24 Kitchen Remodeling Tips for a Successful Renovation

bar stools at island in renovated kitchen
Photo: Helen Norman

Kitchens are a source of family meals, comfort, and togetherness—a place for gathering and enjoyment. Thanks to modern design innovations, a kitchen can be both comfortable and beautiful, functional and welcoming, achieving a balance of color, texture, and lighting that makes the heart of your home a refuge for relaxing. Integrate these kitchen remodel tips to ensure a space that is easy to work in and enjoyable to live in.

01 of 24

Plan Ahead

kitchen grey-green cabinets pink backsplash
Hector Sanchez

Before you hang the first cabinet, ask yourselves questions like these: What are my goals for the space? How much can I spend? What can't I live without? "The most important advice I can give for a kitchen remodel is planning," says Delia Kenza of Delia Kenza Interiors. "Planning is essential to make sure you can stay on budget and get everything that you want. So take the time to think it through." Every kitchen and each family is unique in its must-haves, so spend some time outlining your ideal space (and figuring out whether you can achieve that within your budget).

02 of 24

Eliminate Wasted Steps

kitchen cabinets colorful dishes green tile
Adam Albright

As you plan your new layout, think about how and where you use kitchen items. Organize your cabinetry so you can store breakfast foods and bowls near the breakfast table. Keep foil, plastic wrap, and containers in a spot near a work surface for wrapping leftovers. Locate dishware and flatware near the dishwasher to ease the process of unloading. If you can make your kitchen more efficient, you'll also make it more enjoyable.

03 of 24

Build an Accessible Kitchen

blue tiled kitchen
Edmund Barr

Ensure everyone can participate in the happy times. To make your kitchen more inclusive, consider a ground-floor plan that places the oven, drawers, and shelves at an accessible height. Lowering countertop height and leaving adequate space for walkways allows ease of movement for wheelchairs, strollers, or walkers. A home should be a place "where people of all abilities can be welcomed, respected, and included," says Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder of RespectAbility, a national disability nonprofit. A remodel is the perfect time to design an accessible kitchen, especially if your home was not initially built that way.

04 of 24

Incorporate Kitchen Technology

kitchen with wooden cabinets and light green island
Kritsada Panichgul

Don't underestimate the value of new gadgets in taking your kitchen from typical to top-notch. "From installing smart taps in your kitchen to having a smart trash can, it is important to have a modern kitchen if you are remodeling," says David Mason, owner of The Knobs Company. He suggests adding Alexa or other smart home consoles to your kitchen, as well as smart lighting. "Remodeled kitchens should be convenient for you," he says. The right technology can make your kitchen a well-oiled machine.

05 of 24

Design Wide Walkways

black and white modern kitchen with scale tiles
Ryan Garvin

You've probably thought about the placement of your refrigerator in relation to the stove. But have you considered how you'll get from one to the other? Paths through a kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide; paths within the cooking zone should be 42 inches wide for a one-cook kitchen and 48 inches for a two-cook configuration. When planning, adjust kitchen islands and peninsulas accordingly, giving yourself adequate space to move about easily.

06 of 24

Plan Kitchen Clearances

dark grey kitchen cabinets and oven
Werner Straube

When creating your kitchen remodeling plan, it's important to adhere to standard clearances for fridges, ovens, cooktops, and sinks. Always allow 15 inches of countertop on either side of a cooktop and refrigerator. Make sure the sink has at least 24 inches of counter space on one side and 18 inches on the other. Landing space is also important near the microwave; create a 15-inch landing zone above, beside, or below your microwave.

07 of 24

Consider a Closed Kitchen Layout

tile teal white kitchen sink window
Nicole LaMotte

Not ready to knock down walls? As more and more families desire private spaces within their homes, closed kitchens are starting to replace the open-concept floor plans that have been popular for years. Homeowners now want to separate cooking and eating from the home's entertainment rooms; some even use the island as an office that needs to be siloed off from the rest of the house. Consider a pass-through window for a space that's still bright and airy.

08 of 24

Use Your Counter Space Wisely

bar stools at island in renovated kitchen
Helen Norman

Those who cook frequently require more counter space, ideally between the range and sink, than those who cook infrequently or prepare only simple meals. But allocation of space isn't your only consideration—think about height, too. Incorporating two countertop heights (which is doable even in a small space like this one) makes baking easy and allows kids to participate in meal preparation. Staggered countertops can also help separate the cooktop and the dining area if you want to cook and eat at a kitchen island.

09 of 24

Lighten Up a Small Kitchen

small modern kitchen with light wood and white cabinets
Lincoln Barbour

Dark color schemes shrink an already small space and make it less inviting. Use soft shades on kitchen cabinets and neutrals on walls to visually expand a small room. Pastels are also making a comeback, as delicate yellows and soothing blues can lighten tight spaces. Use natural light to your advantage by forgoing kitchen window treatments.

10 of 24

Arrange the Range

spice rack by kitchen range
Werner Straube

Place a shelf beside or behind the range to keep cooking oils, utensils, and spices handy. Place S hooks on the side of the range hood to hang frequently used pots and pans. For an extra pop, opt for metal with warm tones, like brass or copper.

11 of 24

Play with Color

kitchen IKEA cabinets green butcher block counters
Hector Sanchez

Whether you decide to paint all your cabinets black or you just want a splash of tranquil blue or soothing mint green, color is in for kitchens. Just make sure not to overwhelm the space with too many shades. "Yes, colorful kitchens look good, but do not overdo the color scheme," says Mason. Maintain subtlety by choosing a focal point, like the counters or cabinets, for the primary dose of color. Stick to one main hue, then add small doses of complementary color via the backsplash or kitchen accessories.

12 of 24

Customize the Microwave Height

stainless streel built-in microwave
Helen Norman

What's the best height and location for a microwave? It depends on the chef's height and the degree of kid-friendliness desired in the kitchen. For adults, 15 inches above countertop level is usually a good microwave height. For kids, a below-countertop setup might be safer and more suitable.

13 of 24

Plan for Cabinet Clearance

kitchen pantry storage with cabinet door shelves
Nicole LaMotte

To make sure the doors of your cabinets and appliances are fully functional, consider their clearance and swing direction in your kitchen remodeling plan. Keep appliances away from corners, and make sure doors won't bang into each other if opened at the same time.

14 of 24

Add an Office Nook

colorful office storage calendar nook
Michael Partenio

If you don't have a home office, consider carving out a workspace in your kitchen. That may mean transforming an empty corner or turning a small run of cabinets into a nook with a desk. Regardless of its location, a kitchen office should include comfy seating, shelving, and storage.

15 of 24

Include a Pot Filler

white subway tile backsplash and pot filler
Kritsada Panichgul

Tired of lugging water-filled pots from the sink to the cooktop? A swing-out tap, also called a pot filler, installed near the cooktop lets you add water to pots near where you heat them. Another option: Install an extra-long hose attachment on your main faucet to fill pots on the cooktop.

16 of 24

Break Up Cabinetry Blocks

linoleum kitchen floor white glass pane cabinets
Edmund Barr

Avoid boring, heavy blocks of doors and drawers by adding interesting details. Try glass doors or open shelving to display favorite crockery or glassware. Food storage can even be out in the open with glass pantry doors that showcase organized, labeled essentials.

17 of 24

Pick a Focal Point

white kitchen with exposed wood shelves and patterned backsplash
Peter Molick

Splashy tile, fancy floors, sizable range hoods, bright kitchen cabinets, and busy countertop patterns can be overwhelming. Pick one focal point in your kitchen design and complement that area with a few quieter, eye-pleasing details. Keep the remaining surfaces simple.

18 of 24

Cut Cleaning Time

three windows above a kitchen sink
Werner Straube

What to consider when remodeling a kitchen? Upkeep. Careful design decisions can make cleaning easier. For example, glass refrigerator shelves will catch spills that wire shelves let through. Flush-set or undermount sinks don't have a crumb-catching rim to worry about. Matte finishes don't show dirt as much as glossy ones do. Think about the cleaning implications of your kitchen remodel materials before purchasing.

19 of 24

Think Sustainably

separate recycling drawers
Kim Cornelison

You want to love your kitchen for years to come, but creating a sustainable space extends beyond enduring style choices. Buy long-lasting cookware, use energy-efficient appliances, and invest in recycling and compost bins that can be stored out of sight. One kitchen cabinet can be dedicated to storing reusable containers, bags, and paper. Look into eco-friendly paints, and purchase floor mats made from 100% recycled plastics.

20 of 24

Install Kitchen Outlets

Green shelf with iPad plugged into outlet
Greg Scheidemann

Plan for multiple outlets along the backsplash and on the island so you'll have electricity wherever you need it. Replace older sockets with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), especially near water sources. With so many high-tech appliances in use at the same time nowadays, you won't regret having multiple plugs—and USB sockets, too.

21 of 24

Store Knives Wisely

knives drawer kitchen storage
James Salomon

When planning a kitchen remodel, designate a spot for knives. This makes it easy to locate the right knife for a job and keeps dangerous items out of children's reach. A knife drawer such as this one has recessed slots that hold knives in place and sheath the sharp blades.

22 of 24

Play with Floor Patterns and Materials

kitchen with wooden floor and island
Adam Albright

Think creatively when it comes to kitchen floors. Try textured tiles or bamboo to complement warm kitchen tones. "Bamboo is a tough, dense, moisture-resistant flooring material, which makes it ideal for kitchens," says Andrew Johnston of Ambient Building Products. "It can withstand higher foot traffic than traditional hardwoods while breathing the same life into the room."

You can also play with hardwood floor patterns, like herringbone. "It can give a modern touch to your kitchen while changing its whole appearance," says Jordan Scarpino of West Coast Real Estate Hub. If you don't want to spring for solid wood, consider engineered woods. Just remember to look for flooring with a waterproof finish.

23 of 24

Don't Forget Kitchen Lighting

white farmhouse open kitchen with black pendant lighting and bar seating
Brie Williams

Lighting is often sidelined as a secondary detail, but it should be a top design consideration—the intensity and style of your fixtures will heavily influence the vibe of your space. In the kitchen, think beyond overhead lighting: Hang pendants over countertops for task lighting and wall sconces near the range for ambiance. Accent lighting can also be used to highlight open shelving or under cabinets to brighten dark corners.

24 of 24

Mix and Match Natural Finishes

Polished Kitchen Concrete Countertop
Shaun Sullivan

Gone are the days of sterile kitchens. Today's designs are more in tune with nature, with eco-friendly, organic materials taking precedence. Incorporate wood, bamboo, linen, marble, and other natural materials. Mix and match textures to create a layered look that adds warmth, depth, and style.

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