Kitchens are usually the heart of any home –sociable, family-oriented spaces where we entertain, celebrate, retreat from the world, whip up a batch of our favorite cupcakes with the kids and generally live out the central rituals of our lives. So it’s little wonder that remodeling your kitchen – be it a small project update a tired décor and old appliances or a brand new extension to your current living space – has many benefits. Not only is it an investment that can add value to your house and make it more saleable should you ever choose to move, but it’s also a real asset that will enhance your day to day life and make family meals so much more enjoyable. But how do you get from browsing dream kitchens on Pinterest to switching on your brand new oven for the first time? Just like your favorite recipe, there are a few essential ingredients to get right as you go into this project:
Start With the Bigger Picture
Before you plunge into choosing paint finishes and that premium espresso machine, take a step back from the excitement for a little evaluation. How do you use the house in general? What are your circumstances, or what will they be over the next few years – for example, a growing family with young children may shape what sort of space you need. What functions well in your current layout and what needs improvement? Where are doors and windows located? Your new design, whether you plan it yourself or work with an architect or interior designer, will need to accommodate the patterns of use that work for you and fix any problems caused by the current design. Take a look online at different kitchen layouts that may suit your space and needs – is an L-shaped kitchen best? A kitchen/diner split with an island? A U-shape or a galley kitchen? How much worktop and cupboard space do you want and what appliances will you have? Investing some time before work begins to think through what you really need the space to deliver will make sure that your new kitchen is absolutely perfect for your house and for you.
In historical kitchen design, a layout has been based on the idea of a ‘triangle’ – sink, oven and stovetop, and refrigerator, all making up points that you move between. However, this way of thinking about kitchen design is gradually being superseded by the concept of creating ‘work clusters’ based on your specific activities. So, for example, a ‘food prep’ cluster, containing your sink, stove and worktop space for chopping and mixing ingredients. This would also need to have easy access to a rubbish bin for getting rid of food waste efficiently, but can be kept away from other areas such as plate and cup storage or the washer/dryer, if these are located in the kitchen. Keep the fridge out to the perimeter of the room and the same with the hot drinks facilities – this means other family members can help themselves to snacks and drinks without getting under your feet while you’re preparing a meal.
Create Social Space
If you want to use your kitchen for entertaining, informal suppers with friends or simply for kids to have space to play while you cook, design in some seating space, within eyeshot but out of the path of the main appliances. Modular seating is a great idea as it can be adapted to changing requirements, or you could consider adding a breakfast bar for guests to sit and chat with you as you cook. Make sure that the stove and sink are kept well away from this area to contain the mess and prevent guests of children being under the cook’s feet. If you’re building from scratch, its good to plan in outside access to rubbish bins, so that you don’t have to haul a bin bag through the social area, creating more mess. Add a low table where kids can do homework or that holds coffee cups and wine glasses for guests. If you want to go one step further, you could add a mini fridge for chilled drinks with a shelf of cups or a coffee machine so that guests can self-serve drinks – all these additional gadgets can add to your budget so visit a comparison site such as Your Best Picks to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Think Through The Lighting Scheme
It’s so often an afterthought, but good lighting will make your scheme come together. Kitchens demand a peculiar mix of bright task lighting and softer background lighting that can be hard to get right. Also make sure wherever possible that your new layout includes as much natural light from windows, skylights and patio doors as you can add. Think about LED strip lights for running under wall mounted cabinets, or you could install dimmer switches for variable lighting levels. Hanging pendant lights over an island also gives a great look, while providing focused task lighting. A dramatic chandelier is also a great choice to hang over a dining table, providing illumination for the main events – the food and the company!
Choose Your Finishes With Care
Opting for kitchen finishes purely by price can be a false economy. If you want durability, and a kitchen that will stand up to a lot of use and still look good. It may be a better idea to go for high-quality finishes that require a bit more upfront investment but will repay you regarding performance and keeping nicely for longer. Also consider how bothered you are to see signs of wear, as not all materials are created equal – for instance, marble surfaces are prone to chips and etching marks, which you will either find charming or resent straight away. Granite is a durable choice, whereas engineered wood offers warmth and a homely feel. The same is true of finishes for cabinets – ultra-modern high gloss units look fantastic, but if you have small children, that or stainless steel will be almost certainly covered in an endless succession of sticky handprints and may not look so good.
With a few careful choices, and a bit of planning, you can get the kitchen of your dreams – now and for the future.