For many, the most exciting room to plan is the kitchen. It’s typically the most expensive room in the house and can be the most challenging to design because it generally is the center of the home’s activity.

Log-home kitchens demand unique attention because of their settings. How much wood do you want in the kitchen? If you want log walls, will you want “D” logs so the cabinets are easier to affix? Do you want hardwood, tile, or laminate flooring? Do you want log rafters, and if so, what type of lighting will the room require? How do you envision the open layout between the kitchen, dining area, and great room? What other log-home amenities, such as a fireplace and overhead loft, would you like to incorporate?

Once you set your budget for the home and figure out the money allocated for the kitchen, the real work can begin on establishing what the size, shape, and look the kitchen will take.

The three basic steps to creating your dream kitchen include: 

1. Determine the size of your kitchen based on need.

“Your kitchen design should be based on your age, the size of your family, physical needs, your height, and the amount of entertaining you do,” explains Scott Rouleau of Estemerwalt Log Homes. “If this is a vacation home, and much of the cooking takes place on the grill, maybe a galley kitchen is all you need. Your budget can be better spent on an elaborate deck or patio.”

“Not everyone is a cooking enthusiast,” adds Brenda Kelley of Kelly Marketing and Design. “Many individuals desire a kitchen that offers modern conveniences, but on a smaller scale. However, the kitchen is still the ‘hub’ of the home and a gathering place for family and guests, so planning on ample seating is a priority.”

Experts agree that before planning can begin, home-owners must examine what type of activities will take place in the house.

“Lifestyle is paramount in kitchen design,” says Barna Log Homes designer Dave Joiner. “A small cozy retreat will have a drastically different kitchen than a full-time home. By definition, your lifestyle will drive the design of the entire house.”

2. Evaluate function and layout.

Once the size of the room is established, placement of the key components can be determined. The stove, refrigerator, sink, and primary work countertop should not be more than a step or two from each other. “The working triangle is still valid, especially in small kitchens,” says Rouleau. “But in a larger space, there can be several configurations. This is where kitchen zones are established.”

A critical note here — long before any thought is given to designing and making cabinetry, the layout of the kitchen needs to be determined based on placement of appliances.

Kitchen zones, Rouleau says, can be broken into several categories:

  • food storage, next to the refrigerator
  • preparation area, near the sink/garbage bin
  • cook area, near the stove/oven
  • and serving area on island or peninsula.

“Equipment and utensils for each zone should be within arm’s reach for an optimum kitchen,” Rouleau says.

3. Personalize.

The final step is personalizing your kitchen with your own style by carefully choosing cabinet doors, countertop materials, faucets, lighting, and flooring.

“The kitchen becomes an outlet for your architectural tastes, whether it be modern, industrial, old-world, active family, or elegant,” says Brenda Kelley. “The kitchen is your personal creation.”

“Simple design, simple lines seems to be a standard in log homes,” says Golden Eagle’s Janet Felton. “Frilly décor can sometimes seem out of place. We encourage the use of different textures in the kitchen such as granite counters and glass or metal lighting fixtures to introduce new elements into the room.”

This story ran longer and with more pictures in the January 2008 issue of Country’s Best Log Homes.