Top tips for planning your new kitchen
For many people, the kitchen is the centre of the home, so getting the design right can be crucial.
Renovating your kitchen is an exciting project, and often a costly one. But done properly, kitchens can add value to your home and are a great room to invest in. Focus on what you do in the kitchen. What you have to store? What do you want hidden? What do you want on show? How long will you be at the house? If this is your dream kitchen in your dream house, go all out. If it’s a property you’ll be selling or renting out in a year or two, keep those bespoke extras to a minimum as you won’t be the one using them when you sell up. But where do you start?
Have plans drawn up for your kitchen. A professional designer will know how to maximise space and can make sure your living needs are met. You can draw plans yourself if you have an understanding of cabinetry and use of space, and many DIY stores will offer floor plans and free advice to work with which could save you money in the design phase. Many kitchen manufacturers offer complimentary advice from those in the know and professional plans will ensure an accurate quote, which could help you stick to your renovating budget and eliminate potentially costly mistakes during construction.
• Existing gas or electricity
• Bench height (standard 900 mm)
• Whether the main user is right or left handed
• How many people will use the kitchen
• Design and colour
• Allow 300 mm beside cook top so pots and pans sit safely
Kitchens come in myriad styles and designs, but are primarily sold as separate modular units or are custombuilt from scratch. Many kitchen companies are flexible and it’s possible to combine both mediums.
Flat pack DIY or DFY (done for you)
Flat pack kitchen units come as a set size and are generally available off-theshelf from your local hardware store or specialist kitchen shop. The modular units are dismantled and lay flat on the shelf ready for a DIYer or tradesman to build. If you have any doubt about your DIY ability, have a tradesperson install it for you. Your kitchen cupboards bear a lot of weight, as does your work bench.
If your budget is not holding you back then a custom-built kitchen could be the choice for you.
Bespoke designs come at a price, but give flexibility to use every inch of space. Plus, you’ll have a choice of materials to create the style you want, from French provincial to traditional timber. Common materials used include timber veneer, polyurethane, solid timber, metallic polyurethane, laminate, stainless steel or stone.
But, if you’re in a hurry, a custombuilt kitchen may not be the right choice for you, as construction does not start until it is ordered.
It’s important to choose your appliances before finalising your kitchen to ensure they fit and have clearance around them that conforms to local standards. Ensure there’s enough ventilation around appliances such as wall ovens and fridges and check the manufacturer’s installation guides in case there’s anything a little different about the machine you’ve picked. In most instances, one or two cupboards will need a little modifying at the back to allow for cables, plugs and hoses.
• Allow 300mm beside cook tops so pots and pans can sit safely
• Avoid placing your cook top/oven next to the fridge; otherwise, it will have to work twice as hard to cool
• Stainless steel • Plant and water-based paints with low VOC
• Tight fitting cabinetry to limit vermin If you opt for a ‘green’ modular kitchen, don’t forget it comes as a package, so you will have to stipulate which components you want to replace.
With so many choices available for your new kitchen, renovations could be the time to go a little greener and do your bit for the environment, also known as ‘Greenovations’. You can start by switching to water efficient appliances and fittings, which are identifiable by the national rating system – the more stars on the label, the more water efficient the product is. Many environmental trusts also recommend:
• Durable, easy-to-clean, well-ventilated gas appliances
• Sustainable timber, bamboo, cork, tiles, concrete, stone or timber veneers with zero or low volatile organic compounds (VOC) sealants
• No PVC edging tape • Eco-accredited laminates and particleboard
• Glass and tile splashbacks with zero or low VOC adhesives
If you go to the effort of installing a new kitchen, you will probably want to lay a new floor. There are many options for flooring, and your budget and personal style will be the major factors when choosing a suitable surface. Make sure the surface is hardy and able to withstand wear and tear, especially if you have children. Laying vinyl floors occurs after kitchen installation; lay all other surfaces before installation.