The kitchen is not only the heart of every home but the destination of every celebration and everyone's favorite gathering spot. Therefore, style and functionality are of equal importance and go hand in hand while designing your successful kitchen. Functionality is a simple linear process but style and authenticity is where the real magic happens and is key to designing and planning your lifetime home.

It is difficult to know where to begin especially in our over saturated age of design information and opinion. So to simplify the planning process and set you up to succeed as a good steward of your time and resources, start here and follow my proven process to design a successful kitchen where you'll love to celebrate & savor your important relationships.

Step 1: Vision Exploration - Everyone has their own idea of the perfect kitchen. And I don't believe in 'surprises and mind reading' during the design process which is why I recommend that you begin with the end in mind. This starts with researching your preferences early on in the process. To do this, look for inspiration from nature, travel, memories, etc. or browse online to determine which images best represent your personal style and taste. This means research - you'll need to begin a photo gallery or pinterest board of design ideas that can be drawn from to reflect your unique lifestyle and passions (or ask me to help you simplify this leg work using my library of beautifully designed rooms). If you're more old school & hands on, begin a scrapbook or vibe tray full of magazine clippings, finish samples, and inspirational items that are meaningful & beautiful. Don't panic if you are unsure about your design style. Most people are a combination of styles and inspiration and when they can't hone in and figure it out - they stay stuck or cave in to settling for good enough and 'piece-mealing' it or worse yet - settling for what everyone else is doing. I don't want that type of stress and frustration for you and I don't want you to do all that work only to feel something is not quite right when you're finished. One of my specialties is helping others discover and interpret their own unique authenticity, vision & brand of beauty so they can create a home where everyone feels calm, comfortable, connected and cared for. And while many think this step isn't necessary and omit it or replace it with predicable and popular 'style themes' to expedite the process, I enjoy it and it is one of my nerdy super powers. In addition, it is the secret to my many five star reviews. Taking the time to ask the right questions, listening to learn, honing in and interpreting will save you from expensive disappointments at the reveal. So gather anything that catches your eye or you find interesting, inspirational and beautiful. And, don't overthink it. Pin and/or collect images that speak to you personally and embody the space you wish to create.

In addition, now is the time to take 'before' photos and pin them to their own folder to quickly reference with those who will help you. Don't worry about what it looks like now - I can see past it....I mean, I saw past these before rooms without judging the business owner - but, just in case, you might want to cover your eyes first.

ugly room

Step 2: Prioritize Personal Preferences - There are thousands of options available today and Interior Design is not a one size fits all solution. Using your inspirational photos, hone in on your own personal style by dissecting the images and pulling them into a Visual Guide to share with others. This visual guide becomes the “key drivers of your style” and should be considered and referenced consistently throughout the design process while making choices to ensure your design comes out how you envisioned.

Step 3: Create A Budget - Determining how much to invest in your new kitchen is an important decision you will make early in the process. It's important that you determine a realistic beginning budget for your remodeling project and be prepared to openly discuss your budget with me and your contractor who will work hard to meet your needs and expectations. Consider it a working document up until the final contract is signed using an Excel spreadsheet so you can easily tweak numbers to see how small changes in design details (flooring, tile, etc) affect the bottom line. Depending on the specification, marble tile over ceramic might be easily worth it. Not sure how much you should invest in your new kitchen? Don't worry, I have an excel spreadsheet to help you quickly and easily begin a realistic investment figure or beginning budget for your new kitchen.

Step 4: Create the perfect Layout based on Your Lifestyle - The kitchen layout is the shape that is made by the arrangement of the countertop, major appliances and storage areas. A floor plan creates the kitchen's work zone(s) or activity centers, and the path that you make when moving from the refrigerator, to the sink, to the range. When designing your new kitchen and choosing the best solutions for your home, you will want to consider the overall layout of the kitchen before making purchases so you know what size to buy and which layout will best support your lifestyle.

Step 5: Get Organized & Focused - Undertaking a design job, whether its remodeling an existing space, expanding to incorporate more room, or starting from the ground up can feel overwhelming, which can hold us back. You want your new space to function well for your needs, accommodate your lifestyle, and reflect your unique authenticity. But with so many options and opinions available today, how do you make the beautiful space you've been dreaming of become a reality? The creative process can be chaotic without the framework of an experienced interior design professional. As your interior designer, I'm your partner in the process and will help you establish clear boundaries to lay a firm foundation using a proven framework to get you organized, ready to roll & reduce typical DIY design mistakes everyone else is making.

Step 6: Develop Your Best Idea - When a design feels great - people love being there and happy people help others! So designing your new kitchen will take careful thought, planning and attention to detail. Expect to spend anywhere between one to six months during design development because the first idea is generally not the best solution. Making definitive design decisions based on what matters most to you is important so you won't have to settle on what is put in front of you under time constraints & pressure. In addition, with your design plan in hand, you'll be able to receive apple to apple quotes from those you are considering hiring to be on your team.

Design Development & design plans act as your insurance policy to a successful project, demystify the "I'll know it when I see it" approach to design and is where the real design genius happens - the rest can be done by your trusted general contractor.

Step 7 - Implementation - When you are remodeling, you're investing a lot of time, energy and resources into creating a beautiful and functional environment that will shape you and your family - and you want to be a good steward of these resources. But make no mistake about it, remodeling can be very stressful. After all, it's change and you'll be living in a construction zone. I often joke that interior design is like a moving train - you're either on it or getting run over by it. That's why it is important to plan before you plunge. Doing so will help you survive the dust and demolition, have your project will run smoothly and have your project reveal be exactly what you expected. Is that important to you?

The bigger the kitchen remodeling project, the greater the potential for problems, such as lost deliveries, wrong parts, adverse weather and more - so expect the unexpected from things you can't control. But the thing you can control to reduce surprises is to carefully plan your project before you plunge - this ensures that you'll get what you expect. So when the unexpected happens, you'll be able to keep your cool, stay calm and flexible, maintain good trade relationships and be the authority behind your project.

Are you overwhelmed with designing your kitchen? Are you stuck in the weeds and don't know what to do next?

That's why I created this 40 page "Kitchen Designer Visual Tool Kit" as an excellent place to start. Inside this guide, you'll find inspiration photos of kitchens as well as my favorite cabinet colors, wood species, my favorite statement tile, plumbing fixtures, kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, four of my favorite palettes and so much more. I hope it helps you go from overwhelmed to on a roll. And the sooner you can get heading in the right direction, the sooner you'll be waking up each day feeling inspired and living your best life ever!

To receive this free visual kitchen design planning guide to elevate you to the status of 'design hero', request a FREE one hour design meeting with me below (p.s. the best interior design discussion you've (n)ever had) so I can set you up to succeed at planning your lifetime home.

Here's what the client had to say in his 5 star review when we were finished....

Until then,

Hugs and blessings (Numbers 6: 24-26),


p.s. Preliminary pictures are encouraged to add value to our conversation. For non-local clients, technology enables me to consult with you via Zoom.

p.s.s. I work one on one with my clients in Elkhart, Goshen and Middlebury Indiana as well as customized virtual design services for clients across the country, to elevate them to the status of interior design hero by offering flexible, affordable service options by the day, room or hour.

Maybe that's why I'm called a pirate ship among the yachts.