From cooking up a storm to socialising with family, your kitchen is the ultimate multi-tasking space, so it’s important to get the design just right. Before you dive into a kitchen renovation, there’s a whole host of pitfalls you need to avoid if you want to create a successful layout and save yourself time, money and stress. Steer clear of these design faux pas…
Not thinking about workflow
Poor workflow planning can leave you with an impractical kitchen that turns cooking into chaos. Your cooker, sink and fridge should be located within easy reach of one another – ideally no more than three feet apart. A triangle arrangement between these three key items often works best.
Underestimating how much storage you’ll need
You can never have too much storage in a kitchen and it’s easy to miscalculate just how much you’ll need. Make an inventory of everything you’ll want to store in your new kitchen – from crockery and chopping boards to that bread maker you’re definitely going to use one day – and make sure you allocate a place for everything before you start planning your space. If you’re designing for a snug space, a wall-mounted pegboard is a clever way to increase your storage capacity.
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Trying to squeeze in too much
When you’re planning your dream kitchen, it can be tempting to try to squeeze in every last luxury. But before you splash out on a statement island unit or a modern-style fridge-freezer, plan your traffic flow to make sure you’ll be left with enough room to manoeuvre.
Not paying attention to detail
Choosing the cabinets, kitchen tiles and hardware for your new scheme can be lots of fun, but don’t forget about what goes inside your units. Drawer dividers, pull-out larders and carousel cupboards are just a few of the smart storage solutions that will help keep your kitchen organised, making the most of every square inch of space.
Wasting storage space
Maxing out your kitchen storage is essential. Every kitchen is unique, so take a step back and think about how and where you can sneak extra storage into your space. Make the most of a tall kitchen with fitted floor-to-ceiling units. In smaller spaces, toe-kick storage hidden in the kickboards underneath units is a canny place to keep extra plates and utensils.
Not asking the experts
The kitchen is the most complicated – and expensive – room in the house to design, so paying for a bit of expert advice at the start of a project can take the stress out of the process and save you money in the long run. Even if you already have a good idea of what you want, a professional kitchen designer can help you fine-tune your scheme and help you avoid costly mistakes.
A poor lighting plan
Well-planned, versatile lighting is more important in the kitchen than in any other room in the house. You’ll need spotlight task lighting for preparing meals, softer mood lighting for dining areas and LED accent lighting to show off your beautiful new units or crockery collection
Poor communication with builders
The ‘mistakes’ that builders make are often down to lack of communication. The best way to ensure that everything goes smoothly is to agree on a detailed schedule of works before construction starts and speak to your builder on a regular basis – every day if possible – to keep abreast of the project and catch any problems before they arise. Detailed drawings are a big help, so you might want to hire an architect or interior designer to draw these up.
Ventilation is especially important in open-plan spaces where cooking smells can linger if they’re not removed immediately. Ducted extractors are more efficient than charcoal filters and you need to consider how the duct will run from your extraction hood to the outside, taking into account the amount of space between the kitchen ceiling and the floor above and any joists that might be in the way.
Not bothering about the boiler
Unless you have a dedicated utility room, chances are your boiler will have to go in the kitchen. Bulky and usually unattractive, it’s important to find as elegant a solution as possible to hide it away, while making sure it’s still accessible for maintenance. A fitted cupboard is usually the best option, ideally located on an exterior wall so the vent has the shortest possible length to travel.
Buying without trying
Requesting samples is an absolute must before you order anything, particularly if you’re shopping online. Seeing samples in-store helps, but ideally you need to see your chosen finishes in situ as colours, and even textures, can appear quite different depending on the surrounding colours and lighting.
Leaving the appliances till last
Choosing appliances may not be the most exciting part about designing a new kitchen, but it’s a good idea to do this before you even start looking at units. It will allow you to fit your units around your appliances rather than the other way around, giving you a seamless look that’s smart as well as space-efficient.
Playing it too safe
The kitchen is first and foremost a practical space, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget about style. While white units and walls are easy to live with, they can feel a bit flat and clinical, especially when combined with stainless steel appliances. Jazz them up with a statement splashback, eye-catching handles or a patterned tile floor.
Neglecting the plumbing
When planning a kitchen, it’s best to start with the practicalities and build your design around what’s possible rather than what’s aesthetically ideal. Moving plumbing can be tricky and expensive, so check with a plumber before rearranging the position of your sink, dishwasher or washing machine. You may have to rethink your dream design a bit, but better that than ordering your units and discovering you can’t fit everything where you thought you could.
Getting the worktop height wrong
Prepping food on worktops that are the wrong height is a frustrating experience – too low and you’ll get a sore back from stooping, too high and you won’t be able to reach comfortably. The standard height for worktops is around 90cm, but you can tailor this to your own needs within a range of about 87 to 100cm. If there’s a vast height difference between members of your household and you have the space, you could even consider dual-level worktops.
Not making room for rubbish
A built-in bin not only keeps unpleasant smells at bay, but a segmented model will also make your life easier when it comes to separating out general waste from recycling. Plus they take up less floor space than a pedal bin, preserving the clean lines of your kitchen.
Forgetting the heating
Heating is another important detail that it’s easy to overlook in your kitchen design. Radiators are effective but take up valuable space, so you might want to consider underfloor heating or vented kickboard heating hidden underneath units.
Not including enough power points
Not only will you need plug sockets for everyday appliances such as toasters and kettles, but you’ll also need extra sockets for lesser-used items such as blenders, plus non-kitchen-based gadgets such as smart phone and tablet chargers. Pop-up plug sockets are a great option if you don’t want to disrupt the sleek design of your kitchen. You can also hide wireless chargers inside cabinets, so all you have to do to charge your phone is place it on the worktop.
Forgetting the finishing touches
You’ve planned your workspace, nailed your traffic flow and incorporated all the storage you need – but don’t forget the final flourishes that will transform your kitchen from purely practical into a living space that you love spending time in. Artwork and accessories are an easy way to inject colour and personality, as are patterned tiles and upholstery if your kitchen includes a sitting area.
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