doing here?

Not here, reading this blog; here in your new kitchen! It’s not just for rustling up supper or slaving over a hot sink full of soapy water anymore — it’s the gosh-darn heartbeat of your home! Or, at least, it can be. Maybe you’re a master chef that needs silence to create culinary art. Perhaps you just love to cook and your kitchen is your sanctuary.

Point is, we all have different needs and wants. This is true of any room in the home, and no less the kitchen. If you have five kids and your kitchen is a conveyor belt for regular feeding frenzies, that’s clearly going to put you in a different space than the master chef outlined above. Maybe your kitchen needs to fulfill all these criteria, depending on the time, your mood, or the availability of a viable babysitter.

When we’re talking functionality, it’s critical to really ask yourself, what do I want to do in my kitchen and what do I need my kitchen to be able to doAsking the right questions and exploring the multitude of modern solutions is the path to many a satisfying kitchen experience for years to come.

Tip 10: Make it seamless

It’s more an aesthetic point than a functional one, but bears saying all the same: Your kitchen is a part of the home that deserves all the finesse you will lavish on any other room.

10 Tips for a Functional Kitchen

Interior designers will often talk about continuity. As more and more homes become open-plan, more and more kitchens are becoming seen as well as heard. Consider large appliances that either compliment the space, or provide an integrated-panel option that allows them to blend in while still providing outstanding functionality. It’s all about keeping a clean, continuous look through your entire living space.

Wow! Who knew there was so much to a functional kitchen? If you enjoyed this blog post, we have lots more you may find interesting. Why not start with this one:

6 Things to Consider When Building a New Home

7 Questions to See if Downsizing is the Answer
Clean Start: 5 Surprising Benefits of a Clean Home

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June 27, 2022