J A C K I E  S C H A G E N   D E S I G N

What About the Kitchen Work Triangle?

When you start researching how to plan your kitchen, the first item that will come up with the Kitchen Work Triangle.  What this means is the location and spacing between the fridge, stovetop and sink.  This space planning method was developed in the 1940’s to maximize the efficiency of the cook in the kitchen, while also starting to standardize construction and reducing costs.


This set of planning principles has many rules.  Each item is to be no less than 4 feet apart, but no farther than 9 feet.  All the sides of the triangle should not exceed 26 feet.  Corners or other obstructions should not interfere with the triangle.


This planning strategy was great for a long time.  But a lot has changed since the 1940’s.  We’re not designing for single cooks in the kitchen anymore.  Often there are multiple people performing various tasks – making coffee, chopping vegetables, using the cooktop, washing dishes, etc.  Many families are wanting a more open concept to encourage the kitchen to be a social space.  This means there are less walls to work with and we need to be more flexible and creative with our design.


So what’s the new strategy of kitchen space planning?  Creating zones for each activity to happen in the space.  Each family uses their space a little differently but the main tasks being performed are Food Prep, Baking, Cooking and Cleaning. 


At the prep zone, you need a sink to wash and some countertop space to work.  The baking zone needs a good deal of counter space plus proximity to the oven(s).  To cook efficiently, you want to have at least 18” on each side of your cooking surface.  To plan your cleaning area, you’ll consider your food waste placement, sink size and style, and dishwasher location.

There are activity zones, but there are also storage zones to keep in mind.  You likely want to locate the dish-ware near to the dishwasher, as well as towards the eating area.  Food storage can be grouped together – both the pantry and refrigerator.  Don’t forget the cookware and bakeware, and plan for them to have homes close to where they will be used.

Then it is time to consider the extra activities that are happening in your kitchen.  Maybe a small desk is what you really need to keep the family organized.  Or maybe coffee is king in your household and an espresso station is a non-negotiable.  Or maybe it needs to have a TV, a charging station, or a bar area.  Those are the items to keep in mind to make the space really suit your needs.


Let’s agree that the Kitchen Work Triangle model had a good run, but isn’t applicable to the way we now use our homes.  Plan your kitchen so that it best suits the way you live, move, and enjoy your space for many years to come.

Learn Your Countertop Options - Part II

Wood/Butcher Block

Home Depot

Butcher block tops offer a warm, natural look and are available in a wide variety of species including oak, maple, cherry and beech.


  • DIY Installation
  • Relatively easy to clean
  • Can be sanded and resealed


  • Requires oiling to maintain
  • Mid range pricing
  • Can be scratched and damaged by water
  • Bacteria can be a problem if not maintained



Yes, you can have glass countertops! Often used as an accent as the colour, texture, and shape options are endless!


  • Unlimited design options
  • Low maintenance
  • Options for creative lighting


  • Expensive
  • Can chip or crack


The Concrete Network

Concrete countertops are an option if you’re looking for something truly unique and industrial. Be prepared – these are very heavy slabs!


  • Colour can be added with acid
  • Scratch and heat resistant


  • DIY not recommended
  • Very expensive
  • Porous surface
  • Cracking and crumbling can occur

Stainless Steel


Stainless Steel is a modern / industrial choice that could be the right choice for your space. You can have your sinks integrated into your countertop.


  • Impervious to heat
  • Easy to keep clean
  • Regarded as ‘luxurious’


  • Very expensive
  • Noisy
  • Easily scratched


The Spruce

Countertops made of soapstone have a beautiful soft, aged look. This material is often used in historic homes.


  • Rich colour
  • Heat resistant
  • Gets a “patina of age”


  • Must be professionally installed
  • Easily scratched and dented
  • Must be oiled regularly

Sintered Stone


This is the newest product on the scene. Brand names include Neolith, Dekton, and Geoluxe. Sintered stone is a man made product. They use 100% raw materials (no fillers or resins) that are compressed under massive pressure and heat to mimic what happens to create natural stones.


  • Indoor or outdoor use
  • Scratch and stain resistant
  • Heat and fire resistant
  • 5x stronger than granite


  • Edges can be susceptible to chipping
  • Must be professionally installed
  • Comparable in price to quartz
  • Pattern may only be on surface

Learn Your Countertop Options - Part I

When renovating your kitchen or bathroom you have many choices for new countertops.  I’ve chosen the 12 most popular options and will share the pros and cons to help you make your decision.  Here are the first 6 options.



Laminate countertops are often referred to as Formica, but there are other popular brands such as Wilsonart and Nevamar.  The most common type of laminate tops are called ‘Post-form counters’ which are a plastic laminated synthetics which is shaped and bonded to a particle board core. 


  • Easy to maintain
  • Low cost
  • Many designs available
  • DIY installation is possible


  • Visible seams
  • Not heat resistant
  • Can be considered too ‘cheap’
  • Scratches cannot be repaired



Tile countertops offer so much creativity for design and layout, or the selection to keep it simple as the photo above.


  • Easy to clean
  • Inexpensive
  • Possible to DIY
  • Unlimited design choices
  • Heat resistant


  • Grout can stain and be difficult to maintain
  • Tile can crack or break
  • Surface can end up uneven
  • Is not as valued as solid stone



Acrylic countertops (also referred to as solid surface) have been around for about 50 years. They are composed of acrylic and other resins that are pressed into sheets and other shapes. The most popular brands are Corian, Avonite and Swanstone.


  • Invisible seams
  • Easy to repair
  • Integrated sinks are available
  • Stain resistant
  • Many patterns possible


  • Easily scratched
  • Not heat resistant
  • Moderately expensive
  • Must be professionally installed



Granite slabs are slices of natural stone cut from the earth, so each piece is unique.  If you are looking to have a statement countertop, granite is an excellent choice.  As there are so many different designs, there is a broad range in price for granite slabs.


  • Heat resistant
  • Adds value to home
  • Very strong and durable
  • Thousands of natural designs


  • Requires sealing to resist staining
  • Professional installation only
  • More expensive
  • Can have natural imperfections


Aria Stone Gallery

Marble is a timeless and beautiful material and may be what you visualize when you picture a new kitchen or bathroom in your home.  But marble is not the easiest surface to live with.


  • Beautiful veining
  • Adds value to home
  • Heat resistant


  • Easily scratched
  • Easily stained
  • Expensive
  • Must be professionally installed



Quartz countertops are comprised of up to 93% natural stone, the remainder being the colouring and resins that are proprietary to each manufacturer.  Popular brands include Cambria, Caesarstone, Hanstone (Canadian), and Silestone.  Quartz bridges the gap between natural stones and consumer wishes – the look of natural stone without the natural imperfections.


  • Easy to maintain
  • Stain resistant
  • Adds value to home
  • Consistent and excellent patterning


  • Must be professionally installed
  • Expensive

Induction Cooking

When you are choosing to renovate your kitchen, it is often the time you are also choosing to upgrade your appliances.  New fridges are different sizes, new dishwashers are much more powerful, and there are new cooking technologies to consider.  I am a big fan of technology, and always want to learn about the newest and greatest products for your home. 

Let’s talk about Induction cooking.  Now available in both ranges and stand alone cooktops, induction cooking is slows transforming the marketplace for several reasons. 

What is induction cooking?

appliances connection

Induction cooking is when you are heating the cooking vessel itself (your pot or pan) instead of the electric we’re all used to where the elements heats the glass, which heats the pot or pan.

How does induction work?


When alternating current is passed through the coil of copper wire it creates a magnetic field.  This magnetic field transfers the current to the nearby ferromagnetic materials (your pan).  

This means that your pots and pans need to have iron in them – and it’s easy to check.  Just take any magnet and see if it sticks to the bottom.  If so, you’re good to go!

What makes induction so great?


Control – Temperature changes are instantaneous as you don’t have to wait for the element to cool down or heat up.  Temperatures are precise, you’re not just guessing by the flame height, and you’re able to achieve a true low simmer which is not possible on most gas ranges.

Safety – As shown above, the cooking surface doesn’t get hot.  The only chocolate melting is in the metal pan!  This makes the cooking surface safer for both children and seniors.  Also most units have a safety stop built in that will not even allow a pot to boil dry.

Efficiency – Induction cooking offers about 85% energy efficiency, compared to electric maxing out at about 70%.  Gas cooktops lose a lot of heat and are only giving you about 40% efficiency. 

Cooking area – Traditional cooking methods have set areas where you need to put your cookware.  With some of the new induction surfaces, you can place the vessel, no matter the size or shape, where you wish! 

Care & Maintenance – Because the surface doesn’t get so hot, it’s easy to wipe up spills as they don’t instantly burn to the surface.  One of the vessels that loves induction is a cast iron pan, but you might be worried about scratching the cooking surface.  No problem – just slip a silicone baking mat under your pan!  This will keep your pan in place and prevent damage to the ceramic top.

What’s next?


There are new countertop materials being installed so that you will be able to integrate your induction cooking.  The kitchen of the future is fluid and multi-purpose, and this is going to be a major part of this movement.

Is induction right for you?


Stop in at your local appliance store to learn more.  Many of these centres will also have live demonstrations so you can try it out yourself!



Home Design Trends for 2020

It’s a brand-new decade.  It’s time to shake things up and refresh our ideals of home design and décor. Let’s stray from safe and inject some joy and playfulness again.  Welcome into 2020!



We’ve been stuck in the monochrome greys for a while and it’s time to inject some joy and personality again.  I’m seeing more earth tones to bring some warmth and softness, but also brights and warmer blues to add playfulness.  Let’s get off the greige train!

Mix & Match


Gone are the days where we went into a furniture store and selected a whole set.  We want our homes to reflect us, personalized and with meaning.  We want to add texture – some new glossy items alongside antiques that have a patina of age and possibly an interesting story.  We’re not chasing perfection; we want our home to have meaning to us.

Fun Bathrooms


Bathrooms are often one of the smallest rooms in your home, so they are a great place to try something a bold and express your personality.  Wallpaper can add something a wild, quirky or stunningly beautiful and turn a boring room into something you can really be proud of and enjoy.

Real Plants


Adding more real plants to your home not only softens and adds an organic element to your décor, there are real health benefits.  Indoor plants improve concentration and productivity (up to 15%!) and reduce stress levels.  That anthurium or pothos plant is not only improving your indoor air quality, but it’s improving your mood too.

Closed Cabinets


The idea of open shelves in the kitchen is fun but having all open cabinets can leave you wanting for storage.  Also, who can keep all the shelves clean and looking perfectly styled?  Let’s remember that this is a is a work room first, and make sure your kitchen suits the tasks that are going to happen there.  

One Colour Rooms with Character


No longer do your doors and millwork have to be in the standard white.  Let’s add some extra trim details – chair rail, wall trim, crown moulding and paint everything out in a lovely semi-gloss.  Don’t be afraid with your colour – the bold will be rewarded.

Intricate Backsplash


We’ve all loved subway tile for a while.  A very long while.  Now it’s time to choose a backsplash that really grabs you.  As it is the easiest part of a kitchen to change, why not choose something fabulous?

I’m looking forward to seeing all the personalization we’re going to bring into this new decade.