My Kitchen Design Rules for Appliances & Lighting

This is a sponsored post by Lowe’s Home Improvement. All opinions are 100% my own.

All kitchen sources are linked at the bottom of this post.

Before we get to the reveal of what has become my favorite space I’ve ever designed, I want to talk a bit more about the layout of this kitchen. While I’ve started settling and styling this space some (as you may have seen on Instagram), it made sense to me to talk about the key elements of a kitchen design like appliances and lighting with it still pretty empty.

You guys know I love focal points and that’s usually the first thing I nail down in a space. But function is king. In a kitchen, especially, it has to be. A space has to be laid out well for daily usage or actually living in it is going to be so annoying, you won’t even appreciate those statement making focal walls!

For our kitchen, I had the idea for the main focal wall first. I knew I wanted the stove centered and the tiled hood with the flanking built-in cabinets. But after I nailed that down, I spent a lot of time thinking about the function. And you know what I realized? I have a set of kitchen layout rules that I’ve developed and I’ve used them in every kitchen I’ve designed. I didn’t even realize it until I was designing this space and got some push back on a few things layout wise that to me were so obvious!

Today, I wanted to share these rules I follow for creating a kitchen that flows well functionally and is aesthetically pleasing! They have to do with placing appliances and lighting, which can be hard to decide on when laying out your space.


1.) Place Your Appliances in a Triangle

You’ve all probably heard this. The general rule for a functional kitchen is to have your three main appliances in a triangle: stove, sink, and refrigerator. I completely agree with this! This is the first main rule you want to follow. Having them in a triangle makes actually using your kitchen much easier as you run between each appliance while you’re preparing a meal. Think if they were all in a long line or one was much further away. Keeping them in a succinct triangle helps a lot when you’re actually using your space.

I’m going to talk more about these appliances in future posts, but just have to give them a quick shot-out. I dreamed about these appliances for so long and they have far succeeded my expectations. They’re from the GE Cafe Line and I’m obsessed with the matte white and brass and copper hardware.

Okay, back to the rules. The triangle rule is a great foundation, but there are so many different configurations you could use! It leaves a lot of questions, which brings me to the biggest thing I try to achieve when designing a kitchen.

2.) Center the Stove and Sink

For me, symmetry is huge. It may be surprising because I do love for a space to feel collected. And that often means there are a few elements that are a little “off.” But to create those focal points I love, I like for the main element on a wall to be centered and then work out from there. Now, this may not always be possible depending on the existing layout of your space. But for each kitchen we’ve designed, we’ve made this work and it’s made all the difference.

I’ve already talked a lot about the stove wall, but I knew I wanted the GE Cafe White stove centered. That then allowed the tiled hood to be centered above it and it also allowed the symmetry of the two built-ins on each side. For me, the focal points of a kitchen usually have to do with the sink and the stove. The stove has a hood above it, which I always like best if it can be centered.

Centering the stove and hood is my one non-negotiable if I have to choose. But, I also love centering the sink on another wall. I love farmhouse sinks and what a pretty statement they make like this Kohler Farmhouse sink. I love for my sink to be under a window if it can be. If you don’t have that option, hang a beautiful landscape painting you love above it and you’ll get a similar feel!

When our architect (who was amazing!) was drawing up our plans, he asked if I wanted to spread the stove and sink out a little more. On the plans they felt pretty close. But I was adamant that I needed my symmetry for focal points. And with them both installed, they’re the perfect distance! There’s plenty of space in between, but it’s really convenient to fill up a pot. And my gosh, each wall is so darn pretty!

The refrigerator automatically got placed on the third wall to create the triangle.

The layout of these appliances feels like the perfect fit after using it for a few weeks. And the good news is that once you’ve nailed down those appliances, your cabinet layout pretty much takes care of itself. You work out from each appliances and fill in the spaces in between.

Now, let’s talk LIGHTING.

When it comes to lighting, you need to think about the function side. All areas need to be well-lit for cooking. But lighting is also a great way to bring some personality and decor into a kitchen that has less decorative elements.

1.) Choose Your Statement Lights First

I start by choosing my statement lighting. These are the special light fixtures that I want to add to the decor of the space. In our last three kitchens, we’ve had two types of lighting which has quickly become my go-to recipe for kitchens: pendants mixed with sconces.

I always start with a pendant over the sink. I love the look of it, but also the function. You need a light over the sink and instead of a can, that’s a spot you can easily drop a personality-filled pendant.

Or in the case of our current kitchen, TWO!

I wanted as much natural light as I could get in this space, so we went with a triple window. It gave me a perfect opportunity to bring in two pendants, one in front of each outside window pane for something a little extra on this empty wall.

I love the look of barn lights and have used them in kitchens past. But I quickly realized that they don’t check very high in the light department since they only cast light downward. I was looking for something here with that shape that cast light out into the room and these Industrial Copper Pendants were perfect.

I usually hang lights over the island. That is an easy and obvious way to make a pretty statement in the space. The island is usually a focal point and you want to accentuate that with some great lighting overhead. In our current kitchen, I decided to forego that. I was going for a more eat-in, old kitchen feel with our rustic island. This was actually a desk that Chris made me for our second Christmas together! And it’s exactly what I pictured for the space.

The view I wanted to focus on in this space was that back tiled wall and I knew island lights in front would take away from that. So, we let can lights serve that purpose. I’ll get to those below.

I love sconces in a kitchen. They immediately amp up the design and cozy factor. I knew I wanted some sconces to shine down on the built-in cabinets we did. And that was a great place to bring in the barn lights I love since I wanted the light to shine down in this case. These Copper Gooseneck Sconces add so much to the kitchen and I absolutely love how they look against the Escape Gray paint. But I also love the function they have as they’ll really light up those shelves!

2.) Fill in with Task Lighting

Once you’ve nailed down your special fixtures, you’re likely going to need more light in a kitchen. You want every nook and cranny well-lit. We filled in with these Halo Integrated LED can lights above so that the rest of our space was lit really well.

You can see here we went with four in the center. These are a necessity since we aren’t bringing in any pendant lighting over the island. And then, we threw a fifth one over the fridge area. Since it’s in a little nook, we realized it was going to feel a bit shady.

From an aesthetic standpoint, can lights aren’t my favorite. I would love for every single one of those to be a cute barn light and I’ve seen that done so well! But if you do that, those become your statement lights and I would’ve lost my others. They would’ve competed with one another. Plus, your eye would’ve been drawn to the lights on the ceiling throughout the space instead of to the focal points I wanted.

I do love that can lights give you functional light that’s just a necessity in a kitchen, but they visually disappear against the white ceiling.

3.) Put Lights on Dimmers

This is a small add-on, but I love for all of my kitchen lights to be on a dimmer. I love the cozy glow that can create at night if I dim my sconces and pendants, but then I can turn them up high to make them as bright as the cans and 100% functional.

Like designing any space, it’s all about priorities. Not everything I listed may be possible in every space, but I do hope that talking through how I go about our kitchen designs may give you some practical ideas for your own home!

Kitchen Sources:

Brick Tile Floor
Cabinets: Diamond Cabinet line
Cabinet Color: HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams Escape Gray
Blue and White Patterned Tile
GE Cafe White Range
GE Cafe White Dishwasher
GE Cafe White Refrigerator
Kohler Farmhouse Sink
Oil-Rubbed Bronze Faucet
Copper Industrial Pendants
Copper Gooseneck Sconces

I can’t wait to share this finished and styled space with you guys next week – here’s a glimpse of one side that feels fairly finished! I’ve taken the settling of this kitchen very slowly and it’s so fun to get it just right for our family.

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It has turned out so beautifully! I love that you knew what you wanted and stuck to it even with pushback. Those are great rules to follow! Quick question…do you know what type of wood Chris used to build your desk/island? I’ve been on the hunt for something like that to use as an island in our very narrow kitchen. I love the way it brings in that old world feel that you were looking for. How great that you were able to use something you already had! Great job with everything!!

I really liked reading about your design process. It’s funny how we all have specific elements that are important to us and we build around that.
I think you have created a beautiful and functional space that I’m sure you will enjoy for years!!!
Great job;)