Kitchen Must Haves

After living in 13 different houses during my 17 years of wifeing to a hungry man and three hungry boys, I’ve learned a thing or two about what I need in a kitchen. As small as the kitchen appeared in our new house, I evaluated it before we bought it to make sure it had the potential to accommodate these three things:

before kitchenbelieve it or not, I deemed this little kitchen potential worthy

bay window beforethe best part about our new old kitchen: WINDOWS!

1. Natural Light

If you’ve ever tried to cook breakfast at 10am in a dark kitchen then you know how valuable natural light is.

We’ve had kitchens that had one tiny window and kitchens that have had no windows. We’ve had kitchens that were so dark that they sucked up all the natural light. And sometimes we get lucky and find a kitchen with a bay window. My favorite part of our current kitchen? The windows! Really, there’s not much more to love, but one thing is for sure, I WILL GET SUNLIGHT!

pure style home Pure Style Home

2. A place for people to gather

There’s nothing worse than inviting people over for dinner and then escaping into your one woman cave where no one else can fit to visit while you finish up the cooking alone. Not only do I want to be able to welcome people into my kitchen, I want to make sure they have a place to sit. I don’t feel the need to accommodate a crowd (although I’m a big fan of the kitchen table) but it’s a priority for me to have a few places to sit for guests or my boys or my husband to be close enough to the kitchen where I don’t feel like I’m in solitary confinement. So in our tiny new/old kitchen, that means opening up the walls so the room can breathe and people can connect with each other.

3. Cleared off surfaces

Oh, the glorious luxury of a cleared off counter in the kitchen. I used to keep my counters packed full of tchotchkes, small appliances, mail and that left over doughnut. But no more! There is something about a cleared off kitchen counter that motivates me to cook and clean up after myself, and I need all the help I can get. I cannot wait to have counters in my kitchen–so I can use them, and then clear them off. I believe a cleared off counter is a luxury.


Your turn, what are your kitchen must haves?

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  1. Wow, a chalkboard refrigerator? I love that idea.

  2. I agree with all 3 of those Must Haves. They all make a kitchen a place where it is nice to spend time. Especially, since some of us have to spend lots of time in there. :-)

  3. Will you be using Wilsonart Decorative Edge laminate for the countertops in your new/old kitchen?

  4. Check. Yes, let there be light!

    Check. Yes, no one wants to miss out on the party!

    Check. Yes, let’s stash all that junk and clutter!

  5. For me, I want a deep sink – preferably a single bowl. Once I’ve cooked, I want to toss everything in the sink so I don’t have to see it.

    • I agree! In my old kitchen I had one, massively deep sink. It hid dirty dishes, I washed babies in it. (Not at the same time.) In my new kitchen-which I love overall-there’s a split sink-and it’s not particularly deep. I had checked about having it replaced, but the plumber couldn’t guarantee that the existing granite counter wouldn’t crack as he tried to remove it. I know-first world problems. So I just suck it up. But if I had a kitchen to design-that would be in my top 10 list.

      • ohhh that is good information, I think that’s one of those things you don’t appreciate until you don’t have it anymore!

      • That is big on my list. Right now I have a split stainless steel sink that isn’t deep enough. I want a big deep sink that I can really work in. And goodness, I need a better faucet!

        I agree with your must haves, Nester. I would add sensible storage. I am in my kitchen a lot. We eat three meals a day here (homeschoolers and hubby is home for lunch too) so I have to stock a lot of food and I’m cooking from scratch, so I have good pans and semi-pro small appliances (mixer, food processor, etc.) We have a bunch of cabinets in our kitchen now, but they just don’t function for us. The shelves don’t move, I don’t have enough clearance for my mixer, etc. So I would love a real pantry and cabinets that would work better to store my equipment. I like that cleaned off look and I can’t see how to get it in my current configuration.

  6. yes! natural light is amazing in a kitchen! there is nothing like it!

  7. My absolute must haves are a window over the kitchen sink or view of one (I despise doing dishes while looking at a wall), and a faucet that can be controlled with one hand(no separate hot and cold knobs in my kitchen!).

    • I could not agree more about not having a separate hot and cold knob in the kitchen. As often as you have something in your hand or something icky on one of your hands and need to turn on the water, it really stinks being left with the choice of ice cold water or burning hot water.

  8. My must have would have to be light. I agree. I also love a space that connects with the hub of the home. Seeing into the living room where I can feel a part (or keep an eye on) of what’s happening with my kiddos while I make the grub.

  9. I’m with you on those. I haven’t had nearly as many kitchens as you but the one thing we wanted for our kitchen when we were house shopping was to connect to the livingroom. I love being able to see what the little kids are up to and we do so much in both, I love being able to gather and not feel disconnected from what’s going on. My bonus love in this kitchen is my window with a view. I’m loving it so very much!

    • aww, yes a kitchen that isn’t back away from the rest of the house is such a gift!

      • I like the idea of that, but I worry–is there a problem of kitchen grunge coating your living room furniture and features if they are completely open to one another? I know how I have to wipe down my cabinet doors and anything on display in my kitchen now and I’m not deep frying or anything obviously messy like that. I definitely want a kitchen that feels a part of the rest of the home and has room to gather, but I’m concerned about it being too open. Maybe I need to use my downdraft fan more?

        • When we remodeled out house a few years ago, we knocked down a bunch of walls to open up our cute but postage stamp sized 40s kitchen to the living & dining room. We entertain a lot, as in 20 people frequently, 60 people is common, 100 is not unheard of in our 1900 sf house (the 100+ parties are only indoor/outdoor) and I am so glad to not be stuck in the kitchen half of the time — not alone, but with 6 or 7 people wedged in there with me, trying to visit. Also, a really deep single bowl sink is key, to hide any dishes lurking, since you can see them from the living room. I got a great heavy gauge SS sink from Overstock that didn’t break the bank.

          The trick with smells & grunge is to splurge on a really good vent. None of this microwave/vent combo or sissy downdraft nonsense. I’m talking airplane engine sized. Actually, I exaggerate — they make fairly quiet ones.

          The other thing I will never be without again if I can help it is an insta-hot faucet. We drink lots of hot tea around here, and it would be a huge drag to have to go back to the old kettle days.

          Also, we went with all drawers on the lower cabinets and love them. So much less wasted space, and I’m not climbing in up to my waist to retrieve a pot. Our kitchen aid mixer is in its own cabinet on a little lift-thingy that you can pull out and up when you need to. So, go that off the counter and I don’t have to keep lifting it, either.

  10. I need a kitchen sink close to the water heater so that I never have to wait long for the hot water to arrive. Most houses are set up this way, but if you’ve ever lived in one that wasn’t, it is a small annoyance that jabs you a dozen times per day.

  11. I am so with you on the natural light, I have to have it (everywhere)! No matter how much space a kitchen (or the rest of the house) has, if it doesn’t have enough windows I feel a bit claustrophobic but even if a house is small (like mine is) but full of windows it really feels like there’s room to breath.

  12. To start……I would like that turquoise Kitchen Aide mixer on the counter. That would clear off some counter space for you.

  13. My top 3- Drawers! 6 1/2 drawers feels like heaven since I used to have 2 1/2.
    Lots of light! Both natural and not.
    Softer flooring. We have ceramic now and it seems to make every muscle in my body hurt.

  14. I need a pantry with strong sturdy shelves for all my jars from canning. Also, deep sinks (preferably a two bin sink,) and tons of counter space

  15. Love your list!! When we built our home in 1988 we didn’t have a clue what we were doing so I ended up with a small, closed in kitchen (which looked out onto a screened in porch) with one window and wood cabinets. DARK!! Thank goodness we were able to renovate a few years ago and open one wall to a new family room, open a cut through to the dining room which had a huge bay window and get white cabinets. My days of being stuck in a dark, hot kitchen were over! now it is open to all the action!! :D

  16. I love clear countertops too. It just makes everything feel so much cleaner. Our kitchen is open to the dining room but I hope when we renovate we can open it up to the living room at least partially.

  17. Great list! I love all of these ideas.

  18. My must haves:
    – gas cooktop
    – instant hot water dispenser at the sink. I use it every day!
    I love seeing your house becoming a home :)

    • Oh my gosh, I’ve never had instant hot water but I know if I ever did, I would never be able to go back!

      • If its not too late, take a look at them for your kitchen. They’re about $100 I think and you just need an outlet under the sink for the heating of the 5 gallon reservoir tank under there. I use it all the time, not just for hot drinks like tea, but I fill pots I’m going to set on the stove to boil like for pasta with that water too. It’s 180 degrees or so, so it comes up to the boil way faster than starting from color or even tap hot water. I also use it to fill pans with caked on crud to let them soak. It makes cleanup easier. I’m bit even going to proofread this huge message so apologies for typos and goofs :)

  19. The TRASH must be in a convenient place and be an efficient size. I recently moved, absolutely love my new house, but the only place for my trash can is in an inconvenient cabinet. BTW- if you do a farmhouse sink (which is what I have) they are mounted pretty low. In turn, making the cabinet below the sink way to small for a normal size waste basket. Total bummer:(

    • ohhhh, that’s a great point!

      • Yes -such a good point Brandi! One of my bottom cupboard doors next to the sink (not underneath the sink because like you said, not enough room) is actually not a door (look like a door) but slides all the way out to reveal a trash bin and a recyle bin behind it!!! I LOVE love this feature… I hate visible trash cans too! :-)

  20. New U-shaped kitchen with peninsula is nearly done and my must-haves were: 1) a pantry as my groceries were scattered in various cupboards before; 2) double wall ovens; 3) electric trash cupboard that opens with a push of my knee for hands-free access; and 4) hands-free faucet that goes “on” with a tap of my forearm. All of this wasn’t easy in a kitchen only 11’x11′, but I did it!

  21. Great inspirations …and I completely agree about the windows!! When we custom built our home, the builders said I had enough windows for 2 houses!! LOL. I have 7 windows in mu kitchen + a patio door. And no window treatments …if you don’t need them (I have a big yard with privacy) why hide them?
    Good luck with your kitchen renov!

  22. Deep one bowl sink ( I LOVE it!)
    Faucet that pulls out and can spray for easy cleaning (love that too!)
    Island ( with lots of comfy barstools for sitting )
    Some open shelving on top (recently removed two sections in my kitchen…enjoying it more than I thought…easy to see what you need and fun to decorate without cluttering cabinets. Right now, I have all of my seeded glasses and bowls and white dishes. At Christmas, may bust out my green stuff. :)

    FYI: just painted my cabinets griege…a great alternative to white…extremely happy with the color! ;)

  23. All lots of light, my kitchen’s got that. Mine is a galley style and we think about opening the wall to living and dining …but I would miss my cottage hutch on the other side ,I think too much to remove it. Ok..if you get rid of the wall you loose cabinet space so you need a place to put all that junk where will it go if you want cleared off counters? in the island?

  24. so fantastic ideas in the kitchen decor. Many of us when he wants to do kitchen decor he don’t put in mind these very important ideas and after many years he will know what was the right thing

  25. This is great information! It is really nice to hear about some of the essentials in a kitchen rather than getting caught up in tedious choices that come later on. Very inspiring and helping in regards to when I purchase a home someday!

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