Ideas and tips for your dream kitchen
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Design & Layouts
Consider the overall impression of your house when designing your kitchen. Do you want your kitchen to form an integral part of your home or do you want your kitchen to stand out as a special feature from the other aspects of your home?
An open-plan kitchen is the hearth of a home, seen as a place of comfort and where family and friends gather around to share food and love. On the other hand, a separate enclosed kitchen is mainly designed to be used by the cooks and keeps food preparation (and mess) away from view.
Think about the kind of atmosphere you want to create in your kitchen. Bold modern colours make a strong statement and can reflect your bright personality, whilst timber and earthy tones create a cosy and homely atmosphere. Stainless steel surfaces and open shelves combined with freestanding units and trolleys re-create the feel of a commercial kitchen.
If you are thinking of selling your property in the near future, "safe" colours and finishes such as neutral colours and tones attrack and appeal to broader range of buyers.
Take into account any other activities you and your family perform in the kitchen. Do you organize your house keeping affairs in the kitchen? If so, you may want to incorporate a home office in the kitchen. Do the children do their homework in the kitchen while you cook? Then a breakfast bar at a lower height may be ideal for meals as well as children doing their homework.
Mixing and matching different colours and materials of doors and benchtops in your kitchen can create an interesting result. For example, glass doors and stainless steel doors can be used sparingly to accentuate a rather plain white kitchen. Or try combining coloured doors with timber doors to create a unique design.
An efficient kitchen layout relies on the "working triangle", which is based on 3 main elements: sink, stove and fridge (food storage). To make a kitchen work efficiently, these 3 elements should be within comfortable distance (total distance should not be more than 8 metres) whilst still allowing enough work space between them. If the three main elements are too close to each other, you will be struggling for comfortable work space. If they are too far apart, you will find yourself walking around the kitchen most of the time.
The following are the most common types of kitchen layouts:
Ideal for small and narrow spaces and can be used efficiently when the single line is not too long. Try to maximise the space between the stove and the sink as it will be the most used space in the kitchen during food preparation. However if the shape of the kitchen is too long, the distance between the working triangle becomes too long and less efficient. An island with a long single-line kitchen can solve this problem by establishing a more effective working triangle.
L-shaped kitchen is easy to work in as the working triangle is well established, making food preparation easier even with two people working at the same time. It provides plenty of work space and storage space and can work well in either small or large kitchens. A large L-shaped kitchen can also be combined with an island or a dining table.
A U-shaped kitchen provides the ideal kitchen layout with an efficient working triangle. Distances between the three elements are evenly distributed to maximise the use of space for cooking and storage. Plenty of work space also allows two people to work together without interfering with each other. A U-shaped kitchen works best in a large room, or at least make sure the opposite rows of cabinets/appliances can be opened without hitting each other. (Hint: corner spaces can sometimes be wasted and hard to reach, install lazy susans in corner base cabinets to maximise the use of corner spaces).
Found in many commercial kitchens, a galley kitchen is similar to a U-shaped kitchen but without the "link" between the opposite rows. A galley kitchen requires less room than a U-shaped kitchen so it is perfect for narrow spaces. Like a U-shaped kitchen, a galley kitchen requires enough space between the opposite rows to work efficiently. If possible, a galley kitchen should not be used in a major corridor within the house as it can get quite busy during food preparation.
An island in a kitchen provides extra workspace that is versatile enough to serve meals. Make sure the room is large enough to house an island so people can move around comfortably and cabinet doors can be opened easily. You can also use the island to house either the stove or sink to create a more effective working triangle.
If space is limited, a freestanding or mobile kitchen island is another option. You can move the island when needed. Also a "see-thru" island makes a kitchen feel more spacious visually.
Unlike fitted kitchen cabinets, freestanding kitchen units give the look of everyday furniture and can be rearranged easily. You can also combine freestanding units with a fitted kitchen to create a more casual look in a fitted kitchen. For example, you can create a kitchen island easily with a freestanding kitchen unit.
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