The Ultimate Guide to Designing your Kitchen
The kitchen is, without doubt, the most important room in any home because so much happens there. Yes, meals are cooked and eaten, but you’ll also entertain guests, bake on a Sunday, help the kids with their homework, and simply relax; so it’s especially important that you take the time, and put in the effort, to design it as best you can.
Thankfully, with our help, this process can be easy and enjoyable.
By planning well, you will maximise the functionality of your kitchen and make it as pleasing a place to be as possible. You’ll then enjoy your kitchen as a space to be proud of.
So, before you can sit down with a coffee in your stunning new kitchen, there are a few steps you need to follow to make sure every last detail is just right.
This ultimate guide will start by highlighting the most important factors that need to be considered in the planning stage. It will then walk you through the main options when it comes to your kitchen finish, flooring, worktops, flooring, lighting, colour schemes, and appliances.
Let’s get started!
The planning stage
You don’t change your kitchen often, so when you do it has to be planned well. Below, we set out some of the most important things to consider.
What do you want?
This is your opportunity to sit down and think through what it is you want from your kitchen. To get you started, what aspects of your old kitchen would you like to change? If you have a partner or family, it’s important to ask them for their opinion. This can also generate lots of ideas.
There is a huge variety of kitchens out there, so why not ask your friends and family if you can take a look at theirs for some inspiration. Take notes on the things you like and it’s also useful to rule out certain things you don’t like. There is also plenty of inspiration online, and having a look at some well-established approaches, such as the shaker style kitchen, can get your creative juices flowing.
Once you have a mix of ideas swirling around in your mind, it’s time to build the framework for how they will take shape in your unique home. This involves deciding on the shape and layout of the kitchen i.e. where the main appliances are going to go.
Top of your priorities should be the sink, fridge/freezer, and hob. It’s a good idea to spread these appliances out, with sinks often placed near a window for natural light. Think about where the main walkways into and out of the kitchen will be, as it makes little sense to place the hob such that people get in each other’s way while preparing meals.
If you have a lot of space to work with, perhaps consider installing a kitchen island as these provide extra worktop and storage space and can double as a breakfast bar. Islands or an L-shaped cabinet layout can split a larger room into separate areas, such as the main kitchen and dining/entertaining area.
Having found a space for the larger appliances, plan where your smaller ones, such as the kettle, toaster, microwave etc. are going to go.
One last thing; don’t forget about furniture! Bear in mind, you might need space for a dining table and chairs, so build this into your layout plan.
All these appliances will be of no use without electricity, so it’s now time to figure out how many are required and where to place them. People generally underestimate how many sockets they need, so it’s best to overcompensate!
There are some nifty ways to hide sockets away these days, including inside cabinets, on the floor, or (the coolest one) inside a pop-up socket tower that’s built into your worktop!
Assess your storage space needs
Are you sick of overflowing cupboards and not having anywhere to keep your kitchen utensils? Well, now is the time to take stock of any extra room you require and decide how you're going to achieve this.
Many cabinets can now be fitted with movable shelving, meaning you can maximise your storage space. Extra storage racks on the inside of cabinet doors are an excellent way of gaining more storage and making it easier to find things.
For those items that are only dragged out a few times a year, such as the good wedding china, consider making use of the spaces high up in the kitchen with some extra cabinets or open shelves to create a little display area.
Back to Earth (budgeting)
By this point, most people’s imaginations are in full sprint, running wild with ideas and dreaming of kitting the place out in luxury appliances and utensils. And while this is perfectly realistic for some, for most of us it’s important to (grudgingly) bring ourselves back down to planet Earth and set ourselves a budget.
Kitchens are important, but not so important as to put ourselves in a tight spot financially. So, set yourself a budget that will allow you to get the best kitchen you can for a price that works for you.
And remember, as a general rule of thumb, kitchens can end up costing more than you expect. Keep in mind you may need to pay joiners, electricians, and plumbers, as well as any costs associated with structural changes, should your design require them.
Finally, keep in mind that the decisions you make on the issues discussed in the second half of this guide will also need to be accounted for in your budget.
The design stage
Now that the basic layout is established and you know roughly how much you want to spend, it’s time to have some fun! The design stage is all about how your new kitchen is going to look and again it’s worth looking around at styles and colour schemes that excite you.
The kitchen finish
As it’s so important to match the finish of your kitchen with all the other aspects we’re going to discuss, we’ll start here.
The kitchen “finish” refers to the final look of the kitchen cabinet doors. There is a wide range of kitchen finishes, but they all fall under two broad categories: matt and gloss finishes.
A matt kitchen finish is one which does not reflect much light, resulting in a more muted, understated effect. As there are no patches of light bouncing off them, matt kitchen cabinets have a solid and even look to them.
Matt finishes work well in large open spaces with lots of natural light, where they can tone down how much light is in the room. There are four types of matt finish to choose from, and many reasons for and against choosing it for your kitchen, so check out our extensive guide to matt kitchen finishes here.
A gloss finish is highly polished and very shiny, reflecting a lot of light into the room. This can be very useful in smaller kitchens, as it makes the room look and feels bigger.
If you’re going for the sleek, ultra-modern look, then gloss is a very attractive option. Combined with some well-placed lighting and the right worktops and flooring, a gloss kitchen finish can truly wow your guests.
Again, there are different types of gloss finish, and the pros and cons of choosing gloss are weighed up in our handy guide.
Your kitchen floor is going to get a lot of traffic over its lifetime, so a good choice is important here.
At the lower end of the price range is vinyl flooring. Coming in numerous styles, you can mimic many kinds of wood or stone floors using vinyl sheet flooring. Completely waterproof and very durable, vinyl is an excellent and affordable choice.
Next, we have wooden flooring, which comes in a wide range of types and styles, including solid wood, engineered wood, and wood effect laminate flooring. An engineered wood floor is made in such a way as to cope with moisture well, increasing its lifespan.
For a light, bright look, an ash or birch floor works well. And for a darker floor, either mahogany or walnut would be best.
If wood or vinyl isn’t your thing, you could opt for natural stone or ceramic tiles for your kitchen. These are extremely durable to scuffs and scrapes, though be careful not to drop very heavy objects on them as they may crack. Achieve the look you want using granite, slate, quartzite, limestone or many other types of stone tiles.
Finally, for something a little different, you can now have a concrete floor which is polished to achieve a stunningly smooth and highly attractive effect.
For kitchen worktops, your three main types are natural, laminate, and composite.
Natural worktops, such as marble, stone, or wood, look fantastic in any kitchen and are durable too. However, beware, a stone surface must be sealed expertly to resist staining. And wooden worktops will need a little TLC to keep them looking their best.
Laminate worktops are a cheaper option and can be made to look like a variety of natural materials. While easy to maintain, the drawback here is that they are less durable.
Finally, composite worktops are a great option as they offer a huge variety in style. Made from a mixture of materials, these worktops are long-lasting and if you shop around you can find some unique styles.
Before you decide on what lights to install, you first need to assess how much natural light your kitchen enjoys. If your budget allows, this might be the time to create a new window, or even a set of patio doors, to let the light flood in.
When lighting a kitchen, you need both ambient lighting, to light the room in general, and task lighting, which is your bright lights that shine directly on to the worktop so you can see when you're chopping onions.
For ambient lighting, you want to space your lights out so that when all the lights are on the entire room is bathed in a lovely, even light. However, to give you more control over the lighting of the kitchen, dimmer switches are incredibly useful, allowing you to create a cosy atmosphere for dinner guests.
If your kitchen doubles as a workspace, perhaps standing or desk lamp would work for you.
Finally, to add a bit of flair, accent lighting can be used to highlight specific areas. For example, an LED strip light could shine from underneath the cabinets onto the floor.
When it comes to your colour scheme, it’s critical to take a holistic approach and consider how all the elements of your kitchen are going to come together to create a pleasing effect overall. Your kitchen cabinets, walls and ceiling, flooring, and worktops need to complement each other.
This does not mean they all need to be the same or similar colours; boldly contrasting colours can look amazing! But they do need to work well together.
How you combine the colour of these features is really up to you, so have fun and experiment with different designs before deciding.
For a safe bet, start with nice neutral colour for your cabinets, such as white or ivory. Next, choose another natural colour for the walls. For the worktops, a nice light wood, such as oak, ties in perfectly. Finally, the darkness of a slate stone floor will bring out the combination of neutral colours above to complete the look.
The final thing to consider when designing your kitchen is your appliances. As well as deciding what kitchen appliances you need, you also need to think about where you're going to store them. A sleek, minimalist kitchen won’t look so stylish with a worktop cluttered with loads of appliances, so it’s best to plan and designate some cabinet or drawer space for storing them.
On the other hand, perhaps you do a lot of cooking and baking, and constantly putting appliances in and out of drawers would just be a hassle. In this case, perhaps some extra open shelving for easy access would work for you.
While it’s tempting to start a long wish-list of attractive new appliances you’d never even heard of, be honest and only plan to get what you’ll realistically use.
The final say
We hope you found this ultimate guide useful. We’re just going to leave you with a final piece of advice for designing your new kitchen.
The most important thing is that you plan well.
Mistakes are not easy or cheap to fix when changing your kitchen, and you’ll live with your choices for a long time. It’s far better in the long run if you take some extra time now to think through what you want and come up with some different ideas. Discuss these with those you live with and make sure you're sure before making any final decisions.
Designing a new kitchen is an exciting opportunity, so take your time and enjoy it!
Are you thinking about getting your kitchen re-designed? If so, don’t hesitate to contact us today for some free advice.