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Designing a custom kitchen

When designing a custom home, one of the primary features we focus on is the kitchen. In the past, a kitchen’s sole purpose was for making meals. Today, on top of being one of the main entertainment hubs, it’s a statement space with features that reflect you. From farmhouse to minimal, light and airy to dark and moody, a kitchen incorporates elements with plenty of finishes to choose from. Below are a few of the main features that will make a bold statement in your custom kitchen.

Designing your kitchen layout

Before diving into finishes, the most important, and sometimes overlooked, aspect of a custom kitchen is the layout. To be functional, kitchens need to follow the basic working triangle which includes the three key workstations: the fridge, sink and range. Each needs to be close enough for efficient meal preparation and balanced with enough space for room to work. Most custom home builders will naturally incorporate this rule when working with you to design your kitchen. Another aspect of determining your kitchen layout is how you use the space. A kitchen should be designed to fit your lifestyle. Some considerations include how often you use your kitchen to cook, if you host large dinner parties, if your home has an open-plan space or if you’d prefer your kitchen to be tucked away. There are a variety of kitchen shapes to choose from as well. Galley kitchens, U-shaped kitchens and L-shaped kitchens are just a few. If you’re building a custom home you will have more options to choose from. If you’re renovating your existing kitchen, you may have to choose the shape that will fit best.

Kitchen cabinets

Once you have your custom kitchen layout determined, you can start focusing on the finer details. Custom cabinetry and hardware make a big visual impact. Beyond the hardware (if using) and colour of your millwork (see this post on the benefits of custom millwork), the style of your custom cabinet design plays an important role in the overall look of your space. Our clients often select shaker style cabinets and slab cabinet doors for their simplicity and clean lines. Other styles include glass front, beadboard, raised-panel cabinets and open shelving.

Shaker style cabinets

Modern kitchen with white floor to ceiling cabinets, contemporary black hardware and white quartz island
Custom kitchen with shaker style cabinets

Shaker style cabinets are one of the most popular cabinet styles and one you may be most familiar with. Their simple design of a framed flat panel lends itself to a variety of design aesthetics and complements kitchen storage solutions including open shelves and hutches. This design of cabinet works with a modern, transitional or traditional style and can be customized with a variety of paint colours, wood finishes and hardware.

Slab cabinet doors

Mid-century modern u-shaped kitchen with polished concrete countertops and matching light grey cabinets
Midcentury modern home with slab style cabinets

Slab cabinet doors are our go-to for clients looking for an ultra-sleek and modern or Scandinavian aesthetic. This style is also known as flat panel cabinets as they are made of a single, smooth piece of wood. Slab cabinet doors are able to complement a variety of designs based on the variety of finishes available. From light, natural oak or warm walnut to coloured lacquer or glossy white, they can dramatically change the look of your custom kitchen. A flat slab provides a backdrop for statement hardware or if you’re drawn to a truly minimal aesthetic, no visible hardware at all. Functionally, this unadorned style is easy to clean as it doesn’t have any crevices or ledges to attract dust.

Kitchen countertops

Another design choice to display your style is your countertop. Nowadays, there are many different materials to choose from including natural and engineered stone, concrete and stainless steel. Stone slabs offer a timeless look, are elegant and luxurious, and work with any kind of design aesthetic. Concrete and stainless steel counters offer a more industrial feel. When selecting your custom kitchen counter, in addition to the overall look of the space, it’s important to consider how busy your kitchen is. Do you have a large family and cook often? Are you an avid baker? Are you looking for a low-maintenance option? All these factors should be taken into consideration when selecting your countertop. Here are a few of the most common stone slabs we work with.

Granite countertops

Custom kitchen renovation with leathered granite countertops

This natural stone slab is often a top choice for its versatility, durability and elegance. It is heat resistant and tough making it a solid cooking companion. Some types of granite are more porous than others and may need periodic sealing to prevent stains. Granite also comes in a variety of light and dark colours with unique flecks and patterns giving you more opportunities to show off your individual style. When selecting a custom granite countertop, you will have the choice to select a polished or leathered finish to compliment the slab’s natural features.

Marble countertops

Luxury Custom Home in Elboya by Calgary Custom Home Builder Saville Homes
Modern farmhouse custom home with marble countertops

Marble is another popular natural stone countertop for its clean simplicity and beautifully veined patterns. It comes in a range of colours and the elegance of the material offers a contemporary finish to any custom kitchen. If you bake often, marble is a great choice as it naturally maintains a cooler temperature. Marble is one of the softer stone countertop options out there and is more porous making it more susceptible to staining. It will require quick clean ups and frequent re-sealing to maintain its natural beauty for the duration of its lifetime in your custom home.

Quartz countertops

Open and bright modern farmhouse kitchen with full-height white cabinets and counters, hardwood flooring and state-of-the-art built-in appliances.

Quartz countertops are an engineered stone that are becoming increasingly popular for its clean look and durability. These countertops maintain a polished look over a long period of time with heavy use. They are also one of the easiest stone slabs to maintain as they are non-porous and don’t need to be resealed once they’re installed making them a practical choice for families or a messy chef. Since quartz countertops are engineered, they feature consistent minimal patterns.

Kitchen island

A kitchen island can play multiple roles in your kitchen. If you like to entertain and prepare meals, an island is a must. It creates additional workspace and storage, and gives your guests or family a spot to post up and visit. And if you’re into hosting really large parties, you may want to consider an additional island to maximize cooking and entertaining space like we did for one of our clients. To be functional, you’ll want your island to be at least two feet by four feet and take up at most 10 per cent of the kitchen area. When it comes to selecting finishes, there’s room for creativity if you want to go bold with a visual centerpiece. Kitchen islands can blend in with the rest of the space, or stand out with contrasting coloured cabinets like we did in this modern farmhouse custom home build

These are a few of the main considerations when designing your custom kitchen. Other features that influence the aesthetic and function of your home include a kitchen hood, sink and pantry. Each design style has unique options to elevate the cohesion throughout your custom home and enhance its function.