We love designing kitchens, whether for an existing space, a new extension, an addition or a reconfiguration. For cooking as well as congregating, kitchens really are the soul of the home and thus need to be put in the context of the whole house. In a lot of older houses, however, the kitchen tends to be isolated and small. Today, people often want a multi-purpose room that incorporates both a cooking workspace and a casual space for dining or even working.
While kitchen needs and aspirations vary, most of our clients want an efficient cooking-workspace, plenty of storage, and, even if they don’t immediately realise it, some separation between the wine-drinking guests and the cooking-action. Getting a balance between an integrated, convivial space that includes the chef with the family or guests while giving them space to prepare the meal is our job as interior and architectural designers.
Working with a variety of budgets and needs, we customise our approach to the client. While we regularly use our own team of joiners to build bespoke designs, we also work with well-known joinery and kitchen firms, have great relationships with a number of smaller kitchen suppliers for ‘off-the-shelf’ options and are experienced at customising high-street kitchens.
There are a myriad of ways to achieve your aims; whether your priorities are family-first layouts, concealed or unobtrusive kitchens, entertaining or broken-plan living, we can help to realise your kitchen goals.
Before designing your kitchen, here are some points to consider:
First and foremost, decide on a realistic budget. Kitchens have a lot of items, and if money is tight, splurge on what is most important to you. For example, everyone needs cabinets, a sink and a fridge, but if you cook a lot then don’t skimp on the hob and oven.
An island or nearby breakfast table is the standard way to create a kitchen that incorporates both cooking-workspace and a casual hanging out space, but it depends on the particular layout of the space. The same end can be achieved by creating a little breakfast area in the kitchen with built-in casual seating. The two spaces need to be artfully blended, so they don’t look as if they are imposing on each other.
Think less about the traditional triangle layout and more about creating a work area that goes from fridge to sink to hob and oven, with several paces in between. It’s an ergonomic question – and a kitchen is not a success unless you have solved this. The fridge and sink need to be linked, for example, but the cooking section can be a little more isolated or independent.
There’s no perfect worktop. I like organic materials, but they can be impractical for family life, so engineered worktops can be excellent hardwearing options.
Organic: Granite, Marble, Wood, Soapstone (not very common in the UK)
Engineered: Quartz/Silestone, Engineered Soapstone, Concrete, Stainless Steel, Corian, Porcelain, Terrrazo, Acrylic
Upper cabinets are practical; you can make the cabinet fronts solid and uniform or create a sense of openness with glass fronts. Glass-fronted cabinets create depth and make the kitchen feel more spacious. If you go with this option, you need to think about the glasses and plates inside – there needs to be visual coordination. You can put in obscure (frosted or ridged) glass, but that only goes so far – the Disney mugs will still be visible.
Linking to the outside is an important requirement for many clients and an exterior space is a big bonus. Putting in a terrace, for example, where you can eat or have a barbecue adds a whole extra element to your dining experience.
If an extractor hood is in the field of vision, it has to be taken seriously, otherwise it will be a visual distraction.
Dishwashers have a dual function; obviously for washing, but also as storage for dirty crockery, cutlery and glassware! If budget and space allow, consider having two dishwashers: one in a utility room, the other in the main kitchen. It’s wonderfully luxurious and saves hours of loading and unloading, making entertaining so much easier.
Hot Water Tap
A hot water tap provides an energy-efficient and safe solution to accessing instant boiling water, without the need to switch on the kettle or boil a pan.
Microwaves are unsightly and need to be considered early in the planning decision. They can be accommodated in a pull-out shelf, within a cupboard or behind an island. Miele makes an attractive integrated combination oven that serves as a second oven and microwave.
People like tall pull-out storage drawers as they store a lot but consider carefully where they are placed; they can be a nuisance if awkwardly positioned.
Lighting is really important; whether under a cabinet, plinth or overhead, it needs to be thought about from the start. It’s essential to ensure plenty of light and a well-lit space for cooking and prepping food, but also enough flexibility to create the right mood and atmosphere for relaxing or entertaining. There is a real benefit to a sink with a view – it’s really pleasant when it can happen. If not, then face the sink to the social areas so people can chat with you.
Kitchens are fundamentally about cooking, so the ideal design is a space where the process of making food is enjoyable. In our view, this includes natural light and a view; plenty of worktop space; nice things to cook and work with; a comfortable area for friends to hang out, bringing laughter and chat; music; and a big sink! For it all to really work – to not only function well but to shine – the kitchen needs to be part of an ensemble of spaces that includes an equally wonderful dining area.
Get in touch for a free, informal conversation about how we can help.
“This was our first experience of using an interior designer on a commercial project and we count ourselves very lucky that we found Philip! His layouts made really effective use of the available spaces and his surveys, architectural and technical drawings, as well as his knowledge, were really impressive.”
– Events’ Space – Guildford