1 Use quality materials.
Quality drawer slides and hinges mean cabinet doors will stay closed and drawers won’t stick. Stay away from drawers that are stapled together or made of particleboard. For cabinet interiors, wood veneer is more durable than melamine, laminate, MDF or particleboard.
2 Determine cabinet heights.
If you have eight-foot ceilings, choose cabinets that go to the ceiling. They offer more storage, enabling you to use extra wall space for artwork or open shelves. If your ceilings are higher than eight feet, leave 15 to 18 inches above the cabinets.
3 Decide whether to paint or stain.
Though stained-wood cabinetry is forgiving, most finishes date quickly and aren’t easily altered. Brush-painted cabinets can lend a unique personality.
4 Select an elegant countertop.
White Carrara marble (honed or acid washed and sealed) and stained wood add elegance and warmth. We also like honed Kirkstone slate, soapstone and Wiarton limestone, and plastic laminate with a wood edge for a sophisticated look.
5 Install an island that works.
Beware of placing a bulky cube in the middle of the room. We like islands that have an open, airy look. Ideally, an island should be unencumbered by appliances, but if you want it to house a dishwasher-sink combo or a cooktop, try to maintain the light look of a leggy harvest table.
6 Don’t overdo the details.
Design accents such as pediments over stoves and plaster mouldings on cabinet fronts can represent decorative excess. Remember that the style of your kitchen should be compatible with the rest of your home.
7 Avoid maintenance nightmares.
Natural surfaces with inherent texture — slate, terra-cotta, brick and tumbled marble — are more difficult to clean but camouflage the odd crumb. Smooth surfaces in light colours, such as white laminate counters or ceramic floors, are easy to clean but show everything. And as much as we love stainless steel, it’s not easy to keep smudge-free.
8 Stick to basic appliances.
Instead of lots of appliances and gadgets, consider selecting a few reliable basics. For example, a commercial-quality stainless-steel range makes an interesting focal point and takes up less space than separate wall ovens and a cooktop.
9 Incorporate an adjacent dining room.
A clever design, plus the appropriate lighting and furniture, will let you adapt the room’s atmosphere to suit any occasion. Consider a banquette design combined with slipcovered chairs for an efficient use of space.
10 Add interest.
Your kitchen should reflect you, not look like a showroom. Before designing the space, search for a piece of unique furniture and use it in your design — a room full of floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall kitchen cabinets looks boring and uninspired.