They say the kitchen is the heart of the home and I could not agree more. It is the hub of our home and everyone I know. A well functioning kitchen can make entertaining and every day life easier and more enjoyable. After having renovated 11 homes (which always included gutting the kitchen) and then two spec builds, I was thrilled to finally design our own home from top to bottom including my dream kitchen. I spent the most time designing our new kitchen and I got extremely picky with the design. That was three years ago and I am happy to report that we are very happy with the choices we made. Even with all my previous experience, there were a few issues. Today I am going to share my best kitchen design ideas with you as well as the problems.

Best Kitchen Ideas for a functional kitchen showing a white kitchen with large island and 4 chairs

Good food and a warm kitchen is what makes a house a home.

Rachel Ray

To make it even better, I am joined by three interior designers in the second edition of “The Designing Women Tell All” and we will be sharing all our tips, expertise and experience designing kitchens!

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Disclaimer: In this post I will be sharing affiliate links to products. If you wish to view them, just click on the bolded text. If you then decide to purchase something, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

So let’s dive in as I share our successes and the problems we faced designing our present kitchen!

Plan for functionality

This is so important. When you have a good kitchen design that provides good flow and the proper cabinets to ensure sufficient storage with easy access, it will be a delight to work in. Here are my suggestions to create a great design with the focus on easy access and functionality:

1. Roughly sketch out the floor plan that you are working with and design a flow that will work for you. Think about your day and the tasks you will need to carry out and create a work flow of those tasks. Insert the major appliances and small appliances along with your kitchen sink into your floor plan. For placement of your appliances, please refer to this article on the “kitchen work triangle” by clicking this link.

2. Take an inventory of everything in your existing kitchen and start assigning those items to particular cabinets. This will help you determine the best type of kitchen cabinets (drawers, shelf, etc.) & the size you will need.

3. When figuring out the types of cabinets head to a cabinet company & see ALL the options.

4. For our family the keys factors to make our kitchen function well were:

  • extra width between cabinets and around the island to accommodate everyone to pass freely. We have 4 foot walkways;
  • replacing lower cabinets with all drawers and pullouts instead of shelves so nothing gets lost in the back. This may seem like overkill in the “drawer” department, but I cannot stress enough how easy it is to access absolutely ;
White kitchen with all drawers in the lower cabinets
  • including speciality cabinets such as pullout utensil centers & recycling centers;
Kitchen recycling center
Kitchen small utensil organizer
  • open shelving for extra dishes for easy reach or for displaying seasonal decor;
Kitchen open shelving with a sign saying welcome to our nest, round mirror, soft green birds, white pots with roses
  • extra long lengths of counter space for food prep;
  • a large kitchen island that provides extra work space and a seating area; and
Large kitchen island with sliding doors and view of lake
  • full extension drawers for easy access to the back of the drawer.

Once the design of your very functional kitchen is complete and you are living in your home, you will be happy you dedicated time to designing it properly. But the design of the kitchen isn’t the only thing that can make life easier. I just read this post with all these fridge organization ideas by Emily of Small Stuff Counts. It was so informative. Click here for a link to the post.


Lighting is one of the most important things when it comes to good interior design but it is often one we don’t think of until the end. In the kitchen, in particular it is essential to have excellent task lighting but also important to have lighting which is beautiful and in keeping with the style of your home. If you read my post “2023 Trends Home Decor and More” you would have learned that a new trend is statement lighting. If you didn’t read it but are interested, click this link for the post.

Here are my tips to achieve a bright and airy kitchen yet one that can also be soft and romantic:

1. Once you have your kitchen cabinetry layout, think about what you will be doing in each area and what kind of lighting would be best. Example: in an area where you will reading recipes make sure you have brighter lights. Also I highly suggest under cabinet lighting as it lights up those areas that can be shadowed.

2. Will you be having any display cabinets? If so, get your electrician to pre-wire for in-cabinet lighting.

3. Where are you going to place your statement light? Most often this type of lighting is over the island or table. Make sure it is centered and spaced out equally.

4. Schedule a meeting with your electrician and let him/her know of all your requirements so they can ensure they have the wiring in place.

5. Visit multiple lighting shops and spend some time. They have a limited selection out on display but so many books of thousands of options. Also look online but make sure to pay attention to dimensions. Something that looks big could arrive and be very small.

6. Keep in mind, the lighting stores will give you discounts if you buy all the lighting for your home with them. I split up our lighting over three different stores and still got great discounts.

Three water glass pendants over an island in a white kitchen

Pass through window

We live in an area where we have gorgeous summers and due to our sometimes long winters, we take every chance we can to eat outside. That is why we made sure there was a pass thru window in our design. This window is quite large so it was custom made and needed special hydraulic lifts to open it.

Kitchen pass through window in the evening with candles and wine glasses

It is so handy because guests can pull up a seat at the bar and stay engaged with what is going on inside and outside. For the cook it is perfect to pass dishes thru and receive dirty dishes back in as it is adjacent to the sink.

Besides being perfect for entertaining, it also allows so much natural light into our kitchen which I think is very important.

If you can’t do a pass thru window, please try to make some spot for meals outside. It makes food taste better and people linger longer.

Designing with attention to the outdoors and the view

As I said earlier, the kitchen is the heart of the home for us & we spend a lot of time as a family here. I am not a great cook but we are a close family & we often linger over meals to catch up with one another. I like bright places so I made sure that there were enough windows to enjoy the view and let the sunshine in. Retractable doors would have been ideal but not on our budget.

While we have a fabulous view now that was not always the case at our other homes. Even when we have not had a lake view to gaze upon, I always made the area outside of our kitchen or dining room windows pleasing to look at. I achieved this through landscaping, water features, privacy fencing with artwork, etc. It is the attention to details like this that can make a meal more enjoyable and somewhere to relax for longer periods of time.

White kitchen with large windows and a lake view

I hope no matter where you are that you always have something lovely to gaze upon!


Believe it or not, this is the very first home in which we have had a dedicated pantry and I will never, ever go without a pantry in the future. Our pantry features lower cabinets, a large l-shaped layout of the counter, open upper shelving. It provides so much extra storage and it is where we keep all of our smaller kitchen appliances. While our pantry is not large, we made the best out of the available space. It isn’t quite finished so unfortunately I don’t have a photo that I can share. But I do have permission to share a photo my friend Wendy’s (WM Design House) butler’s pantry. Isn’t this amazing? If you would like to read all about Wendy’s pantry, just click this link.

Blue cabinetry with white countertops - butler's pantry

As an avid home decorator, I store all of my extra decor (vases, dishes, charger plates, linens, napkins, candleholders, etc) in the pantry and I have found it to be a great way of not forgetting about pieces. All of my decor is on open shelving so I have easy access to the pieces and I keep them all organized according to the type of pieces that they are so it is a very functional space and the best way to have extra storage space.

Our budget didn’t allow for it but my wish list for my next pantry would be a prep sink and an extra fridge/freezer.

Two of my friends have written posts about organizing your pantry. Susan of Hen & Horse Design shared how she organized and made her pantry look so pretty. Missy of Sonata Home Design shared how she used pullout shelving as a pantry and how she organized it. Both are so worth reading!

Touch Faucet

Have you ever thought that a speciality faucet could make your life easier? This faucet not only looks great, it performs perfectly. With just a tiny tap on or off, it responds and you do not have to pull a lever. As well, it’s sleek design is easy to clean and looks fabulous. The pull-out feature extends nicely to clean every section of our large sink. If you would like more details, just click this bolded link to the Delta Touch20 pull-out faucet.

Touch faucet with insinkerator beside it and a large rectangle sink in a white countertop

Induction Cooktop

I used to be a gas cooktop kind of girl, but after years of having them and trying to keep them clean, I started to get annoyed with them. Here is my secret – I get distracted easily when cooking and often things boil over and spill everywhere. Now you know why I got tired of cleaning all the time. Even if things didn’t boil over, there was grease splatter and drips here and there so they always looked messy.

When I saw induction cooktops, the first thing I thought was “that must be easy to clean”. Then I learned about induction cooking and all the positive aspects and I was sold.

We included an induction cooktop in our new home and I have never regretted it. In fact, I would never go back to gas. Obviously, my favorite thing about it is that it is so easy to clean and still looks like it is brand new. Induction is extremely efficient with 80 to 90% of its energy transferring to the food while only 70% for electric and 38% for gas!!! Plus it is fast. It takes just over 3 min to bring 6 cups of water to a boil, while radiant electric took almost 6 min and gas took 8.5 min!

There are so many reasons to love induction. If the politicians have their way, even if you love gas cooktops, they may actually be outlawed. I don’t understand any of this, but I have heard it in the news. If that comes to pass, fear not – induction is wonderful!

Bosch induction cooktop with cutting boards, cookbook and utensils

Insinkerator Hot Water Dispenser

Our Insinkerator hot and cold water dispenser is our number one favorite feature of our kitchen because we enjoy tea and hot chocolate so much. No more kettle or heating it in the microwave as the hot water comes out at 200° F! Presto! The tank under the counter holds 60 cups of water so we never run out. We also use it for soups and even cleaning off hard to remove items off of dishes. If you are interested in an Insinkerator, Hot Water Dispenser System, just click here.

Insinkerator - a small faucet with hot water on demand

So what were the problems?

We had three problems with this kitchen. I don’t believe any had to do with the design but they are worth mentioning.

Cabinet Installation

Even though we went with an excellent cabinetry company and the cabinets were built, unfortunately the installers were not very careful. The head installer did not keep a good eye on his assistants and that is where things went wrong. The major problem was that the assistant used a black marker to make markings on our smooth ceilings where he felt the cabinets were going to come to. Unfortunately he was off by a few inches. We had paid extra for the smooth ceilings and a black sharpie does not cover up well with paint. We actually had to have the ceilings repainted. The cabinet company would only cover the cost of the paint so that was even more annoying. As well the installers were very messy with their finishing and scuffed areas of wood up, their caulking was done poorly and so on.

Whirlpool Double Oven

While I love having double ovens, this particular brand is not very good quality. It is a Whirlpool double oven. There is a plastic cover that covers the controls and it is warped. When using the lower oven, the heat transfers to the drawer below it and it gets very hot. Both ovens are slow to heat up and the self cleaning cleans a bit but not thoroughly.

Quartz Countertops

If you can believe it, we had to have the countertops replaced three times!!! The first time flecks of metal were all through them. The second time they were dimpled and pitted. Third time was a charm but the seaming is very noticeable. As well, I find them hard to clean and they stain easily. I followed the instructions given by the quartz company for cleaning but that wouldn’t take out stains. A friend told me to us a Mr. Eraser and that does the trick.

Remember to pin it for later!

White kitchen with a large island with four chairs

It is time to check out the rest of the Designing Women!

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Lynn from Living Large in a Small House lives in north central US. Lynn has a BA Interior Design and was the owner of a full-service interior design studio for over 10 years. Specializing in high-end residential new build and renovation interior design, working as a team member with architects and contractors. Since 2000 she has consulted exclusively for friends and family. This month Lynn is sharing with us all her budget friendly tips for designing a beautiful kitchen!

Gas stove in a white kitchen with copper pots hanging on backsplash

Kristy from At Home with Kristy is from Texas is a homebody at heart and very passionate about creating a warm & welcoming home environment for family and friends. Kristy has a BS Interior Design and has worked as an Interior Designer for 35 years specializing in Residential Interior Design. She is a planner, perfectionist, & big picture thinker, but also loves getting lost in the weeds perfecting every detail. Kristy loves sharing her knowledge and expertise to inspire, encourage and empower others. This month Kristy is sharing how to design a functional kitchen.

Gas range in white kitchen

Sheri from Savvy in the Suburbs is also from Texas owned and operated a successful interior design business for most of her adult life. Now she is enjoying fluffing her own nest, spending time with her family – three married children and five grandchildren, and growing in her relationship with the Lord. As she joyfully enters the last season of her life, she relishs family time and believes in the old adage: God first, family second, all else third. She is enjoying the opportunity to share this truth as well as her years of design expertise and love of all things home. This month Sheri is sharing how she remodelled her kitchen and providing all her tips on how to keep it fun and easy!

White kitchen with grey granite counters decorated in French country style

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoying taking our full home tour by clicking this link.

All white kitchen with large island and stainless steel appliances

Or perhaps you would like to learn about the property we have built on? Click this link for “The Birth of Sweet Valley Acres”.

Dog looking out over lake
The stunning view from Sweet Valley Acres

Shop the Post

If you are interested in learning more or possibly purchasing any of the items we have in our kitchen, I have included links below. Just click on the bolded word and you will be redirected.

Island chairs (similar to)

Cabinet Recycling Center Pull Out

Cabinet Utensil Organizer Pull Out

Water Glass Pendant Light

Delta Touch 20 Pull Out Faucet

Insinkerator Hot Water Dispenser System

Induction Cooktop

Beautiful white induction pot set with wood handles

White induction pan and pot set

Induction griddle

What do you think?

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  • Lynn
    April 11, 2023

    Great post! I heard just this past weekend the same thing about gas ovens potentially no longer being made. I would be very sad about that. I have only cooked on gas and I can’t imagine!

    • Crystal
      April 11, 2023

      Thanks Lynn. If it does come to pass, I think you should try induction. I think you will really like it. It is a lot like gas.

  • Susan
    April 11, 2023

    I loved seeing more of your beautiful home Crystal. The design ideas are all so good. Thank you for mentioning me in your pantry idea section. 🙂

    • Crystal
      April 11, 2023

      Thanks so much Susan and anytime!!! Your pantry looks so well organized and pretty!

  • Kristy Mastrandonas
    April 11, 2023

    Great post, Crystal! I love all of the ideas and tips you shared on designing a functional kitchen! And I love, love, love how you incorporated your beautiful lake view! I have a pool view, but it’s just not the same, lol! As always, it’s such a pleasure being part of Designing Women Tell All with you, Lynn, and Sheri!

    • Crystal
      April 11, 2023

      Thank you so very much Kristy! I have seen your pool it is fabulous!!! I would love to gaze on it and your yard any day! So happy that you enjoying the Designing Women group – we sure love having you!

  • Sheri
    April 11, 2023

    Fabulous blog Crystal! Great pointers and tips. Your kitchen is amazing!

    • Crystal
      April 11, 2023

      Thanks so very much Sheri!!! Your kitchen is gorgeous too!

  • Leslie Watkins
    April 11, 2023

    Such a beautiful kitchen with so much to love! I’m a newbie to gas and think I’ll never go back. Haven’t tried my hand at induction…you go, girl! I’m sad to hear of your cabinet installation and quartz issues. We had issues with our repair after the fire. Your kitchen is stunning and your information soooo good! Thanks for your inspiration.

    • Crystal
      April 11, 2023

      Thank you so very much Leslie! Sorry to hear you had issues too! It is so frustrating. Honestly induction is so similar to gas with regard to responsiveness and speed to heat up!

  • Wendy McMonigle
    April 15, 2023

    Your kitchen is simply stunning Crystal. It is full of so many great ideas. I love the pull-out kitchen utensil cabinet, that is genius. I also adore that pass-through window, it is not only beautiful but so functional as well. I am really thinking about putting one of those touch faucets in my kitchen, my son has one as well and just loves it. Thank you for sharing my butler’s pantry, so sweet of you.

  • Kim | Shiplap and Shells
    April 15, 2023

    Your kitchen is absolutely amazing Crystal. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Crystal
      April 16, 2023

      Thanks so much Kim! Wow I saw the photo that Wendy shared of your garden – absolutely amazing! I need to up my flower game for sure!

  • Bentley
    May 6, 2023

    Very informative, lots of good advice and well written. Bravo 👏 great pictures too.

    • Crystal
      May 9, 2023

      Thank you very much for building me such a beautiful living room that I can show off!