Cooking Confidence: Design a Kitchen That Inspires

Once upon a time, the kitchen was the heart of every home. People gathered at mealtime to enjoy sit-down dinners with those they loved, enjoying meals that gave birth to many cherished family cookbooks. However, many people today turn to the microwave. Can redesigning this room inspire greater culinary creativity, and even bring your nearest and dearest closer?

Every chef needs the right tools and environment. Design a kitchen that has what you need on hand to build confidence in your cooking skills, making you feel like a regular Gordon Ramsay. Where should you direct your renovation efforts? Here’s how to design a kitchen that inspires culinary creativity.

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura, or San Diego with reliable kitchen contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about kitchen remodeling – here are some considerations, ideas, and tips to get you started. Call us at 818.317.3567 to speak with a kitchen expert.

Decide the Elements You Need

design a kitchen bar counter

Dream kitchens vary from person to person. You might crave straight lines, sleek black cabinetry, and stainless appliances. Conversely, you could prefer a cozy farmhouse style.

Before you dream of decor, though, you must decide what elements you need. Start by listing your ideal characteristics for various features, such as those listed below. Once you outline your dream, you can begin to design a kitchen made for you by putting the pieces together to fit in your house.

1. Counter Space

Most chefs agree more is better when it comes to counter space. How much you truly need depends on how you intend to use the space. For example, if you plan a breakfast bar with stools, you should leave at least 10 to 15 inches between each seat to allow room for people to maneuver in and out.

Other questions to ask yourself when determining counter space requirements include:

  • How many cabinets do you need? Remember to leave space for your dishwasher, stove, and any other built-in appliances.
  • What appliances must you keep on the countertop? For example, many people won’t live without a coffee or teapot. Others need ice makers or wouldn’t dream of stowing their prized Kitchenaid mixer in a cabinet.
  • How many people do you typically cook for? Prepping for a crowd takes more space.

2. Island

If you include an island, remember you need sufficient space around it to walk and open cabinets without them banging into anything. According to the industry standard, you need 36 to 42 inches of surrounding space. If you want to design a multi-functional kitchen, this step is crucial.

3. Dual Oven

If Thanksgiving is your favorite holiday or your side hustle involves baking, a dual oven is a must. You’ll want at least 40 inches of clearance in front of the doors, keeping them at least 48 inches away from other kitchen appliances like your dishwasher.

4. Storage Space

Running to the store each time you need an ingredient interrupts your culinary flow. Designing a kitchen with adequate storage space is a must. The recent pandemic renewed interest in the butler’s pantry, which provides ample room to rotate through your preps and contains a food-staging area. 

5. Specialty Appliances

Some specialty appliances take up counter space, while others may take up floor space, like pizza ovens. More cooking gadgets that elevate your culinary creations include:

  • Slow cookers
  • Multifunction devices, like combination roasters, air fryers, and microwaves
  • Food processors and blenders 
  • Hanging racks for cooking tools like herb scissors and mandolins

6. Dining Area

Some families love gathering in their breakfast nook. Will you require table space? When remodeling your home, it’s important to design a kitchen with your loved ones in mind. Finding space for a dining table may take some Tetris, but it’ll be worth it in the end. 

7. Work Desk

Likewise, some folks devote a corner of their kitchen to a small home office space for paying bills or for the kiddos to do their homework while dinner cooks. Don’t be afraid to design a kitchen that fits your lifestyle!

Design a Kitchen with Plenty of Space

modern kitchen design wood floor

Once you categorize everything into “must-have”s and “would be nice”s, it’s time to play Jenga. How can you fit the various pieces into your existing space? What can you do if you don’t have enough room?

Those with open-concept living areas might move existing counters out to create room for a kitchen island. If there’s an available closet or under-the-stairs space adjacent to the existing kitchen, knocking out a wall could provide pantry space. If you have deeper pockets, a bump-out addition costs several thousand dollars but expands your home’s overall square footage.

One exciting concept that might work for your home is an indoor-outdoor kitchen arrangement. If you have an adjacent patio, you could include elements like a pizza oven there. Add a roof or enclose the space lanai-style to protect appliances and deter insects.

Select the Right Appliances for Your Needs

modern white marble counter kitchen

The right appliances pull your kitchen together. One consideration that’s undergone a recent shift is what type of stove to buy. Researchers have expressed concerns about the safety risks of gas stoves, the emissions from which contain the following:

  • Benzene
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Methane

These substances harm human health and the environment. If you insist on gas, learn about the risks and ensure you have proper ventilation. However, you’re better off with an induction model, which cooks food 25% to 50% faster, and doesn’t pose the same environmental and health risks. Electric models are another alternative, although many chefs find it challenging to fine-tune temperature adjustments.

Your refrigerator poses more tough questions:

  • Do you prefer a top-and-bottom model or side-by-side?
  • Is a single freezer adequate or do you need a separate one for your meal preps?
  • Is an icemaker and water dispenser worth the trouble? While they are convenient, they can be a hassle to fix if they break.

Regardless of what you choose, look for appliances with the best Energy Star rating you can afford. Manufacturers compete for high ratings, and using these devices is more sustainable for the planet and kinder to your wallet. They also save water and energy to reduce your utility bills.

Design a Kitchen With a Theme in Mind

marble kitchen counter white cabinets

Now that the puzzle pieces have begun to come together, you can unite your theme, starting with your cabinets. You might not have to replace them — an expense that can cost $20,000 or more. Most are fairly easy to paint by following these steps:

  • Clean your cabinets with mild, grease-cutting soap.
  • Sand your cabinets to smooth small scratches, filling in larger gashes or gaps with wood putty before sanding again.
  • Remove the doors and hardware, and paint all cabinet surfaces, adding a second coat once the first one dries.
  • Seal with a gloss, glaze, lacquer, or varnish for the desired finish.
  • Replace hardware.

Add Backsplash or Paint Walls

The right backsplash can change your kitchen’s character. For example, brushed steel imparts a modern, industrial look, while brick creates a cottage atmosphere. Design a kitchen that fits your aesthetic.

Adjust Your Lighting

Lighting is crucial in your kitchen. Hopefully, you have at least one sunny window that’s perfect for your herb garden. However, bright overhead lights help when whipping up culinary delights.

Eschew old-fashioned fluorescents, which contain invisible pulsing that triggers migraines in some. Instead, consider sleek track lighting you can direct where you need it most, like your cookbook. Recessed can lighting is another popular choice, and adjustable LED bulbs let you change the mood from bright and active to chill and laid back.

Remember to illuminate under cabinets. Today’s newer LED strips make it easy with little installation necessary and some change colors to create funky effects. Sleek white cabinets with pink lighting like a Hello Kitty dream? If that’s your aesthetic, go for it!

Tend to Your Floor

When you design a kitchen, there are countless flooring options, including:

  • Sheet vinyl
  • Laminate
  • Cork 
  • Bamboo
  • Tile
  • Stone 
  • Hardwood 

The first four choices give underfoot, making them softer on your feet to reduce fatigue from long hours at the stove. The final three can leave your legs tired after a long culinary session. They’re still fabulous surfaces that fit many aesthetics, but you might consider investing in mats to reduce pressure on your joints when cooking for a crowd.

Designing a Kitchen for Culinary Creativity

white kitchen with plant

You love to cook, so you deserve a space where you can let your creativity soar. How will you design a kitchen that fits your culinary style? 

Use the above tips to restore it to its rightful place as the heart of your home. You’ll enjoy preparing meals and the friendly company that invariably follows once people get a taste of your culinary creations.

GreatBuildz is here to help with your dream kitchen remodel. With our network of vetted contractors in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Orange Counties, you’ll always know you’re getting the best recommendation possible. Plus, you’ll have a GreatBuildz concierge by your side, always available to help on your project – from the bidding process to project completion.


Call us at 818.317.3567 to speak with a kitchen expert.



Rose Morrison is a home living writer with over five years experience. She is the managing editor of, a home living site where she loves to cover home renovations and decor to inspire everyone to live their best DIY life. She’s most passionate about sustainable living and incorporating those habits into daily life. Her work has been featured on The National Association of Realtors and American Society of Home Inspectors. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find her baking something to satisfy her never-ending sweet tooth. For more articles from Rose, you can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to the newsletter.

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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