A to Z of Kitchens
When it comes to interior design, one of the most important areas for you to consider is the kitchen. As one of the most used, and most useful rooms, the kitchen truly is the heart of your home. We’ve put together an A-Z of kitchen ideas and must-dos to kick-start your creativity and help you
Even if you’re not going for a full refurbishment of your kitchen, you can bring it bang up to date with a few carefully chosen accessories. Just because it’s a predominantly functional room, that doesn’t mean you should skip on those all-important decorative accents. Consider a few carefully chosen ornaments (make sure it’s just a few in order to keep dusting to a minimum!), or add a potted plant to your window sill. Snake plants, with their lush green foliage, make ideal adornments as they are the most oxygen producing of all house plants.
If a total refurb is on the cards then your choice of basin will be a big part of the decision making process. Heavy, luxurious materials such as marble are extremely beautiful, but if you have younger children or a busy schedule, then you may find it better to opt for something easyclean, such as stainless steel. Don’t be tempted to save space with a single sink in the kitchen – even a small double basin will make a massive difference as it allows you to wash and rinse dishes with ease; or peel your veggies while a pot is soaking.
Blues are very big this year, as evidenced by Pantone’s choice of the warm blue ‘very peri’ as their colour of the year 2022. Blues need to be applied with some consideration, as they can look cold, and our favourite way of combatting that is to mix them with warm neutrals such as beige and oatmeal, to give them a softer, more inviting look. If you don’t want to make a big commitment simply add splashes of colour in the form of a blue kettle, or some brightly coloured trivets.
One way to revamp your kitchen without spending out thousands is to simply replace your cupboard doors. There are lots of companies out there that will help you source doors for your existing cupboards and it’s a great idea for people who’ve already found the perfect layout for their kitchen and simply want to update things a little. If your kitchen hasn’t been touched for some time, you can modernise with smooth acrylics or, for a deliberate call back to yesteryear, embrace cottagecore with pine.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: ask the experts. Even if you intend to fit your kitchen yourself, it’s still a good idea to ask a professional to advise you on what will and won’t work. If you can, get your new kitchen professionally designed. If you’re buying your materials from a company they will usually include your design in the price. Not only does this save you hours of work, but it also means that if the kitchen doesn’t fit because of an error in the design then you some come back.
We often forget to take flooring into account in our own homes and yet it really does make a massive difference. Think back to the last time your kids or pets tracked mud through the lounge – how terrible did it look? You can dust and polish all you want but the thing that makes the room sparkle is vacuuming! In kitchens you’ll want a hard wearing laminate, wood or Amtico for easy cleaning, so go to your local flooring company with a budget and ask them for ideas.
Sorry to get this song stuck in your head but “people always end up in the kitchen at parties” – rather than get frustrated when it happens, why not plan for it in advance and make the kitchen the focal point at your next gathering? Make sure there’s seating and plenty of leg room in the kitchen (see P for Planning) and have provision for music in there (a bit of a boogie can also be a great boost when it comes to cleaning up afterwards!)
They say small changes can make a big difference, and handles are the perfect exemplar. Rather than a simple pine pull, choose cupboard handles with a bit of character to add to new cupboards or spruce up old ones. The possibilities really are endless but we suggest supporting a small business by purchasing unique, hand thrown ceramic knobs to suit your colour scheme.
Lighting is so important in a kitchen. Of course you’ll need bright spotlights for when you’re preparing meals, but don’t overlook the impact of mood lighting, especially if your kitchen is also used for entertaining. Simply making your main lights dimmers can take you from function to celebration, but you might also want to consider a sleek lamp, or chic cupboard or skirting board lights for a real talking point.
JUNK (CLEAR IT)
If you’re like me you’ll seem to spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning your kitchen! It seems that I only have to turn around twice before there’s another mess to be cleaned. Well you can ease the pain of constant cleaning by tidying away as many ‘bits’ as possible. This could mean working hidden appliances into your new design, but it could also be as easy as making sure there’s room in the cupboards for the blender, cake mixer or coffee machine when not in use. When it comes to kitchens, the less you have out the better it looks and the easier life becomes.
Kettles can actually be a key design feature in your kitchen. For the majority of people a kettle is something that is used constantly and so needs to be kept out. That means that it should not only function well, but that it should also look good. Choose one to match your colour palette or opt for a sleek chrome design, and pick a shape that also lends itself to your aesthetic. If you’re really keen to ‘declutter’ then consider doing away with your kettle in favour of a boiling water tap, for tea in seconds.
LARDERS AND PANTRIES
Growing up in the 1980s I knew very few people who had a proper larder, as they had largely fallen out of favour. However, in recent years people have fallen back in love with the good old fashioned pantry because it means that non-refrigerated food can be kept in one place and out of sight. If you’ve got the room to include a walk in larder then give it some serious thought, but if space is an issue then a floor to ceiling pull out larder is the next best thing.
Family mealtimes can be a fun and important part of any home. Whether you’re a single person hosting guests, a couple who love to give one and other a rundown of the day, or a family who relishes the chaos and noise, then eating together is one of the best bonding exercises there is, so try and accommodate space to eat in your kitchen, even if it’s just a small breakfast bar for snacks.
NEW LEASE OF LIFE
Sometimes it only takes a few simple changes to give a whole new lease of life to a room. This could mean painting the walls or changing the doors, but one thing that can make a huge impact is new tiling. If you’re not a DIY expert then it really is a good idea to get a pro’ in for this one, as there will undoubtedly be new tiles that need cutting, and removing your old tiles can be tricky. However, for a fairly small outlay, this can be an incredibly dynamic way to spruce up your kitchen.
OVENS COOKERS AND RANGES
We could easily devote a whole article to this subject, but for now let’s just cover the three Es: Examination, Economy and Environment. Examine your options carefully before choosing your new appliance as there is probably far more available then you realise. Consider how economic your new appliance will be – not only in the initial purchase, but also in terms of running costs. Finally, is your new appliance environmentally friendly and does it conform to relevant legislation?
If you’re completely redoing your kitchen, how much can you actually change? If you’ve got the room and the budget, consider open plan; combining your kitchen with your dining room or even your entire downstairs area. It’s a big job, but open plan living areas make the space seem so much bigger and allow the kitchen to become a more integral part of family life.
Quartz is one of the most abundant on earth, but when used for home countertops is actually ground down into a powder and then combined with resins, polymers and pigments, making it incredibly durable and stain-resistant (although not entirely heat resistant). It’s a little pricey and needs to be professionally installed, but if the look of quartz appeals to your sense of style then it’s a worthy investment.
REFRIGERATORS AND FREEZERS
If a new fridge is on the cards then you may have your work cut out for you, because the breadth of choice on offer these days is mind boggling! Whether you’re looking for the best space saver, the most economic or the fanciest tech, there’s something out there for you. However, as the early part of this year was blighted by power cuts, we think this is probably a good time to tell you about the latest advancement in fridge/freezer technology: EverCool. EverCool technology from LG keeps food frozen for up to seven hours without electricity so your next power cut doesn’t have to be a disaster!
No matter how big your kitchen, it seems that you will never have quite enough space! That’s why so many of us are constantly on the lookout for space saving solutions. In kitchens this desire for space saving has spawned an entire industry of products, from turntables and pull-outs that allow you to utilise the furthest corners of your cupboards, to centre islands that house dog beds underneath! Take a look at what’s available and ask your designer for tips because it’s easier to work space saving solutions into a new design than to try to fit them retroactively.
So you’re not a fan of Quartz? Well worry not, because there are myriad options available. From wood, to marble and even concrete! Believe it or not, one type of material that’s really seeing a comeback is laminate. About as far from quartz as you can get, laminate is inexpensive, light and easy to fit. The downside of laminate (other than its 1970s image), is that it’s not as durable as other materials. However, if you’re on a budget or prone to changing your aesthetic then it can be a perfect fit. Modern laminates are far superior to their 20th century equivalents and come in a vast range of colours, so take a look and put the kitch in kitchen!
It’s hard enough forcing yourself out of bed on a cold winter morning but having to shuffle into the cold kitchen for your daily caffeine hit makes it a really miserable experience. Underfloor heating can be a godsend in winter. Now I know we’re heading into spring, but in a country that tends to experience more cold weather than hot, this is a long term investment well worth considering. However, if you are thinking more about the summer right now, it might worth taking a look at plinth heaters. These heaters fit under your cupboards so can be easily switched on and off, and many also feature a fan for air circulation in summer.
VELUX AND SKYLIGHTS
There’s no better pick me up than sun streaming into your home, but kitchens, with their many cupboards and appliances, can sometimes seem a little dark. Many people are now opting to velux windows and skylights and, although this is a step best taken during a major refurbishment, it can be a fairly simple job for an experienced builder. You might want a window with the option of a blind when it gets really hot in summer, but if your kitchen feels oppressive this may be the mood booster you need.
Built in or added extra, wine racks are a feature piece and the sheer variety available means that there’s something to suit every ‘palette’! No longer are we limited to rickety balsa wood constructions, today’s wine racks can be a work of art in their own right, and whether you want a simple six bottle holder, or a floor to ceiling construction, every budding vintner deserves a rack worthy of their finest bottles.
Kitchens aren’t simply functional these days; they’re an important part of the home and, as such, they deserve to be decorated with a bit of pizazz, which means…
You are unique and your kitchen should reflect that. Although we’re always happy to inspire you with the latest trends and fashions, you should never go for what’s ‘in’ if there’s something different out there that speaks to your heart. Do you crave lime green wallpaper or want to create a space age centre console? Then do it. Let your personality shine in your kitchen. After all it’s where you spend a lot of your time.
For our final entry I simply want to say that the kitchen is no longer just a food prep centre, or even a family room. For many of us it now doubles as an office as well. You’ve seen the advert about sprucing up your kitchen for when you take online meetings? Well it’s right. Not necessarily because of potential embarrassment (I firmly believe that it shouldn’t matter what others think), but because working from home is yet another reason you might be spending more time in your kitchen, and it therefore needs to be a space conducive to productivity and calm.