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Last updated: September 8, 2023 • Home Improvement

How to make a kitchen functional and hip

Whether you’re designing a kitchen in a newly constructed home or you’ve finally committed to renovating the old one, designing a kitchen is always a major venture. Ideally, a kitchen design should bring the best configuration of functionality and form, serving the purpose of the space while being aesthetically pleasing as well. The kitchen is the most actively used place in a house. Hence, a good brew of practical elements is indisputable for a functional kitchen. And while visual styles and tastes are somewhat subjective, this part also requires quite some expertise and balance to work optimally. Poor design is frequently encountered in renovation realities: drawers that can’t be drawn, cabinet doors hitting obstructions, and sinks put in hardly reachable places. But there are also “creative approaches” to style combinations that can burn on your retina forever. 

Kitchen designers deal with a multitude of decisions when it comes to the functionality and aesthetics of a kitchen space. Mistakes are made every now and then, but whether those will make it to the “epic fails of kitchen design” list is up to the level of preparation or attention to detail the designer has. A functional kitchen, dreamed based on a good foundation of design logic can make a big difference and even raise the value of a home.

The worst kitchen design mistakes ever

retro simple kitchen interior design

A bad kitchen design can make working in the kitchen very, very hard. Cooking involves many creative moments when you have to make quick decisions in order to save the food. The person cooking needs everything at hand and easily reachable, even in an emergency. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where your al dente is overboiling, and you can’t find the strainer because it’s buried in a cabinet that’s way too deep. 

While aiming for a functional kitchen is the top priority, looks shouldn’t fall behind either. When a kitchen is functional but lacking in visual balance, that is torture for the eyes. So when it’s time to fix up your outdated kitchen, there are a few common mistakes you should avoid. 

An island in a small place

The kitchen island is a cool thing. It can serve multiple functions and look good as an accent at the same time. But when the space is too small, cramming it in anyway will lead to having to walk around a major obstruction a million times. Dysfunctional elements in the kitchen increase the time spent cooking. Plus, the space will look overwhelming, leading to enjoying less time in it. When the desire for a kitchen island appears, keep the principles of functional kitchen design in sight before deciding to have one. 

Obstructions in the workflow

A few basic rules make or break a functional kitchen design. Careful consideration of the workflow is one of them. Food preparation, cooking, and access to water or storage are crucial for an optimal workflow.  Disregarding the logic leads to disruptions in the flow and a considerable amount of annoyance. 

Forgetting crucial functional elements 

young beautiful woman wearing clothes in kitchen

Plenty of storage for everything and the position of key elements is essential in a functional kitchen layout. It’s a common mistake to forget to assign a place for the garbage. This leads to forced, less-than-optimal alternatives. Even if you’re leading a sustainable lifestyle and trying to ensure nothing goes to waste, some things will anyway. A functional kitchen design needs to incorporate a designated place for those things, even if it’s only for temporary storage. 

Getting lost in the looks

Sometimes we fall in love with multiple styles at the same time, and we want to keep elements from all of them. And while contrasting elements can create a bold look, combining multiple accents can lead to a disaster. An aesthetic and functional kitchen design works by creating a visually balanced space. A good design makes the experience of the space pleasant. A bad design makes the space feel obtrusive. Getting lost in contrasting looks can heavily impact the mood of the space. The psychology of light and color is also important to pay attention to when going for an enjoyable and functional kitchen design.

The basic rules of a good kitchen design 

architect designer concept design

Most designers would agree that while some choices are a matter of taste, things that look really cool are created based on good old principles of design. Apart from the visual appeal, functional kitchen design is built on the framework of how the space will be used. This can be very different, depending on the given features of the space and its users. 

Design the kitchen with the user in mind

Functionality is determined by the needs of the user and the features of the space itself. While it can be harder to sell a house with an outdated kitchen, in some cases, the renovation is futile if the new owners have to tear it apart to fit their needs. What the space allows for is easier to see, but the needs of users can be less evident. However, a functional kitchen design for a big family for instance might need to incorporate specific features. Also, a young couple might not have problems with having to climb a ladder to get to cabinets. But an elderly couple will need most things within reach. Families with small children need to look out for safety hazards as well. 

Consider the specifics of the space

interior design tiny home

When the house has a large kitchen space, there’s a lot of freedom in design. Things start to get interesting when the place requires creative solutions for small spaces or has other limitations that must be considered. Lighting can become a main concern if the kitchen doesn’t get enough natural light. 

The “work triangle” 

The work triangle is a key concept in functional kitchen design, involving the positioning of the stove, sink, and refrigerator in a triangular layout. This minimizes unnecessary and illogical movement, increasing efficiency. By reducing the travel distance between the key areas, the work triangle optimizes the workflow in the kitchen. This allows cooks to navigate the space in the best and most comfortable way. There should be no obstruction between these points. 

Optimizing zones

modern kitchen countertop ingredients

In a well-designed, functional kitchen, optimizing zones is kind of a big deal. Organizing your cooking, cleaning, and storage areas in a smart way will make all the difference when it comes to using the kitchen. Good organizing makes tasks smoother: creating dedicated spots based on tasks will save you time and effort. Kitchen logic asks for the prep area to be close to the stove and the sink and fridge within fast reach as well. 

Special focus on storage 

Storage is crucial, as it’s all about making the most of your space. Well-planned storage ensures easy access to utensils, ingredients, and appliances, keeping the kitchen clutter-free. Plenty of cabinets, shelves, and drawers prevent overcrowding. You might want to look into some storage solution ideas if the kitchen space is smaller. 

Make sure it’s well lit

Not all kitchens receive the same amount of abundant natural light. Luckily, this isn’t a problem since there are so many creative ways to light a space. Don’t forget about functionality when planning the position of the fixtures and deciding the type and style of lighting. Work areas should also be well-lit in a functional kitchen meant to serve the person working in it. 

Hip kitchen design styles currently out there

side view on wooden table

Modern Industrial

Modern industrial is a functional kitchen design style that combines sleek contemporary elements with a rugged industrial feel. It features a blend of raw materials like metal concrete and exposed brick. Those are often paired with clean lines and minimalistic aesthetics. Large windows and open spaces enhance the natural light and open feel. Utilitarian fixtures, such as pendant lights and steel appliances add to the look. This style captures the essence of urban sophistication, embracing the beauty of unfinished textures and functional design.

Mid-century modern

The mid-century modern style exudes a timeless appeal with its clean lines, organic forms and vibrant colors. This style is characterized by simplicity and functionality, showcasing sleek furniture, geometric shapes, and minimalist decor. It combines retro and contemporary elements without effort. Mid-century modern designs often feature teak wood, bold patterns, and iconic design pieces. The style captures a sense of nostalgia while maintaining a fresh and sophisticated look. It’s an approach to functional kitchen design that continues to influence interiors today.

Dark and moody

luxury kitchen black wooden

This design style embraces rich, deep colors and dramatic contrasts to create an atmospheric space. Dark cabinets, walls, and accents set the tone, complemented by warm metals like brass or copper. Statement lighting fixtures add a touch of elegance. Using natural textures and materials like wood and stone creates a balanced visual depth. This style’s allure lies in its ability to evoke a sense of coziness and mystery, making it a unique and intriguing choice for kitchen aesthetics.


The shaker-style kitchen design is characterized by its clean, simple, and functional aesthetic. It features flat-cabinet doors, often accompanied by minimal hardware. This timeless style emphasizes craftsmanship through the frequent use of materials like wood. Its versatility allows it t adapt to various color palettes and finishes. Shaker kitchens exude a classic charm that seamlessly fits both traditional and modern interiors. This makes them popular for those seeking a functional kitchen design style of understated elegance.

Final thoughts

A hip and functional kitchen design that stands the test of time is a blend of practicality and beauty. It starts with a layout that makes cooking and moving around easy. Having a practical and clear prep area, cooking zone and cleanup area is essential. Timeless materials such as hardwood floors and granite countertops offer durability and elegance. Neutral color palettes with subtle accents remain versatile over the years. Cabinets with classic lines, good lighting, and quality appliances contribute to the design’s enduring appeal. A balance of functionality and aesthetics ensures thet the kitchen remains inviting and efficient, making it a cherished hub for years to come.


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