Most people would agree that the kitchen is the heart of any home. Whether your goal is to increase the value of the property or simply to update with a modern kitchen design, renovating this much-used room is worthwhile endeavor.
When renovating a kitchen, it’s good to understand the basics of how you want the room to work. The two major functional factors which will influence basic modern kitchen design are how many cooks are likely to be working in the kitchen at any one time and whether you want kitchen dinning. If the space allows, a separate dinning suite is very desirable in a family kitchen but if space does not allow for this then it may be possible to incorporate a kitchen bar area into the floor plan instead. Endeavor to plan for an uncluttered look and ensure that a suitable amount of counter top space is provided on which to prepare meals. The position of any opening kitchen cabinet cupboards or drawers ideally should not impede access to the three principle locations of the refrigerator, sink and stove which are usually set up in a rough triangle. The layout and positioning of the refrigerator sink and stove-top is vital to ensure a natural flow and easy operation of you new kitchen and even in very large kitchens you will find them situated within about three steps of each other.
The next aspect to consider is the kitchen’s basic shape and this is usually dictated by the space you have to work within. A long thin room will lend itself to a galley kitchen with a central aisle and the cabinets and counter-tops on either side. More rectangular or square rooms can accommodate either u-shaped or L shaped kitchens and these can also incorporate the all important breakfast bar for casual dining. Ultimately, however, the shape selected will depend on your personal taste and requirements.
Even with the popularity of dishwashers, the placement of the sink next to a window with a pleasant outlook is still extremely popular. Good quality overhead and under-bench lighting and plenty of power- outlets, for an ever increasing number of kitchen gadgets, should also be carefully considered.
Current modern kitchen design might best be described as cubist with rectangular slabs of textured wood or gloss and blocks of colour making a bold statement of cupboards highlighted with reflective splash-backs. Stainless steel European appliances are still de rigor and if you are a coffee aficionado, and have a sizable budget, you may want to consider incorporating an espresso machine at the design stage as well.
Large drawers are considered more practical than cupboards and it is not unusual to only find the later mounted above the counter-top and in corners. Consideration should perhaps also be given to installing slid-out storage aids which can dramatically improve access to corner storage and slide-out pantries.
Kitchen surfaces need to be tough and this is reflected in the choice of materials. Granite, reconstituted granite, various stones, and hardwood work surfaces are all available in a wide variety of colours to suite your design vision. Very attractive laminate counter-tops in every colour and texture imaginable are widely available for those on a budget and can look every bit as good as the more expensive options. If you are intending to use a granite counter-top and you live in an older timber property, you may want to check that your floor is capable of supporting the extra weight.
Material selection is also an important decision in other areas. Smooth, continuous surfaces are easier to clean, which is likely the reason tile counter-tops are no longer popular.
Although largely a matter of personal taste, there is renewed interest in using bold colours. Vivid shades of crisp apple green, cobalt blue or even bright tangerine create an interesting contrast and certainly breathe life into an otherwise bland room. You will need the courage of your convictions here though as a kitchen can easily last for twelve years or more but this colour trend almost certainly will not. A safer way to incorporate colour into your kitchen is to consider a bright coloured glass or tile splash-back or contrasting floor tile for a more dramatic look. Brightly coloured painted walls are another way to give your kitchen a lift and these can be repainted inexpensively.
DIY and Flat-pack Kitchens
The variety and quality of flat-pack kitchens is very tempting as is the cost but there are a few things you should be aware of. The higher end kitchens are of generally good quality but you should always try and match cupboard and drawer fronts from the same batch as they can “weather” with subtle differences especially with whites and off whites. The problem arises when the supplier cannot meet all of your requirements at the one time and you end up with different batches at different times. Very slight changes at manufacture can cause subtle variations in colour over time as the surfaces are exposed to the environment. It can also be very time consuming going back and forth trying to purchase components as they become available. Flat-pack kitchens are cheaper because they do not include the labor cost of assembly which can be significant. If you do not intend to assemble yourself you should budget around 30% of the cost of your kitchen for assembly – depending on the number of drawers.
Surviving a Kitchen Renovation
Surviving a kitchen remodel takes a bit of planning ahead. If replacing appliances, try to move your old refrigerator into another area and continue to use it for convenience foods. Stock up with healthy snacks such as fruits, yogurt, nuts and anything that does not need cooking. Even if take-away is rarely on the menu, your renovation can provide a good excuse to explore some comfort food options in the area. Let’s not forget the BBQ as this may also be a good time to experiment with some new dishes other than sausages for a change.
Any sort of major renovation work can be stressful and this is especially true of a kitchen renovation as it is usually the hub of the house and will no doubt be missed for the duration. In preparation for the work it is strongly suggested that all materials and contractors are ready and a timescale is clearly stated. Any risk of delay in construction should be minimised as much as possible. A plan for dust containment and any water or services outage should be part of a general specification for the job.
Always remember that increased comfort and added value to your home are two of the primary benefits of updating a kitchen and this will help you get through the process. Regardless of the design, colours or materials selected, completing a kitchen renovation project is an excellent way to improve the livability of your home.
Please feel free to add your comments below as I always try to answer any questions. Good luck with your project.
Written by Richard Hollingdale