From Country Charm to Upscale Elegance: Every Kitchen Shares This Common Trait!


We’ve all heard the saying that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and for most of us, it’s probably true. If you love to cook and your family or guests love to eat…the kitchen is where you are most likely to congregate. So, designing a kitchen that works for you involves considering a multitude of factors. A kitchen is one of the more expensive rooms to renovate and it’s no secret as to why. There are many construction trades whose expertise is needed to create your ideal kitchen (e.g., plumbers, electricians, tile setters, drywallers, trimmers, cabinet makers and countertop installers, etc.). In addition, several elements/items go into a kitchen space—flooring/tile, cabinetry, appliances, countertops, backsplashes, a variety of lighting, tables and chairs or island/peninsula stools, etc. Being honest about what you need in your kitchen versus what you want, is the first step in designing your unique space. Regardless of the style of your kitchen, the same fundamental elements are incorporated into the design. And…depending on how much space you have you will likely consider some of the following:

Just keep in mind that in kitchen design, size really does matter…every inch. 

  • The shape of your kitchen: 5 basic layouts for kitchens are often talked about. The size of your space and the positioning of your windows and doors help to determine what layout will work best. 
  1. The U or Horseshoe shape – Consists of three walls of cabinets and appliances. If there is enough space, an island may be added in the middle. This design is very effective for large kitchens because it creates an efficient workflow in multiple areas and allows for good traffic flow. 
  1. The L-shape –Comprised of two walls of cabinets and appliances that are perpendicular to one another forming an L-shape. Usually, this layout is used in smaller to medium sized kitchens. The layout allows for multiple work zones, and if the space is large enough, it may even accommodate a dining table or island.
  1. The G or Peninsula shape – A Peninsula is often added to a U or L-shaped kitchen when there’s not enough space to have an island. It’s a great option for floor plans with limited square footage as a peninsula is simply a connected island. By connecting it, you eliminate much of the traffic flow room that would otherwise be necessary. Depending on the design, the peninsula can also serve as a dining spot in a small kitchen that cannot accommodate a separate dining area.
  2. The Galley – Incorporates two walls of cabinets and appliances that are parallel/opposite of each other. The galley design or walk-through design as it may be called, is perfect for small kitchen layouts that only accommodate one cook. Galley kitchens can be very efficient for cooking. However, most galley kitchens don’t accommodate guests comfortably, they are more function-based. 
  1. The single wall – Named after its structure, the single wall kitchen design consists of one full wall of cabinets. It’s often modified with a long island and is typically used in open concept homes or condos. This design can be a more affordable option for smaller kitchens because it requires only one full wall of cabinetry. While there is no rule regarding the maximum length that this single wall of cabinetry can be, work flow efficiency can be greatly affected if there isn’t a proper layout of appliances. And even though there is only one wall of cabinetry, in a large space it can still have multiple zones. Cabinetry can include a desk, bar, or dining area as well. 
  • Kitchen islands. Almost everyone loves a kitchen island. So, it’s likely the first thing on your ‘want’ list. But just because it is a ‘want’, doesn’t mean it can be incorporated. Islands don’t always work in limited or awkward shaped spaces because they take up a great deal of square footage to accommodate the work and traffic clearance that must surround them. Not accounting for enough clearance space is one of the biggest mistakes in kitchen design; after all, islands are only functional if they fit into the space properly. But it’s understandable why most home owners usually want one. Islands can accommodate additional work space, dining, or both. An island can house appliances such as a microwave, dishwasher, stove top, bar/wine fridge, etc. or it can just incorporate cabinetry. Generally, an island tends to be the place to gather. 
  • Appliances. Obviously, there are numerous choices when it comes to appliances. You will need to consider options such as style, size, colour, quality, efficiency, ease of maintenance, technology, price, and warranty. There are often significant price ranges for appliances. With so much choice available, it can be a daunting task to make your selection. In order to make choices, it will be important to know your space restrictions, your colour schemes, potential uses of the kitchen (will it be an entertaining space, chef kitchen?), your style, your needs versus wants – and ultimately your budget. There are so many items than can be incorporated in a kitchen if you have the space and the budget. There are built-in coffee/espresso makers, bar and wine fridges, specialty ovens, a variety of cooktop and stove options, dishwashers, drawer microwaves, vent hoods, and even smart fridges to name a few. 
  • Just like most other components in a kitchen, there are many choices to consider for cabinet style. You will need to choose from door styles such as shaker, raised panel, recessed panel, slab doors, or mullion/glass. Cabinetry can be stained or painted and there are different materials (metal, solid wood, veneers, melamine, etc.) and a variety of colour selections. Soft close hinges are a must in a new kitchen – Who wants a door to slam shut? Specialty cabinets, like corner drawers, lazy Susan’s, magic corners, spice drawers, tray storage cabinets, cooking utensil cabinets, wine racks, etc. may also be a consideration depending on your needs. And of course, there are the cabinet handles—the jewellery of the kitchen. There are so many handles to choose from. Considering style, material, colour, size, quality and cost are all part of the selection process. 
  • Countertops and backsplashes. Countertops are probably one of the most important choices in your kitchen. They need to be durable, easy to clean and maintain, and harmonious with your overall design. Countertops are a significant continuous surface throughout the kitchen and therefore bound to be one of the first things people see; most importantly the first thing you see! All countertop materials will have their pros and cons. There are options for laminate at the lower price point, to the higher price point and more popular choice materials of granite, quartz and marble. There are even options for stainless steel, concrete, soapstone and wood/butcher block. You will want to ensure you understand the maintenance requirements and durability of whatever material you choose. Backsplashes can also be a continuous material like granite, marble, or quartz but many homeowners opt for tiled backsplashes. Both countertops and backsplashes can be subtle or more expressive. Whatever you choose, keep in mind you will be looking at it for a long time. This is not the best place to incorporate a trend! 
  • Sinks and faucets. As with all elements of a kitchen, the sink and faucet choices are significant. The size, style and location of your sink or sinks will be vital to your function in your kitchen. Consider your family size, your cooking style and whether or not you consider yourself a baker. Some of these considerations will affect the size of the pots and pans you use and therefore must clean. You will also need to consider the following: 
  • Choice of materials - metal, enameled cast iron, granite, copper, etc.
  • Size of the sink - double basin/divided sink, single basin, farm house style, etc.
  • Styles – straight side walls, rounded styles, varying or same depths/levels for dual basins, corner sinks, island sinks, prep sinks, drain position, drain board, etc.
  • Faucet - sizes, finishes, and styles, etc. 
  • During the design of your perfect kitchen, you will need to consider several types of lighting. You will obviously need task lighting, but you also need to consider ambient lighting, accent lighting, decorative lighting, and natural lighting. 
  • Task lighting – This is the brighter lighting that is used to illuminate your workspace for safe preparation, cooking and cleaning. 
  • Ambient lighting – Pertains to the softer overhead lighting that allows for navigation of the kitchen. 
  • Accent lighting – This is the lighting that will highlight the decorative features of the kitchen that you want to be noticed. 
  • Decorative lighting – This may be an accent, ambient or task light. Perhaps, it may be lighting over the island, or a chandelier over the table. Consider it the bling that you add to your kitchen. 
  • Natural light – whether it’s a window, glass door or overhead skylight, every kitchen needs natural light. 
  • Kitchens are high-traffic areas due to the various tasks performed there, such as meal and snack preparation, cooking, serving, and cleaning. Sometimes, it even serves as an entertaining space. It’s important to choose a flooring option that is not only aesthetically pleasing but is also easy to clean, maintain and durable enough to withstand constant daily usage. The most popular flooring options for kitchens are ceramic or porcelain tiles, linoleum, vinyl, natural stone and hardwood. While there are a variety of other options to consider, it’s important to remember that not every material performs well over time in the kitchen environment. Choose wisely! 
  • Garbage disposal. Everyone’s dirty little secret. No kitchen can function properly without consideration of where the food garbage, the regular garbage and the recycling will be disposed of. If the location is inconvenient or the area is sized incorrectly there will likely be unwanted drips on floors or cabinetry, overflow issues, or a need for constant emptying of the garbage outside, which all sounds frustrating. When designing your kitchen, consider the size of your family, the amount of kitchen garbage and the flow of traffic you will encounter. After all, you will need to house those garbage items until you can take them outside to your garbage/recycling bins. Be realistic with your needs.  

While having a working fridge, stove/oven, sink and prep space technically means you have a ‘kitchen’ where you can cook, in today’s world the kitchen is not just a utility room; homeowners want so much more! A kitchen renovation seems to be less about updating the room and more often about re-designing multiple spaces to better suit a change of lifestyle, usually incorporating the open concept. Keep in mind, that creating your perfect kitchen requires a lot of planning and does not happen overnight or in the hour of highlights like on television. These renovations can take a great deal of time so before the project can begin, you need to plan for the interruption of your kitchen space and any connected spaces you are renovating. If you’re not interested in ordering take-out every day, you will need to determine where you can establish a makeshift kitchen (fridge and hot plate and a place to prepare your food and wash your dishes) during the renovation. Summer can be a good time for renovating a kitchen, especially if you have access to a barbeque and can move your mealtime outdoors! 


These are just some of the things to consider when planning for a kitchen renovation. There are so many other elements and finer details to consider as well. If you are looking to renovate your kitchen, call the experts at Vanderzalm Construction inc. at (905)684-5823 or (905)562-3878 or email us at