What's the Most Overlooked Feature When Planning a Kitchen Renovation?

What's the Most Overlooked Feature When Planning a Kitchen Renovation?

By Melissa Dalton
We turned to our panel of Dwell Pros for the answer—here's what they said.

Planning to remodel your kitchen this year? Here are the features that the experts in our Dwell Pro Index don't want you to forget.

1. Don't dismiss the kitchen's potential as a modern-day parlor.

Agencie believes that kitchens are modern-day parlor rooms, incorporating stunning visual elements in the design. A majestic Lacanche range takes center stage in this kitchen.

Sarrah Khan, Agencie Architecture & Engineering: 

Kitchens are modern parlor rooms. In modern homes, kitchens serve a double function of both cooking and entertaining zones. 

Agencie specializes in Brooklyn and Manhattan brownstones. In these compact NYC homes, kitchens are kitchens...but also the entrance and focal point of the home. Guests are received and welcomed in the kitchen. As everyone knows, no matter how small a kitchen happens to be, people always end up hanging out in there during parties. 

Historically, the parlor was the room in which the world encountered the private sphere of a family's home. Colloquially, it was referred to as the "best room." The family's best furniture and artwork were displayed in the parlor room. We design kitchens to serve the double function of parlor rooms. We always incorporate a cozy banquette or inviting bar/island element. We also make sure the kitchen is the best room by incorporating stunning visual elements [like the Lacanche range below].

2. Don't skip over the layout.

Curtis Popp, Popp Littrell Architecture: 

The most overlooked thing in kitchen design would be space design/planning. Everyone wants to jump straight to materials without thoroughly vetting the layout—this can be fatal, as you can't "polish a turd." By that I mean, no amount of expensive materials can compensate for a lack of planning.

3. Sniff out hidden opportunities.

Dan Brown, Hufft: 

The best kitchen remodels simplify an owner’s life and make efficient use of every available square inch. Sometimes this means considering what is hidden away as much as what’s visible. With counter space at a premium, valuable space can be saved by designating an enclosed area to tuck away those space-sucking counter-top appliances and gadgets. It’s also a great way to condense kitchen "clutter" into one enclosed space that can be out of sight and out of mind when not in use.

4. Don't underestimate the power of lighting.

Risa Boyer, Risa Boyer Architecture

I find the most overlooked feature in kitchen design to be efficient, well-designed lighting. Not only is good lighting essential to the function of the kitchen, but it also highlights and accentuates the design. Often lighting isn’t on the forefront of the client's mind when they are thinking about new cabinets and appliances, so it can easily become an afterthought. [The kitchen] is the one room that I think all three types of lighting should be incorporated: ambient, task, and accent lighting. 

5. Incorporate details that make everyday life easier.

Anthony Laney, Laney LA:

The details of the kitchen are so often underestimated during the design phase. A few overlooked features that clients must consider include a coffee station, pot filler, the kitchen’s connection to the [other spaces], skylights, and island outlets—all found in this kitchen designed by Rini Kundu. 

A light, reclaimed wood floor transitions to a glossy, patterned marble surface as the home transitions from the kitchen to the office.

6. Choose meaningful embellishments.

The kitchen features a reclaimed wood installation by artist Blake Sloane of Forty Third Place in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Nicole Tysvaer, Galaxy Homes: 

Homeowners tend to focus predominantly on the utilitarian components of their kitchen remodels (cabinets, appliances, plumbing fixtures, countertops) and place less emphasis on decorative elements such as tile, open shelves, visual art pieces. The kitchen is the heart of our homes and the most occupied space. I encourage all of our clients to consider meaningful embellishments that add beauty and a personalized touch to their kitchen remodel, such as a display of heirloom teacups, framed photography from family vacations, or decorative wall art. 


Get the Renovations Newsletter

From warehouse conversions to rehabbed midcentury gems, to expert advice and budget breakdowns, the renovation newsletter serves up the inspiration you need to tackle your next project.