interiors & styling: Tips for Designing a Functional Kitchen (+ A Video Recap)

I shared our finished kitchen on Monday and today I’m back to give you a peek inside our Diamond cabinets and share my tips for designing a functional kitchen. That’s what it’s all about, right? Kitchens are for cooking, gathering, and actually USING the space… in fact, it might be the most used room in a home. I wanted to squeeze the maximum amount of functionality out of our kitchen. Click through to see how I did it- and watch our video recap!  

*This post is sponsored by Lowe’s. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use & enjoy!


First up- the video recap… click play above to watch! If you’re interested in product sources, you can find all of those here.

Before we dive deep into this post, I’m going to share my must-have list below.. luckily, I was able to check every single thing off the list when designing the cabinets!

*Most of these aren’t available on the Lowe’s site, but all can be ordered in store! Just head to the cabinetry department and ask about options. 

I realize that list was a TALL order, but between Samantha (my Lowe’s cabinetry specialist) and I, we were able to find a spot for every. single. thing.

I’m already seeing the benefits and am enjoying my newly organized kitchen with the aforementioned features. With that said, here are my top 5 tips for designing a functional kitchen

  1. Make a wishlist of kitchen organizational tools that would benefit the way your family utilizes the space (and put it in order from most helpful).
  2. Visit a store or display to see how certain features function in person. I decided a lazy susan was NOT the best solution for our kitchen corner cabinets and lifestyle, so I opted for a pull-out instead, after seeing it on display. Lowe’s has a huge assortment of cabinetry features I had no idea even existed! Even if it’s not on display, there are catalogs you can comb through with examples.
  3. Take advantage of a kitchen designer or cabinetry specialist. I used this free service at Lowe’s and Samantha was able to show me options from a giant catalog. Together, we talked through what we could implement, given the amount of space we had to play with. They know the product best and can help assist!
  4. Be realistic with yourself in terms of the square footage you have to work with, as well as the budget. Prioritize which functions or features you’d use most often.
  5. Stretch your budget by purchasing everything from the same store. Buying everything from Lowe’s gave me a designer look at a DIY price point… I was able to bundle certain things and take advantage of cabinetry promotions (20% off my entire order). It would’ve been much more expensive buying each cabinet feature separately or adding it at a later date.

The knife block and utensil organizer, pictured above, is probably the coolest feature! It’s conveniently located to the left of our range for easy access.

I invested in HEAVY nice cookware last year and I wanted a couple big drawers, like our previous kitchen, to store pots & pans.

You’ll also want to consider where the organizational features are located within your kitchen. Creating a smart floor plan and keeping things nearby, where you’ll be using them, is key.

For example, I knew I wanted to keep my coffee and espresso items out and accessible since we use them multiple times each day. Having floating shelves above the espresso maker was an intentional decision… much like placing the utensil holder next to the GE range where we cook, and the GE dishwasher to the right of the Kohler sink for easing loading. Really think of how you use the space.

The tiered flatware divider was something I didn’t know I wanted until seeing it in the store. I assumed I’d use a regular organizer and call it done, but this maximizes our drawer space and gives us double the storage! The top tier is for flatware we use on a regular basis, and the lower tier holds our serving utensils, corkscrew, bottle opener, etc.

Speaking of the corkscrew, I knew I wanted a cabinet for our wine and glassware. The wine rack wasn’t a standard option, but Samantha was able to make it happen for me! We added a custom (blank) section to the lower portion of the cabinet and she ordered extra material for Emmett to build an “X” in the center to hold our wine. Think outside the box and work with your cabinetry specialist to see how you can make readymade items work for your kitchen… even if it’s not a “standard” option! The possibilities are endless if you think of alternative ways to use things.

I previously mentioned skipping the lazy susan in our corner cabinets. Here is the alternative we ended up with! These kidney shaped cabinet pullouts are so much more functional for us. I’m the type of person, if I can’t see something- I forget I have it and never use it. These pull out and allow me to see and access everything stored inside the cabinet. This particular side holds all of my baking items…

We have a LOT of spices. We actually needed two drawers to fit all of them. They’re very organized thanks to the spice rack divider and we can easily see what we have.

I have a post planned to share how I labeled and put away my spices… stay tuned for an easy DIY if you’re into this type of gratifying organizational activity! I’m not going to lie- it was SO fun doing this and left me feeling accomplished. Ha!

The pull out trash and recycling bins are super nice! They are snug and sturdy in the cabinet- and the trash comes with a lid. I love that because it keeps the kitchen smelling nice and the trash smell contained.

Questions about kitchen organization, our renovation, or cabinetry design? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below! For more on the cabinetry design process, check out this post. For more on appliance selection, click here. If you’re wondering how to choose the most functional kitchen sink, that’s in this post. I’m also working on a budget post, so stay tuned for that! Lots more to come.


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