Building a Successful Custom Kitchen

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Building a Successful Custom Kitchen

So far in our series “What to Expect when Building a Custom Home” we’ve given you some resources to start planning your new home, and hire the right builder, architect, or designer.

Dark Wood Floors for kitchens from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors.Once those steps are complete you probably have a full set of architectural drawings laying out the rooms that will be your new home!

Now it is time to think about room design.  From kitchens to baths, playrooms and rec rooms, what kind of spaces are you going to fill your home with?  This week we are going to look some of the most popular rooms for “function” and “fun”, and give you some resources to plan and design them!  Today we are going to look at kitchen design.



The kitchen is, by far, the most popular and the most utilized room in the house for all family members.  It is where we congregate for meals or grab breakfast before we dash to the office or bus stop.  It is often a meeting place for friends and families and dinner parties.  You can read more about the Entertaining Kitchen here.

Because the kitchen plays such a pivotal role in the function, organization, and aesthetics of a home, your kitchen design is going to be one of the most thought out decisions you will make. Here are some things to consider as you get started.

Have you hired a kitchen designer?

There are some definite benefits to hiring a designer to plan your new home.  Even if you have hired a design, you may still want to consider hiring a professional who specifically works in kitchen design.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) is your source to find one!  NKBA certified kitchen designers are familiar with space planning, have extensive education in construction, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, and will be aware of local building codes and environmental regulations for your area.  All valuable assets when it comes to kitchen design.  From cabinetry design and placement, to wood flooring selection and backsplash design, a certified kitchen design can save you time in the planning process and provide you with a cohesive layout for your entire space.

You can do a ProSearch right at their website:

Find a NKBA professional in your area.


Looking for Ideas?

If you type in kitchen designs into a search on google you are going to ends up with millions of results.  So we’ve narrowed down a few resources for you to save you time:

The NKBA has a great “Dream” section on their website.  Here, you can browse previous projects by room style, to gather ideas for your home.   You print out full color images to add to your wish list, and view designer information.  Unfortunately, you can’t view product information so you are left with the task of finding the right products to replicate that look.

If you are looking for a design and product resource look no further than the Architectural Digest Kitchen app!   This app, from Architectural Digest magazine, gives you the ability to browse hundreds of kitchens, view products like cabinets and wood floors, access to kitchen suppliers, and get kitchen design tips – all for free, all at the touch of a button!    If you are looking for more mobile apps to help with kitchen design planning click here we’ve narrowed them down for you!





Functionality – You & Your Kitchen

Aside from the obvious cooking and cleaning that takes place how is your kitchen going to function for you and your family.  Identifying these attributes will help you, and help your kitchen designer:

  • Create space planning diagrams
  • Prepare a kitchen layout
  • Understand what kind – and size – appliances you need
  • Provide recommendations for a bar, eat in kitchen counter, or homework area
  • Understand technology needs for music, television or other electronics
  • Identify the overall organizational plan for the space including how you move, and where things are stored

By the way, if you are a culinary master – or if you aspire to be in your new home – you might want to check out our recent blog article – Kitchen Designs for the Serious Chef for ideas.


When it comes to selecting items for your new kitchen get ready to make many decisions. Here are just a few options from a few friends we’ve met over the years:

What kind of cabinets do you want?

Choosing the cabinets for your kitchen will be your first big decision and requires many steps.  For you want to decide what style cabinet do you want?  This could be determined by the style home you are building.  Arts and Crafts style home will have the square detail, modern homes will be sleek often with very little detail, Victorian style homes might incorporate a detailed bevel or glass front doors like these from Crown Point Cabinetry.










Next you want to pick the type of wood you want to use – this might be dictated by whether you want the cabinets stained or painted.  Painted cabinets can be more expensive because they require more layers of finish but are required if you want that crisp white cabinetry (or any other color you might have in mind).  If you are going to stain your cabinets you can choose from a variety of woods, and choosing a stained version of a cabinet may be less expensive.  For example, a cabinet made of Alder and stained in a dark finish, could be less expensive than if you used American Black walnut to build your cabinets, because alder raw materials are less expensive than Walnut.  When it comes to the wood you will use for your cabinets the options are endless – even though hardwood materials are the most popular, you can use Pine or antique wood to create a more primitive look.

In addition to the stain and finish for your cabinets, you might want to Do you want any kind of detail in the cabinets like antique glazing or beveling, like these examples from Fieldstone Cabinetry.


What kind of countertop do you want to use?

There are many options from which to choose for your new countertops. Granite is probably the most well-known. It is durable, resilient, and easy to clean.

But you can also use concrete, quartz, soapstone, Stainless Steel, or tile – it all depends on the look you want to create. Make sure you understand the maintenance and cleaning practices for the countertop you are considering before you decide.

Wood is also a popular options for countertops, although it is most often used as an island top or butcher block, and you will see another countertop style in the rest of the kitchen. Antique wood and dark wood are popular choices.

Do you want hardware on the cabinets and drawers?

Just when you thought you were done with your cabinets you have one more decision to make – hardware.   Crown Point Cabinetry has a plethora of knobs, handles, pulls, and latches for their custom cabinets, to get just the right look and functionality for your space.  And you can decide on the type of material and finish of the hardware.

If you are going for a more clean and/or modern look you may want to opt for no hardware or you might want a clean metal hardware to match your stainless steel appliances.

Do you want to use a backsplash?

A backsplash is a fun design element to include in your kitchen.  Think of it as the one element that can tie everything together from all the details you have put into your floor.  Do you have dark wood floors and white cabinets with red accents?  Find a backsplash design that incorporates all of that!








You can even use your favorite photography – check out this idea from HGTV:



What Kind of Appliances do you want?

Even though stainless steel appliances seem to appear in most kitchen design winners this year – there are other options available – white, black or even apple red!  Viking has a great online product directory where you can browse and customize products to all the specifications!  And if you need ideas for your kitchen fixtures for the sink check out the Kohler mobile app.


What kind of flooring do you want?

There are three deciding factors to the flooring you choose for your kitchen – comfort, ease of cleaning and maintenance and longevity.  Solid wood flooring and Engineered wood flooring are more comfortable under foot than most stone or tile.  Prefinished hardwood flooring can help you complete your kitchen even quicker.

Stone and tile are also a popular choice.  Or why not try a combination?

Wood flooring in a basketweave pattern for a modern kitchen from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors.


Do you want to use radiant heat?

Radiant heat is a very popular heat source for today’s kitchen. It helps maintain an even temperature throughout the entire room and keeps your feet warm – especially nice on that brisk winter morning when you are pouring that cup of coffee!  It also eliminates baseboards and radiators which clutter a room and push dirt and dust into the space.   You want to think about radiant heat prior to installing your floor because it is installed under the flooring.  If you are considering radiant heat and wood floors click here for more information.

What kind of technology do you need in your kitchen?

If your home is like most homes today there is need (or desire) for technology.   Maybe you want a laptop to look up recipe or for after-school homework?  Do you want to watch the news while you make breakfast or a favorite cooking show?

And don’t forget the outlets!  They are one of the most forgotten elements to your kitchen design.  And once you start using your kitchen you are going to have many things to plug in – cell phones, chargers, appliances, laptops, ironing board, or vacuum cleaner.  Since outlets can be difficult to install after the walls and cabinets go in think carefully about everything you might want to use in that space.  You really can’t ever have too many outlets.

Have you designed a kitchen recently?  Was there anything you wished you thought of for your design? What is your favorite part of the kitchen?

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