Tips and tricks for an awesome home kitchen
A few tidbits of advice on how to make your home kitchen as stylish and functional as possible
Full disclosure: I am not an interior designer, nor am I a fashion connoisseur. But as a real estate agent and amateur kitchen hack, I have seen a fair share of hits and misses when it comes to kitchen design. While I'll probably never be considered a world authority on kitchen trends, I've found that functionality is something that will never go out of style.
Inevitably, there will be some constraints on what you can do with your kitchen space, especially if you live in an apartment or a smaller home. Sometimes, you just have to do the best you can. That being said, here are a few things that can take your kitchen to the next level. Be sure to check any applicable bylaws or restrictions from your municipality or homeowner's association before undertaking any renovation project!
Invest in an induction cooktop
Induction cooking is truly the future
This is a potentially controversial take here, so I'll start with the drawbacks of induction cooking. Heat regulation is a lot less precise than with a gas or conventional electric range, and there's a good chance that you'll have to replace all your pots and pans with induction-compatible cookware. It's also quite expensive to go the induction route with your range or cooktop, although that could change down the road.
As far as I'm concerned, however, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Although it's not quite as speedy at delivering heat as the advertisements would like to have you think, induction cooktops are super easy to clean and are more efficient than a smooth-top electric stove. Plus, because the cooktop itself doesn't get hot, it's much safer if you're worried about kids accidentally touching the surface. This also means that there's no waste heat, which can make your kitchen a lot more pleasant to work in on a hot summer day.
Vent your range hood outside
Range hoods are wonderful for clearing your kitchen of unwanted cooking smells and, if you're a pretender like me, smoke. But your range hood might not be that effective if it's not venting the exhaust air outside of your house.
Many range hoods will just suck up the air over your stove, run it through a filter, and blow the exhaust air back into your kitchen. Your range hood will be much more effective if you can get that exhaust air out of your house. If your range is located on an outside wall, you can easily duct your exhaust vent out through that wall. If not (as is the case in the above image), it may be possible to run a vent duct through the roof of your house.
Another range hood tip: make sure your range hood has enough power for your range setup. After all, cooking sucks when your range hood doesn't. Range hood capacity is usually measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). Keep in mind that if you have a particularly powerful range hood (over 400 CFM) and you have a newer house, you'll have to install a damper to provide make-up air to your house. This is especially true in newer homes, where the inside is tightly sealed from the outside air.
All the air that the range hood sucks up from inside the house has to be replaced somehow. Without a damper to bring fresh air in from outside, the replacement air could come from a vented appliance such as a furnace or water heater, which can possibly expose you to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Save your grandma's cabinets
Outdated cabinets can drag a kitchen down for a lot of people. But that doesn't mean you should just replace all your cabinetry to stay in vogue. For one, it's an expensive project, and those old-school oak cabinets are likely to still be far superior in quality to your average IKEA kitchen.
I've seen some incredibly trendy kitchen "renovations" where the homeowner literally just painted their old oak cabinets white. If you really want to splurge, you can replace all your hardware with modern handles and soft-close hinges and drawers, but you'll still spend far less money and do far less work than replacing your cabinetry. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Use the right flooring
Make sure the flooring in your kitchen is moisture-resistant and suitable for a high-traffic environment
A common error with kitchens is using the wrong flooring material. Laminate flooring is a particularly bad choice because it handles water about as well as the Wicked Witch of the West, and that's not something you want in an environment prone to splashes and spills.
Hardwood flooring also suffers from this issue, but to a lesser extent. Stone, tile and linoleum flooring are good choices because they can handle the stresses of a kitchen environment.
However, my personal favourite is vinyl plank flooring. Like linoleum, it is a very durable floor that is budget-friendly, easy to install, and very easy to care for. It is also fairly soft to walk on, which reduces fatigue when you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner. It also comes in many different designs and can be made to work for open living spaces, like this luxury condominium pictured above.
Choose a good countertop
Quartz countertops work really well with minimalistic designs like this one
I could probably write a separate article on all the different types of countertops out there. But the best countertop choice for you is going to depend on a few things: the overall design of the kitchen; the amount of maintenance you want to do; and your budget.
Do you want your countertops to be knife-resistant, heat-resistant, low-maintenance, stylish, cheap, or stylish? These are all things you must consider before choosing a countertop material. Quartz, granite and solid surface counters are quite popular right now, but even an el-cheapo laminate countertop will do the job well provided you use a cutting board and never put hot pots and pans on the surface.
Install a good backsplash
Subway tile is a pretty safe style choice these days.
Backsplashes aren't a necessary installation, but they do make cleaning your kitchen a lot less labour-intensive. You can make a backsplash out of almost anything these days. I've seen peel-and-stick backsplashes, mosaic tiles, patterns that look like a Rorschach test, and even sheet vinyl flooring used on the kitchen walls. But you can't go wrong with a well-installed, well-coordinated subway tile for both timeless style and user-friendliness.
Got any other suggestions for a top-flight kitchen? Share in the comments!