Building & Renovating

RL Tips: Building Your Kitchen

Architect and assistant professor Richelle Baria shares helpful insights and other basics to consider when building a kitchen


What kind of lighting is ideal for kitchens? What material is best for kitchen flooring? Take note of these helpful insights from architect and assistant professor Richelle Baria before you build your dream kitchen.

Interview by Katherine Lopez. Photographed by Paolo Feliciano (countertop).

Read the original article in the August 2013 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Keep in mind these tips:

Q: Which is a better countertop? Natural or synthetic?

A: For natural stone, granite slab counter tops are highly recommended because of their natural beauty, durability, and resistance to heat, scratches, and stains. Unlike marble, granite is non-porous, so water won’t seep into it and cause molds and mildew to grow.

Another natural material is quartz countertops, which have anti-bacterial properties. Solid-surface synthetic materials are another option, especially those that are non-porous, heat-resistant, and scratchproof. Remember to use these durable materials for your kitchen for easy maintenance.

For those who want an industrial look, stainless steel countertops are the best option. Stainless steel counters and kitchen units are easy to fabricate and clean. Meanwhile, for those on a tight budget, polished ceramic tiles may do.

Q: Can you use Hardieflex in wet areas like kitchen and bathroom?

A: Yes, because Hardieflex (fiber-cement board) is lightweight, easy to install, and is watertight. CHB walls with ceramic or homogenous wall tiles are also an option.

Q: What kind of lighting is ideal for kitchens?

A: There should be ample general and task lighting in kitchens due to food preparation. A minimum of 30 to 40 footcandles (a unit of measurement for illumination) is required for kitchens areas for general preparation, while 70 to 80 footcandles for areas above the stove and sink. This can be achieved by placing windows at strategic areas for natural lighting. You may also use CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) or LED lights in areas that receive minimal to low lighting.

Q: What material is best for kitchen flooring?

A: Since kitchen floors are prone to spills, it is best to use non-porous materials such polished granite tiles, or polished and non-skid ceramic tiles or homogenous tiles.

Q: Why is a rangehood important in the kitchen?

A: Rangehoods ventilate the kitchen, suctioning the smoke and pungent smells of food. Keep in mind that it is placed 46cm above the stove, so that it can vent out the smoke and the smells directly and easily from your cooktop.


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