5 Steps To Successful Kitchen Cabinet Design for Multifamily Residential Developments

Welcome to Beyond the Blueprint, the official blog of Bristol Design Group!

While much of our work focuses on multifamily residential apartment buildings that are either being built or undergoing a renovation, the material selections we make and design principles we follow are relevant to any cabinetry project – residential or commercial.  So, whether you’re a developer in search of kitchen and bath cabinetry for an entire building or a homeowner looking to update a single room, we hope you find value in the insights from our experienced design team.

In this inaugural post, we are focusing on the basics – specifically, those pertaining to kitchen cabinet design. If you’re looking for ways to maximize usable space while staying within budget, keep these kitchen cabinet design considerations in mind:

  1. Set a realistic project budget: It can be challenging to set a realistic budget for a kitchen design, especially given the prevalence of DIY programs that make projects look cheaper and easier than they really are. So, it’s important to do your research and ensure you’re working with accurate numbers. In multifamily projects, cabinets are often one of the last items to be purchased, frequently at a time when other project costs are running high. Therefore, it’s better to plan on spending a little more than you may actually need for cabinetry. An experienced design team can help pinpoint this number and also offer cost-saving recommendations, such as switching from wood to laminate.
  2. Map it out: Plan out the space and how it will be used. Appliances tend to drive kitchen design, so consider not only their size, but also their placement in relation to each other and fixed elements such as doors and windows. One strategy for mapping the space is to identify “zones” for various activities such as food prep and cleanup, cooking, and food storage. An additional zone to consider, depending on the size of the kitchen, is a desk and technology charging zone. Once these areas have been defined, cabinets that house the “tools” for each one can be selected.

  1. Elevate your cabinet design – literally: Make the most of available wall space – but also keep functionality in mind. Instead of going with the tallest upper cabinets possible, which can leave you with storage that’s too high to be useful, consider increasing the height of the backsplash instead. These extra inches leave more room for countertop appliances and create an open feel for the space.
  1. Mind the gap: Even when a professional design team like ours is involved in a project, the dimensions of cabinets and available space to fill never add up to the same number. This is when it gets fun! We love finding creative, practical solutions to these kinds of challenges. An unutilized corner? Sounds like an ideal space for a lazy susan. A 6-inch gap between cabinets? Consider adding a built-in wine rack or a tall, slender cabinet that can store everything from baking sheets to cleaning supplies. With thoughtful planning, would-be “dead” spaces can easily be transformed into custom cabinet elements that quickly become kitchen must-haves. 

  1. Go deep: Did you know that standard wall cabinets are just 12 inches deep? This means many large plates and serving dishes just won’t fit. The solution: go deep! A cabinet that offers even an extra inch or two in depth will dramatically increase storage options. It’s a strategy that applies to both upper and lower cabinets, with the latter carrying the additional benefit of extra counterspace. Roll-out drawers can be added to facilitate easy access to items in the back.

These are just a few ideas to help guide your kitchen design and cabinet selection. What challenges have you faced when designing a kitchen and how did you resolve it?

Jane Kelly
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