Kitchens are a hub of activity in most homes. Whether you’re preparing a family meal with kids underfoot, hosting a dinner party, or chatting with friends over a lazy Sunday brunch, you want a kitchen design that’s both stylish and functional.

Careful planning is critical when beginning a kitchen renovation. Because this room can serve a number of purposes it’s best to create a plan and be open to revising it if necessary, keeping in mind all the different ways you might want to use the room.

Do you want an eat-in space? Do you want room to socialize? Are you looking for an open floor plan? These are just a few of the considerations that should go into your design. Here are a few more to think about as you plan your perfect kitchen.

Proper Kitchen Design Starts With Your Workflow

The “work triangle” is one of the primary rules in kitchen design. In an ideal layout, your refrigerator, sink, and stove create the points of a triangle, allowing very short walks between each one. These are the critical stops in your workflow, and so you want quick, easy access to all three.

In between, you want to make sure there’s ample counter space. When you pull items out of the fridge, you want nearby countertop available to place them on. When you’re washing and preparing produce at the sink, you don’t want to have to walk a distance to dispose of the trimmings. And of course, when you’re cooking at the stove you want ready access to both the sink and the fridge.

Your workflow can and should be the foundation for your final design. All other considerations can be built around it.

Don’t Skimp On Cabinets

No matter the aesthetic you’re going for, even if it’s minimalist, make certain you include enough cabinet and storage space in your design plans. You don’t want to finish installation only to discover you’re out of space. It’s much harder to add extra storage after the fact.

Remember that you’ll likely have your kitchen for a long time. Consider everything you currently need to store and be certain your design allots space for it all. Then try and plan for your future storage needs as well.

You want a good mix between decorative and functional cabinetry, as well as pantry space. Particularly for smaller kitchens, the only reason not to place cabinetry on an available wall is to allow for a window or other pass through.

Make a Lighting Plan

Kitchens are work areas, so they need ample illumination. If your remodel includes exterior modifications, consider where to place windows to best track the sun as it moves throughout the day.

For evening illumination, your lighting plan should include general ambient lighting as well as task lighting. Recessed floodlights distributed evenly around your kitchen will provide good ambient coverage. For task-specific lighting, consider how you can work undercabinet lighting into your plan.

Directional mini-lighting from pendants and smaller fixtures is also good for highlighting decorative elements. However, try to avoid directional lighting that would shine from behind you, casting shadows on your work areas.

Decide if Your Kitchen Design Dreams Will Fit in Your Current Space

If your vision exceeds your available space, and your budget allows it, you may want to consider an addition when planning your kitchen renovation. Not only does this enlarge your space, but it also allows for a greater range of design options.

If an addition isn’t financially viable but you still need more space, you can consider stealing square footage from existing rooms. By moving or removing walls you can enlarge your kitchen’s footprint. Just be certain that any walls you alter or remove aren’t load-bearing.

Put Functionality Before Aesthetics

Style is important, but it shouldn’t outweigh practicality. Your kitchen is a functional space above all else. Open shelving in lieu of classic cabinetry can make a bold design statement, but is it practical? Are all of your cups, plates, and bowls nice enough to become display items? Farmhouse sinks look great, but they often require substantial modifications to your cabinets and countertops.

It’s always worth considering the practical applications of your design choices before you commit to them. You can revise your plan as many times as you want, but once your installation is complete, you have to live with your decisions.