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Kitchen Remodel: Four Key Design Tips

by | Mar 29, 2017 | Decorating Inspiration, My Kitchen, My Seattle House, My Small Kitchen Remodel

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Kitchen Remodel: Four Key Design Tips

Once we made the decision to remodel our kitchen, I knew it wasn’t going to be a project I could effectively just stumble my way through. I wasn’t hiring a designer or an architect or anyone else that I could fully rely on to help me make wise choices. I didn’t have an endless stream of funds to make design decisions any easier. This wasn’t going to be a band-aid type fix and it wasn’t going to be cheap, so I knew I had one shot to get this room right and keep the budget on track.

Deep breath! That’s a lot of pressure for someone like me who wants to get things right the first time (not to mention the added reminder that so many friends were waiting to see what this space was going to look like, hahah…gratefully, you are all so kind and supportive). Now that the kitchen is done, I’m starting to exhale.

Kitchen Remodel: Four Key Design Tips

Since I can finally reflect back on this project and know that it all worked out to my liking :), I’d love to share a few of the tips I used in the design process. I’ll have more to share in upcoming posts!

1. Plan enough time to research (don’t rush into a full kitchen remodel).

Unless you are hiring a professional design team to oversee your project and have plenty of room in the budget, you’ll want to allow plenty of time in the planning stage. If you want the best possible outcome, you’ll want to explore various ideas, options and have ample time to change your mind before a check is ever written.

2. Consider keeping the footprint of the kitchen in place.

If there is a chance you’ll run out of budget before you get to the fun stuff, it might pay off to trim out some costs from the start. Leaving as much in place as possible, especially things like plumbing, walls, appliances or windows, will allow you to focus your creativity on design elements within the footprint of the room.

3. Focus on a non-negotiable starting point.

What is the one feature or statement you want in your kitchen more than anything? Even though my kitchen is on the small side (in comparison to many larger projects) I started out feeling like there were still far too many options and choices! Since everything I loved wouldn’t necessarily all work together in one small space, I had to narrow down some of the options to find a starting point. It really helped me design-wise and budget-wise to zero in which decision was the most important to me. I decided the dark navy Dutch door would be the first non-negotiable design choice that every other decision was based on.

4. Design focal points as a whole.

Instead of making many independent decisions in a kitchen that may compete with or even distract from other key elements once they are all together in the space, remember that each part plays a role in the whole. A key focal point in a room might include several elements that all need to work effectively together, such as a sink, faucet, window, wall sconces, hardware and color choices. Be sure to also consider how neighboring elements work with and complement the focal point.

The new round window in my kitchen was chosen for its design impact on the room. It fit within the space left by the original small window, but it definitely makes a much bolder statement due to its round shape. I intentionally simplified the impact of that statement by keeping the trim white. The round shape is already a feature in the middle of the wall. Adding contrasting trim could have been too distracting or competed for too much attention with the other important elements in this space, like the view outside the large back window to the left, and the dark navy door to the right.

To complete the focal point, the antique brass finish of the faucets and lights add warmth and a pleasing repetition of materials, and the dark shades on the lights provide balance and a nice complement to the dark hardware and door.

Are you remodeling or updating a kitchen this year? What decisions are the most challenging for you?

Kitchen Remodel: Four Key Design Tips

Related Posts:

Click here for My Kitchen Reveal & Tour and Click here for my Kitchen Source List

Kitchen Remodel: Four Key Design Tips


  1. Linda Stoll

    Thanks for the gentle nudge to keep the big picture in mind before we go barreling ahead with our scattered ideas, Melissa!


  2. Domenic

    Your kitchen looks great. I LOVE the choice you made for the sink! Where did you find it?

  3. Sharon

    We start our kitchen remodel in a few weeks and my biggest struggle has been that I love too many things! We finally did hire a designer-partially because we couldn’t find a contractor to do our job in the next year because they are so busy but also to help me narrow the focus! I love all the things! We picked a LaCornue range in black with brass trim so that became our starting point. I cannot wait to see it come together! On another note, perhaps you could do a post on how you survived without a kitchen. Inconveniently, our laundry room is being reworked as part of this renovation and I won’t have anywhere but a bathroom to do any dishes! I can’t bear to even think about eating out for a month! Would love to hear how you survived! Your kitchen is fabulous and I hope mine comes together as beautifully!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Good for you, it definitely helps to have someone narrow the focus. Yes I will share our survival tips soon! :-)

  4. Sylvia Heacock

    I thought through my new kitchen for over a year. I had a Pinterest board that assisted me in explaining to the contractor the look that I wanted. I had 2 focal points: a new 6 burner stainless steel range that would complement the 1970’s existing stainless range hood and an open cupboard that would house and display my Fiestaware and colorful pottery collection. I kept the kitchen counter, walls and floor color scheme neutral to focus on the Fiestaware.
    I did find that knowing a quality contractor and painter that I trusted made all the difference. Because of his meticulous craftsmanship, he put me in touch with other quality craftspersons who did my cabinets and counter and tile work. I am so happy with this new space. Cooking and cleaning now are a pleasure!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yay! It’s definitely a huge plus when your contractor knows the right craft people. It’s actually a must to get good people to fulfill your vision and even add to it!

  5. Deanna Rabe

    I’m not remodeling our kitchen but we are going to plank the walls! So excited to be able to freshen up this space that is the heart of our home!

  6. Cindy in Oklahoma

    I love so many things about your new kitchen…the round window… the long countertop… the sink, the fixtures, the view! But …. the clearance for that adorable door makes me nervous…..has it been an issue?

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thanks. The new door is in the exact existing spot where the other door was. There was no way to change the location, but with careful measurements we weren’t worried. It can open plenty wide without any issue. Obviously we shut it if we are opening the cabinet, but we just consider that part of the quirks of a small old house! :)

  7. Nancy Burdeniuk

    I absolutely love your kitchen! I can only imagine what pleasure it is to work in it. These are very helpful, wise design tips. Thank you.
    I really enjoy your blog.

  8. Dee

    I’m wondering if you grouted between the planks, and if so, with what? I love the look of your kitchen!

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