Forever Kitchens

The Best Choices to Make If You Want Your Kitchen to Last Forever, According to Kitchen Designers

updated Jul 17, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

When you renovate your kitchen or build one from scratch in a new home, you want it to stand the test of time, in terms of style and durability No one wants to redo a kitchen more than once in their lifetime. (In fact, most people do not; they either do it once or never. Of all the rooms in a home, kitchens are one of the priciest to revamp.)

That’s why we turned to kitchen designers to get their suggestions for the best choices to make if you want your kitchen to last forever.

1. Make sure your cabinets are functional.

The best way to make a kitchen timeless is by making it functional, particularly when it comes to cabinets, says Katie Stix, partner, design director and LEED Green Associate at Anderson Design Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. 

“If the cabinet layout provides the proper flow, organization, and storage you need, it will stand the test of time. There may be minor upgrades to the finish, hardware, appliances, or countertops, but, if the bones of the kitchen are well thought out, it can last for a long time without a complete rehaul.”

Even if you get tired of the cabinet door style down the road, you can get away with only replacing the doors if the layout and configuration of the cabinets are still functional, she notes. 

So, what’s a functional cabinet layout? Well, that really depends on your space, but it really comes down to how you use your kitchen and your cabinets. For example: You’re probably going to want to store your dishes near the dishwasher.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

2. Consider lacquered cabinets.

If you’re looking for something sustainable and stylish for your cabinets and other vertical surfaces, lacquer is the way to go, says Daniele Busca, creative director and brand ambassador of Scavolini USA, which has a commitment to sustainable practices.

“Matte or glossy water-based finishes are the most sustainable as they are now VOCs-free. And, thanks to technological advancements in the way the finishes are applied, they have become very hard to damage.”

If the glossy finish loses its shine, simply buff and voila! It’s back to its original lustre, he says. Plus, lacquer is extra easy to clean and there’s no grout to worry about.

3. Go for quartz or PaperStone countertops.

When it comes to stone countertops, quartz is your best bet, says Lea N. Frank, LEED AP at Lea Frank Design in Teaneck, New Jersey.

“Quartz countertops are basically indestructible. Quartz is an engineered stone material that is very durable and non-porous, which means that it can resist oils, stains, and cleaning solutions, and it won’t easily scratch, crack, or chip.” That also means it’s incredibly low-maintenance and will last a long time “with no headaches,” she says.

Another sustainable material for countertops is PaperStone, says Laura Britt, founding principal of Britt Design Group in Austin, Texas, which focuses on sustainability and LEED projects. 

“It’s a heavy-duty solid surface known for its performance, warm touch, contemporary appearance, and environmental sustainability. Its non-porous surface is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and a proprietary, petroleum-free resin that provides a lifetime of stain resistance. Also, it absorbs virtually no water.”

Credit: Julia Steele

4. Play it safe when it comes to color.

Not sure what color to choose? Go for white, which never goes out of style, says Michelle Lisac, founder and principal designer at Michelle Lisac Interior Design in Scotts Valley, California, who has worked on LEED certified commercial projects in the past.

“I love a white kitchen and would suggest painted white shaker-style cabinetry as it’s clean, bright and has withstood the test of time.”

One of her go-to white paints for cabinetry and trim is Benjamin Moore White Dove, she adds.

Credit: Emma Fiala

5. Opt for LED lighting.

LED lights are becoming more and more popular — and for good reason, Frank says. “LED lighting technology has advanced rapidly over the last several years, and kitchen lighting design has evolved as a result. The main advantage of LED lighting is that it lasts much longer than traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs while using far less energy.”

Typical LEDs use about 75 percent less energy and last about 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, she notes. Plus, LEDs emit very little heat and can have a very low profile, which makes them ideal for under-cabinet and cove lighting in kitchens.

6. Install hardwood floors.

Hardwood floors are a great way to add a classic, sustainable element to the kitchen, Stix says. “Wood floors never go out of style. They’re sustainable, durable, warm, and inviting.” Plus, if you want to change the stain color eventually, wood floors can be refinished.

Got any tips of your own to add? Leave them in the comments below.