Interiors Q&A – planning a kitchen
Dear Andrew, I am thinking about replacing my kitchen. How should I go about doing this?
Before you get carried away with choosing your worktops or the latest must have appliances, make a detailed plan of the space – measure everything, noting where the water and power points are. Your newly designed kitchen does not need to keep the same layout exactly but you may be constrained by space and should bear this in mind from the start – also does the existing layout work well but you want new units and appliances? If you feel the existing kitchen is too small is it possible to change the existing internal layout to provide a larger kitchen, one option for expansion is to combine a little used dining room into the kitchen.
When planning your kitchen, ease of use is paramount and this is achieved through a good layout. Think about the work triangle – that is, the location of your cooker, sink and fridge. You will be constantly moving between these so try to keep them close to each other – a stand alone refrigerator away from your main preparation area may look stunning but running back and forth to it will just annoy you. There are four main zones that need to be incorporated in your design: food preparation, cooking, serving and washing up – but when planning you don’t have to give each of them equal importance. For example, if you rarely prepare meals then don’t devote too much space to the preparation area.
Think carefully about the style of the units and if you are tempted by the latest fashion remember that you may have to live with it for years. High gloss has been very on trend for a number of years but will you still like red gloss units five years down the line? White gloss is equally trendy but has longevity. If you want to play safe wood fronts are a good choice and the handles can always be changed to refresh the look at a later date. Another look, particularly suited to country kitchens, is painted units – this style is easily refreshed as the units can easily be repainted in another colour.
There are a myriad of options for kitchen units and you need to careful consider what storage you require. Deep drawers are more practical for storing kitchen equipment than lots of cupboards and allow for easier access. If however you entertain frequently, a large cupboard with shelving will be essential for crockery and glass storage. Wall-to-floor cabinets that pull out are excellent in small kitchens and can serve as a modern-day larder.
Once you have planned the essentials, you can start to think about your choice of appliances, worktops and flooring. While you might love the idea of a large range cooker, would you use it? If possible do try to keep laundry appliances out of the kitchen because this frees up space and they can be noisy. Also consider the noise level of your dishwasher if the kitchen is next to the living room or if you have an open-plan area, Miele dishwashers are generally very quiet.
Worktops can add a luxury touch so this is one area to spend as much as you can afford – granite or Corian are good long-term options. If however your budget is tight consider combining two materials - for a kitchen in Maida Vale we used solid wood for the majority of the worktops and kept the more expensive granite for the island unit.
Finally choose a flooring that suits the style of your kitchen and your lifestyle. Limestone is a very popular choice for kitchen floors and looks stunning, but comes with a maintenance overhead – the stone must be regularly sealed or any spillages will leak into the stone. Slate is another natural stone flooring option and very durable. You may however prefer to tile the floor with a ceramic tile if you want a low maintenance option but the look of natural stone. Other options to consider are wood flooring or vinyl – if you choose wood ensure it is recommended for use in kitchens and mop up any spillages immediately to avoid accidents!
If you remember to consider all the essential elements you can have a kitchen that suits both your lifestyle and also budget. Whether you go for Poggenpohl or Ikea careful planning will help you finally achieve your dream kitchen.