First, Sensible Style means a matching of form and function so that your space works to meet your needs and looks good while doing it.
It also means spending wisely to get what you want at a price point that fits your home's value. It's just as easy to under-spend as it is to overspend, and both can bite you in the resale process. Consider your kitchen remodel an investment in your home. Putting a $100,000 kitchen in a $250,000 home won't give you a good return, as you've majorly overspent. But neither will putting a $30,000 kitchen in a $3 million home.
Even if you plan to stay in your home for 10, 20 or 40 years, you never know what circumstances might arise in your life that could create the need to move much sooner than planned. That's not the time you want to discover that you're not going to get much back for the new kitchen.
Tip: Get advice from local appraisers or Realtors on what buyers in your price range and neighborhood are looking for - e.g., stone tops, built-in appliances - and consider the ones that make sense for your home and family. If, for example, everyone else is investing in quartz or granite, look-alike laminate tops are not going to build any value for you.
Engineered stone tops, like this Black Anubis from Silestone, bring great form and function to a kitchen project.
Open plan considerations
Most of the designs I've worked on in the past five years involve opening up the kitchen to the adjacent rooms. These are usually a great room and/or dining room. Open plan designs are wonderful for entertaining and relaxed family living, but they do involve special Sensible Style considerations.
First, open plan kitchens tend to have fewer wall cabinets. So the designer and homeowner need to consider where the dishes, glasses and other typical upper storage items will go in this new plan.
Tip: Dish drawer organizers are great for storing serveware in base cabinets. They can be purchased through many cabinet brands, or after-market from accessory sources. Also consider siting your everyday dish storage near the dishwasher for more convenient unloading.
Dish drawer organizers like this one from Rev-A-Shelf are ideal for open plan kitchens
Another consideration in open floor plan design is coordinating the style of the kitchen with its neighboring rooms. They should flow together seamlessly and look as though they belong in the same home. When someone goes for a French Country kitchen in a Craftsman home, it doesn't usually work out well. Ditto for a Tuscan kitchen in a California contemporary. What happens when that new off-style kitchen is in place is that everything around it looks out of place.
Here's the Sensible Style approach to open floor plan design... Take your kitchen cues from the surrounding rooms' permanent elements. If you're not going to change the fireplace mantel with its dentil molding, for example, use dentil trim in the kitchen cabinetry's crown molding.
If you have a large furniture piece that's valuable and staying in the space, choose kitchen cabinetry that will coordinate well with it. This means factoring in its finish, as well as its door style. They don't have to be a match; they just have to look good together in the same open space.
Tip: Bring a door from an important furniture piece to your design selection meeting so you can see how the new cabinets will work with what you already own.
Notice how the family room cabinetry in this kitchen I designed coordinates with the kitchen island for a pulled-together open plan design.
Open plan flooring considerations
Flooring can also be an issue in open plan designs. Sensible Style means choosing a floor that is right for your household, not just right for a magazine layout. Considerations include its durability, especially with active children in the home, along with its maintenance requirements, safety and comfort underfoot. Polished travertine is beyond elegant in an empty nesters' pied-a-terre, but can be a nightmare in a busy family home, or for a senior citizen with balance issues.
The other consideration for your new kitchen flooring is how it will look next to the rooms it opens up to. If you're keeping that flooring in place, select new kitchen floors that look good next to it.
Tip: If you minimize the contrasts between the kitchen floor and the adjacent rooms' flooring materials, your space will look larger and more cohesive.