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How to plan your perfect kitchen

Thoughtful design can give you a kitchen you absolutely love, that functions beautifully too. Here's how to get the kitchen you always wanted.

No longer just a practical space to don an apron, prepare meals and pass them through the hatch, the kitchen is the heart of the home. As Sophie Ellis Bexter has taught us, the kitchen is a place to dance.  It’s also a place to work, gather, bake, entertain, cook and eat, as well as a dog cafe. And of course, it should offer all this whilst looking fantastic and being a pleasure to clean. Alice Mounter of Heartwood, a design studio and workshop on the Somerset Levels that produces beautiful bespoke kitchens and furniture, explains how to plan your perfect kitchen.

1/ Layout

OK, it’s a bit dull but have a good clear out.  What do you need?  What do you use ALL the time and what can go? 

Think about how you use the kitchen.  Are you a baker, cocktail maker, king of the microwave.  What do you need close at hand?  

When thinking about a layout, keep the sink, oven and fridge as close together as possible.  Do you need a breakfast station, where all breakfast elements are kept together but can be hidden away?

Open shelves on the walls instead of cabinets are a more modern choice and keep the kitchen from feeling cluttered.

Do you need a pantry?  A pantry is a great extra space that can be tucked away in a dark corner and provides the perfect organisational tool for all your food and provisions.  

Drawers can be brilliantly practical and a great way to store pans, plates, crockery and more.

2/ Islands

Islands are highly popular, and for good reason.   They are incredibly practical, offer a stylish focal point to the room and give you additional functional space.

When it comes to islands, form follows function.  What do you need your island to do?  They can have built in ice makers, wine coolers, herb gardens, power banks.  They can offer additional dining space.  Put your sink, dishwasher, hob, recycling centre into your island.  It can be curved, sleek, colourful.  It can be such a great bit of furniture that can work really hard for your kitchen.

3/ Plumbing and heating

You’ll need to have a think about the practical elements of kitchen renovation. Are you planning on using existing plumbing and power or will you require additional pipework?  If you’re having an island, do you need power and plumbing to the island?

The planning of these elements is essential and the plumber and the electrician should be some of the first people you brief.  They will need to carry out their work before you lay any new floor or undertake any decorating.

4/ Lighting

A good lighting plan can really enhance your kitchen.  There are people who will design perfect lighting plan for you or, if you’re planning on designing your own lighting scheme, consider the following elements to ensure perfect illumination.

Task or functional lighting – often spotlights – is bright, practical and used to light work spaces.

Ambient or mood lighting, giving you the right level of general light through day and evening time.

Accent or feature lighting makes a statement.  A light that adds to the aesthetic of the kitchen.

5/ Design

This is what Pinterest was made for. There are endless beautiful images. Collect any image that inspires you or gives you joy. It doesn’t have to be kitchen images, it could be a plate or something from nature with a beautiful colour.

Collect images, scrap books, tears from magazines, create mood boards. Think about colours, textures, finishes, materials, taps, sinks, handles.  Anything that gives you joy.  Don’t worry if images contradict each other and at this stage don’t worry about budget.  

6/ Ask the experts

Once you’ve thought about what it is you think you might want, it’s time to call in the experts.  A good kitchen designer will take the time to understand you, your home – its period and architecture – and how you and your family want to live. They can help you maximise your space, give you things to consider you won’t have thought about and advise you on the latest fittings, materials and finishes. 

Working with you, they will develop a design that will suit you, your house and your family and then guide you through the process of making and installation.

7/ Set a budget

It sounds obvious but it’s really helpful to have an idea of what you want to spend on your  kitchen.  Your designer will be able to offer practical solutions and suggest clever ways where you can save costs and tell you where it’s worth investing.  

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