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Kitchen Planner for Beautiful & Functional Design

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One of my most commonly asked questions about our custom kitchen is, “How did you choose your kitchen design?” The heart of the home can be both pretty and practical! Learn how to create a beautiful and functional kitchen design with this simple kitchen planner.

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Learn how to create a beautiful and functional kitchen design with this simple kitchen planner. The heart of the home can be both pretty and practical!

Kitchen Planner for Form and Function

When we remodeled our kitchen, we did it in baby steps. First, I DIYed the previous kitchen for an amazing $300 transformation. We lived with it for some time assessing what worked and didn’t work. I made lists of my “must haves” for a dream kitchen and began a mood board for design.

Then, I planned for function. The most often overlooked step in designing a kitchen is designing for functionality. Aesthetics win the day in most people’s minds because it is difficult to imagine ourselves in a space, actually using it for its purpose.

So today, I want to chat about a few checklist items to consider with this simple kitchen planner that will allow you to enjoy a kitchen that serves its utilitarian purpose while being beautiful!

Design with Functionality in Mind

Kitchen Layout

Kitchen layouts are often the most difficult portion of designing a kitchen. I explained why and how we changed the layout of our previous kitchen in my custom kitchen design plan.

Learn how to create a beautiful and functional kitchen design with this simple kitchen planner. The heart of the home can be both pretty and practical!

However, here are some quick questions to consider when planning a kitchen layout. These are taken from the approach of remodeling an existing kitchen.

YouTube video

If you are building a home, I actually recommend visiting someone else’s kitchen! Work in it, see what you like and don’t like. Then, visit someone else’s home with a different layout and do the same! Experience is an amazing teacher.

  • Is my current layout functional? If not, why specifically?
  • Do I have space to reconfigure the layout?
  • Do I have budget to update necessary plumbing and electrical changes?
  • Will a layout change accomplish a goal that my current layout cannot achieve?
  • Do I need to make structural changes, and if so, are the walls load bearing that I want to remove?

Almost anything CAN be done during a remodel. The question becomes, is it necessary and is it in budget?

In my book, Designing a Life: From House to Haven, I give additional practical tips to ask when designing a space. This guide applies to any room in your home, but can be especially useful when starting a kitchen design.

Design Layout for Work Flow and Movement

Another important element to consider when thinking of your kitchen layout is, how will your work flow operate? What kind of movement does your layout allow?

Kitchen planner for designing a kitchen layout.

When we planned our layout change, we specifically measured the distance between everything. The distance from the kitchen sink to the stove. From the island to the sink. From the bar stools to the pantry. And from the refrigerator to the work surfaces.

I wanted to ensure that we could open drawers, pull down the dishwasher, open the stove, pull out stools…etc. with ease, rather than having to only do one thing at a time because of lack of space.

If you have the space, when in doubt, allow more room for movement than you think you need!

Open Shelving v. Upper Cabinets

One of the hottest topics in kitchen design right now is open shelving. Personally, I love open shelving. In our previous DIY remodel, I built my own open shelving with this simple tutorial.

In our current kitchen, we had our open shelving custom built by the same shop that made our custom cabinets. This allowed us to match the wood species and stain color to our island for a more polished design.

Open shelving in a modern farmhouse kitchen design.

The main question you need to ask to ensure that open shelving fits with the functionality of your kitchen is, “Do I need storage?”

My kitchen is substantially sized. We have over 25 feet of lower cabinets, plus a bank of pantry cabinets opposite our large island. We have no lack of storage.

Kitchen open shelving design.
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So, while I use my open shelves to store everyday items like bowls and cutting boards, it also serves as the “pretty” area of my kitchen.

This is where I put the few items of decor so that they are out of the way and keep our countertops clear for workspace.

On the other hand, if you have a small kitchen you may need closed door storage. I know many people with small kitchens who use open shelving for everyday dishes like plates and bowls and it works perfectly for them. But everyone is different and you are designing YOUR kitchen! So make sure your design choice reflects your family’s needs.

Kitchen Cabinet Paint Color

I love a classic white kitchen. Our cabinets are painted in Benjamin Moore White Dove. It is a soft white with warm undertones. It can pull creamy in certain lights. Our island is stained in Autumn (custom from our cabinet maker) and is a maple wood.

Kitchen cabinet color.

It works well for our family, wipes up easily, and brightens up the room. When you’re deciding on the paint color for your kitchen, consider these questions.

  • Do you want light and bright, fun and trendy, or sophisticated and moody?
  • Do you want two toned cabinets or monochromatic?
  • Do you want to see wood grain or have a clean finish?
  • Do you want to stand out or stay timeless?

Darker colors will pull more sophisticated. Bright colors will pull more airy and timeless.

Black farmhouse sink as part of a kitchen planner.

My kitchen lighting can be found here.

Another question to consider is the level of traffic your kitchen gets. Darker colors will show more dust and specs while lighter colors will show more dinginess. Either way, you will have to clean your cabinets!

I’m often surprised when people say they want to choose a darker finish to hide dirt. My friends, darker colors may hide dirt but they show smudges and dust more. No matter what color you choose, cleaning your cabinets will always be a necessity.

I highly recommend browsing Pinterest for images of kitchens. Save the ones that you instantly love to a mood board. Then, go back to your mood board and write down the common theme from your images.

Did you Pin all white kitchens? Mark down your design for white cabinets. Did you Pin only kitchens with center islands? Measure your space to see if you can accommodate it. Etc.

Plan for the Long Haul

My last tip for this simple kitchen planner is to plan for longevity. Kitchen remodels are one of the most expensive remodels you can tackle. So, you want to make choices that you will love for years to come.

Timeless over trendy. Classic over coveted. But that doesn’t necessarily mean safe! You can take design risks in a kitchen and still love it in 10 years.

Learn how to create a beautiful and functional kitchen design with this simple kitchen planner. The heart of the home can be both pretty and practical!

This is why I place so much emphasis on designing your kitchen with functionality in mind. Cabinets, layout and countertops are going to be items you want to focus on for the long haul because they are the most expensive and difficult to change.

On the other hand, take some risks with items that can be swapped out easier down the road.

Cabinet hardware, lighting, backsplash, even faucets, can be fairly easily changed and are relatively inexpensive updates to make later on. So make sure your design focuses on timelessness for items that are more difficult to update in the future.

Are You Ready to Tackle Your Remodel?

Thank you so much for visiting the blog today! I hope that this post on putting together a kitchen planner has been helpful as you plan your upcoming kitchen remodel or updates!

Drop me a comment below if you have additional questions and I will make sure to answer them!

DIY Kitchen Remodel Resources

And, if you’re looking for tips on how to DIY your kitchen remodel, make sure to check out my entire series on how we updated our kitchen for $300!

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Learn how to create a beautiful and functional kitchen design with this simple kitchen planner. The heart of the home can be both pretty and practical!


  1. Did you use new cabinets? If so where did you get them? I love the recessed doors and drawer fronts. Can you give me the name of the laminate on the floors.

  2. Your kitchen is beautiful and timeless. I love the warmth of the wood with the white cabinets. I would love to know what tile you used for the backsplash as I have been looking at tile until I am blue in the face! I like that it’s subtle and has several shades in it.

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