A Schedule of the most used finishes and a Glossary of well-known kitchen terminology accompanies this blog.
DESIGNING A KITCHEN AND ITS LAYOUT
The design of a kitchen is a specialist’s job. It’s nearly always done on CAD and uses a library of different carcass sizes to fit the variety of essential appliances and services. A kitchen company will generally be able to offer you a variety of types, ranges or brands of kitchen design to appeal to a broad range of customers, or may just have one distinctive bespoke house style. These will vary in price and looks and each will have their unique trademark. Eg a painted finish in a Shaker style with panelled doors and traditional handles is popular. Sleek no handles soft matt finish touch finishes, with tall units and a few wall units, glass shelves and a compact laminate work surface with discreet lighting is a totally different style and you cannot mix the two, for a successful image.
You could choose two types/ranges in the showroom and ask for them to design you the same layout for comparison in cost and look. The Layout they design will depend on your brief to them. They also may prefer to do one design, get your feedback and update the design, as it’s usually a free service (See Renovation Checklist) Knowing what you want before you go is a great asset to the kitchen designer.
A ‘Nobilia’ Kitchen, sleek and simple, light and a pleasure to work in and mid range in cost
DESIGNING YOUR OWN KITCHEN
If you want to have a go yourself you need:
- A survey to scale and you must use a scale rule (see our space planning blog and also our video on space planning and using a scale rule). Use squared paper to help but this is not difficult!
- Consider the Zones, ie:
- the cooking area
- the preparation area
- the storage area
- the eating area
- the informal area
- the clearing away area
- an area for children or the high chair and stools
- Using uniform library style sizes from their catalogues (use Ikea or Wickes or a company you want to use) and design the main areas first. In plan, work out the base units, in a dotted line add the wall units, for tall units add them as a base with a cross on the top detailing them with door swings – always show this. Notate where there are integrated appliances eg the oven. Not all flat pack companies use the same size units. Most companies have their own Cad system and will work with you but go with a rough drawing to save time.
- Do not make up sizes – use what is there. A fillet can always be put at the end of a run of units and ergonomic use of space is essential.
- Think of the movement between the areas and leave sufficient space. (Use your tape measure and be realistic) the kitchen island in a small space needs very careful planning.
- Remember the size of door openings and pull down doors eg ovens – draw them in.
- Basic Space Planning with the triangle but not showing and door openings – not a good plan- American and in feet and inches always work in mms and cms but do not add a dot – Eg 365mms not 36.5 cms
- Build in traffic flow ie – people coming in and out from one area or room to another and remember safety for small children. Use a coloured felt tip pen and draw sweeping lines showing where people walk a lot to and fro and note where there will be congestion points.
- Start to think of the finishes and look at what is on offer
Image: Compact Laminate shown here in make up of sections.
Image: A Walnut worktop
- Consider the lighting and the rest of the services you want to integrate. You will have to prepare a plan showing where everything is going so it can be implemented with accuracy and not leave anything out. You can do this by using your plan of the space and adding in a separate colour where all the fittings are to go.
- Flooring, colours, finishes all come next and be flexible and find lots of alternatives. Always collect samples of everything and colour match your paints with care.
THE FUNCTIONALITY OF YOUR KITCHEN
The functionality of a kitchen is crucial to a successful design. You want the dishwasher near the sink and waste disposal and the cupboards near where the plates are stored to hand. This delivers a seamless operation of cleaning the plates, loading the dishwasher and then unloading it directly into the cupboards. There are many operational equations you could consider like this. Oven to table, Fridge to Sink, etc…… but it depends on your type of cooking and lifestyle – particularly if you are DIYing the design.
SPACE IN YOUR KITCHEN
Space to move is equally important. How many of you work in the kitchen at one time will determine how much space is allowed to operate. In general you need 120 cms minimum between countertop and the kitchen island – less and its congestion time! Where the tea and coffee is made (especially with a large family and teenagers) may work best if there is a separate sink away from the main preparation area to relieve ‘congestion’.
A separate beer fridge is also a good idea and sometimes two large ovens are cheaper and better than a small and large unit for big families. Kitchen designers work with Zoning the space first and then adding detail of personal preference combined with what their ‘library’ can offer in that range
Image: Tea and Coffee spots with fridges and ideas taken from the office to the home
Analysing storage and what you really really need is different to just asking for as much as you can have. It should be more bespoke to your needs. Most of the time you will use 10% of what is stored and the other 90% comes out occasionally. Think it through. Oversized objects are not well considered in beautiful little cupboards. If image is important, consider a special walk in cupboard – a section of your space that’s just shelved out and has the freezer in but also takes large bulk buys and you can see everything at a glance. It’s a stud wall, cheap shelves a door and some power. Put the money into the pretty kitchen which will look great, operate brilliantly and you can unload your home delivered shop in one move.
Image: Narrow storage for plates and many kitchen items works much better than deep storage which is suitable for appliances as base units. Use wall units floor to ceiling – easy and cheap.
Image: A walk in storage room or a very small kitchen in an apartment.
THE KITCHEN ISLAND
This is a ‘fashion’ must have and kitchen companies are happy to sell this to you because it is more units for them to order. The truth is most people do not have the room. If you want one but are tight for space consider a peninsula instead which can be designed with seating and work just as well but takes up less space. The island/peninsula needs careful planning to make the best of the space above and provide a work top that’s very practical for all types of uses.
Image: Example of bad space planning as you have to walk around the island to reach the fridge so food preparation will be difficult. To be avoided.
Image: A peninsula rather than an island with seating in a medium sized kitchen
You do not want to have to walk around a kitchen island to get to the three basic components eg fridge, oven and sink. The design of an island often incorporates either the hob or the sink. Carefully consider the extraction (see blog on appliances) and the supplies to the centre unit. If you have a solid floor it is more difficult and costly to install ducting if required. The Island can be fantastic if you have the space for movement around it but there are too many installed in tight fit scenarios which do not give best ergonomic use of space.
Image: Kitchen designed by Tom Howley in a traditional/shaker style
THE KITCHEN STYLE, WORKTOP AND UNIT DESIGN
This is what dictates the style of the kitchen because this is where you see the surfaces, materials the details and insertions into the layout. Eg sinks, taps, backsplashes, upstands, trim, coving and end panels, draining areas, hot plate trivets, handles and decorative details ( See Glossary of Terms and finishes schedule). If you want the streamlined look of the Germanic style kitchen then you will not be using pretty handles, coving and heart shaped cut outs. The image will be designed using top class finishes but could be simple in layout but using glass splashbacks, hidden handles and totally integrated appliances.
Image: A Solid Laminate worktop and side panel from Bushboard with under counter detail.
The Country kitchen will have handles and taps that match and a pelmet or OG architrave style detail to the top edge of the wall units which do not reach to the ceiling and colour and patterns that sets the style. A backsplash, an upstand or a kick-plate with side panels all form part of the style and also the functionality of the kitchen. (See the Glossary of Terms for details)
Image: A Shaker Style Kitchen
Image: A Belfast or Butlers Sink
Please see the table enclosed which will give you the low down on the various types of finishes available for doors, worktops, side panels and detailing. (Finishes Schedule)
Flooring needs a very special consideration and although tiles are traditionally used they are hard on the feet as with many of the stones that can come in quite large format. They can offer good value for money but think carefully about the grout as this is what shows the dirt. Quality Vinyls like Amtico and Karndean have fantastic ranges which can either emulate marble or give a very contemporary linear look of their own. They are softer to the feet. Take care with wood floors near water. At some point, whether it’s an accident or just wear and tear you will need to refinish – whatever you are sold to. Bamboo is a good one though!
Image: Mirror Quartz Floor Tile by Tile Giant.
Wood worktops need regular oiling, wood veneer doors will need regular cleaning with the recommended products or just a damp cloth. Don’t have a wood floor and wood doors. Too much wood! You need a contrast between and not just at the kickplate/plinth line.
The details to the work tops the edges of panels and the finishes you use are very important to consider. Contemporary details are simple, linear and less fussy. More traditional styles are rounder, on show and should work with the rest of the design.
Image: A stainless steel corner details
Image: A Corian integrated sink.
This is where creative clever design is required. Contrast, blending, setting off, hi lighting, discreet detailing – all these are part of ‘design’ and knowing where and when to use what, to create that perfect style.. There can be so much pleasure to be had from working hard at this. The end result will speak volumes. If you are struggling, get professional help and not necessarily from the kitchen company – they know their products, but they are not all qualified ‘interior designers’ and today a kitchen falls under this domain just as much as a living room.
They will come up with unique and special ideas using unusual combinations and will also check the space planning is good for the space and your needs.
Image: Bespoke Island with acrylic worktop and two under-mounted stainless steel sinks
Painted Kitchen Walls
Painted walls are very often the backdrop to the kitchen units. Careful colour matching to get just the right shade with quality paints, pays dividends in hot steamy greasy work places. There are so many paint companies and don’t be fooled by the word ‘kitchen paints’.
Image: Little Greene Intelligent Matt Emulsion suitable for walls, ceiling, joinery, metalwork.
Look at the types of paint – water-based, oil-based, eggshell, emulsion, paints that works on the walls and joinery, paints that can either give you a very flat matt finish to ‘blend’ with your soft laminated doors or paints that are exactly the same colour as the spray finish used on your doors. Today a painted kitchen door is not usually done by hand, but sprayed in professional booths, but the colour can be from any paint company that recommends their paint and the type chosen, suitable for spray finishing.
Image: A professional spray gun
Image: A Wren Kitchen with Spray Finished Doors
If you become subjective and mix and match different styles, colours and ideas you will not achieve a good design and it will look piecemeal and retrofitted. Understand your personal desires and choose finishes and shapes, colours and patterns that create a definitive idea. Professional Designers work firstly with something that inspires them, collects snippets of colours and finishes, research the space as to what will fit and then brings together a ‘concept’ that gels with adjacent rooms.
The Layout of the kitchen comes first and then the colours and finishes are applied like an overlay wash, allowing colours and textures to work practically as well as functionally and look good.
MOVEMENT AND SPACE – TRAFFIC FLOW
Traditional kitchen design worked with a three pronged operational design between the sink, the cooker and the fridge but now we have separate hobs from ovens, a microwave, the American freestanding fridge and dishwashers, makes this simplistic triangle no longer really relevant. An analytical approach of how you work, what technology you are using and how many people are using the kitchen at once will be far more useful. Dr Francis Ching in his book Interior Design Illustrated is for Interior Designers, but a great buy and gives great advice on minimum amounts you should leave when designing kitchens. See also Design Helps Space Planning Blog.
Image: A sample from Francis Ching Illustrated
Space is a luxury and beautiful but a square kitchen with one side open works very well. A galley kitchen is what most cooks have to deal with on trains, planes and major restaurants and they manage of course with practise. Your ideal space may not be achievable but make the best of what you have by giving time to your thought process.
THE PERFECT BALANCE
Design is not all about good looks, although that is the common thought. Form follows function – still – particularly in a kitchen and now we have made them into ‘a furnished room’ with exciting new finishes it’s become very complex. The Balance has to be led by your lifestyle, the space you are working with and your budget. This must then fit in with your operational requirements and ability to maintain. This is truly a ‘tight rope challenge’ to get right and leaves any other room easy to design in comparison, hence the length of this Blog. Refer to our Space Planning Blog for more information.
KITCHEN SERVICES & TECHNOLOGY
The last part of the design is exactly the same as the Design Helps videos which discuss all aspects of interior design. Once you know the colours the finishes, the layout and where the appliances will sit plus any focal point or features, you can then design the lighting – again as an overlay. The position of 13amp and Fused spur power for supply to the various electrical requirements, plus gas if required and extraction ducting. Music, speakers, TV, telephone handsets or computer points can also be positioned onto a scaled drawing in plan which forms part of the design and is the information needed for your trades to carry out the preparation and first fix. This does form a ‘Milestone’ in the ‘Critical Path’ in your project as there may be an opportunity for the change of service runs, but not always and it is particularly difficult once the carcass is in situ and the walls plastered.
Image: Poggenphols integrated services.
Many kitchen companies carry their own lights as part of each range they sell. You may find some of the budget ranges are not the best and you need better design and fittings. A Lighting Designer with all the above information of the plans, elevations, colours, finishes, focal points etc. will quickly come up with a good design and specification of fittings. It will cost but if you are spending a lot on the kitchen it’s worth going the extra mile of lighting it properly. It will be biased towards the discreet and functional, but you can definitely add a decorative fitting as long as it cleans easily. Kitchen fat has a nasty habit of sticking to everything! Have you ever cleaned the top of your wall units or the extractor – it’s always a nasty surprise Combining it with an extractor always amazes me!
Image: A four channel lighting control system for the kitchen.
Quality integrated lighting comes as part of the better quality kitchen and here you can see how they are flush with the units and the type of light they emit. Using LED technology they can give good bright light to work with and if you use a hands free control system this can be changed for a different light for the evening.
Image: Integrated under unit lighting backed up with ceiling mounted lighting.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN TODAY’S LEADING KITCHENS
The kitchen as a ‘living lifestyle’ room for all – Current Trends
Key Fashion statements of today’s kitchen are:
- Soft Matt finishes
Image: Polyrey Concept Development for Laminates
- Dark Greys teamed with natural woods
- Ask your kitchen designers if they are using Polyreys extra matt surface finishes as they absorb light and have a silky smooth finish called ‘Touch’. Also, Polyrey have Touche Roche and Touche Linimat with anti- fingerprint characteristics
Image: Silestone Marengo
Image: Polyrey soft Laminates
- Earthy colours
Image 1 – Granite; Image 2 – Red Travertine
- One piece splashbacks in textured or plain glass or a laminate
- LED lighting for Backlit splashbacks
Image: Led lighting strips for concealed lighting.
- Thin Worktop with concealed lighting
Image: Thin compact laminate with black core and concealed under unit lighting
- Frameless Doors
- Broken Bands of plain colour widthways across units and tall units
Image: Smallbone of Devizes
- Tall upstand with rounded top detail
- Kitchen Islands with a breakfast bar and Feature Pendant lights over an island layered with concealed lighting
Image: Hi Macs island with pendants and stools – where do your knees go?
- Concealed Speakers and a TV flush mounted screen
- Integrated Appliances – two ovens
- Drawers behind doors
- Black steel accents for taps and handles
- Feature Mono block boiling and cool water taps
Image: Quooker Fusion Square
Image: Austin Diner Pendants
- Rose-gold accessories
- Open Plan Shelves and Pan drawers
- Wall hung units that stand alone or grouped as wall art
- Tall Floor to ceiling units – no gap at the top
COMING UP IN PART 3: We discuss kitchen appliances, where they should live and what their requirements are.
Are you prepared to dig up your floor or chase into your ceiling? Find our more in Part 3.
FOR MORE HELP ON HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR KITCHEN AND YOUR HOME, JOIN DESIGN HELP FOR JUST £12 PER MONTH, WITH NO CONTRACT. LEARN EVERYTHING FROM PLANNING SPACE, DEVELOPING A CONCEPT AND MUCH MORE.