It is essential to stay focused on your needs and lifestyle in order to understand the possibilities of your new space. Choosing cabinets, counters, appliances, furniture and lighting requires careful thought, since all these elements play a role in the overall comfort and look of the kitchen, which needs to be a functional and stylish space that will stand the test of time.
Of course, a kitchen is first and foremost a place to prepare and cook meals. But in reality it is much more than that – it's also where we read the news, surf the Internet, catch up on paperwork, where the kids do their homework, and so on. That's why it is essential to identify your needs before starting to plan the space.
A functional kitchen should have three basic work centres or "stations":
- Food preparation area
- Cooking area
- Clean-up area
There may also be a designated eating area, depending on space and needs. While the dining area in kitchens used to consist of a table in the centre of the room, today we are more likely to opt for a bench, lunch counter or eating corner with a small table, which better suits our busy lifestyle. The main family evening meal is typically served in the adjacent dining room.
The important thing when planning kitchen layout is to observe the natural "flow" through the kitchen. In what order are tasks done? How many people cook or prepare food at the same time? Think about the logical sequence of events. When you come home from shopping, you put the food away in the fridge and the pantry. Later, you take it out to rinse it, chop it and prepare it, then you cook it on the stovetop or in the oven. Finally, you serve it at the table. If the work stations are arranged to follow this order, your kitchen tasks are made easier. If more than one person is cooking or preparing food at the same time, a double sink will prove very useful.
Though the triangle principle remains a logical option, the popularity of open-plan kitchens has led designers to rethink the idea. The current trend is to merge the kitchen with the adjoining dining room by removing a wall to open up the space, a concept that can also be taken a step further by including the living room in the open-plan design. Indeed, many new homes are built on this model. Traffic flows more freely, it is easier to manage tasks, and the open space lets in plenty of natural light. The kitchen remains the central hub but people can circulate freely and are not confined by four walls. Open-plan kitchens are often laid out in an "L" or "C" shape, occasionally an "F" shape.
Space permitting, an increasingly popular choice is to have a separate cooktop and a wall oven – easier to access than the traditional free-standing range. The area below the cooktop that would have been occupied by the range provides space for deep drawers to hold pots and pans.
Choice of range hood is important. The power, or air exhaust flow (CFM) of a range hood must be suitable for the type of cooking, whether electric, gas or induction. The location of your hood will depend on whether or not it is vented to the outside. The style of hood has an impact on the overall look of the kitchen: a modern chimney-style hood lends a contemporary look, while a hood built into or underneath a cabinet is a more traditional choice.
The latest trends in appliances include microwaves built into base cabinets and dishwashers raised by about a foot for easier access. A common feature in European kitchens for the past 10 years or so, this type of installation is becoming more and more popular as the population ages. Wine is another lifestyle trend that is strongly influencing kitchen design. A regular-sized wine cellar will fit under the counter, while larger models may be placed alongside the fridge.
Mindful of the move toward universal design, kitchen designers are increasingly incorporating a walk-in pantry. This small room within or just off the kitchen provides a useful storage area for food, as well as kitchenware, a second fridge, recycling bins and so on. A small countertop may be included to keep the coffee machine and toaster out of sight. This may also serve as a breakfast or lunch counter, to free up space on the main kitchen countertop.
Pale colours will make the room appear larger. Durable, noble materials like wood and natural stone make sensational countertops.
Renovating the kitchen is an investment. But whether the space is large or small, a well-designed kitchen that is both chic and functional will increase your home's resale value. Drop in to your store to meet our experts, who will offer you tips, advice and a host of options to help you create a stylish and practical kitchen that truly reflects your tastes and lifestyle needs.