Kitchen designer shared layout mistakes to avoid – impractical and dangerous’
The kitchen is the most used room in the house and the most popular to renovate. A transformation is a good investment, and it pays off by improving the function and increasing the home’s value. It is easy to get caught up in dreaming about colours, selection and other design aesthetics, but it is extremely important not to put finish before function. When your design is well planned and thought out, you can avoid making common kitchen design mistakes.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Ruth Lavender, design expert at Benchmarx Kitchens, said: “Getting the kitchen fit-out right is crucial to the functionality and enjoyment of the space. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a design – it’s always best to consider how you plan to use the space in the first place, which will help inform the must-have features that will make the space work best for you.
“Designing a new kitchen involves careful planning, thought and consideration, so it’s understandable that misjudgments can be made about the layout. However, there are mistakes that can easily be avoided if they are corrected early in the design process. I would therefore always recommend involving a kitchen designer in the planning stages as they will have the expertise to advise on your individual requirements and ensure that potential problems are avoided.”
Choosing the wrong layout
Ruth noted that many people often go into the design contract with a vision of exactly how they want their new kitchen to look, but she recommended being open-minded in the planning stages, “as sticking to a rigid layout idea can sometimes lead to functionality issues further down the line”.
“For example, Brits may have always dreamed of a kitchen island, and even have the space to fit this feature in. However, there may be options to make better use of the space. A peninsula, which is an extension of base cabinets and work area, can offer all the benefits of a kitchen island without taking up so much space.”
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Alternatively, the designer suggested adding a seating area instead. She said: “Building a small bench into surrounding units can really maximize floor space and placing a small table in front can create a really versatile feature.” Households don’t even have to forego storage either, as Ruth recommended incorporating “smart solutions” under the seating area and in the surrounding area.
Lack of storage
Storage is a problem that plagues many UK kitchens, with corners left empty, cupboards inefficiently used and drawers simply not reaching their full potential. Ruth said: “Sometimes the design of a kitchen can dictate areas of wasted space, leaving awkward gaps between walls and even spaces at the back of a cupboard or shelf that are difficult to utilise.”
Households should consider where they need storage and what should be placed there, as this will help determine solutions that are suitable for each location. Consider things that are difficult to store, such as cookbooks, knives and cutting boards, as effective planning will ensure that everything has a home – freeing up work space and keeping the space tidy.
For those who need extra food storage, consider incorporating a pantry or floor-to-ceiling cabinets. A large fridge/freezer will provide plenty of space for things that need to be chilled, with a floor-standing wine cooler providing the perfect place for your favorite drinks, says Ruth. She added: “Thinking about your cooking habits early on can ensure that everything is accounted for and the layout works for you. An integrated spice rack is the perfect solution for budding chefs, for example, as it helps you organize your cooking essentials and ensure that everything is at hand when you need it most.
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“Integrated carousels are excellent for convenience as they allow you to find different utensils quickly without having to climb around the back of the cabinet.”
The kitchen designer noted that pan drawers are another “good option” as they provide the depth needed to store larger items while keeping them accessible. Households can make the most of every inch of their cupboard space with hidden drawers, pull-out wire shelves, room towers and storage baskets.
Ruth continued: “I would always recommend considering the placement of your kitchen appliances and equipment when designing your kitchen, even down to the kettle and toaster. To really maximize space, consider a boiling water faucet to eliminate the need for a kettle altogether. Integrated appliances are another must-have, as they can be cleverly designed to make the most of every available empty space. You might even want to consider a double oven so you can have more culinary creations on the go.”
Not to create a multifunctional space
Now more than ever, our kitchens are used as rooms that not only serve as a place to prepare meals, but also as daytime offices, dining rooms and entertaining spaces. When designing a new kitchen, it is sometimes easy to forget the additional functions a space serves and focus solely on its use for preparing meals.
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Ruth explained that she always encourages her clients to consider their lifestyle to help inform their kitchen design. She said: “Seating options, smart technology and integrated appliances are some of a long list of factors that should be considered when designing a multi-functional space.
“Even the smallest details can have a real impact. Useful features such as accessible sockets at workplaces, wireless chargers and integrated drawers can really facilitate a fluid lifestyle and ensure that a kitchen design works in harmony with you. Not only do these details help a kitchen space to to be utilized to its full potential, but also make it easy to enjoy.”
Deviating from the kitchen’s golden triangle
The designer warned: “Ignoring the kitchen’s ‘golden triangle’ can disrupt the flow of the kitchen and make the space difficult to use. This approach reflects the most practical places to store, cook and clean efficiently. The design of the fridge, stove and sink should be connected by a triangular shape.
“When taken into account, the kitchen’s ‘golden triangle’ limits the amount of movement required when performing tasks by placing appliances and work space in the most accessible location.” It can be used on any kitchen design, whether it is L-shaped, U-shaped or has a peninsula or an island.
A poorly thought out lighting arrangement
An underlit kitchen can be “inconvenient, and in some cases dangerous”, argued Ruth. She said: “Kitchen tasks require plenty of lighting, but many designs lack the lighting necessary to carry out these tasks.
“This problem can be avoided by strategically planning your lighting to ensure it works for your kitchen decor. Each zone should have adequate lighting specifically chosen for its purpose. It is also important to check that your ceiling lighting is not blocked by any cupboards as this can result in a wasted light source that serves no purpose – as well as being annoying!”
Installing multiple sources is one of the “most efficient” ways to ensure that there is plenty of light to suit the purpose. A combination of spotlights, hanging fixtures and under-cabinet lighting will ensure that every room reaches its full potential.
When thinking about a design, the placement of windows and how they will affect the natural light should be considered. Ruth said: “Skylights and bi-fold doors are perfect for flooding a room with natural light. Having windows to the outside world will make your kitchen feel like it stretches further than it does and will stop it feeling closed in.”