Having a custom-built kitchen is beautiful, and money well-spent... But for most of us, financially, it feels unattainable. There are so many inexpensive ways of customising your kitchen to suit your needs, but before going crazy in IKEA and cluttering up your work space with things you don't need, you first need to decide what it is you do need. Making a list of what, and why you need, additional storage devices, thinking of how you currently use your kitchen space and drawing up a quick plan are really worthwhile exercises.
What's most important to remember when personalising a kitchen is that everything you see in a catalogue might not suit your kitchen physically, but more important, might not suit the way in which you use your kitchen either.
1) How do you use your counter space? For example, are you a keen baker? If so, then placing a slab of marble is an relatively inexpensive way of creating a pastry station. A wire rack or steel counter top is a great surface protector if you're used to messing around with heavy saucepans. And a large chopping board denotes a work area and means there will always be an assigned clutter-free work zone (Large chopping boards can be difficult to clean thoroughly so use a separate, smaller plastic board for meat and poultry.).
2) Is your kitchen the new living room? Some cooks like their own space, others welcome a "more the merrier" approach. Really think about where in the home your family gravitate towards? For some, a sofa area is needed. Some may not even require a dinner table if they have a breakfast bar or separate dining room. I've even seen homes with just enough space for one diner, if the family's schedule don't coincide to allow for a shared meal. (Note; call me old-fashioned, but I believe the family who eats together stays together.)
3) What kind of stuff do you have? Food/ dinnerware/ appliances/ take-out menus?! In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes people make when designing is whacking in some storage "solution"and hoping for the best. This applies to closet space in as well. Always take note of what you have, how much you have, what size it is and where best to store it and let form follow function. Also consider what you can get rid of or what you hope to acquire.
4) Is your kitchen used for anything else? A lot of people use their dinner table as a desk, but having to move and re-move your paperwork three times a day for fear of spilling your dinner on your important documents can be annoying. If you're serious about working from your kitchen, find space to set up a small office space. Make use of surrounding wall space for shelving, pin boards and cubbies. And remember, the more you use a room the more you need to keep it organised, comfortable and fresh.
5)What will help the kitchen flow better? There is nothing to say you can't incorporate a living or office space into a kitchen while maintaining a flow and making it aesthetically pleasing. Any additional furniture can be mismatched, but it must also be well matched. Keeping furniture in the same colour family or style is a handy rule of thumb. And remember that the more you bring in, the more you must bring out; swap things around and replace- don't just add. Otherwise the beloved heart of the home will look more like a jumble sale... and not in a good way.