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Tips on Designing the Perfect Kitchen: An Interview with Smith McAulay of WSM Craft

By Smith McAulay

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a Design-Build Residential Remodeling company that specializes in custom millwork installations. As a full service, licensed General Contractor, we have a network of vendors, subcontractors and tradesmen to accommodate any need in an addition or remodeling project. We have two in-house designers and a 2000 square foot workshop where WSM Artisans produce cabinets, bookcases, trim components, and any other specific elements a project may require.

What are some of the biggest decisions that someone needs to make when it comes to the design of their new kitchen?

Whenever I meet with a client who is interested in a kitchen remodel, the first thing I ask them is "How will you use the space?" A kitchen is part workshop, part communal space, and part dining space, and is rarely divided into even thirds as such. An accomplished chef (or an ambitious culinary hobbyist) may want prep sinks, double ovens, and an exhaust hood where a family with three young children wants an informal dining nook, easy-clean surfaces and plenty of pantry space. Both kitchens could fit into the same square footage, so identifying the proportions of these three components is a good place to start; it is a great way to identify priorities at the beginning of the design phase.

What are the most important features of a new kitchen?

The contemporary floor plan usually features a kitchen that is open to a living room and/or dining room, because that is how we live now. Older houses usually have a separate kitchen, so removing the wall that divides the space opens up the floor plan and provides a great location for an island or peninsula, which I love- especially for that "workshop" component. It's the best way to get more counter space, which is probably the most common design request. Obviously it is important to have good appliances and fixtures that suit your needs, but equally important is the layout of those appliances. There should be a logical flow based on how you use the space to produce and consume food (which, for thousands of years, has been at the center of the human community experience).

What are some of the misconceptions you've come across about designing a new kitchen?

It doesn't have to be huge. It just has to be efficient. A huge space with bad design logic will be far more frustrating to use than a smaller space with a good layout.

What are a few of the most in-demand features for custom kitchens?

People always want more counter space, which is best achieved if there is a way to incorporate an island. The footprint of the island can accommodate a variety of features, ranging from bar stools to dishwashers to the kitchen sink itself. Again, it depends on how it is used. Built-in dining nooks are a good way to incorporate the dining area and the kitchen into a consistent aesthetic, especially when dealing with a small footprint. Appliances have become very stylish in recent years, and stainless steel is the trend. The entire kitchen should be stylish as well. This is where we spend most of our time and this is where we make our biggest messes, so a design aesthetic that is sophisticated yet casual, and clean rather than busy or cluttered has an enormous impact on how we feel and interact in the space.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

Our website is We invite you take a look and see what we are all about, peruse galleries of past projects, and get in touch with us by phone or email.

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