weather icon Mostly Cloudy

In kitchens, function is as important as style

One of the fundamental principles of design is that form should follow function. Simple enough. In all likelihood, this rule may apply more to one space in your home than to any other - the kitchen, which just might be the most important and busiest room of all. Some have even referred to it as the heart of the home. And while I, as a designer, am always personally dedicated to what’s “pretty,” the way a design works to help better one’s use of a space is always foremost in my mind.

Kitchens should ideally be functional as well as attractive . The design of a kitchen remains one of the truest tests of interior design taste and style. It’s a challenge for anyone, which may explain why many people turn to a professional designer for help in this area of the home.

Where does one begin with a kitchen design? Initially, this room needs to be thought of as a work space, because that’s exactly what it is. And first and foremost, you need to have a good idea of just how you plan to utilize that space in order to achieve the most functional kitchen possible within the confines of your square footage and budget as well as your lifestyle. This is referred to by designers as a work center or work triangle.

The work triangle path is what controls the flow of traffic in your kitchen so that you don’t have to walk too far between work stations and appliances. A work station is simply an area that you will use to do a certain task, such as preparation and cooking. Another station might be for cleanup.

All kitchens are designed around this path, which ties the work stations together.

The actual kitchen layout is based on the creation of work spaces. Your design ideas need to be in sync with whatever kitchen shape you ultimately choose – or need to choose due to the aforementioned constraints. There are four basic kitchen options that you may consider:

Single wall is usually found in smaller homes and apartments as well as in the open space concept often seen in contemporary homes. All appliances and cabinetry are placed against a single wall, where it’s best to place the refrigerator at one end and the countertops near the sink and never at the other end. The design is simple, fairly inexpensive and the perfect choice for long and narrow kitchens. One drawback is that counterspace is extremely limited.

Corridor or galley is the most efficient use of a small space as it allows for convenient access to cabinets and appliances on both walls. The corridor separating the opposing counters should be at least 48 inches wide, making this kitchen highly functional .

L-shaped is one of the most common of all designs and will provide wonderful flexibility in the placement of major appliances. It also allows for a work area virtually unbroken by traffic. It’s great for kitchens with limited space, even more than the single wall or galley kitchen. With the increased counter space provided by this design, you just may have extra room for a double sink.

U-shaped kitchen is a great place to work because its very design doesn’t allow for any obstruction in the room’s traffic pattern and provides a greater amount of counter space than the other kitchen layouts. Also, a great bonus is that one area of the U is often used to separate the kitchen from the breakfast or dining room. It is essentially the most versatile and efficient of all possible kitchen designs – and one that I live with myself.

Once you’ve decided on which of these plans works best for your home, there are a number of other points to think about in kitchen design. If space allows, consider incorporating an island, which will give you more countertop area. Often, the bigger the kitchen, the bigger the island. But remember to allow at least a 36-inch aisle on either side of the unit, no matter how big or small. By the way, it seems that islands and breakfast bars are now the kitchen’s new “walls” and act more like bridges to open up the space rather than separating it from the rest of the home.

Cutting back on cabinets in a small kitchen by designing a walk-in pantry for storage is another great option. And don’t forget the importance of good lighting, which includes undercounter lighting (which I love) that can double as task as well as ambient lighting.

But what if money is a problem and you still want to do something with a tired, older kitchen? Simply upgrading your existing knobs and door pulls will go far in giving your space a fresh, new look without much cost. Refinishing is another great cost-conscious option if you feel that your cabinets need an update; walls may just need a fresh coat of paint to give them new life. Also, new appliances (if possible) will not only help with energy costs, but will go a long way in helping to beautify your kitchen.

Try to get to the very core and essence of your kitchen when thinking about its design. It’s really more than just appliances, colors and lighting that count so much, it’s the plan and flow of the kitchen.

Stephen Leon is a licensed interior designer and president of Soleil Design; he has been designing and manufacturing custom furniture and cabinetry for more than 25 years. He has served on the board of directors of the Central California/Nevada Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers and is a certified professional in green residential design. Questions can be sent to soleildesign@cox.net.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shock program rids your pool of yellow algae

If your pool water has gone from clear to yellow, you probably have yellow algae. The pool store will have chemicals to treat the water. When used with super-chlorination, products such as Yellow Out will kill yellow algae.

When accessorizing, start with what you have

Accessories are a simple and inexpensive way to update a room, and there is no long-term commitment. You can change each season, add colors or have fun with a new trend with just a few pieces.

Give your home a fresh coat of paint

The exterior paint on most stucco homes in Southern Nevada is expected to last anywhere from 10 to 15 years before it starts breaking down.

Spray grapevines to control pests

Grapeleaf skeletonizer and grape flea beetle were found in the orchard during the last couple of days. These two pests damage grape leaves but few other plants.

Vegetable gardening goes vertical

In “Vertical Vegetables: Simple Projects That Deliver More Yield in Less Space” (Quarto Publishing Group), the first-time book author Amy Andrychowicz demonstrates how to produce bigger and better fruits and veggies by growing them upward instead of outward in traditional planting beds.

Removing dead fronds doesn’t affect health of sago

Q: The top ring of sago palmfronds died after I transplanted it but remain on the plant. I left this brown ring of fronds around the crown of the plant and it looks like new growth coming from the center is OK. Should I trim off the dead fronds without disturbing the crown or just let them fall off?

Too much matching can lead to boring room

“Match sets of anything are doubtless the work of those who have but little taste. Tis better to have dissimilarity.” — Yoshida Kenko (1284–1350), Japanese author and Buddhist monk