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November 12, 2010 > Plan Today for a Beautiful New Kitchen Tomorrow

Plan Today for a Beautiful New Kitchen Tomorrow

If you are thinking about remodeling your kitchen next year, it is not too early to start planning. There are many details to consider, and the more planning you do in advance, the better your kitchen will turn out.

Since we spend so much time in our kitchens, we want to create kitchens that truly fit our lifestyle. Selecting the pretty things such as the granite and tile backsplash is part of the fun, but before you get to that, take time to think about the functionality of your new kitchen.

Evaluate how your existing layout works for you. Is there enough counter space for food preparation? If not, see if appliances or cabinets can be relocated to free up some space. Is there enough room for a kitchen island? This is a great way to provide additional counter space. Are the appliances located in the optimal places? Do you have to cross the room to get from the cook top to the refrigerator? Think about where it makes the most practical sense to place appliances.

No one ever has enough cabinet space, but then again, most of us simply have too many things. Make sure you are not storing items that could be stored elsewhere or given away. When planning your cabinet and drawer space, it helps to group things according to function. For example: plan a coffee area where you will keep the coffee maker, mugs and coffee supplies in close proximity. And place the dish cabinet close to the dishwasher for easy emptying.

How much do you actually cook? Are you mostly about microwaving and heating convenience foods? Or are you an avid cook who longs for state of the art appliances? Do you love to bake? Perhaps a dedicated baking center is in your future. Buy the right appliances for your own use; don't be seduced by the $5000 professional range if it doesn't fit your needs. If there is more than one cook in your family, plan for wider walkways and work aisles. Minimum width for walkways is 36"; width for work aisles should be at least 42" for one cook and 48" for multiple cooks.

Most kitchens I see have inadequate lighting. One of the best ways to provide adequate general lighting is with recessed can lights. Current California building codes require your kitchen lighting to be 100% "high efficacy" (which means fluorescent). However, they make one exception: up to 50% of the total wattage can be incandescent lighting if it is separately switched. This means you can have decorative non-fluorescent pendant lights over your island or in your dining area as long as they are operated with their own light switches, and they do not account for more than 50% of the total kitchen wattage. Combining incandescent and fluorescent is a great way to go. Fluorescent recessed can lights offer very even and efficient general lighting, plus fluorescent bulbs have the added benefits of being longer lasting and less expensive to run than incandescent bulbs.

Start making a list of your wants and needs; when designing a new kitchen, there is no such thing as too much planning.

Next column: Selecting beautiful and practical materials for your new kitchen.

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local interior designer. Send your design questions to her at Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit

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