Kitchens Photo Credit: Courtesy Troico Home Solutions

7 Upgrades to Take Your Kitchen to the Next Level

These reno ideas will majorly improve your kitchen’s functionality.

Mike Richter, owner and principal of Troico Home Solutions, oversees anywhere between 10 to 15 kitchen designs every month, and this year, the biggest trend he’s noticing is a focus on organization. “It’s all about clutter,” he explains. “How do we organize a drawer? How do we make better use of the space?” Indeed, we all have that one Tupperware cupboard threatening to bury us alive every time we open it—which is where Richer and his team of custom builders come in. It’s their responsibility to come up with innovative solutions for these commonplace functionality issues. From investing in new appliances to installing filtered water systems, here are his top tips for solving kitchen woes with style.

These days, kitchen drawers can be used to store just about everything.

1. Choose drawers instead of cupboards.
Whether you’re building a kitchen from scratch or giving the existing structure a facelift, designers are seeing a major shift away from cupboards and towards drawers. “The [same] way you would organize cutlery is being used throughout the kitchen,” says Richter, noting that countertop utensil holders, spice racks and knife blocks are being tucked away to free up valuable space. Technology has also changed things—some under-mount slides now enable drawers to support up to 100 pounds, which means they can be used for flatware and other large kitchen accessories.

2. Think small.
Most homeowners will buy big range appliances right off the showroom floor, but according to Richter, “there’s a better way to do that.” Try shopping for compact, condo-sized models to reclaim counter space: “24-inch appliances are the best fit in smaller spaces,” he says.

Troico installed three narrow, column-style fridge/freezers in this spacious kitchen.

3. Ditch the standard fridge.
Richter insisted on getting a modular refrigerator system in his own kitchen. Where they used to have a large, double-door fridge they now have column-style fridge/freezers for perishables and built in refrigerator drawers elsewhere in the kitchen to store beverages. Though it doesn’t save you any square footage, a system like this maximizes storage space inside the fridge.

4. Save a bottle, buy a filter.
Another must-have for Richter? A water filter that attaches to the sink. “I don’t know how I lived without that,” he says. They also have the added bonus of being more environmentally friendly: “I change the filter every year instead of dealing with recyclables,” Richter explains. “It pays for itself over time and declutters the fridge.”

5. Don’t worry about seating guests at the island.
Kitchen islands have been popular for a long time now, but there’s been a shift towards using them for extra built-in storage. “We’re not seeing as much seating on the backside of islands,” say Richter. The island situates cooks towards their guests and is a great prep space—but to take it to the next level, make use of the cavity and add cupboards (or, even better, drawers).

Don’t let your island go to waste! There’s a ton of room for extra storage down below.
An island is a great place to install a small prep sink.

6. Invest in a multi-purpose sink…
Swap out your sink for a multi-purpose galley-style workstation that has space for two to three people to work (on up to four different tasks!) at the same time. “It’s a large-format sink with sliding accessories,” explains Richter, so you can use your sink as a cutting board or a dish rack, among other things. “It’s a huge gain in functionality,” he adds.

7. Or just get a second sink
If a large galley sink isn’t for you, there’s always the option of adding a second sink (often called a vegetable or prep sink) that can connect to your pre-existing plumbing. “It’s a fairly easy upgrade,” says Richter. “[It’s] not a DIY project, but it’s a big [improvement] without tearing out the whole kitchen.”


For more renovation tips and expert advice, check out the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association’s Spring Home Reno Show! 

GVHBA Spring Reno Show

Saturday, March 17 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
VanDusen Botanical Garden
5151 Oak Street, Vancouver

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