By the time your kitchen looks outdated or the cabinets get shabby, it may be well past time to renovate. Long before it’s obvious to look at, your kitchen – and bathrooms, too – will be sending signals you should pay attention to.
All these clues are telling you to ask this question: “Is the space functional?” says Joe Ward, a designer for Markraft Cabinets of Wilmington. “Don’t wait until the cabinets are falling off the walls,” he said, “if you’re muttering under your breath” about all the extra steps you’re taking, or awkward work spaces, or your family’s difficulty navigating through the kitchen.
A kitchen or bath’s functionality will be different for every family. It’s how you use a space that should determine how it’s laid out.
For instance, Ward asks customers, “How much usable counter space do you have?” Does the space allow one cooking step to fit naturally with the next? If you do a lot of baking, is there enough dedicated work area to separate wet ingredients from dry? Are frequently used utensils within fingertip reach?
Traffic flow is important. Maybe you’re OK with the space when you’re there alone. But what if you have kids who are going to the refrigerator a lot and getting in your way? Does it feel cramped when you and your spouse are working together?
A few rules of thumb about kitchen space: A passageway, just to walk through, should be at least 36 inches wide. An open work space, say between a stovetop and an island countertop, needs 42 inches to fit just one person working. If two people will be in that space, working back to back, you’ll need at least 48 inches.
Then there’s the ideal “work triangle” that architects and kitchen designers use. If you draw lines from the refrigerator to the sink to the stove and back, they shouldn’t total more than 26 feet. Each leg of that triangle should measure between 4 feet and 9 feet. “Beyond that,” Ward cautions, “it feels like you have to put on your jogging shoes and take a walk.” Ideally, the key work spaces in a kitchen should be just a single step apart.
Even if you can’t put your finger on the specific problems, he says, “If you feel stressed in your kitchen, maybe it’s time to rethink the design.” A person who dreads having to work in the kitchen should trust that frustration.
In bathrooms, it’s more about storage space and comfort than it is about work. “Does everything seem to land on the vanity top, or in a big basket next to it?” Ward asked. Could you use more room? Tiny bathrooms in older homes can often be expanded. And if space permits the addition of an amenity like a whirlpool or a steam shower, why not do it?
A common space waster in many bathrooms is a sit-down vanity, which just doesn’t match busy people’s lifestyles these days. Pulling out obsolete features makes room for those you’ll really use, and appreciate, whether it’s just a wider sink top or maybe a double-bowl vanity.
You don’t necessarily need to know what the solution is, as long as you know there’s a problem. “Why not do something about it?” Ward said, by calling in professional help. “Have a designer come in and make that not-so-functional old space more usable.”
If your kitchen or bath has you frustrated, Markraft’s designers will be happy to help you find the ideal solution. You can meet with them, see product examples, and browse through sample layouts in Markraft’s Design Center. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 2705 Castle Creek Lane, just off Castle Hayne Road.
Since 1985, Markraft has specialized in cabinet and countertop design and installation in residential and commercial construction and custom remodeling. To learn more about Markraft, go to www.markraft.com. Contact Markraft at 910.762.1986 and like Markraft on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkraftCabinets.