Makeover or changeover the first thing to do is decide if you have the time or the finances for a complete redesign of the Kitchen or if a makeover with cosmetic changes are best for you. The most cost effective change you can make to any kitchen is the bench top. It is the largest single surface you look at other than the cabinetry and is the easiest to replace. I would suggest you consider materials as your friend and consider Stone, Concrete or something warmer such as Timber or Bamboo, even todays laminates are something worth while. The 70's have gone baby !
Lights, ready, action To many people and builders are guilty too, of not correctly placing lights where you need them or they use overhead lights as the only source of lighting.
Make the most of natural light as a source certainly and enhance that by placing pendants and down-lights to add extra lighting to the workspace. Think working with sharp knives, and at the sink and bench top, cook top and pantry areas. All the spaces you need good illumination. Never skimp on different types of lighting in the kitchen. Add a dimmer to create a mood when needed. There is nothing worse than having guests over for dinner and you no longer need that harsh work light and you can only have It on or off. Creating a mood is essential and dimmers will be your best friend here.
Lost in Space If you have a large space you should consider the best layout for you and I would suggest you look at a U or L shaped Kitchen and always have an island or 2 if you have the room. A double island can be spectacular visually and has amazing work and storage capability. If you are stuck for space you would generally think of a 1 wall or straight kitchen or galley style, these are the cost saving styles to use as well in a small space. These are perfect for narrow spaces as well.
Cabinets and Doors Can be overwhelming with the array of finishes and colours available today. The finish if the cabinetry will play a major part in how the kitchen looks and feels. Always always get samples and visit the showroom where possible to see the cabinetry in situ. you need to see how the samples look in your space. Never be afraid to mix an match cabinets to have 2 different colours above bench and below bench or even different finishes. Too many people, designers included play it safe and stick to one colour or finish for fear I assume, that it will not be understood or liked. I find those rooms where bold choices have been made make the biggest impression.
location, Location, Location, so they say in real estate is essential to success, so to in your kitchen. We often use the work triangle as a catchphrase in kitchen design. Basically, it doesn't need to be a tingle exactly, what is important is the distance you need to travel to work in the Kitchen efficiently making your task as the cook easier.
Ideally you will have around 1200mm between you and each of your stations. Sink, Cooktop, Fridge, Pantry. so thats now a square right.. see what I mean about the triangle phrase. you get the idea. If you place the sink too far from the cook top you have to carry or move items constantly and it makes for a clumsy layout and in time you will tire of it.
so the Location of each of these stations is important when designing your kitchen layout.
Oh, and make sure the dishwasher is right next to the sink to make that easy transition from sink to washer. Nothing worse than moving across aisle ways to load/unload the dishwasher.
Storage rules as always in any home especially the kitchen. This is the room that is always on display and always busy. It really is the hub of the home. Invest in good storage. Whether it be cleverly hidden pockets inside drawers or cabinets or open shelving to house all the more attractive work essentials. Cutlery trays and drawer dividers are great to keep everything in tits place and it will make for easily finding what you need when you need it. Even the third drawer down can be tamed with clever storage ideas available at far too many retailers today.
Can you handle it - I prefer handles on my cabinetry designs as they add a touch of whatever style you are wanting to convey. Even modern minimalist designs can have a handle to convey a simple elegance to a kitchen. Tapware and handles are an essential material to creating a cohesive look for your space. Don't forget the handles !