Kitchen Remodeling Basics

Before planning your kitchen renovation, make sure you're familiar with the basic components.

One of the main focal points of a house, a kitchen requires careful planning if it is to be easy to use and attractive to look at. Most modern kitchens feature custom cabinets, and custom kitchens are the main focus of this section. Remember that installing a kitchen may involve structural, plumbing, and electrical work.

Custom Kitchens

Custom kitchens are designed to make the best use of space. Attached cabinets combine ample storage and ease of use with a contemporary finish. Standard stock cabinets are made with different styles of doors and drawer fronts, and a wide variety of sinks, countertops, and appliances will match any decor.

Freestanding Units

As well as custom cabinets, matching freestanding kitchen units are available. The units are made to look more like separate items of furniture than part of a connected run. A few freestanding pieces can be combined with some custom cabinets — a good option if you like their appearance and need extra storage space.

Kitchen Design Planning

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What Are You Going to Do in The Room?

Finishes, fixtures and appliance aren’t the only things you need to consider when designing a kitchen. Cabinetmaker/kitchen designer John McGilvray shares some planning tips and storage options to make your kitchen not only beautiful, but functional. "First thing you need to do create a list of how you will use the room, not just how it will look," says McGilvray. For these homeowners, the number-one wish on their list was a large center island on one level with plenty of seating and work surface where the whole family can eat and cook together. This island and its single slab of marble provides space for five stools, plenty of storage, plus a full-size sink.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

How Will It All Line Up?

“Layout is usually the most common issue and there are a lot of considerations many people often overlook,” says McGilvray. "Make sure there is ample room to move around the space freely and that there is enough distance between the center island and the wall cabinets so two people can walk by each other comfortably especially when carrying food, knives and hot cookware. Also, if you plan on centering the sink on an island that is across from a cooktop, this will dictate the size of your island because you're probably going to want to center the sink on the island as well as across from the stove."

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Group Functions Together

"The homeowners didn't want the freezer in the kitchen. They felt it would take up too much precious space so they put it in the garage instead," explains McGilvray. A drink station/wet bar was created with the main refrigerator (left), an ice maker (center, bottom) and the clear-door fridge just for drinks. The mini fridge provides easy access for the kids to get juice boxes and water bottles. A microwave, oven and warming drawer are stacked up in between the drink station and double pantry doors.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Handy Side Sink

To make the drink station even more convenient, an undermount hammered stainless-steel sink was tucked into the corner.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Make Storage Elegant

"The pantry doesn't always need to be hidden," says McGilvray. This one makes a statement with set of elegant French doors. The glass panel doors allow natural light to flow from the pantry’s window into the kitchen and vice-versa. Antique-style glass knobs add to the charm.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

High-Tech Island

The kitchen island is full of hidden surprises. The garbage and recycle bins are in the cabinet left of the sink. Even though there’s a big handle, the cabinet will open just by bumping the center of it with your knee. This way if your hands are all messy, you don’t have to get the cabinets all messy too. “This mechanism was new to the market. I showed it to the homeowners knowing they have small children and like to cook a lot. They had never seen this feature before and we're thrilled to incorporate it into their design,” says McGilvray.

Dishwasher Drawers

The double-drawer dishwasher is also housed in the kitchen island. “Consider your daily activities; locate the dishes you use every day close to the dishwasher. You don't want to put dishwasher on the left side of the island if your everyday dishes are on the right side of the wall,” advises McGilvray. “Also, it sounds simple, but people don't always consider how appliances line up, like making sure the dishwasher isn't across from the oven.”

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Paper Towel Drawer

“This may sound like a small feature, but it was important for the homeowners to have the paper towel holder easily accessible but mostly hidden, probably because they have small children,” says McGilvray. “So I created this open-face drawer with a built-in paper towel dispenser.” The kids can easily reach it but it doesn’t have to be an obvious part of the kitchen. (Click the next slide to see the drawer open.)

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Paper Towel Drawer Open

When one roll runs out, a new one is right behind it.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Step Stool Hidden in Toe Kick

The upper wall cabinets extend up to the 10-foot ceiling. To put them within easy reach, a folding step stool was cleverly incorporated into the toe-kick underneath the sink. “This feature can often be retro-fitted into an existing kitchen,” says McGilvray.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Step Stool Open

The little step stool is also great if you have small children in the house. It can be pulled out and unfolded fairly easily.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Column Pull-Outs

Also hidden in the kitchen island are two pull-out columns. They look purely decorative, but they’re totally practical with their pegboard-style storage.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Cabinets Rest on Countertop

To give the kitchen a classic high-end look, the upper cabinets that frame the cooking wall extend from the ceiling all the way down to the marble countertop.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Six Burners and a Griddle

White subway tile was installed with practical black grout — a very smart choice for a cooking area. The classic rectangular tile paired with the commercial stove and pot-filler faucet gives the space that French gourmet vibe.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Add Personal Touches

Inset into each panel on the island and on the hood range is a custom-made metal crisscross with a fleur de' lis center. The homeowners are originally from New Orleans and wanted to incorporate the symbol of their old home into their new home.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Continuity in Design

The crisscross pattern is repeated in the glass-paneled cabinets to give the room’s design a cohesive look.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Pretty and Practical

Practical details in this kitchen make life easier for the homeowners and beautiful design keeps it stylish.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved


Precut countertops come in lengths of 6'-6", 10' and 13', and in thicknesses varying from 1" to 2". Choose one wider than you need because you will probably cut some off during installation. Countertops may be made of solid wood or stone, veneered chipboard, and stone-effect materials. Solid wood and veneered counters, and some stone-effect types, are sold as standard sizes and can be installed as is. Countertops made of solid stone, such as marble or granite, are generally supplied and installed by manufacturers, who make a template of your requirement, fabricate the countertop at their factory, and then deliver and install it. Countertops are also a frequent object for reclamation. A countertop can be tiled. When tiling a countertop, use moisture-resistant plywood or MDF as a base. On walls behind the countertop it is usual to install backsplashes of tiles, stainless steel, or glass.

Wood (Image 1), Solid surfacing (Image 2), Plastic laminate (Image 3)

Kitchen Cabinets

Custom kitchens are made up of wall cabinets and base cabinets. Cabinets are either frameless (European) or framed (with face frames). Most custom kitchens can be viewed already assembled in a showroom. The price usually depends on the material and the thickness of the carcass members and panels. As a rule, the more substantial a cabinet is, the more expensive it will be.

Base Cabinet
Most manufacturers produce these in standard widths and heights. Their depth is usually 1'-8" to 2', although some are shallower to accommodate utilities.



Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Wall Cabinet
These are available in standard widths that match base cabinets, but they are typically only up to 2'-4" high and 1' deep.



Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited


Most manufacturers will supply a pack of accessories for each cabinet, some or all of which will be required, depending on how the cabinet is to be used. A selection of the most common hardware is shown here.

Drawer Runner (Image 1)
May be preinstalled on drawers and cabinets when supplied.

Cam and Cam Stud (Image 2)
Two-part fasteners for assembly of some flatpack cabinets.

Connection Screw (Image 3)
Two-part screw that joins cabinets.

Wooden Dowel (Image 4)
Peg used to strengthen joints.

Kitchens use easy-install hinges and usually predrilled holes.

Joining Plate (Image 5)
Metal plate used to strengthen joints between cabinets or sections of countertop.

More Hardware Options

Damper (Image 1)
Small pad that protects surfaces when doors or drawers are closed.

Wall Mounting Plate (Image 2)
Shaped bracket for hanging cabinets on walls.

Countertop Bracket (attaches a countertop to base cabinets) and Angle Brace (often used to secure cabinets to a wall surface, Image 3).

Cover Cap (Image 4)
Decorative cap for screws and other fasteners.

Toekick Vent (Image 5)
Provides airflow to appliances.

Sinks and Appliances

Freestanding kitchen appliances — refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves — are normally just under 1'-8" or 2' wide and around 2'-8" to 2'-11" tall and so should fit into standard kitchens without problems. Built-in appliances are hidden behind doors that match the base cabinets, with cooktops and sinks mounted into the counter top. Many manufacturers also produce both extra-large appliances for large families, and slimline models for small kitchens. New innovations are always coming onto the market, so take time to select appliances that suit your needs best.

Exhaust Fan (Image 1)
Housed in cabinets or the more decorative design of a hood and chimney, exhaust fans may either filter then recirculate air, or vent it out through an exterior wall via a duct that you will need to install.

Sink (Image 2)
Usually, sinks are cut into a countertop. Most, like the one shown here, have a deep side for a garbage disposal.

Stove (Image 3)
These come in gas (seen here) and electric versions. Gas stoves are generally sunk into a countertop. Electric ones can have sealed plates or ceramic tops.

Oven (Image 4)
An oven may be housed in a special cabinet that comes as part of a custom kitchen. Attachment kits will be supplied. Freestanding stoves slide between cabinets.

Finishing Touches

The carcass structure of a cabinet is ultimately hidden by door fronts, drawer fronts, and a number of other decorative items. If you are happy with your kitchen's current layout but want a new look, changing the finish can be an inexpensive and very effective option. Finishing touches are supplied in styles to suit many different tastes.

Handles and Knobs (Image 1)
For use on door and drawer fronts. Threaded bolts and screws secure them in position.

Door Front (Image 2)
These are manufactured to fit all standard cabinet sizes.

Drawer Front (Image 3)
Made to fit standard base cabinet drawers. Some act as "dummy" drawer fronts.

Decorative Trims

Toekicks are installed between the floor and the underside of base cabinets. They may have a vinyl strip on the bottom edge to stop moisture from penetrating the edge when the floor is cleaned. A molding covers up the bottom edge of wall cabinets and scribe molding runs along the top edge of wall cabinets.

Toekick (Image 1) Scribe molding (Image 2)

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