You can remodel your kitchen to make your house easier to sell or make you feel more at home. Either way, the impact of kitchen remodeling illustrates the importance of the kitchen in the grand scheme of your house.

“The kitchen is really the hearth of the house in many ways. It’s where we want to socialize,” says Sarah Susanka, architect and author of the Not So Big House series of books.

According to Susanka, the biggest problem with kitchens is when the room is isolated from the rest of the house.

“We’ve all been into kitchens with an eating area that’s too far away from the kitchen, so it’s like its own little isolated room. It’s got to be close enough that there’s a kind of tension between the two that allows for participation,” Susanka says.

One way to open up your kitchen, and use the other 90 percent of your house, is to visually open the kitchen to the dining or living areas. In doing this, from the kitchen, you can engage other family members or guests who are watching TV in the family room or lounging in a more formal living room.

Distances between the kitchen and dining and living areas are incredibly important and are also house-specific, so make sure you create a kitchen remodeling plan that works for your house, don’t just do something you saw somewhere else and liked.

Susanka recommends looking through magazines to learn quick tips about how to lay out a kitchen to maximize its function, but she says deciding what your needs are and have your remodeling fit those is the best thing to do.

“I get less detailed into that kind of design [from magazines], but more into how do you make the space really receive you as you’re working in it, and then how do you feel connected to the surrounding spaces,” Susanka says.

Through work surfaces, lighting and color Susanka encourages home owners to create a “sense of shelter” in your kitchen’s work area. If the kitchen is the heart of your home, it should feel protective and welcoming to you.

However, what one home owner finds soothing and comforting may differ greatly than another home owner, so if you are looking to remodel your kitchen just to make it more appealing to buyers, Susanka’s methods may not be for you. She believes that designing homes in general and kitchens specifically for resale makes our houses less personal to us.

Susanka’s approach to kitchen and home remodeling is about creating a space you will live in for many, many years to come, so if you are looking to flip your kitchen to increase your house’s appeal on the market, stick with the magazine tips.

For more stories on home improvement, home inspections, real estate and personal finance visit Check out these videos featuring Sarah Susanka:

Sustainable Architecture

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August 29, 2008