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How to Design a Kitchen With No Skills

Designing a kitchen is no small feat. It’s the heart of your home, where you craft delicious meals and share some of your most cherished moments. But if the thought of choosing among various kitchen styles, layouts, and finishes seems daunting, you’re not alone. Designing your kitchen, even if you don’t have a natural flair for interior design, is not impossible.


White and gold kitchen
White and gold kitchen designed with shaker cabinets


This guide is for homeowners – whether you’re a first-time owner or a long-time apartment dweller – who are starting from square one: no skillset, no experience, and just the desire to create a kitchen that’s both functional and beautiful. By breaking the process down into manageable steps, you’ll learn how to tackle kitchen design with confidence, and most importantly, enjoyment.

Understanding Your Space

Before you can begin to design your dream kitchen, you must understand the space you’re working with. The kitchen layout and dimensions will determine the flow of your space and how you interact with it on a daily basis.


Start by taking exact measurements of your kitchen, noting the locations of windows, doors, and any other architectural features that can’t be moved. Keeping the current layout is a cost-effective way to design, but if you’re in for a major renovation, consider working with a contractor to explore potential structural changes.

Step-by-Step Measuring Guide

Taking accurate measurements is a crucial step in the kitchen design process. Follow this guide to ensure you have the right dimensions before you get started:

  1. Gather Your Tools: You’ll need a tape measure, a level, graph paper, and a pencil. Optionally, a laser measure can expedite the process.
  2. Sketch Your Kitchen: Draw the outline of your kitchen on graph paper, labeling each wall with a number or letter for easy reference.
  3. Measure Horizontally: Measure the length of each wall, starting from one corner and working your way to the other. Record the measurements on your sketch corresponding to each wall.
  4. Include Openings: For each window and door, measure the width and height, and the distance from the nearest wall and the floor. Note down these measurements on your sketch.
  5. Measure Vertically: Measure from the floor to the ceiling at multiple points along each wall to account for any variances. Use the smallest measurement to ensure everything will fit.
  6. Check the Details: Don’t forget to measure the dimensions of any permanent features such as islands, counters, or built-in appliances.
  7. Double-Check: Once you’ve taken all your measurements, go back and measure again to double-check your work. Accuracy is key, and it’s better to be certain before making any design decisions.


Remember, precise measurements are the foundation of a successful kitchen design, so take your time and be thorough.

Setting a Budget

If you’re designing a kitchen, your budget will be the sail and rudder steering the project. Allocate funds not only for aesthetics but also for functionality. It’s about balance.


Consider the costs of materials, new appliances, labor, and unseen expenses that often arise in renovations. A good rule of thumb is to set aside at least 20% of the total budget for unexpected costs. Once you have a set figure, stick to it as closely as possible.


cost to install kitchen cabinets per linear foot
Cost to install kitchen cabinets per linear foot


When working with a tight budget, it’s essential to seek cost-effective solutions that don’t compromise quality. One such option to consider is ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets. RTA cabinets can offer significant savings, as they come flat packed and require you to do the assembly and installation. This do-it-yourself approach eliminates the labor costs associated with traditional cabinetry. 


Plus, RTA cabinets come in a variety of styles and finishes, ensuring you don’t have to sacrifice your design vision for affordability. Remember to factor in the shipping costs and the time you’ll spend assembling them when deciding if this is the right choice for your kitchen renovation.


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Research and Inspiration

Now is the time to feed your creative side. Gather inspiration from various sources – magazines, Pinterest boards, social media, home improvement shows – anywhere you can find kitchen design ideas.


Alpine white cabinets by Nelson Cabinetry
Alpine white cabinets by Nelson Cabinetry


Make a mood board to see how different elements can come together. This will serve as a compass for your design decisions, keeping you on track with the overall look and feel you wish to achieve.

Use 3D Kitchen Design Software

With no design skills, visualization can be a significant challenge. Fortunately, numerous free and paid design tools are available online. Use these tools to create a 3-D model of your kitchen and play with different layouts, appliances, and finishes. Visualizing the end result before you start is a great way to eliminate any costly mistakes that could arise from an impromptu change of plans.




Choosing Essential Kitchen Elements

The cabinets should offer a blend of visual appeal and practicality, bearing in mind that quality construction and materials will contribute to their longevity. Your countertop selection is equally important, as it needs to withstand daily wear and handle food preparation tasks with ease. 


plymouth cabinets


With appliances, look beyond aesthetics; prioritize durability, functionality, and energy efficiency to ensure they meet your culinary needs while keeping operating costs low. Finally, lighting should never be overlooked; proper illumination is key for safety during meal prep and can greatly influence the mood and atmosphere within the space. Strategically placed lights can accentuate design features and create an inviting ambiance. Always consider these elements in unison to ensure a cohesive kitchen design that is both beautiful and practical.

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Nelson Cabinetry

Nelson Cabinetry is an online distributor of high quality kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. We pride ourselves in delivering a high quality product via an easy to use, convenient website. Placing your cabinet order has never been easier and you can do so from the comfort of your home, office or job site.


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Evan Nelson

Evan Nelson is a skilled content writer with over 5 years of experience specializing in kitchen and bath design. His expertise in the field and ability to convey complex ideas in an accessible way have made his articles a valuable resource for homeowners and design enthusiasts alike. Evan's insights have been featured in top publications like Homes & Gardens, Family Handyman, and Real Homes. He focuses on providing practical advice, innovative ideas, and detailed guides to help readers make informed decisions about their kitchen spaces. With a passion for creating content that educates and inspires, Evan's writing helps transform kitchen dreams into reality.

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