The kitchen is the heart of every home, so you want every detail to be perfect. In this article, we take you through the factors you need to consider before designing your new kitchen, options for the layout and flow, and tips for designing a kitchen on a budget.
Before you start your kitchen design, you need to think carefully about a range of factors first. These include how your kitchen will be used; whether you want it to complement the style of the rest of your home; how to zone your kitchen; options for heating, lighting, and plumbing; and deciding how to allocate your budget.
Here are the 5 key factors to consider before designing your kitchen;
1. How Will Your Kitchen Be Used?
Kitchens are more than just a place to cook and store food: Many homes nowadays use the kitchen as a family hub, where everybody sits down together for meals, watching TV, doing homework, or even working remotely. Other people might be keen on entertaining big groups of people regularly. Or perhaps you are an expert cook who needs a kitchen where you can express that passion.
With a multiplicity of functions expected of it, your kitchen will have to work hard to please everybody and still accommodate that quiet corner where you can sit and call a friend or enjoy a chat over a cup of coffee. Even if you don’t have oceans of space, a good architectural designer will help you create a kitchen that works for everybody.
2. Kitchen Style – Complement or Contrast?
Particularly if you are redesigning a kitchen in an existing home, you will need to decide beforehand whether you want the new design to correspond with the style of the rest of the house, or whether you want it to represent a dramatic departure from your dominant theme.
If you live in an old farmhouse style home, you might decide to go for a period look with painted dressers, old stone, and traditional styling. Or perhaps you’d prefer a statement kitchen that really makes an impression with lots of glass and sleek modern fittings.
3. Kitchen Zoning
Once you’ve decided how your new kitchen will be used, you can plan how the space can accommodate those uses. If cooking is going to your primary concern, focus on combining cooking and prep areas for maximum ease of use. If it’s going to be a general hub for all the family, think about blending cooking and prep areas with dining and relaxation areas in one open-plan space.
Depending on how you plan your zones, different kitchen layouts will be more suitable for you (more on layout below). In most cases, you won’t have the luxury of being able to choose any design you like because your choices will be restricted by the size and shape of your space. Even so, it is generally useful to look at the classic “working triangle.” This triangle centres on the sink, fridge, and cooker as its three anchor points and is designed to minimise the distance between them. The triangle works well with most kitchen layouts, unless you have to position all the appliances and the sink along one wall.
4. Kitchen Heating, Plumbing & Lighting
Radiators take up a lot of valuable space in your kitchen, so you could opt for underfloor heating instead. However, if you are planning to install underfloor heating, you will need to do so before you put down the kitchen floor.
Another factor that needs to be considered before you lay the floor is whether you are planning to install a kitchen island with a sink or other appliances. If so, the plumbing and electricity will need to be in place before the floor goes down. Decide where all your appliances will be, so that you have easy access to plug points.
To simplify your plumbing needs, install your washing machine and dishwasher close to your sink.
Lighting is a wonderful tool for demarcating different zones in your kitchen. If you make your lighting system quite flexible, you can light various areas separately. You can also use spots in cooking and preparation areas for greater illumination.
5. Planning Your Kitchen Budget
Your kitchen needs are unique to you. Everyone has their own specific priorities when it comes to their kitchen: Maybe yours is a statement island, stylish cupboards, granite worktops—it’s up to you. Decide your kitchen must-haves before you start designing so that your designer can accommodate them and so that you can allocate an appropriate portion of your budget to them.
After you’ve made allowances for what needs to be included in your kitchen, decide how to spread the rest of your budget:
- Don’t skimp on your worktops because these are the among the most used elements of any kitchen. Choose a material that is both durable and attractive, such as granite, composite, or solid surfaces.
- Quality cabinets are also worth the investment. Buying carcasses that are at least 15mm thickness all round will stand to you in the long run. Flimsier structures will not last.
- Doors don’t need to be top-of-the-range. Laminate and PVC foil finishes are all less expensive than rich wood veneer or even hi-gloss, and they look just as good.
- When you are buying appliances, splurge on your oven and hob and save on your washing machine and dryer.
Don’t forget about Designing the Layout
If your kitchen is laid out well, all your available space will be optimised, with everything you need to hand and a logical flow in place. You can use the layout to direct traffic toward user-friendly spaces such as seating areas, making your kitchen a welcoming, safe, and practical area.
Blum’s Dynamic Space
Blum’s Dynamic Space uses the idea of task zones arranged in a circular route for maximum efficiency and ergonomics. A group of expert kitchen designers identified five specific task zones in kitchens that should be configured to ensure that everything required to complete the task is close at hand:
- Food preparation: Hob, oven, microwave, chopping boards, food processors, mixing bowls, seasonings, etc., should be grouped together.
- Pots & pans: Pots, pans, and lids should be close the food preparation zone.
- Cleaning & waste: Dishwasher, sink, waste bins, cleaning products should be together.
- Food storage: Fridge, freezer, and cupboards need to be near each other.
- China & cutlery: Utensils, cutlery, glasses, and small appliances such as coffee makers belong in this zone.
Focus on Flow
As well as deciding how to allocate space for storage and tasks, you also need to consider how people will move around your kitchen. Think about designing routes to other areas (such as the entrance to the garden or dining space) so that they don’t obstruct people working in the kitchen—putting the fridge near the entrance to the kitchen, perhaps, so that people can get drinks without annoying the cook.
If you have an island, place bar stools along one side so that the cook can work without guests getting in the way. You can also divide your kitchen into separate cooking, dining, and leisure areas using different floor coverings, paint finishes, or lighting.
The Main Types of Kitchen Layout:
These are the most common types of kitchen layout. Decide which one suits your needs and circumstances:
Single wall: For anybody with a restricted space, a single-wall kitchen is a good option. Instead of wasting valuable space on lots of wall-mounted units, install tall cupboards and floor units to make optimal use of the height of the room
Galley: This is another practical solution for a small space. With a galley kitchen, base cabinets, wall cabinets, and counters are located on one or both sides of a long narrow space. If your galley kitchen uses both sides, you need to leave at least 90cm between the rows of units to avoid banging into the units on the other side when you reach into the oven or cupboards on the other side.
U-Shape: A U-shaped kitchen offers lots of work and storage space although it can feel somewhat constricted if the room is lined with units. If your room is big enough, try putting a breakfast bar at one end of the U to open up the circulation space.
L-Shape: The L shape has many advantages, offering plenty of work and storage space below your worktops and shortening the distance between your task zones. It’s also a great option if you want to put a dining area at one end.
Islands: Kitchens with free-standing units in the centre are extremely popular. The island can be fitted with appliances and a sink, and it can also serve as a casual seating area. If you are installing a hob in your island, position it so that you can cook while facing the other people in the room.
Tips for Great Kitchens on a Modest Budget:
- If you are upgrading your current kitchen, you may not need to replace the units: Simply replace the doors or even repaint the existing doors and replace the handles.
- You can buy a timber kitchen unpainted and finish it yourself.
- Enquire in builders’ merchants and kitchen showrooms if they have ex-display kitchens for sale. Remember, you will have to collect and fit the kitchen yourself.
- Buy your worktops separate from the kitchen units and shop around for the best price. Other options include composite instead of solid stone worktops or save the best quality worktop for the areas where it will be most visible and use cheaper alternatives elsewhere.
- Save money with a stainless-steel sink.
- When shopping for appliances, allocate your budget wisely: For example, you can afford to splurge on your hob, if you buy a basic dishwasher.
Now that you have some ideas on how to design your ideal kitchen, you’re bound to have questions. Why not contact us for a free, ask-the-expert consultation? We will talk you through the process and put your mind at rest about any questions you may have.