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Things you should know before designing a kitchen...

Designing a kitchen can be pretty daunting at the outset, as there is so much pressure to get it right. The kitchen is an expensive room to renovate so getting a design that works properly and has longevity is essential. This really is one of the key rooms in a home where an interior designer can pay for themselves by helping you avoid the pitfalls. Read on for some top tips when starting out.

What space do you have? You need to design a kitchen that gives you room to manoeuvre. By using a designer to layout options for the space you can get a real sense of what's possible. Or alternatively, go analogue, and use chalk or masking tape to draw out the space and cabinets so you can see for yourself.

If you have your heart set on an island, for example, make sure it will work in the space and balance the kitchen dimensions. Too small an island in a large space will make it feel like it's lost but too large will leave you no room to walk around.

How much space you need to allow will also depend on the number of cooks in the kitchen, If you're a solo kitchen dweller then you can get away with a standard 90cm distance between units but if you always have a sous chef or two with you then aim for up to 140cm.

Storage needs. Now this is one of the key things to consider. Think about what you have already in your kitchen that needs storing, what you would like to have space for and all of your large and small appliances too. Do you need wall hung cupboards overhead? Would a smaller depth or a narrow cupboard mean you can add in extra storage to your space? Look at all the options available out there from larder cupboards, integrated spice racks, hidden drawers, dividers, racking and the list goes on...

Consider your available space and your lifestyle carefully. Can you squeeze in a pantry space? Fabulous if you can as it can hide a multitude of the less beautiful items and food stuffs. Are you a caffeine fiend? Would a breakfast cupboard work for you with coffee machine, toaster and all appliances on hand? Do you want to have clear worksurfaces? Then consider getting appliances such as microwaves wired into the cupboards or installing pull out shelving for stand mixers for example.

Electrics and lighting. These are key considerations if you are starting from scratch. Lighting in a kitchen is hardworking from spotlights in the ceiling to under cupboard ambient lighting, task counter top lighting to dramatic pendant lights over dining areas. They all need to perform a particular task, set a mood and work together. And if you're redesigning an existing space then there are tons of options out there with plug in or rechargeable lighting too. Electrics need to be both practical (think additional charging points) and practical (consider heights of sockets and ease of access). You will also need to consider extractor fans and whether you want ceiling hoods, wall hoods, island hoods, integrated hoods, or venting hobs to name a few. Will it duct outside or recycle internally? Again these decisions are practical as well as aesthetic choices. Consider noise of the fan in open plan areas, cooking smells as well as how it will look in the space.

Flooring is another huge (and costly) consideration when updating a kitchen. It again depends on the type of person you are as to what finish you may want to go with but for ease and durability in a high traffic area then porcelain or ceramic tiles, concrete or stone work well. Make sure they have been sealed though to prevent stains from cooking splashes. Hardwood or engineered wood can work well too but will also need spills to be mopped up quickly. And vinyl is really making a comeback in recent years and a great choice of flooring for a kitchen area. Dependent on your layout as well you can zone the kitchen floor in an open plan area and run tiles there with wood elsewhere for example. It can make a great feature out of the space so don't be afraid to mix things up.

Save or splurge? It's one of the commonly asked questions when it comes to a kitchen renovation. My rule of thumb is think cost per use! A tap that doesn't work well is going to really get on your nerves surely? So hardware, inbuilt appliances, counter tops and cookers are where to focus your cash. Shop around though there are always great deals out there to be had.

By focusing on classic kitchen units and worktops you will also give yourself the freedom to change up the accessories and colours as trends come and go. Now that is much easier than changing kitchen units or tiles.

Talking of costs, if you want a high end finish then weigh up your time versus paying for a trained professional. It's always a balance of your weekends and your bank balance of course but be realistic about which tasks are worth you tackling.

A dash of personality. Once you have nailed the basics then you can start to look at what style you would like to achieve. Think about layering up your space with textures, plants, accessories and pictures to suit the style you want. Create some display space for beautiful ceramics or server-ware rather than hiding them in cupboards.

Don't compromise. A final word of support when you have design fatigue and just want the kitchen done. Those seemingly last minute changes to save you money, or 'that'll do as is' decisions can end up bugging you for a very long time. Push on through as it'll be worth it.

By planning in detail up front and avoiding surprise costs along the journey, you can ensure your vision comes to life fully.

For more support subscribe today at the top of the page and receive a free Kitchen Remodel Guide. Or for more personalised help with your renovation or refurb then contact me at

Photo credits: Kam Idris, DEN LIFE interiors, Plum, Josh Hemsley, Valerie Clarisse, Pinterest unknown, R Architecture, Plum

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