Monday, 14 January 2013 1:10 PM
The prospect of making over your kitchen can be an exciting one, but it can also be a rather complex process. Read our guide to find out where to start and what issues there are to think about when redesigning this part of your home.
First things first - make sure you know what you're working with by measuring the room to see how much space is available. Draw up a rough plan of the kitchen, making a note of the location of power (including gas) and water points, as well as windows and doors.
Also look at how high the ceilings are - if you have a compact but lofty kitchen, there's the potential to build in storage above your cabinets.
Now that you know the details of the room's size and shape, you should be in a good position to identify the right layout. If you have a large room with lots of space to play with, you can pick pretty much any design you like. However, if you have a small or narrow kitchen, your choices will be more limited.
The main layouts to consider are:
• U or L-shaped kitchen - This is most realistic for medium to large kitchens, as you'll have ample room to place your cabinets along two or three of the four walls available, as well as fit in a dining table or island if you like.
• Galley/parallel kitchen - This is usually the only viable option for long, narrow kitchens, and sees the cabinets and appliances line opposite walls to create a walkway in the middle.
• Single-line kitchen - This is a common feature of flats and houses where the kitchen area is very small. In this layout, cabinets and appliances can only be placed against one wall, so it's a good idea to build as much clever storage space as possible (see below) into your design.
Whichever layout you opt for, be sure to keep the sink, cooker and fridge relatively close to each other (this is also known as the golden triangle) for maximum efficiency in the kitchen. If your room is an unusual shape or very small, think about consulting a specialist kitchen design firm for advice.
This is a particularly important issue for small kitchens, but should be considered when redesigning a room of any size. While your kitchen cabinets and fridge will provide most of the storage space you need, you should also look at whether you require extra fittings like wall-mounted hooks for hanging large utensils, extra wine storage or even a rack suspended from the ceiling for pots and pans.
However, bear in mind that there's such a thing as too much storage - install more than you need and you will likely end up filling your cupboards with lots of unused items. Consider whether it's more important to have as much storage space as possible or to make room for social dining facilities or extra appliances.
Many people redesign their kitchens because the style of the current fittings has become out of date, or because the units are starting to look a bit worn. A makeover provides an excellent opportunity to implement a look that you really want, whether it's a glossy, ultra-contemporary appearance or something more akin to a kitchen you would find in a country cottage.
Flip through magazines or browse interior design websites to get a feel for the sort of look you would like - this will make it much easier for you narrow down your options when the time comes for you to choose and order your kitchen. If you're hankering for something a little more niche than you would normally find in a standard kitchen store, such as a 1950s-style diner, you're better off ordering customised units from a specialist company such as Bespoke Kitchens.