So you’ve made up your mind: no more waiting, today is the day. It’s time to tackle the kitchen of your dreams and wrestle it into reality. There are a lot of articles out there that will tell you what you “must have” and what you “must avoid” and, while some of these imperatives are useful, most are just a list of materials and paint colors. A strong design firm will help you step back and look at the broader categories you should be thinking within. Here are just a few:

Walls
Wait — didn’t we just say that it’s important to look beyond just materials and paint color? Yes, and that’s why you should think of your walls more in terms of functionality. Remember, a kitchen is one of the most heavily trafficked rooms in your house. Frequent cooking means the walls here will need to stand up to different challenges over time. Make sure to budget for your backsplash, too.

And while paint colors can vary, keep in mind that brightness is a uniquely important characteristic of the best kitchens. You don’t have to paint your kitchen white, but you should consider window and light fixture placement in relation to your kitchen island and where you plan to do most of your food prep!

Flooring
These days, most people swear by hardwood, and there’s nothing wrong with beautiful hardwood floors in your kitchen. And for good reason: hardwood is tough, durable, relatively eco-friendly, and stands up to heavy abuse. It’s simple but beautiful, and can support a variety of designs. But if you don’t choose hardwood, don’t fret — the important thing here is to keep your eye on the above attributes: toughness, durability, sustainability. You want your kitchen floor to stand the test of time without too much hand (and mop) wringing. Remember, too, that hardwood and a few other select floorings are more likely to hold their value over time — ask your kitchen remodel/design team for options that are in the same category.

Ergonomic Design
Yes, this one seems like a no-brainer — who doesn’t want their kitchen to be functional and accessible? — but it’s often overlooked. The kitchen is going to be one of the rooms (if not the room) where you spend most of your time. Future buyers or residents will want to know right away — does this space feel functional? Does the design make sense? Are things easy to reach / find / clean / operate?

A few ways you can think about ergonomic design:

– Leave space. Kitchens attract crowds and trust us, you’ll never regret leaving wide open entrances and spaces to congregate around counters and islands.
– On that note: create countertops with different heights. By varying heights you’ll be sure to make space for chefs of all heights, but also for the various guests who’ll be using your kitchen. And for yourself, too — some tasks work better with a low countertop or a high countertop.

– Add pull-out shelves to base cabinets. This one is connected to our last point, and leads us to the fourth and final category.

Storage
Kitchens need space for stuff! Usually more stuff than you anticipated. If you’re not sure how much space to build for storage, consult your kitchen remodel / design team. They’ll be able to help you create a truly timeless kitchen that will adapt and evolve as your family’s needs change over time.