Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

9 tips & inspirations for a clean & functional kitchen

Tracking Pixel As I shared earlier this month... we've been on a bit of a roller coaster ride with selling our house and buying another, and I've put a LOT of thought into homes since this summer! We toured tons of homes and looked at even more online, and I've thought a lot about what's important in a house. There are a lot of factors we have on our list for our next home, whenever we find it, but one thing that's really important and a big selling point is the kitchen.

The lastest in our house-buying saga is, we want to buy a small, "cosmetic fixer" that we can put some work into and increase the value on. We have an offer accepted (by the seller) on a short sale and there's a tiny chance we may go through with it if the bank accepts the offer as well, whenever that is... so sometimes, when my mind wanders, I redecorate that house in my mind.

The kitchen in particular. It's dark, closed off, and outdated. I could do a LOT with some new paint, tile, sink, appliances... I even have a spreadsheet going of all the updates we'd want to do and how much it may cost. I recently got an offer from Sears Home Appliances and Services for this and future sponsored posts about their affordable appliances and great service. (They have competitive pricing, sell great brands, and take care of repair, parts, and warranties. They are actually the leading retailer of home appliances in the US (installing 4.5 million appliances each year) and are #1 in home services, parts, and protection agreements.)

So I've been thinking about new appliances and kitchen updates for our potential new home, and have figured out some tips from our current kitchen and the many we've looked at! Follow along with me on these kitchen design tips with some of my fave inspirations from my dream kitchens pinboard.

9 Tips for a Clean & Functional Kitchen Design

We've learned a lot from living in our new, relatively basic kitchen (we got to pick out the finishes in our townhome). So here are the top 9 things I want to differently on our next home!

1. Minimal elements above the stove. Grease splatter is a major pet peeve of mine. Now, every time I look at a stove in its place in a kitchen, I think about having to wash everything around it. Our microwave and a cabinet are above our stove and it seems like they are never clean (although I clean them!). A smooth backsplash up the wall behind the stove (to the hood) would be pretty and easier to clean!

2. A smooth cooking surface. I know gas is great for cooking, and we chose it for our current kitchen, but again... the grease splatter kills me! I've cooked on smooth glass elements before and they work great and are SO easy to clean up!!

3. A countertop I can see crumbs on. Our granite has so much variation and pattern, it's really hard to see when it's clean and when there's salt or water or whatever on it. I know some people might like this... but I hate not knowing when it's really clean! I'd love a more uniformly colored countertop.

4. Dark grout instead of white? Perfect! Conversely, there are some things you'll just never be able to keep perfectly clean. The white grout we have on our subway tile backsplash looks nice, but some areas (near the sink, near the blender where we blend coffee...) are no longer pure white despite cleaning. But dark grout is a beautiful option, too! I'm seriously considering white tile with dark grey grout in our next place!

5. French door refrigerator. I imagine there are as many fridge preferences as there are styles, but we've lived in places with all different kinds and I really love the French door, freezer-on-the-bottom, no ice maker model we have now. It's so nice to have the full width of the fridge (unlike in a side-by-side model) but small, easy to open doors that let out less cold air than a big hinged one. One change I might make next time we buy a fridge... I might spring for the water filer/ice maker inside the fridge door! (Like this one.) I don't love the ones on the outsides since they're hard to clean.

6. Splurging on the dishwasher might be worth it. We do rinse our dishes!, but even on the heavy setting things sometimes come out less than spotless. If we buy a new one for the new place, I definitely won't buy the cheapest option!

7. One wide sink would be much easier to keep clean than a split one. The two sides are so small, I have to tip things in weird angles and sometimes splash water outside it. Also, I chose not to do an undermount sink when we got this kitchen because you can't replace it if you need to when it's trapped under the countertop, but... the odds of that are slim so I might choose an undermount next time--so much easier to wipe messes into the sink without the lip and edges!

8. Small compost bin. We once bought a special compost container, taller, matching lid... but it was so big that by the time it got full, it smelled awful. A small, open bowl that you take out to the compost pile or can every day (Portland has curbside composting now for residential customers) prevents smells!

9. Lighting is SO important. One overhead light just doesn't cut it for most kitchens. I'd love to replace a fluorescent or boob light with DIY recessed can lights (we watched a YouTube video on it so now we're experts, right?) but under-cabinet lighting is also so helpful. My parents have a strip light under a food prep counter in a darker side of their kitchen and it makes all the difference. It's not that expensive to add to an existing kitchen but will make a big difference.

Please click over to Sears Home Appliances and Services to check out their great prices and styles!

Thanks to Sears Home Appliances and Services for sponsoring this post!

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