8 Eatery Essentials

Photography by Stacey Brandford

Posted on Sep 9, 2016

Sarah 101 Season 1: Re-Imagined Kitchen

It's no secret that I LOVE spending time in the kitchen! This simple guide outlines some of the key elements I think every kitchen that's both practical and beautiful should have. Happy cooking! - Sarah

Sarah 101 Season 1: Re-Imagined Kitchen

1. Creative Shelving

Layering shelving in front of the window provides great open storage for sculptural, yet useful items while letting the sun shine in. This is a great trick that can be applied to many existing kitchens and it was fabricated using ready-to-go stair treads that cost less than $15 from Lowe’s!

Sarah 101 Season 1: Re-Imagined Kitchen

2. Proper Storage Places

My rule of thumb is, if it’s not used every single day – get it off the counter! That means making sure the plan includes the right number of cabinets in the right size to factor in all the different equipment and foods in an organized and accessible fashion. To keep any area of the house clutter free, you have to commit to daily tidy-up and not let piles accumulate, plus you need to design each room with zones so everything has a distinct and proper place.

Sarah 101 Season 1: Re-Imagined Kitchen

3. Accommodating Cabinetry

I always address kitchen storage on a case-by-case basis. How do you typically use your kitchen? What kinds of cooking happen here? In this case, the island was re-designed to accommodate multiple use. We have seating, storage, trash receptacles and the sink and dishwasher. For upper cabinets, I’m not fussed on always having them go all the way to the top. In an old house I would prefer to leave a shadow line to not accentuate the ceilings, which are likely uneven. When designing a kitchen I always map out exactly what needs to be stored and where it will go to ensure that everything has a place. Otherwise, it’s all sitting on the counter and that’s not the point. Drawers are always more expensive than plain cabinets, but they are also versatile and less likely to become a disorganized mess. Some lower cabinets are needed for storing small appliances. I also like to have as much repetition as possible in terms of cabinet sizes so it’s harmonious and there isn’t a jumble of all different sizes.

Sarah 101 Season 1: Re-Imagined Kitchen

4. Balanced Lighting

Great kitchen lighting plans always factor in varied types in the appropriate areas. In this makeover, task zones are highlighted with recessed ceiling pot lights or pendants. A kitchen without pendant lighting can feel a little institutional, but add in too many and you’ve got a lighting showroom – that’s where recessed lights pick up the slack. It’s important to strike a balance.

Sarah 101 Season 1: Re-Imagined Kitchen

5. Composite Countertops

Quartz composite shares many of the same characteristics as stone. Yet the advantage is that it’s super durable, heat resistant, scratch resistant, doesn’t stain (love that!), doesn’t get etched by acid from lemons/limes/wine etc., and it’s easy to clean, but the most compelling reason to use it is for the subtle neutral tones and colour choices it provides. I do love natural stone, and always will. But all three of my own kitchens have quartz.

Sarah 101 Season 1: Re-Imagined Kitchen

6. Coordinating Backsplash

The backsplash in any kitchen is a great opportunity to make a statement and tie the whole colour scheme together. Here we chose an inexpensive mosaic tile that incorporates glass and stone. Then we added a thin ceramic tile stripe to create a custom effect. The combination of materials is dynamic and the colours used throughout the space are all represented. We were trying to keep an eye on the budget and this was under $15/ft at Lowe’s, plus it’s quick and easy for a tiler to install without a lot of effort and special cuts, so we just added the listello to dress it up.

Sarah 101 Season 1: Re-Imagined Kitchen

7. Reasonable Appliances

Buy the best you can afford. Appliance packages are among the most hard-working and hard-wearing elements in any kitchen. But also be reasonable about what kind of cook you are and how often it will be used. Professional appliances are great for people who put their appliances to the test every day, every meal, but if you don’t really cook, why spend the money for features you’ll never use? It all needs to be cohesive, so if you’re doing a mid-range kitchen reno, that’s probably the best appliance fit too.

Sarah 101 Season 1: Re-Imagined Kitchen

8. Practical Accessories

Display what’s pretty and store the ugly. It’s as simple as that! It’s also a matter of buying better. When I shop for practical items I’m always on the look out for the useful utensil that’s also attractive to the eye. Not all wooden spoons are created equally! Avoid knick knacks and display the items you need most frequently each and every day – coffee mugs, salad bowls, jugs, vases and little bowls get used all the time and it’s great to see them and have them close at hand to grab! Why hide them behind doors if you love the look?