If you are planning a kitchen remodel or are building a new house and are starting to think about the kitchen design, be sure to allow plenty of time for the design phase. There are thousands of decisions to be made and lots of small details you have never thought about before.
In order to prepare a Master Plan you will need to start by getting organized. Get some three ring binders, divider tabs and plastic sleeves. I recommend you get 1.5" or 2" binders because if they are any larger they get too heavy. If there is not enough room in a 2" binder make several binders, each labeled with different parts fo the project (ie: appliances, counter tops, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, flooring, lighting, etc.) and subdivided with divider tabs.
You will use the binders to gather information about options for each component of the room and from there you will narrow down your choices.
You might start out with a section that has pictures of kitchen you have seen in magazines that have inspired you.
Next you will need a floorplan so you know what size appliances you will be looking for. A Kitchen Designer or Interior Designer can help if you need help designing the floor plan. It will be a collaborative effort so be prepared to tell them what you are looking for.
I suggest you focus on researcing one aspect of the room at a time, for instance appliances are a good place to start since they are one on the most expensive components. That way you will not be distracted and overwhelmed by all the other decisions you will have to make. You will also get an idea of what the appliances you like are going to cost. You will not be ordering them immediately so you have time to change your mind, but at least you have narrowed down the field.
For every aspect of the kitchen there will be many, many choices so learn all you can about the subject you are researching and put the information in your binder.
Once you have made final decisions on any aspect of the project you can start a new binder with only the final selections. You can also put them into a file you have started on the computer. If you put everything into the computer to start with, it will be harder to find your choices and it is helpful to be able to carry a binder with you when you are out researching in the marketplace.
You will also need a large container for finish samples as you proceed to narrow down your selections. Gather samples of countertop materials, flooring and cabinet finishes so you can be sure they all look good together when making your final choices. Be sure to note what they are and where they came from. The finsih samples will also come in handy when you are trying to select paint colors.
These things will give you structure, keep your project on course and help you make goood decisions.
Other blogs will go into many more aspects of Kitchen design.
Please leave your comments below.
Call if I can be of any help!
or email me at
Lila Levinson, ASID, CKD, CID, NCIDQ, IDG
Kitchen Lighting is often the last thing homeowners think about but is one of the most critical aspects of the kitchen design and should be thoughly thought out before any work begins.
There are three basic types of lighting in any space and the kitchen is no exception.
This kitchen shows all three types of lighting - ambient, task and accent lighting.
AMBIENT - This lighting is general lighting for illuminating the whole room and lighting aisles. It is often put on dimmers so there is control of the amount of light at different times of the day and night or when it is being used in combination with task lighting.
Ambient lighting is those recessed lights in the ceiling or the center light in the room which casts a light generally around the space. If the fixture is ceiling hung be sure it has frosted sides and bottom so it does not create glare and will light a greater area. One of the limitations of recessed lighting is that is creates a dark ceiling but a ceiling hung fixture will radiate light back up onto the ceiling, visually lifting it. For that reason a ceiling hung fixture may be a better choice in a room with a low ceiling.
In this picture the up lighting above the cabinets helps compensate for the recessed light fixtures so the ceiling is not dark but as you can see it only throws the light so far. This angled ceiling would also require sloped housing for the recessed lights so the light aims straight down and not at an angle in your face!
This picture illustrates how a ceiling fixture reflects light back up onto the ceiling allowing the light to spread throughout the space.
TASK - This is specific lighting directed at work surfaces so there is proper lighting to complete tasks without eye strain or shadows. under cabinet lighting is a good example of task lighting. When installing under cabinet lighting be sure it is placed near the front of the cabinet so it lights the surface you are working on and not the backsplash. Another type of task lighting is fixtures over the eating area or counter. These may be decorative as well as task lights. They direct the light where it is needed for eating, homework, etc.
Here is an example of the under cabinet lighting properly placed at the front of the cabinet and has the convenience of strip outlets added at the back of the cabinet.
Notice that there are two different types of task lighting over the two eating areas in this picture. The one at the bar is low profile because the one at the dining table is the focal point (accent) as well as a task light. Also low voltage track lights are used for the ambient lighting in this room. I hope there is also undercabinet lighting so shadows are not cast onto the work surfaces.
ACCENT - This lighting is used to highlight artwork or architecture. It can be used at the top of cabinets that don't reach the ceiling or even in the toe kick. You will find it inside cabinets and open shelving to highlight items being displayed and focused on art work throughout the space.
In this picture the accent lighting highlights the bar area with halogen lights. It created drama on the cabinets and backsplash and also sparkle for the crystal on display.
Be sure you think through were the light switches will be placed, if they are to have dimmers and if they will be three way or four way switches. Check the spread of the light fixtures so that there will be adequate coverage for the room so you place them properly.
If you find that lighting design is complex (which it is) call for help from a kitchen designer or lighting designer. They are up to date on the codes and types of fixtures available for each light source and will be able to specify the proper light fixtures and lamps (bulbs) needed for a truly spectacular kitchen lighting plan.
Happy Kitchen Lighting Design!!
Call me if I can be of any help
408-369-9801 or email me
Lila Levinson, ASID, CKD, CID, NCIDQ, IDG
Once you decide to do a kitchen remodel (or build a new house) you will need to set a system to keep track of all the aspects of the design.
In my previous blog I talked about setting up binders and here I will go into detail about what to include. Keep the binders to no more than 2" because they get heavy and hard to carry around if they are larger.
Since there are so many categories it is a good idea to break them down into binders. Categories for dividers within each binder could be as follows:
Notes (including your 'To Do" list)
Communications (e-mails and phone notes, etc.)
List of sources and vendors with contact info
Bids and/or quotes
Lighting & electrical plans
Paint colors/ finishes
Each remodeling or new construction project is different but these are categories that will occur in almost every project. If you are dealing with new construction, there may be a few additional categories you may want to include.
New construction will involve more binders for other areas of the house as well, but they can be broken down into similar categories. You will want separate binders for each bathroom design as well as for exterior issues, like roofing, etc.
Once you have made final selections for each area, transfer them to a final finish selections binder with divider tabs for each item. You can also put them on your computer with pictures for easy access and to print out for you vendors and installers.
It's convenient to have these binders on site during construction for reference and they are especially useful to carry with you while you are researching.
Planning and organization is the key to a smooth and efficient kitchen remodeling or new construction project and you need to allow plenty of time setting it up and researching before you start!
A new kitchen is one of the most fulfilling projects you can do and will greatly enhance your life if you have been prepared and organized. Enjoy the progress as it comes alive!
Please leave your comments below!
Call me if I can be of help
408-369-9801 or email me
Lila Levinson,ASID, CKD, CID, NCIDQ, IDG
So, you are thinking about doing a kitchen remodeling! Good for you - kitchen remodels can change your life for the better. Since you will be spending a lot of time and money on this kitchen remodel it makes sense to plan carefully before you jump into such a big project.
Amazing as it seems, I have been called out to projects where they have totally demolished the existing kitchen and have no idea what they want their new kitchen to look like! Why have your house torn up with no working kitchen while you decide what you want to do? That will only delay the project and lead to more stress.
The first step in kitchen remodeling is to have a Master Plan so you can prepare a realistic budget and research your options. You may tweak the Master Plan more than once based on your research and budget so allow plenty of time for this process. Make some notes about what you like and don't like about your existing kitchen and make a list of what you would like to achieve in the remodeled kitchen. I will go into detail of how to get organized for a kitchen remodel in future blogs.
Start thinking about some of the elements involved in your kitchen remodel.
Proper space planning is essential. Arrange your appliances and sink in a functional way so that there are not a lot of wasted steps getting to them and areas of potential hazards. The refrigerator and sink are the most used items in the room so should be placed near each other. The least used appliance is the oven so it can be more remotely located. When using the oven, you usually put something in it, leave while it is cooking and then return 30-60 minutes later.
Always allow adequate space next to the cooktop (preferably on your handed side) for putting things down (12-18" absolute minimum) and at least 12" on the opposite side as well.
Don't forget to allow enough aisle space - 42" is comfortable (36" absolute minimum where there are no appliances or traffic flow).
Allow 42"-48" where there are appliances opening into the aisle or traffic flow. If the aisles are too wide (over 60") they will make the kitchen less efficient and require more steps in preparing and cleaning up.
You can include an island if you have enough room. The aisle spaces mentioned above apply.
If there is to be an eating area in the remodeled kitchen, the island size and configuration may be determined by the aisle space available. If you do not have enough room to pull out chairs and get by them you might use a banquette, which requires less space. For a table and chairs you need to allow at least 48" from the table to the wall but 60" is ideal.
There are many more things to consider in a kitchen remodel and I will address them in a future blog.
Remodeling a kitchen can be fun and very rewarding if done properly!
Please comment below or call me at
408-369-9801 or email me at
Lila Levinson, ASID, CKD, CID, NCIDQ, IDG