design your ultimate kitchen
Follow our stress-free tips to help you cook up the kitchen you’ve always wanted
Let us help you plan your new cooking space
Choosing a new kitchen should be a fun, exciting experience, but there are so many vital decisions to make, from which kind of cabinets you want, to what colour to paint the walls, that it can often become quite daunting. Whether you’re renovating to create an open-plan space or simply refitting a compact kitchen, we’ve got all the advice you need to make it as hassle-free as possible.
Set your budget
Before you even start thinking about furniture, appliances and finishing touches, it’s a good idea to decide on your budget. This will keep you on track when you start looking at all the wonderful things on offer, and it will also help you focus and go for cabinetry, worksurfaces, splashbacks and appliances that are right for your budget. Make sure you add a little bit extra for unexpected expenses that might come up, such as repairing wiring or extra plumbing.
If you’re planning a new extension or knocking two rooms into one, before you start, remember to check whether you need planning permission or if building regulations apply. The rules have relaxed recently, but it’s always best to find out before you start. Visit gov.uk/planningpermission-england-wales/when-you-need-it for more information.
Put together a style file
Once you know how much you’ve got to spend, start to refine your choices. All the major kitchen companies have websites where you can look at the styles they offer and the services they provide, and the cost. Some, such as B&Q and Ikea, have design tools that allow you to visualise how a particular style of cabinet or layout would work in your space and will give you an idea of how many cabinets and metres of worksurface you’ll need. Simply install
the software on your computer and start planning. Create a moodboard or build a kitchen file with printouts and pages from magazines to help refine your ideas. As well as magazines, homes websites, such as housetohome.co.uk and Pinterest have hundreds of ideas to pore over.
Get the layout right
To help you work out what the best layout is for you, write a list of everything you do and don’t like about your existing scheme. The working triangle is talked about a lot and essentially describes the arrangement of the three core kitchen elements: the cooker, fridge and sink. Setting them out in a triangle minimises the distances you walk around the room and helps you make efficient use of your space. Ideally, it should be no more than 2.7m and no less than 1.2m long.
Take a trip
You’ll probably already have a good idea of the style of cabinetry you want, so now is the time to get out and view your options in the flesh. Plan to visit three or four retailers to see what they have on offer. Try to speak to a broad range of suppliers, including DIY options and independent kitchen showrooms to get a feeling for price and service. When you’re ready, make appointments to see designers and remember to take along your style file and list of must-have and would-like elements. A good designer will take on board what you do and don’t want, adding their knowledge and expertise into the mix.
Ensure the right fit
Some companies will be able to install the kitchen and this is a good idea, as their fitters will usually know the cabinetry inside out and are used to fitting it. But it won’t always be the cheapest option. If you’re hiring a builder to fit your kitchen, make sure you employ one you can trust by asking friends for recommendations or visiting sites such as ratedpeople.com or local.which.co.uk and get at least three quotes to compare prices.
Once you’ve got your basic cabinetry, worktops and layout in place, you can start the really fun part of choosing your appliances, flooring and finishing touches. Many kitchen suppliers will be able to source appliances for you but if you’re looking to save money, try researching the best deals online. Once you have an idea of what you’re after, try to view them in-store to get a proper idea of feel and finish. For flooring, porcelain or ceramic tiles are a good-priced option, particularly if you’re having underfloor heating. Wood works well in classic schemes but it’s best to fit engineered planks as they will be more robust than solid wood in damp, steamy atmospheres. Pick up samples of flooring, splashbacks and paint to test at home.
Show off Some of your most precious pieces of glassware and china with glass-fronted cabinets and open Shelving
For a modern country look, choose neutral units and add pastel-painted chairs. lingfield Shaker kitchen, from £3,000, crown imperial/ lifestyle kitchens
contemporary handleless units create a chic vibe. Sofia kitchen, from £3,400, Wickes
Plan for plenty of illumination in prep areas. autograph kitchen, from £1,273, Wren