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Your custom cabinet choices should reflect the personality of your home and fit your personal lifestyle, but whether your tastes are ultra-modern kitchen cabinets or a more timeless traditional look, all kitchens should share a few things in common when it comes to convenience and resale value. Regardless of which path you take in custom cabinetry, here are 15 features every kitchen should have whether you’re reworking your space or planning a complete renovation:

1. An Efficient Floor Plan: It’s great to have a kitchen cabinet for absolutely everything and plan for plenty of structured storage, but avoid adding custom cabinets in areas where you don’t need them if they will ultimately interfere with smooth traffic flow. Mobility is the number one feature you’ll notice, guaranteed, every time you walk into the kitchen. If you’re doing a complete room redo and it helps, walk around preparing a big meal, imagining exactly where you’d like everything to be and how cabinet placement will best suit your needs, before you sit down to sketch your dream kitchen.

2. Accessible and Organized Storage Cabinets – Lots of places and everything in its place! Any professional organizer or Feng Shui guru will tell you that creating and using such storage is important to your personal satisfaction with a room. This is no less true than in the kitchen, where mess while cooking can be a danger to both your sanity and health. Make a list and double check it: what do you have to store, what would you like to have even more room for, and how can you make the most of your space without sacrificing an efficient floor plan?

3. A Pantry: It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional cook or sometimes a family chef, storage is crucial in the kitchen and the pantry is the king of accessible storage. A well-stocked and organized pantry means you’ll always know what you have and can quickly assess what you need. Placing dry goods, extra seasonings, and other staples in the back of a kitchen cabinet doesn’t help with planning a menu or writing a grocery list. If you don’t have a large pantry with shallow shelving and have room for one, consider putting it at the top of your list for organizing kitchen life.

4. Appliance Cabinets for Tidy Countertops: When measuring and planning your custom cabinet project, don’t forget to plan for the things you don’t currently have that you really need. A great example of something you might not have in your kitchen right now are cabinets for appliances like bread makers, juicers, coffee grinders, and other items you enjoy but don’t use on a daily basis. This is especially true of kitchens in older homes that were built when these items weren’t as common and didn’t need their own place. Don’t imitate what you already have, make a plan for what you want!

5. Adequate Countertops: Keeping countertops clutter-free with adequate storage space is key, but be sure to leave enough space for all your chopping, mixing, and frosting needs! You may have all the space in the world in your cabinets, but without the space to perform daily kitchen functions, you’ll find space inefficient for your needs, and you’ll also find yourself avoiding intensive cooking adventures.

6. Windows for View and Daylight – No matter what mood you’re trying to create in your space – Old World, Euro-chic, Modern American, or something else – Windows are crucial to your mood. Natural sunlight creates depth and interest in architectural elements and also does wonders for your emotional health. If you’re considering reselling your home, remember that windows framing exterior features will impress buyers.

7. Good Landing Points: A beautiful kitchen, with custom-built, furniture-quality cabinets, will increase the value of your home in terms of salability and your own personal likeability. But what about life capacity? Good landing spots for purses, briefcases, school bags, keys, cell phones, and other gadgets are a must for today’s families. Reserve some spaces in your kitchen planning to leave grocery bags and other items without taking up your kitchen areas. You’ll thank yourself later!

8. Removable Cutting Boards: Not every kitchen can boast all the bells and whistles, but there’s certainly room for a few modern conveniences in every space. Included among these simple indulgences is the removable cutting board. Especially useful during busy vacations when you may have multiple cooks in the kitchen, don’t forget that you can add items to your kitchen that you may not have had before. Just because you got by without it is not a reason to deny yourself the little luxuries!

9. A Tall Spout Faucet: A low spout faucet is the hallmark of an outdated kitchen and old sink. Invest in a high arc faucet and deep sink that together will accommodate today’s oversized and heavy pots and pans. If it’s within your budget, consider pull-down faucets with water filtration, multiple spout functions, and aerated flow with the versatility to keep up with you.

10. An area to eat or snack: Recent studies on Generation Y show that these new homebuyers will not be looking for their parents’ house. For one thing, formal dining rooms are “out,” to be replaced by more European-style kitchens with breakfast bars and convenient eating areas. Keep this in mind when remodeling your kitchen: Today’s lifestyles are more dynamic than ever. The kitchen can remain beautiful and reflect your personal style while adapting to this growing trend!

11. Durable, Easy-to-Clean Surfaces – This may seem like an obvious “must-have” feature in a kitchen, but don’t underestimate its importance in everyday kitchen use. Durable, long-lasting countertops like granite are attractive, easy to clean, and less likely to capture bacteria than more porous surfaces. Consider other natural sources for your countertops to enhance your custom cabinetry, and remember that while the kitchen is first for functionality and ease of use, there are plenty of modern materials that will meet all your needs, including style.

12. Good Lighting: Buyers may also be interested in skylights, recessed lighting, and other elements in combination with natural sunlight that make the space appear larger and more usable. You’ll appreciate the under cabinet lighting and adjustable lights for viewing your food and assessing its doneness, as well as reading recipes. There’s nothing less appealing than a dark kitchen, so brighten it up and show off those beautiful custom cabinets!

13. Effective Ventilation – Ventilation is important for a number of reasons, the most important of which is safety. You may think that ventilation is necessary just to keep odors out of the kitchen while you cook, but in truth, keeping grease out of the air and from settling on your surfaces is the number one need. Grease on surfaces and grease trapped in filters is a fire hazard, so when planning your kitchen project, don’t forget to factor effective ventilation into your budget.

14. Recycling Bins: As household waste recycling gains popularity among today’s families, so too has the demand for places to sort and store recyclables between collection days. Allowing for plenty of accessible storage and a comfortable floor plan, also set aside space for recycling, at a minimum for plastics and paper items. If you’re a more planet-savvy homeowner, allow yourself a bin or closet to store your cloth shopping bags, too!

15. A Few Important “Extras”: When everything is in place and you’ve addressed all the important things, enhance your custom kitchen cabinets by organizing your space with functional accessories. Kitchen utensils and gadgets, pizza stones, decorative (and useful) trivets, and especially fresh herbs and plants will bring your kitchen to life and accentuate the ambiance you’ve chosen to create.

Whether your kitchen takes you a step back in time with weathered, old-world cabinets or into the future with sleek aluminum or thermoplastic cabinets, remember that today’s busy lifestyles require many of the same features, regardless of style. Focus on our 15 features and you’ll be sure that the space you create is a beautiful and functional kitchen for you and your family!

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