If you’re shopping for a new house, a beautiful kitchen is probably high on the priority list.

After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home. You’ll spend many happy hours with your family and friends in this space, so you want it to be perfect.

However, we often see clients getting distracted by a kitchen’s trendy features and gorgeous materials. While it’s important to love the look of your kitchen, it also has to be functional and comfortable. So, how do you choose a home with a kitchen that works for you and your family?

Consider these factors during your home search:

Layout

There are five basic kitchen layouts: L-Shape, G-Shape, U-Shape, One-Wall, and Galley. Often, the size and shape of the room will determine its layout. This is important to note in case you were planning to renovate later.

Each layout has its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, an L-shape works well for two cooks working at the same time, since no traffic lanes flow through the work area. The U-Shape kitchen creates an efficient work triangle, allowing for more storage space.

Think about your family’s needs, so you can choose a layout that’s practical. Do you entertain often? You might want a larger kitchen with an island. Are your kids eager to help prepare dinner? A galley layout (with two workspaces on opposing sides) would probably create traffic jams. An L-shape might be better because it offers more counter space.

Space

Speaking of traffic jams, galley or one-wall kitchens can feel constricting. If that’s an issue for you, think about whether there’s room to knock down a wall into the dining room. And if you’ve always dreamed of an island, just remember that you’ll need at least 36”- 42” of space on all sides to allow appliances such as the dishwasher and stove to open and close.

Counter space is also an important factor. If you’re an avid baker or enjoy preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the extended family, consider whether you’ll have enough room to work.

Lastly, don’t forget your existing furniture. If the kitchen has an eat-in area, will your table and chairs fit comfortably? Are you willing and able to replace them if not?

Storage

Depending on the size of your family, your cooking habits, and how often you entertain in your kitchen, you’ll need to estimate how much storage you need. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s the current size of your household? Will it change over the next few years?
  • How often do you cook and entertain?
  • Do you currently store items outside the kitchen? How much more storage would you need to keep them in your new kitchen?
  • Are there items you could get rid of before the move?
  • Do you have appliances on your countertops now that you’d prefer to put away?
  • Do you (or family members) have limitations, like reaching tall cabinets or bending down to get items?

Appliances

First, evaluate the age of the appliances. You don’t want any surprise purchases right after the move. Alternatively, if you love the kitchen otherwise, you might be able to negotiate that the seller removes old appliances, so you can buy your own. Perhaps with features or colors you prefer.

Next, look at the location of appliances. You may have heard of the “kitchen work triangle.” This refers to your cooktop, your sink, and the refrigerator. They should ideally make up a triangle as you move through the kitchen. While this isn’t set in stone, it’s a good starting point for evaluating the practicality of the layout. Try to imagine yourself cooking. If what you need isn’t within reach or you’re moving all around the kitchen constantly, that’s a sign it’s not for you.

Beyond the basics, see if the kitchen has specialty appliances that would add value for you personally, like double ovens, a wine cooler, or a pot filler. However, try not to get caught up in trends if you’re not really going to use them.

Aesthetics

Unless you designed the kitchen yourself, you probably won’t find perfection. The key is to choose a kitchen where you love the most expensive elements – like the cabinets, countertops, and layout. Paint colors, backsplash, and flooring can all be changed, but at a reasonable price. Keep an open mind and try to envision what the kitchen could be with just a few smart design tweaks.

Need more insights like these as you tour potential homes? Talk to a BHHS Fox & Roach real estate professional. Our experts have years of experience working with clients like you. We’ll help you make the best decision for you and your family.