The Best Kitchen Must-Haves for Family Kitchens

When you are dreaming of the best kitchen for your family you have a list of negotiables and a list of non-negotiables. The kitchen must haves‘ list is different for everyone. Because things are always as you see them.

We make a choice of how we view things around us. About my dream kitchen, I have different perspectives and honestly, it defines my must haves list.

My Kitchens

From one perspective, I could see our situation this way: 

We still don’t have the kitchen we need. We’ve been waiting for having a kitchen meeting our needs for 17 years. During those years we had only one reasonably acceptable kitchen we’d built with sweat and blood for only a short period of time. We had homes we did not have a kitchen, at all. – Yes, I truly have my reasons to feel sorry for myself and for my kids, too. Some of them grew up without the luxury of a true family kitchen and never experienced the impact it can make on their life. I know they can make without it, yet, deep down it hurts. 

For another perspective, – and I’m choosing this one over the other – I’ve had the privilege to have the time to figure out what our perfect family kitchen would be like, all the things we really need to support our family’s values. I’ve been lucky enough to have the time to learn how to create the best kitchen for our family and make plans with all the experience we had in the last 17 years. I’m thankful that we haven’t poured money yet into something that couldn’t be the best for us. 

Ultimately, I’m so happy that we’re getting to the point of building a brand new kitchen, basically from scratch. Finally, after quite a few self-pity sessions, I’m enjoying the journey, leading up to this huge project – which I know that I will not be enjoying as much as I enjoy the prep phase. Not to fool myself or anybody, it’s still a decent amount of time away because it will cost more than one a number of fortunes and we haven’t got that yet. Nevertheless, with each day we are a day closer to when it actually happens. 

My Kitchen Must Haves

Having had these perspectives I’ve come up with a kitchen must haves list for the design and functions. The plans are not finalized yet, we still have to make a lot of decisions about a ton of small details, but there are some we have made up our minds about. 


First, we decided that we’ll have an open-concept living area. This is given, actually, because at the moment we have only a 130 sf eat-in kitchen which is quite small for a family of 12. We don’t have a living room either, only a sitting area the same size as the kitchen but it’s upstairs. With a major renovation of the rear part of the building, we’ll add to the kitchen and design an open living area. It will be about 350sq when it’s ready. Still not huge but enough if we use every little inch in the space wisely. 


The open-plan offers the next must-have element I really want to have. The island. I know that everybody is into islands these days, and I normally go in the opposite direction if something is so hyped. However, it is a long-lived trend so it looks like that it’s more than a trend. It’s safe to say that it’s become a feature of this century’s kitchens. There are good reasons for this. Islands make many kitchens so much more usable. I’ve had kitchens I’d never put an island in because it would kill the space, but this time it will be a great and useful piece because an island is far more than just design. It gives a center and a focal point to the space, but also adds a lot of functions to it if designed well. I still have to plan the small details of it but today I just celebrate the possibility of having one. 

Floor to Ceiling Cabinets

Another big ‘yes’ for me is the floor to ceiling cabinets. I’m always short of storage place but I’ll have plenty of walls. (Only one of the walls will have some kind of windows/doors. I’m not sure if french doors or sliding doors.) The best way to utilize the huge wall space will be to build a floor to ceiling cabinetry. In addition to gaining a lot of storage place, it has the benefit of making the place look bigger. It just catches and leads the eye without any interruptions. I really love how it looks. 

Walk-in Pantry

Another must-have element in our kitchen is a decent sized walk-in pantry. We did try to live without it for a few years but we really missed it. Our kitchen cannot function without a nice walk-in pantry to store all the extra food supplies and staples.

Two Dishwashers

Because we are a large family two dishwashers could really do good service in our home. I’ll have to squeeze it in alongside the two sinks we could make good use of. In our home, there are always many people in the kitchen, oftentimes preparing different meals. So having a prep sink and a cleanup sink is something to seriously consider. I know that doubling up these things adds a big bump to the budget, but also value to the space. For us, it’s worth the investment because in everyday use it will be a huge advantage. 

Built-In Cutting Board With Bins

Going into even smaller details I really love the idea of a built-in cutting board with bins underneath. This is a great idea but I haven’t seen it climbing up on the trend tree. In fact, I hardly find anything like it on Google or Pinterest. I do wonder why. Probably there are drawbacks to it but I’ll have to try it to find them out because nobody talks about it. My prep habits could use something like this anyway.

Inserted Butcher Block

I’d use the built-in cutting boards for the veggies and an inserted butcher block for doughs. Yes! Doughs. However, I would not opt-in for a butcher block counter though I love how it looks and the texture it adds to the place, but it wouldn’t withstand the stresses of demanding use in our home. A smaller inserted piece would add a bit of character to the design and also be in good use. I don’t like the board I have now for doughs because it keeps moving while I’m working on it. A built-in piece would solve the problem. Cleaning-wise it’s the same as the movable one.

Pot Filler?

There is one thing I’m considering but not sure about. I love to see pot fillers in beautiful kitchen interiors, so it’s definitely a possible design element in my plans but I don’t want anything to be only a piece of design. But I’m not sure yet if I could fully utilize it. I guess this is another thing I’ll have to see for myself but I’m considering the pros and cons before jumping on board. Probably we use more water at the range more than most people do, and an extra tap would be useful for more than just filling the pots. I know I still need to lift the heavy and hot pots to pour water out but I do that anyway. So I’ll see. Probably, if I need to cut the budget, it will go, if not then I’ll give it a try. 

Well, these are my best kitchen must haves. I can hardly wait to execute the plans. Every day a day closer to it. 

I’d love to hear about your experience with any of these ideas, or all of them, especially the pot filler. Let me know in the comments, what you think about it!

Enjoy your kitchen!

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  1. Kitchens are such important spaces in a family home. In the near future we’re probably going to be making the transition to condo living and on my kitchen wish list is a big eating area for holiday gatherings, plenty of counter space for meal preparation, and a large pantry. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to find a place with all those components!

    1. Author

      That sounds great, Bev! 🙂 The eating area is what we’re in a really big need of. I feel you.
      I hope you’ll find a place with your dream kitchen!

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