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A perfect kitchen needs to not only fit your design style, but be durable too. These 7 tips will help you customize your kitchen for all of your needs.

Whether you are renovating your existing kitchen or designing a brand new one, you have a lot more to consider than just how pretty everything looks. A perfect kitchen not only fits your design style, but is functional and durable too. When looking for inspiration my husband and I loved the look of a solid-surface countertop like quartz but in order to stay in budget had to purchase laminate counter-tops instead. We chose to our cabinets because they are a little more difficult to replace than a counter top. When we make that upgrade in a couple of years, we will be choosing between marble, granite or quartz.

What is the best countertop?

That is a tough question to answer. You want to choose quartz if you need something tough that can handle hot pots and spills. It’s engineered, or manmade, so it’s usually cheaper than granite or marble, think $20-$90 a square foot versus $25-$150 a square foot. A quartz counter never has to be resealed so it’s cheaper in the long run too and much easier to maintain. If you was a solid stone that has lots of patterns, color variations and is also heat resistant, choose granite. The downside to granite is having to maintain it. While it’s not very difficult, it can get pricey because you need specialty cleaners and sealants if you want it to hold up to wear and tear without staining. Marble is another solid stone countertop but the color variations are a little more subtle than granite, think veining as opposed to freckled look. Unfortunately, like a lot of beautiful things, marble can be considered the most fragile of the countertops. It is more susceptible to scratches and staining, so it needs to be maintained as diligently, if not more, than granite.

Should I buy stainless steel appliances?

Well, we did for our home! We chose white cabinets and thought the contrast of the stainless steel had a beautiful elegance to it, both timeless and modern. We bought our range, microwave, fridge and dishwasher from Best Buy because, like usual, they were running an awesome holiday deal. Who doesn’t like to save a little money right? Initially, my husband wanted this fridge because it has the built-in smart hub that allows you to manage your family calendar, play music, the list goes on. Unfortunately, with stainless steel, you tend to see smudges and fingerprints show up quite frequently, unless you find one that offers a smudge free surface, so you have to clean it frequently. I wipe mine down every evening when I clean up after dinner. If you’d rather not have stainless steel, you could go with black or white for your appliances. White is great for hiding fingerprints! White appliances can help brighten your space and give it a larger feel, while black offers excellent contrast. Neither has to be maintained nearly as often as stainless.

Should I install cabinets or open shelves in my kitchen?

Why not both? 🙂 Cabinets are excellent if you don’t want to show off your fancy dishes or awesome organizing skills. In a kitchen, it is so easy to create clutter (like frequently used small appliances on the counter) and the open shelves could make things look less appealing visually if you don’t take the extra time to neatly stack and organize their contents. All in all, I think some closed storage is a must, so I have both in my kitchen. Open shelving really opens up the space in the kitchen, so we are putting some above our peninsula once we move in so make our little kitchen feel a bit bigger. Mixing an matching both cabinets and open shelves really does get you the best of both worlds.

What kind of kitchen sink should I buy?

I mentioned before that we are putting laminate countertops in our kitchen, so we only had the option of a drop in sink. We bought a sink and faucet combo at Lowe’s because it came with its own faucets and buying them separately would have cost us a lot more. It also helps that the faucet included was one of our top choices too. 😉 Now, if you are putting in a solid surface or natural stone countertop, you also have the choice of an undercount or an apron front sink. The apron front offers a beautiful vintage farmhouse look. The sink typically sticks out about an inch or so past the front of your cabinets and offers a deeper ledge for installing a faucet or holding a pretty soap dispenser and sponge. As for the undermount sink, my personal favorite, offers a more modern look. Not only that, but it makes wiping down your countertops a breeze because all the crumblies can go straight into the sink! kitchen sink

What kind of floors should I put in my kitchen?

Tile, hardwood, laminate oh my?? Tile is typically the most labor intensive install but is durable, scratch resistant, and even comes in styles to replicate hardwood. Laminate is much less labor intensive to install, but is also scratch resistant. Laminate has come so far over the years and can last as long, if not longer than some hardwood floors. As far as hardwood floors are concerned, you can refinish those several times throughout their lifetime, making them the longest lasting floors. If you purchase an engineered hardwood floor, or a hardwood floor that is a plywood base topped with a thick solid wood veneer, you won’t be able to refinish them as many times. I mentioned how far laminate has come over the years, believe it or not, so has vinyl! My husband and I are putting this luxury vinyl plank throughout our first floor and this luxury vinyl plank in our bathrooms and laundry room. Not only is luxury vinyl waterproof, durable and long-lasting, now it’s beautiful too and can really hold it’s own when it comes to quality comparison when shopping for flooring.

Should I buy wood or laminate cabinets?

First things first, when purchasing your countertops, you have the option to upgrade from plywood to hardwood construction. Do it. This was a no brainer for us because hardwood construction provides a much more durable and long lasting cabinet. When designing our kitchen, this upgrade was less than $500 and will make our kitchen last at least twice as long or more. Another benefit to upgrading to hardwood is that you can retain, refinish or repaint them down the road… Unless you get laminate. When we were shopping for cabinets, we discovered that instead of being painted, a cabinet can be wrapped in a laminate material to offer a contemporary, high-end look. While it’s easier to clean, it’s not as forgiving as hardwood. If you scratch or chip a door, you mind end up having to replace the whole door! When we were looking at cabinets, the laminate wrapped ones came standard in plywood and a request for the hardwood upgrade had to be made.

Should I install a peninsula or an island?

The first thing you will want to consider when making this decision is how much space you actually have in your kitchen. Our kitchen is on the smaller side, so we opted for a peninsula, or an L-shaped counter top as opposed to an island. Islands are great if your kitchen will be hangout central, but if it’s on the smaller side, you’ll probably want to entertain your guests elsewhere. In order to add some character to our peninsula, we will add some sort of architectural detail or paint to the cabinets to help set it apart for the rest of the kitchen like you would an island. With both a peninsula and an island, you can design your kitchen so your cooktop is smack dab in the center of all the action so if you do decide to entertain in the kitchen you can do so and keep up with the prep work all at the same time! Not to mention, all the messes will be contained, so cleanup is a breeze. Those are my favorite words! Who has time to clean when there’s a party to be had?! 😉 If your kitchen is large enough, you could have the best of both worlds like Kim over at Sand and Sisal did in her kitchen. I shared a picture of it here but can’t resist sharing it again. It’s my favorite kitchen ever!

coastal kitchen makeover

Are you renovating your kitchen? Where is your favorite place to find inspiration and design ideas? Let me know in the comments below!