When you start with your kitchen design you first have to consider the clients needs. Based on discussions with your client you can establish a brief for the design of the kitchen. The kind of questions you need to be asking the client include the following (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Is the kitchen to be just a food preparation area, or more of a living eating space?
- Will the area be used as an entertaining space?
- Are you keen cooks, or do you do more microwave cooking?
- Do you need a lot of preparation space?
- Do you have a well stocked larder, and plenty of ingredients?
- Who cooks in the kitchen? Is it just one person or does the whole family get involved?
- Will there be a lot of foot fall in your kitchen – i.e., does it lead to another space so a lot of people will be passing through?
- What electrical appliances do you have or want? (i.e., what worktop items will you have)
- What built in appliances do you want or have? (i.e., fridges, freezers, oven, hob, dishwasher, washing machine and so on.)
- How much storage is required?
- What is the budget?
Some of your questions will depend on whether you are designing a new build or renovating an existing kitchen, or perhaps planning an extension. If you are working within the constraints of an existing space, consider some of the following questions:
- What is the size of the space?
- Are there separate rooms available for storage or utility?
- Where is the plumbing currently located?
- Where are the electrical points currently located?
- Which way do any existing doors swing, and will they impact the space?
- Where are the windows located, and what is their height? (Ie, will a worktop fit underneath?)
Planning the space
The key to a well structured kitchen is planning the space and the location of the most important appliances to enable frequent tasks to be completed easily and efficiently. For example, in order to make a coffee, you need to fill the kettle with water, get the coffee and the milk from the fridge, and find the coffee cups. These need to be located within easy distance in order for the task to be carried out effectively.
This space planning has become known as the ‘work triangle’ which is based on many tasks carried out in a kitchen involving the fridge, cooker and sink. This work triangle is important to consider when planning out the design of your kitchen.
The total distance of the triangle should be between 5 and 7 metres, any less and it may feel cramped, but any more and you will be spending a lot of time walking backwards and forwards. No major traffic routes should cross the triangle.
These days a linear kitchen is becoming more fashionable in order to create a large open plan family space. If a linear kitchen is used, consider arranging zones within that line. An area for cooking, an area for food preparation, an area for serving and washing up. This will allow the appropriate equipment to be stored close to the particular zone, with sufficient workspace to carry out the task.
Consider that the triangle is not always the best solutions. The working triangle is based on one person cooking, with three workstations. However, these days, cooking duties can often be shared, and kitchens sometimes feature more than three work stations. These details should be extracted from the client brief.
There are a number of basic kitchen layouts that can be used as a starting point for your design.
If you are renovating a narrow kitchen, generally the galley is your only option. Depending on the width of the room, you can go for units on one side or both sides. Ensure 1.2m space down the middle of the units, to allow space for opening cupboard doors and moving comfortably around the room. If there is not quite enough space for units each side, you could use half depth wall units at floor level to allow for a bit more space.
The u-shaped kitchen gives a good layout for the working triangle, and also creates good storage and worktop space. You may require specialist corner units to enable access to the hard to reach corner space.
The L-shaped kitchen offers a good option for the working triangle, particularly if you position the sink halfway down one side of the units, with the cooker halfway down the other.
The island design is really useful for larger kitchens where units are placed around the perimeter. The island can cut down on distances between the working triangle. The island can provide seating, storage, housing for appliances or the sink, or just a preparation area.
Make sure you provide at least a metre of floor space around the island to allow space to move freely.
Tips for appliances
When locating fridges, try to make sure they are not next to a wall, as that will restrict the opening to just 90 degrees.
Don’t position a fridge directly next to an oven/cooker as this will have an impact on efficiency.
Make sure you leave plenty of worktop space between the hob and sink areas.
Lighting in a kitchen is often overlooked, or an afterthought. However, good lighting is essential in a kitchen and must be considered alongside the basic layout. Overhead spot lights are usually good as general lighting, but it is often useful to have lighting under the wall units to light up the worktops and preparation areas. Downlighters work well over islands or you could use a combination of both down lighters and spots depending whether the island is being used to prepare food or more of an eating space.
Storage is a major issue for many people. Sometimes sleek lines and minimalism are often a more dominant factor than the functionality of storage space. Make sure you try to integrate plenty of storage into your kitchen design.
In part 2 we look at standard kitchen sizes, heights and so on. We will also look at typical layouts and rules of thumb for kitchens – so check it out now!