Creating a Kitchen: Top 10 Design Questions


Designing kitchens and selecting the finishes for my clients is one of my favorite tasks as an Interior Designer. From the eat in kitchen to the galley my clients have similar topics that arise and today I am sharing the top 10 questions/answers from the design process.

aakit2 1. What cabinet finish is more popular, painted white or stained wood? 95% of all the kitchens I have designed the past year have been hues of white. It is definitely the trend right now but I suggest going with your vision. If you just love the look of natural wood or the kitchen is going in a more rustic home I would suggest a natural cherry like the island above. Wood finishes are cozy and warm in country settings and sleek and sophisticated when used in modern kitchens. I will admit I have always been a big fan of classic white inset cabinets with traditional subway tiles, there is just something about a white kitchen that I can’t get enough of even after all these years of designing.

2. Should the hood be wood or stainless and what style? My clients do not typically hesitate on the answer to this question, people instinctively like wood or metal hoods. I even have the occasional stone surround in the rustic country kitchen. If the hood is wood the box shape is slightly more popular and in stainless the angled hood is more popular. Additional hood design ideas here.

3. Should I put a second sink in the kitchen on the island? Should I put outlets on my island? If the scale of the kitchen and island are large a second sink can be a nice addition providing an additional place for food prep or rinsing closer to the dishwasher. I put outlets even on the smallest islands, functionally you can’t beat it for mixing, prepping and charging electronics. Think functionality!


4. Do all of the counter tops need to match or can they be different? There are no rules about mixing and matching other then the selections need to complement each other. For example, if I select a spectacular piece of granite for the island then maybe a soap stone or something more simple would be used for the other counter tops to complement the wow factor stone on the island. Wood is also an option but my clients often stress over the maintenance so I typically only use it on just the island. Designer tip; taking care of a wood top on an island is similar to the wear on your kitchen table with the addition of food prep, its doable if that is the look you desire.

5. What type of sinks are people using; farm-sinks, stainless or cast iron? I use farm-sinks in various materials and stainless under-mount sinks the most. First, decide what size works best for your lifestyle, scale is imperative. Then what shape and look works best with the overall design aesthetic you are creating.

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6. When do I select the tile back splash and what is the current trend? I like to have a general idea of what everything will look like when I am designing the master plan for the kitchen. Once the kitchen is installed I bring the samples in the actual space where you can see how factors like natural light and overall design effect the look. I am currently using a lot of mosaics, interesting shapes and classic subway tiles.

7. Do you recommend incorporating some glass cabinets in your design? I just adore using glass cabinets in the kitchen, breaking up the heaviness of a run of solid cabinets but I do understand the need for storage. Let me dispel a myth about glass cabinets; they are functional not just decorative; housing plates, serving pieces and glassware. The next question is clear or decorative glass?  This depends on the look you are creating, I lean toward clear with decorative mullions but I do like frosted in sleek modern kitchens.


8. Should the appliances have panels on them; this typically refers to the refrigerator and dishwasher. This depends on the look you are creating; for a more elegant feel I tend to use panels but even in a cottage setting, covering the refrigerator is a nice look. Some of my clients just love the look of stainless steel and that works as well or a combination of both.

9. Should the island color/finish match the cabinets or be a different color? All of the cabinetry can be the same but I do like the look of a different color or finish on the island, here are some kitchen cupboard and cabinet options. It can be the perfect place to bring in a pop of color or contrast. More interesting island options here.

10. Is wood durable enough to hold up on the kitchen floor? Yes, 98% of all the kitchens I design have wood floors. When finished properly they are extremely durable, allowing one consistent flooring throughout your home which I love. Tiles, slate and even cork are some other popular options.


If you are designing or renovating your kitchen don’t miss my step by step guide to designing your kitchen here. Remember, you can always email me your specific kitchen design questions in Just Ask, happy designing my friends.

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  • Connie

    I linked back to your Kitchen Design 101 and your step by step guide has been a big help in the planning of our new kitchen. Thanks Cathy

    • Cathy Wolfram

      I’m sooo excited that you are following the guide :) so many friends and family requested it when I couldn’t be there to walk them through the process.

  • Elisa Smith

    Fabulous info-some of which I’ve not even given though to, like the hood material. Thanks for sharing!

  • Cathy Wolfram

    My pleasure Elisa, I just loveeee designing kitchens!

  • Christina Roberts Gerhardt

    What color blue/aqua is on the island in picture 5 on this page and the light blue/gray color on cabinets in the first picture? Thanks!