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11 Essentials for your new dream kitchen!

Have you noticed that your kitchen is the place where your guests hang out when you are hosting? Kitchens always tend to be a gathering place–whether you are hosting or in your day-to-day life. I spend so much time in my kitchen. It’s my first stop in the morning to get water and coffee. I’ve created this post to help you build out your dream kitchen!

My husband and I have moved around a lot. We had a kitchen that was poorly designed with missing cabinets and minimal counter space. One of the drawers wouldn’t open because it would smash into the fridge. We don’t miss that kitchen.

We also designed a kitchen for our new construction home, and that will forever hold a special place in my heart. I loved that kitchen. See the picture below.

White kitchen
White kitchen at our old home.

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We’ve since left my dream kitchen and moved to a different home. This house is also a recently built home. It was built about 4 years ago, but it had a previous owner before us. The kitchen is beautiful, but I’ll always miss the kitchen we designed ourselves.

New kitchen
New kitchen at our new home.

On our move in day, I realized all the ways this new kitchen could have been optimized in the design. It was new to the previous home owners, maybe they didn’t realize they had options; that’s what sparked the idea for this blog post! I want to share with you what you can do in your new construction home or your kitchen remodel! 

In no specific order, I’ve outlined important things to think about when designing your new kitchen! I may also compare my newer two kitchens. “White” kitchen refers to my favorite kitchen I mentioned at our previous home, and “new” kitchen refers to our kitchen in our current home. We don’t need to reference the kitchen that had missing cabinets (for obvious reasons).

1. Trash

Where is your trash going to go? In my white kitchen we had requested it to be built into a cabinet, so it could slide out and be hidden from sight. In our new kitchen we were shocked they didn’t have that! Where did the previous home owners put their trash?! Within a week of living in our new home, we quickly installed a pull-out trash! It was so easy for my husband to install, so if you want to add this as an after thought, you can do that too.

Pullout trash
Pullout trash installed after

2. Countertops

If you can splurge on more expensive counter tops like granite, quartz, or marble, you should. You would really enjoy them more. It can also up the value of your home.

Another topic to mention along with the countertops is pairing your backsplash.

  • If you intend to add a backsplash, don’t add a lip on the back wall to the counter top. Request that they make it flush with the wall and that they don’t include that 4-6″ backsplash piece that runs up the wall. It will look nicer when you add your tile backsplash.
  • Have a rough idea of what you want for a backsplash and try to match it with your granite. The granite in our new kitchen is beautiful and busy. The backsplash is also beautiful and busy. Separately they are great, but together, they clash. It would have been nicer to have a simpler backsplash to go along with the busy granite.
Busy granite and busy back-splash.
Busy granite and busy back-splash don’t pair well together.

3. Ceiling height and cabinet height

In our white kitchen, we needed to make a special request to have our cabinets go all the way to the ceiling. The builders and kitchen designer don’t offer that as default. You need to request it. With 8ft ceilings, it looked really nice to go all the way to the top and we utilized the extra storage space. If you have higher ceilings, you don’t need to have them go all the way up. Our new kitchen is 9ft ceilings and it has varying cabinet height which also looks nice.

Varying cabinet height
Varying cabinet height with 9ft ceilings.

4. Full overlay cabinet doors vs. partial overlay cabinet doors

If you want to get extra fancy, ask for cabinets that are frameless with doors that are full overlay. In the picture below is one of my cabinets, they are partial overlay and have a wooden bar down the center. If you don’t want to have that bar down the center, ask for full overlay cabinets. It’s often a custom look, so I would expect it to be more expensive.

Partial overlay cabinets
Partial overlay cabinets have a strip of wood down the middle.

5. Lower kitchen cabinets

In our new kitchen, there are only a few small drawers, it’s mostly cabinets with shelving. It’s wasn’t easy to organize our kitchen when we moved in because we didn’t have the nice features we had in our old white kitchen. In our white kitchen, we had drawers built in for pots and pans, Tupperware, anything really. We also had a small narrow cabinet to store our cutting boards. We would have used a lazy susan in the corner too. I actually talked my husband out of it, but he ended up being right in the end. I regretted not getting it for our white kitchen. (Still losing sleep over this).

6. Kitchen island

There are a few decisions to make for your island. Do you want it two tier or one flat level? Having had both, I actually prefer the one level. I think there is a certain appeal to the two tier, but for me, I wish our new kitchen didn’t have that.

The second big thing about kitchen islands is the color. Lately it’s been super trendy to have your island cabinets be darker than the main cabinets. While I agree that it looks nice, I think it’s trendy. I don’t think it will always be in style. Here is my main thought, if that is what you REALLY want, then do it! Create your kitchen how you want! However, if you plan on selling your home in the near future, I personally wouldn’t do the different cabinet colors.

7. Under cabinet lighting

This is something I LOVE. My mother-in-law has it in her kitchen too and hers is on a dimmer and it looks so good at any point in the day. It’s beautiful in the morning when your are pouring your coffee or at night after dinner enjoying a glass of wine. She leaves that on, and shuts of the bright lights and it always looks amazing.

In new construction, it doesn’t always come standard. We had to ask for it for our white kitchen. They agreed that they’d install it, but then they ended up forgetting and had to install it after. It still worked and looked nice, but we could tell it wasn’t installed correctly because they attached the wires underneath with an adhesive cable clip. In less than a year, one of the clips dangled and needed to be reattached. Our new kitchen also has under cabinet lighting and I’m use it every day. I believe it makes a huge difference in a kitchen.

8. Sink

In our white kitchen, I picked this beautiful stainless steel single basin deep sink. I loved it. The one caveat with the stainless steel was that it was easy to scratch up when washing dishes, so we needed to buy a grate to go at the bottom. Our new kitchen has a double basin standard sink, and it’s really annoying to do dishes in because it’s so shallow. If you have a choice, go with a deep sink, or even a farmhouse sink!

9. Gas or electric

If you have a choice, consider getting gas for your stove top. It heats your pots and pans faster and heats more evenly.

10. Pot filler

A pot filler is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a kitchen. I wish I had one in ours! It’s a faucet that hangs over your stove top, so you can easily fill your pots right at the stove top! Genius!

11. Appliances and how they fit

Think about the features you want in your appliances. Our fridge is counter depth, so it looks nice, but sometimes we wish we had more space in the fridge. If we had a larger fridge, it would stick out. What’s more important for your family? The way the fridge looks, or the amount of food it can hold?

What do you think? Any features you wish you had in your kitchen that you don’t currently? Leave a comment!

TLDR; Work with your builder/ kitchen designer to really optimize your kitchen. A lot of things we had to specially request to enhance our kitchen. They didn’t offer the advance options up front, we had to know what we wanted ahead of time. Do your research on what you really want, and don’t be afraid to ask for the extra options for your dream kitchen!

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