It can be a tricky business, fitting everything you want into a new kitchen but don't get carried away. You need to work with the space you have available. Here are five things to avoid ...
I know it’s tempting to squeeze in as much storage as possible – as well as that table to seat eight – but you don’t want your new kitchen to look cramped. You also want your guests to be able to get up for a bathroom break, without everyone else having to get up to let them out and, preferably, without them having to exit crabwise because there isn’t a wide enough passageway.
Allow a minimum of 1200mm for a thoroughfare; although you can, at a pinch, reduce that to 900mm between two working areas, where people aren’t passing … or for very short sections. An extending table may be the answer – so that you’re only really cramped on high days and holidays (when nobody minds).
Try not to crowd tall units and wall units too close to windows and doors either. That makes the kitchen feel smaller.
This is a good looking kitchen - but is there enough space between the chairs and the stools?
It is very trendy to have an island hob – and it’s a great idea – if the island is big enough. It’s a much more sociable way to cook than staring at the wall. If your island only allows 300mm of worktop space either side of the hob, though, it isn’t really big enough. You need space to work on, at the side of a hob. I try to allow 600mm, on one side at least, and preferably on both sides. If you can’t fit in a large enough island, would using a peninsula solve the problem?
This island is plenty big enough for a hob - but you need a big room to have an island this size
There’s a trend, at the moment, to have a wall of tall units at one side or end of the kitchen, which incorporates ovens, fridge, freezer, larders and maybe a coffee machine – depending on the space available. The main work surface is then often on an island. It’s an arrangement that can work well but do make sure that you have some worktop close to the appliances. In some of the kitchens I’ve seen, the nearest worktop is several metres away. You don’t want to be lifting a roasting tin out of the oven and immediately having to carry it that distance. And your fingers will thank you for somewhere to put down that frozen joint too. The same principle applies to any tall oven housing or freezer – even in a very traditional kitchen design.
Even a tiny piece of worktop - as in this design of mine - is enough to put hot pans on (the flowers were just for the photo!)
Ok, so this is a particular bugbear of mine. In some kitchens, having a large, plain expanse of unit doors is part of the design but, in most kitchens, it’s not and, in any case, it works better with tall units than with wall units. It’s a question of scale really. If the wall units are the same size as large base unit doors then, at best, the kitchen looks very fitted and, at worst, it looks top heavy.
Try to design the kitchen so that the wall units – or some of them – are symmetrical to the base units but, if you have 600mm wide base doors, you don’t have to have wall unit doors of the same size. Ignore anyone who tells you they must match up. Have a look at the two pictures below and see which you prefer:
You need to design wall units with the base units in mind ... but the doors most definitely don't have to line up and be the same size. For me, the glazed units would work either way (one large door or two small ones) because the transparent glass avoids a big expanse of door material anyway … but those doors in the middle look so much nicer with the three smaller doors.
This applies mainly to those who are building new houses, or having an extension built for their new kitchen. Some kitchen companies will tell you that they can’t design the kitchen until the walls are in place. Don’t believe them. They only say that because they know you’re not ready to actually buy a kitchen yet … and that’s the only thing they’re interested in … or because they don’t want the hassle of making changes to the plan, after the building work has been completed.
Start designing the kitchen when you know where the walls are going … but before they’re actually built. That way you may have to tweak the kitchen plan a bit, once the building work is finished (or nearly finished) but you could end up with a much better kitchen as a result. Sometimes, moving a door or a stud wall a couple of feet can make all the difference.
It's better, in any case, to know where the appliances are going when you talk to your builder, plumber and electrician. you wouldn't believe how many times I've been asked to do an "emergency" kitchen design because the first fix of the electrics needs to be done next week ... and they don't know where the cooker point needs to go yet!
This blog originally appeared in Majjie's Kitchen Corner
If you'd like Majjie's help to design your kitchen please have a look at our Kitchen Design Services pages. We provide an affordable and professional service, which can be tailored to your needs - and we don't want to sell you a kitchen!