Now that you’ve got a sense of what you need in your kitchen to make it work for your home, you can embark on the (infinitely more fun) phase of deciding what you want it to look like. This is the time to dream big, get creative, and think outside the box. Regardless of your budget, a kitchen is a major investment and when done right, it adds more equity to the home than any other space.
It may be tempting to take inspiration from another kitchen and copy/paste it right into your own project, but you’ll be much happier with the result if the kitchen you build is an original design. By following the advice below for carving out your kitchen’s style, you’ll be ensuring that your kitchen is both beautiful and unique. Later in the process, you’ll factor in budget and make stylistic edits, but for now, this is the time to make a wish list for a dream kitchen without limits.
Chances are, you’ve been considering your kitchen project for some time, so you most likely have an idea of what kinds of spaces you’re drawn to. People are pretty complex, and most are attracted to more than one aesthetic. If you aren’t exactly certain of how to explain your personal style, start with a little bit of “style terminology research”. Being able to name your preferences and define your style as specifically as possible will be helpful down the line when discussing your plans with everyone from interior designers, to architects and contractors.
Once you have a good idea of what style(s) you like, you can begin to organize your research and inspiration. If you don’t already have one, now is a great time to create a Pinterest board for your dream kitchen. You can also glean excellent design inspiration from Instagram, Houzz, Google Images and various online design magazines (dwell, Elle Decor, Traditional Home, etc). Your research is only as good as the way you organize it, so being as detailed as possible here is key.
At this juncture, it makes sense to focus your research on the specific elements of the designs you enjoy. For example, if you have a Pinterest board with inspiration dream kitchens, do they have a common theme? If you notice that they all feature glossy cabinet finishes, you should create another board that exclusively highlights lacquered cabinetry. Prefer bronze hardware? Give that it’s own board (or document, or file folder) as well. Keep each location for your likes as specific as possible, and add notes to designate what, in particular, you liked about each photo.
Search for inspiration and images using specific keywords around your wants, like “kitchen with large work island area” vs.“kitchen island”. Researching every specific facet of your kitchen and having multiple options for looks that will work within each element will benefit your design immensely, and you won’t find yourself frozen like a deer in headlights at a kitchen showroom when it comes time to choose a faucet.
Not only will having multiple inspiration photos help you to make decisions, it will also help others understand your vision. Even if you’re planning to DIY your project, chances are, you’ll have to discuss it with someone. Your words may mean one thing to you and something else entirely to a contractor. A visual aid will ensure that everyone involved in your project is on the same page.
The internet is a vast place, and it goes without saying that in your search, you’ll come across some designs you aren’t fond of. Though you may want to move past them, keep track of these designs. Having a list of what you don’t like can be as helpful in the next phase as having a list of designs you do.
While researching, you will inevitably realize that there is no shortage of beautiful kitchens on the internet. Because of the sheer number of stunning designs, you may find yourself drawn in different directions or stricken with “shiny object syndrome.” Because of this, it’s important to look at each of your inspiration photos with a critical eye to determine whether it’s truly love, just like, or ambivalence.
Making lists of everything will help you stay organized and narrow your focus on elements that make your heart race. If there are things you know you want, make a list of those right off the bat. If it’s on the top of your brain, you’ve probably been thinking about it for awhile. For example, you know you don’t currently like having your microwave situated above the range, so you can add to the top of your list that the microwave must be located elsewhere.
Once you’ve done your research, make final lists of everything you want and everything you don’t. Budget will eventually be a consideration, but for now, consider this a dream kitchen. Compromises and editing will take place in the next phase, where you’ll also be able to assign importance to each element. Why should you put off financial restrictions for right now? Because this is the creative stage and limiting your options this early may prevent you from nailing your design. This is particularly true if you’re working with an Interior Designer, who, if they know you’re in love with that custom brass-clad hood, may be able to work some creative magic for getting the same feel from a more affordable piece. There is an abundance of product offerings across all price ranges for nearly every kitchen item. Just because an item doesn’t seem affordable, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a comparable solution within your budget.
At the end of this phase, you should have a clear list of wants and plenty of images to back them up. If you find yourself unsure at any point, create a “maybe” list that you can revisit later on in future design stages. Remember, keep an open mind and don’t restrict yourself here. And get excited, because if you’ve made it this far, you’re well on your way to realizing your new kitchen!