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Friday, February 26, 2010


I wrote this article for the 'Decorate Extend & Renovate' Magazine which was published last spring and feel that it holds many helpfull design guidelines for anyone contemplating restyling an exisitng kitchen or designing a kitchen for a new build.

Good kitchen design ultimately revolves around the end user’s requirements and family lifestyle. What’s the point of having a breakfast bar if no one sits at it, or if you have many floor cabinets but not enough space to put appliances? In the next few paragraphs I have singled out what I feel are important issues to consider when planning your new kitchen layout.

The Work Triangle
There are three primary work zones in a kitchen:
1.Food storage (refrigerator)
2.Cooking (cooker/oven)
3.Clean-up (sink and dishwasher)

It is widely accepted that the kitchen is the heart of the home, so if you plan its layout around your family’s lifestyle, you should end up with a successful, functional space. Today’s kitchens must facilitate many functions from food preparation, storage and eating to working and entertaining. Your might have a home office space here, family computer or watch tv. Professional design advice could save time now and money later.

Style & Equipment
Kitchen style is important and will influence the type of appliances and accessories you choose, as well as the amount of space required to accommodate them. For example an Aga Range will look great in a traditional kitchen but may look slightly out of place in a contemporary kitchen, unless it is a modern cross over style, like gas or electric. Another consideration is plumbing and electrics. Many American style fridge freezers require connection to mains water for ice and filtered water, so they also need to be accessible for replacing the filter. Many modern appliances like these tend to be wider so make sure there are no obstacles to prevent doors opening comfortably and safely. Some average around 1000mm wide while more traditional appliances are approximately 600mm. Accessories, such as door knobs, sinks and taps need to be considered as part of the overall look of the kitchen, while ‘built-in’ luxury accessories like microwave, coffee machine, steamer etc must have their place in the space plan too.

Plan your Kitchen
A kitchen ‘space plan’ needs to accurately represent the dimensions of the kitchen, the position of windows and doors, and all available wall space before you can start to plot cabinets. If you are extending or remodelling your kitchen, be realistic about the space you actually require for the kitchen you want to have. An empty space will always look impressive but once you start fitting cabinets and appliances, it can quickly shrink. It is therefore advisable to plan your kitchen design/layout at the same time as drawing plans for your new extension – this will help you achieve exactly what you want.

Plan your kitchen layout on graph paper, using one square to represent 0.5m. Plot doors, windows and other fixtures such as radiators, then, position appliances, wall and floor cabinets as well as freestanding items like bins, to get a preliminary impression of what your kitchen could look like. Remember kitchen cabinets vary in width (500mm & 600mm) so until you decide on a kitchen style with your chosen showroom, your plan won’t be accurate.

Budget, Budget, Budget!
If your builder has allocated a PC sum for the kitchen then you are restricted to where you can shop, but that doesn’t mean your design should suffer. Look at your wish list, your space plan, and all information gathered from showrooms – this will help you set your budget. This will help you evaluate the quantity of cabinets and appliances you need. You can then take this to a kitchen showroom for pricing. Style of units, grade of material and cabinet accessories, such as swing or corner racks and wine storage, will impact on cost. Appliances can vary in price depending on the brand you chose so visit review websites to see how other purchasers rated them. You will need to budget for appliances, cabinetry, worktop, accessories, plumber, electrician and of course kitchen fitting.

Make a Wish List
Start to make a scrapbook of looks and styles you like from magazines, such as granite work tops, water filter, wine storage, island unit or integrated appliances.

5 Tips for Successful Design Layout....
1.Evaluate the pros & cons of your existing layout.
2.Make a list of items you need to find space for in the kitchen – food, cooking utensils & equipment, appliances, dining table etc
3.Section your kitchen into essential / required work zones / task areas.
4.Prioritise your must-have items (in case your budget can’t afford them all)
5.Choose a kitchen style – that won’t date.

10 Tips for Successful Positioning...
1.Make sure you find a place for everything in your kitchen – cross check item list with plan.
2.Don’t clutter all walls with cabinets; consider open shelving to help give the illusion of more space.
3.How many appliances do you require? Do you want them integrated or can you position any on top of each other to save floor space? Wet appliances ideally should be near mains water for ease of fitting.
4.Do you need full height larder cupboards or will top and bottom cabinets suffice?
5.Consider the ‘work triangle’ when positioning appliances. According to the principles of Feng Shui, the cook should be able to see the door from the hob without turning her back.
6.Consider power/fuel/drainage lines all appliances, especially if integrated onto an island.
7.Plan an extractor fan/hood above the hob. If on an island, these are usually 90cm as opposed to 60cm.
8.Where will your bin live?
9.Where do you require electric point/sockets/switches and lighting systems?
10.If space is limited, consider a dining table top attachment which folds away or an integrated island/work station.

Good luck with your new kitchen and dont forget if you would prefer to export the headache to a professional you can always call on Design Sense!