Kitchen Design; More Than Paint Colours and Gadgets
Richard Davonport | 08 July 2015
People often get swept away in the details when imagining a new kitchen; a particular sink, a certain style of cabinet door, paint colours or the latest kitchen gadget. However there are some essential elements which must be considered first. By contacting a kitchen designer early they will make sure that the fundamentals of the design are in place so you can have the finishing touches you’ve been dreaming of.
Whilst many people tend to have a basic idea of the design elements they want in their kitchen, there are some major aspects which need to be considered in the early stages of the design to ensure that everything else falls into place. It’s much like building a house; if you don’t make sure the foundations are correct, the end result could be misshapen, out of proportion, and not fit for purpose.
Therefore, at Davonport we start from the bottom up when designing your new kitchen. Our consultation process focuses on conversation first and foremost. Getting to know our clients’ lifestyle, hobbies and habits, as well as their likes and dislikes helps us to better understand what may or may not work best for you in a kitchen design.
Whilst we start each process from scratch to ensure a truly bespoke design, it is helpful if clients think about some of the fundamentals when first planning to refurbish their kitchen, as this helps us to identify key elements early on so that we can build on and enhance those when planning the design. These include:
The better a designer gets to know about your lifestyle and how you use your kitchen, the more ergonomic the kitchen design will be. For example, a busy family will most likely need more access areas and room to move around the kitchen, whereas a couple who entertains a lot might want a space designed to cook with a socialising area within close proximity.
Kitchen islands are a great way of creating separate areas for guests and hosts, with cooking and prep areas on one side, and seating on the other, however they need to be considered carefully. Ideally islands need to get wider as they get longer so that the proportions work aesthetically. An island should be a minimum of 900mm wide and it should have at least 900mm space around it - an important consideration, especially if you are planning on positioning it away from the centre of the room.
The worth in getting to know our customer’s lifestyles becomes clear when the kitchen is complete. Thanks to this personal approach we have been able to include and design around elements such as integrated dog beds and a sink large enough to bathe pets in. In one case we were asked to design cabinetry to go around a large dog flap in the wall.
Of course, most would argue that the key thing to consider is budget. Almost anything is possible, especially with a bespoke kitchen, and of course costs can mount up. We will always advise solutions which will help you realise your dream kitchen, whilst fitting with your budget.
If you have an odd shaped room then adding cabinets to square it off can be a good idea. With a bespoke kitchen, odd shapes and quirky features are not a problem, as cabinets and surfaces can be tailored to fit. However, if you want to disguise these features then squaring off can be a very effective approach.
Equally, the height of the room is important; a small kitchen or one with low ceilings may look overcrowded with tall cabinets - a large kitchen is able to take the boldness of tall units without it overpowering the whole room or aesthetic. You must consider access to the top shelves if you are planning on having tall cabinets, perhaps by including a ladder within the design. Smaller kitchens of course require proportionally sized units - mounted wall cabinets teamed with under-counter cupboards work well. In order to help the room retain a feeling of space recessed plinths and lighting around the plinths are good options.
Not only should you think about the aesthetics but you should also consider the practical elements of the room. One thing which many people might not consider is the way in which cabinet doors open, and what can be seen if they open one way or the other. For example, if someone is sat at the breakfast bar can they see in to your under-sink cupboard (invariably where all the cleaning equipment is stored) when you open it?
In terms of appliances, which have their own practicalities to consider, there are no longer any hard and fast rules when it comes to kitchen design. For example with modern technology there is no need to ensure that the oven is not placed next to the refrigerator.
However, there are a few exceptions; high ceilinged kitchens will need a strong extractor to cope with filtering the large amount of air in the space efficiently. When it comes to underfloor heating, it should not go under cupboards or islands, so it needs to be planned before cabinetry decisions are finalised.
Learn from past mistakes
Think about what you don’t like about your old or current kitchen that you’re hoping to change? What do you wish had been done differently - or not at all? Equally, what do you love about it? What couldn't you live without? It’s worth considering these points so that you do not repeat mistakes made before, and to make sure that you do not lose those elements which work well for you.
The beauty of a bespoke kitchen is that almost anything is possible. Cabinets and work surfaces can be created around uniquely shaped walls or other features. Cabinets and cupboards can be designed to integrate different shapes and other focal elements into the room. Whilst it is tempting to skip straight to thinking about the decor, no matter how lovely the colour of the walls or the texture of the work surfaces, if the integral design of the room has not been considered and planned carefully the kitchen probably won’t live up to your expectations. Building the design by considering the ergonomic factors first, and then integrating and adapting the design to allow for the aesthetics, will ensure you a beautiful kitchen that will fit with your lifestyle and stand the test of time.