Kitchen confidential

By Stuart Foxman | November 6, 2012 | Last updated on November 6, 2012
3 min read

Every business wants to set the table for success. And, while the kitchen may be the heart of the home, it plays a key role in the office too.

What it is

A dedicated space with a microwave, fridge, sink, cabinets and counters.

Why you need it

To store and heat lunches, make coffee, and keep snacks and cold drinks handy.

How it helps

For clients, having a kitchen allows you to offer more than a cup of coffee or glass of water. Staff can save money because they can brown-bag lunches, and time because they don’t have to go out to get coffee. This can boost employee morale, which in turn can boost productivity. “You add to the efficiency of the office,” says Shane Robinson of Calgary Vending Services.

Good to know

Typically, it’s easier and less expensive to build the kitchen near a bathroom—you’ll have easier access to the drain and water lines inside the walls.

Another way to offer refreshments is via vending machine. Suppliers want your space and the captive buyers, so they don’t charge for installation or maintenance.

You can subsidize some of the costs of drinks and snacks; the supplier will adjust pricing accordingly and invoice you the balance.

Or, you can cover the entire cost as a perk.

An average machine holds 300 items (bags of chips, candy bars, and soda cans), and costs about $450 to stock.

Consider how many people will use the kitchen at a time to determine space and appliance needs.

If everyone brings their lunch, or if you want to keep a large stock of juice and soda for staff and guests, two fridges might make sense. “You might also want two microwaves so people don’t have to wait,” says Howard Mulholland, a kitchen designer at Lowe’s in Toronto.

Have clear rules on kitchen etiquette, including cleaning and putting away dishes, disposing of leftovers, replacing supplies like paper towel rolls, and making the next pot of coffee. The kitchen should be as neat and organized as any other part of the office; it is, after all, part of the workspace.

Who can help

Kitchen specialists, general contractors, and home improvement chains can all perform or coordinate design and installation. At, you can search for local contractors by project and geographic area.

How much

As with home kitchens, it all depends on design, quality of the cabinetry and counters, and appliances. Cory Kloos of Red Seal Builders in Winnipeg once put in a $300,000 kitchen at a law firm that had everything from specialty wine coolers to a custom-made bar to serve single-malt scotch to clients.

To get a rough idea of material and labour costs, we asked four kitchen specialists to quote a 10×10 kitchen with middle-of-the-road finishes. The estimates averaged $10,000, ranging from $5,000 at the low end to $20,000 at the high end.

The size of the supplier, use of sub-contractors, need for custom rather than off-the-shelf solutions, and any electrical or plumbing complications can make a big difference.

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based financial writer.