5 Signs It's Time to Renovate Your Kitchen — Plus, How to Solve Your Biggest Function Frustrations

If your kitchen is starting to feel like it's less than fit for purpose, here's what you can do to make it work better for you

A kitchen with marble counter and island
(Image credit: Nicolas Matheus Design: Stephanie Coutas)

Renovating your kitchen is no easy feat. It's a big decision that takes time, can turn your whole house upside down, and is pretty expensive. It's no wonder that larger projects like a kitchen reno end up getting put off.

But putting things off can only worsen the problem, so how do you know when a kitchen renovation is something that your house actually needs, as opposed to something you simply want? We've spoken to the designers who have identified these 5 key areas as telltale signs that now is the right time to upgrade to a modern kitchen that fully fits your needs.

1. Your storage isn't serving your needs

A neutral kitchen with natural touches

(Image credit: Malissa Mabey. Design: Susannah Holmberg)

It's natural that the longer you live in a space, the more things you accumulate. A kitchen is one of these ever-expanding rooms. From smaller items like mugs and crockery to the larger-scale appliances, it's nearly inevitable that you end up with more and more kitchen items and less space to put them. At some point, it's going to get to a time where you've reached maximum capacity. Now is the time to take a good hard look at your kitchen storage and see if there is anything that can be reevaluated to fit all your kitchen possessions.

If those cupboards are fit to burst, it might be time to reevaluate your storage space. Maybe it's about opting for a peninsula island that gifts you new cupboards to host all your goods, or perhaps you need to think about taking your cupboards all the way up to the ceiling.

Ceiling-height cupboards eliminate any dead space and if painted in the same colors of the wall, can create a seamless look that doesn't feel too bulky or claustrophobic. Just remember you need access to the top shelves, but a stylish ladder can work as a tasteful addition to help you get to those hard-to-reach items. For something simpler, or if you have a small kitchen, open shelving is a relatively straightforward solution whereby you can make the most of that vertical space with the addition of a few shelves on a blank wall.

2. Your appliances don't make things easier

A kitchen with seamless cabinetry

(Image credit: Janis Nicolay. Design: Schédio Spaces)

Take a step back and question whether your appliances are a help or a hindrance to your kitchen. Have you had the same domino hobs for a while and found it a struggle to cook? Have you figured out that you're someone who prefers washing up by hand to using a dishwasher and could do with the extra space? Spending time living with your kitchen will open your eyes to what works and what doesn't.

'A full kitchen renovation is a big commitment but if you're feeling like your appliances aren't serving you properly, then those might be signs it's time to think about upgrading,' says Kathy Kuo of Kathy Kuo Home. 'If you aren't sure about a big reno, start small with replacing appliances one by one.'

Think about how you interact with your kitchen appliances too. For a more seamless, minimalist kitchen aesthetic, hiding appliances away makes for a cleaner look. 'We typically design our kitchens to include an appliance hutch or cupboard with retractable or fold-away doors where these items can live, leaving the rest of your countertop free for activities or more visually appealing styling that suits your kitchen’s aesthetic,' says Sara Horstmann of Das Studio.

3. Your layout is proving awkward

A kitchen with reconfigured light and open layout

(Image credit: Nicolas Matheus Design: Stephanie Coutas)

After spending some time actually using your kitchen, you might realize that your kitchen layout doesn't help the space flow the way it should. 'Assess what the best kitchen layout will be,' suggests Rylie Fitzgerald of Rylie Fitzgerald Interior Design. 'Is it tucked away in its own room, making it feel disconnected from the rest of your home? Do you find yourself navigating obstacles to move between key areas like the sink and dishwasher? These could be signs that your kitchen's layout needs rethinking to better suit your lifestyle and improve functionality.'

If you're feeling stuck for inspiration, establishing a kitchen work triangle might be a great change to make to your kitchen's layout. The kitchen triangle is nothing new, and refers to the space between the main three stations in the kitchen - the stove, the fridge and the basin. By creating a zone in a triangular shape, with these three touchpoints, you will maximize efficiency around the space, helping the flow of the room.

'A kitchen should always be a functional area that makes the best use of space whilst ensuring it is elegant and sophisticated,' says interior designer Stéphanie Coutas. 'For this kitchen, I wanted to have a cozy seating area for informal and everyday dining as well as a great space to cook in. So, when we were considering the layout of the kitchen, I wanted to have a modern kitchen island to make it a more convivial space.'

4. Your home's residents have changed

A renovated kitchen with vast storage options

(Image credit: Lisa Cohen. Design: Kim Kneipp)

It's very common for the number of residents in your home to ebb and flow. Perhaps family members have moved on, or maybe a few extra additions need to be catered for if you're living in a family home. If the number of your residents has changed, you're likely due a kitchen renovation.

'Consider practicality for a growing family,' recommends Rylie. 'As your family expands, so do your needs for storage and space.'

Whether it's accommodating more children around a kitchen island or investing in larger appliances like a double-door fridge or extra freezer, or upgrading that stove so you can cook more food at once, a kitchen renovation can provide the practical solutions your family requires.

5. The bones of the kitchen are deteriorating

A neutral kitchen

(Image credit: Haris Kenjar. Design: Ore Studios)

Evaluate the condition of your kitchen's bones and reassess. 'Take a closer look at the cabinets, countertops, and drawers. Do they show signs of deterioration, such as peeling surfaces or worn-out corners? If so, it might be time for a renovation to rejuvenate your kitchen and ensure it remains a functional and inviting space,' says Rylie.

Focus on aesthetics too. Sometimes, it's not just about functionality but also about the overall look and feel of your kitchen. If your kitchen color scheme and materials clash with the rest of your home, it can disrupt the cohesive flow of your space. 'Consider giving your kitchen a makeover with a fresh coat of paint or new cabinet doors, updated handles, and a splashback to enhance its aesthetic appeal,' says Rylie.

When planning a renovation, don't be wary of making a statement with your design. A renovation presents an opportunity to elevate the design of your kitchen and infuse it with your personal style. Whether it's adding unique architectural details or incorporating eye-catching fixtures, use your renovation to make a statement and create a space that truly reflects your personality.

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Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.