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Tobi's Kitchen Planning Tips

By Tobi Fairley

1. Consider your cooking style. Are you an average cook, or are you a borderline professional chef? When deciding on kitchen features, think function first. If you won’t use it, you probably don’t need it. 

2. Decide on a range type. Do you want gas, electric, or induction? There are so many great appliances, you can’t go wrong. I chose an amazing dual-fuel Thermador range that I can’t wait to show you.  

3. Think about how you’ll use your sink. Do you wash your china by hand? Do you prep a lot of food? Do you need a deep sink for pots? Considerations like that will help you decide on a single-bowl sink, a double-bowl, or one that has a smaller prep sink next to a larger-capacity side.

Photo: Nancy Nolan

4. Give thought to cleanup. For a neat freak like me, double dishwashers ensure there is never a dirty dish in the sink. Be sure your dishwasher works for the way you use your kitchen, whether that means utensil trays, deep capacity for pots, or room for plenty of glassware.

5. Include functional storage. I planned some fun features like small-appliance storage and a special drawer for all of my baking ingredients. Use every single inch—and don’t forget the trash and recycling.

6. Match surfaces—counters and floors—to your lifestyle. Choose materials that will hold up to whatever tasks you have in mind. If you plan to set hot pots on counters, you might want granite. If you are a baker, maybe marble or butcher block is your preference. I chose a new material called Dekton from Cosentino. It’s super durable—scratch-, heat-, and stain-resistant—and has a sleek, modern style that I love. 

Photo: Werner Straube

7. Make your lighting/electrical plan a priority. Take a layered approach with overhead fixtures, task lighting, and undercounter lights. Be sure to plan outlets, switches, dimmers, and other wiring so your kitchen accommodates all your large and small appliances. One of my favorite tips is to hide your outlets under the upper cabinets so they don’t interfere with your gorgeous backsplash. 

8. Determine your seating strategy. A breakfast table or an island paired with chairs or bar stools can create a comfortable eat-in kitchen. Think about where you want family and guests to sit—and if your island or table can double as a work surface.

Photo: Nancy Nolan

9. Keep your grocery-buying habits in mind. Do you love fresh produce? Or do you like to grab something from the freezer for dinner? Choose a refrigerator (or refrigerator and freezer columns) based on whether you need more food-preservation capacity or more frozen-food space.

10. Find ways to add style without clutter. Instead of countertop decor that just collects dust, I decorate using fun details like great cabinet hardware and built-in hutches. I even have a chic vinyl-upholstered door (above) that opens to the dining room. 

Bonus: “Extras” can make your kitchen sing—things like a warming drawer, a pot-filler, a built-in coffeemaker, or wine storage. Dream big!