The kitchen is the beating heart of the house. It is where we store, prepare and even eat food. It is where we sit and chat to guests, relax with a brew, and it can double as a room for doing homework and paperwork. It also usually acts as a buffer between the back garden and the main house.
Being so multifaceted means that designing the perfect kitchen can be tricky. You will want to fit a lot in the room but may not have the room. Below are 10 of the most common mistakes made when planning a refurb, and steps you can take in order to avoid them. If you are in any doubt, use a professional designer to help create your bespoke kitchen design.
1 – Underestimating storage
The kitchen really is a multifaceted room. You will need storage for food, as well as for crockery, cookware, and small appliances. You may also need additional storage, depending on how you intend to use the room.
Make an inventory of everything you currently have in the kitchen cupboards and determine whether you have any extra items that seem to hover around different spots in the room. Use this information to help install appropriate storage and allow a little extra room.
You can also use this opportunity to throw out, recycle or give away those items that you really don’t use or need. If you’ve got a fondue set taking up cupboard space, and it has been gathering dust for 3 years, it could be time to get rid of it.
2 – Trying to cram in too much
Most people’s idea of a dream kitchen is one that includes things like range cookers, American style fridge freezers, and you may want items like a breakfast bar and barista style coffee machine. However, the typical kitchen doesn’t have room for everything you want, and most budgets won’t stretch to the full range, either.
Avoid the temptation of stealing inches from walkways in order to squeeze that extra appliance in. When placing units and appliances, you should allow space for people to walk past and to access the items. You should allow as much as 1.2 metres between units and appliances.
Pick appliances and items that you can do without, and remove these from your design, to make the most of the space that you have.
3 – Utilising poor lighting
Lighting is more important in the kitchen than any room in the house. This is especially true if you have multiple uses for the kitchen.
Use spotlights and targeted lighting for food preparation and cooking areas. Add mood lighting if you dine in the kitchen and add accent lighting to show off the units and other great looking elements of your design.
Bright white is the best colour of light for your targeted lighting, while a warmer hue is best suited to the warmer dining area.
Video credit: House & Home
4 – Wasting space
Some people have the benefit of seemingly acres of space in their kitchen but, for the most part, we tend to find that we just don’t have enough room for everything we want in there. Often, though, this is because we don’t make the most of all the available space.
- Even the awkward gaps between units can be used for pull-out drawers or shelves.
- Add kick drawers under units for additional storage.
- Install floor to ceiling storage cupboards and units, add drawers to unused sections of your units.
- If you have wall space that is unused but not big enough for a full unit, you can add a small unit or open shelving. Too much open shelving can leave a kitchen looking cluttered, but a few shelves can look great while providing you with additional storage space.
Video credit: IKEA Australia
5 – Treating plumbing as an afterthought
When you’re designing a new kitchen, it is best to start with the plumbing and other practicalities before moving on. Moving plumbing around a kitchen can be difficult and cost a lot of money, so you should consult with a plumber before you consider moving the washing machine area or buying that double fridge freezer with a plumbed water and ice dispenser.
It might be a simple and inexpensive task to extend the water pipes, but it might be entirely impractical – by finding out first, you can ensure that you aren’t left with a useless appliance.
6 – Ignoring ventilation
Ducted ventilation is more effective and efficient than charcoal filters, although filters do provide a viable option where no other exists. Ducts need to connect to the outside of the property, so it is common for ventilation to be installed on the exterior wall of the property.
Some ducted ventilation systems do include internal pipes, so it is possible to install cooker ventilation elsewhere, but you should check that this won’t negatively impact the structure of the room or the design of your kitchen. When placing a cooker in your kitchen design, always ensure that you have allowed for adequate ventilation.
7 – Ignoring your boiler
In a lot of houses, the boiler is located in the kitchen, and unless you have a dedicated utility room, it will be expensive and impractical to move it. Boilers are usually ugly and cumbersome. A fitted boiler cupboard usually provides the best solution, and if you’re having a new boiler fitted, remember that this is best placed on an exterior wall because the vent will have the shortest distance possible to travel.
8 – Mismanaging budget
Most of us have an idea of what we want in a kitchen. For some, it is the big American style fridge freezer, for others it’s an island to prepare food on, and for yet more people it is a range style cooker. It is natural that we concentrate on the items that we want most but be careful not to blow the majority of your budget on this one item and leave yourself short in other areas.
Generally, you should expect to spend about a third of your budget on units and cupboards, and you should also include a 10% contingency, in case anything runs over budget – it can be very difficult to scrape money from other areas of the design, and if the last item on your list is the one that goes over budget, you may not have this option at all.
9 – Getting the wrong worktop
Don’t overlook the importance of your worktop. It is the area where you will prepare food and drinks, and because of the size of this space, the design of your worktop will have a big influence on the style and design of the kitchen too. Consider that some surfaces will require a lot of maintenance to ensure that they continue to look great, and if yours is a busy family kitchen, this may not be practical.
You should also consider the height of the worktop. The standard height is approximately 90cm but you can increase this to around 100cm if necessary. A worktop that is too short will lead to back pain, and an uncomfortable preparation area will put you off preparing food at all.
A large kitchen could benefit from dual height worktops, especially if there is a lot of disparity in height between family members.
Video credit: House & Home
10 – Not making room for waste
The kitchen is the room of the house that creates the most waste, and food waste tends to smell if it isn’t managed properly. A floating kitchen bin can still leave smells, especially immediately after it is opened. A built-in bin is a great way to keep smells out of the main room, and you might be able to fit a sectioned bin in, allowing you to easily separate recycling from general waste.
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house. It also serves multiple purposes, multiple people, and multiple needs. Careful planning is required to ensure that you enjoy the best and most practical design. If you are in any doubt, consider using the services of a professional kitchen design service to ensure you get the most of your kitchen space.