We share our top tips for the ideal combination of function, ergonomics and workflow in a new kitchen design
Image: Sola Kitchens
Whether you’re starting from scratch with a self-build, adding an extension, or considering reworking a whole room or several, it is important you take the time get the layout right.
Follow the ground rules
Image: Masterclass Kitchens
At the most basic level, a layout is determined by the size of the room and where you want each functional zone to be. As a general rule of thumb, U- and L-shaped designs tend to work best in smaller spaces, while galley and linear configurations are a good solution for really tight areas and open-plan apartments. Designs that include an island unit require space to work effectively and to look good, making them well-suited to use in large or open-plan kitchens. ‘The kitchen should reflect your personality, as well as functionality, ergonomics and workflow,’ says Darren Taylor, managing director at Searle & Taylor.
An experienced designer will be able to assess what will work best for your needs, depending on how you plan to use the kitchen, your cooking habits and your lifestyle.
Do not be swayed by the latest trends, though; Instagram and Pinterest may be full of beautiful open-plan schemes but they might not be right for your situation. ‘Choosing lovely colours and handles is great fun, but detailed planning is crucial,’ says Sofia Bune Strandh, CEO of Sola Kitchens. ‘The size of the room, natural light and fixtures such as doors and windows will all affect the layout. If space is tight, an extension may be an option, or moving the kitchen to another room. Your catering requirements will also influence what can be done: a large family may need extra ovens or fridges.’
The latest trend
Image: Sola Kitchens
Many designers are currently enthusing about the benefits of broken-plan schemes, which are all about the ingenious use of a space. ‘Broken-plan provides more privacy and intimacy than the open-plan kitchen,’ explains Tom Howley, creative design director at Tom Howley Kitchens. ‘Each family member’s needs can be taken into account, separating grown-up areas from spaces where children can play or watch TV.’ New design ideas for this type of layout include incorporating glazed screens and split-level floors.
‘Different levels can be used to emphasise separate zones within the space,’ Howley says. ‘A good example is a kitchen that steps down into the workspace. Or to create a broken-plan space without any structural work, you could use fixed and freestanding furniture to divide the space.'
Image: McCarron & Co
You can find experienced help both in person at a kitchen design studio and online, as there are planning tools that can get you started. ‘Magazines and online sources are useful for inspiration,’ says Steve Tough, commercial sales director at Masterclass Kitchens. ‘They will help you clarify your own preferences and you can then present your ideas to a professional kitchen designer, who might suggest clever tricks that you may not have considered, along with knowledge about the fixtures and fittings available to create the scheme you want.’
Kitchen companies will include home visits as part of their design service, whereas high street retailers tend to ask you to pop in with rough sketches and floor plans so they can create something in store. To kick things off from the comfort of your own laptop, take a look at Ikea (ikea.com) and Magnet (magnet.co.uk), which both offer convenient online planning tools.
Image: Sebastian Cox Kitchen by deVOL
Most layout challenges – such as structural pillars, awkward room shapes, pipework and a lack of natural light – can be overcome. ‘Pipework is a necessary evil and may have to be boxed in to be concealed, so plan for this at the start of the project and see if there is a way that services can be re-routed inside bulkheads, voids or under plinths,’ says Daniela Condò, designer at Life Kitchens.
Pillars can also create awkward floor spaces, while exposed roof beams make for changes in ceiling height. ‘Try incorporating a pillar into the design of an island or peninsula so that it becomes part of the design and doesn’t dominate the room,’ adds Condò.
‘And if there’s a lack of natural light, consider adding a rooflight or sun tunnel and make use of glossy finishes.’
Have you any tips for designing a super efficient kitchen design? Tweet us @granddesignsmag or post a comment on our Facebook page.