Organization Should Inform Design

This blog post was inspired by a conversation I had with a client a few days ago.  She and her husband have been working on a DIY reno of their house for months and months and months . . . However, they did hire a cabinet company to design and install their kitchen. Good news.

She asked me if we could come and help her with organizing the kitchen.  She said, “I don’t know where to put anything”.  I have to admit I stopped in my tracks and asked her, “Didn’t the kitchen designer decide where things were going to go?”  Apparently not. She asked for a pantry and some drawers and left it at that.

I have seen this so many times with everything from kitchen design to closet design. Cabinets are designed to fit the space, not the stuff.  Big no, no in my books.  I totally get it though. When companies price a kitchen or a closet, they allow for a certain number of hours for the design process which I can only assume is never enough to go into the level of detail that I would get into with a client. I suppose if you want to avoid this situation you would have to tell your builder that you want to pay for extra time on the design to ensure that everything has a place.


The stuff you have, how you use it, where it makes sense to store it, and how easy it is to get out and put away should always be considered whether you are designing and building yourself or hiring someone to do that for you.  The kitchen situation is totally my fault for not explaining to my client how I can help with a project like that or for not teaching her the right questions to ask during the design process.

When I am designing a kitchen with a client it takes anywhere from 20 to 40 hours. I know, that’s a lot. And I like to start several months in advance so there is absolutely no rushing. When you rush, you forget details. Think about how much money you are investing in the one room of your house that you use every single day multiple times.  It can either be a pleasure to work in or a long-term pain in your side.

Take the time to photograph the contents of every drawer and cabinet in your old kitchen.  Count items. Measure large bulky items like your food processor, blender, etc. Do up a rough drawing of the layout for your kitchen and then look at each photo and see where things fit, not just some things, every little thing! Do the same thing when you are designing a closet, a pantry, or a mudroom.

Close your eyes and think about how you will reach things and the traffic flow in the space. Imagine your finished space. Reimagine your space again and again until it’s just right.  Oh, and have fun! If that tedious process doesn’t sound fun, reach out to me and I will help you. I guarantee, that will be fun.

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