Your kitchen is the most multifunctional room in your house. Of course, you cook in it, and probably eat in it; you store food, wares and utensils; it’s probably where you spend the most time with your family – the family schedule is on the fridge; and when people come over, no matter how much you want them to see the new entertainment centre, they will end up in the kitchen. Even while it is such a popular place, sometimes you just need to pass through quickly because you’re late.
It’s a lot of responsibility for one room to handle. A good kitchen design needs to consider everything that will go on there; it needs to be functionally efficient, comfortable and really good looking too.
There are a number of elements that conspire to make a well-designed, functional kitchen:
Layout – The layout is the map of your kitchen design and, just like a road map, it needs to show where everything is and how you get there. To start, you will need to know how much space you have, not all designs are suitable for all spaces. It will also help to consider your family’s activities – does anyone need to get through with large sports bags? Once you have answered these sorts of questions, there are four basic designs from which to start:
L-shaped – This layout works in small or large spaces and an island can be added for extra counter space.
U-shaped – Better suited for larger spaces, this layout offers lots of counter space within easy reach.
Single Wall – Everything in a row; this works for smaller spaces or an open concept kitchen with an island.
Double Wall or Corridor – Also for small spaces with the ability to pass through easily.
Lighting – Nothing else can change the mood or functionality of a kitchen as quickly as lighting. Wrongly placed and simple tasks become difficult; or well balanced and a dull room becomes an inviting space. There are three basic types of kitchen lighting:
Ambient Lighting – This is the overall light in the room. Kitchens need to be well lit and solid ambient lighting will make sure this is the case at any time of day or night
Task Lighting – Even with good ambient light, sometimes you need more light in certain places to help you see better to prepare food, etc..
Accent lighting – Use accent lighting to highlight certain areas of the kitchen, objects, cabinets, etc..
Cabinetry – It’s just where you keep your stuff, but it’s the dominant feature of your kitchens and – like the kitchen itself – your cabinets must be practical and look great too. A new look for your cabinets does not have to be expensive; they can be re-faced for a fraction of the cost of replacement. The basic decision you need to make, whether you are re-facing or replacing, is the style of cabinet you prefer. Options abound with a variety of wood finishes, glass doors, raised or flat, polyester or plastic laminates and even stainless steel.
Counter-tops – Like cabinets, this is mainly a matter of personal preference, but there are more practical considerations. For instance, granite is very popular and looks great, but it can absorb stains and you need to keep it sealed – and it’s a little more expensive. Ceramic tile does not require sealing, but the surface is uneven. Concrete is a flat surface, but it might crack. So, you need to find out what your choices are, the pros and cons of each and determine which counter-top will work best for you.
Flooring – It’s underfoot, but it should be front of mind. Flooring is an area of kitchen design that is often not given enough consideration. Before choosing the right kitchen floor, consider how you use your kitchen. Those who enjoy long cooking sessions might find ceramic tiles uncomfortable because they are hard and unforgiving on your feet and legs. If your kitchen has high traffic and lots of spills, vinyl tile might not be the best choice because the tiles can lift and dirt can collect between them. Try not to be seduced by looks, but think about your lifestyle and which option will fit it best.
Take the time to carefully consider all your choices and it will pay off in the increased value and enjoyment you will get from your new kitchen!