7 kitchen design decisions you'll never regret

The hosts of W Network's "Love it or List It Vancouver" might disagree at times, but when it comes to kitchen design decisions, their advice is on common ground. 

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Pick these kitchen design elements for the long haul
Photography by Janis Nicholay
As the hosts of W Network’s hit series "Love It or List It Vancouver," designer Jillian Harris and real-estate consultant Todd Talbot have been known to disagree. But their advice on how to get the most from your kitchen reno makes perfect sense whether you're putting your house on the market or investing for long-term living.

Make room for an island
Todd Talbot: Nothing beats a nice big island that has a bunch of stools around it. It's a magnet for conversation. Make sure you run gas to the island for a cooktop, so you can socialize with guests while you’re preparing a meal. And don't forget to add power outlets. Personally, I prefer an island to be at the same height as the countertop, because when you bring it up to bar height you lose counter space. One of the first things homebuyers look for is how much counter space a kitchen has.

Jillian Harris: A counter-height island is definitely the best way to go. I love creating a custom island from a vintage piece of furniture, then topping it with a slab of marble or quartz.

Lay hardwood floors
JH: I find the grout in tile floors always stains and catches food, and with laminate you can see a lot of bubbling. You just can't go wrong with a quality hardwood floor.

TT:
I love wood too, but what’s even more important is that you're consistent with your flooring, especially in a small or open-concept space. Running hardwood throughout the entire space opens it up visually and makes it feel much larger.

Install subway tile
JH: I once tried a Carrara marble backsplash, and it stained instantly. Ever since, I've always gone for white subway tiles. It's a classic look that's never going to go out of style, and it won't break the bank.

TT: You're certainly not going to offend anyone by putting in a white backsplash, and subway tile will stand the test of time. In comparison, a vintage tile backsplash is a bad choice from a real-estate perspective because it's just too personal.

Invest in quartz countertops
JH: White countertops make a kitchen feel clean and fresh. You can't always do Carrara marble though. It's soft and can get damaged easily. Instead, I often go with a white quartz surface, such as Caesarstone quartz countertop in Frosty Carrina. It has the natural appeal and veining that marble has, but it's a more durable and eco-friendly material.

TT: A natural stone or quartz product is always a great investment. It's really hard to keep a butcher block or laminate countertop looking new.

Select a pale palette
TT: I tend to lean toward light colours and shades of white, keeping the palette classic and neutral. I know it's cliché, but those pops of colour and touches that add personality to the kitchen should be interchangeable. Potential buyers can look past a lime-green toaster, but they might not be as forgiving about a lime-green backsplash.

JH: I'm also a big fan of white. But if you do want colour, my best advice is to take both the value and the saturation down a few notches. Pick a paint colour that's three shades more muted and two shades lighter than the colour you think you want. Sometimes people are worried that a white or muted colour will be boring, but what's worse is choosing the wrong colour of wood cabinetry. Nothing's more terrible than really orange- or yellow-toned wood cabinets against a contrasting floor colour.

Choose a farmhouse sink
TT: When buyers look at a house, they sometimes forget about practicality and are wooed by something that simply looks cool. Lately, a lot of developers have been putting in those single-bowl industrial sinks that are very sleek but aren't necessarily functional.

JH: Exactly. Those hard industrial edges look good, but stuff gets stuck in the corners, and they never drain properly. I'd much rather have a beautiful double-bowl farmhouse apron sink, paired with brass fixtures. I'm crazy about brass!

Add efficient storage
JH: I have open shelving because I love to collect and display vintage items. It adds personality to the space, but it only works if you're the kind of person who can keep things tidy, and if you have enough closed storage space elsewhere.

TT: With a young family, I don't have time to make sure the glasses are displayed nicely. I prefer roll-out cupboard drawers and pull-out pantries. I wouldn't mind one open shelf to showcase my grandmother's tea sets, but I'd need Jillian to come over and display them for me!

For more ways to create beautiful space in an intelligent way, check out 4 ways to accessorize your pedestal sink. You might also enjoy 8 easy ways to update your kitchen.


This story first appeared as "For Love & Money" in our October 2013 issue.

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