Kitchens these days are more than just a space for food preparation and cooking – they are places to socialise, multi-use hubs of home activity, and often areas where guests can be entertained as well. But whether you’re planning a simple makeover, renovating an existing space, or designing a completely new kitchen, here are six useful kitchen design tips to bear in mind before you get started.
#1 – Use the space you have well
When you’re renovating a kitchen or designing a new one, an important first step is to think carefully about how you plan on using the space. There is a multitude of amazing kitchen layout designs out there (more on that below), however regardless of the design you choose, you should firstly consider where the ‘golden triangle’ of cooking appliances (the sink, fridge and cooktop) is placed.
Ideally, all three should form a triangle with no more than a couple of metres between each of them in order to guarantee functionality and ease of movement. The dishwasher should also be placed near the sink, your bins within easy reach of your dishwasher and food preparation areas, and your utensils, pots and pans as close as possible to the oven and stovetop.
#2 – Design a functional layout
When it comes to kitchen layouts, there is a range of clever, affordable solutions on the market that suit both larger homes and homes where a bit more of a conservative approach is needed.
Island kitchens are ideal for homes that can afford a larger amount of kitchen space and for those who are after a kitchen that’s also a social hub. They provide the ultimate connection between the kitchen and open-plan living areas, and are great for entertaining as they allow the cook to remain in the kitchen while they chat to their guests at the same time!
U-shaped kitchens are great for large families or where multiple people will be working in the same space at the same time. If they are placed adjacent to living or dining areas, you can also take advantage of an open-plan setup while simultaneously allowing a degree of privacy in the kitchen itself.
L-shaped kitchens are adaptable and stylish, and can often easily incorporate a dining table as well. Positioning the fridge, wall oven and pantry along one arm of the L and your cooktop and sinks along the other, will also provide maximum storage and bench space, and allow plenty of room for people to circulate.
If you are dealing with a minimal space, a galley kitchen is an ideal option as it can incorporate all of your kitchen’s essential elements on each side of a narrow area. While more about functionality than socialising, a combination of full-height cupboards, plenty of bench space and windows or skylights can also help to brighten and open up a compact area.
#3 – Make room for storage
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when renovating or designing a kitchen is not considering their storage options. Wall-mounted cabinets and shelves can make the most of vertical space (particularly for bulky appliances) and deep drawers allow easy access to often-used pots and pans.
Maximise the space in your pantry by installing shelf stackers and pull-out baskets, and ensure all food items are neatly stored in a range of airtight containers and labelled accordingly. Suspended racks on the backs of doors can double as handy space savers and hooks can be used to hang frypans or chopping boards.
Drawer dividers and fridge organisers can also keep everything tidy, elevated shelving works well in hard-to-fill spaces like under the sink, and magnetic strips installed on walls or splashbacks are ideal for keeping utensils and knives within easy reach.
#4 – Install a range of lighting
Kitchen lighting that is incorrectly placed, too big or small or too dull or bright is impractical – having a range of several light sources allows you to adjust it as needed, particularly if your kitchen is part of an open-plan area.
Unlike other rooms in the house, overhead lighting alone is also not sufficient for kitchens. This is because when preparing food you don’t want the light to be behind you casting shadows on your workspace. Kitchen lighting needs to be positioned so that it falls in front of you allowing you to work efficiently and safely.
Another one of our useful kitchen design tips is to consider a layered lighting scheme as it can complement a range of uses. Task lighting such as lights above an island bench will allow you to prep efficiently, accent lighting like track lights can highlight features like beautiful detailing, decorative lighting like pendant lights can add character, and ambient lighting that uses dimmers can create a warm and welcoming feel.
#5 – Don’t forget about power points
We use a surprising number of electrical items in the kitchen, which means that it’s vital you have enough power points (in all the right places) to accommodate them. When renovating or designing a kitchen, you need to start with the placement of power points near all of your major appliances – the fridge, the microwave, the dishwasher and your rangehood.
You will also need a few power points for small kitchen appliances like your kettle, toaster and food processor, and some for general use including to charge mobile phones and tablets.
You should also ensure you space power points out well, don’t place them near sinks or hotplates, and try to resist the temptation to use adaptors and power boards – install a couple of extra power points instead!
#6 – Remember… safety first!
Your kitchen will often form the heart of family life, but it can be fraught with danger, particularly if there are young children around. Your kitchen design should include spaces where hazardous items (like knives, glasses and toxic cleaning products) can be stored safely – either out of reach or in locked drawers or cabinets.
When considering a new kitchen layout, you should also factor in child-friendly elements like slip-resistant flooring and rounded counter tops, and make sure you position dangerous appliances out of reach and your oven at adult height in order to minimise the chances of accidental burns.