de­sign your ul­ti­mate kitchen

Fol­low our stress-free tips to help you cook up the kitchen you’ve al­ways wanted

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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. Visit­ning­per­mis­sion-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 house­to­ 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 rat­ed­peo­ or lo­ and get at least three quotes to com­pare prices.

Fin­ish­ing touches

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

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