Remodeling a Poorly Planned Kitchen

Top Tips for Remodeling a Badly Planned Kitchen

Whether you have been living with a badly planned kitchen for some time, or have recently bought a new home that has a kitchen that doesn’t meet your needs, a remodeling project is probably on the cards.

Perhaps the kitchen doesn’t have adequate storage or sufficient work surfaces. Maybe it just doesn’t work in terms of layout. Or it might just be old and worn, or outdated in terms of look and feel. Whatever the reason, there are multiple solutions for every project, depending both on needs and budget.

U-shaped Kitchen
This relatively small U-shaped kitchen lacked sufficient cupboard space. The owners opted for a complete makeover, extending kitchen cabinets into the dining room. Uniformity of style and color of kitchens cabinet, and the same work surface throughout make it work.

Typical Problems That Lead to Remodeling

The most common problems relate, quite simply to bad planning, most commonly because of insufficient kitchen cabinet and cupboard space. A lack of counter tops is also often an issue, as is a total lack of consideration for a work triangle. There are also a number of typical traffic flow problems that can create merry chaos in any kitchen!

The Kitchen Triangle

Considered key to any well-planned kitchen, the work triangle links the cooking, prep and/or cleaning, and cold storage areas together in a way that makes practical sense for anyone working in the kitchen. A well thought out kitchen triangle helps to simplify the cooking process. When no thought has been given to the triangle, it won't function. It really is that simple!

Many remodeling projects start with a rethink to the kitchen triangle, making it easier for the cook to move between the three critical work areas. Sometimes it is possible to just reorganize, but in more extreme circumstances, plumbing, water pipes, and kitchen cabinets will be affected.

Traffic Flow in the Kitchen

Traffic flow refers to the way people move through the kitchen. Ideally, traffic flow should never interfere with the work triangle. In small kitchens though, it is often unavoidable; a good way to minimize disruption is to have a route that only intersects access to the fridge.

Typical traffic flow problems result in people bumping into one another when more than one person is in the kitchen. There also needs to be sufficient space to open the fridge and both cupboard and kitchen cabinet doors without making it impossible for another person to pass. The same applies to dishwashers and washing machines.

When planning or remodeling a kitchen, it’s a good idea to start with your work triangle, and then to draw lines that link entrances and exits. Chart the paths that people will use through the kitchen. You will soon see if traffic flow will work or not.

Work Surfaces for Food Preparation and Other Tasks

In addition to work surfaces that the person cooking can use for food preparation, there is also a need for some kind of working surface alongside at very least the sink and stove. It is also useful to have a surface area alongside or at least close to the fridge. If these don’t exist in the kitchen, then a serious remodel is probably required. This could involve simply reorganizing kitchen cabinets, but more likely will involve a new design completely.

In the featured kitchen (see picture above), by extending the general storage area in the form of kitchen cabinets in the dining room, the owner was able to add a lot more working space for preparing and serving food.

Cupboards and Kitchen Cabinets

Without sufficient storage space, a kitchen simply won't work. If the kitchen is squashed into a tiny space, it could function for cooking and even washing up, but with cupboards and kitchen cabinets, there won’t be work surfaces or storage space.

The challenge is to assess whether cabinets and cupboards can be reorganized or replaced to fit the needs of the user. If there isn’t enough space, then you might need to expand into an adjacent living area, as shown in the featured kitchen above. Of course, this solution might not work for everybody, but if you think out of the box – or cupboard in this instance – you are likely to find a solution. For example, a general storage cupboard located close the kitchen could be converted into a pantry of sorts, or a folding shelf could be hinged to the end of a cupboard to increase the surface required for preparation and/or serving.

Finding Solutions for Badly Planned Kitchens

As stated, both budget and personal needs will determine how you rectify a badly planned kitchen. Simply re-positioning appliances can sometimes work, but at the other end of the scale, all the cabinets may need to be removed and replaced.

Sometimes the entire shell may need to be replaced, with new cabinet boxes, drawers, and cabinet fronts. In this instance, you will need to go back to basics and start afresh with a new layout that will function the way a good kitchen should. It will probably be worth it!

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