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Kitchen Design Advice...Create your own kitchen design

Can you create your own kitchen design??

Sure you can, but you're going to need a little help..


Who am I to tell you anything...

The short story if that kitchen planning is what I've done for 28yrs. I have no idea why, but I am passionate about functional kitchen design. By my best math, I have custom designed over 600 kitchens typically from scratch. Most of those were new custom homes, with few design limitations but I prefer the challenges of a complete kitchen renovation.

Anyway, feel free to read my bio...I'm here to help.

So, as you have seen, there's plenty of options for DIY kitchen design software. That's not what this article is about. What you'll find here is specific kitchen design advice. Any high tech kitchen design programs will help you plan a new kitchen, but the function is only as good as your input..right??

Over the range microwave..

Over the range microwave..

Over the range microwave...

Ok. Most of my readers already know that I detest this solution for a microwave. It's the same microwave placement you'll find in any apartment.

But, in many cases it is the only option.'s what I try to do...dress it up a little. What I like to do, pictured to the right, is utilize 3" decorative pilasters on each side, at 14" deep which creates a bump out..The wall cabinet above is 12" deep, pulled 2" off the wall (to 14").

Then the height is bumped up 6". The pilasters are 6" taller than the adjacent wall cabinets, and the cabinet itself is also 6" higher than the standard over the range cabinet.

I don't like kids using a microwave over the range, and I certainly don't like it without some dressing up for aesthetics. Last note is to be careful on the height off the stovetop. The minimum from the floor to the bottom of the wall cabinet above is 69"- 72". Not 66" as some suggest, that puts the microwave too close to your burners...big mistake. So...69" is correct.

microwave placement


Kitchen design advice on...

So where to put your microwave??
Think about what goes into your microwave on a daily basis. With the exception of reheating coffee and making popcorn, most everything comes from your refrigerator/freezer. So if you can position your microwave right next to that opening side of your refrigerator, you'll be very happy.

Every cabinet brand offers a wall cabinet made to house any microwave size.

If you are planning your own kitchen, another option to consider are the new drawer microwaves, or under-counter microwave. Using a typical countertop microwave with a hinged door below the counter was always a terrible idea. I know that from personal experience.

Now you can buy a drawer microwave from Amana, Sharp, Viking and others starting about $400.00. Kitchen designers had been waiting on these for many, many years. I still prefer an eye level microwave but under the counter is a good second alternative.


If you must use a freestanding refrigerator...

In another article I discuss the importance of your refrigerator selection and counter depth refrigerators. But, freestanding refrigerators are never going to disappear. But maybe we can disguise one. If you are planning to create your own kitchen, remember this is your most important product choice selection and functional placement decision.

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In the first image, you see how I handled a freestanding refrigerator at the open end of a kitchen leg. This is a 27" wide x 12" deep standard tall bookshelf unit facing to the right, modified for this application.

Being 27" wide (vs. 24"), it helps to hide the true depth of a freestanding refrigerator.

I have not seen this specific detail repeated by other designers, and it is certainly tricky using DIY design software. So you might have to copy that image for reference.

The second image here shows another tiny but essential detail using a freestanding refrigerator. Be certain the bottom of the cabinet above is finished! Many kitchen designers ignore this detail. Make sure you don't.


Kitchen islands and half-walls.

Today's kitchens are not closed, isolated rooms. Rather, they are preferred to be wide open to an adjacent room(s) with easy access back and forth.

So we have a lot of kitchen islands, peninsulas and half walls facing into other rooms. Please don't let that backside be in the image above right. That's just devastating to the aesthetics of any kitchen.

The second image to the right may be a little extravagant, but you get the idea.

narrow cabinet spaces


Kitchen design advice on...

Have you ever lived in a kitchen with one or more narrow cabinets? Narrow cabinets with nothing in them are, well, good for nothing. Except a mess.

Small cabinets are sometimes just a inevitable fact of design. In today's kitchens, cabinet makers offer several solutions for narrow cabinets.

These pullouts pictured here are attached to the cabinet door, which means you only need one action to expose the storage.

Every kitchen has smallish items, like canned goods for that tall pull-out cabinet, and cooking accessories in the base pull-out. These pull out storage cabinets are referred to as a mini pantry. I far prefer the all wood options over the other option which is chrome plated metal.


Rev-a-shelf cabinet accessories


Blind corner cabinet solutions?? Not !

So, do you know what a 'blind corner' base cabinet is??

A blind base is used for a 90 degree corner for several reasons. Typically because of insufficient space for a lazy susan. Different cabinet brands offer all sorts of pull-out, swing out interior options. THEY ARE ALL STUPID. If you have to create your own kitchen with a blind cabinet. so be it. A blind base has a huge amount of interior c/f.
Those 'accessories' turn that storage into about 1/4th the actual useable space

EVERYBODY needs kitchen storage for things used only once or twice a year, Yes it will be a reach to retrieve an oversized cooking pot, or big crock pot, but why use otherwise easy storage cabinet space for Thanksgiving or Easter only?

More kitchen design advice articles

Comments or questions?

LinStory from Seattle,WA on September 17, 2014:

I am just starting out in the planning process of my existing kitchen....So I guess I am a "novice" and I am finding your TIPS very helpful...TXS!

JON EWALL from usa on June 21, 2013:


You're welcome, many times the novice don't understand the importance of good work patterns in the kitchen.The post is a good start,keep hubbing.

Dave Hatton (author) from PA/SC..USA on June 21, 2013:

Jon...Thanks for your input...I have just too much info to post, Your suggestion (exactly) got bumped to a new article while I learn to use SnagIt on screen video producer. I want to be able to demo that.

Coming soon...Thanks !!

JON EWALL from usa on June 20, 2013:


An important issue was not discussed for the novice in kitchen planning. The working triangle dimensions between stove, sink and refrigerator as to the effiency of serving,cooking and clean up.Locations of windows and door openings can determine the final layouts. Maybe you can explain the standard types of kitchen layouts for your readers?

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