These days the kitchen and eating area are the hub of the home. So it’s more important than ever that these spaces work for you. A badly planned kitchen can add time to meal-preparation, isolate the cook and be generally annoying. A good kitchen design can save you time AND let you multi-task – maybe even free-up space. It can have a knock-on effect of improving the circulation of the house and happiness of everyone living there.
Whilst we quite liked the style of the kitchen we inherited on moving in to this house, the layout was atrocious. You had to walk three lengths of the room to make a cup of tea! Plus there were no eye-level windows and a wall separated us from the children and/or guests. Now, we can see the garden, have more light, can find and reach everything we need easily and have stopped shouting through the wall when we suspect/can hear the children are misbehaving – because we can see them and they can see us! It works well as a party space too.
How can you achieve this?
The first thing to do is work out what you want and need. Don’t think about colours or styles yet. Make a list of things you won’t compromise on or have no choice over e.g. sink must be under window. Then add ‘would like to haves’.
If you would like to remove walls, speak to a structural engineer to find out whether you will need support pillars. We were able to remove a wall but the plinths at either side had to stay and the steel beams were too large to be recessed. So we knew what we had to work around.
Get some squared paper (or print your own from Excel) and start sketching layouts
When you are thinking about layout, remember the work triangle – oven/hob, fridge and sink. You might also add to this the space you intend to use for food preparation and the rubbish bin. As a secondary work ‘triangle’ I thought about kettle, tap, milk and mugs.
Once you have a couple of layouts that seem to work, try drawing them out life-size with chalk on your patio or drive. I found this amazingly helpful in gauging whether I had the distances right.
kitchen design service
At this point I went to a free kitchen design consultation from one of the big name retailers. It was good to get an idea of how many cabinets we could fit in but I had already made a lot of layout decisions by that point. Judging by the layout installed for the previous owners of our house, these companies can’t afford the time it takes to understand what you really need from your kitchen.
Think about how you want to store things. For example, do you prefer drawers or cupboards? I think drawers are great for pans so that you don’t have to rummage at the back of a cupboard.
Where will you keep the crockery and cutlery? Close to the dishwasher/draining board for easy packing away? Or close to the dining table if you prefer to serve at the table?
Think about how you use your kitchen. For example, when one of us is cooking, quite often someone else wants to pack away groceries or get a drink. I wanted to avoid these two getting in each other’s way – hence the larder and fridge are at the open end of the kitchen.
If you have children, consider how to store things like cleaning products and fragile items safely – will you have cupboard locks? If not, then you need to keep these things out of reach. Also, think ahead to when they are a bit older – do you want them to be able to access their own cups and breakfast cereals? The fruit bowl but not the biscuit tin?
You will need to pack away your kitchen at some point so de-clutter now and work out what exactly you need to store. Have you planned enough storage? We moved our freezer to the garage and the recycling to the porch to make space. Other ways we found to maximise the space were plinth drawers (fantastic for baking trays etc), extra tall wall cupboards and ways to avoid dead space in each cupboard, e.g.:
I thought about hanging the ironing board on the inside of a tall cabinet door but that didn’t work out. See my kitchen storage hacks post for more ideas like this.
Here is the finished kitchen and adjoining play area. The dining table is where the photographer (me!) is standing.
I hope these tips have helped you in this important task. I’ll leave the style side of thingas for another day.