Thursday, 24 January 2013

All those banana skins

Kitchen design can be a tricky business, a very complicated, tricky business!  So if you're considering a kitchen change you'll no doubt have some idea of what you'd like the new kitchen to be.  But hold on.  First consider some of the main "banana skins" that have caused many a slip.

1. Worktop, worktop, worktop.

One of the main complaints about any kitchen is a lack of worktop space.  So when you think about your new kitchen, make sure that you have enough worktop space by considering how you use your worktops now. The amount of space you need will be specific to your circumstances and will vary with the size of your room and budget.

Make a list of the types of activities you need specific worktop areas for, and evaluate how they may overlap when more than one person uses the kitchen.

Materials matter, too. Where laminates are rugged and heavy-duty, some of the high priced stone, concrete, metallic and natural wood worktops need regular maintenance and special handling.

2. The Golden Triangle.

The kitchen golden triangle links the three areas of greatest activity: the sink, the cooker and the refrigerator. There should be unobstructed access to and from all three of these locations. Of the three, the sink will see the most action and should have easy access to the cooker and refrigerator. Aisles,  door swings and islands that cut off direct access to these key areas make a kitchens frustrating to use. On a design plan, a few extra steps may not seem like much, but after a few hundred trips around a jutting island corner, you'll start to feel differently.

3. Room and more room

Kitchens typically contain lots of stuff. Not only that, but the items concealed behind cabinet doors can be oddly shaped space hogs. So finding a home for your kitchen stuff that still keeps it easily accessible is tricky. But one big design mistake is not including enough storage.  Remember a working kitchen includes lots of tools that contribute to preparing and serving meals. So try to design in as many storage areas as you can.

4. Island Design

Installing a kitchen island offers a promise of additional storage and preparation space. But choosing the wrong island or placing it in the wrong spot can be a disaster. Remember that the kitchen is a work area, and anything that gets in the way of working efficiently is going to be a problem. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, or cooker will create problems. One solution is to add a sink or cooker to the island and make it part of the functional kitchen triangle. Another is to position the island so that it has lots of space around it and doesn't impede foot traffic.

5. Lights
Kitchens need three types of lighting: general lighting , task lighting, and accent lighting. As you consider your kitchen design, think about how you will light each area for it's purpose. General lighting is often provided by ceiling lights together with natural light from a window. But where many designs fail is not consider task lighting. Preparation worktops, the sink and the cooker  should all have task lighting so design it in.

6. Air to breathe

You'll understand the need for good ventilation if ever you've walked into your home only to be overwhelmed by the aroma of last nights dinner! And, of course, cooking meals generates a lot of moisture that would be better housed outside the house.  So a good ventilation system will help improve the quality of your home and help keep your kitchen cleaner by venting odors and airborne grease particles from the kitchen.

7. Rubbish to throw

Dealing with kitchen rubbish is often a case of placing a pedal bin near the back door.  But in the age of recycling and rubbish sorting a little more thought is a prudent investment. Rubbish management, then, is no longer a local council activity but something you'll need to address. Consider what the different rubbish bins you'll need;  food waste, glass, and other-recyclable are the three most common but there could be others in your area.

8. Stay in the black

Kitchen renewable is a big project and a budget can easily get out of control.  Only you know how much you can afford, but set you budget first, be realistic and stick to it.  Also remember that project managers would feel a major project completing with a 10% over budget cost as on target!   They are all too aware that changes of mind, extra desires and unforeseen problems all add to the cost during the life time of a project.  So set yourself a contingency and ensure you stay within that.

9. Trendy but personal

You're taste is your taste.  And jolly good it is too, for you.  OK, no one should tell you what design your kitchen should be, it's your home.  But if you're putting a kitchen in to sell a home, be conservative. 

Have you ever wondered why all new built homers are painted in magnolia colour as standard.  Because, while not setting the world alight or making a style statement, magnolia offends nobody and compliments just about any style of furniture.  So if you choose big colours or brash design bear in mind that others may see that as a disadvantage.   No problem if your staying in the home for decades, but if you plan to move next year consider the future and try to design to please the majority.  Conservative design accessorised with your taste is much more flexible.

10. Follow that map

Remember those project managers.  They know only too well that correcting a "design fault or change" at the installation stage can cost 150 times over changing a requirement on a paper design.  The moral, of course, is to get your requirements right and then get the design right.  That will give a plan to stick to.  In this way you'll actually save yourself a lot of money.

So consider carefully at the start and then seek professional advice. For instance, come down and chat to us at Kitchen Solutions Kent. We often hear people apologisiing for taking a long time or multiple visits but it can take weeks or months to get that design right.  So please, take your time.

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