A recent homes survey by kitchen specialists Wren found that our kitchens are the rooms we are most frustrated with, from a design and decoration point of view. Of those who were asked, 52 percent were not happy with their current kitchen, with a lack of storage, inefficient use of space and unsatisfactory furnishings being the main issues.

However, the survey also revealed that it is the space where most of us entertain, so it makes sense to pay special attention to the kitchen when updating our homes. Aesthetics are of course important, but the starting point for any successful remodel should be to reassess the layout.

Understanding How You Use Your Kitchen

Whether you are an enthusiastic home cook or not, even the most basic tasks in the kitchen will involve the fridge/freezer, cooker and sink. It is around these features that the concept of the kitchen ‘working triangle’ is formed.

The idea of the working triangle is that these three elements should be within easy reach of each other (if possible, no more than three paces apart). Plan your layout around this principle.

Choosing a layout

Colour scheme, materials and style can all be chosen once you have determined your needs. Consider the shape of the room and your priorities as a family to help you choose your layout.

The options

Straight-line kitchen: This design is great for smaller homes, or flats, as it requires little floor space. It is also easy to add in mobile seating and tables at the ends if needed.

Parallel kitchen: Like the straight-line kitchen, this option also saves space, but has units on both sides of the room rather than just one. It means you can maximise space and storage in long narrow rooms.

L-shaped kitchen: This shapes makes the most out of a room’s corner, whilst creating an open plan layout. It is great for a social kitchen and enables you to add tables or breakfast bars at the end.

U-shaped kitchen: If you have a larger space and you’re looking for maximum storage and a great work-triangle, a U-shaped kitchen is the perfect choice. Traffic through the room is also minimised with this layout, making food preparation easier.

a blackboard painted kitchen with roof lights

Matching Furnishings to your Layout

Once you have determined the arrangement of your cabinets you can decide what type of cabinets you want.

Wall Units

Units at eye level put frequently used items (such as seasonings and plates) within easy reach, whilst keeping things that are not child safe out of the way. Choose solid doors to hide unattractive packaging away, but glass doors can help stop a run of wall cabinets from looking too obtrusive.

Floor to Ceiling

This type of storage will make the most use of a wall, but can make a space feel more enclosed than separate wall and floor cabinets. On the other hand, in areas where you can’t have worktops (perhaps on routes into the kitchen where it would be impractical to stand and work), floor to ceiling cabinets will be an efficient use of that space.

Conor Laville, designer at Wren says, “The bespoke look that everyone so rightly desires can be expensive so try building your dream kitchen around the cabinets to achieve floor to ceiling styles and perfect surrounds. Using plaster board materials, paint and frame work you can save £1000’s on your bespoke kitchen design.”

Base Units

Low storage is best for heavy items and also creates a great place to hide integrated white goods and appliances. The base units also provide a structure on which to place worktops, so plan these carefully so that you have plenty of room for prepping.

You don’t just have to place these against a wall — if you have plenty of space in the middle of the room consider including an island in your scheme. As Conor Laville explains, “Installing a kitchen island can be the highlighted of any family home. Ensure you can have water and waste running to your kitchen island as this can be an expensive change depending on the material under the floor.”

When it comes to specifying what type of base unit storage you need, go for a combination of drawers and cupboards to meet your needs. Drawers are best for cutlery, smaller utensils and things like kitchen towels and mats. Cupboards are essential for larger items, but make sure you have plenty of suitable shelving or carousels so you don’t have to stack everything in hard-to-access piles.

Images: both kitchens are from Wren’s collection with Linda Barker

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