Tobi Fairley is a Thermador brand partner.

Kitchen design is a real art – it’s the one room of the home where functionality is just as critical, if not more so, than the design of the room! It can be a tough job even for interior designers and renovators who have worked on hundreds of kitchens, but it’s especially so for any homeowner who tries to oversee their own kitchen makeover.

It’s also the one room that most people ask me about, whether they are my clients or not. I do have a few “insider” secrets for making sure that a kitchen is designed to really work for the homeowner, and I’ll share a few of them here with you today!

  1. Function First

This really shouldn’t be a “secret,” but too often people jump right into the color of the cabinets and the type of flooring without really considering the layout and function of the kitchen. You’ve probably heard about the “triangle” that’s suggested for efficient work spaces, and you do need to keep that perfect symmetry between the stove, sink, and refrigerator. It’s a classic design layout for a reason!

Tobi Fairley Kitchen

  1. Design for Longevity

Trends come and go, but a great classic design will be around forever. Renovating a kitchen is expensive and time consuming – so it isn’t a room design that you can change on a whim. Take time to think about each element of the room and ask yourself if you think you’ll tire of it in a few years.

  1. Invest Wisely

Kitchens can be incredibly expensive depending on the materials and options that you choose. You should use your budget as wisely as possible to get the most for your money. I always advise my clients to invest in appliances first – get the very best you can for the money you have. The appliances are the workhorses of the kitchen, so get the very best quality you can. Thermador has outstanding products that offer innovative ideas at a great price point!

  1. Cabinetry Counts

The second most important thing to invest in would be your cabinetry so it will stand up to the daily wear-and-tear that comes in a kitchen. One trick that I think is key for a functional kitchen is to be sure the cabinets go all the way up to the top of the ceiling. You want to take advantage of every square inch of storage, and having a ledge above your cabinets does nothing for you but gather dust! A great step stool, or library ladder, will help you reach those top shelves.

Tobi Fairley Kitchen

  1. Remember the Details

Too often, those little details can spell big trouble if you don’t consider them at the beginning of the design process. For example, where will you store the garbage cans? Where do you need extra outlets? You should also think about how you use your kitchen and what details would be key for you. You could have a storage drawer for baking essentials, counters near wall ovens for placing hot dishes right out of the oven, or even pull-out baskets for fruits and vegetables. Those details will make all the difference.

  1. What’s Your Style?

I’m not talking about contemporary versus traditional, I am asking about your cooking style. What do you enjoy the most about cooking or creating in your kitchen? If you’re crazy for coffee, then you should consider a fantastic built-in coffee machine like the coffeehouse-style model from Thermador. Do you love cooking a big Sunday breakfast? Then a range with a griddle (like the Pro Grand Steam Range) is the perfect idea for you! Really think about what you love and plan your kitchen around that.

Tobi Fairley Kitchen

  1. Lighting

This is the one thing that people often don’t plan correctly in the beginning, and then have to try to correct later. Lighting is critical to a great functioning kitchen. Remember to think about where you need task lighting, how many overhead lights you want, and where you may also need under-the-counter lights.

  1. Ventilation

Every kitchen needs fantastic ventilation – it isn’t something that you immediately notice in the visual design of a room, but it is essential for the best function of the room. After all, no guest wants to smell that garlic you had for dinner last night, am I right? Thermador offers ventilation options to match virtually any design preference: chimney, wall, down draft and hood inserts. These sophisticated ventilation systems remove smoke, grease, heat and unhealthy airborne contaminants quietly and efficiently.

  1. Keep Counters Clear

Plan for plenty of storage for small appliances so they aren’t cluttering your counters. One of my favorite functional items in a kitchen is a Thermador Built-in MicroDrawer instead of a regular microwave. Rather than taking up valuable counter space, this drawer can be installed below a countertop. It offers a clean sightline and seamless look in the kitchen – and the touch open and close feature eliminates the need for a handle.

Tobi Fairley Kitchen

  1. Don’t Be Boring

Design a kitchen that YOU like – that has colors that make you happy! After all, this is the heart of the home, so it should be a room that is warm and inviting for you and your family!

To see more of my kitchen creations, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or my blog!