Designing a Better Kitchen

Installing a new kitchen ranks as one of the most popular home remodeling tasks, and it’s easy to understand why. Choosing high-end appliances and custom cabinetry is exciting. However, in the emphasis on designing a visually appealing space, many people forget these five essential elements of kitchen design:  


  • The Kitchen Triangle
    Many people consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home. It’s where food is prepared and, in many instances, where meals are eaten. The shape of your kitchen is less important than adhering to the principle of the kitchen triangle. The sink, refrigerator and cook top should form a triangle with no more than six feet between each element. Conforming to the kitchen triangle produces the most efficient arrangement possible for food preparation and serving.


  • Sufficient Storage
    Your kitchen should also include enough storage to accommodate small appliances, dishes and food. This may mean including extra cabinets for pots and pans, installing a pantry for food or extra countertop space for appliances like mixers and coffee makers. Consider future needs as well as present usage in planning for kitchen storage. If you’re not sure, it’s better to err on the side of more storage rather than less. Custom cabinetry is more expensive but may be a better choice in the long run because it uses space more efficiently.


  • It’s Electric
    Back in the day, the only kitchen appliances that required electricity were a toaster and perhaps a coffee pot. Today, microwave ovens, blenders, crock pots and electric knives all compete for electric outlet space with coffee makers and toaster ovens. Ensure that your kitchen contains enough electrical outlets to accommodate all your appliances. You should also ensure the circuits that serve kitchen outlets can handle the electrical load.


  • Taking Out the Trash
    No one likes to think about trash. However, planning a space for proper storage of trash and recycling receptacles is essential to maintaining a sanitary kitchen environment. Trash and recycling receptacles should be easy to access and store out of sight. If you plan to compost your organic trash, the composting receptacle should also be close to the kitchen but far enough away to prevent unpleasant odors from drifting in.


  • Proper lighting
    Proper lighting is frequently overlooked in kitchen design. However, task lighting is a necessity over kitchen workspaces such as the stove, countertops and the sink. Proper kitchen lighting should fall in front rather than behind so that you can see what you’re doing while prepping food, cooking or washing up after a meal.

Considering these five essential elements will ensure that your kitchen is functional as well as beautiful.


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Five Things to Consider When Creating an Outdoor Living Space

A well-designed outdoor space can be a major factor in making a house into a home. Mindful planning is as important in designing outdoor living spaces as indoor living spaces. Consider these five points when considering the design of your outdoor living space:


  • Purpose for the Space
    The first and perhaps most important consideration is determining precisely how you wish to use your outdoor space. Are you planning a patio or a garden? Do you want green space for pets or children to play? Knowing what purpose your outdoor space is intended to serve will shape nearly every other aspect of planning and executing the design.
  • Desired Amenities
    It’s one thing to purchase patio furniture and a charcoal grill for your back yard. It’s another thing entirely to install a hot tub or a complete outdoor kitchen with wet bar and sound system. In the latter case, adding a water line, plumbing, gas and electric infrastructure will also be needed, adding significantly to the timeline, not to mention the budget.
  • Challenges of the Space
    Every outdoor space presents at least some challenges. Common challenges include drainage issues, close proximity to neighbors or extensive exposure to direct sunlight and glare. Dealing with these challenges may necessitate alterations to the design of your outdoor space.For instance, correcting drainage issues requires proper grading and perhaps adding ground cover to prevent standing water or even flooding from ruining your outdoor space. Exposure to wind and sun requires arranging some sort of shelter, either from a canopy or from strategically planted greenery. If your outdoor space is simply too small to accommodate everything you want, this is the time to determine your must-haves and how to accommodate them. Scaled-down outdoor furnishings (in size and amount) prevent small spaces from being overwhelmed.
  • Integration with Your Overall Outdoor Space
    Ideally, your outdoor living space should also tie in with the rest of your yard as well as the overall design of your home. If your home is a classic bungalow and your back yard includes a flower garden, an outdoor living area with a stark, modernist design will look out of place.
  • Should You Call a Pro?
    Calling in a professional landscape designer is highly advisable, especially if you are planning an elaborate outdoor space. He or she can evaluate your outdoor space and determine if your desired plans are realistic. A professional can also determine whether preliminary infrastructure work such as the installation of plumbing or a gas line is needed. A pro can also make suggestions to deal with challenges such as drainage issues or overly close proximity to neighbors.

Considering these five factors can ensure that your outdoor living space is truly an area that you can enjoy along with friends and family.


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Designing a Home Library

If you are a book lover, you probably have a large book collection. A home library is an ideal solution not only for housing and displaying your books but also for providing a retreat for you to enjoy reading them. A home library can also be a cozy spot for visiting with guests. Careful planning can ensure that your home library is both functional and comfortable. In designing a home library, there are five essential elements to consider: location, storage and shelving, lighting, layout and whether the library will be a dedicated space or shared with a home office.

Location, Location, Location
A home library need not be large, but there should be sufficient space to house your books along with comfortable seating and lighting. While a separate room is ideal, a secluded corner of another living space will also suffice as a home library. The library should be located away from heavily trafficked areas and, of course, quiet enough for reading.

Storage and Shelving
The shelving you choose for your home library should allow for easy access to your books and be sturdy enough to hold their weight. Avoid shelving that is overly deep. Wood or wood-look shelves provide a classic look to your home library, but metal or even plastic shelving can give a home library a sleek, modern look. If you own your home, consider anchoring shelving to the wall for added stability, especially if your shelves are high. Consider obtaining a stepladder to make reaching high shelves easier.

You’ll also want to allow room for at least one chair and perhaps a footstool. If your home library is not a dedicated space, you may need to consider other types of storage in addition to shelving, such as a chest. If your library will also serve as a home office, you’ll need to allow room for a desk, chair and perhaps an additional chair.

Proper Lighting
Proper lighting is essential for a home library. There should be at least one light for every seating area. If your library shares space with a home office, provide additional lighting for working at the desk or computer. Avoid overhead lighting.

Furniture Layout
If you intend for your library to serve as a solo retreat, perhaps a single favorite chair plus footrest is all the furniture you’ll need. If you will share your library with other members of your household, you will need an additional chair or two. Space seating sufficiently so that everyone sharing the room can read quietly without feeling crowded. If the home library shares space with a home office, ideally the desk should be placed on an opposite wall. The flow of the furniture should allow easy access in and out of the library as well as access to the books.

Shared or Dedicated Space?
Many home libraries serve a dual purpose as home offices or as sitting rooms. If your library shares space with a home office, choose a room that is large enough to accommodate bookshelves, seating, lighting, a desk and chairs, plus wiring and outlet for computers, printers and other hardware. This may also require scaling down furniture size in smaller rooms to ensure that everything fits.


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