Isn't a new kitchen every home owner's dream? Designing a kitchen from scratch is a great opportunity, but it can be a daunting one. Where do you start? What are your priorities? Who else do you need to consider?
Traditionally, kitchens were a utilitarian space where food was prepared behind closed doors before being presented in another room dedicated solely to eating. But things have changed. Now the whole gastronomic experience takes place in one setting. The kitchen is the hub of the home where everyone joins in preparation and enjoyment of food and kitchen design has responded accordingly.
The buzzword in kitchen design has for a long time been the "work triangle". This aims to maximise space efficiency and minimise footfall in the kitchen by giving careful thought to where the fridge, stove and sink are placed. These are the most commonly used parts of the kitchen and so it makes sense to have them relatively close to each other. But modern living has complicated this with other demands.
With the dining area either in or right by the kitchen, now you may want to make sure that crockery and cutlery are close to the table for easy entertaining. Its also handy to have the fridge nearby for access to chilled drinks.
Make sure you include as much storage as you can to keep things off the worksurface - one of the main gripes of domestic cooks is not having enough surface to prepare food. This is especially true if you have family members who want to help out - the more space the better, to encourage people to lend a hand!
One way to do this is to maximise storage above the worksurface, as well as below. Cupboards that go all the way up to the ceiling can hide so much more than traditional designs, and look infinitely more modern too. They cut out dusting as well! If you have a spare wall and want a more traditional look, then a freestanding dresser can house and display large amounts of crockery in a very elegant way.
Analyse how many people may be using the kitchen at any one time. For instance if you have two or three teenagers who are all likely to be hanging around the kitchen getting breakfast in the morning or snacks after school leave enough room for easy "traffic flow".
Kitchen use is as diverse as family set-ups. Young children may want a play area or even a small table and chairs to draw and do other activities. As they grow up children may need a homework space off the kitchen so they get a bit of support while doing their sums and writing. Families with a grandparent may want to find space for a comfortable chair or sofa for older relatives to feel included in the household. This is also useful if you have visitors, or you want to relax yourself.
Think carefully about how you can free up space. Extendable tables can be minimised for every day use and extended when visitors arrive. Similarly keep the minimum number of chairs day to day and store away folding chairs for bigger occasions.
And also think about how you can define spaces. An interesting pendant light or a differently coloured wall can separate the dining area. A blackboard, bookshelves or toy box can demarcate a play area. Even just a rug on the floor can separate a relaxation area from the core of the kitchen.
Modern kitchens have many demands put upon them especially by busy families. By thinking through the daily needs of the household you can come up with a workable, attractive solution. Then head to the showrooms to hunt down a style that feels right.