As with so many things in life, when you’re creating a new kitchen, the devil is in the detail. The choices you make now will affect not just how you cook, but also what you eat, where you eat, and who sits down to eat with you. Here are my top three tips for creating a kitchen that will meet your needs, now and in the future.
1. Choose Your Appliances First
The kitchen’s primary purpose is to facilitate the storage and preparation of food, so – whatever else you want it to do – make sure it fulfils that function well. Establish your needs and how you intend to meet them by doing your research on kitchen appliances.
For example, would it make your life easier to swap your standard size fridge freezer for an American-style fridge freezer, with shelves instead of drawers, so you can see where everything is? If you don’t need the extra capacity now, will you need it in four years time?
If you do a lot of cooking, consider an appliance with more than one oven – a Leisure cooker would give you up to three ovens and a grill, providing greater flexibility when it comes to cooking for a large family. Some models even have a hob-top griddle built in, making it super easy to sizzle up a steak or fry your fish.
2. Utilise the Space
Most people, when designing a kitchen, will be working with a limited space, on a defined budget. The trick is to get the most you can out of both.
With a trend for open plan, it’s very tempting to devote all your space to one massive kitchen diner, but if you’re redesigning from scratch you may want to consider carving out a corner for a utility room. This can actually be more space-efficient than incorporating everything into the kitchen: tricks such as stacking your washing machine and drier, and installing a ceiling mounted, pulley clothes horse, are great space-savers.
In the kitchen, building cabinets to the ceiling can give you the extra height you need to store the things you want to keep but rarely use – juicers, ice cream makers, and bread makers could all be considered ‘top shelf’ appliances. If you go down that route, make sure there’s somewhere to store a stool so you can safely access the stuff at the top.
And while we’re on the issue of access, why not go for corner cabinets with shelves that swing out, and larger drawers, to give you access to things that would otherwise languish at the back of your shelves, gathering dust or going out of date.
3. Do a Dress Rehearsal
When you’ve pinned down a design for your kitchen – taking into account your work triangles – it’s worth marking out a full-scale plan with string or paper, and walking through how you would use the kitchen whilst preparing a meal, and sitting down to eat it. This will test whether the space works, and whether two people can operate in the kitchen comfortably. Are you rubbing shoulders, bumping into each other, or tripping over the dishwasher door? If you are, maybe it’s time for a re-think.
A dress rehearsal is also a great opportunity to work out the finer points of your design. Where would you stand to chop your food? Will the chopping boards be stored within arms’ reach? Will you want a prep sink?
Where are your bins? Can you put your compost bin in a drawer underneath your chopping worktop, so when it’s time to clear up, you can just sweep the waste in? Can you can find space to install a can/milk bottle crusher above a large recycling bin, to reduce the number of times you have to traipse outside with your metal and plastic?
Do kids have to walk through the work areas in order to sit at the table? Do you need a shelf near the table, to store their projects, books or devices during mealtimes? Do you have enough space for guests? Can you talk to guests easily while you’re preparing food?
These are the kind of questions with which to interrogate your design. If you spend some time now ‘rehearsing’ your routines in your new space, you can iron out the kinks and really personalise your kitchen to suit the needs of your family.