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, homeowners 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 &mdash 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.
"Appliances are as much a part of laying out a kitchen as the actual shape of the room," says Mark Wirta, designer/salesman for Crown Point Cabinetry in Claremont, New Hampshire. "From my perspective, when I’m designing cabinetry, what the homeowners choose for appliances makes all the difference. Are they going to put in an eight-burner range or a six-burner cooktop? Do they want double ovens? What size refrigerator do they want? Is there an undercounter icemaker in addition to the refrigerator? Two dishwashers instead of one? Decisions like those need to be addressed before laying out the kitchen."
Once the appliances are agreed upon, they should be measured and a rough placement idea sketched out. This will give you a working model for the space you’ll have to work with, and will help determine the kitchen zone options.
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.
However, don’t be constrained by convention. "Many of the old design rules are out the window these days," says Mathew Sterchi, VP of sales and marketing for StoneMill Log Homes. "If the space is functional and beautiful, then it will innately work.
"The trend I see in today’s home design is one with less emphasis on a formal dining room and a strong focus on the multi-functional kitchen," he says. "The island counter has become the connecting point between the working kitchen and the public dining area. It can take on a variety of functions, including a prep area, a cooktop, or more often, a table for quick meals. No need to take your plate to the dining room table anymore."
The island has become a key component of the kitchen, agrees Janet Felton, final selections advior for Golden Eagle Log Homes. "Nearly 75% of our homes have a separate island," she says. "This offers tons of workspace and various storage options below, including rollout shelves, pull-out waste bins and deep drawers for pots and pans."
Your final layout can be resolved by either the log home manufacturer’s in-design team, an independent kitchen specialist, or from a trained cabinet supplier. Your log home producer should be willing to work up with specialists who will assist you through the detailed process of kitchen layout. This layout will then be incorporated into the final blueprint for all electrical, plumbing and window assignments.
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."
"Simply design, simple lines seems to be a standard in log homes," says Golden Eagle’s 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."
"The variety of wood, color and shape can give everyone a custom kitchen that fits their lifestyle and budget," adds Barna’s Joiner. "We see many clients gravitating toward the darker-stained or even black cupboards. This makes them jump out when placed against the lighter log walls."
Keeping it light can also be accomplished by using a lighter, brighter stain in the kitchen, suggests Joiner. "It can be either lighter, grayer or even whitewashed to give this space a separate look. Depending on the wood you choose for your cabinets, you can decide on what color direction to take with the kitchen’s stain."