10 Essential Features for a New Kitchen

family kitchen diner
(Image credit: Martin Moore)

A new kitchen is usually high on the priority list for many home improvers. When designing your new kitchen you need to think about how you will use the space as well as the features you want to include.

Perhaps you are after a super-sleek contemporary-style kitchen, or maybe a classic, traditional kitchen is more your thing. 

Whatever your preferred kitchen style, we’ve listed 10 great features to include in your new space – from small design details that will keep your space stylish and functional to the smart tech that is well-worth considering.

(MORE: Kitchen Design)

1. The Multi-functional Kitchen Island

kitchen ideas

Not only does an island unit, like this one from Trend Interiors transform a large space visually, it also creates the opportunity to add in lots of storage and extra workspace. (Image credit: Trend Interiors)

Even those with small kitchens can consider a kitchen island — just scale it down a bit. In fact, kitchen islands can actually make the most of the space available, incorporating storage, appliances and dining space all in one. 

For it to work well, you need to have enough space around your chosen island so that it does not feel in the way — work to a minimum of 1,000mm clearance space and take into account open oven doors, fridges and the like.

Uses for a kitchen island include:  

  • wine coolers or racks
  • sinks
  • hobs
  • extra storage
  • somewhere to dine
  • work station
  • shelving

2. Freestanding Kitchen Units

Kitchen storage ideas

Combining freestanding furniture with fitted units creates a relaxed, eclectic look. The Somerton storage units from Kitchen Makers, is shown here in Baltic Green and brushed brass.   (Image credit: Kitchen Makers)

Mixing up fitted kitchen units with freestanding pieces lends a relaxed vibe to room, while also allowing for a degree of flexibility in terms of furniture placement.

Don’t feel restricted to traditional ‘kitchen furniture’ either — get creative with console tables, ladder shelving and bookshelves — all provide useful storage and create a more relaxed, individual look to the space.

(MORE: Kitchen Storage Ideas)

3. Include a Kitchen Larder

kitchen larder

A roomy larder unit, such as this from Mereway Kitchens & Bathrooms, provides the perfect place to keep all your dried goods in one place, freeing up your other units. (Image credit: Mereway Kitchens & Bathrooms)

Whilst traditional walk-in larders or pantries are hugely useful, it is not always possible to find the space for them. However, a good-sized built-in larder is the next best thing.

4. Mix and Match Worktops

kitchen island unit

This kitchen from Rational, from their Cambia range, combines timber and composite worktops, defining the dining space from the food prep area.   (Image credit: Rational)

There is no need to stick to just one worktop material in your new kitchen — in fact it is rare for kitchens to have just one type of worktop finish these days. 

Mixing up two or more materials not only adds visual interest, but also makes sense on a more practical level.

Use a hardwearing stone, such as granite, or a composite for those areas which need to be heat and moisture resistant.

5. Eye-level Appliances

built-in oven

This oven microwave from GoodHome Kitchens at B&Q, is a full sized single oven with a built-in microwave — a great space saver and full of handy features.  (Image credit: GoodHome Kitchens, available at B&Q)

For a sleek, streamlined look with plenty of storage, floor-to-ceiling units and built-in appliances are the way to go.

Eye-level appliances were once the norm before falling from favour — now they are back with a vengeance. 

Allowing you to get food in and out without stooping, built-in eye-level ovens have seen a surge in popularity in recent years, as have built-in coffee machines and microwaves — ideal for contemporary kitchens.

(MORE: Modern Kitchen Design Ideas)

6. Create a Kitchen-diner

farmhouse kitchen

This traditional country style kitchen is from Mereway Kitchens & Bathrooms' Town and Country range. (Image credit: Mereway Kitchens & Bathrooms)

Kitchens are now the very heart of the home and most families these days seem to spend most of their time together there. It therefore makes sense to have your day-to-day dining space located in the kitchen too — even if you still want a more formal dining space elsewhere.

7. Clever Kitchen Storage

kitchen storage ideas

This Modern Classic Spice Rack End Cabinet is from Mereway Kitchens & Bathrooms and is designed to make the very most of the kitchen island it sits within.  (Image credit: Mereway Kitchens & Bathrooms)

You can never, ever have too much storage in a kitchen — however many units you include in your design, it never seems quite enough.

Sneaking in extra shelving and cubby holes around the cooker, clever drawer divides and pull out units, racks and rails wherever you can will provide somewhere for the cooking essentials without eating into precious worktop space.

8. ‘Smart’ Appliances

boiling water tap

Quettle's Signature Modern tap dispenses 100˚C boiling water along with filtered drinking water and normal hot and cold water flows. It can also be supplied with a chiller unit.  (Image credit: Qettle)

Your kitchen should make life easy — which is why more and more 'smart' appliances designed to do just this, are appearing all the time.

From boiling water taps delivering instant hot water (some supply sparkling water too) and ovens that clean themselves, to refrigerators that update your online shopping list — there is an appliance out there just waiting to ease your workload. 

9. More Drawers, Less Units

kitchen drawers

Deep kitchen drawers, such as these from Rational, are a great alternative to more traditional units, offering a sleek finish with plenty of storage options. (Image credit: Rational)

Whilst kitchen units still very much have their place in kitchen design, deep kitchen drawers are currently winning in the popularity stakes due to the many benefits they offer. 

Not only do they look great, but they also offer lots of storage space and can be fitted with all kinds of racks and systems to accommodate whatever will be stored within them.  

The trend for drawers in the kitchen has carried on into the world of appliances too — with dishwasher drawers, freezer drawers and warming drawers all featuring heavily on many wish lists of late.

10. Pull Out Units

pull out coffee machine

This pull-out shelf from Rational is ideal for small kitchens where storage and work space is at a premium. It also offers the perfect spot for a coffee machine.  (Image credit: Rational)

Kitchen companies are constantly inventing news ways to help us squeeze the very most out of the spaces we have available. 

From up-and-over 'garage door' style unit fronts that require no out-swing space, to retractable shelving. The pull-out shelf is a really nifty idea, allowing for easy access to frequently used appliances, such as your beloved coffee machine or smoothie maker, without having to clear off worktop space for them.

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.