1.The Design Brief
Although it’s easy to rush into choosing cabinetry and appliances the most important part of the process is the design brief. The kitchen designer will get to know all your needs and wishes and how you, and your family, plan to use the space. Research through websites, Pinterest, magazines etc and come armed with what style you like. Although ideally this is done in the home, it can now also be done just as effectively online. This is not about the detail but about the bigger picture, because without the canvas onto which the design can be placed, that the kitchen won’t work as a room.
2.Storage is king
The vision of a magazine-style kitchen with everything neatly in its place is often distanced from the reality of a busy family kitchen. Kitchen storage is one of the hottest topics in kitchen design with a plethora of great options to ensure everything has its place. Opt for long drawers rather than cupboards as they can house more and offer access more efficiently. If you have space choose a large larder with drawers, wire baskets and in built power and light for easier use. For those awkward corners look at Le Mans or corner drawers. Never underestimate the benefits of special storage solutions in drawers for spice racks, knives, plates and every item of kitchen paraphernalia.
3.Islands to the fore
The island is the connection between the cooking areas and the rest of the room or home so the design must be sympathetic with the whole room design. Curved or organic shaped islands work well where you want to soften curves and make it more pleasing to the eye. If possible, incorporate a dining space, such as a breakfast bar, as the island will become the focus of the room. Housing the hob and/or a sink on the island will make it a more sociable space with the user able to socialise with others more easily in the rest of the room.
4.Working out the worktop
Before choosing a worktop, decide what it will be used for and whether it is food preparation, dining, plating up or a combination.. From ultra slim 10mm tops up to chunkier 200mm thick tops, there is a huge variety on offer but be mindful of the finished height of the kitchen worktop and how it ergonomically suits your requirements. Consider if the top will adopt a discerning role in the design complimenting the furniture, or whether the worktop will be a statement within the kitchen design. Handle less kitchens provide another detail for the worktop to compliment. Engineered stone offers durability and a huge choice in colours and finishes while natural materials such as granite, marble or wood offer a more traditional look.
5.Choosing the cabinets
With such an era of choice, consider the texture and colour as well as the detail or simplicity of the cabinet fronts. As a rule of thumb, framed doors generally look better in a wider and taller format. If the door is too small, by the time you add the framed detail there is very little space left in the centre panel, and in such cases a flat panelled cabinet door would look better. Use bold colours as an accent rather than for the whole kitchen, as it is easy for colour to go out of fashion. Greys, beiges and warm tones are very ‘in’ and will ensure longevity of the design. Try including some display units – either glass fronted or open shelves – as these provide excellent displays for stylish crockery or ornaments.
6.The kitchen workhorses
Appliances are the workhorses of the kitchen. The choice and range is huge but consider carefully how and when they will be used. For flexibility, opt for an induction hob with a flexible zone allowing you to cook with larger accessories such as a griddle or Teppan Yaki. In many homes there is a ‘fridge war’. One partner may see the fridge as a food storage area, while the other seeks a designated area for drinks. With fridges providing a multitude of functions, including zoned sections, as well as water and ice dispensing, make sure the fridge is located conveniently to accommodate all these requirements. If space (and budget) allows, then consider having a second smaller fridge located close to the cooking area, as chefs would call a “mise en place” fridge. And in your drinks area, a dedicated fridge is a much desired addition. Induction hobs provide better flexibility and ease of use than any other type, as well as being the most energy efficient. A boiling water tap remains the most desired kitchen item and has the added bonus of being energy and space efficient. Consider hiding many functional appliances, such as laundry machines, behind pocket doors as this will give a tidier and sleeker style.
7.Lighting up the room
Lighting will almost always be zoned or layered as cooking and preparation areas should be well illuminated and direct whereas dining and living areas may contain more mood lighting. Consider mood lighting around the base of units to provide a softer glow. Use natural light wherever possible as it cannot be compensated for by artificial light.
Consider carefully the ergonomics of the bin/waste/sink and dishwasher systems. The location, layout and type of refuse bins, including all recycling receptacles, sinks and dishwasher is one of the key elements in a kitchen in terms of how they are used and who uses them. Getting this right at the design stage to suit your family will reap dividends and make everyday life much easier in the long term.
And finally… the kitchen designer should be involved from a very early stage, whether this is a new build or refurbishment, to get the best possible kitchen design. The designer then won’t have to work within the constraints of the existing room or final plans but will be able to do a better design. The design of the kitchen will be very constrained if the designer is only brought in when the architect’s plans are finalised so for a more aesthetic, functional kitchen choose your kitchen designer at the same time as your architect.
Considering every aspect and functionality of the kitchen will ensure at the end of the day that the kitchen is a delight to work in, be in and socialise in for every day of the year.