Kosher or not kitchen design is as much a science as an art. There are many essential concepts critical to any kitchen but for our purposes let's look at what is essential for a functional Kosher Kitchen.
1)Materials: Stainless Steel for all sinks and dishwasher interiors (with two sets of racks if in your budget). Quartz resin or granite counter tops. Quartz resin slabs can look like granite or not and almost any solid color is available. This opens up the range of design possibilities to infinity! Quartz counter tops can also contain an anti-microbial agent and is ten times stronger than granite. Granite is beautiful and practical as well, but does need to be cleaned and treated with a water based sealant on a regular basis.
2) Plumbing: Separate the dairy and meat sinks. If you can, add a parve sink location with adjacent workspace. Pot filler faucets by the stove is an essential convenience. Dishwasher drawers are also an excellent option. Since the plumbing is totally separate you can stack dairy, meat or parve drawers without drain issues. It is also a green option, smaller loads use less water.
3)Appliances: Currently many appliance manufacturers have Sabbath Mode which allows the user to adjust the setting for Shabbat and Yom Tov use. This is essential in a Kosher kitchen!
4) Floor Plan: If your kitchen layout works well, and you don't have any extra space to change it then stick with what works. It is less expensive in the end. If you are undergoing a major renovation, consult closely with your kitchen designer to insure getting everything you need to maximize the new space.
5) Lighting: Ambient lighting should brighten sufficiently to clearly see everything in your space. Task lighting under the wall cabinets put the light on your work area. If possible go green with LED lamps.
6) Cabinetry: Go to the ceiling with the wall cabinets. For typical 8' ceilings without soffits maximize upper cabinets to 42" in height, the top shelf is great for Passover items.
7) Flooring: Consider resilient flooring. It has come a long way and can look like any material you like including tile, wood or bamboo. It is laid on top of a plywood substrate so it is "softer" underfoot for cooks who spend lots of time on their feet in the kitchen.
8) Cost: Set your budget. Kosher kitchens can be more expensive with stainless steel, double dishwashers, multiple sinks.....However, the return on your investment in many locations is 80%-100%, plus you get to enjoy the kitchen of your dreams.
9) Contractor: I cannot stress enough, get a quality contractor with quality sub-contactor's. Check their license, Workman's Compensation policy and General Liability Insurance. Call references. If you don't have a contractor, your kitchen designer should be able to introduce you to some. Then do your diligence. Make sure you feel comfortable with them. Insist on a permit if you are doing anything other than replacing cabinets and appliances using the original kitchen layout. If the contractor balks at the mention of a permit you know they are not qualified to pull one or are possibly cutting corners on your project.
10) Use a Kitchen Designer: Find people who do this for a living . The CKD designation from the National Kitchen and Bath Association lets you know that this designer understands all aspects of the kitchen renovation process. They have experience in the initial design phase through the planning of all the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems that make the kitchen function as it should. Your kitchen designer should have at least a general understanding of Kashrut.
The key to a beautiful and functional Kosher Kitchen is in the selection of materials and layout. Try to anticipate every detail. Measure the largest tray, pot, small appliances, dishes, etc., you have to insure you have some place to accommodate it. Have all the decisions made during the design phase, avoid last minute changes. To speed up the construction process all materials should be ordered and scheduled along with the project. Then when it is all done, raise your glass for a "l'chayim" and good home cooked Kosher meals!