The kitchen is the heart of any home. Its flow and personality set the scene for the rest of the house and is the focal point of visitors and potential buyers. It can also be one of the most expensive rooms to remodel, making it a sore spot for many homeowners. When scouring through kitchen design tips, you’ll see some recurring themes: functionality, use of space, and appliances and fixtures. Here are five genius ideas to make your kitchen work for you.

Functional Islands

Historically, islands have been a chunk of wood used to increase counter space. Sometimes it would feature a few cupboards or a sink. Often, it would waste more space than it would create. If you’re including an island in your home design, make it work in your favor. Incorporate a wine rack, a breakfast bar or a slide out cabinet for your garbage can. Shelving and drawers provide functional storage options as well.

Also, consider using the space above the island more effectively. Would this be a good place for a pot rack? Could you add a skylight to incorporate more natural light? The options are endless.

Useful Cupboards and Shelves

Nothing is more frustrating than having cupboard space that is awkward to get to or not set up for storage. Think about ways to use these awkward spots better. Can you incorporate spacers to slide in pans and baking sheets? What about hooks on the cupboard door itself? Small, stackable shelves from the local department store are great for pots and pans, while a lazy susan makes a great addition to any pantry.

Believe it or not, a small tension rod can be life-changing under a kitchen cupboard. Put one under the sink to hang bottles of cleaning products and rags. Incorporating small drawers and shelves underneath the main cabinets or between the fridge and wall are another way to add plenty of storage without doing a major overhaul.

Make it Smart

If there’s any room of your house that you should optimize for smart objects, it’s your kitchen. Beyond turning the lights on and off or adjusting the temperature, having a smart kitchen can help you find recipes, create shopping lists based on what you’ve thrown away, set timers, start slow cookers and instant pots, and–perhaps most importantly– start your coffee for you in the mornings.

If you have a home assistant like Google Home or Amazon Echo, you may need specialized adaptors to plug your smart objects into to make them work with your system. Welcome to the kitchen of the future.

Cupboard Lighting

Lighting under the cupboards has become increasingly popular in recent years. The ability to better light your functional working area, as well as create a soft ambiance, appeals to the masses. It also leaves your ceiling open for a pot rack if you have limited storage space available.

Consider lighting that not only lights your counters but the floor as well. Incorporating motion sensor lighting along the base of your cupboards is perfect if you’re often in and out of the kitchen after dark. The soft lighting provides enough light for you to see by, without waking you up entirely if you’re seeking a midnight snack before tucking in for the night.

Small Appliance Cabinet

Toaster ovens, coffee pots, and microwaves take up valuable counter space and often fail to mesh with the overall design scheme. Creating a small appliance cabinet can help with this problem. How you go about this will depend on the space you have available.

Can you incorporate something large enough that you can use multiple appliances without removing them from their space? Or will this be an easily accessible cabinet from which you can move the appliance when you need it? A well-designed kitchen makes entertaining, selling, and daily life easier. Get creative and consult with the experts to create a kitchen that works for you.