Kitchen Renovation Tips and Ideas For Empty Nesters

Kitchen Design

Your kitchen has been the heart of your home since the day you moved in.  Besides the countless meals you’ve prepared, your kitchen has seen plenty of additional activity, like Johnny’s marker drawings all over the cabinets when he was 3, or Sally’s exploding science project that stained the countertops and somehow cracked the glass in that door next to the stove. How about those teeth marks on the cabinet corners from when Buster was a pup!  The kids are gone now and the puppy’s grown. You cherish those memories but not the unsightly, outdated space you’re left with.

Perhaps you’re already sifting through those beautiful photos in the kitchen reno mags, and every one you see is your ‘dream kitchen.’ Who knew you had such a variety of good taste!  Remember though, the camera lens, special lighting, angles and staging can trick the eye into seeing more than what may actually ‘be’ in those photos.  But by realistically applying your list of ‘likes’ from those photos with your existing space and budget, your new kitchen can become a reality!  Here are some thoughts and tips to consider for your kitchen renovation ideas:

Is your existing layout smart and efficient?

Should the fridge be on the other side of the room? Maybe the stove would work best closer to the sink.  How many cooks are usually in the kitchen? If visitors gravitate to your kitchen, consider an area for them to sit outside your work area, such as an extended countertop with barstools, a table, or other seating area visually open to you.

Is there ample workspace and storage?

Unless it cramps the traffic flow in your kitchen, consider an island for additional space/storage. If you need a pantry, some cabinets are equipped with pullout pantries that hold a lot but take less space.

Contemplate architectural details

Do you like cabinetry that reflects your home’s architectural style?  Would you rather have easier to clean surfaces?  Would modern cabinetry accentuate or look out of place with the rest of your home’s design?  Keep in mind ceiling height if you prefer cabinets that do not reach the ceiling. Do you keep interior cabinets organized, or should you go for less glass and more solid wood doors to hide clutter?

Is it time to replace appliances?

Shoving old, mismatched appliances back into a new kitchen detracts from the makeover.  Look into replacing all of them with new, efficient ones that are uniform in color and style, such as all stainless or black, properly sized to fit your layout.

Consider small appliances

Photographers usually don’t show them to give the illusion of more space.  If you prefer your toaster, coffee maker, food processor on your countertop, determine how much space you need, and if height of countertop to bottom of upper cabinetry will allow them to fit comfortably.   Also, plan small appliance areas so you’re not running back and forth between the coffee pot and toaster.  If your microwave isn’t built-in, plan space for it also.

Countertop options abound!

Countertops have both beauty and function rolled into one feature.  The differences between them are their degree of heat resistance and cleaning.  Many, such as corian and quartz, are nonporous so stains don’t penetrate the surface, and are also heat and scratch resistant. Granite is highly durable. Countertops are offered in a wide variety of material and colors that will compliment your choice of cabinetry and flooring.

Good flooring is key

You may want to refinish an existing wood floor or replace it with another product.  There are many flooring products available that stand up to heavy kitchen traffic and are more comfy for standing.  When choosing, consider the color/stain of the cabinetry, countertops and backsplash so it’s complementary.  A ‘too busy’ floor design, such as mixed color square tiles, may not go well with a tri-color swirl of granite on your counters.

Don’t overlook lighting!

Most cooks complain of a too-dark kitchen.  Is your kitchen bright and well lit, even at night? Check your kitchen throughout the day and evening. Take note where natural light from windows is directed, and those work areas that would benefit from more lighting.