Story by Gail Trowbridge
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve invited people to your home, plumped the pillows in the living room and set an attractive buffet in the dining room. Yet, like bees to honey, your guests invariably cluster in your kitchen.
“The kitchen is the heart of the home,” Rebecca Lindquist says. “That’s why people want to hang out there.”
As president and co-owner of Lindquist and Company, Kitchens and Baths of Duluth, Rebecca is a 27-year veteran of the kitchen and bath industry. She is a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer, the highest level of accreditation achievable in the kitchen and bath industry.
Remodeling your kitchen is a smart investment, Rebecca says. A bad kitchen can work against getting a good price when you sell your home.
“After five years, you can usually recoup the cost of remodeling 85 percent,” she says. “At 10 years, most people will recoup 100 percent of their investment. And you will have been paid to enjoy that space for those 10 years.”
Here are a few of Rebecca’s kitchen design ideas that were incorporated in Jonathan and Karen Sande’s kitchen.
These ideas just might make your kitchen work better for you.
Before you start, assess your space.
- Rebecca takes her clients through a thorough process of examining which kitchen-specific items and which “non-kitchen” items – that mail you just brought in or the children’s homework – currently taking up kitchen space. From there, she helps her clients to think through how they want to use their kitchens, what functions that they want to keep there and which can be moved somewhere else.
Use existing structures creatively.
- “The reality of kitchen design is that it is dictated by the design of the house,” Rebecca says. In the Sandes’ kitchen, a structural beam had to stay, so Rebecca incorporated it into her design, creating a built-in wine rack directly below it.
Use vertical storage.
- Large, flatter items such as cookie sheets, bread boards and baking dishes can present a problem when they’re stacked horizontally in a cabinet, especially when you need the item on the bottom. If you store these items vertically, it’s much easier to remove them and put them back.
Divide and conquer.
- “We divide most all drawers because you can double the capacity of a drawer when you divide it,” Rebecca says. This prevents the need to “detangle” your cooking tools when you go to retrieve one and the exasperating tendency of small items to slide to the back.
Corner your counters.
- “Anytime you (are) creating a corner, you can use the back of the corner for storage,” Rebecca says, because people generally work with the first 14 inches of counter, leaving the back space as storage. This allows the cook to have a convenient work station in minimal space.
Create a paper collection area.
- As much as we like to think we’ll keep our household papers out of our kitchens, the reality is that the kitchen is the command center of the household. Why not create a place in the kitchen for those items?
Create a message center.
- If you’re seeking a neater, tidier kitchen, consider removing the magnets from the refrigerator door and install a bulletin board to help manage your family’s busy schedule.
Go with the flow.
- “Always start with the placement of the refrigerator,” Rebecca says. “It’s the most heavily frequented appliance in the kitchen.” The refrigerator should be near a counter and then the sink, the most heavily used portion of the kitchen, because that’s the most natural progression as you work in your kitchen. “Eventually, the flow should continue in the same direction toward the eating area.”
Let the cabinets come to you.
- Each cabinet in the Sandes’ kitchen contains a roll-out feature, allowing the family to easily see and grab items. “Every cabinet should come to you,” Lindquist said. “Otherwise you can’t see what you have.”
Add a pantry.
- When the Sandes’ built-in barbecue grill was removed, enough space opened to create a walk-in pantry. “I try to include a pantry whenever possible,” Rebecca says. “It’s such a useful space.” Even more space was saved by using a pocket door.